From The Rabbi’s Study…Shabbat, July 23, 2021/15 Av 5781
Torah: Va’Etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11) Haftarah:(Isaiah 40:1-26)
Shabbat Nachamu/ Shabbat of Consolation is the Sabbath after the Ninth of Av.
The Ninth of Av is the day that BOTH Beit Hamikdash/Holy Temple in Jerusalem were destroyed. The first in 586 B.C.E. by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The Second destruction was by the Roman in 70 C.E. and they burned it to the ground! Nearly 1900 years later the Jewish people took control of Judea/Israel.
The Parsha has the first discourse of Moses continuing with G-d’s rejection of Moses’ request to enter the Promised land, and a repeated warning against idolatry. Moses assigns the first three cities of refuge (sanctuary cities, not to be compared to the so-called “Sanctuary Cities” and “States” of America). Moses’ second discourse contains the basis of the covenant between G-d and Israel with a reiteration of the Ten Commandments, the SHema, and the exodus as an object lesson.
The SHema: Hear, O Israel… Israel is commanded to hearken to G-d’s law and take it to heart. Israel’s duty is to love the One G-d and to study G-d’s law. What does it mean to love G-d? Maimonides asserts that to love G-d means to dwell upon and think about G-d’s commandments. Just as a lover tries to please and follow the desire of his beloved, so, too, we in our love of G-d, must try to understand G-d’s will. We do this by studying G-d’s Torah.
There is also the “Prohibition of “trying” G-d.” Deuteronomy 6:16 states that one must not try the Lord your G-d. According to the commentator known as the Chinnuch, we try G-d “by fulfilling a mitzvah as if we were putting G-d to the test, to see if G-d will reward us. Instead of doing good out of love for G-d.” Some people reject G-d when their petitions are not granted or when they meet with suffering or distress in their lives. Receiving a reward ought not to be an expectation when performing a religious obligation. As Pirke Avot (Talmud from Sayings of Forefathers) states, “The reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah.” Indeed, it is a delight to serve G-d and do righteous actions.
Sometimes in life things happen to each of us.
Sometimes each of us may ask “WHY?” Sometimes people are at a specific area at a specific moment in time or history, and each person has the freedom of choice to either rise to do mitzvot or remain silent, still, and do nothing.
At these liminal moments we are going through today, we may not realize the importance of just being who and what we truly are. You may be surprised by the impact you make toward individuals or to the world.
May each of us choose the path of righteous actions of performing mitzvot, and help listen or help physically to those that c
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder