Parshas: Va’eschanan +Shabbo Nachamu

Parshas: Va’eschanan

Moses continues his final speech to the Children of Israel. He tells them how he entreated G-d to allow him to enter the land of Israel, but his request was denied. Moses was allowed, however, to see the Promised Land from the peak of Mount Pisgah. Moses appeals to the people to keep the Torah, telling them to neither add to nor subtract from its mitzvos. They are told to always remember the Revelation at Mt. Sinai where every man, woman and child heard the presentation of the Ten Commandments. Moses repeats the Ten Commandments, with subtle differences between this version and that of the Book of Exodus. The Shema, found in this week’s Torah portion, expresses our belief that G-d is One and states our commitment to love and serve Him. It exhorts us to transmit Torah to the next generation, and its laws should be remembered by a ‘sign’ upon one’s hand and forehead (tefillin) and written on the doorposts of one’s home (mezuzah). Finally, Moses encourages the people to trust in G-d and remain faithful to the Torah. Intermarriage is prohibited, and the source that Jewish identity is transmitted through the mother is stated.

Shabbos Nachamu

Literally the “Sabbath of Consolation”, Shabbos Nachamu is the Shabbos following the fast of Tishah B’Av. Called Shabbos Nahamu (Console) after the first line of the day’s prophetic reading (Nachamu, nachamu ami, Console, console my people…”) (Isaiah 40:1-26), it is also the first of seven haftaros of consolation, all drawn from the book of Isaiah, that deliver a message of comfort in the seven weeks following Tisha B’Av and lead us to the period of Rosh Hashanah. Nahamu which provides words of consolation in the aftermath of Tisha B’Av, cushioning the blow of the day of destruction, allowing the mourners to go into it knowing there is salvation and emerge from it reassured that redemption will come.

The 9 Days

Rosh Chodesh Av occurs on Wednesday, July 22. This begins a period of time known as the ‘9 Days.’ The first nine days of the month of Av, and also the morning of the tenth, are days of acute mourning for the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples. In addition to the restrictions that apply to the entire three-week period, during this time we refrain from the following additional joyous activities: Eating meat and drinking wine (except for Shabbos), laundering clothing, swimming or bathing for pleasure and remodeling or expanding a home. For questions or further details, please contact Rabbi Smason The Three Weeks.

The Three Weeks

An annual mourning period that falls out in the summer. We mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and our launch into a still-ongoing exile. The period begins on the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, a fast day that marks the day when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 69 CE. The Three Weeks reaches its climax and concludes with the fast of the 9th of Av, the date when both Holy Temples were set aflame. This is the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, and it is also the date that many other tragedies befell our people.