Shabbat Nissabim - שבת נצבים


Future Generations

ואמר הדור האחרון - The Torah presents grim images of destruction to warn of the consequences of Israel forsaking the covenant. "Future generations" will see "the plagues and diseases that God inflicted upon the land" (Deuteronomy 29:21) and will ask 'Why did God do this to the land? What caused such great anger?' It will then be explained that all the curses mentioned in the Torah became true because the people abandoned their covenant with God. As I read the words "future generations," my mind ponders what will future generations say about us, our community, and our country? Will the future generations look back and thank us for what we left behind or will our names be reduced to obsolete artifacts to eventually be forgotten? Are we impacting the world to make future generations proud of our accomplishments? At this time of year, these are important questions that we should all be asking ourselves. Beth Torah Bulletin, September 8, 2018.

Our Emphasis

לָ֤ׄנׄוּׄ וּׄלְׄבָׄנֵׄ֙יׄנׄוּׄ֙ עַד־עוֹלָ֔ם - In Deuteronomy 29:28, there are 11 mysterious dots. Whereas some scholars say that the rare use of dots in the Sefer Torah is often a way to express doubt about certain words, I believe that the dots here were specifically placed to express emphasis. The verse reads: "The hidden is for our God" (הנסתרת לה׳ אלקינו) and contrasts that to "the revealed is for us and our children to eternity" (והנגלת לנו ולבנינו עד עולם). When it comes to the wonders of the world, we, as humans, need to realize that much of the world is in God's realm and is completely hidden to us. This point should be obvious and does not need to be emphasized. However, what needs to be emphasized is the need for us and our children to take seriously what has been revealed to us by God; namely, all the words of the Torah. Our emphasis in Torah observance, promises Moses, will bring much blessing to us and will save us from God's fury. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, September 28, 2019.

Making a Comeback

אם יהיה נדחך בקצה השמים משם יקבצך - After the consequences of not observing the commandments are reviewed, Moses predicts that there may still be "a man or a woman, a family or a tribe" that will not conform by practicing foreign ideologies. These people will justify their actions by saying "I will follow whatever my heart desires and all will be okay by me" (שלום יהיה לי כי בשררות לבי אלך). Although these people will be sanctioned as a result of their actions, ultimately, they will not be forgotten by God. After serving time in exile, God promises that He will orchestrate a miraculous return for them. "Even if you are at the edges of heaven, it is from there where He will gather you" (אם יהיה נדחך בקצה השמים משם יקבצך). From Deuteronomy 30:4-5, we find tremendous hope for all the downtrodden, those who have made mistakes in the past, to not only make a comeback, but also be stronger than before (והיטבך והרבך מאבתיך). Beth Torah Bulletin, September 16, 2017.

Not in Heaven

לֹ֥א בַשָּׁמַ֖יִם הִ֑וא - The Oven of Akhnai, which is a story in the Talmud (TB Baba Messia 59), concerns a debate held over the status of an oven consisting of tiles separated from one another by sand, but externally plastered over with cement. In this debate, Rabbi Eliezer b. Hurcanus disagreed the majority of the rabbinic authorities over whether this type of oven can get ritually impure; Rabbi Eliezer said it can't get impure, whereas the majority opinion is that it can. To prove that his opinion is correct, Rabbi Eliezer performs all types of miracles; getting a carob tree to move and getting a river to stream backwards. The people who saw this were unimpressed and insisted on the majority opinion. At that point, a voice from the heaven is heard saying "Why are you against Rabbi Eliezer's correct opinion?" To this, Rabbi Yehoshua responds "Lo Bashamayim Hee", a reference from Deuteronomy 30:12 meaning, the Torah "is not in heaven." This story teaches that the although the Torah is originally given from God to man, now that it is with man, the interpretation of the Torah goes according to the consensus of the people and there is no need to rely on supernatural factors in order to answer questions of Jewish law. Beth Torah Bulletin, September 12, 2020.

Maqam of the Week: NAWAH or NAHWAND

For Shabbat Nissabim-Vayelekh (Deuteronomy 29:9- 31:30), which is the last Shabbat of the year, services are conducted in Maqam NAWAH or NAHWAND. Nawah is typically applied at a conclusion, and in this case, it is the year that is being concluded. Nahwand, the maqam associated with conflict and rebuke, is also an option, because as we are "standing together," we are warned of the punishments that will happen if we veer from the proper path. HAZZANUT: Semehim: Ahot Qetana (in anticipation of Rosh Hashana). The minority opinion of H Moshe Ashear, as well as the Abraham Dweck source, is to apply Maqam HIJAZ for this Shabbat.