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This week's 10-Minute Torah (July 17, 2021): "Devarim" 5781

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Parashat Devarim / פרשת דְּבָרִים

Read on 17 July 2021 (8 Av 5781).

Parashat Devarim is the 44th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.

Torah Portion: Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22

Parashat Devarim recounts how Moses appointed chiefs, the episode of the Twelve Spies, encounters with the Edomites and Ammonites, the conquest of Sihon and Og, and the assignment of land for the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh.

This begins the last book of the Torah as Moshe Rabbeinu addresses the new generation about to take the Promised Land. Deuteronomy has also been called Mishnah Torah, or repetition or explanation of the Torah. While most of it is a review of previous laws, there are also seventy new laws appropriate for the new land.

Moses reviews some of the places that the Children of Israel was at during the forty years in the Wilderness. Instead of rebuking them for being seduced by Midianite women, complaining about just having manna to eat and Korah’s rebellion, for example, he mentions the places where they occurred. The Torah then identifies the date as the eleventh month of the fortieth year.

Moses discusses the boundaries of the new land. He then repeats his exhortation to Israel to create a judicial system with a hierarchy of courts run by wise men who show no favoritism. Moses then reviews the incident of the spies to point out that the last generation did not have the fortitude to trust Hashem for the strength to win battles.

Hashem now commands Israel to pass through Esau’s territory of Seir and purchase supplies from them. They are also to pass through Moab and not engage them. Hashem now commands Israel to march towards the land, bypassing Ammon, people also descended from the second of Lot’s (Abraham’s cousin) daughters.

Moses then recounts the successful battles the Children of Israel waged including giving land east of the Jordan River to Gad, Reuben and two clans of Manasseh.

Shabbat Chazon / שַׁבָּת חֲזוֹן

Shabbat Chazon (Shabbat before Tish'a B'Av (Shabbat of Prophecy/Shabbat of Vision)) for Hebrew Year 5781 begins at sundown on Friday, 16 July 2021 and ends at nightfall on Saturday, 17 July 2021.

Shabbat Chazon ("Sabbath [of] vision" שבת חזון) takes its name from the Haftarah that is read on the Shabbat immediately prior to the mournful fast of Tisha B'Av, from the words of rebuke and doom coming from Isaiah in the Book of Isaiah 1:1-27. It is also referred to as the Black Sabbath due to its status as the saddest Shabbat of the year (as opposed to the White Sabbath, Shabbat Shuvah, immediately precededing Yom Kippur).

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