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Vaetchanan


“You who cleave to the Lord your God are alive” (Devarim 4:4.) What does it mean to cleave to G‑d? And why is that the recipe for "life?"

One of the leading Rabbis of his era, Rabbi Isaac Abuhav, in a sermon addressing a bride and groom, offers a deep insight into the meaning behind these words.

Life, he tells us, is an expression of truthfulness. To be "alive," one needs to be truthful. This, Rabbi Abuhav tells us, is by being connected to G‑d, the ultimate truth.

We are taught (Talmud Sotah 14a) that the method of cleaving to G‑d, is to emulate him. Being kind, compassionate and honest; that is cleaving to G‑d.

To work honestly, focus on family and prioritize our spiritual existence, as well as the mundane, is the message of this verse. Someone who lives this way is truly "connected" and alive.

Living this way, connected and full of positive energy, is also the ingredients for Simcha, the Hebrew word for joy. Sadness is always found in a void, as the verse states in describing G‑d”s decision to bring the flood,  “He became grieved in His heart.” (Bereishit 6:6)

Focusing on the positive, living a life connected to the ultimate truth, is how one can achieve a constant state of Simcha, happiness and contentment.

*Rabbi Isaac Abuhav lived in Spain until the expulsion in 1492. He then settled in Portugal in the city of Porto. He passed away in 1493. This sermon is 

published in the volume Nehar Pishon.


At his funeral the "Hesped," eulogy, was given by one of his students, the famous Rabbi Avraham Zacuto. The above image of Rabbi Zacuto’s navigation 

tables, are displayed in the tiles of the Parque Metro station in Lisbon.

 

Portuguese Jewish history is a rich tapestry of accomplishment and challenge spanning the centuries.  Portugal's shores have produced and housed some of our greatest Rabbis and leaders.   From statesman, leader and scholar  Rabbi Don Yitzchak  Abarbanel to Shulchan Aruch author Rabbi Yosef Karo in the 15th century through to the Lubavitcher Rebbe's time in Lisbon in 1941, Portugal has enabled tremendous developments in strengthening community and Torah.  

It is in recognition of the timeless nature of these commitments, and in honor of all of those Jews who have called Portugal home through times of brilliance and darkness, that these Torah insight's from Portugal's great Rabbis is produced - here in Portugal. 

Special thanks to Rabbi Shlomo Pereira for the Portuguese translation.