Monday, September 03, 2007


Weekly Parshas Blogging: the latter paragraphs apply to the recent missing weeks of weekly parshas blogging as well

Wow -- I know this time of year the Haftarah and Torah portions are not necessarily linked by content, but this week, reading conditional curses from Deuteronomy on the one hand and then the message of "tritero"-Isaiah on the other hand ... talk about a contrast!

Or maybe not: the latter parts of Isaiah were written during a time of return from a period of exile (if only our modern Zionists would pay more attention to the eschatology of Isaiah in their current desire to return from exile) while Deuteronomy is ostensibly about preparing the Hebrews to settle in Israel. OTOH, modern scholarship (well, not so modern anymore) tells us that Deuteronomy was written when, if you'll pardon the Biblical pun, the writing was on the wall for the Kingdom of Judah. So while Deuteronmy talks of preparing the Hebrews to enter Israel, it's real message is to explicate what went wrong (modern supporters of Israel thus should pay close attention to the curses in this book: we must heed, for example, environmental concerns -- consider how much of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict really resolves around water even though people don't always want to admit it for some reason ... admit folks! you're livin' in a frickin' desert!) as well as to develop something novel, an identity based not on nationhood but on following a Divinely granted law -- i.e. Judaism.

So in a sense, the latter parts of Isaiah, which describe the "fulfillment" of Judaism and Deuteronomy are bookends: not only of the Babylonian exile, but also the path set forth in Deuteronomy (which will later urge us to choose life, a choice about which many people are horribly confused, see my previous post) is a path out of the exile which all of us experience at one time and a path to God. And when this path is well enough traveled, perhaps the Messianic expectations of the Isaiahs, realized for the first Isaiah by Hezekiah, will be realized for us all in the Messianic Age.

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