Weekly Reading Insights: Re'eh 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Re'eh

To be read on 29 Menachem Av 5765 (Sept. 3)

Torah: Deut. 11:26-16:17
Haftorah: Isaiah 54:11-55:5 (3rd of the Seven Haftorahs of Consolation) and Samuel I 20:18, 20:42 (for Erev Rosh Chodesh)
Shabbat Mevarchim
Pirkei Avot Chapter 5

Re'eh is the 4th Reading out of 11 in Deut. and 47th overall, and 4th out of 54 in overall length.

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 and Sukkot.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:47-65/Re'eh)

We have learned that there is nothing in the world that stands in the way [of G-d accepting] repentance. Furthermore, everyone who returns [to G-d, even the wicked,] is certainly received [in good favor] by the Holy One Blessed be He. And if he returns, he is summoned to the Path of Life.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:47-65/Re'eh)

As for philanthropy and generosity, I observed that my master was not particular that his own clothes be terribly fancy, that he only ate a very little, and, regarding his wife's expenses, he would dispense funds according to her wish. My master would give charity with great joy and good-heartedness, open-handedly, and sometimes he would not even look to see if there would be any money left for himself or not.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the "Shelah". (S:47-65/Re'eh)

The general rule we can derive from all that we have said so far is that the "inner", i.e. most sublime, sacrifice is Adam. This explains our tradition that after death, the archangel (High Priest) Michael offers up our souls on the Celestial Altar (Chagigah 12). This is all part of the great mystery of man having been created in the image of G-d.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"Lest your eye be evil against your needy brother...and he cry out to G-d against you, and it be a sin in you." (Deut. 15:9)
Not helping another person in his time of need is bad enough, but looking down on him and blaming him for his own predicament is even worse. For if "he cries out to G-d against you," your own behavior will be carefully scrutinized, and your own sins and failings come to light...
(Rabbi Shmelke of Nicholsburg) (from L'Chaim #580)

"When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the L-rd your G-d." (Deut. 8:10)
A Jew doesn't pray to G-d only in difficult circumstances, when he is poor and hungry. Even in the best of times, when he has "eaten and is full," he should remember that it is G-d Who has given him all these blessings and that he should thank Him accordingly.
(Lev Simcha) (from L'Chaim #633)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"All your children shall be taught of the L-rd; and great shall be the peace of your children." (Isaiah 54:13; from the haftorah)
The first Holy Temple was destroyed because the Jewish people did not keep the Torah's laws properly. The second Holy Temple was destroyed because of the sin of unwarranted hatred. The Prophet Isaiah, however, assures us that in the Messianic era, neither of these negative factors will affect the Third Holy Temple. "All your children shall be taught of the L-rd" - all Jews will be knowledgeable and observe the Torah; "and great shall be the peace of your children" - they will live together in harmony and brotherhood.
(Afikei Yehuda)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:47-65/Re'eh)

This week's portion, Re'eh, is always read on the Shabbat before Elul, like this year, (or on the actual first day of the month). The Zohar (P' Vayakhel) tells us that the Torah portions are connected to times of the year when they are read. While correcting our negative behavior is the main focus of the month of Elul, the Talmud teaches that adding in Torah study, beseeching G-d for help (prayer), and giving tzedaka (charity) help present our case in a positive light before the Heavenly Court. Some of the main verses about tzedaka are in this week's portion (15/7-11).

Many commandments are preceded by a blessing, like lighting Shabbat candles, putting up a mezuzah, or donning tefillin. Why doesn't tzedaka have a blessing? The Rashbah writes that blessing on a mitzvah when more than one person is involved is inappropriate, because if the poor person refuses the tzedaka, the blessing would be taking G-d's name in vain. Rebbe Mendel of Rimnov says that a blessing is appropriate when a person does a commandment with a full heart, which, unfortunately, may not always be the case with tzedaka.

Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Rimnov feared that individuals would be so involved in preparing for the mitzvah (one would go to the mikvah, another would meditate, a third would wash his hands) that the poor would suffer as a result. This sounds a bit tongue in cheek, but the Lubavitcher Rebbe says that this reason is based on a Talmudic story (Taanis 21a) in which Nachum Ish Gam Zu, a tzadik from Safed, tarried a tiny bit too long before feeding a poor man, and the needy man passed away. (Tzohar L'Tayvah)

The Torah verses explicitly require us not to close our fists, but rather open our hands to the needy. Rebbe Meir of Premishlan said that those who do not wish to contribute always claim that we are all equal, like the knuckles of a fist, so why should he give his hard earned money. Conversely, the giver says that not everyone is as privileged as himself, just as the fingers of an open hand are different sizes.

There is a story of the wealthy man who tried to buy his way into heaven. The angel in charge answered him that here, permission to enter does not come with cash but with receipts.
The saintly wife of Rabbi Meir of Kretchnif would bake huge amounts of bread for the needy. Once on Hoshanna Rabbah, her husband told their son, "I weigh what is more valuable to heaven, my moving back and forth with the lulav and etrog, or her moving back and forth while kneading and baking the challahs?".

The Baal Shem Tov was adamant that a mitzvah that one does with ulterior motives was better not to do at all with the exception of tzedaka. The reason is that no matter what the giver's intentions, the poor person was still helped! He went on to say that every action below creates a similar reaction above. Opening up our hands to the poor opens up the heavenly vaults to shower us with blessings below.

The verse in Amos 3:8 says, "When the lion roars, who is not afraid". This refers to the High Holidays, the Days of Judgment. The Shlah says the four letters of the Hebrew word for lion-'aryeh' are an acronym for: Elul, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Hoshana Rabbah (the last day of Sukkot). According to this, the High Holidays begin with the month of Elul which prepares us for holidays to come. This coming Sunday is the first day of Elul. The whole year, and especially during the High Holidays, the "King" (G-d) is in His palace, only accessible only to the privileged few. During the month of Elul, the "King" is in the field, available to anyone who makes the effort to come to Him. Making an effort means examining and correcting our negative actions. Whoever does so will be 'allowed' audience with the King when He is most sought after, during the month of Tishrei. May we all use our time well. Our behavior even from this coming Shabbat, does not replace teshuva and good deeds for the next two months, but it helps. Starting this Shabbat, try to be in an environment where you can control the outcome.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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