Torah Portion Highlights – October 2016

 

DEUTERONOMY / DEVARIM 

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01 October    Nitzavim  – You are standing         Deut. 29:09 – 30:20; Isaiah 61:10-63:9.

08 October   Va’yelekh –  And Moses went        Deut. 31:01 – 30; Isaiah 55:6 – 56:8

15 October   Ha’azinu – Give Ear!                       Deut. 32:1-52; 2 Samuel 22:1-51.

22 October   SUKKOT / Feast of Tabernacles

24 October SIMCHAT TORAH  / Ve’Zot Ha’Bracha – And This is the Blessing
Deut.33:1 – 34:12; Joshua 1:1-18

29 October   B’reisheet – In the Beginning           Genesis 1:1- 6:8; Isaiah 42:5 – 43:10

 

The  portion Nitzavim emphasizes the importance of constant awareness of the One before whom we stand. The opening verse also highlights the fact of unity, oneness between His people. They are gathered at the border of the Land of Promise and Moses declares: “…so that you [plural] may pass over [as one] into the Covenant that He is making with with you today” (29:12).

The redeemed of God are essentially a covenant people. We enter into more than an individual, personal relationship with God, we also enter into a covenant relationship with His people.Covenant unites and binds us together. Many individuals become one people, one kingdom, one holy priesthood serving the One God.

Va’yelekh includes a section of Moses’ final address to the children of Israel. He can no longer accompany them on their journey but he blesses and encourages them with these powerful words; words that we also do well to take to hearts on our life jiourney:

Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be in dread of them, for the Lord your God, He it is that goes with you. HE will not fail you, nor forsake you (31:6).

 

Fittingly, Ha’azinu – Give Ear! is the penultimate portion of this very auspicious month, echoing with the stirring calls of the Shofar, that launches the Fall Feasts of the biblical Hebrew Calendar.

Ha’azinu, ‘to give ear’ or ‘to incline one’s ear,’ connotes a greater level of attention to and acceptance of the word being spoken than does the more common term, Shema, which simply means ‘to hear’. Moses, in the opening verse, uses the former in connection with heaven and the latter with the earth when he describes the appointment of heaven and earth as witnesses and guarantors of God’s covenant with Israel. The covenant is initiated and established by God from heaven and those on earth function in a secondary capacity with its implementation and consummation.

Whatever is to develop in accord with His will on earth must be initiated by our Father in heaven. This understanding underscores the importance of prayer and intercession as powerful means whereby we actively can participate in the outworking of God’s purposes on earth. As we earthlings hear, Shema, His Word and pray and act accordingly, He inclines His ear to our prayer Ha’azinu and acts in response.

The Fall Feasts, and the Annual Festival Cycle, culminate with Simchat Torah, the rejoicing over the gift of the Word of God through His Torah. The concluding portion of Deuteronomy is read and the new Annual Cycle of Torah reading begins at Genesis 1:1.

Ve’zot Ha’bracha – And This is the Blessing

 Ve’zot Ha’bracha  –  And this is the Blessing –  is the final portion of Deuteronomy and of the Torah. After this portion is read in the synagogue all the children are called up to the bima – the platform where the Torah scrolls are read – a large tallit (prayer shawl) is spread over them and a special blessing is recited by all the congregation. The children are the next generation and this is a beautiful illustration of the desire to fulfill the biblical injunction: “And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children…” (Deut. 6:6-7).

As we know, the Word is a constantly flowing River of Life that never ends and so we immediately turn to Genesis and affirm God as the Source and Creator of all as we read,

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

At this conclusion of the Torah Cycle we can indeed proclaim a resounding:

Chazak, chazak ve’nitchazek!

Be strong, be strong, and may we continue to strengthen one another in our study and understanding of His Holy Word.

Olive Branch

 

 

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