Parshat Devarim

(Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)
(Haftara: Shabbat Chazon: Isaiah 1:1-27)

1. [1:17] “…for the judgment is God’s…” If God is really the only judge, then what is the job of a human judge and how can he do his job successfully?

2. [1:17] “…don’t be afraid of any man, for the judgment is God’s…” This pasuk is speaking to a judge. What does it mean?

3. [Haftara: Isaiah 1:17] God tells us through the prophet that He has no pleasure in the festivals and sacrifices if the Jews don’t act morally. God says, “Learn to do good, seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the orphan and plead for the widow.” If these acts of justice and kindness are really the most important, then why did God give us all the other commandments? Why didn’t God just give us the commandments of justice and kindness?

4. [Haftara 1:27] “Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and those that return to her with righteousness”. Are justice and righteousness enough for redemption? What about love, happiness, health and so on?

5. [Tisha b’Av] Next Saturday night (the 13th of August) is Tisha b’Av, which commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples and all other tragedies in Jewish history. The Talmud says, “Whoever mourns for Jerusalem will be worthy to see the joy of Jerusalem, and whoever does not mourn for Jerusalem will not see the joy of Jerusalem”. Why should seeing joy be dependent on whether someone mourned?

1:17 “…that which is difficult for you, you will bring it to me…”

When you are in doubt about a specific act, and you don’t know whether it is permitted or not, separate yourself from the pleasure of that act. Then, if you want to know the truth—whether that act is God’s will or not—you will see the truth.

Bring it to the life-force of God which is within you. Any difficulty in these areas is caused by the fact that the outside world blocks our vision of the truth, but if one attaches oneself to one’s inner spirituality, then the truth becomes clear.

–R. Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (1847 – 1905), Góra Kalwaria, Poland—the Sfat Emet

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker
And this study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

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