Shalom, the parshah starts off with Moshe explaining to the Jews that a Jew brings blessing upon himself by fulfilling a mitzvah and in turn if one does a transgression, a curse will be upon him self (Devarim 11:27-28). In Pirkei Avot it states, "one good deed will bring another good deed, one transgression will bring another transgression, (Pirkei Avot 4:2)"
This proves how important it is that we try the whole day and strive to only do good deeds, both by being nice and good to our fellow man and by learning and keeping to the Torah!
After that the Torah reading reiterates how we are not allowed to add and subtract to the commandments, Moshe warns the Jews that they are to disregard false prophets (Devarim 13:2-6). Hashem only brings the false prophets about to test the Jews faith in Hashem. A prophet that instructs the Jews to permanently cancel one of the mitzvot is put to death by the Beit Din (Sandhedrin 89a), however if an established prophet temporarily suspends a mitzvah, he must be obeyed, we learn a case where this occurred in the book of Kings, when Eliyahu erected an alter outside the Temple at a time when private alters were forbidden, in order to disprove claims of the prophets of the Ba’al (Melachim I 18:24).
We then learn what the Jews are to do if they witness an idolatrous city that is run by Jews. If the majority of the city has succumbed to idolatry and there is not even a single mezuzah scroll left, the city would be required to be burned down, if the Jews have no sign of repenting (Devarim 13:13-19)). However the sages state that there was never a case when an entire Jewish city was like this (Sanhedrin 71).
Then it states how it is prohibited to show excessive signs of mourning, such as marking the skin or making a bald spot (Makkot 20). It was the common practice of the Emorim to show excessive grieving, firstly we may not copy the other nations and also by grieving to excessively we are showing that we are even more merciful than G-d.
Moshe then reiterates the classifications of kosher and non-kosher food and the prohibition of cooking meat and milk (Devarim 14:3-21). We learn about which animals are kosher also in parshat Shmini (Vayikra 11:1-45).
The Torah then teaches that produce of the second tithe must be eaten in Jerusalem, and if the amount is too much to carry, it may be exchanged for money with which food is then bought in Jerusalem. In certain years this tithe is given to the poor to be specific on the third and the sixth year (Devarim 14:22-27).
The Torah then describes that the Bnei Yisrael are instructed to always be open-hearted and kind (Devarim 15:7-11), and in the seventh year any loans must be discounted (Devarim 15:1-6), in turn Hashem will bless the person in all ways. If an individual observes the laws, gives charity and does acts of kindness, Hashem blesses them with more back. In fact the Talmud states that kindness is not just a huge mitzvah, it also is considered as acts of wisdom (Nedarim 32b)!
The Parshah then states that a Jewish bondsman is released after six years of work, and must be sent away with generous provisions (Devarim 15:12-18). If he refuses to leave, his ear is pierced with an awl at the door post and he remains a bondsman until the Jubilee year (50th year).
The Torah reading ends with a description of the three pilgrimage festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Succot. Where an individual is obligated to bring the tithe to Jerusalem so that him and his family can eat it there and will be in the presence of the Sanhedrin, Kohanim and many Torah scholars in order to spiritually elevate the people bringing their offerings (Devarim 16: 1-17).
The Haftorah for this weeks parshah is from the book of Isaiah, where he speaks of a world which will be very rightous in the times of Moshiach where all sustanance will be provided with the obedience of the word of G-d (Isaiah 54:11- 55:5).
I am dedicating this Dvar Torah in the memory of my late grandmother, her hebrew name being Sara Yehudit Bat Esther, please say Tehillim in her memory and do acts of kindness also in her memory.
Hope you all have a great week and SHABBAT SHALOM!