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September 13, 2015 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Vayelech

In this coming week’s Torah portion, the Jews are commanded to read the Torah every seven years (Deut. 31).  The audience for this reading includes not only Jews but “the stranger that is within thy gates” (31:12).    Why? Ibn Ezra says that this might cause him (or her) to embrace Judaism.

If the Torah in its raw, uninterpreted form is a selling point for Judaism, that says a lot about the appeal (or lack thereof) of the alternative.  In my experience, philo-Semites like Jews and Judaism as actually practiced- and certainly parts of the Torah might be appealing.  On the other hand, there’s lots of icky stuff in the Torah (genocide, overuse of capital punishment etc)  so I am not quite sure what Ibn Ezra was thinking.  Maybe he was thinking that despite the Torah’s challenging bits it still compares favorably to the religious alternatives, especially the pagan alternatives (which presumably were at least as bloody-minded as the Torah and much sillier).

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