Student Teaching in the New Millenium

Do What You Say You Will Do (5771 Devarim V)

In Deuteronomy on August 5, 2011 at 5:50 pm

He gave you His word
And He gave them His word
According to their Words

Isaiah 1:1-27
Deuteronomy 2:2-30

Our fifth aliyah recounts the journey of the Israelites following the incident with the scouts. Moses describes God’s covenants with other peoples, Edom and Moab and Ammon, in some detail. Wouldn’t a verbatim recounting of the locations the Israelites passed through, and reminders of God’s specific promises to Israel concerning the Land have sufficed?

What is covenant? Let’s ask again. What is a contract? Or, what is an agreement? In lay terms, these are commitments made between people, and run the spectrum between formal compacts and simple gifts. Covenants are transactions. How we honor them reflects on our peoplehood.

Does Moses’ attention to God’s behavior towards other covenants contrast with Israel’s covenant and their subsequent behavior with the scouts?

Rabbi Ari Jacobson writes in Love and Land on My Jewish Learning (previously commented on here) that Deuteronomy shifts the focus of the Torah to Love. What does this mean for God’s other covenantal obligations? What does this mean for God’s covenant with Israel? Do these covenants have anything to do with each other?

On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, we ask forgiveness for breaking any covenants we’ve made. This isn’t a blanket absolution. The machzor states, For sins against God the Day of Atonement atones. For sins against other men the Day of Atonement does not atone. What does this say about our obligations to one another? Does this say anything about the human condition?

Final question: how did God create the world?

Good Shabbos

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  1. An answer to your final question is;
    BY ASKING WHAT AND WHY.

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