VaEtchanan (And I Besought) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion
Va’etchanan (ואתחנן | I pleaded)
Torah: Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11
Haftarah: Isaiah 40:1-26
Gospel: Luke 22:13-38
A special portion for Shabbat Nachamu is read this Shabbat!
Shabbat Nachamu (שבת נחמו | Sabbath of comforting)
Haftarah: Isaiah 40:1-26
This Week’s Torah Portion | August 14 – August 20, 2016 – 10 Av – 16 Av, 5776
From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets.
We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures.
The Parashah for this week August 14-20, 2016 is called Va’Et’chanan- “And I Pleaded…”
TORAH: Deuteronomy 3:23—7:11
HAFTARAH: Isaiah 40:1-26 (Shabbat Nachamu)
Shabbat Nachamu—Following the three weeks “between the straits” ending with Tisha b’Av, the haftarah for each of the next seven weeks will be from the Book of Isaiah—focusing upon the LORD’s desire to comfort His people. This week’s haftarah begins, Nachamu, Nachamu ami—“Comfort you (plural), Comfort you my people…”. This next Sabbath is therefore sometimes called Shabbat Nachamu—the “Sabbath of Comforting.”
In addition to the “preparations and warnings for crossing-over and possessing inheritance” (3:27-28; 4:14, 21-22, 26-28; 6:1), this week’s rich and powerful reading contains the ‘Ten Commandments’ (5:6-21); the Shema “Hear O Israel” (6:4); instructions regarding knowing and memorizing God’s Word within the home, and other, often touchingly earnest, counsels and admonitions of Moses to the young generation preparing to enter Canaan.
*Deuteronomy 3:25. “I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon” (KJV).
Although many English (and one Greek) versions interpret ‘mountain’ as being plural, the literal Hebrew (as with the original King James cited above) is singular, leaving room for the implication that one of the great longings in Moses’ heart was to be allowed to see with his own eyes “that good mountain”—the one about which he had been given a prophetic song immediately after leading his people through the Red Sea over 40 years before—“You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which You have made for Your own dwelling” (Exodus 15:17). This is of course the Temple Mountain in Jerusalem, upon which the King of Kings will one day be enthroned (Psalm 2:6).
*Deuteronomy 3:28. “And charge Yehoshua (Joshua), and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.”
PLEASE PRAY: for the raising up of spiritual leaders in Israel—that these be noticed by alert and obedient elders who will, under the direction of the Holy Spirit “charge, encourage and strengthen” them in the power and direction of their calling. That a new godly generation will love and trust their God, fight the battles necessary and inherit the land.
*Deuteronomy 4:7. “For who is the great nation whose gods are near to it the way YHVH our God is to us in all the ways in which we call to Him?”
*Deuteronomy 4:29-31. “But from there [i.e. scattered throughout the world] you [the Hebrew people] will seek YHVH your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the last days, when you turn to YHVH your God and obey his voice (For YHVH your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.”
PLEASE PRAY: For awakening of a powerful longing in the hearts of Jews still in the nations, a longing after the God of their Fathers and faith in this word that He will hear when they turn to Him. Pray that barriers will come down which presently seek to prohibit Messianic Jews [i.e. those who believe in Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah, Saviour and Lord] from immigrating to Israel!
*Deuteronomy 4:43. “Betzer in the wilderness on the plateau for the Reubenites, Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites.”
These are locations of Cities of Refuge in land taken by Israel from the Ammorites, running along the eastern side of the Jordan River to Mount Hermon, an area once known as the “Land of the Giants” (Deut. 2:20; 3:13), until Og (the last and greatest of the giants) was defeated by Israel before their crossing into Canaan (Deut. 3:3-11). The location of the first two lies within land presently under the oversight by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (which modern kingdom came officially into being in 1946). The last is the area of the Golan Heights, taken by Israel from Syria in the 1967 War. Zechariah 10:10 prophesies that someday Jews will return to Gilead, as well as portions of Lebanon.
PLEASE PRAY: That the Israeli government will sense and move in God’s timetable regarding these lands. Twenty one years ago, the Israeli government under Yitzhak Rabin actively engaged in negotiations to return the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for peace. The present state of turmoil just outside the borders of that region and throughout Syria testifies to the mercies of God in not having allowed that exchange to take place!
Please pray for God’s Kingdom to come in the Golan Heights—
1) that Israel will not despise this land taken once by Moses and bequeathed to Manasseh, and now in these last days entrusted once again to the stewardship of God’s people Israel. Pray that this strategic land will never be bartered for a false peace with our neighbors.
