The word “havel” — vapor, mist, steam; futility, vanity — features prominently in the book of Ecclesiates/Kohelet, beginning with the second verse:
The words of Koheleth son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Utter futility! [havel havalim] — said Koheleth —
Utter futility! [havel havalim] All is futile! [ha-kol havel]Continue Reading
The Song of Moses, Devarim/Deuteronomy 32:1-39, also known as Shirat Ha’azinu [“Give Ear”], ranges over past, present and future in Israel’s relationship to God. In outlining the poem’s structure, Nechama Leibowitz cites Moses Mendelssohn‘s Biur and an early 20th Century article published in German.
This portion contains oft-quoted verses about Torah’s accessibility:
Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” No the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.Continue Reading
At the beginning of the portion, Moses describes a declaration to be made in conjunction with the first fruits. It is, for a change in Devarim/Deuteronomy, not accompanied by commentary from Moses about the people’s lack of understanding and gratitude, despite long experience of God’s power and bounty. Instead, it is assumed that the people will be appropriately awed and grateful following the harvest.
“It’s very clear our love is here to stay.
Not for a year, but ever and a day.
The radio and the telephone
And the movies that we know
May just be passing fancies and in time may go.
But, oh my dear, our love is here to stay.
Together were going a long, long way.
In time the Rockies may crumble,
Gibraltar may tumble, they’re only made of clay.
But our love is here to stay.”
— Ira Gershwin, “Love is Here to Stay”
This portion includes some famous lines, e.g.:Continue Reading
“a Land of wheat, barley, grape, fig, and pomegranate; a Land of oil-lives and date-honey” — Devarim/Deuteronomy 8:8
“Not with our fathers did the LORD seal this covenant but with us–we that are here today, all of us alive.” Continue Reading