• Devarim דברים ~ Shabbat Chazon שבת חזון

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    Devarim דברים ~ Shabbat Chazon שבת חזון  

    In his first discourse Moses recalled how at Mt. Horeb G-d had commanded the Israelites to break camp and begin the march towards their objective, the conquest of Canaan. To assist Moses, judges as well as civil and military administrators had been appointed. On arrival at Kadesh-barnea the people had been instructed to attack Canaan from the south, but disheartened by the report of the spies, had refused to carry out G-d’s command. Because of their lack of faith, He had decreed that apart from Caleb and Joshua, only their children would enter the Promised Land. Although told to turn back into the wilderness, they ignored Moses’ warning against any further defiance of G-d’s will, attacked Canaan and were heavily defeated.

    For many years the Israelites had wandered in the desert until told to continue their advance by passing through the land of Edom, but not to engage in any hostilities, for the territory of Edom had been promised to Esau’s descen-dants; nor were they to attack the Moabites and Ammonites, the descendants of Lot. Sihon, the Ammorite king, who refused to allow them to pass through his domain, was defeated in battle and his territory captured. A similar fate overtook Og, king of Bashan. The conquered lands were divided among Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh, provided they assisted their brethren in the conquest of Canaan.

    MAFTIR Deuteronomy 3:20-22 ~ page 749

    HAFTARAH Isaiah 1:1-27 ~ Shabbat Chazon ~ page 750

    The third ‘Haftarah of rebuke’ is always read on the Shabbat before the Ninth of Av, the anniversary of the destruction of both Temples. Isaiah cries over Jerusalem besieged by the Assyrians (c. 701 B.C.E) and diseased with iniquity. Furthermore, the people of Judah of showing ingratitude towards G-d, their Father, by rebelling against His Laws. The country, excepting Jerusalem, is overrun by invaders. Had not G-d in His mercy, left a small remnant, destruction would have been as complete as the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is hypocritical to offer sacrifices, for sincere repentance and the practice of justice and charity alone can ward off punishment. Jerusalem has, alas, become the abode of murder, theft and corruption. G-d, Himself, will bring judgment on the guilty, cleanse the nation and restore Zion to its former glory as a righteous and faithful city.

    Parashah Study Questions

    1. What is the relationship to the secular name of the 5th Book of Moses and its Hebrew name?

    2. Is Devarim always the Shabbat before Tisha B’av? If so why or why not?

    3. How many Jewish Fasts are in our calendar year? Which ones have been questioned as still relevant today? Would you abolish any? Have any been abolished or fallen out of observance?

    4. Are the themes of any Jewish fast days similar to Islamic Observance of Ramadan? Are there differences? Why is Ramadan in a different month every year?

    5. Why do many observe the festive limitations of Tisha B’Av until midday of the 10th of Av?