“When you besiege a city for a long time by fighting against it to take it, you do not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. If you do eat of them, do not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man to be besieged by you? Only the trees which you know are not trees for food you do destroy and cut down, to build siege-works against the city that is fighting against you, until it falls.”
Let’s stop and examine the opening words of this week’s Parsha. “It shall come to pass when…” V’haya eikev. Another way to translate that would be to say, “It will come into existence as a result of.” Based on the sentence structure so far we can expect that what is about to follow would be a conditional clause, like an if/then situation. But does that fit with our perception of who HaShem is?
At the time Moses was pleading (va’etchanan means “and I sought favor”) with Elohim for another chance to enter into the land, the world wasn’t much different than it is today. You probably assume that that I have a punch line following that statement, but I don’t. Let’s examine this week’s parsha together.
When reading through this parsha this time around, I paused to reflect on Deuteronomy 1:10. We should be very familiar with the promise made to Avinu Avraham (Our father Abraham) by now, but it’s worth looking at it again.
When is enough actually enough for us? How many times do we see injustice occurring and think to ourselves, “I wish someone would do something about that”? We begin this week by reading about Elohim’s reaction to the zeal that Pinchas displayed in the previous Parsha. Let’s to go back to the end of last week’s Torah portion to refresh our memory.
Not just a decree, but the decree. And what a complex decree it is! We begin this week’s busy Torah portion with a law that has continued to baffle scholars, sages and biblical students alike over the years: the purifying ashes of the red heifer.
After scouting the Promised Land of Canaan, ten of the twelve spies came back and delivered a statement that provoked fear in the hearts of the Israelites.
It seems we begin this portion of the Torah with a continuation of more numbers. More counting. More censuses. But here we notice something strange. Just prior in Numbers 3:17 the sons of Levi are listed in order of their seniority with Gershon being first, Kohat listed second and Merari…
Why do these blessings only speak of a plentiful harvest and safety from enemies? Are there no spiritual blessings that accompany obedience to the will of Elohim? Wouldn’t “following His decrees and observing His commandments and performing them” (Leviticus 26:3) merit a personal growth and blessing as well? The Torah, apparently, doesn’t see the need to expound on that. It seems to imply that there is a direct link between how the crops turn out and how we behave. Why?
This week’s Parsha deals with some seemingly outdated topics about farming. Leviticus 25:1-2 begins with the command that when we should come into the land, we are to let it rest and have its own Sabbath. It goes on to clarify: