Haftarah: Yeshayahu 54:11-55:5 (all) | Third of the “Seven of Consolation”
[על-התורה] הפטרה: ישעיהו נג יא-נה ה (ע”פ כל המנהגים) | שבע דנחמתא 3
- Blessings and Curses
- Destroy Idols after Conquest
- Everyday Slaughter of Meat (Chullin)
- On False Prophets
- Ir ha-Nidachat
- More on the Laws of Kashrut
- Tithes and Levites
- More on the Shemita year
- Review of the Shalosh Regalim
- Haftarah Summary: עניה סערה
This parsha continues Moshe’s address to the Jewish people, once again emphasizing the blessings that will abound for following G-d’s commandments and the curses that will follow if they are not.1 Parashat Re’eh also includes laws relevant to settlement of Eretz Yisrael as well as a review of laws already given, including kashrut and the Shemita (sabbatical) year.
Blessings and Curses
As well as reviewing the concept of blessings and curses, Moshe tells Bnei Yisrael that when they enter the Land, they are to ascend two mountains on the other side of the Yarden: Mount Gerizim and Mount Eival (Ebal). From here they will pronounce the blessings and the curses.
Destroy Idols after Conquest
After the conquest of Eretz Yisrael, the sites of idolatry must be completely destroyed, along with all the objects of idolatrous worship. G-d must not be worshipped in any manner resembling that of the idolators presently in the Land. G-d will select a site in the Land where korbanot (sacrifices), maasrot and teruma (tithes and donations), and bechorot (first-born animals) are to be brought, i.e. the future site of the Beit ha-Mikdash (Temple). In the future, people will appear at that site with their families at appointed times (the shalosh regalim or festivals). Korbanot, which can now be offered wherever the Mishkan is standing, will in the future only be offered at the site selected by G-d.
Everyday Slaughter of Meat (Chullin)
Meat for regular consumption, in contrast, may be slaughtered anywhere and at any time that it is desired. This includes game (deer and gazelle are specified) as well as livestock. The blood must not be consumed, and instead pouring out on the ground. Any tithes, first-borns, or the type of korban that the giver could partake of, may not be eaten outside the sacred precinct on the site that will be designated.
Also, again, not following the false gods of the current inhabitants of the land is stressed, especially not child sacrifice.
On False Prophets
Torah commandments are not to be added to or taken away (לֹא תֹסֵף עָלָיו וְלֹא תִגְרַע מִמֶּנּוּ). If a prophet suggests that one must follow a god, this is a test and they are by definition a false prophet who should not be listened to. A false prophet or interpreter of dreams must be stoned to death. Even if this person is a close relation, such as a parent or sibling, they must not be followed.
Moshe then explains the laws of a city whose inhabitants are thoroughly evil (Ir (ha-)Nidachat). One must investigate whether the entire city is given over to idolatry, and if it has, the entire city and its inhabitants must be destroyed.
More on the Laws of Kashrut
Related to wrongful ways, Jews are not to mutilate their bodies.
The laws of kashrut, first presented in Parashat Shemini in Sefer Vayikra, are reviewed. Here, specific kosher animals are given: ox, sheep, goat, deer, gazelle, roebuck, mountain goat, ibex, antelope, and mountain sheep, plus all those with true hooves and also which chew their cud. Again, the camel, the hare, rock hyrax, and pig are singled out as unkosher. From the water, animals kosher to eat must have, again, fish and scales. A list of non-kosher birds follows: eagle, vulture, black vulture, kite, falcon, buzzard, raven, ostrich, nighthawk, seagull, hawks, miniature owl, great owl, white owl, pelican, bustard, cormorant, stork, heron, hoopoe, or bat. Winged sheretz (swarming things) are not kosher.
In addition, animals that have died a natural death—they have not been slaughtered—are not kosher to eat.
Tithes and Levites
Laws of tithes are now reviewed: Every year, a tenth of the yield of a person’s field must be set aside. The tithes of new grain, wine, and oil, as well as firstborn livestock, must be eaten in the place that Gd will designate (i.e., Beit ha-Mikdash). If one lives far away from the designated place such that it is difficult to transport the produce, the tithes can be given in money instead. In addition, locally resident Levites who have no land must not be forgotten; every third year, tithes are to be kept locally and made available to local Levites.
More on the Shemita year
Again, every 7th year (the Shemittah year), debts are forgiven and creditors are the remit the remainder due from their kin. If this is done properly, there will be no poverty. If one does fall subject to poverty, they must be taken care of, and loans cannot be forgone because of the approaching Shemittah year.
An eved Ivri, Hebrew slave, is set free in the 7th year, and must be provided with basic necessities with which to begin his or her new life. If the slave chooses not to leave, their ear is pierced and they are held in perpetuity.
A firstling ox or sheep must not be yoked and worked in the fields; it is offered as korban, provided it is unblemished.
Review of the Shalosh Regalim
Bnei Yisrael are again enjoined to observe (shamor) Pesach, here called Chodesh ha-Aviv (the month of spring). The korban Pesach is to be offered at the Beit ha-Mikdash and consumed that night, and nothing leavened is to be eaten with it; it must be slaughtered, cooked, and eaten in the Temple precincts. For seven days, matzot lechem oni (matzahs, the bread of affliction) are to be eaten; during this time Jews may own no leavened items. After six days of eating unleavened bread, the seventh day is Atzeret when one does no work (melacha).
At this point, 7 weeks are to be counted, after which Shavuot (literally “weeks”) is to be observed, a time for rejoicing with one’s entire household at Beit ha-Mikdash.
After the last grain harvest, another festival is held at Beit ha-Mikdash for 7 days: Chag ha-Sukkot.
Three times a year, then, Jews must appear in person at Beit ha-Mikdash (the place which G-d will designate): on Chag ha-Matzot, Chag ha-Shavuot, and Chag ha-Sukkot, each bearing that which G-d has granted them.
Haftarah Summary: עניה סערה
The haftarah, one of the Shabbatot of consolation falling after Tisha be-Av and leading up to Rosh ha-Shannah, begins with the famous image of the distressed, storm-tossed one (aniya soara, feminine). Though presently uncomforted, she will be rebuilt and covered with precious stones; all her children will follow Hashem. None will harm her and she will be safe. The thirsty, and those hungry on account of poverty, will drink and eat.
Image: Diego Rivera, “La Era (The Threshing Floor),” 1904. Oil on canvas. Public domain.
- The blessings and curses here in Parashat Re’eh are separate from the sections formally known as Tochecha, “rebuke,” that occur in Vayikra 26 and later in Devarim 28.