Va'etchanan

This parshah very much starts off as we finished last weeks, as Moshe continues his lengthy speech. Moshe described how he prayed and begged Hashem to be able to enter the land of Israel with the rest of the Jews (Devarim 3:23-28); in fact he prayed an incredible 515 times. However Hashem refused entry. Moshe even went as far to say that he would be prepared to become a commoner going into the land. Moshe still did merit going up the mountain and viewing the entire Israel (Berachot 32b).

Prayer in religion is important, sometimes Hashem answers what we request and some times he may not. However one should never stop praying, if G-d gives or doesn’t give what we pray for, it is always for the long term best!! Ideally it is best to pray in a congregation, of minimum of ten people, since it has been stated in the Talmud that there is a possible increased chance in the prayers being accepted (Taanit 8a).

Moshe then went on to exhort the Jews to be loyal to the Torah, especially to observe the prohibition against Idolatry (Devarim 4:3). During especially the first 3000 years of creation, the desire for idol worship was extremely high, however just before the start of the Second Temple, during Ezra’s era, the men of the great assembly prayed for that desire to be eliminated and it was (Sanhedrin 64a). The only downside to this was that as the desire for Idol worship went, prophecy also went.

Next up, the parshah dedicates sixteen verses, to describing how the Jews could sin by serving idols and the punishment of exile that would result. In fact, it is these sixteen verses that are read from the Torah on the morning of Tisha B’av (Devarim 4:25-40)!

Moshe then designated the three cities of refuge on the eastern side of the Jordan (Devarim 4:41), they were given to Reuven, Gad and half the tribe of Menashe. Moshe performed this mitzvah, despite he was not going to go in to the land and see them dwell there, Moshe yearned so greatly to perform as much mitzvot as possible.

Next up, the reading tells over the Ten Commandments that were already discussed in Parshat Yitro. Some of the commandments of this week’s parshah are worded differently than those in Parshat Yitro; however the first two commandments were worded the same as all the Jews heard the first two directly from Hashem (Makkot 23b-24a).

The Ten commandments were the following; to believe in the creators existence, the prohibition against Idol worship, The prohibition against swearing falsely in Hashem's name, to keep the Shabbat and sanctify it, to honor ones father and mother, to not murder, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to bear false witness and not to desire another’s belongings (Devarim 5:6-18).

One of the Ten commandments stated was that one should not murder, this could be expanded not just as physically murdering someone, it may be in the form of discouraging people from observing the religion and possibly could be embarrassing another in public (Bava Metzia 59).

The Parshah then features the first paragraph of the Shema (Devarim 6:4-9). This passage teaches the Jews of the mitzvah to acknowledge and believe in G-d’s oneness.

The paragraph teaches how one should both fear and love Hashem, in fearing punishment for misdeed and to serve Hashem totally with pure and total love. All of ones actions during the day should be with intention of serving G-d. When one wakes up, is at school/work/college, at home, dining out, praying and e.t.c…

The Shema stresses how one should educate their sons to become Torah students and to become proficient in Torah. In fact, if a parent teaches a child Torah, the Torah ascribes merit as though the parent had taught the child, the child’s children, and so on, until the end of all time (Kiddushin 30a). One should try and learn Torah whenever possible, for example, when dining out enjoying a meal with few people, words of Torah should be spoken.

The Parshah relates the commandment to expel and destroy the seven nations living in the land of Caanan when they were to enter the land (Devarim 7:1-2) and also stressing how Intermarriage is totally forbidden (Devarim 7:3-4).

The Haftorah for this weeks reading comes from the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 40:1-26).

I am dedicating this weeks Dvar Torah in the merit of Rafael Chaim Ben Sara to get better and to wish him a Refuah Shelaima, he is a baby in internsive care at the moment. Please everyone pray for him to get better!

Michael Zaroovabeli from Yeshivat Ohr Sameach.