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Parashat Vaetchanan - 5775

My friends,

This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Consolation and Comfort. The first two words of this week's Haftarah reading are "Nachamu, Nachamu Ami" - "Comfort ye, Comfort ye, my people". These words of comfort are needed after having observed Tisha B'Av as a day of mourning for the calamities that have befallen our people.

The Torah portion should be familiar to you as it contains two readings that are the essence of Judaism. One of them has become an integral part of our daily services.

In reviewing Israel's experiences of the past forty years, Moses reminds his people of that glorious day on Mt. Sinai, the day of revelation, when the Ten Commandments were given. As a continuation of these commandments, Moses tells the people the words that express the basic affirmation of our faith: "Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad." - "Hear O Israel, The L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One."

How does one put into practice this famous verse? By following the Mitzvot included in the paragraph that follows: "Veahavta Et . . . " - "Love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might." What has also kept Judaism's faith throughout the ages is the "Veshinantam Levaneicha" - teach the words of Torah to your children.

This Shabbat ushers in a period of joy as we who are alive today realize how fortunate we are that we 'kept the faith' by reciting the Shema and teaching Torah to our youth from generation to generation.

Be proud and feel good that you can practice the words of the Shema - that you are a member of the generation that has seen G-d's redemption and Nechama - Comfort.

We hope that this Nechama will continue, even in the midst of so many uncertainties and dangers facing our people today.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram