Updated: Aug 22, 2018
See, this day I set before you blessing and curse... (Devarim/Deuteronomy 11:26)
In this Torah portion, Moses instructs the Israelites in both what they are supposed to do (laws of kashrut, festivals, Sabbatical years, tithes, and more), and what they're not supposed to do (follow other gods).
My favorite part of this parsha is the radical leveling of Israel society in the instruction to leave the tithe every third year for the Levites, proselytes, widows, and orphans to eat. At first blush, the Levites look like the elite of Israelite society, especially since the Torah spends a lot of time talking about them. But this is a reminder that the same class of people that perform what seem to be positioned as the most important duties in this culture are wholly dependent on the rest of society for food--for that which, at the most basic level, sustains their lives. It's a profound statement of interconnectedness.
Join us at 9:00 am this Saturday for coffee, donuts, and what's always a lively discussion.
Want to know what other Jewish thinkers are saying about this parsha?
Wikipedia has an incredible treasure trove of geekery about the weekly portion, laying out everything from the number of Hebrew letters in the parsha to summaries of classical commentaries. Prepare to go down a very deep rabbithole.
Sefaria is an amazing free resource--an ever-growing library of Jewish texts in both Hebrew and English. In addition to the Hebrew text and translation, it provides the text of most of the classical commentaries (not all of which have been translated... yet). The parsha is one of the first links on the main page.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, does a podcast called Ten Minutes of Torah--perfect for when you're time-constrained. The Union for Reform Judaism has a whole page of resources for the parsha, ranging from beginner's guides to pieces on the contemporary relevance of the portion. The Women of Reform Judaism site has a glorious archive of the entire text of The Torah: A Women's Commentary divided up by parsha.
For a Reconstructionist take, visit Reconstructing Judaism's weekly learning page.
T'ruah, the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, has a weekly d'var that looks at the parsha as a starting point for contemporary political issues.
The World Union for Progressive Judaism has a parsha commentary archive.
Keshet's Torah Queeries page provides commentary from an LGBTQ perspective (search on the portion name).
The Jewish Theological Society (the Conservative Branch seminary) provides weekly commentary at JTS Torah Online.
Yeshivat Maharat, the first Orthodox yeshiva to ordain women, has a collection of Divrei Torah written by women and organized by parsha, on its site.
Limmud, a 35-year-old grassroots Jewish learning event that started in the UK and has become an international phenomenon, maintains an archive of commentaries.
Liberal Judaism's Thought for the Week provides concise but thoughtful analysis of the portion.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi Emeritus of England, engages in profound commentary on the weekly portion in Covenant & Conversation.
InterfaithFamily puts out an animated Torahlog including contemporary reactions, poetry, folk music, and Jewish scholarship on the parsha.