I am committed to a life provoking the invasion of The Coming Kingdom through: human service, ecstatic prayer, halakhic observation, community building, nurturing hope, and drawing down abiding faith...
More than any other extremity on the human body feet get hit the hardest. Feet hold up a significant portion of our body’s weight, they sustain the greatest impact for the longest time, and without protection and regular showers they get rough and smelly. If you add on top of this the fact that modern hygiene and footwear were not always in the picture and we discover an entire world of feet far rougher than what we’ve experienced in the Western world for some time. This is precisely where we see one of Yeshua’s greatest acts of humility.
I have had the privilege of spending each of the last 52 weeks of the year focused on building character and developing a lifestyle of serious t’shuvah.
The truth can hurt sometimes, a lot. In fact, Moses’ words to the Jewish people in parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech contain some of the most difficult truths. For one, the people are told that they will fall short of the Torah, and that this will eventually lead to terrible misfortune. We might try to avoid this painful truth by assuming that Moses’ words only applied to the people he was speaking to at the time.
It would seem that the world is becoming decreasingly calm as the years go by. At the same time, there is rarely anything new under the sun and a sense of disequilibrium has covered society from time immemorial.
When you make a vow to the Lord, your God, you shall not delay in paying it, for the Lord, your God, will demand it of you, and it will be [counted as] a sin for you. But if you shall refrain from making vows, you will have no sin. (Deuteronomy 23:22, 23)
It can be an easy thing to treat our failed promises as mistakes that we try to make up, as opposed to outright “sins.” A close friend of mine once told me that saying you will do something and failing is not much different than saying you did something when you didn’t. It seems, at least in our society, that we treat the latter as a lie while the former is more forgivable (even if unfortunate).
Here is where silence comes in. If we don’t promise to do something we cannot do, we are not liable. This is the point of the above verses from Deuteronomy. We oughtn’t use this as an excuse to be excessively noncommittal, but it does caution us to not be so loose-lipped as to promise what we cannot.
Silence is a guard against words that harm others and ourselves. In this way silence is like a precious gift that God gives us to keep us from overstepping our bounds. It can be difficult to keep promises. When one really thinks about the number of things that need to fall in place in between the promises we make and the fulfillment of them it can be rather overwhelming. So let us guard our tongues from saying anything other than what we absolutely mean and absolutely intend to fulfill with caution, and with God’s help.
In a biblical passage, the repetition of a work or phrase is a grammatical indicator of emphasis. Parashat Shofetim contains one of the more famous instances of this phenomenon:
I met someone recently who told me that she only spends $100 a month on food for herself. I was shocked. She explained that most people don’t believe her when she tells them, but the truth is that she was taught by her family how to buy food in such a way that it lasts quite a long time.
This week’s parasha is a source for many liturgical texts within the Jewish tradition such as Ve’ahavta (Deuteronomy 6:5–9), Ki HaShem Hu HaEloqim (Deuteronomy 4:39) from the Alenu, and Vezot HaTorah (Deuteronomy 4:44) from the Torah service, with the most obvious being the great, prayerful/theological/
The opening of Devarim is Moses’ “recap” of much that had transpired for the Jewish people while travelling towards the Land. The picture isn’t so pretty. Moses does not give an optimistic appraisal of the people. By and large they are presented as stubborn, weak, scared, petty, and dense.