(This Torah Teaching is for Shabbat of July 17th, 2020)
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Devarim (דְּבָרִים) — Hebrew for “things” or “words,” is the second word in the parashah and is the 44th weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) in the annual cycle of Torah readings and the first in the Book of Deuteronomy. It covers Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22.
Torah Parsha Devarim Summary
On the first of Shevat (thirty-seven days before his passing), Moses begins his repetition of the Torah to the assembled children of Israel, reviewing the events that occurred and the laws that were given in the course of their forty-year journey from Egypt to Sinai to the Promised Land, rebuking the people for their failings and iniquities, and enjoining them to keep the Torah and observe its commandments in the land that God is giving them as an eternal heritage, into which they shall cross after his death.
Moses recalls his appointment of judges and magistrates to ease his burden of meting out justice to the people and teaching them the word of God; the journey from Sinai through the great and fearsome desert; the sending of the spies and the people’s subsequent spurning of the Promised Land, so that God decreed that the entire generation of the Exodus would die out in the desert. “Also against me,” says Moses, “was God angry for your sake, saying: You, too, shall not go in there.”
Moses also recounts some more recent events: the refusal of the nations of Moab and Ammon to allow the Israelites to pass through their countries; the wars against the Emorite kings Sichon and Og, and the settlement of their lands by the tribes of Reuben and Gad and part of the tribe of Manasseh; and Moses’ message to his successor, Joshua, who will take the people into the Land and lead them in the battles for its conquest: “Fear them not, for the L‑rd your God, He shall fight for you.”
This week’s haftorah is the third of a series of three “haftarot of affliction.” These three haftarot are read during the Three Weeks of mourning for Jerusalem, between the fasts of 17 Tammuz and 9 Av.
“If your sins prove to be like crimson, they will become white as snow; if they prove to be as red as crimson dye, they shall become as wool.” The haftorah concludes with a promise that God will eventually reestablish Israel’s judges and leaders, when “Zion shall be redeemed through justice and her penitents through righteousness.”
Note: The first word of the haftorah is “Chazon” (“The vision [of Isaiah]”). The Shabbat when this haftorah is read, the Shabbat before Tisha b’Av, is thus called “Shabbat Chazon,” the “Shabbat of the Vision.” According to chassidic tradition, on this Shabbat the soul of every Jew is treated to a “vision” of the third Holy Temple that will be rebuilt with the coming of Moshiach.
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Torah Parashah teaching with video and audio and illustrations by Rabbi Isaac. © 2021 Assembly of Called-Out Believers. Use by Permission.