Parshat Re’eh 5781: “Destroy, You Shall Destroy…”

Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua, Re’eh is being co-sponsored by Mordechai and Gila Bernstein of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for B’Ezrat Hashem the total end of the corona virus pandemic and all like viruses, and by an anonymous co-sponsor lilui nismas Devorah bat Yechiel Michel Of Blessed Memory. Both co-sponsors live in Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Bernstein family and to our anonymous co-sponsor, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a 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 5781: “Destroy, You Shall Destroy…”

by Moshe Burt

To set the stage for Moshe’s warning and the theme of this vort, R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z”l provides rendering to English and commentary on Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 33, posuk 52 in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman, pages 666-667):

“You shall first clear out the land for occupancy and [only] then settle in it, for to you have I given the land to take possession of it.”

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.

The Sapirstein Edition: Torah with Rashi Commentary, early in our Parshat Re’eh, renders to English Sefer Devarim, Perek 12, posukim 1-3 detailing how to make the Land fit for the Jews to take up residence:

“These are the decrees and ordinances that you shall observe to perform in the Land that Hashem, Keilokei Avotecha [G’d of your forefathers] has given you, to possess it, all the days that you live on the Land. Destroy, you shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations from whom you shall take possession worshiped their gods; on the high mountains and on the hills, and under every leafy tree. You shall break apart their altars; you shall smash their pillars; and their Asheirim [sacred trees that are worshiped] shall you burn in the fire; their carved images shall you cut down; and you shall destroy their names from that place.”

Rashi comments on these posukim (ibid, pages 123-124):

“Destroy, You Shall Destroy…” “Destroy,” and afterward, “you shall destroy.” [Rashi indicates] the double verb form… implies repeated action (ibid citing Mizrachi, Sifsei Chachamim) From here, we see regarding one who eradicates idolatry — that he must pull up the roots after it, i.e. he must wipe out all traces of it. (ibid, citing Avodah Zorah 45b)

“all the places where [the nations from whom you shall take possession] worshiped,” etc. — And what is it that you shall destroy from [those places]? It is possible to destroy objects in a place, but it is not possible to destroy a place itself. Thus the verse says, “Destroy, you shall… destroy from all the places…” (ibid, citing Sefer Shemot, Perek 9, posuk 29 and the Rashi; Mesiach Ilmim; Gur Aryeh) “Their gods” is the object of “Destroy, you shall… destroy”… (ibid, citing Mesiach Ilmim)

An Altar — is of many stones. An An Altar — is of a single stone. It is the bimos, the pedestal upon which the idol is placed — which appears in the Mishnah: “A stone which is hewn from the start for a bimos.” (ibid, citing Avodah Zorah 47b, Rashi there notes that the bimos is worshiped and is considered part of the idol.)

“And you shall destroy their names.” By coining names of ridicule for them. …”To destroy” is generally used for the destruction of concrete objects. When applied to a name, it means corrupting it in a ridiculing manner. (ibid, citing Mesiach Ilmim; Devek Tov) It does not mean obliterating it from people’s consciousness. For example, the pagan temple called “the house of the crest, they would call “house of the ditch”… The idol called “everyone’s eye” — they would call “thorn eye.” (ibid, citing Avodah Zorah 46a, Sifrei 61. According to Be’er Mayim Chaim… understood as “eye of disgust”…)

All of this may well sound “politically incorrect”, “deplorable”, “subversive”, “racist”, “seditious”, “xenophobic” or even “fascist” in our contemporary secular “western liberalized morality” (read as totalitarian) -based cancel-culture where many of our brethren find themselves in Chutz L’Aretz during the multiple perils — the corona pandemic, violent, totalitarian, quash dissent environment and where many brethren, including those in the political sphere, suffer severe self-hatred and loathing.

Or here, where “Israel-style Derangement Syndrome” finds segments of the police, with Knesset approval, monitoring Jews, often abusively physical against observant (meaning religious) Jews during the Chinese corona pandemic and somehow helpless to respond to Arab violence and terror in mixed populated Israeli cities. But there seem to be lessons to be learned and applied in a Jewish State ,in OUR Eretz Yisrael, regarding restrictions of Jews assembling and praying on Har HaBayit and other places Holy to Judaism, as well as texts of avodah zora with their missionary or Islamic adherents, lest “those toward whom you have been so tolerant will become your enemies and will oppress you in your own land.” [This author citing from Parshat Masei]

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, thus, would run contrary to the political/populous mindset, psyche of the current iteration of Israel’s “governance.”

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 are outward expressions 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?

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 thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he and his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha are finally home in Eretz Yisrael. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of seven 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. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.