Parashá Re´eh ראה 5776
Devarim 11:26 – 16:17
Fast Fact: There are some 600+ verbs in the Torah. Of course this may be a boring fact. Verbs, a part of speech, how exciting is that? But these are the parts that show action! All the rest can be considered fillers, nouns, articles, that´s the boring stuff. About 60% of all the vocabulary words in the Torah are verbs, so this is just one grain of proof that we are a nation of action!
What is it that we tell ourselves to do in one of our most important prayers?
Sh’ma Yisra’el Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad. Hear, Israel: The Lord is our God; the Lord is one.
We say it together as a call to action, to listen up!
We find plenty of examples, not only in the Torah, but all throughout the Tanakh, for example in Ezequiel chapter 40 when Ezekiel has a vision of the newly restored Temple, he is told the following by “a man who shone like copper”:
“Mortal, see with your eyes (בְעֵינֶיךָ רְאֵה) and with your ears listen (שְּׁמָע וּבְאָזְנֶיךָ)…”
Our parashá this week is named for its first word, and one of the biggies in action: reeh, resh- alef- he. It means “see.” Essentially, the first several lines of this parashá sum up everything we need to know about God´s commandments. No matter what is happening in the world, you always have these two choices- receive blessing or receive curse. Obey the rules and things go your way, i.e. blessing ברכה. Go against the rules and things won´t work out so well, i.e. curse קללה.
This gives us a hint as to the inner workings of our free will. It´s kind of like that old game show Truth or Consequences, if any of you remember that one. In a nutshell, the contestants had to answer a question correctly, or else suffer the “consequences”. Our free will is like that because we have the choice to do right and benefit from it. We also have the choice to take the wrong path. Nothing stops us really. But we´ve got to be ready to pay the consequences (and it won´t be just doing some silly stunt on a game show). “Hoping all your consequences are happy ones.” — Bob Barker
Shabbat Shalom! ~~~~~~~~ Ahuvah
Read the July 2016 Newsletter for the European Union for Progressive Judaism. Click here to download and read.
Read Torah from Around the World #340: Parashat Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17) By: Rabbi Neal Borovitz, Rabbi Emeritus Temple Avodat Shalom, River Edge, NJ.
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Parashah Reeh and the concept of Free Will
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