• Daily Aliya for Re’eh, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Although it is forbidden to offer sacrifices in any location other than the one designated by G‑d, it is permitted to slaughter cattle for consumption purposes, but blood may never be eaten. The consumption of various tithes and sundry sacred foods is also restricted to the designated holy city.

    This Aliya contains the commandment to rejoice before G-d, not just us personally, but our children, employees, and everyone around us. How is it our responsibility to make sure everyone around us is happy? Well, this Passuk is preceded by one describing the place where offerings are brought before G-d, and is followed by a warning to avoid bringing offerings just anywhere, but to instead use designated areas. The Torah guides us by explaining what we should do, how to do it and how not to do things. If we follow the recipe for life, we can’t help but end up with a delicious dish, one which everyone around us can enjoy. In fact, others enjoying is part of the recipe!

  • Daily Aliya for Re’eh, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: In this week’s reading, Re’eh, Moshe continues addressing the Israelites just before he passes away; just before the Israelites cross the Jordan River and enter the land of Israel. Moshe commands the Israelites to proclaim certain blessings and curses on Mount Grizzim and Mount Eval after they enter the land of Israel. He directs them to destroy all vestiges of idolatry from the Promised Land. They must then designate a city where the Divine presence will dwell in the Holy Temple, and they are forbidden from offering sacrifices elsewhere. Other topics discussed in this portion are: tithes, false prophets, the wayward city, tattoos, kashrut, the Sabbatical Year, charity, and the festivals.

    Aliya Summary: Moshe informs the Israelites that they can be the recipients of either blessings or curses — blessings if they obey G‑d’s commandments, and curses if they do not. He further instructs them to proclaim blessings on Mount Grizzim and curses on Mount Ebal — the exact procedure of this ceremony will be described in the Ki Tavo Torah reading (Deuteronomy 27:11-16). Moshe then commands the Israelites to destroy all idols and their accessories that they will find when they enter Israel. He informs the nation that in the future G‑d will designate a specific location (Jerusalem) where He will choose to rest His Presence. All sacrifices must be offered in this location.

  • Daily Aliya for Re’eh, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The male firstborn of kosher cattle must be consecrated and given to the Kohen to eat. If the animal is unblemished it is first offered as a sacrifice in the Temple. The Torah reading concludes with a discussion regarding the three festivals: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. In addition to some laws regarding each of these festivals individually, we are commanded to rejoice during the festivals and all males must be in attendance in the Holy Temple during these holidays.

    Being commanded to rejoice seems like an oxymoron, but just like the commandment to love G-d, and others, these are what’s known as the “duties of the heart”, which is the result of proper determinations by the mind.

  • Daily Aliya for Re’eh, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe commands the Israelites to designate every seventh year as a Shmitah (Sabbatical) Year. During this year, creditors must forgive outstanding loans. The section then discusses the obligation to give charity to the poor with a happy heart, and to lend them money if necessary, even if the Shmitah Year is looming. A Jewish slave must be freed after six years of service and must be given generous severance gifts as he departs.

    Because the Torah prescribes a mandatory seven-year reset button on loans, it’s conceivable that as you get closer to the reset, people would stop lending, knowing if they don’t get repaid shortly, they’ll lose their money. Therefore, the Torah urges us to do whatever we can to help others, and if the recipient refuses to accept donations, find other ways to help, like loans, finding them jobs, and even a spouse!

  • Daily Aliya for Re’eh, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: After giving a tenth of one’s crops to the Levite, a tenth of the remainder — the “Second Tithe” — is to be taken and eaten within the confines of Jerusalem. Provision is made here for people who live far away from Jerusalem for whom it would be unfeasible to transport so much produce. Instead they may exchange the produce for money which is then taken to Jerusalem and spent on food. There is a three-year tithing cycle. After the conclusion of each cycle, we are commanded to purge our homes of any overdue tithes, give them to their intended recipients, and recite a brief prayer.

    We must take the second tithe to Jerusalem and spend it there (forced vacation), and if it’s too much (good problem to have), we may covert it to cash and spend it as we see fit, within the confines of Jerusalem. And this is meant for us to learn to fear G-d all of our days (Passuk 14:23). How exactly does this invoke fear? I believe one possible explanation could be that when we separate tithe from our own produce as G-d instructed, we’ve taken the first step of understanding our place in the world. When we bring it to Jerusalem to enjoy, along with everyone else who’s done the same thing, the experience transforms into a much more shared communal reality. Suddenly all your senses are involved: You see the people and produce others bring (and implied success granted to them), you taste the foods you’ve brought, you smell everyone else’s imported fruits. These individual experience don’t solicit fear, but they do teach us of the ever-present reach that G-d has on everything that we have and are. That realization should lead to love, reverence and ultimately fear of G-d for all that we depend on Him for.

  • Dvar for Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17)

    Parshat Re’eh tells us that “no prophet may advocate idol worship no matter the circumstances. If he does he is considered a false prophet, even if he’s able to perform miracles.” (Deuteronomy 13:2-6) The obvious question is how can a false  prophet have the ability to perform miracles?

