Va’etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11) gives us pause for thought in its contradictions. First, the parshah (Torah portion) contains the aseret hadibrot (Ten Commandments), among which is: you shouldn’t murder (5:17). Then, pasukim (verses) 6:4-5 contain the shema (Hear O Israel! The L-rd is Our G-d. The L-rd is One!) followed by the admonishment to: “love the L-rd, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might,” (Deut. 6:4-5). Finally, pasuk 7:2 instructs the Isrealites, upon entry into the Promised Land, to kill and “utterly destroy” the various groups of people living there.
In other words, one is supposed to not murder. One is reminded to love G-d. And, then, G-d commands the Israelites to commit mass murder. I can’t help but think about the mass murders in the United States. Continue reading “On Va’etchanan: Do Not Murder, Rather Love by Ivy Helman”
This is the first part of a series of reflections on the weekly Torah portions. For those of you unfamiliar with Judaism, we read the Torah in sections. There are 52 parshot (or portions), one parshah (portion) is read each week (most often during Shabbat morning services). It is common for rabbis, prayer leaders or someone of the congregation to offer reflections on the week’s parshah at Shabbat services.
The parshah for this week is Shofetim. It is Devarim/Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9 and will be read this Shabbat, 18 August. Shofetim discusses a range of topics: setting up of a system of judges to make important decisions for Israel; the entitlements of the Levites; the rules of warfare; the importance of justice and just governments; and the acknowledgment of G-d as the true and highest Judge. It also warns Israel against false prophets and practices of idolatry. Shofetim contains a number of well-known verses including ‘justice, justice you shall pursue…(16:18),’ and notorious punishments like “…a tooth for a tooth; an eye for an eye…(19:21)” Continue reading “Lessons from Shofetim by Ivy Helman.”