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Devarim ~ דברים ~ 5772
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 descendants; 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 ‘Haphtarah of rebuke’ is always read on the Shabbat before the Ninth of Av, the Anniversary of the destruction of both Temples. Jerusalem is besieged by the whole nation, he cries, is completely diseased with iniquity and the Assyrians (c. 701 B.C.E.) and the prophet, 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.
Tisha B’Av Study Questions
- This parsha, Devarim is always read before Tisha B’Av. Some say because of their opposite themes. How are they opposites?
- Why do we teach historical tragedies that occurred on Tisha B’Av in the Diaspora if the destruction of Jerusalem is the focal point?
- In the year 70 C.E. what was the difference between the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, ‘Zealots’ (Kanna’im), and Sicarii?
- Why do many refrain from red meat, wine, and celebrations until the Tenth of Av?
- Why, like on a holiday, do we NOT recite Tachanun on Tisha B’Av?