Friday, July 27, 2007

Parshat V'Etchanan

I’m kinda busy at work today, and as a Friday it’s a short day (I’m in Toronto right now which is why I’m working on a Friday at all), but I thought that I couldn’t let my first Shabbat come and go without at least a few thoughts on the Parsha.

As I mentioned, I’m in Toronto right now, and on Shabbat we’re planning on walking up to Ayin Letzion, which is a minyan that I was involved with while we were on shlichut here. It is possible that the Rabbi there will ask me to say a few words at Sudat Shlishit, it’s also not impossible that I’ll have the opportunity to say something at the Shabbat table, so I’d better come up with a few coherent thoughts, just in case.

Parshat Va’etchanan is jam-packed with concepts, both big and small. It’s almost like a “Greatest hits” parsha - 10 commandments and Shema Yisrael are two biggies that spring to mind, but there are plenty of other meaningful goodies.

A couple of random thoughts, maybe over Shabbat I’ll find a way to link them together:
  • The Parsha opens with Moshe’s “Plea” (Chanan) to HaShem, asking for permission to enter Eretz Yisrael.
    Rashi has a lot of trouble with this word, “Chinun”; he claims that it is a type of prayer – specifically a “free gift”.
    Look carefully at that Rashi, and the Ikar Siftei Chachamim, I think that he is trying to hell us something about that nature of prayer – that it shouldn’t be a deal: “Please give me x because I did y” or more commonly “If you give me x, I’ll do y”, rather even if we believe that we have ‘Ma’asim Tovim”, we shouldn’t use them as a basis for a heartfelt request.
  • Moshe’s particular request always gives me Goosebumps – he asks HaShem for permission to enter Eretz Yisrael – this was his deepest and most heartfelt request, and one that was denied.
  • I get Goosebumps because that which was denied to Moshe Rabeinu was given to our generation. How is it that when I get up in the morning and walk to shul, I am able to fulfill a Mitzvah that was denied to Moshe, the mitzvah of walking 4 amot in Eretz Yisrael.

Other thoughts about the parsha:

  • Moshe’s response to the denial of his Tfilla, he accepts the judgment without anger or complaint.
  • Why does he warn us against worship of Ba’al Pe’or, a disgusting type of idol worship that involves defecating in front of an idol – I think that there is definitely a message there for our generation which often sees a total disregard for common respect or appropriate action
  • Why does Moshe designate three cities of refuge? He knows that these cities will not function for many years until after the Western side bank of the Jordan (“West bank”?) has been conquered and settled.
  • Before repeating the 10 commandments, Moshe reminds us that we all heard them directly from HaShem – there is definitely a strong message in there.

There are many other goodies in this week’s Parsha, looks like this blogging thing is a great way to get me to think :)

Shabbat Shalom

No comments: