Torah: Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17) Haftarah: (Isaiah 54:11-55:5)
Summary of the Torah portion:
Destruction of places of idolatry, prohibition of private altars, prohibition against eating blood, attitude to false prophets and seducers, prohibition of heathen abuses, clean and unclean animals, tithing, the year of release and the three pilgrimages.
When one reads the Torah the chapters and verses have in depth meanings. Why the destruction of places of idolatry? Jews are not to pray to other gods, thus these places were destroyed to prevent any pagan worship. Why the prohibition against eating blood? Blood represents life, and even a little blood in an egg is forbidden to eat, too. When it comes to false prophets and seducers the Torah warns about following or being misdirected by these individuals. Through the centuries and during the darkest times a person rises up stating they were the Messiah, which leads to further Jewish people being slaughtered.
Why clean and unclean animals? No, it is not about how to prepare the animals for a meal. It is the type of animals that are kosher and the animals that are not kosher. Tithing is a form of taxing the people. The year of release has many meanings too. The release of a slave after years of service and the payment to them. While another meaning is for the land and crops.
Do you know about the three pilgrimages? (Deuteronomy 16:16) These are the holidays when the Jewish people returned to celebrate the holidays in Jerusalem. There are the Festivals of Pesach/Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot. The Torah required that every Jew was to appear in Jerusalem. They were not to come empty handed, but should bring with them three animals for three different sacrifices. Today, Jews are expected to celebrate the festivals with joy as in the Temple times. Donations to charity or institutions of learning are the present day equivalent of the traditional festival sacrifices.
May the Jewish people continue to celebrate not only the three pilgrimages, but all Jewish holidays with much happiness and health.
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder