These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem


Posted on September 22, 2011 by Barer

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This week’s parsha is a short one (though on non-leap years it is read in conjunction with the next parsha), that reads more as a concluding statement on all of the activity of last week’s blessings-and-curses-filled parsha than anything else.  A number of famous refrains are in this parsha, most notably the idea that the Torah “is not in heavens…but rather is very close to you, in your mouths and hearts to do it [i.e. what it says]” (30:12, 14).  I want to focus on something else that jumped out at me.  We are familiar with the phrase “and you shall love Hashem with all your might, all your heart, and all your soul” (to take a simple translation) from the first paragraph of the Shema, which comes from the beginning of Devarim (Deuteronomy).  In this week’s parsha, however, the phrase is truncated, and on three separate occasions in the span of ten verses, the phrase drops the clause “with all your might” (see 30:2, 6, 10).  Is one’s physical strength not required to keep the commandments laid out in this and last week’s parsha, while loving Hashem requires such strength?  The text is not in the habit of making such blatant parallels without also expecting the reader to learn something from them.  The answer may just be that the text davka does see the commandment to love Hashem as requiring more strength (in all senses of the word) than ‘simply’ keeping other commandments.  This may be being hinted at as in the paragraph in the Shema the clause to devote one’s strength is listed last, potentially signalling that it is both the hardest part of one’s self to devote and the most powerful.

All of our strength

Devoted to loving the

God in everyone