This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs every Monday at 7pm PST on my live cam and on YouTube. Facebook Fan Page.

This week we study Parashat Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22).

Watch the video.

* So why do we read repeat the Torah every year? Rabbi Berel Wein: “I think that the review is always necessary for even though the words of the Torah are the same and are unchangeable, the person studying those words is constantly undergoing change.”

* Rabbi Berel Wein: “Moshe addresses eternal faults and problems that are inherent in the Jewish people and in fact in all human society. People are by nature nudniks, burdensome and quarrelsome. By making us aware of this ongoing human failing, Moshe intends to lead us out of the wilderness that such attitudes create.”

* Judaism enjoins a positive mental attitude. One should develop a “good eye” aka the ability to see the good. The Rabbis of the Talmud taught us “Even if there be a sharp knife held at your throat do not despair completely.” Not all successful people have a positive mental attitude in all areas of their life, but in those areas of their life where they are successful, they do have a PMA.

Don’t stop believing.

Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlights people, living just to find emotion
Hiding, somewhere in the night.

I wanted to illustrate a point of Torah with some lyrics from Journey but upon reading the lyrics, the song turns out to be damn depressing, so scratch all that. Is Journey being bitter about not stopping believing? Or is Journey being hopeful?

Rabbi Berel Wein: “Despair, merciless criticism, pessimism, bitterness, cynicism – none of these traits and attitudes is acceptable Jewish behavior.”

* This week’s parasha reminds me of my blog. It is an ongoing recapitulation of my sins.

* When God asks Moshe to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt, he says: “I am not a man of words or speech.” Yet in Deuteronomy, Moshe talks for a whole book. That’s what anger and frustration can do to an otherwise reticent man. Much like me. Words don’t come easy to me. I’m just a music man. Melody’s so far my best friend. But my words are coming out wrong and I reveal my heart to you and hope that you believe it’s true ’cause words don’t come easy to me.

* Christians often negatively contrast the angry (vengeful, killer) God of the Old Testament with the loving God of the New Testament. Anger is morally neutral. Hatred is morally neutral. There’s good anger and bad anger. Good hatred and bad hatred. How are you supposed to react to rape, torture and murder?

* Deut. 2:33 says God gave victory to the Jews and then the Jews killed everybody (men, women and children) of Sichon. Did God intend this genocide? It does not say God commanded this genocide. It says the Jews did it.

I think Moshe’s exaggerating because later in the Bible we get commandments against intermarriage with these people (Canaanites). Why would we get this instruction if they had been wiped out?

In Deuteronomy, Moshe gives laws about how you treat captives in war.

* Who would you say are the ten most beautiful women in Pico-Robertson?

* Eight signs a woman wants you.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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