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V'zos Habrucho


The Weekly Aliyot
Providing a short summary of the Torah portion read
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Published and copyright © by Avrohom Gedalia Gershon


This is parsha of Ekev, and continues Moshe Rabeinu's review of the Torah just before he passes away. At this point the Jewish people are just across the Jordan from Israel.

This parsha and the first aliyah begins with a big promise: that if the Jewish people keep all the mitzvahs, we will be blessed in all good ways and have no sickness or other troubles (see the Chumash for specifics). Also, we will easily consume the nations that currently occupy the land of Israel and that G-d will even send a hornet ahead of us to attack our enemies for us.

This aliyah then gives some details of the forty-year trip the Jews have just taken. Their clothes stayed new and clean and grew with them so they were always the correct size.

The end of the aliyah gives details of the wonderful features of the land they are going to and says, "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless G-d." This is the commandment of the blessing after a meal (also known as "birchat hamazon" in Hebrew or "benching" in Yiddish) and is almost the only blessing that is specified in the Torah. The rest of the blessings we say (with the possible exception of the blessing before speaking words of Torah) are of rabbinical origin.

In this second aliyah the Jews are warned that when they have nice houses and when their cattle and gold and silver are multiplied, they (and we) shouldn't forget that G-d took us out of Egypt and led us through a dreadful wilderness, gave us water, and fed us manna. And we should never think that what we have comes from our own power, but rather, remember that it all comes from G-d.

In the third aliyah, Moshe rebukes the Jews for the times they angered G-d in the desert and how they were a difficult people. He specifically reviews the details of the sin of the golden calf. Just 40 days after the Ten Commandments were given at mount Sinai, the Jews made an idol. G-d wanted to destroy them, but Moshe went back up the mountain to seek atonement for the Jews and it was granted on the tenth of Tishrei, the day we observe as Yom Kippur, our everlasting Day of Atonement.

In the fourth aliyah Moshe recounts how G-d told him to hew two new luchos (tablets) like the first ones that Moshe broke, and G-d wrote the Ten Commandments on these second ones.

At the beginning of the fifth aliyah are the words "what does Hashem require of you but to fear the L-rd your G-d", and Rashi says that from these words the Talmud (Tractate Berachos 33) concludes that "Everything is in the hands of Heaven except for the fear of Heaven". Another way to put this is that everything is Divine Providence, except for our fear of G-d in our choice to do mitzvahs or averahs (sins). In the rest of this aliyah, Moshe Rabeinu expounds on G-d's greatness and tells the Jewish people to love and fear G-d. It is explained in Chassidus, that when we contemplate G-d's greatness we develop our love and fear of G-d.

In the sixth aliyah Moshe tells the Jewish people that the land of Israel is dependent upon G-d for rain to irrigate it and therefore they should know that the land is constantly under G-d's scrutiny. G-d's eyes are on the land of Israel from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.

After that, this aliyah contains the second paragraph of the Shma Yisroel prayer, which we say at least twice a day. (The first paragraph of the Shma was contained in the corresponding same aliyah in last week's parsha, Va'eschanan.) Here we are told that if we heed G-d's commandments G-d will give the proper rainfall to the land and we will have a bountiful harvest. We are told here to put on tefillin, and to put up mezuzahs, both of which contain these words on the parchment contained within them. We are told once again to teach these words to our children and speak of them when we sit in our house, when we walk on the road, when we lie down, and when we get up.

In the seventh aliyah the Jews are told that if we observe all that G-d tells us to do, then we will easily occupy the land of Israel, and that no man will stand up against us. Then the boundaries of the land of Israel are given here.


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