• 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)

    The Parsha starts off with the word “Re’eh”, which means “See”. What are we seeing?  And why do we need to see it? Rabbi Yehoshua Wender explains that in our lives we are all on a quest for truth. We are looking to find the real meaning behind everything in this world. However, we need to see everything in its proper light. In every thing in this world there is truth, and there could be falseness. It is our job to not be tricked by the lies.  So how do we know what’s true and what’s not? G-d has given us a Torah that contains the ultimate truth, and that same protection from falseness.

    Living in this world is like being in a room of fun house mirrors. You walk in, and there are all these curvy mirrors that distort your image.  Some make you look fat, others make you tall, and yet others make you skinny.  The only way to get a true image of yourself is to look in a flat, uncurved mirror.  The Torah is such a mirror.  You can look in the Torah and find the truth, untainted, uncurved, undistorted. BUT, it’s also possible to get a true image from looking at a curvy mirror. If you stand in just the right spot, at just the right angle, you can see your self the way you really are.  The catch is that you won’t know that that’s your real true image unless you’ve looked at yourself in a straight mirror.  The world is the same way. It is possible to see the world truthfully using other sources, but unless we have studied the Torah and know what truth looks like, we’ll never know if we’ve really found it!

  • 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 Re’eh, 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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