Parshat Re’eh 5783: Warning to Jews; Lest They Seek, Emulate the Ways and Practices of the Nations

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShavua, Parshat Re’eh is being sponsored by Baruch and Tammy Labinsky of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated with tremendous Hakarat Hatov to Hashem for all the brochot with which he has blessed our family. To the Labinsky 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 (or as the case may be, co-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 5783: Warning to Jews; Lest They Seek, Emulate the Ways and Practices of the Nations

by Moshe Burt

A third of the way through our Parshat Re’eh, following Hashem’s granting permission for the B’nei Yisrael to eat unconsecrated meat, with His warning against ingesting the blood, Torah provides a warning against emulating the rites of the Canaanites, a warning for all times, and particularly meaningful for our generation, both in Israel and throughout Chutz L’Aretz:

“Safeguard and hearken to all these words that I command you, in order that it be well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the eyes of Hashem, Keilokecha [your G’d].”

“When Hashem, Keilokecha, will cut down the nations where you come to drive them away before you, and you drive them away and you settle in the land, beware for yourself lest you be attracted after them after they have been destroyed before you, and lest you seek out their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations worship their gods, and even I will do the same.’ You shall not do so to Hashem Keilokecha, for everything that is an abomination of Hashem, that He hates, have been done to their gods; for even their sons and their daughters have they burned in the fire of their gods.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 12, posukim 28-31 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash)

The Artscroll Stone Chumash provides commentary on the above posukim citing Rashi, Onkelos, Radak Alshich and Ramban (pages 1006-1007) :

“Lest you be attracted” (Rashi), “lest you be ensnared” (Onkelos, Radak) — “After they have been destroyed.” After you saw that Hashem destroyed them, you should have realized that there was nothing you could learn from them. (citing Rashi) Clearly, the generations closest to the defeat of the Canaanites would not be tempted to imitate them, but with the passage of time, people unfamiliar with the past might be tempted to resurrect the ancient practices of the natives. (citing Alshich) “Revisionist history” is not a new phenomenon. Seekers of novelty often find glamor in life-styles that have been completely discredited.

“And even I will do the same.” — According to Rashi, based on Sifre, Moshe speaks to Jews who may be tempted to serve idols and who inquire about how the Canaanites did so. Ramban contends that the plain meaning must be otherwise, since the next verse implies that the intention to employ these modes of worship in the service of Hashem, He comments, therefore, that this passage is an admonition that Jews are forbidden to adopt the practices of idolaters into their own services.

As the posukim say: “Beware for yourself lest you be attracted after them…lest you seek out their gods” — an important lesson for our generation.

There are various attitudes, lifestyles and practices within today’s “enlightened” Western societies which have seemingly been taken on as religion.

One such practice, or shall we call it lifestyle, is what this author calls “same-genderism” rather than its more well-known pronouns which, in good taste, won’t be mentioned here. Some of the offshoots of “same-genderism” are the use of the neutral pronoun “parent,” rather than Mother and Father which distinguishes the two genders, as well as men contesting and winning vs women in sports because they are not capable of contesting against their fellow men. And we won’t touch the problems of dressing rooms, latrines and indoctrination of young children in the schools.

Numerous commentators and studies, such as this one discussed on the site Right Wing Watch, note that what this author calls “same-genderism” and its offshoots have “destroyed every civilization it has touched.”

And there is “woke’ism and historical revisionism, i.e. the “1619 project” which defames the founding of the United States, the US Constitution, its Amendments as being “slave-based,” as well political lies, dirty tricks, cancel culture and dual justice system favoring one political party while excoriating (verb:to denounce or berate severely; flay verbally) and defaming their political opponents on all media as well as in the judiciary.

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. Many of our brethren found themselves in Chutz L’Aretz during the multiple perils — the corona pandemic — now apparently de-emphasized, as well as in 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 a seeming avodah zora among segments of Jews in their misguided sense of “democracy” as supporting, by any and all means, what amounts to a judicial dictatorship, where the police, with Knesset approval, monitor Jews’ conversations and movements, and where police are often abusively physical against observant (meaning religious) Jews, yet. somehow are helpless to respond to Arab violence and terror in mixed populated Israeli cities.

There seem to be lessons in the above posukim to be learned and applied in a Jewish State, in OUR Eretz Yisrael, such as regarding restrictions of Jews assembling and praying on Har HaBayit and other places Holy to Judaism, as well as missionaries and Islamic adherents regarding their texts of avodah zora, 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 often run contrary to the political/populous mindset, psyche of current iterations 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 either symptomatic of a total lack of knowledge of Judaism — lacking even the knowledge to recite the Shema, or 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, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his third year at home in Eretz Yisrael and has embarked on a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. 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 nine 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!!!

Good Shabbos!
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.