Parashat Re’eh 5783

August 10, 2023

Cantor Robin Anne Joseph (’96)

It’s been said that one person’s religion is another person’s superstition.

So when in this week’s parasha, Re’eh, the Israelites are told to build an altar on one of the Canaanite mountains upon their entrance into the Promised Land, but not before they are told to “utterly destroy” the altars that are already there, well—why am I not surprised?

Both the Israelites and the Canaanites have a long relationship with mountains. And often they’re the same mountains! But the Canaanites were there first. Sacred ancient Israelite shrines were often conveniently located on the same hilltops as former (and sometimes destroyed) ancient Canaanite shrines. So, which religion is legit and which is simply superstition?

Read more >

Parashat Re’eh 5782

August 25, 2022

Click HERE  for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Re’eh By Rabbi Enid Lader (’10) Our Torah portion this week is Re’eh – Deut. 11:26-16:17. In chapter 15, Moses continues to speak to the people about what to expect as they come into the new land. “There shall be no needy among you – since the Eternal your God will bless you in the land that the Eternal your God is giving you as an inheritance – if only you will heed the Eternal your God and keep all this Instruction that I enjoin upon you this day.” (15:4-5) Here’s the thing… If you play by the rules, there will be plenty for all. That makes sense. We know that there certainly are ways we can treat each other and care for (and about) each other that make for a just and compassionate society. But… Moses goes on to warn the people that,...

Read more >

Parashat Re’eh 5781

August 6, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Re’eh By Rabbi Marc Rudolph (’04) Did you know that when we are awake, our brain generates 23 watts of energy, enough energy to light up a room? And that by simply opening our eyes, 75 percent of our brains’ energy is activated? Perhaps that is why this week’s parasha opens with the Hebrew word “Re’eh,” which means “see”. The Torah wants us to really use our brains! Yet those of us who pride ourselves on our ability to see ahead might have a particularly difficult time with the approach the Torah takes this week with respect to worship in the Land of Israel. We read numerous descriptions of the sacrifices and offerings that will be made when the Israelites reach the Promised Land, but strangely, we are not told where the holy place to offer those...

Read more >

Parashat Re’eh 5780

August 13, 2020

A D’var Torah for Parashat Re’eh By Rabbi Bruce Alpert (’11) “And you will rejoice before the Lord, your God, you and your son and your daughter and your man-servant and your maid-servant and Levite who is within your gates, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow that is among you.” (Deuteronomy 16:11) I recently asked my teacher, Dr. Victoria Hoffer, why, when she published the first edition of her textbook Biblical Hebrew, she chose the above verse for the cover. She told me that, too often, students come to the study of Hebrew with a kind of grim seriousness. She wanted a verse that expressed the joy of learning and of studying the Bible in its original language. Knowing that book cover as well as I do, the verse jumped out at me from this week’s parashah, Re’eh. It did so for reasons beyond familiarity; reasons similar to Dr. Hoffer’s. Our...

Read more >

Parashat Re’eh 5779

August 29, 2019

There Never Was an Idolatrous City A D’var Torah for Parashat Re’eh By Rabbi Len Levin “See, this day I set before you blessing and curse.” (Deut. 11:26) “I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life!” (Deut. 30:19) It should be so simple. But life is rarely that simple. The extreme of evil, which the Torah bids us shun, is idolatry (Deut. 13:2–19). What is idolatry? In rabbinic literature, idolatry is often equated with kafar ba-ikar —forsaking the fundamental principle of Judaism. In modern parlance, we have other ways of expressing supreme condemnation. “Disloyalty,” “treason,” and “self-hating Jew” come to mind. They carry the same valence of scorn, ostracism, and exclusion as “idolatry” in ancient discourse. Each is used implicitly to condemn an opponent as violating the fundamental principle of Judaism. But there is more than one fundamental principle of Judaism. In the Pesah Haggadah,...

Read more >