Ha’azinu means “give your ears” or “listen.” It is the opening stanza of Moshe’s last song that he spoke of at the end of the previous portion. Although the language is poetic, the graphic imagery is meant for easy remembrance and its warnings are definitely LITERAL. There is no other poetry done as well in Tanakh except perhaps Job 38-42.
Vayelech means, “and he went out/walked” referring of course to Moshe. The portion begins in a time of transition, where Joshua is brought forward as the next leader and final instructions to Israel are given. The portion ends with Moshe recording the words to a song, but those words are not given until the following portion, Ha’azinu.
Nitzavim means “you stand” and it begins with more warnings for the price of disobedience. This is literally the beginning of the end of Israelite wandering and Moshe’s own life, so it is critical that every opportunity be taken to explain Israel’s responsibilities to them. This is an abnormally short portion.
Ki Tavo means “when you enter” and begins with a variety of agricultural regulations that take effect once Israel has entered Canaan. Other regulations, such as that of tithing, are further instituted in the 26th chapter. 26 also contains a veiled rebuke from Moshe to the previous generation as he points out how good the land was, just as Abba YHWH commanded but this was not accepted as fact by Israel. As 27 opens, the Israelites will then hurl blessings from Mount Gerizim and curses from Ebal, as we spoke at length about earlier. The curses are, for the most part a re-statement of the prohibitions in the Ten Commandments. The blessings for obedience then follow suit in chapter 28 and a very extensive category of curses for disobedience follows for the rest of that chapter. Chapter 29 begins with Moshe on a hopeful note, restating how Abba YHWH has been with them all even while being chastised, to get ready for this great moment of entering the Promised Land.
Ki Teze means “when you go out” as in terms of when Israel confronts her enemies on the battle field. One main war regulation is given at the start, and that is what to do with a woman taken captive from the nations that a Jewish man wants to make a wife. From there other requirements about marriage under other circumstances follow that have nothing to do with war. Many other marital and purity regulations follow for the remainder of this portion.
Shoftim means “judges” and Deuteronomy 16:18 begins with the command to appoint them. The Torah had suggested that these courts had to be established to resolve general disputes (Exodus 21:22, 22:8) but only here do we find the specific command to set these courts up in every city, probably because prior to this time they were not close to being settled in the land. Other warnings to kill idolaters in their midst follow along the lines of Deuteronomy 13 but lacking the provision that they do so even if predicted signs and wonders come true from the idolater’s mouth. Still other restatements of how courts should issue rulings, the roles of witnesses and the residing of the Levites with each tribe’s territory follow. Various other legal matters relating specifically to accidental death and serious injury are addressed in the remainder of the portion with a small break dedicated to rules of war. Keep Reeding
Re’eh means “see,” and it begins with that great summary of the covenant: I set aside two ways for you, blessing and cursing, life and death. Shortly afterwards, a number of regulations about the place for Abba YHWH’s Name—Jerusalem though no one other than Abba YHWH knows that yet—are given. Some kosher regulations are restated or clarified and the law of the shemittah is given and explained. The portion wraps up with a restatement of the Hebrew festivals.
“Ekev” means “because” or “if only”. Following the theme of last week’s parsha of Va’etchanan, Moshe continues his urgent pleas to this current generation to realize that they are honor-bound to continue in the covenant originally granted to their fathers and that they, in a limited sense, share blame with their fathers for what went wrong.
However, the positive side is also great in that they, unlike their fathers can inherit the Promised Land “if only” they obey and repent!
Please Note: There is a very slight editing splice about 12 minutes in to Video #3. This was due to a source corruption that lasted about 45 seconds. Sorry for any inconvenience. The notes however reflect the missing material.
Va’etchanan means “and I pleaded” or “and I asked for favor/mercy”. This is Moshe pleading with Abba YHWH one last time to ask to be allowed to enter into the Promised Land. Abba YHWH though utterly refuses and says, “Speak to Me no more on this matter”! After an extensive prologue in chapter 4, the Ten Commandments are re-stated in chapter 5 and the foundational Shema prayer of course is the highlight of the Tanakh as well as chapter 6! The remainder of the portion is concerned with reinforcing obedience as the way to a better life. Keep Reeding
Devarim means “the words” and as the book opens we enter the last day of Moshe’s life. Moshe begins the book by recapping the details of the last 40 years. The portion ends with Moshe reminding Israel of the times that Abba YHWH fought for them. Now that the evil generation is gone, the time has come to strengthen their children by having them know that Abba YHWH is with them as they enter Canaan.