Insights on Parsha Re'eh
The Commandment to See
The word re’eh is a commandment to see, and in other Semitic languages this word is used to express an opinion. A person’s opinion is shaped by what they can see and experience. In this context HaShem (G-d) is trying to shape our opinion as to the severity of curses and blessings. We as a people have a choice to observe and be blessed or not and be cursed.
I have been saying for a long time that HaShem is in the details. In other words the lessons that HaShem has for us when we study Torah (5 books of Moses) are in the details of the scripture. Verse 13:4 says, “do not hearken to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of a dream, for HaShem, your G-d, is testing you to know whether you love HaShem, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul.” Often times in our lives we experience difficult times, people come into our lives and teach us things that seem interesting and new and there is an allure to new and unique things in this life. However, we must weigh our experiences in the light of Torah. It is difficult to be observant, and disciplined to serve HaShem, and we should weigh the tests in the light of scripture.
Verse 11:27, says “The blessing: that you hearken to the commandments of HaShem, your G-d, that I command you today.” This is worded a little strange! I think that this confirms the Jewish perspective that the “blessing for doing the commandments of HaShem are the commandments of HaShem”. In other words there is an inherent blessing in the actual fulfillment of the commandment. A lot of people what to see a blessing like health, wealth, love or a good family, or possibly the rewards that will come in the Messianic Era when the King Messiah sits on his throne an reigns from Jerusalem. However, this verse is teaching us that when we obey the commandments the blessing is the ability to obey them even stronger the next time around. We are commanded to love HaShem with all our heart, soul and might as stated in Deuteronomy 6:4. The blessing is the ability to show our love to our Creator and draw closer to him, through the observance of the commandments.
Following the commandments of HaShem is to take on the yoke of heaven. There is a word in Hebrew for lawlessness which is “B’li-ya’al”. Literally, it means without a yoke. A master only puts yoke on his livestock that he knows can handle the yoke, the animal has to be strong and have the ability to do the task at hand. In this case HaShem knows that we can handle the yoke of heaven, and that we can follow the Torah commandments. We are called to be the oxen that can plow the field. We are called to be the example of the strength that rests in the observance of the Almighty.
The Parsha also speaks of some dietary laws, tithes, pilgrimage festivals, etc. However, there is a lesson in second tithe. Verse 14:24 says, “then you may exchange it for money, wrap up the money in your hand, and go to the place that HaShem, your G-d, will chose.” That place that G-d will chose was actually chose a long time ago when King Solomon built the first temple and HaShem’s glory rested upon it. Therefore, if you live a long distance away from Jerusalem you do not have to take the tithe to Jerusalem. Verse 26 says, “You may spend the money for whatever your soul wishes; you shall eat it there before HaShem, your G-d, and rejoice – you and your household.” In other words HaShem wants us to be blessed. HaShem wants us to have an enjoyable life, but HaShem is the father of all creation and just like any father wants a good life for his sons, so much more does HaShem want for us. HaShem wants us to show our love to HaShem by blessing those around us, and remembering the source of those blessings and follow the commandments out of love for HaShem. Be blessed and bless those around you, but most important remember the source of those blessings.