17/7 - Parashat Dvarim and Shabbat Chazon
Parasha: Deutronomy 1:1 - 3:22
Haftarah: Isaiah 1:1-27
NT: John 15:1-11, Hebrews 3:7-4:11
This Shabbat is called Shabbat chazon, the Shabbat of vision and relates to the vision of the destruction of Jerusalem that Isaiah foresaw in the Haftarah. It's the last Shabbat before tisha be'av, which is this Tuesday. That's the anniversary of the destruction of the temple (both), and it's a day of fasting and praying and reading the book of Lamentations.
The Parasha is the first parasha in the book of Deutronomy. It's an amazing book, and basically contains Moses' farewell speech to the people of Israel. In this parasha Moses relates what happened with the spies, the punishment of walking 40 years in the desert, and then the victories over king Sichon of Cheshbon and king Og of Bashan.
This parasha is the introduction to what Moses wants to tell them. He is about to tell them about all the good things that God has in store for them.
But he first must make this introduction. The sin, the severe punishment, and the victory. Sin-punishment-victory. Sin-punishment-victory. Even when they sin bad, and even when God's punishment is very hard, he never lets go of the people of Israel. He leads them to victory. They are his forever.
This relates to the above mentioned destruction of the temple of the babylonians in 586 BC. Yes, the punishment was severe because they had left God and turned to idols, but there was a victory after that - the return from the exile under Ezra and Nehemia. God was still with his people.
And even when they rejected their Messiah, just as Joseph's brothers rejected Joseph, and the temple was destroyed for a second time, God was still with his people. And he will once again bring us to victory, by renewing our spirit through the Messiah. Today our people see the Messiah as a foreign religion, just as Joseph's brothers thought that Joseph was an Egyptian. But the day of redemption will come when he says "I am Joseph, your brother". And they will look up unto him who they pierced.
My grandfather usually quotes this passage in relation the experiences he went through during the holocaust, and I think they are appropriate for this too. "It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." Lam 3:22-23