Weekly Portion: Va’etchanan, Deuteronomy 3-7

Moshe pleads with God to enter the Holy Land, but is turned down. (Remember, God always answers your prayers — sometimes with a “yes,” sometimes with a “no” … and sometimes with a “not yet”.) Moshe commands the Children of Israel not to add or subtract from the words of the Torah and to keep all of the Commandments. He then reminds them that God has no shape or form and that we should not make or worship idols of any kind.

The cities of Bezer, Ramot and Golan are designated as Cities of Refuge east of the Jordan river. Accidental murderers can escape there to avoid revengeful relatives. They then await there until tried.

The Ten Commandments are repeated to the whole Jewish people. Moshe then expounds the Shema, affirming the unity of God, Whom all should love and transmit His commandments to the next generation. A man should wear Tefillin upon the arm and head. All Jews should put a Mezuzah (the scroll is the essential part) upon each doorpost of their home (except the bathroom).

Moshe then relays the Almighty’s command not to intermarry “for they will lead your children away from Me” (Deut. 7:3-4).

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Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah records that the Almighty said about the Israelites:

“Who will ensure that the heart that you have now shall will continue to fear Me and to observe all of My commandments all the days, in order to do good for you and your children forever” (Deut. 5:26).

The Talmud (Avodah Zarah 5a) states that Moshe said to the Israelites, “You are ungrateful (because they didn’t ask the Almighty to ensure that their hearts continue to fear Him) and the descendants of someone who is ungrateful (Adam complained that the woman the Almighty gave to him caused him to eat from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge).

Tosfos explains that they didn’t want to ask the Almighty to give them this elevated heart because they didn’t want to feel grateful towards Him. This teaches us two concepts about gratitude: 1) Whenever you complain about what the Almighty has given you — it shows a lack of gratitude. 2) People will try to avoid feeling grateful. They don’t want to be beholden — they think it lowers their self-esteem.

In relationships — particularly with our spouse — we must show gratitude. It not only is an elevated character trait, but it builds a closeness when one recognizes the good one has received.


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