Parshat Netzavim

Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20
(Isaiah 61:10-63:9)

1. [30:11-12] “This mitzvah which I command you today… It is not in heaven…” The Talmud teaches us that matters of Jewish law are decided by the majority of Rabbis. “It is not in heaven…”–the rabbis should argue about the law and decide. If Jewish law is telling us how to do God’s will, how can God’s will be decided by which of the rabbis wins an argument?
2. [30:20] “To love the L-rd your G-d… for He is your life…” The Maharal, R. Judah Loew of Prague (1525-1609), believes that the love of God and the love of man are natural qualities in people. In other words, this pasuk is saying, “Let your natural love come out of you, and you will love God”. Do you agree or disagree with the Maharal on this point?
3. [Haftara: Isaiah 63:9] “…in His love and in His compassion he redeemed them…” The Malbim (Meir Leibush, Lithuania and Poland, 1809-1879) says that “love” means seeing the best in the person, and “compassion” means seeing the weakness in the person. Do you agree with the Malbim’s understanding?
4. [pre-Rosh Hashana] There are 2 types of tshuvah (return or repentance)– tshuvah as a result of fear (heavenly punishment) and tshuvah as a result of love (love of God, of truth, of goodness). The Talmud tells us that when a person makes tshuvah from fear, his or her intentional sins are erased, but when a person makes tshuvah from love, his or her sins become merits. What psychological process would make a person’s sins become merits?
5. [pre-Rosh Hashana] The Talmud tells us that the sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashana represents our crying out to God without words. We are also told that the shofar is meant to wake us up from our “waking dream”, and to improve ourselves. Do these 2 explanations contradict each other?

We see how the Jewish soul crosses the great sea of the abyss with all its strength. It uses all of its inner power to swim through the fierce waters…and it tries to come to the elevated beach , to the place of the God of Israel–the place of great happiness, and the splendour of God.

–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 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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