Hi everyone. Happy Tuesday. I hope you all are doing well. This week we begin the book of Deuteronomy, the book of Devarim. And as you know from last week, the Israelites are right on the precipice of the land of Israel, right on the edge ready to go in, when Moses hits the pause button and says, “Before you take another step towards your destination, we need to look back and recall our story that got us here. We need to remember all the laws you’ve been given along the way, and we need to remember the importance of our covenant with God.

And that last piece is what I want to focus on today - our covenant with God. Because Deuteronomy acknowledges human free will. It acknowledges our ability to do good, or not. Our ability to enact God’s will in the world or allow evil to flourish.

This Shabbat is the Shabbat right before Tisha B’Av. Tisha B’AV is our annual day of mourning for the loss of the first and second temples, as well as a commemoration of other days of tragedy in our history. And the Shabbat right before Tisha B’Av is called Shabbat Chazon, the Shabbat of vision. And the name comes to us from our Haftarah this Shabbat in Isaiah. And Isaiah says something truly gut wrenching that I can’t get out of my mind. In channeling Adonai (God) and rebuking the Israelites, Isaiah says,
“Your rulers are stubborn rogues
And cronies of thieves,
They all love bribes
And are greedy for gifts;
They do not judge the case of the orphan,
And the widow’s cause never reaches them.”


Without political comment, what this challenges us to do, what Deuteronomy and Isaiah implore us to do, is to enact God’s will in the world so that our world can be what we want. We can’t allow evil and corruption to flourish. And that all rests on our action. There are a few ways that I think we can act that really will change the way our country is.

  1. Open channels of empathy with people we disagree with. To have conversations, not shouting matches, and at the end, no matter what happens, to make sure you give them a hug.
  2. Rally, march for issues you care about deeply. Don’t let anything you care about to go down without a fight.
  3. Perhaps most importantly, register to vote. The registration deadlines are looming and it’s on us to make sure all the people in our networks are registered to vote. So please please please make sure you are registered to vote so that your voice can be heard in the fall.

I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. I hope this Isaiah and Deuteronomy is inspiring you to ask in our world. And I hope the rest of your week is phenomenal.

Alex KressComment