Parshas VaEschanan, on the Jewish calendar, is read following the 9th of Av, the Day of Mourning over the destruction. It begins the “seven Sabbaths of consolation,” during which the Haftorah readings, from the prophets, promise that a bright future lies ahead.
We find this same message found clearly within the reading itself. G-d says that we will be exiled from our land due to our sins, and scattered around the earth. Yet when we seek G-d and His Word, motivated both by a thirst for knowledge and due to antisemitism, we will find Him.
Then, the Torah tells us, we will recognize that we have seen something unique in history: the claim that G-d Himself took one nation from the middle of another, and then enabled all of them to hear His Voice speak to them from within the fire. We will see that the Jews have always survived and flourished, even when faced with — and forced to pass through — the fire of hatred.
Today, both of the motivations to seek G-d found in this week’s reading are clearly present. The thirst for knowledge, for something deeper in life than simply “earning a living,” burst from a spark to a flame perhaps fifty years ago, and persists in this generation. And now, rising antisemitism is motivating even more people to seek Jewish wisdom, to understand both the source of the hatred and how Jews have withstood it through millennia.
We must respond to both of these needs, so that Jewish students faced with hatred can feel proud and inspired by Judaism. We will shortly be announcing a new project to help us reach this goal, both reaching Jews on individual campuses and expanding the content and teachings you find today on the newly-redesigned Torah.org.
We look forward to giving you more information about our new effort in the weeks ahead, but for a sneak peek you may visit ShofarProject.org for a brief introduction — and the opportunity to sign up for a mailing list devoted to that initiative.