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This Week's The Torah Portion:

Torah reading "D'varim"

Summary

This week we begin the 5th and final book of the Torah, the Book of Deuteronomy ("D'varim"). The generation that Moses led out of slavery has passed away. Moses too will soon ascend a nearby mountain, view the Promised Land, and pass away. And now the beloved leader prepares to speak to the people one last time.

His audience, waiting for his words with bated breath, is the generation of Israelites that grew up in the desert, before his eyes. He recounts the breathtaking events of the past 40 years: the Exodus from slavery, the splitting of the Red Sea, the encounter with G-d at Mount Sinai, the long journey across the wilderness.

Moses expresses great regret that G-d has not permitted him to enter the Promised Land. He assures the people that they have a capable leader in Joshua, who will bring them across the River Jordan, back to their homeland. "Have no fear ...The Lord will be with you!" he declares.

NOTE: It's no accident that we open the Book of Deuteronomy every year on the Sabbath before Tishah B'Av. Tishah B'Av, the "9th day of Av", is the saddest day of our calendar. It is the day on which our Holy Temple was destroyed, culminating the destruction of the ancient state of Israel by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. (This year, the 9th of Av will fall on Monday night, July 31st.)

Why did the Ra the book of Deuteronomy would always open on the Sabbath before Tishah B'Av? It was, no doubt, to reassure future generations that regardless of how long they had been exiled from their homeland, they would one day return, even as the Israelites will soon enter the Promised Land in this week's Torah portion!

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus

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