Shabbat Shalom Dear Readers Parshat Vaetchanan 5774

August 8, 2014

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The following article is based upon an article that appeared on Globe tribune.Info last year.

This week, Parshat Vaetchanan will be ushered in by candle lighting at 7:46PM in Brooklyn,New York. Candle lighting is 18 minutes before sunset, which marks the actual onset of Shabbat. Chabad.Org has a section of their site on which you can look up candle lighting time in your location, as well as the time Shabbat ends on Saturday night., like also has inspirational articles that can be printed out and read on Shabbat when your computer is turned off. Additionally, some of the audio and video is worth looking at and listening to during the week. This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of consolation, which is the name for the first Shabbat after Tisha B’Av, the first Shabbat  after we commemorate the destruction of the first and second temples. has an article about the Boston Tea Party viewed in the context of Jewish law. It should be borne in mind that Jews have lived under all sorts of political systems throughout over 3000 years of history as a people. Viewing the US and its history through the eyes of sages who lived centuries before the founding of the United States provides different perspectives than what might be derived from American history books.

  Historically, times of revolution are dangerous, not only for Jews, but for other minorities, who are very frequently subject to retaliation if they pick the losing side in a political struggle. has an article in which the psychological strategy of Hamas is discussed. Amazingly enough, there is a consensus of opinion that exists in Israel that has been all too rare since the founding of the state 66 years ago. Amos Oz, well known as a “dove” to the left of Israel’s political spectrum is quoted in the Aish article as follows.

Amoz Oz: I would like to begin the interview in a very unusual way: by presenting one or two questions to your readers and listeners. May I do that?

Deutsche Welle: Go ahead!

Question 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery?

Question 2: What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family? With these two questions I pass the interview to you.

This week, the opening words of Shema as well as the first paragraph of the Shema (Hear Oh Israel…) prayer are a part of this week’s parsha, as well as verses that tie righteousness to remaining in the land.  The parsha also included the Ten Commandments.This week is the first of seven weeks in which the haftorah readings are words of consolation. It is interesting to note that Moshe predicts in the parsha that Jews would turn away from G‑d, worship idols, and be exiled from the Holy Land  and be scattered amongst the nation. It also predicted that the Jewish people  would seek G‑d from the exile and return to the observance of His commandments.

This parsha also mentions the command to uproot idolatry from the Promised land and to expel the original inhabitants. Some of the horrific blood letting today is a grim reminder of how low people can sink when they worship a god they have created in their own image. It should be noted that the Jewish people had a legal framework for accepting as residents of the Holy Land people who had given up idolatry.

It is interesting that Muslim and Christian “substitutionists” believe that Jews had originally been chosen, but blew their mission and were replaced by a  ”new” revelation and a new faith. It seems that G-d already had an answer for that. The same book that declared the Jewish people to be a nation chosen to keep the Torah also predicted that there would be stumbling and regaining balance. Part of  living up to the Torah involves showing that repentance is possible. By straying and returning, the Jewish people is providing hope to the nations of the world, that it is possible to stray without forever severing  a relationship with G-d. If the Muslims and Christians were right about chosenness being taken from the Jewish people, it would imply that our relationship with G-d  is fragile indeed. Additionally, if  the Torah were nullified because of Jewish transgressions, the same logic would apply to the “New” Testament and the Koran. With substitutionist logic, there would be a new prophet every month, every time a new chosen people  messes up and gets “dechosen”.

May it be G-d’s will that the Holy Temple be rebuilt, thereby settling so many questions over which so much blood has been shed.

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