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Posts by David Ackerman

Parashat Ha-azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52)

“Remember the days of old: reflect upon the years of other generations. Ask your father and he will tell you; your elders and they will inform you.” (Deuteronomy 32:7) Ha-azinu opens with Moses’ final song: “Ha-azinu hashamayim…, Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; v’tishmah ha-aretz…, and may the earth hear the words of … Continued

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

“Then Moses recited the words of this poem to the very end, in the hearing of the whole congregation of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 31:30) We read two parashot (portions) this week because of how the Jewish calendar is calculated. The moon’s cycle determines the months, but the sun’s cycle determines the year. Therefore, a Jewish year … Continued

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

“And the Lord has affirmed this day that you are, as He promised you, His treasured people who shall observe all his commandments.” (Deuteronomy 26:18) Parashat Ki Tavo opens with a conditional statement: “When you enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a heritage, viy’rishta v’yashavta ba, and you possess … Continued

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

“You shall not muzzle an ox while it is threshing.” (Deuteronomy 25:4) Slavery in Egypt is a defining experience for the Jewish people and God’s redemption from slavery the paradigmatic expression of both God’s power and love. Over and over again the Torah uses the memory of slavery as the basis for an empathic response … Continued

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

“Because Adonai, your God, marches with you to do battle for you with your enemies to save you.” (Deuteronomy 20:4) Parashat Shoftim opens with the command, “Judges and officers shall you make for yourself in all [the gates of] your cities…and they shall govern the people with righteous justice” (Deut. 16:18). It follows with a … Continued

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

“Be careful to observe only that which I enjoin upon you: neither add to it nor take away from it.” (Deut. 13:1) Parashat R’eih reminds us poverty is as old as time and likely to be with us until the end of time: “The poor will not disappear from the land.” (Deut. 15:11) The obligation to … Continued

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

“Take care lest you forget the Lord, your God, by not observing his commandments, ordinances, and decrees, which I command today.” (Deuteronomy 9:11) Parashat Eikev commands “You will eat and you will be satisfied and bless the Lord your God, for the good Land that He gave you.” (Deut. 8:10) This is the prooftext for … Continued

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

“Be sure to keep the commandments, decrees, and laws that the Lord your God has enjoined upon you.” (Deuteronomy 6:17) Parashat Va-etchanan includes the Ten Commandments (with slight variations from the version in Exodus) and the Sh’ma as an extension of the first commandment to have only one God. The Sh’ma sentence, “Hear, O Israel, … Continued

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

“I commanded your judges at that time, saying, “Listen among your brethren and judge righteously between any person, fellow Israelite, and stranger.”  (Deuteronomy 1:16) Parashat D’varim opens the fifth (and final book) of the Torah with Moses reprising the Israelites’ desert experiences.  He reminds them of their failures and his need to share the burden … Continued

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

“For the western boundary you shall have the coast of the Great Sea; that shall serve as your western boundary.” (Numbers 34:6) We read two parashot (portions) this week because of how the Jewish calendar is calculated. The moon’s cycle determines the months, but the sun’s cycle determines the year. Therefore, a Jewish year (including … Continued