Parashat Va'Etchanan

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Parasha for the Week: Veitchanan Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11
Haftara for the Week: Isaiah 40:1 - 20
Besorat Yeshua: Mark 6:41 - 52

Although Moshe is happy that Yehoshua will lead the nation, Moshe nevertheless prays to enter the Land of Israel in order to fulfill its special mitzvot. Hashem refuses.
Moshe reminds Bnei Yisrael of the gathering at Sinai when they received the Torah that they saw no visual representation of the Divine, but only the sound of words. Moshe impresses on Bnei Yisrael that the Sinai revelation took place before an entire nation, not to a select elite, and that only the Jews will ever claim that Hashem spoke to their entire nation.
Moshe enjoins Bnei Yisrael to “pass over” the Sinai event to their children to all generations.
Moshe predicts that when Bnei Yisrael dwell in Eretz Yisrael they will sin and be scattered among all the peoples. They will stay few in number but will eventually return to Hashem.
Moshe designates three “refuge cities” to which an inadvertent killer may flee.
Moshe repeats the 10 Commandments and teaches the Shema.
Moshe warns us not to succumb to materialism and forget their purpose as a spiritual nation.
Moshe exhorts Bnei Yisrael not to intermarry, as they cannot be a treasured and holy nation if they intermarry, they would become indistinguishable from the other nations.

"G-d’s Commandments are Life"
The Book of Devarim was write for the second generation—to the children of those who came out of Egypt. They didn’t experience the Exodus, nor did they witness many of the miracles. To this generation, which would soon enter the Promised Land, Moshe spells out the rewards and punishments for obeying or disobeying G-d’s commandments. Moshe stresses that if they want to live safely and securely in the Promised Land, they must adhere to G-d’s commandments.

“Shema Israel”
In this week’s Parasha we find the “Sh’ema Israel”— “Hear O’ Israel the L-rd is Our G-d the L-rd is one. And you shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might Béchol Méodecha” (Deut. 6:4-5)

In parasha Va’etchanan, we read about the mitzvah of Mezuzah. “Hear O Israel The L-rd is our G-d, The L-rd is One. And you shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and with all your might. And these words [the Torah] which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart... And you shall write them upon the posts of your house and your gates (Deut. 6:4-9).” The Mezuzah, which is affixed to each door post (except bathrooms) of a Jewish home, consists of two passages of the Torah written on parchment, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. In Psalms King David says, “G-d shall protect your exit and your entry from now and forever.” Most of the time he letter “Shin” is written on the outside of the Mezuzah cover “Shin” stands for G-d’s name “Shadiy”. It is spelled; shin, daled, yud. These three letters serves as an acronym for the words, “Shomer Daltei Yisrael”—“G-d watches over the doors of Israel.”

“Love Your G-d”
The Torah states, “you shall love the L-rd your G-d...” (Dev. 6:5) How does one command love? We may think that regarding love, you either have it, or you don’t. That, however, must not be correct—for if it were, it couldn’t be a Commandment. We must have tools in hand that help us to develop this love. Love is a choice and we all have the freedom and power to choose.

“Two Houses or Two Chickens”
Even a poor person should also perform acts of charity. Charity is much more beneficial to the one who gives than to the one who receives. Two peasants were sitting and discussing their loyalty to God. One said: “My loyalty to God has no bounds.” “What if you owned two houses, would you give one to God?” Pondered his friend. “Sure I would,” replied the first without hesitation. “What if you owned two cows, would you give one to God?” Again his friend replied in the affirmative. “What if you had two chickens, would you give up one for God?” “This I couldn’t do!” replied the first peasant. “But why is a chicken different than a house and a cow?” “There is a big difference... two chickens I do happen to own!”

“Rabbi Akiva Laughs”
Once Rabbi Gamliel, Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva were traveling to Rome. From a distance, they heard the noise of the city. Three of the Rabbis began to weep, while Rabbi Akiva laughed. “Why are you laughing?” they asked. “Why are you crying?” Rabbi Akiva responded. “These people destroyed our Holy Temple and worship idols. Yet they are living peacefully, while our Holy Temple, the House of G-d, lies in ashes. How can we not cry?” “That is exactly the reason I am laughing,” answered Rabbi Akiva. “If people who transgressed G-d’s will receive such goodness, imagine how much more good will G-d give those who obey Him and fulfill His Torah and mitzvot!”

“Rabbi Akiva Laughs 2”
On another occasion, the four rabbis were walking to Jerusalem. Upon reaching Mount Tzofim, they saw the site of the destroyed Holy Temple from the distance. At that point, they tore their clothes in mourning, as Jewish law dictates. When they reached the Temple Mount, they saw a fox roaming where the Temple once stood. Three of the rabbis began to weep, while Rabbi Akiva laughed. “Why are you laughing?” they protested. “Why are you crying?” Rabbi Akiva replied. “We see the most holy spot of the Beth Hamikdash, where at one time no one except the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) could enter, and then only on Yom Kippur, now foxes are roaming there! How can we not cry?” Rabbi Akiva answered, “This is the reason I am laughing! When I see that the prophecies of destruction were fulfilled to the fullest, I am encouraged and confident that the prophecies such as, ‘There will come a time when old men and women will sit peacefully in the streets of Jerusalem’ - which state that good times will come, will surely be fulfilled and come true.”

HAFTARA Isaiah 40:1 – 20
This first Shabbat after Tisha B’Av. It is called, “Shabbat Nachmu” (“Shabbat of comfort”), as the Haftarah of this week begins with the words “Nachmu Nachmu Ami” - “Comfort, comfort, my people.” There are seven weeks from Tisha B’Av until Rosh Hashana. This period is called, “Shiva D’nechemta”—”Seven weeks of comfort.” These seven Haftarot are prophesies of comfort and hope for Israel and God’s people at large.
Haftara: The root of the Hebrew word for comfort “Nachem”, nun-chet-mem can refer to comforting the nation as well as to comforting an individual. If the people of Israel are to be comforted, it is because the Lord is coming very soon. The text says, A voice rings out: “Clear in the desert a road for the LORD! Level in the wilderness a highway for our God! Let every valley be raised, every hill and mount made low. Let the rugged ground become level and the ridges become a plain. The Presence of the LORD shall appear, and all flesh, as one, shall behold — For the LORD Himself has spoken” (Is. 40:3-5 JPS). It is interesting that the Brit Hachadasha, applied this text to the coming of the Mashiach. “This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’” (Matt. 3:3). Matatyahu spoke about Yochanan HaMatbil who prepared the way of Yeshua in the desert. What is interesting is that the brit Hachadasha did not apply verse 5, ‘The Presence of the LORD shall appear, And all flesh, as one, shall behold,’ (JPS) because this part of the verse will be applicable only at the end of time at the advent of the Mashiach, the Second Coming of Messiah. Then all flesh (from everywhere in the world) shall behold. Then we will see the real comfort and consolation of Israel. As it is written, “That her iniquity is expiated; for she has received at the hand of the LORD double for all her sins” (Is. 40:2). They have been pardoned for all their sins and they will enjoy eternal rest. Our mission today is to comfort Israel and to prepare Jerusalem for that great day, “Nachmu Nachmu Ami” - “Comfort, comfort, my people.” (Isaie 40:1)

Besorat Yeshua Mark 6:41 – 52
Besorah: Yeshua comforted the people with words and by providing food. “Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all” (Mark 6:41). Moses said, “In order to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but that man may live on anything that the LORD decrees” (Deut 8:3 JPS). Working days and nights with the Mashiach, they were tired from all the work, that is why Yeshua wanted to comfort them, “Nachmu Nachmu Ami”. “Immediately, He made his disciples get into the boat and go…” (Mark 6:46). Yeshua cares for his people; he comforts and helps them to get rest. “After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray” (47). The disciples did not get rest though; they were on the sea and once again Yeshua went to comfort them.

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