Dwelling with God

Dwelling with God

Sep 2, 2016 By JTS Alumni | Commentary | Re'eh

By Sonia Gordon Walinsky (LC ’04) and Nina Gordon

From Rosh Hodesh Elul, this shabbat, until the end of the holiday season, Psalm 27 is recited in the daily morning and evening services. It reflects a yearning for closeness with God fitting for the time of year when we seek to make teshuvah—literally, returning to God.

Read More
Petition or Protest

Petition or Protest

Sep 2, 2016 By Adam Zagoria-Moffet | Commentary | Re'eh

One month from now, we turn to renew the Hebrew calendar, and our spiritual lives with it. On that day, “the day the world is born,” we read the story of Hannah (1 Sam 1:1–2:10). After struggling for years to conceive, Hannah finally gives birth to a son, Shemuel, for whom she had prayed at the temple in Shiloh.

Read More
Consequences as Judgement

Consequences as Judgement

Aug 27, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Re'eh

Part of the problem with the theology of reward and punishment (or blessings and curses, as it is couched in the parashah this week) is that we know it to not be true. We have all seen good people live and die tragically, and others deserving punishment living long, happy lives. It is difficult, as sophisticated thinkers, to apply the reward-and-punishment idea in any satisfying way to reality as we know it.

Read More
Core and Periphery

Core and Periphery

Sep 3, 2005 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Re'eh

Megiddo, an archaeological tel in Northern Israel, is situated at the crossroads of an ancient trade route. Indeed, it was the nexus in power struggles among the Canaanites, Egyptians, Israelites, Assyrians, and Babylonians. As such, Megiddo is a site of great biblical significance, especially in the context of this week’s Torah reading, Parashat R’eih. II Kings relates how King Josiah (639-609 BCE), who was one of the figures responsible for centralizing Israelite religion, was killed by Pharaoh Necho II. Accordingly, at the core of our parashah, we read of the sweeping legislation regarding the centralization of the Israelite sacrificial cult.

Read More
Including Women in the Covenant

Including Women in the Covenant

Aug 14, 2004 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Re'eh

Every year, Shi’ite Islam recalls the martyrdom of a central figure in its sacred history of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of Muhammad. This annual observance is called Ashura, and it occurs on the tenth of the month of Muharran. Shiites, particularly in Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, engage in a bloody ritual of self-flagellation – extreme mourning that transports the devotee to the Battle of Karbala (October 10, 680). This rite is the most graphic illustration of a Toraitic prohibition found in Parashat R’eih. At the beginning of Deuteronomy 14, we read, “You are children (banim) of the Lord your God. You shall not gash yourselves (lo titgodedu) or shave the front of your heads because of the dead.”(Deuteronomy 14: 1) What is the literal meaning of (p’shat) in this verse? How do the Rabbis reread this verse? And, what does this seemingly archaic prohibition teach us today?

Read More
One Place, Many Prayers

One Place, Many Prayers

Aug 23, 2003 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Re'eh

Deuteronomy as a whole is focused on what scholars refer to as ‘the centralization of the sacrificial cult.’ Until this historical point, it would appear that the Israelites offered sacrifices at local altars called ‘bamot.’ With the Deuteronomic legislation however, such local devotional sites are obliterated. Even if Israelites in outlying areas could not be present at the Temple services in Jerusalem, worship at this focal point was supposed to represent and include them. What are the ramifications of such legislation and how can we place this teaching in a modern context?

Read More
The Place that God Chose

The Place that God Chose

Aug 3, 2002 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Re'eh

In past and present discussions about how the State of Israel is to make peace with the Palestinians, the question of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount always arises. Obviously the city and site are holy to both Jews and Moslems (and to many Christians as well). But to those who know and love the Jewish tradition, and have a strong sense of Jewish history, it is often enraging to hear voices in the Palestinian community claiming that Jews have no history in Jerusalem or claim to the Temple Mount.

Read More
Decision Time

Decision Time

Aug 14, 2004 By JTS Alumni | Commentary | Re'eh

By Rabbi Jay Stein

In the heat of summer, we tend to recall our childhood trips to the ice cream parlor. For me, it was Baskin and Robbins’ thirty-one flavors. I particularly loved bubblegum and Vanilla Fudge Swirl. Now, my children, big fans of Ben & Jerry’s, can choose between Phish Food and Chubby Hubby. The selection of favorite flavors of ice cream, though a critical choice for a young child on a hot summer day, certainly does not belong on a list of the ten most critical issues facing society.

Read More