This week is another special Shabbat: Shabbat Nachamu. Known as the “Shabbat of Comforting”, Nachamu occurs right after Tish B’ Av and Shabbat Chazon.The first in a series of seven haftorahs that are “comforting”, Nachamu is noted for offering consolation and is one of the readings that lead up to Rosh Hashanah.
The parsha this week is Va’Etchanan, וָאֶתְחַנַּן, translated as ” I pleaded/ I pled” covering Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11. In Va’Etchanan, Moses pleaded with G-d to get a glimpse of Israel (which he was allowed) and was told to instruct Joshua on leading the people to the promised land. Moses explained (at great length) that the laws given to the Israelites set them apart and gave them value, urging the people to remember and pass the knowledge on to their children and insisting that they were not to sculpt images in the likeness of living things. Knowing that sometimes things go horribly wrong and people die, Moses set up three “cities of refuge” where those individuals that accidently or unwittingly killed (manslaughter) could retreat and live. G-d also decided in this parsha that Moses would not enter the promised land, but made up for that decision by creating a covenant with the people and issuing the Ten Commandments (first verbally to Moses and then by inscribing them on tablets for all to see).
Oh, and we get the Shema in this parsha and the instruction to recite it twice every day. Once again, there is debate as to the commandments contained in the parsha. Mainonides found citings for 11 positive and 15 negative commandments, the Sefer ha-Chinuch notes there being less with 8 positives and 4 negatives.
Translation, via JTS:http://www.jtsa.edu/prebuilt/ParashahArchives/jpstext/vaethannan.shtml
Sources of commentary:
Animated at G-dcast: http://www.g-dcast.com/vaetchanan
Funding for Whidbey Island Jewish Community was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Special Initiatives Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.