    Rabbi Akiva (in Talmud Sanhedrin 90a) contends that when the Torah speaks of this prophet performing miracles, the prophet was then a true one. Only later did he deflect to the wrong path. Once becoming a false prophet he is no longer able to perform miracles. As Rabbi Avi Weiss extracts, this answer underscores a critical concept in Judaism, especially as the month of Elul, the thirty days of introspection before the High Holidays begin: notwithstanding one’s achievement or spiritual level there is always the possibility of failing (i.e. false prophet), and an equal possibility of improvement (i.e. Teshuva (repentance) before Rosh Hashana)! While the Parsha depicts a prophet that has fallen from grace, rising to grace is  ust as viable. Just like the prophet, we are judged based on where we are now, and how much we’ve improved, not on where we once were.

  • Daily Aliya for Re’eh, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: As G‑d’s children, we are forbidden to deface our bodies with tattoos or via other forms of mutilation. This section then provides a list of kosher animals and non-kosher fowl. We are also given signs to distinguish between kosher animals and fish and their non-kosher counterparts. The section concludes with the prohibitions against eating meat from an animal which was not properly slaughtered, and against cooking meat with milk.

    In the spirit of the positive commandment to check for kashrut, it appears that this Mitzvah does not only include checking animals, birds and fish for signs, but looking for the kashrut symbol on packaged products or the kashrut certificate in restaurants.

  • Daily Aliya for Reeh, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe admonishes the Israelites not to be lured by the heathen abominable practices of the Canaanites, and to remain true to the Torah; neither adding to nor subtracting from its laws. A person professing to be a prophet who claims to bring instructions from G‑d to worship idols must be put to death. This is true even if the individual performs supernatural acts or accurately predicts the future. This section also prescribes the death penalty for one who attempts to entice others to idolatry, and the catastrophic price paid by a city which has completely succumbed to idolatry.

    In an extremely loaded Aliya, sometimes the strongest messages are the ones that don’t need to be analyzed. The Passuk (13:5) says that You shall 1) follow G-d, 2) fear Him, 3) keep His commandments, 4) heed His voice, 5) worship Him, and 6) cleave to Him. Since most of these directives seem redundant, Rashi, Sifri and the Gemara team up to explain the different references, as follows: 1) Follow G-d – basic understanding of following the Mitzvot (commandments), 2) Fear Him – fear would be a natural by-product of understand all that G-d controls and provides for us, 3) Keep His commandments – follow the oral tradition (Rashi), 4) Heed His voice – listen to the true prophets (relevant in times of the prophets), 5) Worship Him – in the temple (relevant when temple was around), and most relevant to us today, 6) cleave to him – Cleave to His ways by bestowing kindness, burying the dead, and visiting the sick, just as G-d did (Gemara).

  • Daily Aliya for Re’eh, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Although it is forbidden to offer sacrifices in any location other than the one designated by G‑d, it is permitted to slaughter cattle for consumption purposes, but blood may never be eaten. The consumption of various tithes and sundry sacred foods is also restricted to the designated holy city.

    This Aliya contains the commandment to rejoice before G-d, not just us personally, but our children, employees, and everyone around us. How is it our responsibility to make sure everyone around us is happy? Well, this Passuk is preceded by one describing the place where offerings are brought before G-d, and is followed by a warning to avoid bringing offerings just anywhere, but to instead use designated areas. The Torah guides us by explaining what we should do, how to do it and how not to do things. If we follow the recipe for life, we can’t help but end up with a delicious dish, one which everyone around us can enjoy. In fact, others enjoying is part of the recipe!

  • Daily Aliya for Re’eh, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: In this week’s reading, Re’eh, Moshe continues addressing the Israelites just before he passes away; just before the Israelites cross the Jordan River and enter the land of Israel. Moshe commands the Israelites to proclaim certain blessings and curses on Mount Grizzim and Mount Eval after they enter the land of Israel. He directs them to destroy all vestiges of idolatry from the Promised Land. They must then designate a city where the Divine presence will dwell in the Holy Temple, and they are forbidden from offering sacrifices elsewhere. Other topics discussed in this portion are: tithes, false prophets, the wayward city, tattoos, kashrut, the Sabbatical Year, charity, and the festivals.

    Aliya Summary: Moshe informs the Israelites that they can be the recipients of either blessings or curses — blessings if they obey G‑d’s commandments, and curses if they do not. He further instructs them to proclaim blessings on Mount Grizzim and curses on Mount Ebal — the exact procedure of this ceremony will be described in the Ki Tavo Torah reading (Deuteronomy 27:11-16). Moshe then commands the Israelites to destroy all idols and their accessories that they will find when they enter Israel. He informs the nation that in the future G‑d will designate a specific location (Jerusalem) where He will choose to rest His Presence. All sacrifices must be offered in this location.

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