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Parashat Ki Tetze
September 6, 2014 – 11 Elul 5774
Dozens of rules are explained in this portion. Many involve rules of family: the accumulation of new wives, rewarding deserving children and punishing disobedient children, Levirate marriage, and basic guidelines of divorce and re- marriage. Some involve personal intimacy: adultery, prostitution, and premarital relations. Some involve ritual purity: such as limits on who may enter the Divine sanctuary, wearing appropriate clothes, and not using mixed seeds and tex- tiles. Others involve limits on punishment: administering lashes to people and pain to animals. Still others speak of eco- nomic matters: including paying wages in a timely fashion, caring for the poor and dealing honestly in business.
The parasha culminates in the national imperative to remember Amalek and to completely wipe it out from the earth.
Parashat Ki Tavo
September 13, 2014 – 18 Elul 5774
Israelites in the Promised Land will be required to bring some of the first fruits to the priests and to declare their grati- tude to God for the blessings bestowed throughout history. They must also declare that they have tithed appropriately. The Israelites must put the commandments into stone, literally.
A ceremony is described in which the people must gather between two mountains and hear of sins that take place in private, many of them sexual in nature.
If God’s commandments are fulfilled, Israel will be blessed in many ways. If they are not, Israel will be punished in doz- ens of ways, leading to their return to slavery in Egypt.
Moses reminds the people of the many miracles God performed during the years of wandering in the wilderness, in- cluding the defeat of several peoples.
September 20, 2014 – 25 Elul 5774
Every Israelite gathers to hear Moses’s closing words. They are told that they have an equal share in God’s covenant with their ancestors before them. They also are warned once again about the punishments they will endure if they wor- ship idols. Still, God will reward those who repent. God reminds the Israelites that the laws are not remote theoretical concepts, but are attainable for all.
Moses officially transfers his position of leadership to Joshua. Moses writes down the Teaching and tells the people to read it publicly on Sukkot once every seven years. God assures Moses that the Israelites inevitably will break the cove- nant and that God will hide God’s presence from them. Moses is asked to write a poem to teach the Israelites of this likelihood. Moses relays God’s prediction to the people, and prepares to recite the poem along with Joshua.
Parashat Ha’azinu – Shabbat Shuvah September 27, 2014 – 3 Tishrei 5775
Moses calls on heaven and earth to bear witness to his poem. He recounts that God (who frequently is referred to as “the Rock”) always has treated Israel with consistent justice. God punishes the people as a result of their sins, but re- duces the punishment. Moses promises that God will redeem the Israelites.
God calls Moses to ascend Mount Nebo, where he will soon die.