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5 elements associated with this Shabbat

פרשת בהעלותך

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

1. This week's double Torah portion concludes the book of Numbers (Bamidbar). Mazal tov. We finished another book of the Pentateuch (Chumash). These parashot take us to the end of the journey of the children of Israel through the desert before entering the Promised Land.

2. After the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, we begin to read Deuteronomy (Devarim), the fifth and last book of the Chumash, next week. In contrast to the events that took place in the previous four books, Deuteronomy consists entirely of Moshe Rabbeinu's farewell speech -- which summarizes the previous four books -- to the nation of Israel.

3. At the conclusion of this week's Torah reading in the synagogue, we declare: "Be strong! Be strong! May we be strengthened!" (Chazak Chazak Venitchazek) It's the same declaration made upon conclusion of each of the five books of the Chumash. The idea is to give us a sense of our strength in having finished this book, even as we are strengthened to continue reading and studying the next.

4. We are in the midst of the days "between the straits," also known as "the three weeks" that fall between the fast of the 17th of Tammuz that was observed last week and the fast of the 9th of Av. These are days of mourning over the destruction of the First and Second Temple and other catastrophic events throughout our history (such as our expulsion from Spain in 1492) that occurred on the 9th of Av. At this time, we observe special mourning customs and do not hold weddings or other joyous events.

5. This Shabbat is a Shabbat Mevarchim (Shabbat when we bless) since it precedes a new month that commences the following week. In this case, the new month is Av, which begins this coming Wednesday.

Shabbat shalom and have a good month.


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