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Weekly D'rash Re'eh

The beginning of this week's Torah portion is the end of a long section of Deuteronomy (CH 4–11) in which Moses exhorts the Jewish people to love God faithfully, remember the events at Sinai, and live according to the Torah way of life (i.e., the commandments and ordinances).

The end of chapter 11 is the summation of the "message" to the people. “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known” (Deut. 11:26–28).

Beginning in chapter 12, Moses will teach the people a variety of laws and ordinances. Then at the end of that long section, he says this: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing, and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them” (Deut. 30:19–20). The beginning and end of the section of laws describes a choice. Moses is saying that if you live the life that I have laid out for you, you will experience blessing; but if you live a life that does not line up with what I have said, then you are asking for trouble!

Remember that Israel is the chosen people, and their disobedience will not jeopardize their calling as a people. However, their actions could make their lives miserable as they face the discipline of God. Often, the discipline of God comes in the form of consequences. This is a great piece of wisdom! Yeshua reiterates this at the end of the Sermon On The Mount when he talks about two houses in Matt. 7:24–29. One is built on sand (disobedience) and the other is built on solid ground (obedience). When it rains, the house built on sand will wash away and the house built on solid ground will last. The one who builds on the sand is called foolish, and the one who builds on solid ground is called wise. This is very much like what we read in the Book of Proverbs: “The way of a fool is right in their own eyes, but a wise person is one who listens to counsel” (Proverbs 12:15).

In our haftarah portion we read, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live” (Isa. 55:2–3a). God has given us a way of life that leads to overall wellbeing. We need to ask ourselves if we are really living the way He has prescribed. May we walk in it and be blessed.

Remember that even if you have chosen a path apart from God that has led to great difficulty, it is never too late to return. Foolishness is not a life sentence! Returning to the way of the Lord causes the foolish to become wise. This is a good reminder for us as we continue our journey to the High Holy Days. May God give us discernment in the choices that we make and the attitudes that we have. Let us choose life and eat the food of righteousness! And, may our satisfaction be in the Lord—let us return to the Lord and seek Him always! “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake their way and the unrighteous person their thoughts; and let them return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on them, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa. 55:6–7)

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Howard

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