Telephone Torah Study: The Shema and Ten Commandments!
In this week’s Telephone Torah Study (Thursday 4-5pm) we’ll study one of the greatest Torah portions ever this week! Triple your fun with Va-et’chanan (Deut. 3:23-7:11) which includes the Ten Commandments and the Shema along with the V’havta!
To join in on the conference call, please dial 702-851-4044, when prompted punch in 2, then our pass code 22252#.
Last week’s Torah portion, Parashat Devarim, is perfectly placed in the liturgical calendar just prior to Tisha B’Av, the annual day of mourning that marks the destruction of the first and second Temples, along with several other calamities suffered by the Jewish people. In Devarim, the Israelites are reminded of the episode of the 12 spies, when Moses sent representatives of each of the 12 tribes to scope out the land “flowing with milk and honey.” They bring back a very mixed report, with all but one of the spies, Caleb, fixating on the dangers ahead of them. The Israelites are chastised by God for trusting in the spies who “cried wolf,” and as a result of this transgression, they are left with a promise that this shall be a day of mourning for all generations. “See, if you wanna cry. . .I’ll give you something to cry about!” says a frustrated and indignant God. The Mishnah teaches us that the episode of the spies is the first of the calamities to fall on Tisha B’Av, this historical day of sorrow and suffering.
Continuing this theme, in the haftarah reading for Shabbat Hazon (the Shabbat before Tisha B’Av), the prophet Isaiah offers a vision of the destruction of the Temple: This is what you get for following your own selfish interests rather than living according to the word of God! In both of these readings, we see the prototypical Deuteronomic God exacting punishment and retribution. What happened to the loving deity of the Book of Exodus?
Hear O Israel! Adonai is our God, Adonai alone. You shall love your God Adonai with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead; inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:4-6:9 aka Shema and VeAhavta)
Moses pleads with God to let him enter the Land of Israel with the people, but God once more refuses his request. (3:23–28)
Moses orders the Children of Israel to pay attention and follow the laws given by God in order to be worthy of the land they are about to receive. (4:1–40)
Specific areas of the land are set aside to serve as cities of refuge. (4:41–43)
The covenant at Sinai and the Ten Commandments are recalled. Once again, the people are exhorted to heed God’s commandments. (5:1–30)
Moses speaks the words of the Sh’ma, the credo of Judaism, and commands Israel to show their love for Adonai and keep God’s laws and ordinances. (6:1–25)
Moses warns the people not to commit idolatry by worshiping the gods of the nations they will conquer in Israel. (7:1–11)