Seeing the Blessing….
“ Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse.” Reeh 11:26
Hashem places before us blessing and curses, and we are told to see them. Often it is easy to see the curses as we struggle with our daily lives. But we must also see the blessings and recognize them as coming from Hashem. Hashem tests us with both blessings and curses. We all know that sometimes things which seem to be blessings, in the end turn out to be curses. And likewise sometimes things which seem to be curses, in the end turn out to be blessings in disguise.
The path the Torah teaches us is to listen and see Hashem’s providence in our lives. Through the performance of the commandments we show our love to our G-d. When we violate his will we demonstrate our lack of faith in his governing the world. This is why the curse is a result of our action, we have the choice to do right or wrong.
Recognizing the Idolatry…
The Jewish faith requires us to reject worshiping idols without exception. Idols, throughout history, have provided man with a way to avoid taking responsibility for the world, while giving him a way to influence the future. Praying to the sun, the moon, and the stars is the way many civilizations developed, and to this day some still do pray to wood and stone. But the basic psychology of idolatry goes a lot deeper than worshiping wood and stone, and gets down to the question about ‘What has ultimate power in this world?’
Judaism clearly and without question denies any power beside Hashem. He is the ONE G-d, and there is no other, Ein Ode Milvado. Worshiping anything by attributing power to it independent of Hashem is a sin, and Hashem hates those Jews who bow mentally, emotionally, physically to any physical object.
Today we have idols all around us. They have been formed in the media, in the news, and in the government. Some of the recent scandals in politics reveals a very troubling picture of how badly people have succumbed to some of the most dangerous idols.
Our portion commands of us to smash these idols, to free ourselves and our world of the false belief that these physical items actually bring us any reward or merit. The only true merit is in acknowledging that Hashem is the source of all blessing, and to thank him.
Giving from the heart…
If there will be among you a needy person, from one of your brothers in one of your cities, in your land the Lord, your God, is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, and you shall not close your hand from your needy brother. Rather, you shall open your hand to him, and you shall lend him sufficient for his needs, which he is lacking. Reeh 15:7-8
Reeh contains some of the most direct commands concerning giving to the poor person. We are commanded to give to a brother in need, and with a happy heart, and sufficient for his needs. This commandment seems very imposing because it is natural for a person to be concerned with his or her personal needs and want to save the money they have in case they need it tomorrow.
The Torah is teaching us that the blessing we have at the moment is based upon our actions. If we have faith in Hashem we should be able to give what we have now, and we will be provided for in the future. We place our future livelihood into Hashems hands, and through our kind deed we merit kindness from our King in Heaven, HaKadosh Baruch Hu.
I provided a room to a man who would have otherwise been homeless. I know that giving to those in need will bring blessing to those who give, and those who receive will also be blessed. The man who stayed in my home used the time to study for his contractor license and when he left my home became successful in his profession.
Re’eh and this world…
The news this week has been very troubling. Our Jewish home land of Israel is under increased pressures to commit suicide, there is the EU boycott of Israeli goods from Judea and Samaria, Nassralah and the new Iranian president both incited the destruction of Israel because of al-quds day. And the most troubling news, as the Rabbi knows, is the discussion of releasing 104 blood-drenched terrorist prisoners in a gesture to get the PA to negotiate the giving of Israeli land to the arabs.
The Torah expressly forbids such deals, as a terrorist who has sworn to kill more Jews should be dealt with according to the Torah laws concerning such wicked men. This weeks portion contains the following pasuk:
You shall not do so to the Lord, your God; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates, they did to their gods, for also their sons and their daughters they would burn in fire to their gods. Re’eh 12:31
Those who swear to kill Jews, who throw stones and stab Jews in Jerusalem, who send their children to blow themselves up, to blow our children up. These are those the Torah is talking about, the arabs who believe their god wants them to burn their children, rather than to live in peace, these are those who our G-d who values life hates.
Those who flew planes into the World Trade Center are the same ones who are pushing Israel into acting like cowards. Their ideology will not allow a Jewish state to exist, and we must not succumb to allowing them to push the Jewish state around.