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Weekly Message 07.16.2021 Parashat Devarim

Parashat Devarim - (HaDevarim-The Words) Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22

HafTorah Isaiah 1:1 - 27

Dear friends,

We are now nearing the end of the three weeks of soul searching and contemplation and approaching the observance of Tisha b'Av, the saddest day on our calendar when we mourn the loss of our Temple and the beginning of the diaspora resulting in the temporary loss of our civilization.

We begin this weekend by reading and studying the first portion of the Book of Deuteronomy (Devarim) which summarizes all that has transpired in the wilderness as the children of Israel launch their final journey to the promised land, a journey that ends many years of enslavement and wandering. And of course, the successful conclusion is the entrance into the land of Israel, the conquering and settlement of the land and the establishment of laws which reflect the moral code that is given in the wilderness as the many mitzvot that continue to guide our lives to this day.

Of course, we know that the settlement and ultimately the kingdom of Israel did not last continuously to our time. The practice of greed, not caring for others, worshiping false gods (i.e. material versus spiritual gains) and disregard for the land ultimately resulted in the conquering of Israel by the Babylonians on the 9th day of the month of Av and then again after the restoration by the Romans several hundred years later. Although a very small contingency of Jews occupied the land throughout history, it was not until 1948 that we once again reached statehood.

So, on this Shabbat, we read the third and last Haftorah of Rebuke, this time by tIsaiah who begins his prophecy by observing all the evil that is transpiring about him and predicting the downfall of the kingdom of Israel. He scorns those who participate in the ritual life, but then proceed to violate the mitzvot. Adonoi does not accept prayer and sacrifice from those who don't mean them. However, as much as Isaiah predicts the destruction of the nation, he provides hope and promise of a return:

לִמְד֥וּ הֵיטֵ֛ב דִּרְשׁ֥וּ מִשְׁפָּ֖ט אַשְּׁר֣וּ חָמ֑וֹץ שִׁפְט֣וּ יָת֔וֹם רִ֖יבוּ אַלְמָנָֽה

Learn to do good. Devote yourselves to justice; Aid the wronged. Uphold the rights of the orphan; Defend the cause of the widow.

לְכוּ־נָ֛א וְנִוָּכְחָ֖ה יֹאמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֑ה אִם־יִהְי֨וּ חֲטָאֵיכֶ֤ם כַּשָּׁנִים֙ כַּשֶּׁ֣לֶג יַלְבִּ֔ינוּ אִם־יַאְדִּ֥ימוּ כַתּוֹלָ֖ע כַּצֶּ֥מֶר יִֽהְיֽוּ

“Come, let us reach an understanding, —says the LORD. Be your sins like crimson, They can turn snow-white; Be they red as dyed wool, They can become like fleece.”

אִם־תֹּאב֖וּ וּשְׁמַעְתֶּ֑ם ט֥וּב הָאָ֖רֶץ תֹּאכֵֽלוּ׃ If, then, you agree and give heed, You will eat the good things of the earth;

וְאִם־תְּמָאֲנ֖וּ וּמְרִיתֶ֑ם חֶ֣רֶב תְּאֻכְּל֔וּ כִּ֛י פִּ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה דִּבֵּֽר

But if you refuse and disobey, You will be devoured [by] the sword.— For it was the LORD who spoke.

On Sunday morning at 9:30 am, we will gather at the synagogue and virtually on Zoom to read and study the Book of Lamentations (Eicha) attributed to the Prophet Jeremiah. Mostly as a result of continued and unrepentant idolatry and greed on the part of the Hebrew nation and the resultant weakening of the kingdom, the Babylonians proceeded to besiege, plunder, burn, and destroy the city of Jerusalem. Solomon’s Temple, which had stood for approximately 400 years, was burned to the ground. The Prophet Jeremiah, an eyewitness to these events in 586 B.C.E., wrote the graphic Book of Lamentations as a lament for what occurred to Judah and Jerusalem. However, just as Isaiah ends his prophesy on a note of hope that if we "turn our lives around" our civilization can be restored. "You, Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation. Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old".

Please join us either in person or virtually on Zoom at 7:30 pm tonight, 9:30 am tomorrow morning; and 9:30 am on Sunday morning so that we can have a large minyan to observe the ritual of this important weekend on our calendar.

See you in shul!

Ron Becker

Spiritual Leader



JCC is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Shabbat Service

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Topic: Tish b av

Time: Jul 18, 2021 09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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