Zot Habracha / “And This is the Blessing”

A final blessing: Moses, a man of God, says farewell to the Israelites with a somewhat cryptic blessing for every tribe… Moses goes up to Mount Nebo and the Lord lets him survey the land that has been promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, reminding him that he can glimpse it but never enter. Moses dies there and is buried in a place that has not been found. He was 120 and his energy was unbated. The Israelites mourn him for thirty days, and Joshua inherits the mantle of leadership. Yet Israel never again has a prophet like Moses, who had been face-to-face with God; confronted Pharaoh, his court, and the Egyptian nation; and displayed his immense power before Israel. Go deep. Sum up the Torah in a Six-Word Memoir. 

Ha’azinu / “Listen”

Moses addresses the Israelites with a final, lengthy poem, fittingly known as the Song of Moses. In the course of 142 lines he proclaims the glory of God, lambastes human weakness, celebrates the role the Lord played in blessing the Israelites, yet predicts a future in which they grow fat with wealth and start to worship idols. an incensed God is then compelled to inflict an arsenal of punishments, including famine, plague, and pestilence. Go deep. Write a poem about your life. 

Nitzavim-Vayeilech / “Ones Standing – Then He Went Out”

Moses reminds all the Israelites that they stand before God, and that all of them have the choice to enter into the convenant. Anyone who is tempted to worship the gods of other nations shall be warned that all furious God will blot them out of existence. Moses proceeds to paint an apocalyptic portrait of the destruction experience by any tribe who breaks the convenant, detailing the plagues, diseases, and famine they will suffer.

The Climax: Moses informs Israel that at the age of 120 he is no longer able to lead them. The Lord has forbidden him to cross the Jordan into the promised land, so that Joshua will inherit his mantle. Despite the transition, it will still be the Lord who will go before them and wipe out the nations who currently live on the land. Go deep. Recreate a childhood photo. 

Ki Tavo / “When You Enter”

Blessings… and curses: Moses continues to prepare the Israelites for his death. He begins by instructing them to dedicate the first fruit of the harvest to God in a place to be revealed once they enter the land. As the priests offer the fruit on the altar, each Israelite is obliged to recite a paragraph retelling the Exodus story and the journey to the promised land. Go deep. Upload a picture of your perfect place. 

Ki Tetzei/ “When You Go”

If a man has two wives, loves only one, yet produces sons with both, the birth order still matters when it comes to inheritance. The man is prohibited from treating the younger as if he were the firstborn just because he loves his mother more. The law of birthright takes precedence. A defiant son who will not listen to his parents shall be taken before the town elders in public, disowned, and stoned to death. Go Deep.  List three things that irritate you.  

Shof’tim/ “Judges”

The Israelites are instructed to set aside a tenth of their harvest every year and to make a pilgrimage to a destination God will name. Every seventh year they are to forgive all debts and release all slaves. They are also to ensure there are no needy or poor members of their community. If a slave does not want to be freed, the master will have to exe- cute a ritual in which the slave’s ear is pierced with an awl. The festivals of Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot are restated—Passover to commemorate the exodus from Egypt, the agrarian festival of Shavuot, and the booth-dwelling festival of Sukkot, a time of “nothing but joy.” All three of the festivals will involve male Israelites traveling to worship with offerings to a place God will determine. Go Deep.  Take a picture of your favorite tree. 

Re’eh/ “See”

As a holy people, the Israelites should not mutilate their bodies or shave the front of their heads. Nor are they to eat anything deemed abhorrent. A list of permitted animals is provided: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, the mountain sheep—any animal that has cleft hooves and that chews the cud. Camels, the hare, and the daman lack proper hooves, and pigs do not regurgitate the cud so are taboo. Fish can be eaten as long as they have fins and scales. Birds of prey are unclean, as are winged, swarming things. It is also prohibited to boil a kid in its mother’s milk. Go Deep.  What food do you hold most sacred?

Eikev/ “If You Follow”

The obedience imperative: moses restates the rewards that await those who maintain the covenant. The Lord will favor the Israelites and ensure they are fertile, healthy, and agriculturally prosperous. All of their enemies will be destroyed without pity or fear. Their defeat will be thoughtfully paced so that wild beasts do not multiply and fill the sudden absence of humans, but the Lord will make sure they are ultimately wiped out so the Israelites can burn their idols. Go Deep.  What is the best sequel ever made?

 

Va-Ethannan/ “And I Pleaded”

Moses pleads with the Lord to be allowed to cross into the promised land, but the Lord furiously denies his request and commands Moses to climb Mount Pisgah, survey the region from a distance, and prepare Joshua to be his successor… God’s laws are recounted so the Israelites know to study and observe them faithfully. Moses reminds the community that the covenant is not a relic of history, but something that binds every one of them in the present. He then restates the Ten Commandments, conjuring the fearsome specter of the scene at Sinai to ensure that the Israelites and their children always maintain them… The Israelites are exhorted to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and might; to remember the laws and teach them to their children; and to recite the laws continually, bind them on their hands and foreheads, and inscribe them on their doorposts. They should never forget the Lord who freed them from Egypt and should worship no other gods, unless they want to be wiped off the face of the earth. Go Deep.  What is your personal declaration?

 

D’varim/ “Words”

Moses reviews his forty years of leadership: Aware that his death is imminent, Moses reviews the forty years of wandering he has overseen. He reminds the Israelites of the journeys they have taken and the laws they have received on the way to fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by entering Canaan. Go Deep.  What’s your fondest memory?