2) That it will be protected from the forces of violence in Syria which continually threaten to invade it.
3) That revelation of the true God and His Saviour/Messiah Yeshua to the Druze peoples living along the Israeli borders of the Heights.
4) For the Messianic presence (Including houses of prayer) in the Golan Heights—that God encourage, strengthen and give strategy.
5) Pray that God’s Kingdom come!—for all the regions mentioned in Deut. 4:45–that in His way and timing, the LORD of Hosts will extend the borders of Israel to encompass all the lands promised to His Covenant people.
*Deuteronomy 6:4-5. “HEAR! [Hebrew: Shma!] ISRAEL; YHVH [the LORD] OUR GOD, YHVH ONE!”
There are other “Hear, O Israel’s” in Deuteronomy (4:1, 6:3, 9:1, 20:3, 33:7)—but this is the one which for centuries has become the central cry of Jews throughout the world, and continues to be sung each week in Synagogues (including most Messianic ones). It takes revelation, removal of the ‘veil,’ for this people to realize that Yeshua’s (Jesus’) being Son of God (Proverbs 30:4), as well as Son of David and Son of Man, does not violate this proclamation. It is a deep, eternal truth that He and His Father are ONE! (John 10:30). Satan hates this truth being voiced—when Yeshua proclaimed it, the religious Jews present took up stones to kill him.
PLEASE PRAY for this revelation of the one-ness of the Father and the Son, and that the voice and false message of the Deceiver be silenced in the ears of the Jewish people.
*Deuteronomy 6:5. “You shall love YHVH your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
Yeshua quoted this verse in the New Covenant, calling it the First and Greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38; Mark 12:29-30). “All your strength” is unique in the Hebrew. Rather than a usual expression for “strength”, the word me’od is used. Elsewhere in both Biblical and Modern Hebrew me’od is an adverb meaning “very.” Webster’s describes the adverb “very” this way: “In a high degree; to a great extent; extremely; exceedingly; used as a qualifier before an adjective or another adverb.” Yet here me’od or “very” is used as a noun! To love our God with all of our very “very-ness”—in every way, “in a high degree”; “to a great extent”; “extremely”; “exceedingly.”
Only once in the Hebrew Bible is this passage repeated—in reference to the Israelite leader, King Josiah (II Kings 23:25), “Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Torah of Moses, nor after him did any arise like him.” “With all our heart” implies a tender and humble heart. Significantly, 22:19 reveals that God heard and responded to Josiah “because his heart was tender, and he humbled himself before the LORD when he heard what he had spoken.”
Might we not pray for the current leader of Israel that he will have a softened heart like Josiah which might be pierced when he reads God’s word (something which Prime Minister Netanyahu has on more than one occasion claimed that he does with regularity)?
*Deuteronomy 6:6-9. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them (Literally, “teach them by memory”) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts (Hebrew: mazuzot) of your house and on your gates.”
Manuscript on parchment of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21, which begins “Hear O Israel, the YHVH our God, the YHVH is One.” Such manuscripts are placed within a receptacle which is then attached to the doorpost (mezuzah) of a Jewish home as an aid in fulfilling the commandment in Deuteronomy 6:9.
It is so important to read, learn and memorize God’s word. That is obviously the sense here—the placing of portions about the house as an aid in learning. Every Jewish house has a mezuzah on its doorpost. This is a little box with the letter Shin on it (Standing for Shaddai—“Almighty”) and bearing within a tiny scroll of parchment or paper with words from this passage Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21.
Observant Jews touch the mezuzah upon entering or leaving a dwelling and then touch their fingers to their lips as a sign of love for the Word. There is certainly nothing in and of itself wrong with this. However, as so often happens with such traditions, for many it has become laden with legalism or superstition. People with no belief whatsoever in the Word, or the God who gave it, will nevertheless touch a mezuzah with the hope of its bringing luck. And there is a distressingly frequent scenario in which a family in anguish over a tragedy taking place within their apartment receives the diagnosis from their rabbi that it befell them because of this or that small imperfection in the way their mezuzah had been mounted; or it hadn’t been cleaned; or the scroll within it hadn’t been ‘blessed’ properly. Such unscriptural, unfeeling legalism crushes the spirit of those religious Jews trying to do right, and brings down the fury and contempt of secular Jews, driving them even further away from the God of their Fathers.
PLEASE PRAY: For Israelis to return to the Word of God; that they will embrace it, and that the Holy Spirit will awaken its life within them. Pray against occult and legalistic deception regarding the Living Word. Pray for Jews to investigate the God-breathed pages of the New Covenant as well as the Old!
