Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17
“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” This is an old saying that describes how people avoid making changes for fear of failure and fear of the unknown. We tend to feel that it is better to hold on to the problems we know – and endure – than to possibly create new problems with which we will not know how to cope. The wisdom of such a view is certainly debatable and deeply questionable.
But what about “the God you know” rather than “the devil you know”? In our Torah portion Moses repeatedly warns Israel not to stray “to go after other gods that you do not know.” (Deut. 11:28 – and see also Ch. 13, vv. 3, 7 and 14) The implication is clear. We should remain faithful to “the God we do know.”
Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25
Bread is one recurrent motif in our Torah portion. The manna – the “bread” that fell from heaven sustained the Israelites for 40 years. Moses explains that the message of this heavenly bread was “for it is not by bread alone that a person will live; rather, it is from all that issues from God’s mouth (motza pi YHVH) that a person shall live.” (Deut. 8:3)
I had high hopes. The eggplant and zucchini plants looked healthy and were putting out flowers; the tomato leaves were sturdy. The basil and thyme were overflowing their pot. My mini garden on our deck looked like it would be a success as the pretty eggplant flowers morphed into lots of baby eggplants. The zucchini was promising with big yellow flowers and the tomatoes were the size of baseballs.
Then came the squirrel. He first went for a green tomato, one that was almost ready to turn red. He took a big bite and he left the rest on the deck railing as if to taunt us. Guess the taste wasn’t right. Then he came for the four inch long eggplant, the largest on the plant.
There are so many things to do these days that there’s no excuse to be bored. Organizations, educational institutions at every level, entertainment venues and cultural groups have all risen to the occasion. They do not want to be forgotten.
Granted , most are not face to face. But in these days, we must rely on our imaginations. Perhaps get together with trusted family or friends to share some of these online experiences.
Parashat Va’et’hanan/Shabbat Nahamu
Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11
You took my hand in yours and you said to me:
“Come, let’s go down to the garden.”
You took my hand in yours and you said to me:
“What you see from there – you don’t see from here.”
(Words: Y. Rotblit; Music: Mati Caspi)
Moses begs God to reconsider God’s judgement against Moses and allow him to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. “Please, let me cross over and I will see the good land that is on the other side of the Jordan, this good mountain and the Lebanon.” (Deut. 3:25)
Parashat D’varim/Shabbat Hazon
Deuteronomy 1:1 – 3:22
Moses creates a new book of the Torah, this fifth volume, D’varim, Deuteronomy, which we now begin. This book is the radical result of a unique partnership between God and a human being that has played itself out in our story for over 40 years, a partnership sanctified by the Jewish people for thousands of years.
This stark fact colors every word of this book. It challenges us to make sense of the words spoken and the story told by this man, embraced and empowered by God. As Moses repeats the Torah’s previous teachings, all the while rephrasing, adding to and changing the text, we wonder just how far his agency extends. Here is but one example –
Fire up the grill. Gather some fresh summer fruit and get ready for an easy summer dinner.
You might begin with a cooling gazpacho and end the meal with a slice of watermelon or other sweet melon or a simple cake like this one from the New York Times, substituting peaches for the strawberries. Continue reading
The library can be a treasure trove of information and entertainment, whimsical and useful, frivolous and serious.
I’d like to share with you a variety of items to help you fill any extra time you or your family might have. Continue reading
Numbers 30:2 – 36:13
They call it – “`ir miqlat – a city of shelter.” (Num. 35:11) And yes, it is safe here. The avenger seeking my death cannot touch me here. The avenger will not listen to my story, will not listen to reason. I did not mean to kill their loved one. Of course, I wish it never happened! It was a tragic accident! Yet I feel a heavy burden of guilt. And the avenger will have it no other way. If not for my fleeing here faster than they could catch me, I would be just as dead as their beloved. So, this city keeps me safe. Here is security and forgiveness, as it keeps my unforgiving enemy at bay.