Weekly Reading Insights: Re'eh 5766


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Re'eh

To be read on 25 Av 5766 (August 16)

Torah: Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17
Haftorah: Isaiah 54:11-55:5 (3rd of 7 "Haftorahs of Consolation")
Shabbat Mevarchim - Blessing the New Month

Pirkei Avot: Chapter 6 in Israel (Chapter 5 outside of Israel)

Re'ehis the 4td 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:4666/Ekev)

At the time when those blessings that a person has made descend, they crown the Field of Holy Apples.

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:4766/Re'eh)

The holy Ari would give charity with great joy and good-heartedness, open-handedly, and sometimes he would not even look to see if....

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

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From Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:4766/Re'eh)

The mystical dimension of the firstling of the pure male animals is an allusion to the people of Israel, who have been described by G-d as His first-born (Ex. 4:22).

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


“Now Israel, what does the L-rd your G-d ask of you except to fear G-d.” (10:12)

People are strange. They beg and plead that G-d should give them 'fear of heaven,' when this is something that is entirely in the individual's control. Yet when it comes to livelihood, they imagine that they are in charge.

(Rabbi Chanoch of Alexander)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


“See! This day I place before you a blessing.” (Deut. 11:26)

The blessing in this verse does not refer to anything specific; rather, it is a comprehensive statement which includes all the blessings G-d confers on every Jew. First and foremost, therefore, it refers to the ultimate blessing of all -- the complete Redemption through Moshiach.

By using the emphatic "See!" the Torah stresses that the Messianic Redemption is not something theoretical or academic, but rather something that will be evident with our eyes of flesh -- and this very day!

The Lubavitcher Rebbe (from L’Chaim #382)

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:4666/Ekev)

Parashat Re'eh opens with the verse, "See, I give before you today a blessing and a curse." (Deut. 11:26). Mystical sources explain that a Jew, even while alive, is surrounded by two different atmospheres: one of Gan Eden - Paradise - and one of Gehinnom, the place where souls go to be purified after they finish their sojourn on this world. When a Jew thinks and speaks in a positive way, this leaves an impression that draws him into Gan Eden. Improper thoughts and words leave their impression and draw the person into Gehinnom. Ultimately, even today the soul's location is determined by the person's deeds. When performing a mitzvah, our soul is in Gan Eden - the "blessing", and, G-d forbid, in the opposite case, in Gehinnom - the "curse". We are not just speaking metaphorically here. Upon contemplating how much effort being good takes, just remember how much of a burden all those people who practice being "not-good" carry around.

The Talmud describes the word "giving" as something done with a "kind eye" (Baba Batra 53). Therefore, how can a curse be "given"? The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that truly seeing even a negative situation brings us to recognize that the inner dimension and ultimate purpose of the "curse" is actuallly a blessing. When we do so, we see that the evil and punishment - the curse - must exist so that we have lives of free choice. Without these, we would not be able to choose the good - the blessing - and receive reward for doing so. Still, just as anything of importance, this ability to see past the surface to the truth within takes effort and training. But then again, life will look differently.

A well known question: while we do find hints to the World to Come in the Torah, we do not find specified anywhere in the Torah that we merit this as reward for our good deeds. This is strange since it is one of the principles of our faith. Rabbi Shlomo of Z'veill explains the verse in Re'eh, "You are children to the Lord your G-d" (Deut. 14:1): What is the difference between a servant and a child? A servant does his or her job to receive compensation. This is not the case of a child. All that the father has is available to the child as long as the child does not rebel or run away. A child requires no wage because he will inherit all. Similarly, the Torah does not need to mention this greatest of rewards. As G-d's children, all is ours as long as we do His will.

Towards the end of the parasha is the commandment to eat matza on Pesach "...in order that you should remember the day you went out of Egypt all the days of your life." (Deut. 16:3) Why do we need the word "all"? The Mishna explains that the function of "all" is to include even the era of Mashiach. Even when Mashiach arrives we will still be commanded to remember and praise G-d for taking us out of the Egyptian slavery. However, when Mashiach does arrive, we will not feel that we have received a free gift, but rather that we are receiving the result of our efforts - that we too have helped bring Mashiach. Don't put off till tomorrow what you can accomplish today!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.

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