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Posts by David Ackerman

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

“And the Lord is Who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Fear not and be not dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) Parashat Vayelech begins the end. Moses knows he will die shortly so he writes out all the laws in Deuteronomy and passes them on to … Continued

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

“Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the world, from there the Lord your God will gather you, from there He will fetch you.” (Deuteronomy 30:4) Parashat Nitzavim proclaims, “Surely, this mitzvah, commandment, which I m’tzav’cha, enjoin upon you, this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach.” (Deut. … Continued

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

“The priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 26:4) Parashat Ki Tavo opens with the ritual of offering bikkurim, the first fruits of the land. It continues with a list of the blessings the Israelites will receive by following … Continued

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

“You shall not turn over to his master a slave who is rescued from his master to you.” (Deuteronomy 21:16) PaRDeS , the Hebrew word for orchard (referring to the Garden of Eden) is an acronym summarizing the Jewish interpretive tradition. It identifies four ways to read the Torah: P stands for p’shat, the simple, … Continued

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

“You shall not plant for yourself an idolatrous tree – any tree – near the Lord your God’s altar, that you shall make yourself.” (Deuteronomy 16:21) Parashat Shoftim expounds with great forthrightness on the building blocks of a just society and identifies the qualities a judge, one of the four archetypic Biblical community leaders, must … Continued

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

“You shall not eat anything abhorrent.”  (Deuteronomy 14:3) Parashat Re’eh opens with a dramatic proclamation, “R’eih, see, I present before you today a blessing and a curse.” (Deut. 11:26)  It closes with instructions to observe Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot, the three pilgrimage holidays, commanding the Israelites (among other things) to eat matzah for seven days, … Continued

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

“Do not fear them! You shall remember what Adonai, your God, did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:18) In the Torah, the land is the mediator of God’s relationship with the Israelites. If they follow the Torah, the rain will fall, the land will produce crops, and they will thrive. If they … Continued

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

“Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead.” (Deuteronomy 6:8) Were Pixar to make a movie of the Torah with all the parashot (weekly portions) as characters it would be easy to imagine a scene in which they wonder and complain why Parashat Va-etchanan contains … Continued

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

“I said to you at that time, saying, ‘I cannot carry you alone.’” (Deuteronomy 1:9) Parashat D’varim opens the Torah’s fifth and final book. Moses no longer speaks with a “heavy tongue” (Ex. 4:10) and he now delivers five speeches, powerfully and poetically. He reminds the Israelites of their lack of faith and complaining during … Continued

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

“Moses, Elazar the Priest, and all the leaders of the assembly went out to meet them outside the camp.” (Numbers 31:13) July 9, 2018 is the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. Section 1 promises all people in the US (not just citizens) the right to both due … Continued