Parashat Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30)

“Take this book of Teaching and place it beside the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, and let it remain there as a witness against you.” (Deuteronomy 31:26) Parashat Vayelech is the beginning of the end. Moses announces to the Israelites he will not accompany them into Canaan; Joshua will lead them […]

Parashat Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20)

“Surely, this commandment which I command you today is not too baffling for you, nor it is beyond reach.” (Deut. 30:11) Parashat Nitzavim is the most inclusive parasha, or portion, in the Torah. The entire people stands together to renew the covenant: the highest officials and the lowliest laborers; men, women, and children (Deut. 29:9-11). […]

Parashat Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8)

“Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.” (Deuteronomy 28:5) Parashat Ki Tavo opens with the offering of bikkurim, the first fruits of the land and mandates the recitation of specific verses (the only time the Torah does so). It begins with a declaration: “I acknowledge this day before the Lord your God that […]

Parashat Ki Teitzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

“You shall make tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.” (Deuteronomy 22:12) Parashat Ki Teitzei includes a long list of seemingly unrelated laws: war brides, rebellious sons, honoring the dead, gender-based clothing, home security, forbidden mixtures of fabrics and seeds, tassels, interest rates, escaped slaves, and more. Rabbi Michael […]

Parashat Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

“When you approach a town to attack it, you shall offer it terms of peace.” (Deut. 20:10) JCC leaders consistently identify hachnasat orchim, or hospitality (literally: bringing in guests) as a signature value of the JCC Movement. The Biblical precedent is Abraham’s response to the three strangers: he greets them, feeds them, and escorts them […]

Parashat R’eih (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:12)

“Together with your households, you shall feast there before the Lord your god, happy in all the undertakings in which the Lord your God has blessed you.” (Deut. 12:7) Parashat R’eih ends with a reminder to observe Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot, the three pilgrimage festivals and commands, “You shall rejoice before the Lord your God […]

Parashat Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)

“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill.” (Deuteronomy 8:7) Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–1972; one of the leading Jewish philosophers and theologians of the 20th century) is famous for his statement following the 1965 civil rights march […]

Parashat Va-etchanan (Deut. 3:23-7:11)

“Or what great nation has laws and rules as perfect as all this Torah is set before you this day?” (Deuteronomy 4:8) Parashat Va-etchanan opens with Moses recounting his pleading (Va-etchanan) with God to enter the land of Canaan. God stands firm, but allows Moses to climb up the mountainside to see the land once […]

Parashat D’varim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

“You shall not be partial in judgement: hear out low and high alike…” (Deuteronomy 1:17) “…The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” is arguably one of the most famous phrases of 20th century rhetoric (from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inaugural address on March 4, 1933). It is recognized instantly by any American […]

Parashat Mattot-Masei (Numbers 30:32-36:13)

“Instruct the Israelite people and say to them: when you enter the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as your portion…” (Numbers 34:2) Chalutzim is the word we use to describe the early Zionist pioneers who drain the swamps, build the roads, and establish kibbutzim, or collective communities in […]

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