Parashat Vaetchanan (וָאֶתְחַנַּן) 5782, and Free Legal Utterances

Inspiring Critical Thinking and Community via Books, Lessons, and Story

    This week’s Torah portion, Vaetchanan (וָאֶתְחַנַּן),  is the 45th (45/54 or 52, depending on the year: this year, it’s 54…) reading in the annual cycle.  It’s the second parashah in the book of Dvarim, with the full reading in Dvarim/Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11.

   Among other things, like the second recitation of The 10 Utterances,  aka The Law, with a key word change (emphasized in L’cha Dodi…), this portion has the Shema,  which is a bit like the Shahada for Muslims, in that it is recited at death, but also in the daily prayers (with the full paragraphs, not recited as often), as well as at the taking out of the Torah scroll, in the form of a call and response.  There is a midrash that Yaakov/Israel, on his death bed, asked a worried question, to which his sons responded by reciting the Shema, and…

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