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Posted on August 21st, 2017

Deuteronomy 16:18 - 21:9 

Rabbi Norman Lamm, Ph.D., served more than a quarter of a century as President of Yeshiva University and of its Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

Wasteful Destruction

Judaism possesses the values on which an ecological morality may be grounded.

The biblical norm which most directly addresses itself to the ecological situation is that known as bal taschit, “thou shalt not destroy.” The passage, which appears in this week’s Torah portion, reads (Deut. 20: 19-20):

When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy the trees thereof by wielding an ax against them; for you may eat of them but you shall not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man that it should be besieged of thee? Only the trees of which you know that they are not trees for food, them you may destroy and cut down that you may build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you until it fall.

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Posted on August 14th, 2017

Deuteronomy 11:26 - 16:17 

Rabbi David Fohrman is an internationally renowned lecturer on biblical themes and the principal educator at Aleph Beta Academy. 

Why Do We Need Both Oral and Written Law?

A video for Parashat Re'eh.

Why do the laws from the Rabbis end up looking so different than biblical laws? And even more so — what does law have to do with God and spirituality? What is the point of the legalism inherent in our religion? The video below argues that thought without action can wither away, and that law is about finding spirituality in the mundane.

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Posted on August 7th, 2017

Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25 

Rabbi Avraham Fischer is a rabbi at Darche Noam Institutions.

Empowering Fear

Moses teaches the people that their achievement of true fear of God will allow them to not fear any enemy.

In preparing the Children of Israel for the conquest of the land of Canaan, Moshe anticipates the people’s trepidation, and he promises HaShem ’s ongoing support:

Perhaps you might say in your heart, “These nations are more numerous than I; how can I dispossess them?” You shall not be afraid (lo tira) of them. You shall surely remember that which HaShem, your God, did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt: The great tests which your eyes saw, and the signs and the wonders, and the strong hand, and the outstretched arm whereby HaShem, your God, brought you out–so will HaShem, your God, do to all the nations before whom you are afraid (yarei). Furthermore, HaShem, your God, will release the hornet against them, until the destruction of those who are left and those who hide themselves before you. You shall not be intimidated/frightened (lo ta’arotz) before them, because (ki) Hashem, your God, is in your midst, a God Who is mighty and feared (nora) (Devarim 7:17-21).

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Shabbat Nachamu - Vaetchanan

Posted on July 31st, 2017

Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11 

BY RABBI DAVID FOHRMAN, the founder and CEO at Aleph Beta Academy

Seeing Layers in the Ten Commandments

A video for Parashat Vaetchanan

We’ve seen the text of the Ten Commandments so many times, but how does the Torah pack so much meaning into so few words? The video below shows us how the Torah layers meaning into the Ten Commandments, giving us a sample of the subtleties of the Torah.

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Shabbat Hazon - Devarim

Posted on July 24th, 2017

Deuteronomy 1:1 - 3:22 

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin is the author of "Jewish Literacy" and "Words that Hurt, Words that Heal," along with other widely-read books on Judaism

Perceptions Of Justice

People's perceptions of a society are often based on that society's judicial system.

If you were told you could give one last message to your descendants, what would you tell them?

That is the challenge that confronts Moses. The Jewish nation that he has forged and guided for forty years in the desert stands poised to enter the land of Canaan. But Moses knows that he will not be allowed to accompany them; he is destined to die in the desert. The entire book of Deuteronomy, starting with this portion, consists of his farewell message.

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