• Daily Aliya for Devarim, Revi’i (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe continues: At that time G‑d instructed the Israelites to reverse course and head back to the desert. Realizing their dreadful error, a group of Israelites proceeded to advance toward Israel — in the face of Moshe’s objections. Lacking divine protection, they were immediately attacked and massacred by the Emorites. At this point, the Israelites heeded G‑d’s command, and headed back to the Sinai Desert.

    The Emorites attacking the Jews is compared to bees attacking (verse 44), perhaps because they swarmed, maybe because they were merely protecting their home. Rashi says they were compared to bees because just like bees die after they sting, those Emorites similarly died after attacking those Jews. G-d was (and is) protective of us even while meting out punishment!

  • Dvar for Devarim (1:1-3:22)

    The best part about books is that you can always look back at parts that are either unclear, or parts that you’ve missed or liked, and the Torah is no exception. With that in mind, though, why do we need a whole Sefer (Devarim, the book of Deuteronomy) dedicated to review the first 4 books, when all we’d have to do is look back and exam them? Also, why would you start a book of review with words of rebuke, as our Parsha does?

    As Rabbi Twerski points out, the answer lies in a quote by Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon), who said: ” A conceited fool has no desire for understanding, but only wants to express his own views (18:2).” What’s the point of a past if we don’t learn from it? And what’s the point of learning from our mistakes if we don’t keep what we’ve learned and integrate it into our future? As we get closer to Tisha B’av, when both Batei Hamikdash (Temples) were destroyed ON THE SAME DAY, the question applies even more.. Didn’t the Jews learn from the destruction of the first Temple merely a few hundred years prior? Do we learn from the destruction of BOTH Temples so many years later? There’s a whole book in front of us pointing its finger at itself and the four volumes before it, begging us to read it, and read it AGAIN, until we find the meaning intended for us, and use it to enforce what we WILL do. It’s the thirst of knowledge of our past that will lead to the accomplishments of our future!

  • Daily Aliya for Devarim, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: At that time, the Israelites approached Moshe and demanded the right to send out scouts to reconnoiter the land. Moshe recounts the tragic episode in detail, how the scouts delivered a frightening report, claiming that the land was unconquerable. Despite Moshe’s protests, the Israelites adopted the scouts’ attitude and decided not to enter Canaan. This caused G‑d to bar that entire generation from entering the Promised Land.

    Apparently they Israelites asked Moshe to allow the scouts to go so they can find the best path for the Israelites to enter the land. Then Rashi adds that “there is no road without a bend”, a profound reality tragically ignored by the Israelites, and many others today. In my days engaged in Jewish outreach, I would come across many teenagers, some eager to learn and know, while others eager looking to find that twist in the road they didn’t agree with. It’s always there, you just need to be willing to slow down and navigate the turns, and come out ahead on the other side.

  • Daily Aliya for Devarim, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: After the Israelites consented to the idea, Moshe appointed a hierarchy of judges to preside over the nation. Moshe recalls instructing them the basics of judicial integrity. Moshe then recounts how the Jews traveled through the desert and quickly reached Kadesh Barnea, on the southern border of the Holy Land.

    The qualifications for someone to be a judge or enforcer over others is quite long, although not universally agreed. Among the qualities discussed are: Understanding, righteous, bashful (of mis-judging), wise, familiar (so they know their litigants’ situations), respected. The Gemara says that the one quality Moshe couldn’t find was understanding, not the quality I would have thought would be lacking. But Sifri explains that this “understanding” was the ability to learn one thing from another, something that clearly requires not only familiarity with the existing rules, but a comfort level with them that would enable this extraction, much like the Gemara does many years later. So Moshe settled for the other qualities, “understanding” that the understanding would follow years later…

  • Daily Aliya for Devarim, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: This week’s reading begins the Book of Deuteronomy, the fifth and final book of the Five Books of Moshe. Moshe begins his final monologue, five weeks before his passing. He recounts the story of the Israelite’s travel through the desert, placing emphasis on, and rebuking them for, the story of the spies. He describes Israel’s conquest of the Emorites and the Bashanites.

    Aliya Summary: The Israelites are situated on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, on the verge of entering the land of Canaan, and Moshe’s death is imminent. This is the setting for Moshe’s final statements to the nation he lovingly tended for four decades. After delivering a veiled rebuke to the nation for their many past misdeeds, Moshe revisits the period, some 39 years earlier, before the Israelites left Mount Sinai at G‑d’s behest, with the intention of immediately invading and entering Canaan. At that time, Moshe expressed to the Jews his inability to single-handedly bear the burden of leadership, because “G‑d, has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as the stars of the heavens in abundance.”

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