The child of a mixed marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew will always be confused, will lack a clear identity and will have trouble relating to God.
This week we read the Song of Moses, one of Moses’ final speeches to the Children of Israel before his death. The only other words Moses speaks to the nation after this are the words of blessing in Deuteronomy Chapter 33
There is a common joke among Jews that summarizes all of our Jewish holidays in one sentence: They tried to kill us, G-d saved us, let’s eat. It doesn’t quite apply to every holiday, but certainly Passover, Purim and Hanukkah fit the bill. And the statement certainly tells us a great deal about Jewish culture.
This weeks Torah portion includes the largest number of commandments of any other weekly portion. Beginning with Chapter 21 verse 10 and proceeding through Chapter 25, verse after verse is filled with situations and the rules of practice that are applicable.
These verses set forth guidelines to be followed by the kings of Israel, to ensure their righteousness and the absence of corruption in their kingdoms. Although, we no longer have kings, our political leaders would do well to follow these rules.
We are often witness to the fact that the nations of the world hold the Jewish people and the State of Israel to a higher standard. Frankly, in most cases, those nations are not really interested in placing Israel on a higher pedestal, but creating a basis for criticism against Israel.
They could have complained bitterly about having to settle in an army camp. They could have given up. But instead, they had faith. They knew they could do it. They knew this was the beginning of a monumental movement to settle Samaria. And they were right. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Samaria and close to half a million throughout Judea and Samaria. They were right because they heeded Moses’ call to G-d to disperse the enemies. They were right because they heeded Caleb’s call: “Let us go up for we can do it!”
Moses then reminds them of the sin of the spies who had returned from the Land of Israel and spoke ill of the land, causing the people to doubt the success of their imminent entry. God’s response, of course, was to punish the people and delay the entry for an additional 38 years. Moses fears that if Reuben and Gad remain in the land east of the Jordan, the rest of the people will refuse to enter. After years of experience with the Children of Israel, Moses is quite aware that the littlest provocation can instill fear and lack of faith in the people.
This week is the holiday of Succot, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the fifth Intermediary Day falls on Shabbat, so once again the regular Torah reading is suspended and a special portion for the holiday is read instead.
Thousands gathered at the Western Wall, the closest we could get to where the Temple once stood, and the President of Israel, then Chaim Herzog, read aloud from the Torah. It was indeed an awesome experience.