was done with the previous Parashah, it seems appropriate to
focus on the first few verses especially the third.
26. See, I present before you today a blessing and a
27. The blessing - that you hearken to the
commandments of Hashem, your God, that I command you today:
28. And the curse - if you do not hearken to the
commandments of Hashem, your God, and you stray from the
path that I command you today, to follow gods of others,
that you did not know:
compared to the translation of the Stone Edition Chumas
above, Rav Samsom Raphael Hirsch translates pasuk chav-chet
(28) a with a slight difference.
His translation is:
28. And the curse, if ye will not listen to the
commands of God, your God, but turn aside from the way I
command you this day, to after other gods of whom ye know
key words here are "turn aside from the way."
During a Chumash class with Rav Yehoshuah Harlig of
Chabad, we discussed this particular phrase and these words
especially in the context of punishment, i.e., God punishing
Klal Yisrael for its failure to live within the dictates of
Torah. Rav Harlig said that Hashem does not actively punish.
Rather, and this is consistent with what we have seen
previously, left to itself Klal Yisrael has little strength
or resistance to oppression and persecution from other
it has God's protection, life continues with a minimum of
if we turn aside, then God will turn aside as well leaving
us without that protection that is so necessary to our very
second point in the third pasuk of this Parashah is the
issue, repeated many times, of idolatry.
One might ask why it is that idolatry is consistently
singled out. The answer can be found in the commentaries of Rav Hirsch,
wherein he says:
From these words it follows that every
acknowledgment of idolatry is to be considered equal to a
denial of the whole Torah, and every denial of idolatry
equal to an acknowledgment of the whole Torah.
We do not consider it superfluous to remark how,
after all, these sentences wish to say the exact contrary of
that supposed maxim that "belief in One God" is
sufficient to qualify a person as a complete Jew even if
otherwise he turns his back to the fulfilling of the
dictates of the Torah. For here it is the acknowledgment of the whole of the Torah -
which indeed means that one is in duty bound to fulfill all
God's commands - which is made inseparable from
acknowledgment of the Unity of God or denying it.
The Jewish "belief in God" is not the mere
belief in the existence of God but in His rule over us,
which, of course, is inseparable from our submission to His
the Jewish "belief in the Oneness of God" is
identical with the submitting the whole of our fate and the
whole of our actions under the rule of the One God, so that
denial of a plurality of gods, is identical with
acknowledging the whole of the Torah.
explanation covers the reason that idolatry is so often
linked with not keeping the commandments of God and the
consequences of those actions.
At the same time, this ties in with what was said
can either choose to submit our fate to God's control or we
can choose to submit our fate to the control of others.
It is obvious which choice makes the greater sense.
to another topic to finish this weeks' commentary. In Vayikrah (Leviticus), I pointed out a part of a pasuk
(verse) that is many times inaccurately quoted to suggest
that aveirot (transgressions) can only be forgiven through
blood sacrifice. By
quoting the entire pasuk and the surrounding psukim, we sew
that this particular section refers to the point that the
consumption of blood is forbidden.
With that in mind, here are two more quotes from
Parashat Re'eh. In
Perek Yud-Bet (Chapter 12), we see the following:
16. But you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour
it onto the earth, like water:
in pasuk chav-gimel, chav-daled, and chav-hay, this is
covered in even greater detail:
23. Only be strong not to eat the blood -- for the
blood, it is the life -- and you shall not eat the life with
24. You shall not eat it, you shall pour it onto the
ground like water:
25. You shall not eat it, in order that it be well
with you and your children after you, when you do what is
right in the eyes of Hashem:
Next week's Parashah is Shoftim. As was the case with both Ekev and Re'eh, the comments will focus on the beginning of the Parashah.