Double Mitzvah – Nitzavim Vayelekh

Double Mitzvah Jewrotica Parsha

Written by Tamar Fox. Tamar is Jewrotica’s Double Mitzvah columnist. Would you like to be regularly featured on Jewrotica? We are currently accepting applications for next year’s Double Mitzvah columnist and are always looking for new writers. Contact for more information.

For a commentary on last week’s parsha, check out Double Mitzvah – Ki Tavo.

Rated PG-13In this week’s double portion, Moses describes the Covenant between God and the Israelites, urging the Israelites to uphold the Covenant and honor the Torah so that they may be rewarded with life in the land of Israel. Moses concludes his speech to the Israelites, blesses Joshua, and instructs the community to gather every seven years to read publicly from the Torah; God predicts the eventual straying of the Israelites.

This week’s portion also contains the word fetish, which you don’t often hear in synagogue. Deuteronomy 29:15-16 says, “Well you know that we dwelt in the land of Egypt and that we passed through the midst of various other nations; and you have seen the detestable things and the fetishes of wood and stone, silver and gold, that they keep.” When you think of fetishes you may think of leather or lace, stilettos or whips. But fetish just means an object or idea regarded with awe or devotion. It can sometimes be applied towards the erotic, but it isn’t always.

It’s very possible that this particular quote from Deuteronomy is explicitly referencing the sexual practices of the other nations, but it also might be referencing the perverse devotion these nations had to these natural materials. The ambiguity here is actually helpful. It’s a reminder that we don’t always know the nature of the fetishization around us, and that we need to be careful not to allow the fetishes in our bedroom to run our lives. These nations are known for their fetishes. Wouldn’t you rather be known for pretty much anything else you’ve done in your life?

Shabbat shalom!

Author of Jewrotica's Double Mitzvah column, Tamar Fox is a writer and editor in Philadelphia. She will try anything once, including open relationships, dating someone who is chalav yisrael, and going to Suriname.