August 16th: Va’et’chanan
THIS WEEK IN THE TORAH
Rabbi David E. Ostrich
“Kad’shaynu b’mitz’votecha, v’ten chel’kaynu v’Toratecha.
Make us holy with Your mitzvot, and give us a portion in Your Torah.”
In this passage of the Shabbat Amidah, we ask for connection with the Divine—praying that the process of hearing and observing mitzvot will work and bring us holiness.
It also asks that we be given a portion/piece/stake in the Torah—this pursuit of Torah being a vital part of the Jewish process. As Simon the Righteous used to say (Avot 1.2), “The world stands on three things: on Torah, on Worship, and on Deeds of Lovingkindness.” Our congregation stands ready to help you in this threefold quest—with Torah study and education, with fervent worship services, and with social justice projects, but, this week, there is a more particular application.
The weekly Torah portion includes the Shema and Ve’ahavta (Deuteronomy 6.4-9):
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart. You shall teach them diligently unto your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house, and upon your gates.”
As it is a passage many of us know in the Hebrew, it affords us an opportunity to feel that this portion in God’s Torah is our own. And so, our plan for this coming Friday night’s service is to invite everyone up to the bimah for the Torah reading and give everyone a chance to read together these important verses from the Torah itself.
There is much to consider and discuss about the meanings of the passage, but here is an opportunity to feel the connection viscerally. Join us and make this portion of the Torah your own.