5 Minute Torah

Two Witnesses

Parashat Ha'azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52)

This week’s Torah portion is only a single chapter long. The Ha’azinu, the Song of Moses, spans all fifty-two verses of our Torah portion. When reading this parashah, there are several questions that come up. We will only have time to answer a few at this time. 

First, in a Torah scroll the Song of Moses is written in two columns, rather than one. Why does this passage merit this unique rendering? The song opens with the words:

A Recipe For Rebellion

Parashat Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30)

Parashat Vayelech, one of the shortest portions in the Torah, is only thirty verses long. However, if we look carefully, we can find within it a recipe for rebellion:

For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD. How much more after my death! (Deuteronomy 31:27)

The Hidden And The Revealed

The Hidden And The Revealed

This week’s Torah portion is a continuation of Moses’ adjuration to the Children of Israel to faithfully obey the instructions the LORD has given them in the form of the commandments. The Children of Israel are about to renew their covenant with the LORD before entering into the Promised Land. In the midst of this, Moses tells them:

The hidden [things] belong to the LORD our God, but the [things that are] revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this Torah. (Deuteronomy 29:28 [29])

Our Coming In And Our Going Out

Parashat Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8[9])

When the Torah says things in an unusual way, it’s usually to teach us an important lesson. Normally, when we think of a person’s comings and goings, it is from the perspective of first leaving a place and then returning to it. The Torah, however, has a different frame of reference: 

Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. (Deuteronomy 28:6)

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

Parashat Ki Tetze (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

Have you ever wondered what the “least of the commandments” is that Yeshua speaks of in Matthew 5? (See Matthew 5:17-20.) According to our sages, the least commandment is found in this week’s Torah portion:

Remembrance and Redemption

Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

As one exits the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, the final site is a sign written in Hebrew and in English. It is a profound quote from the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidic Judaism in the eighteenth century: 

Forgetfulness leads to exile, while remembrance is the secret of redemption.

The Mitzvah of Gratitude

Parashat Ekev - Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25

In Judaism, we have the practice of giving thanks after each meal. This is called Birkat Hazon, or Grace After Meals. This practice is derived from the passage in our Torah portion that gives the instruction to thank the LORD after eating:

And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:10)

Eating Elephants (Kosher Ones, That Is)

Parashat Va'etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11)

Have you ever been overwhelmed at what seemed like an impossible task? We can respond to this in one of two ways. The first is to give up without even trying, because we instantly know that we will not be able to complete the task. The alternative, however, is to get our minds off of the impossibility of the task and onto the responsibility at hand. If we focus on the immediate requirements of the task and work our hardest on what we can do, then we might accomplish more than we realize.

Faith & Disbelief

Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

In our Torah portion this week, Moses begins by giving a brief overview of the last forty years of the Children of Israel’s journeys in the wilderness. One of the first events he brings to their attention is the evil report about the Land, and how that report put fear into their hearts, keeping them from entering the Land as the LORD intended. He makes a point to remind them that, because of this one event, all of God’s plans for them were put on hold and they had been suffering the consequences of this for the last forty years:

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