Open Hearts. Open Minds. Strong Values.


Posted on August 13th, 2018

DEUTERONOMY 16:18–21:9 

By Rabbi Lewis Eron for Reconstructing Judaism

Melekh Ha-Olam, Sovereign of All

Each time we pronounce a blessing, we are making a political statement. Within the introduction to every blessing are the words which declare that our Eternal God is melekh ha-olam, Sovereign of the Universe. Every time we express our gratitude for the opportunities and experiences life offers us, we also affirm our loyalty to God as our sovereign and acknowledge our citizenship in the Divine One’s dominion. In Hebrew this is called kabbalat ol malchut shamayim, accepting the yoke of the kingdom of heaven. 

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Re'eh - Rosh Chodesh Elul

Posted on August 6th, 2018

DEUTERONOMY 11:26–16:17 

Mark Kirschbaum for

Change the World TODAY

I. Change the World Today!

“Reality does not exist on its own, in and for itself, but only in an historical relationship with the men who modify it.” Antonio Gramsci, The Prison Notebooks

“‘See, I have given over to you’- …the righteous with their words create new heavens and new earths, as the verse suggests: See, what I have done- I have given over to you that creating aspect of myself so that with your teachings you can create new realities of heaven and earth. Understand this.” Degel Mahane Ephraim, Perashat Re’eh


This week’s text begins with a resounding cry (Devarim 11:26):

“See! I am presenting before you all today, a blessing and a curse! A blessing such that you shall keep my commandments…and a curse should you not hearken unto my commands and veer from the way set before you today…”

The commentators dissect virtually every word in this passage. The repetition of the word “today” is of note, but this connotation of immediacy is somewhat odd since the actual “blessing and curse” event was meant to occur at a much later date, after entering the land and reaching the mountains of Gerizim and Eval.

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Posted on July 30th, 2018

DEUTERONOMY 7:12–11:25 

Rabbi David Steinberg,

Thoughts on Ekev

We are now, with our reading of Parshat Ekev,  in the third portion of Sefer Devarim/ The Book of Deuteronomy. “Devarim” means “words,” referring to the many, many words spoken by Moses in this fifth book of the Torah, as he recounts and elaborates upon many of the stories and laws introduced in the earlier books of the Torah. Indeed, the alternative traditional name for this book --- “Mishneh Torah”/ “Repetition of the Torah” --- parallels the English name of the book – “Deuteronomy” – the name “Deuteronomy” being derived from two Greek roots “Deutero” and “Nomos” which mean “Second Law.”

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Va’et-chanan - Shabbat Nachamu

Posted on July 23rd, 2018

Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11 

By Rabbi Richard Hirsh for Reconstructing Judaism


Shabbat Naḥamu

The summer cycle of scriptural readings revolves around two sets of text. The first is the weekly cycle of readings which progresses through the final book of the Torah, Deuteronomy. The second is the ten week cycle of haftarot, or supplementary readings, selected from the writings found in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, which orbit around the fast day of Tisha B’Av.

Tisha B’Av commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, as well as other historical oppressions of the Jewish people which our tradition has connected with the ninth day of Av. For the three weeks prior to Tisha B’Av, the haftara readings deal with prophetic denunciation of the sins of the Jewish people, as first Jeremiah and then Isaiah condemn the transgressions of the Covenant. In particular, Jeremiah’s prophecies of the imminent destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem predict with frightening accuracy the fate that in fact befell the Jewish people in 586 BCE.

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Devarim - Shabbat Hazon

Posted on July 16th, 2018

Deuteronomy 1:1−3:22 

By Rabbi Richard Hirsh for Reconstructing Judaism

Shabbat Hazon

This week’s Torah portion is Devarim, the opening section of the last book of the Torah known in English as Deuteronomy. This Shabbat, however, is known as Shabbat Hazon, after the opening words of the special Haftara reading: “Hazon Y’Shayahu”, “[This is] the vision of [the prophet] Isaiah”. 

The origins of the tradition of the Haftara, the supplementary biblical reading associated with the weekly Torah portion, are obscure. Normally, the selection is tied to the content of the Torah portion, or to a key word or personality found in the Torah reading. 

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