Va-ethannan’s Personal Message to Us

Va-ethannan’s Personal Message to Us

Aug 16, 2008 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Va'et-hannan

But what really draws me to Va-ethannan, I think, is the way it reaches out to each one of us individually, both pleading and demanding to be heard. It addresses us person by person, one-on-one, in the same way we enter into every serious relationship and tremble with each true love.

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The Joy of Torah

The Joy of Torah

Aug 5, 2006 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Va'et-hannan

This past week, I have been receiving many photographs of the destruction raining down on northern Israel. Among the many images, the most moving one was a modest picture taken in the city of Safed. Protected within the four walls of a bomb shelter, it is an image of a rabbi teaching Torah to a group of students. As a page of Talmud sits open before each participant, the rabbi teaches energetically to his receptive audience. For me, this demonstrates the power of learning within the Jewish community — and the extent to which learning has the potential to shape each and every one of us. Even at a time when our thoughts are undoubtedly elsewhere, Torah remains at the center of our identity.

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A Time for Comfort

A Time for Comfort

Aug 20, 2005 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Va'et-hannan

This week witnessed a historic and painful moment in the history of Modern Israel the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip. As many commentators have pointed out, this was the first time since 1967 that Israel has withdrawn unilaterally from territories occupied in the Six Day War. While Prime Minister Ariel Sharon acknowledged the profound national trauma of uprooting families living in the Gaza Strip, he gave voice to the reality of the situation.

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Judaism’s Message

Judaism’s Message

Aug 9, 2003 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Va'et-hannan | Tishah Be'av

Reenacting an historical moment through liturgy and deed is a forte of Judaism. Our calendar year overflows with holidays and observances that transport us to our former days and inspire us to reenter the narrative and relive salient moments of history. This week in particular, observing the 9th of Av, we read of the destruction of the Temple and continue the mourning of our ancestors for the calamities that befell them. While it is possible to read this narrative as a preventive measure to ensure that we, too, do not fall victims to George Santayana’s dictum condemning us to either learn from our history or repeat it, I believe that Judaism’s message is a blessing, not a curse. It is a blessing for us to be able to relive life’s difficult moments – and the reason why can be gleaned from Moses’ behavior and our parasha this week.

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A Healthy Body

A Healthy Body

Aug 9, 2003

We are living in a culture captivated by diet and exercise. On the one hand, we could dismiss this American obsession as one manifestation of our materialistic, beauty-conscious society. On the other hand, we could embrace this current cultural focus as one area in which American and Jewish values resonate surely and strongly. This week’s Torah portion suggests a powerful link between Jewish law and the pursuit of health and fitness.

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Teaching Our Children

Teaching Our Children

Jul 20, 2002 By Joshua Heller | Commentary | Va'et-hannan

The words of the first paragraph of the sh’ma, taken from this week’s parashah va–ethannan, are among the most important in all of Jewish liturgy and learning — the closest thing we have to a catechism. The words of Deuteronomy 6:4–9 proclaim the unity of God and declare the deepest commitment of faith. They mark the doorposts of the Jewish home, they are recited morning and evening and they were the last words of martyrs in many generations.

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Two Paths of Teshuvah

Two Paths of Teshuvah

Jul 20, 2002 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Va'et-hannan | Tishah Be'av

This week marks the commemoration of great national calamities in Jewish history. The Torah reading for the morning of Tisha B’Av is a selection from this week’s Torah portion (Deuteronomy 4:25–40). This reading highlights an important aspect of our spiritual response to tragedy.

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Moses and the Code of the Samurai

Moses and the Code of the Samurai

Aug 4, 2001 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Va'et-hannan

The code of the samurai is strict. A warrior who fails his lord is expected to perform seppuku, a ritual suicide better known outside Japan as hara-kiri. His death is atonement for the dishonor that his failure has caused. In modern Japan, this ultimate sacrifice is rarely offered, but personal accountability for failure remains a virtue. However, in many cases, the direction in which responsibility flows is reversed: a superior will accept punishment because of the misdeeds of a subordinate.

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Our Nature Is to Be with God

Our Nature Is to Be with God

Aug 9, 2000 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Va'et-hannan

Parashat Vaet’hanan comes in the aftermath of Tisha B’Av, the fast in which we commemorate the destruction of both the First and Second Temples and other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. The theme of our asceticism on this day is not only mourning, but more importantly a spur to teshuvah, repentance. This week’s parashah informs our understanding of calamity and its relation to teshuvah. Moses warns the Israelites, “take care, then, not to forget the covenant that the Lord your God conc

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Our Capacity for Evil, Our Capacity for Good

Our Capacity for Evil, Our Capacity for Good

Jul 27, 1996 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Va'et-hannan

On the first anniversary of the bomb blast which erased 168 lives in the Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, the New York Times ran a photograph on the front page of Jannie Coverdale, who had lost two grandsons.

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Va’et-hannan

Va’et-hannan

Jan 1, 1980

23 I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, 24 “O Lord God, You who let Your servant see the first works of Your greatness and Your mighty hand, You whose powerful deeds no god in heaven or on earth can equal!

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Va’et-hannan

Va’et-hannan

Jan 1, 1980

1 Comfort, oh comfort My people,
Says your God.

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