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Religion
Parashot

Re'eh (see!)

Deuteronomy 11:26 to 16:17, Isaiah 54:11 to 55:5

Notes

The first five chapters of Deuteronomy were about the covenant of Sinai (see verse 5:2, for example). But we know from verse 28:69 (29:1) that Deuteronomy is largely Moshe saying an additional covenant of Moav. Arguably, this additional covenant begins in verse 6:1. At the very latest it begins in verses 11:26-32, which serve as "bookends" with later chapters:

Note that at this point in Moshe's discourse there are warnings against straying but no prophecies of straying.

Traditional Jewish Commentary

The Tz'enah Ur'enah comments on verse 11:26: "If one is lazy in his house, and when a wall breaks does not fix it immediately, his house will slowly fall down...And if he is lazy with his soul and does no righteous deeds, he will ultimately go to Gehinnom."

The rabbinical version of the Parable of the Sower is also recounted, with a similar perspective on free will (God will clean up our souls in the World to Come, but will not do such a drastic change that people who are not already growing in the right direction get a new personality desirous of righteousness):

The soul is likened to a field. Sometimes one finds a field which is easier to plow, and things grow in it quickly; other times one find a field which is difficult to plow, and things do not grow easily in it. Neverhtheless, one plows it as much as possible, so that wheat will grow. Similarly, with people, there are some people whose souls desire only luxuries and they do not accept rebuke or learn Torah. Still, if such a person will persuade himself, and accustom himself to studying Torah, he will be able to do so and become pious. But he who does not accustom himself to Torah and righteous deeds cannot fulfill the Torah and commandments in the Next World.

God does not yet tell the Israelites where he would desire the Tabernacle and Temple (verse 12:5) because then the Israelites would have fought over that land.

Verses 12:19-20 are related. Just as in Proverbs 18:16 ("A man's gift makes room for him"), giving to God prompts God to enlarge your borders.

In comment on verses 12:23-25: if God specifies a reward for avoiding something disgusting, how much better the rewards for avoiding what is evil but enticing!

Verse 13:2 is only speaking of prophets that have no history of serving God properly. Even Eliyahu offered a sacrifice outside of Yerushalayim, which was forbidden. Sometimes God's prophets know that in a specific instance it is legitimate to disobey a commandment.

The brother in verse 13:7 is specified as "son of your mother" to allow for the case of two different fathers, which would mean that brother was not sharing your inheritance. How much more should you not be led astray by a brother you share an inheritance with!

The heathens mourn extravagantly (verse 14:1) because they think a dead person is no more. But God's children know better; the World to Come is prepared for us; it is good for us to die, for through this we come to eternal life.

The repetition of "tithe" in verse 14:22 led some sages to say we pay two tithes: one to the Levite, and one to be brought to the Temple and eaten.

The Tz'enah Ur'enah tells this story:

There was once a man whose field grew 1,000 measure of grain each year. He told his only son this, and instructed his son to tithe 100 measures each year. But when his son took over the field, he was worried that not as much would grow, and so he only tithed 90 measures. Only 900 measures grew. Each subsuquent year the son tithed less, and less grew. Finally, the son only tithed 10 measures, and only 100 measures grew. A neighbor slyly commented, "How holy of you! Your father would keep 900 measures for himself each year, but now you let God have 900 measures!"

Explanation is needed to resolve verse 15:4 (efes ki lo yih'yeh be'cho evyon, "only there will be no poor among you") and verse 15:11 (ki lo yechdal evyon mi'kerev ho'oretz, "because poor people will not cease from the midst of the land"). Rashi, because of verse 15:5, taught that the former happens when Israel (overall) is obedient, and the latter happens when Israel (overall) is disobedient. Chazal disagrees, and uses the verses to teach personal obedience: verse 15:4 might tempt a poor person to prioritize striving for wealth over striving for obedience (by thinking, "it is a commandment to not be poor in the Land"), but such a mindset is corrected by verses 15:5,11 (which says, "but it is also permissable to be poor in the land, and I cannot know which to be obedient to unless study more and am closer to God").

Chazal comments on verses 15:7-8 that in a closed hands the fingers appear to be the same length, but in an open hand they are seen to be different lengths—so too when giving charitably we should do so appropriately to the person in need, not with a habitual amount.

Rashi comments on the local emphasis in verse 15:7. Local charity has priority over other charity.