27/28 July: Shabbat Va’etchanan comes in 8:42 pm, ends 9:53 pm
The core of the reading of this week’s Parsha is in the repetition of the Ten Commandments. Although scholars and commentators have always carefully compared the two versions for all the minor textual variations, the most important difference is not in the text, but in the context. The first time the Ten Commandments appears it is in the story of the revelation at Sinai. This time, it’s in Moses’ retelling of that story.
On some level, Judaism is not about the events at Mount Sinai, but their recollection and eternal rediscovery through texts and memorial ritual, creating a living community of remembrance. It is not the encounter with the One God so much as the teaching about that encounter to subsequent generations. And so, we have our strangely repetitive text. A philosophical truth needs to be expressed only once. A memory must be repeated – not just from generation to generation, but from day to day; “as you sit in your house, as your go on your way, as you lie down and as you rise up.”
Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman