Parshat Re’eh 5777: The Imperative of Eradicating All Forms of Avodah Zora, Paganism From Eretz Yisrael and Striving for Closeness to Hashem

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Re’eh is being co-sponsored by R’ Barak and Sarah Schecter of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a Refuah Shlaima for Yishaya Shalom ben Malka Gittel (Blass)and by an anonymous donor L’ilui Nishmas Devorah bat Yechiel Michel Of Blessed Memory. To both the Schecter family and our anonymous donor, 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.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3


Parshat Re’eh 5777: The Imperative of Eradicating All Forms of Avodah Zora, Paganism From Eretz Yisrael and Striving for Closeness to Hashem

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Re’eh, early on, reinforces a theme discussed previously in Parshat Masei:

“When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all of the inhabitants of the Land before you; and you shall destroy all their prostration stones; all of their molten images….” (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, Perek 33, posukim 51-52 and commentary, pages 922-923)

…Apparently, …the meaning here: If you allow the pagan inhabitants to remain in the Land, they will become a hedge [a guard, a protection] around their pagan practices; the nature of these practices will be concealed from your perception and insight, and you will not find fault with them. Tolerance toward the pagan inhabitants will beget tolerance toward paganism. If you tolerate paganism and find justification for it within Hashem’s Land, you will cease to belong to Hashem alone, and… you will be deprived of your right to exist in the Land, and you will not be worthy of protection …. When Hashem removes His protection of you…, those toward whom you have been so tolerant will become your enemies and will oppress you in your own land.

R’ Shimson Rafael Hirsch z”l provides commentary on posuk 52 in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman, pages 666-667):

You must first make the Land fit to be your yerusha [inheritance] by removing all traces of polytheism, and only then will you be able to settle in it.You are not inheriting the Land by your own power and might; rather, Hashem’s will and Hashem’s power are giving you the Land…. Hence, you will not be able to avoid fulfilling the first basic condition on which Hashem makes the [this] gift of the Land dependent.

Sefer Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated by R’ Zvi Belovski, page 392) provides a summary of Sefer Devarim, Perek 12, posukim 1-3:

…The sidrah describes the actions which Klal Yisrael were to take against the idols they would find in Eretz Yisrael. Hashem commanded them to utterly destroy them and to… uproot idolatry from the land.

The Artscroll Stone Chumash provides further commentary on these posukim (pages 999-1000):

…Idols must be destroyed totally (Mizrachi). This is why it is not sufficient merely to chop down an… idolatrous tree; even its roots must be removed from the ground (Rashi).

Rabbi Akiva inferred… that whenever one saw a high mountian or verdant tree, it should be assumed that an idol or an altar had been placed there (Avodah Zarah 45b). Apparently, the Canaanites set up their idols wherever the surroundings manifested the powers of nature, powers that they associated with their idols.

Not only should the idols themselves be removed, Jews are not even to refer to them by their proper names. Instead, they should use derogatory nicknames for them (Rashi).

All of this may well sound “politically incorrect”, “subversive” or “seditious” in our contemporary secular “western morality”-based governmental environment. But there seem to be lessons to be learned and applied in a Jewish State in OUR Eretz Yisrael regarding objects and texts of Avodah Zarah and their adherents, lest “those toward whom you have been so tolerant will become your enemies and will oppress you in your own land.”

About a third of the way into our Parsha, Torah teaches:

“[After] Hashem, your G’d, shall you follow and Him shall you fear; His commandments shall you observe and to His voice shall you hearken; Him shall you serve and to Him shall you cleave.” (As rendered to English n the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 13, posuk 5)

The Artscroll Stone Chumash (page 1008) provides this commentary on the above posuk:

“And to Him shall you cleave.” The only way a human being can cleave to Hashem is by emulating His ways.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 416) cites both The Chofetz Chayim and a story:

The first Hebrew word in this verse is “Acharei” which denotes a far distance. (Rashi)

…Regardless of how far a person feels he is from the Almighty, he should never give up hope. With all of his power he should strive to come closer to the Almighty. Therefore the Torah uses the term [“acharei”] which denotes distance. Even those who are at present far from the Almighty should seek Him and will find Him. Never allow any faults or transgressions to prevent you from coming closer to the Almighty. (Hachofetz Chayim, Vol. 3, page 1160)

Rabbi Chayim of Tzanz once said to an evildoer, “Don’t think that because you give in to your evil inclination in some areas, you therefore must do evil in all areas. Rather, in whatever ways you can, do good and overcome evil.” (Maigdolai Hachasidus Hoadmor Maitzanz)

It would seem to this author that both the imperative of eradicating all forms of avodah zora, and striving to connect to Hashem are connected and would relate to the political/ populous mindset, psyche of Israel in recent decades.

This author wonders, how much of the hate and loathing of Judaism and spirituality, as well as manifestations such as bogus “two-state solutions” and the like by secular Jews is an outward expression of subconscious feelings or perceptions that ones’ faults and transgressions are such that one is soo far from the ways of Hashem, as to feel beyond redemption, to have given up hope of ever achieving closeness to Hashem?

Back in Chuta L’Aretz, early into a Ba’al Teshuva journey, this author learned the significance of the Hebrew letter “ה” [Hei]. The space in the letter “Hei”, as distinguished from the letter “ח” [Chet] indicates that even if one sins, strays or is distant from Hashem, that space or opening in the letter “Hei” avails one, who has sinned or is distant, the ability, the opportunity to return, to renew and to come close to Hashem once again.

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila the handing 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 Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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.

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