Torah Study Notes 7-25-15

July 25. 2015

Rabbi Leah Berkowitz (RB)

p. 1164

Deuteronomy 2:3   The Second Telling. Moses has been reminding the people of the travails of their journey and preparing them for battle as they enter the land. This establishes the foundation of the covenantal relationship. Deuteronomic theology – The P author emphasizes the line of Aaron but the theology is that goodness is rewarded and evil is punished. This can extend to natural events like rain or draught; having children or being unable to have them, military victory or loss. Note that Moses did not go into the promised land because he would have achieved god-like status. We don’t even know where he is buried. Compare to the American view of George Washington.

A repetition of the stories of the spies being sent into Israel.  “The land is flowing with milk and honey.” The people panicked and wanted to go back to Egypt. Only Joshua and Caleb get to cross into the land.

2:1 Then the Eternal one said to me… As you pass through the lands of Esau pay for anything that you take. Remember Isaac’s promise to his two sons – Esau received land because of his kindness to his father. SF: There is a moral element here – the Israelites are not to be marauders or brigands. RB: That changes somewhat in the future. This is also reminiscent of Abraham paying for the burial of Sarah. There payment helped to secure a claim of ownership.

2: 8 “We then moved on…” Do not harass the Moabites – their lands are for the descendants of Lot. Moabites are the ancestor of Ruth who is the ancestor of David.   See map on page 1158.

2:10  A history of the land. LL: This is a dangerous theology. It becomes more extreme in Protestantism where wealth is considered a blessing and poverty akin to sin. LB:  We are not as far from this as we would like to be. Consider the Book of Job where this issue – among others – is explored. There are Rabbis who have blamed the Holocaust on Reform Judaism and intermarriage. SB: There are structural flaws in our system that permit the wealthy to become wealthier and make it very difficult for the poor to break out of poverty. LL: We try to erect a safety net to ameliorate the effect of pure capitalism but perhaps that is not enough.

2:13 Cross the wadi Zered… The sojourn in the desert was a time of preparation and purification.  Note we don’t know how time was kept – or how long a year was. The ability to mark time is arguably a symbol of freedom – we shape time to our convenience. Richard L: I never see “approximately: or “about” in reference to an interval of time. It is always very precise.

2:16 When all the warriors among the people had died off… we pass through Moab and Ar.

2:20 The lands of the Ammonites – many people were pushed out and supplanted. LL: We are in murky waters here. We are being told that there has been an ebb and flow of peoples in these lands. How is the entry of these people special? Also, this recitation might be considered a justification for what is about to happen. Clearly this is an extension of God’s promise to Abraham. But compare the American displacement of the native Americans.

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