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This Week's The Torah Portion:

The Torah Portion this week is "D'varim"


This week, we'll begin the 5th and final book of the Torah, the Book of Deuteronomy (Hebrew: "D'varim"). The generation that Moses led out of slavery 40 years earlier has passed away. Moses too will soon ascend a nearby mountain, view the Promised Land, and pass away. And now the beloved leader speaks to his people one last time. His audience, waiting for his words with bated breath, is the generation that grew up in the desert before his own eyes. He recounts for them the breathtaking events of the past 40 years: the miraculous Exodus from slavery, the splitting of the Red Sea, the encounter with G-d at Mount Sinai, the long and arduous journey across the wilderness. And now we are within sight of the Land, he exclaims!

Moses expresses great regret that G-d has not permitted him to enter the Land. But 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 there!" he declares.

NOTE: We open the Book of Deuteronomy every year on the Sabbath before Tisha B'Av. Tisha B'Av, the "9th day of Av", is the saddest day of our calendar. It is the day on which our ancient state of Israel was destroyed, which culminated in the burning of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. (This year, the 9th of Av will fall on Saturday night, July 21st.) Why did the Rabbis see to it that the book of Deuteronomy would always open on the Sabbath before Tisha B'Av? It was, no doubt, to instill hope in future generations that regardless of how long they had been exiled from their Homeland, they would one day return to it, even as the Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land in this week's Torah portion!

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus

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