Parashah #47: Re’eh (See) D’varim (Deuteronomy) 11:26-16:17

Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah#47:Re’eh (See) D’varim (Deuteronomy) 11:26-16:17
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 54;11-55:5
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Corinthians 5:9-13

The first phrase I thought of when I began thinking about this parashah was “ when the cat’s away, the mice will play.” Sadly, this concept applies to humankind and G-d is fully aware of our human nature and free choice both of which he endowed us. If it were not for Yahshua’s sacrifice, we would be destined to follow our human nature throughout our lives with no hope of ever being able to overcome it in favor of what I call a “Torah nature.” By way of Yahshua’s sacrifice, we have the means to overcome our human nature and choose to follow G-d’s commands and laws. This parashah brings this reality to the fore.
So how does the aforementioned phrase apply to this parashah? The answer is that the people were now going to phase into the agricultural life as a society. They would no longer be living in such close proximity to the tabernacle. Instead of being provided manna, they would plant and harvest. They would have to take on more responsibility and their worship would be modified. They would also encounter the paganistic practices of the Canaanites which if not completely destroyed would be a constant temptation. G-d and Moshe were well aware of this. G-d knew they would assimilate in time and suffer G-d’s punishments for their defiance. Moshe emphasized the importance of living as G-d’s holy people with a focus on justice and righteousness.
Unfortunately, as the people moved into the Land and away from the close proximity to the tabernacle, the Israelites to an extent got away with doing some things according to what each though was “right.” Moshe addresses this in Chapter 12:8: “ You will not do things the way we do them here today, where everyone does whatever in his own opinion seems right: because you haven’t arrived at the rest and inheritance which Adonai your G-d is giving you.”
The Canaanites offered sacrifices at several places, but as a separate people, G-d’s people the Israelites were instructed to go to a specific place “where Adonai your G-d will put His Name. He will choose it from all your tribes; and you will seek out that place, which is where He will live, and go there. All of the sacrifices, offerings, tithes, and firstborn of cattle and sheep were to be taken to that one specific place to be designated by Adonai. He repeats this command at least three times.
As the people worshiped G-d in presenting their tithes, offerings, and sacrifices, they were to rejoice in fellowship as they ate together at the sanctuary. This joy was as they included friends and family in thanking G-d for His provision. Even male and female slaves were to be included along with the Levites who were to share in the people’s blessings. This is an important point to keep in mind. When we diminish in our tithes and offerings, we diminish the benefits to the synagogue. We do not share our tithes and offerings with the Levites as it was during the sacrificial paradigm, but the concept is the same. Our tithes and offerings are to be given with a joyful heart.
A test from G-d of Israel’s love for him was a false prophet (13:13). Even if the false prophet made an accurate prediction, if he/she encouraged any sort of idolatry , they were to be put to death. Chapter 13 begins with “Everything I am commanding you, you are to take care to do. Do not add to it or subtract from it. After addressing false prophets, G-d gets very personal addressing family members and/or friends who try to entice us to serve other gods which includes a plethora of actions/behaviors, many of which we might not even think are associated with idolatry. These people at that time were to be killed as well with the individual to whom the person tried to entice placing his hands on the guilty one first followed by the hands of the people. The individual was then stoned to death. Although we do not perform such acts of justice now, G-d will exact his judgement on anyone who falls into this category of adding to or subtracting from the Word of G-d and anyone who chooses to live in continued rebellion of G-d’s Torah and encourages others to follow suit. Love for friends and family must not take precedence over exclusive devotion to G-d(cf. Lk 14:26).
Chapter 14 includes regulations for personal hygiene and other ways in which we are to treat our bodies. Unlike the pagan societies around the Israelites and some of the practices we see in our own country today, we are not to mutilate ourselves when mourning. Although not mentioned in this parashah, we are not to tattoo our bodies and men are not to trim their beards at the corners like the heathen societies and idolatrous priests did at that time (Lev. 19:27-8).
The dietary laws are listed, and we can observe by examining them that there are definitely health benefits associated with following them. For example, pork products, especially liver frequently carry Hepatitis E, which can cause severe complications and even death in vulnerable populations ( WebMD). According to, “One of the most surprising risks associated with pork- one that’s received remarkably little airtime- is multiple sclerosis (MS), a devastating autoimmune condition involving the central nervous system. This robust link has been known at least since the 1980s” There is also a connection between eating pork and liver cancer and cirrhosis. Another adverse effect on health from eating pork is Yersiniosis bacteria which causes 35 deaths and almost 117,000 cases of food poisoning every year. The main culprit is undercooked pork. The acute symptoms are bad enough including fever, bloody diarrhea, and pain. But the long- term consequences include facing 47 times higher risk of reactive arthritis, a type of inflammatory joint disease triggered by infection. This infection can also raise the risk of Graves disease in which there is excessive thyroid production. I mention some of the general adverse health effects of eating pork well done or not, to make the point that G-d knows what he is doing. Eating pork, shellfish, and fish without fins and scales present humans with significant health risks. The aforementioned health risks which one may suffer from eating pork are significant. But I submit that even if we did not have this information, the fact that G-d prohibits eating the foods described in Chapter 14 should be enough for true believers to accept. At the end of the day, we are to strive to be a holy people spiritually and physically. After all, our bodies are the only ones we get, and we cannot carry out our purpose in life without a body. This fact should stimulate contemplation for those who disregard optimal health practices.

