Deuteronomy 26
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Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:

1  When you enter the land that Hashem your God is giving you as a heritage, and you possess it and settle in it,

v’-ha-YAH kee ta-VO el ha-A-retz a-SHER a-do-NAI e-lo-HE-kha no-TAYN l’-KHA na-kha-LAH vee-rish-TAH v’-ya-SHAV-ta BAH

א  וְהָיָה כִּי־תָבוֹא אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ נַחֲלָה וִירִשְׁתָּהּ וְיָשַׁבְתָּ בָּהּ׃

26:1   The land that Hashem your God is giving you as a heritage

The 1917 Balfour Declaration is one of the most significant documents in modern Jewish history, articulating the historic right of the Jewish people to reestablish their homeland in Israel.  Written by foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour and approved by the  government of Great Britain, the declaration states clearly and unequivocally that Britain’s leaders “view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.” Lord Balfour was a deeply religious Christian Zionist, whose biblical upbringing led to his pivotal support for the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.  This verse promises the Jewish people that Eretz Yisrael is their inheritance, their birthright and heritage forever. Throughout history, Hashem has used individuals such as Balfour as His agents to carry out His will.1 comment

2  you shall take some of every first fruit of the soil, which you harvest from the land that Hashem your God is giving you, put it in a basket and go to the place where Hashem your God will choose to establish His name.

v-la-kakh-TA may-ray-SHEET kol p’-REE ha-a-da-MAH a-SHER ta-VEE may-ar-tz’-KHA a-SHER a-do-NAY e-lo-HE-kha no-TAYN LKAH v’-sam-TA va-TE-ne v’-ha-lakh-TA el ha-ma-KOM a-SHER yiv-KHAR a-do-NAI e-lo-HE-kha l’-sha-KAYN sh’-MO SHAM

ב  וְלָקַחְתָּ מֵרֵאשִׁית כָּל־פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר תָּבִיא מֵאַרְצְךָ אֲשֶׁר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ וְשַׂמְתָּ בַטֶּנֶא וְהָלַכְתָּ אֶל־הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְשַׁכֵּן שְׁמוֹ שָׁם׃

3  You shall go to the kohen in charge at that time and say to him, “I acknowledge this day before Hashem your God that I have entered the land that Hashem swore to our fathers to assign us.”

ג  וּבָאתָ אֶל־הַכֹּהֵן אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו הִגַּדְתִּי הַיּוֹם לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כִּי־בָאתִי אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע יְהוָה לַאֲבֹתֵינוּ לָתֶת לָנוּ׃

4  The kohen shall take the basket from your hand and set it down in front of the mizbayach of Hashem your God.

ד  וְלָקַח הַכֹּהֵן הַטֶּנֶא מִיָּדֶךָ וְהִנִּיחוֹ לִפְנֵי מִזְבַּח יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ׃

5  You shall then recite as follows before Hashem your God: “My father was a fugitive Aramean. He went down to Egypt with meager numbers and sojourned there; but there he became a great and very populous nation.

ה  וְעָנִיתָ וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲרַמִּי אֹבֵד אָבִי וַיֵּרֶד מִצְרַיְמָה וַיָּגָר שָׁם בִּמְתֵי מְעָט וַיְהִי־שָׁם לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל עָצוּם וָרָב׃

6  The Egyptians dealt harshly with us and oppressed us; they imposed heavy labor upon us.

va-ya-RAY-u o-TA-nu ha-mitz-REEM vai-a-NU-nu va-yi-t’-NU a-LAY-nu a-vo-DAH ka-SHAH

ו  וַיָּרֵעוּ אֹתָנוּ הַמִּצְרִים וַיְעַנּוּנוּ וַיִּתְּנוּ עָלֵינוּ עֲבֹדָה קָשָׁה׃

26:6   The Egyptians dealt harshly with us

Ironically, the Hebrew word in this verse for ‘dealt harshly with us,’ vayareiu (וירעו), also contains the word for ‘friendship,’ reiut (רעות).  By choosing this term, the Torah is making a subtle observation about the origins of Hebrew slavery. At first, the Egyptians befriended the Jews. It was only later on that they gradually began to institute discriminatory laws, persecution and finally slavery. This pattern, where a host nation invites Jews in and offers protection, but as time goes on the hospitality runs out and anti-Semitism creeps in, has repeated itself throughout Jewish history. Only in the State of Israel can safety and security be guaranteed to the Jewish people permanently.Comment

7  We cried to Hashem, the God of our fathers, and Hashem heard our plea and saw our plight, our misery, and our oppression.

ז  וַנִּצְעַק אֶל־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵינוּ וַיִּשְׁמַע יְהוָה אֶת־קֹלֵנוּ וַיַּרְא אֶת־עָנְיֵנוּ וְאֶת־עֲמָלֵנוּ וְאֶת־לַחֲצֵנוּ׃

8  Hashem freed us from Egypt by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm and awesome power, and by signs and portents.

ח  וַיּוֹצִאֵנוּ יְהוָה מִמִּצְרַיִם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרֹעַ נְטוּיָה וּבְמֹרָא גָּדֹל וּבְאֹתוֹת וּבְמֹפְתִים׃

9  He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

vai-vi-AY-nu el ha-ma-KOM ha-ZEH va-yi-ten LA-nu et ha-A-retz ha-ZOT E-retz za-VAT kha-LAV ud-VASH

ט  וַיְבִאֵנוּ אֶל־הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה וַיִּתֶּן־לָנוּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ׃

10  Wherefore I now bring the first fruits of the soil which You, Hashem, have given me.” You shall leave it before Hashem your God and bow low before Hashem your God.

י  וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה הֵבֵאתִי אֶת־רֵאשִׁית פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר־נָתַתָּה לִּי יְהוָה וְהִנַּחְתּוֹ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִיתָ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ׃

11  And you shall enjoy, together with the Levite and the stranger in your midst, all the bounty that Hashem your God has bestowed upon you and your household.

יא  וְשָׂמַחְתָּ בְכָל־הַטּוֹב אֲשֶׁר נָתַן־לְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וּלְבֵיתֶךָ אַתָּה וְהַלֵּוִי וְהַגֵּר אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבֶּךָ׃

12  When you have set aside in full the tenth part of your yield—in the third year, the year of the tithe—and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat their fill in your settlements,

יב  כִּי תְכַלֶּה לַעְשֵׂר אֶת־כָּל־מַעְשַׂר תְּבוּאָתְךָ בַּשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁלִישִׁת שְׁנַת הַמַּעֲשֵׂר וְנָתַתָּה לַלֵּוִי לַגֵּר לַיָּתוֹם וְלָאַלְמָנָה וְאָכְלוּ בִשְׁעָרֶיךָ וְשָׂבֵעוּ׃

13  you shall declare before Hashem your God: “I have cleared out the consecrated portion from the house; and I have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, just as You commanded me; I have neither transgressed nor neglected any of Your commandments:

יג  וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בִּעַרְתִּי הַקֹּדֶשׁ מִן־הַבַּיִת וְגַם נְתַתִּיו לַלֵּוִי וְלַגֵּר לַיָּתוֹם וְלָאַלְמָנָה כְּכָל־מִצְוָתְךָ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתָנִי לֹא־עָבַרְתִּי מִמִּצְוֺתֶיךָ וְלֹא שָׁכָחְתִּי׃

14  I have not eaten of it while in mourning, I have not cleared out any of it while I was unclean, and I have not deposited any of it with the dead. I have obeyed Hashem my God; I have done just as You commanded me.

יד  לֹא־אָכַלְתִּי בְאֹנִי מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא־בִעַרְתִּי מִמֶּנּוּ בְּטָמֵא וְלֹא־נָתַתִּי מִמֶּנּוּ לְמֵת שָׁמַעְתִּי בְּקוֹל יְהוָה אֱלֹהָי עָשִׂיתִי כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתָנִי׃

15  Look down from Your holy abode, from heaven, and bless Your people Yisrael and the soil You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers.”

hash-KEE-fah mi-m’-ON kod-sh’-KHA min ha-sha-MA-yim u-va-RAYKH et a-m’-KHA et yis-ra-AYL ve-AYT ha-a-da-MAH a-SHER na-TA-ta LA-nu ka-a-SHER nish-BA-ta la-a-vo-TAY-nu E-retz za-VAT kha-LAV ud-VASH

טו  הַשְׁקִיפָה מִמְּעוֹן קָדְשְׁךָ מִן־הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבָרֵךְ אֶת־עַמְּךָ אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֵת הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה לָנוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתָּ לַאֲבֹתֵינוּ אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ׃

26:15   And bless Your people Yisrael and the soil You have given us

In Hebrew, the name ‘Israel,’ Yisrael (ישראל), refers to both the land and the people. It also has a deeper meaning. In his book The Secrets of Hebrew WordsRabbi Benjamin Blech points out that, “the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet is the yud (י). The largest letter is the lamed (ל). The very name of the Jewish people, Yisrael (ישראל), alludes to both its humble beginnings as well as its glorious destiny.” There is no other language like Hebrew, where every word is infused with such deep meaning.1 comment

16  Hashem your God commands you this day to observe these laws and rules; observe them faithfully with all your heart and soul.

טז  הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ מְצַוְּךָ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת־הַחֻקִּים הָאֵלֶּה וְאֶת־הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים וְשָׁמַרְתָּ וְעָשִׂיתָ אוֹתָם בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל־נַפְשֶׁךָ׃

17  You have affirmed this day that Hashem is your God, that you will walk in His ways, that you will observe His laws and commandments and rules, and that you will obey Him.

יז  אֶת־יְהוָה הֶאֱמַרְתָּ הַיּוֹם לִהְיוֹת לְךָ לֵאלֹהִים וְלָלֶכֶת בִּדְרָכָיו וְלִשְׁמֹר חֻקָּיו וּמִצְוֺתָיו וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו וְלִשְׁמֹעַ בְּקֹלוֹ׃

18  And Hashem has affirmed this day that you are, as He promised you, His treasured people who shall observe all His commandments,

יח  וַיהוָה הֶאֱמִירְךָ הַיּוֹם לִהְיוֹת לוֹ לְעַם סְגֻלָּה כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר־לָךְ וְלִשְׁמֹר כָּל־מִצְוֺתָיו׃

19  and that He will set you, in fame and renown and glory, high above all the nations that He has made; and that you shall be, as He promised, a holy people to Hashem your God.

 

יט  וּלְתִתְּךָ עֶלְיוֹן עַל כָּל־הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לִתְהִלָּה וּלְשֵׁם וּלְתִפְאָרֶת וְלִהְיֹתְךָ עַם־קָדֹשׁ לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֵּר׃

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Deuteronomy 25
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Deuteronomy 26

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