Shabbat September 1, 2023
Our Torah portion addresses the time when the Israelites will settle in the land of Israel, and bring offerings of the “first fruits” from the harvest. But other issues arise.
We read: “When you cross the Jordan to the land which Lord your God gives you, you shall set up great stones, and plaster them with lime. You shall write upon them all the words of this Torah…you shall set up these stones, which I command you this day in Mt. Ebal….And you shall write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.” (Deut. 27)
Mt. Ebal overlooks Shechem, which is in ‘enemy’ territory, and the question is, why is the first order of business to write out the Torah on twelve stones, and why in Shechem? On these stones, all the teachings will be written, “be’er ha’tev,” which literally means, explained clearly. So as we will discern in our Torah discussion, Shechem is a special place in the new land. The French commentator, Rashi, explains that ‘be’er ha’tev,’ means the Torah would be written in 70 languages, corresponding to the 70 nations of the world (known at that time.) So the Torah is not be kept under lock and key, and hidden away from other peoples. The Torah will be our ultimate guide, and available to all peoples and nations. So why didn’t other tribes accept the teachings from the Torah? And how is it possible to write the entire five books of Torah on twelve large stones? Join us on Shabbat and we will find answers to these queries.