(Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

(Haftara: Shabbat Chazon: Isaiah 1:1-27)

(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 3)

  1. [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?
  2. [Haftara: Isaiah 1:11] “What do I need your many sacrifices for? says God.” God tells us through the prophet that He has no pleasure in the festivals and sacrifices if the Jews don’t act morally. Can giving sacrifices with the right motivation help to make a person moral? What effect are the sacrifices supposed to have on us?
  3. [Haftara 1:27] “Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and those that return to her with righteousness”. It seems that the collective redemption is dependent on justice, while the individual redemption is dependent on righteousness. Is there individual redemption without collective redemption? What is the difference between justice (mishpat) and righteousness (tzedek)?
  4. [Pirkei Avot 3:15] “Everything is foreseen, and free choice is given…” The Rambam (1135-1204) understands this mishna to be saying that God foresees everything, but, nonetheless, there is free-choice for mankind. It seems to be a paradox, and that is the usual explanation. Our main commentator on the mishna, R. Ovadia (late 1400’s), however, says that this statement means that God knows even secret things that a person does, and a person can choose to do good. Why didn’t R. Ovadia accept the usual explanation? Why did he disagree with the Rambam?
  5. [3 weeks before Tisha B’Av] Our tradition tells us that the Messiah is born on Tisha B’Av, and that Tisha B’Av will be a joyful festival in the future. In our every-day lives, how can tragedy have a positive outcome in the future?

Commentary

Waves from the higher realm act on our souls ceaselessly. The stirrings of our inner spiritual sensitivities are the result of the sounds released by the violin of our souls, as it listens to the echo of the sound emanating from the realm of the Divine.

–R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer