Archive for Juliol de 2010

Moses prepares the children of Israel in September.
It will be full of challenges, « people stronger and more numerous than you. »
How ready the children of Israel will be to face these new challenges?
Those facing trials are likely to remain stubbornly insensitive to the speech.
This is the «know-it-all complex ».
Instead, before embarking onto new conquests, we need to be reassured of
unconditional love, security and trust.
In these last chapters of the Torah, Moses revisits past experiences, evidence of Gd’s love. This is an indestructible platform on which the people can always rely.
In all relationships in which we are engaged (with our children, our spouses, our parents, our relations), it is good for us to be grounded in our shared memories of experiences that will serve as a basis in case of difficulty. It is good to revisit those positive memories regularly.
Our parasha, like many other texts of Deuteronomy, is trying to serve the future by tracing the past.
This past reminds us of the strength of an indestructible relationship between the people of Israel and its God, but it also reminds us of the trials overcome. These successes are able to convince us of our own ability to cope with those surprises and challenges that lie ahead. Although « Man does not live on bread alone, but on everything that the Eternal decrees »(Deuteronomy 8:3).
We are nourished with food, but also with experiences, both intellectual and emotional experiences.
Summer holidays are an opportunity to nourish and replenish our stocks of love and trust.

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Hear O Israel, the Eternal is our God, the Eternal is One (Deut. 6:4)
This is about an immense human dream about deep consistency in the world; about meaning; about a global rule that allows us to escape the uncertainties of chance.
The Torah – An operations manual for the world, a unique treasure, instructions that we need simply to follow in order to achieve happiness.
The Ten Commandments – the essence of the revelation. One single message that inspired the nation.
We would love that there would be one single, simple truth, a language common to all. But this is not so.
The ten commandments, which we envision as unanimous, have two different versions in our tradition.  Compare that to our parasha, Vaetchanan (Deuteronomy 5: 5) with that of the parasha Yitro in Exodus (Chapter 20).
The Torah, which is our guide, is also split between two versions, one written and one oral, to the point that our tradition forbids reading the written Torah without the help of a guide, fearing the text would otherwise be misunderstood.
The unity of God we affirm as a reality in the Shema (the first paragraph is taken from our parashah) is referred to as a hope and aspiration in the prayer that concludes our offices, Aleinu “In that day the Lord will be One as His Name is One” (Zechariah 14: 9).
The search for cohesion and a common meeting ground is a project that requires courage and perseverance.
The unity is an aspiration we need to live, finding harmony within our families, our friends and our communities.
By giving us the Shabbat, our tradition allows us to live this aspiration.
By requiring of us freedom and responsibility during the week, it encourages us to move forward in this quest.

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Devarim. Aquest és el nom del cinquè llibre de la Torà. La traducció directe és “paraules” i reflecteix perfectament el contingut del llibre: un recull dels darrers discursos que Moisès adreça al poble. Potser hem de veure una profunda ironia en el fet que Moisès, obligat a renunciar al somni de tota una vida – entrar en la terra promesa- per haver-se negat a parlar quan hauria estat necessari (i en comptes va colpejar la roca), ara s’aturi a just a l’entrada de la terra promesa i no faci altra cosa que parlar, … i durant tot un llibre!

Així és com aquest llarg discurs de Moisés és introduït “a l’altra banda del Jordà, a la terra de Moab, Moisès exposà ( en hebreu: be´er) aquesta llei dient:” (Dt 1:5)

Moisés ja ha parlat moltes altres vegades al poble i cada vegada que ho ha fet la Bíblia ha utilitzat el mateix verb “iedaver – parlà” per a introduir el seu discurs. Ara, en canvi, en els seus darrers moments de vida, la Bíblia utilitza per primera vegada un verb que no havia estat utilitzat mai: be´er, que vol dir “exposar, explicar.” En què es diferencia aquest discurs final de tots els discursos precedents?

Permeteu-me que avui porti tres comentaristes. Cadascú d’ells aporta una visió ben diferent sobre les raons per a aquest discurs als israelites en el moment de deixar el desert i entrar en la terra i que requereixi que Moisès trobi una nova forma de llenguatge.

El primer comentarista es Abraham ibn Ezra. Nascut a Cordoba cap el segle XI. Aquest home va viatjar per mig món i els seus comentaris són el resultat de la saviesa que dóna la experiència acumulada al llarg dels anys i a través de la qual llegeix el text bíblic. Ibn Ezra pensa que ara Moisés ha de trobar un nou llenguatge perquè s’adreça a una nova generació, diferent d’aquella que va deixar Egipte. Ara que la generació que va experimentar l’èxode ha mort en el desert, Moisés s’adreça a una generació nova que no ha tingut experiència de primera mà de l’èxode. Ara ja no és suficient que Moisés “els digui,” sinó que els “ha d’explicar.” Moisès s’adreça a una generació jove nascuda en el desert què va succeir a la generació anterior, i els explica allò que els seus pares havien experimentat i rebut.

Un comentarista de segle XX, R. Salomó Fisher suggereix que el canvi de llenguatge per part de Moisès és el resultat de la percepció de la mort imminent. S’adona que ja no hi serà més per a garantir la transmissió de la tradició. Ara es veu en la obligació d’ensenyar, no només per a que els israelites puguin comprendre per sí mateixos, sinó per a que siguin capaços d’ensenyar els seus propis fills.

El comentarista alemany del segle XIX, S. Rafael Hirsch, es pregunta si aquest nou verb no indica que Moisès està transmeten un missatge important no només pels israelites sinó també per a tota la humanitat. Apunt de deixar de ser un petit grup de nòmades del desert per a entrar a la terra promesa i formar part de la “escena internacional” del moment, havien de prendre consciència de la responsabilitat que adoptaven als ulls de la humanitat.

Avui, a la nostra manera cadascú de nosaltres som Moisès, amb la responsabilitat de narrar tota la història i transmetre-la a les generacions futures. La lectura bíblica d’aquesta setmana ens suggereix que, quan ho fem, hem de ser conscients que no només estem narrant (iedaber) la història sinó que la estem explicant i exposant (be´er). Tal com ens expliquem els tres comentaris que acabem de llegir, si ho fem, estarem ajudant a una nova generació a viure l’experiència d’un passat, fent que esdevinguin mestres per a la propera generació i estarem comunicant allò de positiu en la nostra història no només a un poble sinó a tota la humanitat.

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The opening words of our parashah, „Ele hadevarim – these are the words’, are like code words to never give up. Moses is at the end of his leadership and he says, „These are the words Moses spoke to the Children of Israel. ‘ What makes us forget his beginnings, when he is called to go to Pharaoh in order to free the Hebrews. At that time Moses refuses, replying, ‟I am not a man of words’ (Exodus 4:10) In other words, he was excusing himself based on his lack of skills of public speech. What a transformation between the beginning and the end! Can someone, by the power of the will, go beyond what seems
inevitable? Forcing fate?
There is a word that unites the three readings for this week, the parashah, in the Haftarah and the Meguilah of Tisha B’Av (the lamentations of Jeremiah): the word “ekha – how?”
In parashah: “How can I bear unaided the trouble of you, and the burden, and the bickering!”(Deuteronomy 1:12).
In the haftarah: “How has she become a prostitute, the faithful city, once full of justice? ” (Isaiah 1:21).
In the Lamentations of Jeremiah: “How lonely sits the city once great with people!? ” (Lamentations 1:1).
The same word in these three instances expresses the painful surprise: How? How did we get here? A terrible reprimand by three great prophets of Israel: Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah.
The rabbis noticed that the enemy, the hater of Israel, the prophet Baalam, blessed Israel three times (see Num. 24 and 25), while the prophets of Israel are so hard with their own people.
Instead, ask the rabbis, would it not have been more logical if the roles were reversed, if our prophet would bless Israel and the prophet Baalam would have cursed them? The misdrash answers: if Baalam would have cursed Israel, nobody would have paid attention to his words because it would be expected that an enemy would curse Israel. If Moses would have praised Israel, the world would have said that that was normal due to the fact that he was their prophet and therefore he was exaggerating.
Rabbi Pinchas Peli, in his commentary to this parashah, relates the joke about a Jew who, accused of reading an anti-Semite newspaper, answers: “What can I do? When I read the Jewish press I feel stunned and depressed by the
catalog of accusations, lack of rights and threats against us. But when I read the anti-Semitic press I cheer up reading about the Jews being in control of the banks.”
But perhaps, at the bottom, the mark of true prophets, is that they do not flatter. They stand up and speak about the failures, weaknesses, shortcomings, nothing to hide or to disguise. They are often very hard in their accusations. But what lies behind this harshness is love and tenderness for their people. The prophets are demanding to the limit, but they are totally devoted and loving. These are the real ingredients to educate, grow and advance Israel. Their words are a pledge of the future (cf. Isaiah 41: 8-16).
Shabbat Shalom, and a good vacation if you are leaving.
Before leaving on vacation, please, remember to send out your commitment for this coming year, which is so necessary to the survival of our community.
If you are stayng in Mechanicsburg, think that you might be the tenth to complete the Minyan!

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