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Parshat Vaetchanan

This week we examine one the most dense Parshiyot in the Torah. In this parsha we have the text of the first paragraph of Shema, we have the 10 commandments and some of the most quotable sentences in the Torah.

We will focus on one such passuk:

לֹ֣א תֹסִ֗פוּ עַל־הַדָּבָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר אָנֹכִי֙ מְצַוֶּ֣ה אֶתְכֶ֔ם וְלֹ֥א תִגְרְע֖וּ מִמֶּ֑נּוּ לִשְׁמֹ֗ר אֶת־מִצְוֺת֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י מְצַוֶּ֥ה אֶתְכֶֽם׃

You shall not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I enjoin upon you.

This passuk seems final. It seems absolute. There is no way around this. And yet, this past week we commemorated Tisha Be'Av, the destruction of the Temple, which, according to many was also the point at which Rabbinical Judaism began to dominate Jewish life. Whilst it would be an unfair accusation to say that the rabbi's actions and ruling have been contrary to the mandate of this verse we must examine actions of the rabbis and determine if this is so.

In response to accusations that Rabbinical Judaism has reshaped Judaism we must respond by saying that all rabbinical ruling are, or will be, with the essence of the Judaism at its very foundation. Rabbinical Juadaism adapts ethics and applies them to the modern world.

We too must do this in our everyday lives. As orthodox jews we must consistently apply the ethics of the Torah to our lives. This is not adding or subtracting from the Torah, rather it is the natural process of growth that is inherent in the word Halacha.

Shabbat Shalom.

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