*Isaiah 40:1-2, 9. “Comfort You (plural), Comfort You My people!’ says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem…You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’”
As mentioned at the beginning of this section, the Sabbath immediately following the 9th of Av is sometimes called Shabbat Nachamu—“The Comfort You Sabbath”—after the first words of Isaiah 40 which are read that day. From this Sabbath until Rosh Hashanah (14 September this year), the seven readings from the Prophets will be taken from Isaiah, focusing like a balm upon the comfort and love which God has for His people.
PLEASE PRAY that Israel’s ears will be opened to the Voice of Good News coming from her Father. Pray that the voice of the bearer of Good News to Zion (Meveseret Tzion) will be released strong and clear from high places around the Holy City!
*Isaiah 40:11. “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.”
PLEASE PRAY for revelation and dreams amongst Jews regarding the One who said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15).
*Isaiah 40:26. “Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing.”
PLEASE PRAY that Israelis remember God’s word to Abraham our father, how “He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’”(Genesis 15:5). Pray that they realize WHO is the “Word” referred to in Psalm 33:4-6 who made all these, “For the Word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. By the Word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”
The Torah and Haftarah portions for next week (August 21-27, 2016) are called Ekev—“In Consequence Of…”
TORAH: Deuteronomy 7:12—11:25
HAFTARAH: Isaiah 49:14—51:3
In A Nutshell
The portion, VaEtchanan (And I Besought), repeats the prohibition that Moses was prohibited—to enter the land of Israel—and that Joshua is to succeed him and lead the people to the land of Israel. The portion deals with the commandment to keep the Torah and remember the standing at the foot of Mount Sinai, as well as with the concept of repentance, which appears here for the first time. Here appears the known text of Shema Ysrael (Here, O Israel).
Moses makes another speech, where he repeats the Ten Commandments. He also distinguishes three cities of refuge on the Eastern side of the Jordan River, warns of idol worship in the land of Israel, and instructs the destruction of the statues. He also reminds the people that the Creator is the one who led them into the land of Israel, the good land that they are destined to inherit.
The portion, VaEtchanan (And I Besought), contains all the conditions for the dwelling of the people of Israel in the land of Israel. The people of Israel began its history with Abraham, who established in Babylon a group. That group distinguished itself from the rest of the Babylonians, who did not wish to unite “as one man with one heart,” meaning to be in the quality of Hesed (mercy), which is Abraham’s quality.
That group of people agreed to live in Arvut (mutual guarantee), and actually began the formation process of the people of Israel. Following the exodus from Egypt, the group took upon itself the commitment to be as one nation despite the problems and the egos of its people.
The formation of a single nation was conditioned upon a successful “passage” of the ordeal at the foot of Mount Sinai, which is a mountain of Sinaa (hate). On Mount Sinai, the people assumed the preparatory stipulation for climbing over that mountain—being “as one man with one heart.” Only by adhering to this condition is it possible to receive the Torah, the upper force that can unite everyone. That condition is met through the point in the heart of each person, a point named Moses, which draws the people onward into the desert and subsequently to the land of Israel. This is the point where everyone must unite.
The stipulation that held the people together was Arvut (mutual guarantee). Even today, to be a nation we must meet the condition of caring for one another on the material level, too. This is the scrutiny that we are facing in Israel today—having everyone see that no one lacks basic sustenance on the material level.
When we come together, we enter the land of Israel through the correction called “forty years in the desert.” This is a state in which all become a nation and are willing to live together in a global and integral manner, as is appearing in the world today, and as Nature requires.
Today, some have much more than they need, while others barely meet their most basic needs. The only way we can acquire what we need is by being responsible for one another. Only through unity will we be able to create a special force that will help us overcome the difficulties and properly divide our produce and profits, just like a family.
“As one man with one heart” really means “as a family.” In a family we divide what we have to each one based on each one’s needs. We sit at a round table and talk. We take every argument and problem into consideration, weigh each one’s priorities, and decide how to divide what we have gained among us. We reinforce the weak and support them.
If we manage the people and the country in this way, we will find that the nation is connected, and that the Creator—the force of bestowal and love—is among us. We will feel how we resolve all the problems and rise above all the obstructions. When we take upon ourselves the good, we immediately produce new powers among us, and then, “This day you have become a people” (Deuteronomy, 27:9).
The condition of unity between us allows us to resolve all the problems, as it is written toward the end of the portion, that adhering to that condition leads us to being as one, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy, 6:4). When the force of love is between us—the force of unity, the necessity to be together, the Arvut—we sustain and keep one another. That force is leading us, the people of Israel, to the land of Israel—to the desire Yashar El (straight to God), straight toward the quality of love and bestowal.
Only if one produces the force called Elokim (God), which is the overall love, the Arvut, does the force, “The Lord your God,” which one has created, walks ahead when one enters the land of Israel. That force helps us cope with the difficulties there, and fight the seven nations there, which are stronger than us.
In many ways, it is similar to Israel’s current situation, being surrounded by nations that wish to destroy it. It is only by that force that we truly “defeat” everyone. In the end, we bring not only ourselves into unity and connection, but the entire world. We become “a light for the nations” by showing how we can all be united in our world, which requires a global-integral connection among everyone. It is just as Nature, the Creator, appears to us as one, and closes us in such a way that compels us to be like it, as one, in Dvekut (adhesion) with it.
When we produce the force of love between us by bonding, we become similar to the Creator, to the overall force in Nature. In that state we are in harmony with Nature, and we balance the ecology, technology, economy, and everything else. Everything falls into place only by the force of unity, albeit it may not seem that way, and it may not be clear what the force of unity has to do with resolving any of these problems.
We have yet to understand that we are part of Nature, that we are in it. The network we are in is integrally managed, with all its parts interconnected. If we, too, connect in synchrony with Nature, we will be rewarded with the fruits of the land of Israel, as the spies saw them but thought they would not be able to enjoy them because the fruits were so great, and the people that dwelled in the land were so mighty. Here lies the solution: if we unite, that force will march before us and will shatter all the enemies.
As long as we produce between us the force of Arvut, it will resolve everything. Whatever happens, through the force of unity we can all be under the umbrella of Arvut, the umbrella of love, through which the world will truly be corrected.
Following Moses, Joshua had to lead the nation into the next stage, the next degree. How does one lead the people while keeping everyone united despite the challenges?
The Torah does not tell us what happened after the entrance to the land of Israel, or how to break the idols, which are our evil inclination. When idol worshipping, we place before us statues such as money, power, respect, envy, and hatred. The Torah does not tell us precisely how to break them down within us. Nothing is said about the construction of the Temple and the conduct within it.
We basically have two ways to go. We can take the short, and good way, where we achieve our own correction and the correction of the world, or we can take the hard way, if we do not keep the condition of Arvut.
Now we are going through difficult times, through troubles …
We need not regard it as trouble, but as an opportunity. The conditions we are in are an opportunity, and in them we must become corrected. Without difficult times, how will we overcome the evil inclination, how will we know it?
Assume we all establish Arvut, we all take care of each other and people go along with it because it solves their problems. What is the next step?
There is nothing but maintaining the Arvut.
What about the love we have to reach?
It is Arvut. The first stage in Arvut is “that which you hate, do not do to your friend,” meaning at the very least avoid harming others. The next stage is “love your neighbor as yourself,” which is the overall rule of the Torah. There is nothing more than that. There are two conditions we must follow: avoid harming others, and then, above it, treat them with love.
Lately, we have seen many people openly admitting that what they really need is love.
People need to understand the true meaning of Arvut. We need to sit together at a round table and discuss things, explain the definitions of each word until we actually feel what we are talking about.
Arvut means that we are all responsible for one another, in everything in life. When one has the right relationship with others, there is no need to think of oneself. While you think about the others, the others think about you.
It is just like a family. In a family, the care is not for oneself, but rather for the entire family: the children, the elders, the sick, and the weak. We divide the family income and everything else we have according to everyone’s needs.
How do we make decisions in a round table format in a country of seven million people?
Imagine what it will be like when we need to make this type of decisions with seven billion people! We need to aspire to have all factions around the table. We need to find factions whose representatives have not come to the table, perhaps because they are too weak or have despaired. We need to help them raise their questions.
Also, the round table must be an ongoing thing. We must set an example of a nation that is discussing with love, with everyone seated together around the same table: left, right, and middle, even enemies and foes. The common point that connects us is that we all belong to one nation, as it is written, “love covers all transgressions” (Proverbs, 10:12). The transgression is the hate that we feel for each other. In other words, it is fine that we are hateful, but there is one rule: we must all live like a family.
Will that make the hatred subside?
No, it will not subside. The principle in the wisdom of Kabbalah is that “love covers all transgressions.” In other words, the transgression of hate remains. It points to disagreements and to the difference in qualities that we all have. Disagreements between us are good because above them we build a Masach (screen), an umbrella that covers over those transgressions.
