SEDRA - RABBI ARNOLD SAUNDERS

Devarim / Shabbat Chazon

ALTHOUGH we are in the saddest week of the year, this column is celebrating its 15th birthday!

This week, we commence the fifth and final book of the Torah — Devarim or Deuteronomy. As usual, the first sedra bears the name of the book itself.

This week is also known as ”Shabbat Chazon” — named after the first word of the haftorah, from Isaiah, which is the third and final “Haftorah of Rebuke” read during the Three Weeks.

As the Children of Israel prepare to enter the Promised Land, Moses — who was, of course, refused an entry visa by the Almighty — begins his valedictory message to the people.

He reminds them of the major events of the last few years. He discusses the miracles which God had wrought for them as well as the battles that He helped them win.

In regard to the battles, Moshe was given divine guidance about who to attack and who not. For the record, it was “yes” to Sihon and Og and “no” to Moab, Amon and Seir.

Shabbat is actually the 9th of Av. Under normal circumstances, this would be observed as the fast of Tisha b’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, commemorating the destruction of the Temple and other “tzoros”.

However, as we do not fast on Shabbat — except for the biblical fast of Yom Kippur — even Tisha b’Av is postponed till the next day.

The fast, however, commences as usual at sunset (see your calendar) — even though Shabbat does not terminate till nightfall. This is permitted as it is only for the last hour or so (twilight), which has the stringencies of both day and night!

Pirkei Avot is omitted on Shabbat. The Torah is read both morning and afternoon on the fast.

Friday is the joyous day of the 15th of Av. Tachanun is omitted.

Shabbat shalom and well over the fast.

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