God's provide of blessings and curse
(Photo: Unsplash / Vincent Battault)
As we walk through the comforting month of Menachem Av and approach the month of Ellul, the month of repentance, we study the last book of the Torah known as Devarim (words and things) in Hebrew and known as Deuteronomy in Greek.
The reason this book is called Words and Things is because Moses reminded the Jewish people that words are instructions that must be put into practice. In our lives there are many people who say nice words, but as the saying goes: "Nice words, butter, no parsnips."
On the coming Shabbat we meet Devarim 11: 26-16: 17, known as Parshat Re & # 39; eh, which is simply "See!" Means. Or rather, maybe it means "look carefully and digest …"
In this parsha, G ‑ d presents the Jewish people with a choice – both a blessing and a curse. He gives strict instructions to the Jewish people as to how to live in the land they are to enter – the Promised Land – where idolatry of any kind should be strictly forbidden.
The legacy of the Jewish people is where G ‐ d & # 39;live in his name & # 39 ;. And – relevant for the whole world today – the Jewish people should not trust people who call themselves prophets and dreamers, because the failure to worship heroes and idols is a sign of the people's love for the one, unique Gd himself. G -tt reminds the Jewish people that only he loves the Jewish people, since only he took them out of Egypt, the land of slavery, to be a free people, to realize the way of life that G ‐ d for them has prepared.
In Devarim, G ‑ d forbids self-mutilation or exaggerated mourning while mourning the dead. Death is not final and we should embrace life. It is for this reason, by the way, that the 7-day Shiva period was introduced into Jewish practice – one of the miracles of Jewish life and death when others take over and don't expect you to behave normally. Quite a few contemporary converts to Judaism have told me that this was the main reason for their conversion – the way Judaism deals with life and death and then life again.
The knot is given in chapter 14, verse 2: “For you are a holy people to the Lord your G ‐ d, and G ‐ d has chosen you for himself to be a cherished people among all men on earth . "
This does not mean that the Jewish people are special so that they can do what they want – on the contrary, the Jewish relationship with G ‑ d is one of the covenant – the Jewish people have made it their business to live G ‑ d to live on earth. The other peoples and nations of the earth are not expected to obey all of Mitzvot 613, but basic Noahid laws should be obeyed.
And it is emphasized again and again that one should be especially open to the poor and lonely – debts should be paid after seven years, and (no doubt Jesus had these next words in mind): “You should open your hand … for the poor will always exist in the country … therefore you will surely open your hand for your fellow man and for your poverty in the country. & # 39;
In other words, there will always be people who need our open hand, and we should do so with joy and not disapprove of the fact that some people are worse off than us, because although we should always try to alleviate poverty, there will always be poverty with us.
And the parallel Haftorah teaching of Isaiah 54:11 -55: 5 also takes into account those Jews who do not currently live in the country, but are forced into exile in "foreign countries". G ‑ d tells his exiled people, "Oh, afflicted, storm-whipped, more heartbroken," not to despair, for they will be returned to the land and at that time "all of your children will be disciples of the Lord, and yours will be abundantly." Child peace. & # 39;
The key words for this Hebrew text are all based on the root bnh, from which the idea of "children", "stones" and "building" is derived. So the prophet Isaiah indicates that the children, the descendants of the exiles, will themselves be the "stones" and "building blocks" who do not build aesthetically beautiful cities that are considered wonders of the world, but "foundations" of righteousness, "and therefore it is for us as Jews to initiate the Messiah.
And anyone who wants to learn about righteousness, when everyone fulfills Gd's Word, which was first uttered in the last book of the Torah by Devarim, will be "thirsty" enough to go "to the water" of Torah teaching, and not only to do the "water", but also to "wine and milk". Because wine is for adults and delights the heart, as the Torah does. Milk, on the other hand, is the most important sustainer of life when we are born again, as the Torah does. And just like breast milk, learning the Torah is unconditional and the more you draw from it, the more it comes!
This is how the Torah students actually do the work of the world. And that's all too true as I write. In the past six months, a huge amount of Torah study has been made available online as the world grapples with the latest plague that we are all currently going through together.
From Canada, the USA and the State of Israel men and women with great knowledge all over the world offer their services to teach the Torah and offer words of comfort for all levels. These people are therefore doing G ‐ d's work in building the building described in Devarim and Isaiah so that hopefully at the time of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the “birthday of the world” will take place in the middle. In September we will all finally be ready to to accept messianic teaching as it should be.
Dr. Irene Lancaster is a Jewish academic, writer, and translator who has established university courses on Jewish history, Jewish studies, and the Hebrew Bible. She completed training as a teacher of modern languages and religious instruction.
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