Weekly Reading Insights: Re'eh
of the Torah Reading
To be read on Shabbat Re'eh - 30 Menacham Av 5782 /Aug. 27
Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Elul
Torah: Deut. 11:26-16:17
Haftorah: Isaiah 66:1-24; Isaiah 66:23; Samuel I 20:18; Samuel I 20:42
Re'eh is the 4th Reading out of 11 in Deuteronomy and
it contains 7442 letters, in 1932 words, in 126 verses
Re'eh (Deuteronomy 11:26
- 16:17) opens with a blessing and curse being placed before the Jewish people
- our actions determine the outcome! The Jews are reminded to obliterate idolatry
from the Land and to offer sacrifices only where permitted. Laws are given concerning
slaughtering and eating meat. The Jews are warned not to worship as the idolaters
did. Punishments of false prophets, missionaries, and apostate cities are discussed.
G-d calls the Jews His "children" and a "special nation"
which He chose from all the other nations. Next are listed laws of kosher animals,
fowl, fish and insects and the prohibition for cooking milk and meat together.
Also, laws of tithes and the Sabbatical year are relayed, in particular, the
relinquishing of debts. The Jews are reminded not to withhold giving loans because
of this, and will receive G-d's blessing for doing so. Following this is a list
of laws regarding slaves. Additional laws that are listed: first-born "clean"
animals are dedicated to G-d; blemished animals are forbidden to be offered;
consuming blood is forbidden. Re'eh concludes with the laws of Pesach, Shavuot
Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, Director of Ascent
(for a free weekly email subscription, click
In this weeks Torah portion, Moshe verbally prepares the Jewish people
for their entry to the land of Israel
to the resting place and to the inheritance
(12/9). The resting place and inheritance in this verse
refers to the town of Shiloh, where the Tabernacle stood for 369 years, and
to Yerushalayim, where the Temples would be built. It has also been used to
refer, tongue in cheek, to any desired destination.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe used the expression often referring to his
chassidims exaggerated involvement in their weekend trips to the Catskill
Mountains during the summer. (a few hours drive from Brooklyn, NY
that is referred to as the country). He would chide them that this
was at the expense of their home, work and, more important, their day to day
Divine service. While the Rebbe did not suggest this to anyone, it is known
he did not take a vacation once in his 44 years of leadership.
At the end of a fabrengen (Chassidic gathering) on 12th of Tamuz 5714
(July 1954) early in the Rebbes leadership, he said the following. "Someone
came to me and asked, lamenting, what can he do?
Such an unfortunate
His wife is insisting they go to the country. He (the chassid) does not say
that he wants to go to the country, although that certainly is the
case. He presents it as if his wife wants to go. He tells himself, that for
the sake of peace in the home you have to make some sacrifices.
Doesnt the Torah teach us that in order to make peace between a husband
and wife, G-d even says, I will erase my name in the water (part
of the ceremony involving a Sotah)?
"My father in law told a story that once a person came to the Rebbe Maharash
for a private audience. He asked for a tikun, soul repair for a person
who did an extremely unpleasant and inappropriate thing. He was embarrassed
to say that it was actually he who had done this terrible thing. However since
he truly felt bad about it and needed to know how to repair the damage he needed
to tell the Rebbe what it was. He tried to be clever and said he had a dear
friend who trusted him implicitly, and since the friend was embarrassed
to tell the Rebbe what he had done the friend sent him on his behalf.
"The Rebbe looked at him and said, Why did he have to send you? He
could have just come himself and said that he was coming for you
The Rebbe continued, "Similar to this situation is the first person we
mentioned. He says like this, we are approaching the 4th of July, and the day
after is the 5th of July when also everyone is away, and it is already a few
weeks that my wife does not stop talking about the absolute necessity to go
to the country, etc etc, what should I do?
What can I answer? Lets accept for the moment that the trip to the country
is not non-essential for a reasonable quality life, but is something clearly
needed. But why", the Rebbe asks, "does it have to be something that
a person is drawn into with all of his inner self? Why does a person need to
invest all of his enthusiasm and fire into his vacation, which automatically
makes him forget about what should be his main focus, his Torah study [and observance
of the commandments].
"I bless you" , the Rebbe said, "to travel peacefully, those
who have not yet left and those who already went but came back for the fabrengen
(but who look at their watch every few minutes wondering which train or bus
they will be able to catch, will it be the 1pm, or the 1:15pm). Just so long
as they have a happy and healthy summer.
But with one caveat; first and foremost, even in the country, on vacation, a
person can still fulfill his spiritual mission for the Holy One Blessed Be He:
learning Torah, praying and doing the commandments. And when the Yetzer Hara,
the personal and collective Evil Inclination. sees that really one is going
on vacation with a divine purpose, to fulfill our divine mission for G-d, that
will help him free a few more of the Jews, and even the married
person we spoke of above from going at all, since, really, they did not want
to go in the first place!
And for those who are already there and accomplish all that you went there to
accomplish physically and even spiritually, think just a bit about why after
it all, do you have to be so into it? For what reason does the country
pleasures have to consume you?
True, every day when you wake up you can breathe the fresh air and even bless
the Al-mighty that You made Your world in such a wonderful way. Thank you G-d
that in the United States there are mountains that are called the Catskills,
and (at least for now) Jews, even Jews with beards and payos and even
a child wearing tzitzit, they still allow us to travel there. This is
truly one of Gds wonders!
Yet we know that a Jews real place is in the study hall and yeshiva and
involved in doing G-ds commandments, and not so much in the Catskills
and involved exclusively in healthy bodies. The Al-mighty can still
give a Jew all he needs without having to travel to the air of the mountain
that are such and such amount of feet high above the sea line, even 500 feet
When after it all, it still happens that you are there on vacation, you do not
have to get so carried away
Although this period is called vacation time and a time for rest
and recreation, etc., clearly in regard to Yiddishkeit there can be no
vacation, both in regard to ones self and family, as well
as in regard to benefits to others."
On the contrary, inasmuch as this is a period of time when other pressures
and duties are lessened, and one has more free time available, it provides a
particularly good opportunity to intensify all activities relating to Torah
and mitzvoth [wherever you are]. Since the Torah and mitzvoth
are our life and the length of our days, there can be no interruption,
G-d forbid, in life and vitality. On the surface it might seem that any particular
limb or aspect of the body is in a state of suspended animation. It must not
be allowed to remain so for long, and should again be stimulated into activity
Shabbat Shalom, Shaul
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For last year's essay by Rabbi Leiter on this week's Reading,
see the archive.
THE SAGES OF KABBALAH ON KabbalaOnline.org
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of the recommended articles in the columns:
Holy Zohar, Holy Ari, Mystic Classics, Chasidic Masters, Contemporary Kabbalists,
and more, click to Re'eh
The Enticer Within
From the Ohr HaChaim commentary by Rabbi Chaim (ben Moshe) ibn Attar
Enticement to sin is not only due to external sources but may be due to some
force within us from birth. In addition, man creates a spiritually negative
force every time he sins; the more man sins, the more powerful the forces which
urge him to sin become.
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