In this week’s Torah portion, Moses continues his speech to the Israelites. He tells them they will have to annihilate people who are not believers in God. Moses reminds them not to forget God’s commandments even after they enter the land of Israel and that their biggest task is to continue to fear God. Read the full text in English and Hebrew: Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25.
Also, don’t forget to check out this week’s Dvar by Zehariah Oginsky:
This week’s parsha starts with Moses telling the Jewish people that if they follow the mitzvot, they will prosper. He also reminds them of what happens when they don’t follow the mitzvot, like the sin of the golden calf. Next, he tells them that man live not only because of food and water, but also by God. After that, Moses tells them that Canaan is flowing with milk and honey and is blessed with the seven species. Moses also tells the Israelites that, as long as they are faithful to God, they will be blessed with rain. If they stray from God’s ways, they will be cursed with drought. The parsha ends with Moses reciting the second paragraph of the Shema. He also says what will happen if the Israelites follow or don’t follow the mitzvot.
A major point I want to talk about is the Israelites need for rain. God promises that there will be rain as long as the Israelites follow the mitzvot. Almost all of the Israelites were farmers, they relied upon the rains to be able to grow enough food to support them. If there was a drought, famine would ensue. These days, we have a massive disconnect between where our food comes from and the food that we eat. Ben Zoma used to say: “How much labor Adam must have expended before he obtained bread to eat! He plowed, sowed, reaped, piled up the sheaves, threshed, winnowed, selected [the ears], ground, sifted [the flour], kneaded and baked, and after that he ate; whereas I get up in the morning and find all this prepared for me,”.
Unlike Ben Zoma, we often fail to acknowledge how much labor and energy is put into the food that appears on our tables. I feel that it is important to have an idea of where our food comes from and how much work was put into it. In addition, many of our prayers and holidays revolve around asking God for a good growing season, but we have lost a lot of connections with these prayers and holidays because we are no longer farmers. Perhaps we can find ways to try to rebuild that connection between our agrarian past, and our current situation as a people. In this way, we might also be able to bring more meaning into festivals like sukkot.