The Do’s and Don’ts of Worshipping God
The portion opens with a blessing and a curse, the former which the people will receive if they follow God’s commands and the latter which will be visited upon them should they disobey. Moses tells the people that when they enter the land, they will stand upon two mountains, Gerizim and Ebal. There they shall recite the blessings and curses. The content of each appears in Deuteronomy 27 and 28.
Moses tells the people that when they pass into the land, they are to wipe out the idolatry of the nations currently living there. Rather than copying their forms of service, they must worship God only in the place which He will set out for them. In that place alone the Children of Israel shall offer their sacrifices, bring their first fruits or first animals, and celebrate with God. Should the people wish to eat meat, they are permitted to do so outside the confines of God’s place, provided they follow the laws which He set out, including not eating the blood of the animal. However, any food or wine which is sanctified may only be eaten in God’s special place, which the Bible later identifies as Jerusalem. If the Israelites follow these laws, Moses says, God promises to bless their lives in the land.
When Moses tells the people to seek God’s presence in His special place, he uses the noun shikhno. The term shekhina comes from the Hebrew word meaning “to dwell”, which the Israel Bible says reminds us of our close, personal relationship with God Who dwells among us. From this verse we understand the Temple Mount is the place where God’s presence is most felt on Earth.
Virtual Classroom Discussion
Why do you think Moses specified — twice — that meat could be eaten outside of the Temple? What can we learn from this?
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