Moses informs the Israelites to prepare, when they enter the Holy Land, for a ceremony involving the uttering of covenantal blessings and curses on the mountains of Gerizim and Ebal.
Gerizim is therefore known as Har Beracha, the Mount of Blessing, by the Samaritans who still live and worship there.
Moses then commands the Israelites to destroy all idols and their accessories they will find when they enter Israel, and God will designate a specific location where He will choose to rest His Presence, where all sacrifices must be offered.
The students of Eli the High Priest interpreted this place as Shiloh,
and later, more than 3,000 years ago, David set the location in the
Canaanite town of the Jebusite people, which was renamed Jerusalem.
In ancient times, quadruped animal meat of kosher species was permitted only if three parts of it were given to the priest. Its blood is not permitted for consumption, so animals must be bled at the time of slaughter and, thereafter, precautions taken that surface blood is removed prior to consumption.
Moses warns against idolatrous Canaanite practice and to neither add to nor subtract from its laws. A false prophet is liable for the death penalty; not only words but even flesh is sacred and must not be defaced by tattoos.
Crops are tithed and gifts given to the Levite tribe and to the poor. The land must also refresh itself once every seven years as part of the Shemitah cycle.
Lending money to the needy and freeing slaves is part of the societal covenant of Israel.
Temple festivals are celebrated with sacrifices at three periods through the agricultural calendar: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. This week is the third week of nechemta, a seven-week period during which prophetic readings affording post-Tisha B’Av comfort to Israel are read.
- Rabbi Ariel Abel serves Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and is padre to Merseyside Army Cadet Force