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Re’eh ~ 5773 ~ ראה
Moshe continues his plea to Israel to follow G-d’s Commandments. There is a reward (blessing) for those who do so and a punishment (curse) for those who do not. The first command here is to destroy all the Heathen places of idolatry and to sacrifice only where G-d instructs us. Moshe continues with the admonition to be careful not to sacrifice or eat “Holy” food outside the soon to be appointed Holy City, and to always support the Levites. Kosher animals may be slaughtered for food whenever you want, however, the animals blood is forbidden for consumption.
This last doctrine of Moses continues with a warning against adopting the hideous traditions of the heathens. Do not let even close family or friends seduce you to idolatry. The penalty for enticing and seducing a person to idolatry or encouraging it in any form, is death. Excessive mourning is forbidden, specifically deforming the body as a sign of grief.
The forbidden and permitted animals are enumerated herein. The Laws of Tithing (donating 10% to the Levites and an additional 10% set aside to be eaten in Jerusalem each year) are also repeated here.
The Laws of the Sabbatical Year are enumerated, particularly that all loans and debts are relinquished for free and all Hebrew slaves are set free. If the slave refuses to go free, his ear is pierced as a sign of his desire to remain a slave and he is indentured for life.
The first born cattle must be eaten in Jerusalem. The holiday of Passover is outlined here, followed by the other two Pilgrimage Festivals, Shavuot and Sukkot.
MAFTIR Deuteronomy 16:13-17 ~ page 817
HAFTARAH Isaiah 54:11—55:5 ~ page 818
In a comforting message, Isaiah portrays the future splendor of Zion sparkling as though bedecked with precious stones. Within its boundaries, adherence to G-d’s law will bring peace and security and He will protect Israel from weapons of destruction and from malice. The prophet calls on everyone to satisfy their hunger and thirst in a spiritual sense by returning to the word of G-d who will fulfill the promise to reestablish the Davidic dynasty.
Parashah Study Questions
1. “Reeh” – “behold” (vtr) is in the singular and not the plural (utr) – isn’t this addressed equally to the entire Jewish people?
2. There is a significant discrepancy in the literal meaning of verse 12:23 and the English translation. What is the difference and how do you explain this?
3. Verse 14:1 begins with the phrase ‘You are “Banim” – Children to G-d’. Does this sound strange?
4. Verse 14:21 specifically forbids the consuming of meat from a healthy animal that died a natural death – how does this refute one of the most famous excuses for not keeping kosher?
5. Rosh Chodesh Elul is observed this coming Tuesday and Wednesday. We usually blow the shofar each morning of Elul. Why do we start blowing shofar only the second day of Rosh Chodesh?