We unite despite our disputes because the principle of love must be above everything else. That principle “uses” those disputes as a lever to raise us above Mount Sinai, above the mountain of hate. We all sit around the table and build above us the concept of “Moses on Mount Sinai,” and Moses pulls us up. When we achieve the quality of love that connects us, we become a nation. Before that, we are not considered a nation.
Is this true for the rest of the world, as well?
First, about us here, in Israel: We have had the spiritual gene since the time we were a nation. Today we are not a nation but a collection of exiles. If we implement the principle of Arvut and use the differences between us to add to the concept of Arvut, we will truly feel that we are in the land of Israel.
If we are united, no one will be able to harm us. It will not be because we will be strong, but because the force of Nature will be in us, in synch with the global, integral Nature, as it was written that the Creator walks before us and fights all our wars, just as He shatters man’s hatred toward others.
There is no doubt that our neighbors will gladly join us, and then we will see that the hatred was there only in order to unite us. No other country in the world is in a similar situation. Our unity calms our neighbors because there is only one force that operates in Nature, and its purpose is to lead us all to unity, connection, harmony, and balance with the global Nature.
Do the Ten Commandments detail how to achieve Arvut or do they detail what we find once we achieve it?
The Ten Commandments are a condition. The system of unity between us consists of ten parts, called “Ten Sefirot.” We should interpret each of them. We need to set those ten parts—our connections to others—in order. If a person puts his relation toward others in order, in ten distinct approaches, he puts in order his entire attitude toward others.
Do these ten Sefirot appear once we achieve Arvut?
It is also about how to achieve Arvut because this is the goal. In discovering the Arvut, you discover your own higher state where you have risen above troubles. All of a sudden you discover that Nature is already producing everything you need. You discover the sources of energy, vitality, health, and love that exist in the world, and the close relations that exist between all parts of Nature, and which we suppress.
This sounds like a miracle.
If you speak to people who live in the wild, such as in the woods, they often say that Nature actually radiates love to them. The unity, the holism in it radiate an attitude of love.
Will we enter a new realm of reality through our desire to achieve Arvut?
Yes, we will discover internal forces that are currently hidden from us because we constantly view others through our egos. When we begin to give as Nature gives, we begin to perceive a completely different wavelength, much like a radio receiver.
How do we begin? What is the first step toward Arvut?
We have to sit at the round table and scrutinize those concepts and how we can achieve unity. Arvut is the condition that made us a nation in the past. Afterward, we lost it with the ruin of the Temple. We have been in exile, and now we need to recreate ourselves as a nation.
A nation is like a family. We must see ourselves as one big family. We need to relate to all the problems, and we will find that it is good that they are appearing now. The problems give us something to talk about, a need to feel each other. These days, people’s primary need is connection with others; they even riot and go on protests just to feel connected.
You Have Begun to Show
“Come and see, the Creator has given all the nations in the world to appointed ministers who rule over them,” meaning the different forces of Nature. “But Israel, the Creator holds them as His lot and His share, to actually unite with them.” We see what is happening with us throughout history. We are a special people and there is no way to avoid it. “And He gave them the holy Torah to unite in His name. Therefore, ‘You who cling to the Lord,’ and not to any other appointee, such as the rest of the nations.”
(Quotes in the above paragraph are from Zohar for All, VaEtchanan, item 17.)
What is the holy Torah? It is “love your neighbor as yourself, this is a great rule in the Torah.” There is nothing but the love between man and man; this is the whole Torah, and there is nothing else. We think that these are different actions and means, but these are customs, superficial actions whose purpose is to sustain the people as long as they do not understand what is required of them, meaning while they are still in exile. It is only until we come to the global situation when Nature demands of us, when Elokim demands that we unite.
What Nature are we talking about? What is this law? What do you mean by “Nature”?
“Nature” is the common force that runs the entire universe according to a purpose and a plan. We see that all of Nature’s parts are connected. That connection includes us, except we are detached from the rest of Nature. This is why we must first unite in a manner of “love your friend as yourself,” become global, integral, connected like the rest of Nature.
When we achieve that, we will begin to feel the common force that operates and that has operated throughout evolution. We will unite with that force and we will be aware of the path that we have taken. In that state we will discover the reasons for everything that happened along the way, the reason and the meaning of life, and the goal to which we are drawn.
 In Gematria (Hebrew numbering of letters), Hateva (The Nature) is tantamount to Elokim (God)
 “The Lord your God who goes before you, He shall fight for you” (Deuteronomy, 30:1).