Rejoicing with the King – V’zot Haberacha (And This is the Blessing) D’Varim (Deut.) 33:1-34:12 and Shemini Atzeret

: V’zot Haberacha (And This is the Blessing) D’Varim (Deut.) 33:1-34:12 and Shemini Atzeret 

Haftorah Readings: Joshua 1:1-18

Today and tomorrow are both holidays. Today is Shemini Atzeret and tomorrow will be Simchat HaTorah. The celebration today is seen as the beginning of the rainy season in Israel. Tomorrow, Simchat HaTorah is not found in scripture but has been developing over the millennium to be a day to celebrate both the ending of the yearly cycle of Torah readings and the beginning of a new year.

Emor (Speak) Leviticus 21:1-24:23

Torah PortionEmor (Speak) Leviticus 21:1-24:23

Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 44:15-31

Our Torah portion today is Emor. When we read it, I would expect our initial feeling might be that theses verses have little to do with us in today’s world. However, I want to take a few minutes to see if that is an accurate way to interpret these words. I would like to do this by looking specifically at a few verses.

Vayeishev (He settled) Gen 37-40

Torah Portion: Vayeishev ( He settled) Genesis 37:1-40:23

HafTorah: Amos 2:6-3:8

Tonight we cover a large part of Joseph’s life from his seventh year until he is in an Egypt prison sentenced for something he did not do. We follow him from a somewhat difficult teenager to when he has had more than his share of difficulties in his life.

I want us to look at his story from the aspect of Kidush Hashem (sanctify the Name) and see what we can see that might help us in our daily walk with the L-rd. How do we translate Kidush HaShem? Sanctifying G-d’s name is kidush HaShem. What does that mean? Kidush is from the same root as Kadosh or holy. Holy means to set apart, as for us to be set apart. How can we set apart G-d’s name? Let’s see how Joseph did or did not do this in his life.

Ki Tavo (When You Come) Deut. 26

Torah Portion: Ki Tavo (When You Come) (Deut.) 26:1-29:8

HafTorah: Isaiah 60:1-22

NT Matt. 13:1-23; Luke 21:1-4; Acts 28:17-31; Romans 11:1-15

Today before we go on to Ki Tavo I would like to go back to last week’s Torah section to cover something I overlooked. In D’Varim (Deut.) 23 we read you should not abhor or hate an Edomite. You should not abhor an Egyptian. Now think for a minute about this verse. What had the Egyptians done to Israel? Read Shemot (Exodus) 1:22. Yet here we see Moses speaking as if this had never happened, almost saying Israel owed them a debt of gratitude. On the other hand they were to recite the story of Exodus each year commemorated with bitter herbs and unleavened bread so their children would never forget. What is Moses talking about here? To be free you have to let go of hate. If not, Moses might take them out of Egypt but would not be able to take Egypt out of them. Mentally and emotionally they would still be slaves, still in chains – chains of their mind and emotions. We must live with the past but not in the past. If we let our past define who we are we are not truly free of it. Moses tells the people over and over to remember the past not for revenge but so that they would remember to not treat others the way they were treated. They should give to the poor, leave some of their crops in the field to share with others and share their lives with others. Our memory of the past is not to preserve hate but to conquer it and to recall how it felt to be a victim. Remember: not to live in the past but to prevent a repetition of it.

Beshalach (When He Sent) Ex 13


Torah Portion: Beshalach Exodus 13:17-17:16

HafTorah: Judges 4:4-5:31

Tonight we look at a Torah section that is packed with spiritual lessons. We can’t cover them all but I would like to look at a couple. The people complain four times in this portion. The second time is at the bitter waters of Marah. Do any of you remember where you have heard this word before? Ruth’s Mother in law said to call her Marah after her husband and sons had died.