Thursday, August 7, 2014

Parashat Vaetchanan ("and I pleaded"). Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11 by Jon Eaton



Parashat Vaetchanan ("and I pleaded").  Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11  by Jon Eaton
           
The Sabbath immediately following Tisha B'Av is called Shabbat Nachamu (שבת נחמו), "the Sabbath of Comfort," because we take time to remember Israel's prophetic future to lessen the pain and burden of the past.  The prophecy that Israel would be saved!   “When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your G-d and obey him.” Deuteronomy 4:30.


 That being said, this week’s parashah is found in Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11 and begins with Moses saying to the Israelites, "And I pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying, 'O Lord G-D, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what G-d is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours?'” (Deut 3:23-24)
Interestingly the gematria of vaetchanan (pleaded) is 515 -- the same as the word for prayer (tefillah, תְּפִלָּה).

You can imagine just how disappointed Moses would have been having learned that he would not be entering the Promised Land; He had seen the highs and the desperate lows of the journey to the Promised Land only to be refused entry.   His prayer really was a sincere pleading for mercy. 
Moses continues his speech to the Israelites and ads his own personal testimony pertaining to his inability to enter the Promised Land at that time.    He made it clear that he believed it to be the Israelites fault that he had been refused entry by the Lord, “But because of you the Lord was angry with me” (Deuteronomy 3:26).    

And again in Deuteronomy 4:21 “The Lord was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the Lord your G-d is giving you as your inheritance.”  -    I think Moses was mad.

The Lord was angry with Moses about his disobedience in regard to striking the rock.   Earlier in Numbers chapter 20, Moses had been commanded by the Lord to “speak to the rock” for water to pour out; Moses struck the rock twice instead.

I understand Moses’s confusion because earlier in Exodus 17:6, the Lord told Moses to strike the rock for the water to be poured out but the second time Moses was commanded to only speak to it for water to pour out.

There are many commentators who regard this act of disobedience a direct correlation to Yeshua. 
In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Rav Shaul states that Yeshua WAS that rock, “for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Messiah.”  

Yeshua was struck once so that living water could be poured out, and now it is the word of our confession (speaking) that stirs up this well of life – no need to strike Yeshua again.

Moses then pleads with the Israelites to “hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the G-d of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your G-d that I give you.”  Deuteronomy 4:1-2.

Moses gave a direct  order not to add to the commandments or subtract from them.  This was exactly what Yeshua complained about concerning the Pharisees.  He accused them of adding to the commandments by their traditions and thus breaking the commandments, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of G-d because of your tradition?” Matthew 15:3

Despite this, Moses gives us the Jewish mantra that has lasted many lifetimes, been a source of indisputable strength to a whole nation and has been heard on the lips of children playing and the elderly dying – the Shema.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our G-d, the Lord is one!  You shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”   Deuteronomy 6:4

Of course I can’t go past the Shema without highlighting that the Hebrew word for “one” here is “echad” (אֶחָד - multiple one), not “yachid” (יָחִיד  singular one).  Even the Rambam attempted to change the words of the Torah to say ‘yachid’ instead of ‘echad’ to suit his own theology. 
Nevertheless, the Lord is never called yachid anywhere in scripture and holds his own as Elohim (plural)….  But enough of that.

One of the most important points in the Shema is the command to love the Lord.  Even Yeshua, when asked what was the most important command, referred to the Shema.  

Interestingly, Yeshua continued to state that loving your neighbour is “the same”.

Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” – (notice that he was simply asking for one commandment.)
“Yeshua said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it (the same): ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Rav Shaul later wrote, "Love is the fulfilling of the law." Romans 13:10

But why is it, that when Yeshua was asked for a single commandment, that he replied with two?  Simply, they are the same commandment.  Loving your neighbour is an act of loving the Lord.
And the evidence for this is found in Deuteronomy chapter 5 – The Ten Commandments.  

The very first two words and last two words of the Ten Commandments sum it all up… 
“I AM…..Your Neighbour”.

Blessings on all who read this.

Jon Eaton

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