Friday, July 19, 2013

Parshas Ve'es'chanan - The Highlights

Since today is my Hebrew birthday - the 12th of Av - I get to give out some brachot (blessings). I want to wish everyone a year full of good health, lots of happiness, success in their work, finding their match, finding themselves, peace within the Jewish People, peace between the Jewish People and everyone else and peace for the world at large.

This week's Torah portion is Ve'es'chanan, a parsha chock full of good stuff. I'll give you two highlights:
* The 10 Commandments are read (Deuteronomy 5:6-18)
* The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Hear, O' Israel: The Lord is our G-d, The Lord is One. You shall love the Lord, your G-d, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your resources. And these matters that I command you today shall be upon your heart. You shall teach them thoroughly to your children and you shall speak of them while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you retire and when you arise. Bind them as a sign upon your arm and let them be ornaments between your eyes. And write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates. (trans. Artscroll Stone Ed. Chumash)
There's so much here, but I don't have the time to expand on it. I do want to share part of the last paragraph of the parsha that I feel we forget, that HaShem (G-d) loves us.
For you are a holy people to HaShem, your G-d; HaShem, your G-d, has chosen you to be for Him a treasured people above all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. Not because you are more numerous than all the people did HaShem desire you and choose you, for you are the fewest of all the peoples. Rather, because of HaShem's love for you and because He observes the oath that He swore to your forefathers did He take you out with a strong hand and redeem you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt... (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)
The Haftorah, the short reading after the reading of the Torah is also very special. It is always read the Shabbat after Tisha B'Av, our national day of mourning. It begins:
Nachamu, nachamu Ami... Comfort, comfort My people - says your G-d. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her time [of exile] has been fulfilled, that her iniquity has been consilated... 
Only a few days ago, we cried over our loss of connection with G-d, here He says, don't worry -- the time is coming, where we'll be together again. We should merit to see Moshiach soon and rekindle that close connection we once had with HaShem - and see His hand in our everyday lives.

Chief Rabbi Sacks on the parsha

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