weekly torah tidbits

Re'eh, August 19, 2017 - Av 27, 5777

Re'eh: "See"


READINGS:

Torah: Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17

Haftarah: Isaiah 54:11-55:5

Brit Chadashah (New Testament): John 7:37-52


Look, Consider, Behold

     This portion is part of the on-going series of sermons of exhortation that Moses is giving to the people of Israel as they are camping on the plains of Moab, facing the land of Canaan. Moses calls them to consider (11:26-32) that as they obey the L-rd, they will be blessed, but if they don't, they will receive G-d’s discipline. One of the words repeatedly used here is "sh'mor," which means "to guard." 

     What are the people of Israel to guard? They are to guard (or observe) the L-rd's instructions. The implication is that unless they stood on guard, they would slip away from the L-rd's Torah. In this sedra Moses gives a couple of possibilities: The influence of the pagans can cause a believer to pursue idols (12:30-31), or a false prophet can lead people astray (13:1-7).

      We are no different. Our culture does not have idols of stone, but it has many other idols. Our friends and neighbors are in a very real sense “pagans”. We must reject their influence, without rejecting them. We too have false prophets—people who claim to speak to us in the L-rd's name. The same test needs to be applied now as then—do they cause us to follow the L-rd or drift away from Him?   

     This Shabbat the Haftarah (additional) portion is taken from Isaiah 54:11-55:5, again following a theme of comfort for Israel. This is the third Shabbat after Tish’Ah B’Av, which is a time of mourning for the destruction of the Temple. The L-rd in these verses promises restoration and protection for Israel: "No weapon formed against you will prosper," (54:17). History confirms that promise. Every nation that has risen against Israel paid the consequences for their action.     

     We need to use wisdom in how we apply these promises to our lives. This is not a blanket promise that any time we are confronted with problems, the L-rd will protect us. In cases where we acted like Israel, we have to face our consequences. But, as we endeavor to follow Him, we know we have His protection. Nonetheless, the L-rd keeps His promises. His promises of restoration hold just as true for us today as they did then and still do for Israel.