Condolences to the Rosenbaum family on the passing of Norman.

Times: Shabbat starts on Friday at 5:14pm and ends on Saturday night at 6:14pm. The weekly Torah portion is Va’etchanan.

Mincha in the CBD: Mincha is still virtual as we await people returning to work in the city. That means we all daven at an agreed time, which is 1.00pm. Details at the WhatsApp group.

Study: Weekly Shiur continues on Wednesday at 1:10pmvia zoom, following mincha at 1.00pm. BYO lunch. Details here.

Thought of the Week  with thanks to Avi Gordon. One of the highlights of this week’s Torah reading of Va’etchanan is the repetition of the Ten Commandments.

We know that God first offered the Torah to the other nations of the world before He gave it to the Jewish people. Each nation wanted to know the contents of the Torah before accepting it. When the nation of Esav discovered that the Torah contained the commandment “You shall not murder,” they refused to accept it. Similarly, the nation of Yishmael did not want to accept the Torah once they heard the commandment, “You shall not steal.”

It seems odd that the nations refused to accept the Torah based on these basic restrictions. The seven Noachide laws – that every nation must uphold as universal law – include the prohibitions against murder and theft. What made the acceptance of Torah any different? Why would the nations refuse to do something so easy – that in fact they were already doing?

The commentator Ohr Gedaliyahu suggests an explanation based on the purpose of mitzvot. According to his view, the Ten Commandments are intended to sanctify us to such a degree that the mitzvot become part of our basic nature.
In other words, through performing the mitzvot, we become so attached to God, and so aware of Him in our thought, speech, and action, that our very essence changes.

Previously, the nations with a proclivity toward murder had refrained because it was against the Noachide Laws. The Torah was altogether different. It was not a reiteration of universal law, but rather an expectation of positive change. The nations refused to accept this offer.

Sometimes it is easier to hold on to our pockets of darkness and negative baggage than to attempt to make positive changes in our lives.

After concluding Tisha B’Av, the darkest and saddest date in the Jewish calendar, may we all be blessed with the courage and fortitude to undertake real and positive change and ultimately greet Moshiach speedily in our days.

Based upon Rabbi Abba Wagensberg

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