Weekly Reading Insights:
 Va'etchanan 5766

 

Overview of the Weekly Reading: Va'etchanan

To be read on 11 Av 5766 (August 2)

Torah: Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11
Haftorah: Isaiah 40:1-26 (1st of 7 "Haftorahs of Consolation" -- "Nachamu")     

Pirkei Avot: Chapter 4 in Israel (Chapter 3 outside of Israel)

Va'etchanan is the 2nd Reading out of 11 in Deut. and 45th overall, and 7th out of 54 in overall length.

Va’etchanan opens with G-d’s refusal to allow Moshe to enter the Land. Next, Moshe reminds the Jews how they were taken out of Egypt, given the 10 Commandments, taught Torah, and should not stray from G-d and His laws. Moshe invokes heaven and earth as witnesses in warning the Jews of the consequences of erred ways. Then, Moshe designates 3 of the locations of the cities of refuge for the unintentional murderer. Following this is the review of the giving of the 10 Commandments and the famous verses of “Shma” and “Ve’ahavta”. The Jews are again reminded to keep G-d’s mitzvos and avoid the consequences of sin, particularly idolatry and assimilation.

This Thursday, August 4, is the fast day Tisha B'Av, in mourning for the destruction of the holy Temple

 


FROM THE MASTERS OF KABBALA

From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Come and see. How great is the strength and the authority of the Torah and how elevated is its study in relation to all other endeavors! This is because

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

* * * * *

From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed

Know, that there is an angel appointed over prayers, who elevates them from earth to heaven.... He elevates them with the power of the divine name Y-ah, which G-d used to form the worlds.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

* * * * *

From Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

G-d had not wanted to accept this Mixed Multitude as converts. Had they not been accepted, Israel would have experienced neither death nor exile, since acceptance of the Tablets would have signified everlasting life

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


FROM THE CHASSIDIC REBBES

"You have been shown to know that the L-rd is G-d." (4:35)

When G-d revealed Himself on Mount Sinai to the soul of every Jew of every generation, He thereby made it possible for any Jew who sincerely desires to serve Him to perceive the true essence of the world, despite the darkness and concealment of what presents itself as reality.

(Sefat Emet)


A MYSTICAL CHASSIDIC DISCOURSE

from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


MOSHIACH THIS WEEK

"Nachamu, Nachamu Ami" - "Comfort, I will comfort My people" (Haftorah)

On the Shabbat after Tisha B'Av, the day on which we commemorated the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples, G-d promises us that the rebuilding of the Third and eternal Holy Temple will also serve as a complete and perfect comfort for all of the destruction that took place throughout Jewish history.

(from L'Chaim #781)


An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:4566/Vaet'chanan)

Rashi brings two commentaries on the first word of this week's Torah portion, "Ve'etchanan": The first is related to the concept of a free - in Hebrew, "chinam" - gift, referring to Moses' request of G-d to allow him to enter Israel without being judged - even if he didn't deserve it. The second is that "ve'etchanan" is one of the ten words for prayer used in the Torah. This would make the translation simply: "And I (Moses) prayed...." (Deut. 3:23)


" Only when one is chosen by G-d to receive a ray of divine light...can a person be transformed...."

We have, one G-d and one Torah. From this we understand that even if there seems to be differences between Torah commentaries, nevertheless, all 70 "faces" of Torah join together as they move in the channel that connects physical and spiritual worlds. What is the connection here?

Chassidut explains the idea of a "free gift" in this world. Each Jew is given certain abilities and characteristics in order to reach his or her true potential. It is impossible for the individual to break out of these boundaries on his or her own. Only when one is chosen by G-d to receive a ray of divine light, incomparably more intense then his or her own strengths, can a person be transformed. This is because that person is tapping into the infinite. It is called a "free gift" since it is not given in any quantifiable relationship to our observance of the commandments. Even though we must earn this gift, it is considered free because its value transcends all aspects of our reality and can be given to anyone, not only tzadikim or extraordinary souls. It is available to every Jew.

There is one specific method for tapping into this infinite strength: the study of Torah. Torah existed before the world's creation, so it is not limited to the natural order. It is G-d's will and wisdom. Since it transcends this physical world, it can tap into strengths beyond the world, to help a person break his or her boundaries. We learn from this verse Moses' inner intention: He wanted that the Jewish people should merit reaching spiritually lofty levels when they entered Israel through the study of Torah. Moses was unsuccessful in his goal. This is hard to understand, for it was Moses who learned the Torah from G-d on Mount Sinai and thereby was certainly able to tap into the infinite! He must have known the formula! If he was unable to draw this process down for the Jewish people, who possibly could?

The inherent problem is that though Torah learning taps into levels much higher than This World and our observance of mitzvahs, the learning (just because of is great power) sometimes remains "suspended"- it does not always descend into the physical world.

If so, what about prayer? The entire purpose of prayer is to effect positive change in this world. The power drawn by prayer does not remain Above, for we see that the sick are healed and the rain falls!. Prayer is such an easy method to draw power into the world because it specifically does not always reach a relatively high source. In the same way, the prayers of Moses were also not enough to grant the Jewish people added spiritual abilities, either. So what could?

On one hand, the high level of Torah cannot descend to our earthly plane, and on the other hand, prayer cannot go high enough. Neither alone can bring the desired affect. Moses' goal was to combine the unique benefits of Torah and prayer in his effort to help the Jewish people. We learn this through the dual meanings of the word "ve'etchanan". As mentioned, "ve'etchanan" can refer to both "prayer" and the "free" gift that Torah brings in reaching above worldly heights.

With all the good intentions that Moses had, G-d did not heed his request. This is because G-d wants us to do the work by ourselves, to strive in both Torah and prayer and not to rely on Moses. This lofty spiritual combination will only ultimately be revealed with the revelation of Mashiach. May it be now. Remember the next time you want to change the world: you have to join both Torah and prayer.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here)


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