• By Rabbi Ariel Abel
This week is the third reading that records Moses’ address to the people before he dies. The prophetic reading is the second in a series of seven known as the “shiva di-nechemta” – the seven-fold comfort. This means that from the end of Tisha B’av, which mourns the destruction of the Second Temple, and until the high holy days, we read of hope and the rebuilding of Zion, and do not wallow in the exiles’ shattered dreams.
This is especially significant at this time, when Hamas is foresworn to the destruction of Israel. We must never give in to that group’s evil plan to turn the world against us. Even as small nation, our voice will be heard, if we make sure to protest in support of our country! In this week’s reading, Moses points out that we will be blessed as a nation when we abide by the way of life prescribed by Torah and that we need not fear our enemies in the Promised Land. The journey through the desert was laden with challenges, but as a nation we were protected from the elements and eventually received the blessings of the Promised Land.
We should resist the temptation to say that we achieved success through our own prowess, for if we do, we may lose the very blessings which we sweated to gain. Moses then recalls the episode of the two new tablets of stone which replaced the shattered pair after the episode of the Golden Calf. This remaking of the covenant with Israel is a demonstration of Divine patience, that we were not discounted as His people even after we sinned.
Nonetheless, there is a pact between God and us which links our obedience with rainfall. The second paragraph of the Shema prayer declares that rain which falls on holy land is accounted for in relation to our moral behaviour. The reading ends with the Torah’s promise that we will be able to defeat enemies that logistically outweigh our capacity and win – disproportionately, against all the odds. This makes the case clear that we have to be prepared to fight for our security.
However much merit we have, Divine direction of our lives means that sometimes we must close ranks against those who wish to destroy us. Let us pray and protest for peace and an end to suffering and war, in Israel and all of the Middle East.