Parashat Va'et'hanan

Beyond The Letter Of The Law

Doing what is "right and good" in the eyes of God means promoting the values of the Torah beyond the explicit laws.

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At the same time, "You shall do that which is right and good" tells us to take a step forward in order to promote the spirit of the law. Though we may find ourselves in situations where we feel we can sit back and not get involved, the spirit of the Torah demands that we take initiative and get involved.

The Talmud states that Jerusalem was destroyed because her inhabitants failed to raise their standard of behavior above the letter of the law.

It is therefore fitting that Va'et'hanan is always read on Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Comfort, which follows Tisha B'Av. If we live up to the message of this parsha by doing what is "right and good in the eyes of God," we will be deserving of redemption and merit the rebuilding of the Temple.

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David Movsas is rabbi of Congregation Shaare Tzedek of West New York, New Jersey.