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Parashat VaEtchanan
Beyond Borders: Unveiling the Universal Message of Unity in Ancient Wisdom

Parashat VaEtchanan gives us one of the most important verses in the entire Torah - the famous verse:
"Hear O Israel, Adonai is our God, Adonai is One".

What is the meaning of this verse, which is apparently talking about the people of Israel - Shema Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One?

Apparently, the wording "Adonai is our God" does not necessarily imply a monotheistic statement. As if saying that Adonai is the God of Israel but what about the rest of the world? Who is their god?

Hence the greatest commentator, Rashi, interpreted the words somewhat paradoxically, but this is how he explains: "Adonai is our God and not (yet) the God of the nations". I add ‘yet’ in parentheses to emphasize that in the future all of mankind will accept Adonai as the One God.

This means that the expression "One" is not there to declare that God is the only God. We knew this even without this verse. The innovation is that the mission of the People of Israel, and the historical dynamics of the People of Israel are expressed at the first stage of its existence.

Israel is charged with advancing the entire world. Israel’s goal is to affect all of humanity to recognize Adonai’s dominion and to bask in its light. Consequently, the phrase "Hear O Israel, Adonai is our God, Adonai is one" is not a declaration of faith but rather a work plan.

In our times we are working together, the children of Israel and the children of Noah, to complete the great vision that God, who for the time being is the God of Israel, will become the God of one, for the entire world and for all human beings.


More Weekly Portions

Expanding Horizons:
How Jewish Festivals Evolve Beyond Biblical Times
[Emor]

Parashat Emor highlights the high-volume sanctity of times and places, listing key Jewish festivals connected to the Temple as discussed in Leviticus. It addresses how Moses communicated these to the Children of Israel, and introduces long-tail concepts like the addition of festivals beyond the Torah's scope. The narrative links the Menorah and the Temple to new celebrations such as Hanukkah, and connects the showbread ritual to Purim, indicating evolving traditions that continue to sanctify time through historical and divine revelations.

Unlocking Holiness
A Spiritual Awakening
[Kedoshim]

Examining the commandment to be holy, the article delves into its relational aspects, stressing the need for humans to emulate the divine in their interactions. It discusses the significance of loving others, oneself, and the Creator, drawing from Talmudic interpretations to underscore the interconnectedness of these dimensions. By fostering holistic relationships, individuals can fulfill their moral duties and attain a sense of completeness in their moral identities.

From Wilderness to Promised Land
The Evolution of Kosher Meat Consumption
[Aharei Mot]

In Parshat Achrei Mot, the Torah restricts meat consumption in the wilderness to prevent idolatry. Only kosher animal sacrifices within the Tabernacle were permitted. Unauthorized slaughter was considered a serious transgression, akin to murder. Upon entering the Land of Israel, the Israelites were allowed to consume "meat of desire" anywhere, symbolizing the expanded sacred space of the Tabernacle and Temple.

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