This week, our Parshat HaShevua Parshat Re’eh is being sponsored by Baruch & Yaffa Swinkin of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for continued recovery for Yishaya Shalom ben Malka Gittel (Yishaya Blass). To the Swinkin family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
According to Rashi, Moshe Rabbeinu begins our Parshat Re’eh by informing the B’nei Yisrael about the Brachot (blessings) and Klalot (curses) to be pronounced to them from Mount Gerizim and Mount Eval upon their entry to Eretz Yisrael.
Moshe Rabbeinu continues his mussar saying: to B’nai Yisrael:
“Behold, I set before you … a blessing and a curse; the blessing if you heed the commandments of Hashem, and the curse, if you will not observe his commandments. (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posukim 26-27)
Toward the end of the parsha, we are informed:
“If there be among you a destitute person of one of your brothers within your cities in your land which Hashem … gives you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 15, posuk 7)
This author views “V’ahavtah, L’rei’echa Kamocha”, that which Hillel told the Ger “on one foot” as summing up the entire Torah: wanting for your brother what you would want for yourself, and not wanting for your brother what you would not want for yourself, as the link which binds these two these p’sukim of our Parsha.
One of the most illustrative stories that is told, whether it really occurred or is a tale with a moral, regarding the link between these posukim is one cited in Rabbi Mordechai Katz’s sefer L’lmod U’Lamed (page 170) on our parsha about the consequences of lacking Chesed:
There was once a man who enjoyed all of the good things in life; successful business, devoted wife, a beautiful, spacious home. He was content to continue this good life indefinitely.
One day, as he sat down to a sumptuous meal, there was a knock at the door. A beggar was seeking a few spare morsels of food to suffice his hunger. The man responded scornfully, as he slammed the door; “Why don’t you go out and earn a living instead of depending upon others to support you”.
Not long afterwards, the man noticed that his business began to decline. He soon had to cut back on his lifestyle by pawning off many of his valuable clothing and belongings. The business downturn continued unabated. He gave up all of his furniture and soon, his house as well. His wife volunteered to find work to pay for food but the man refused. Feeling ashamed at not being able to support his wife, he divorced her.
Several months passed and the wife found a new suitor. He was a newly wealthy man and they married and established a household.
Once again, one night as the couple were preparing for dinner, there was a knock at the door. A beggar appeared asking for food. The new husband was much more Chessed oriented than the previous one. He invited the beggar in and provided him with enough food and money for weeks. The beggar, eyes downcast, accepted the Chessed gratefully.
After the beggar departed, the husband noticed a strange look on his wife’s face and asked what was wrong. She explained, “I knew that beggar. He was my first husband. He looked so thin and pale that I hardly recognized him. How sad to see a man sink so low.”
The husband thought for a moment and said, “If that was your first husband, then I just realized something. Do you remember that a beggar once came to your previous home asking for bread and was turned away? Somehow, good fortune seemed to come to me after that and I became wealthy.” We are told, “he who closes his ears to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be heard.” (Mishley 21:13) (L’lMode U’Lamed, pages 170-171.)
It is against the background of the above story and the three posukim cited above and the consequences of lacking Chesed that one could speak of the importance of a myriad of chassadim (kindnesses).
Last year, during the war against Hamas terrorism, this author wrote regarding the contrast between how Am Yisrael came together as one in a myriad of ways not seen in many years over the cold-blooded murder of three teenage Yeshiva boys which led to last summer’s Gaza war, and supporting our chayalim during war,and how, at the same time a certain sector attacked an IDF soldier in Beit Shemesh:
… Extremists attacked a reserve soldier returning home from the front Monday, according to several reports, as he came home to Beit Shemesh to visit his parents and pray at a local synagogue.
Now, ten years after the Geirush: the expulsion of our Jewish brethren then living in Gush Katif and in the two Shomron towns, we see that, despite the myriads of “apologies”, such as the qualified one from Zionist Union party chairman Yitzhak Herzog in which he called the government’s unilateral action “a mistake”, the government and their “High Court” are still acting with the same level of callousness, disdain and hatred for their fellows as did their predecessors ten years ago. During the Expulsion, the government ousted 9-10,000 Jews from their homes and communities, and then put up every possible administrative/bureaucratic hoop, obstacle and delaying tactic in the way of the evictees’ rights to their just restitution under Israeli law. The result was that, for most, once they finally received their restitution, they were compelled to use these funds to pay back debts and to keep up with monthly bills, rather than being used for their original intention, resettlement in new homes and communities and reestablishing their families’ lives. For example, there is the southern community of Nitzan, where, for lack of sufficient funds due to government delaying tactics, many families formerly of Gush Katif continue to reside in ramshackle caravan “homes” eight years later.
The government and their “High Court” has ruled that a number of buildings in Beit El, many occupied, must be demolished. And so, once again, ten years after Jew expelled Jew from their homes and communities in Gush Katif, the government is now geared up for a repeat performance against their fellow Jews in Beit El.
It seems to this author that those, be they from any one sector of the Am, or from a governance, who harbor such complete hatred, callousness, disdain and contempt for their fellows have missed the moral of Rav Mordechai Katz’s story above. It would seem that this moral extends to suffering the consequences of either feigning a superficial contrition, or overtly lacking kindness and understanding and displaying callousness, disdain and hatred toward others, even others who seem not to be exact copies of you.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs and the remains of the two Chayalim from last summer’s Gaza war be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of any piece of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.