At the end of the narrative on forbidden foods, we see another seemingly unrelated command not to boil a young animal in its mother’s milk. Traditional Jews interpret this as a prohibition against eating meat and dairy together. However, I submit that this is a command to be compassionate. This was also a pagan practice and was considered a delicacy. This command was to reaffirm the need for G-d’s people to remain separate and holy and not assimilate in any way with the practices of the pagans around them.
To expand on the specifics and concept of the dietary laws, there is no use of the word “kosher” in the Bible reference to food. Furthermore, there is no specific set of rules that are consistent with the rabbinic system of kashrut, which includes forbidden and permitted foods, the preparation, and the combination thereof. It is enough in G-d’s economy to follow the dietary laws as He commands. If someone chooses to add the kashrut system of eating without violating G-d’s Torah, there is no harm. However, to teach it as commanded by G-d is forbidden and we must take care to evaluate why we choose to follow this tradition if this is the case.
Chapter 15 covers the command to have a sh’mittah at the end of every seven years. G-d provides all of the instructions we need to observe it. It was specifically commanded for the Israelites to observe in the land, but I submit the lands of the w and the world need a break every seven years and observing it even outside Israel honors G-d and the land. It will be of benefit to take the time to research the Sh’mittah in detail because every year that it is not observed as G-d commands, increasing calamities occur worldwide. Researching what has occurred worldwide during the Sh’mittah years will reveal this to be true.
According to the Jewish Study Bible, 1999, “The blend of Passover and the Feat of Unleavened Bread is the most remarkable section of this[festival] calendar.” Passover was initially a separate observance generally celebrated by each family or clan. It did not require a sacrifice at the sanctuary, so it was not included among the three pilgrimage festivals. Instead, it was distinguished by the slaughter of a sheep or goat in the doorway of the hose with the blood applied to the doorway of the house to protect the family from the plague of death and to demarcate the house as that of an Israelite family. However, the restriction found in Deuteronomy we find a restriction of sacrifice to a single sanctuary which prohibited local observance of Pesach. Now the observance was redirected to the central sanctuary. It became one of the pilgrimage festivals. Interestingly, the older blood ritual in the doorway of private residences which was the defining act of the original Pesach observance is no longer mentioned. The new observance is merged with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This has significant import most easily recognized by Messianic Jews. The change in the way G-d commanded the observance of Pesach alludes to Yahshua who became our Paschal Lamb. His sacrifice was sufficient, a complete Olah offering acceptable to G-d. I submit this is the reason, at least in part why the observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was merged with the observance of Pesach. Most traditional Jewish calendars list the 7 days of Unleavened Bread as days of Passover, with an eighth day listed arrived at in the Priestly version of the calendar where Pesach is one day plus six days of Unleavened Bread, plus one day for the holy convocation. However, we are commanded to celebrate Pesach on the evening of the 14th of Aviv and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins immediately following Pesach. We eat Matzah during our Pesach observance as we start our observance according to Leviticus 23:5-8: “ In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month between sundown and complete darkness, comes Pesach for Adonai. On the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of matzah; for seven days you are to eat matzah. On the first day you are to have a holy convocation; don’t do any kind of ordinary work. Bring an offering made by fire to Adonai for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work.” We must always strive to rightly divide the Word of G-d and separate it from the traditions of men.
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 54:11-55:5

This week’s haftorah is the third of a series of seven “haftarot of Consolation.” These seven haftarot commence on the Shabbat following Tisha b’Av and continue until Rosh Hashanah.
G d addresses the inconsolable and storm- tossed Jerusalem. He tells her that although He turned His face from her for a time, she will be redeemed through His grace. She is assured G-d will never be angry or rebuke her again (54:6-10). Jerusalem will be laid with precious stones. Her children will be “disciples of the L-rd,” and will enjoy abundant peace. Any weapon engineered against her will fail.
Then G-d through Isaiah invites the thirsty to acquire “water,” namely those who are thirsty for spirituality should study the quenching words of Torah. He promises the nation an everlasting covenant similar to that made with King David. This is also an allusion to the Messiah, David’s descendant (Yahshua), who will be revered by all of the nations of the world.
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
Sha’ul tells the Messianic community at Corinth that when he told them not to associate with those who practice sexual immorality; greed, thievery, idol worship, and the like, he was not referring to people outside the city or “leave the world altogether.” He takes the point closer to home referring to those in our own families or communities, as mentioned in the parashah. He tells us that we should not even eat with these individuals. We are to use discernment and courage when we come into contact with those who profess to be our brothers in faith, family or friends. We are to be strong enough to explain why we cannot associate with them; for this may be likened to wallowing with the pigs; guilty by association. Of course, if such an individual wants to meet with us to learn about our faith and ask questions about our G-d, we can certainly meet with them. G-d will judge those outside of His Torah. We are responsible for rebuking those within our community/family/circle of friends according to G-d’s Torah. This is also addressed in different contexts in 2 and 3 John. We are not to turn a blind eye to injustice or antinomian behavior within our families and communities. If we are not bold enough to confront such people head-on, we should support those who are; lobbyists, organizations that strive to correct such problems; pray for strength and courage to become active ourselves. We should not and cannot always depend on others to correct anti-Torah behaviors/practices. We have a personal responsibility to defend our G-d and His Torah just as Yahshua did throughout his life on earth. He did not shy away from defending G-d’s Torah, but He did it with compassion just as we must learn in our approach to others.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart