• Devarim ~ 5774 ~ דברים

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    Devarim ~ 5774 ~ דברים

    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

    This, 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 showed ingratitude towards G-d, their Father, by rebelling against His Laws. The entire country, except 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, 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. Commentators say “Leaders” of 100’s and 1000’s were military leaders while those of 50’s and 10’s were Torah teachers. What pedagogical lesson do we learn from this (1:15)?
    2.  In verse 1:21, Moshe instructs B’nei Yisrael to “a¥rv¥k…g” what is the origin of the word “a¥r”?
    3. Moshe states in verse 1:26 that the Israelites sinned by “murmuring in their tents”. Why was this so bad?
    4. What are the similarities between Yom Kippur and Tisha B’av?  What are the differences?
    5. Don’t the historical tragedies of Tisha B’av sound as if this day has an “Ayin Hara”?  Could such a thing exist? Can we believe in such ‘childish ideas’?