Dear Congregation Kehillah and Friends,
Parashat Devarim is the beginning of the last book of the Torah. Moses reviews the history of the wandering in the desert as he prepares to say goodbye to our people, a journey that should have taken 11 days, but instead, took 40 years! A selection from this week's Haftarah encapsulates a reminder of what Moses taught our ancestors during their desert years, precious values deeply embedded into the Jewish psyche:
Cease to do evil
Learn to do good
Devote yourselves to justice
Aid those who are wronged
kavannah for candlelighting
As I prepare to light the Shabbat candles, may the gift of this Shabbat renew and restore my energy and my soul so that I might embark on the wondrous journey of the new week that lies ahead. May the words I speak be rooted in love and caring for my family, my community and myself, in the miraculous journey of life itself!
Even though this last Book of Torah is divided into various parashiyot (portions), it is actually a series of three discourses (some say five) that Moses gave over the last days of his life. Unlike the other Books of Torah, this one is not Gd speaking to the Israelites, but Moses speaking. You may have heard me teach that, to me, it is as if Moses, who knows that he will not be entering the Land of Israel with our people (we are now at the edge) because of the incident with striking the rock, is reminding our ancestors of their history and of the lessons he has taught over their years together and also reminds them of his warnings and admonitions now that they are about to re-enter the Land. He is worried we will forget! Sometimes he sounds a bit bitter, but mostly, cares so much that he wants us to remember and do the right thing, keeping true to the values, teachings and mission for which we were taken out of Egypt.
Deutero means 'second telling ' (Greek) and much of the content is repeated content, although we are introduced to the Shema and Ve-ahavta in the following week's parasha (Va-etchanan) along with a restatement (in slightly different form) of the Ten Commandments.
Now that you have the background, how exciting to study the content!
Join Ellen Lerman for Torah Talk Shabbat/Saturday morning at 10:30 AM. RSVP......
A note: Wednesday night/Thursday this coming week is Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, on which date in our history both Temples were destroyed (the first by the Babylonians, the second by the Romans), the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 and World War I broke out in 1917. While it is a day of mourning and fasting, from that dark place understanding, growth, and healing might transpire through our actions. Can we commit to one act of tikkun (healing, repair) as our contribution toward increasing light in this gateway to our High Holy Days season?
Tisha B'Av is totally relevant today! Tisha B'Av's origins are in mourning for the destruction of the Temple, but its practices and rituals (sitting on the ground, not wearing clean clothes, not eating or drinking, not washing, not greeting one another) sounds like we're describing the life of a refugee. The destruction of the Temple was not just a physical tragedy pertaining to the Temple per se; the destruction also stands for the plight of the people who lived (or died) in that frightening, unsafe, impoverished and unsheltered world, leading us to consider what it means to seek shelter, security, safety, nourishment, protection in our own...
Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman
The Kehillah office will be closed Thursday, July 30th, for Tisha B'Av. The phone will be checked for emergencies only.