The Akeda Foundation
"We are our brothers and sisters keepers".
D’ROSH: RE’EH (PARSHA, SEGMENT:” SEE”), (Deut.XI:26-16:17)
HAFTORAH: ISAIAH (LESSON OF THE PROPHET- ISAIAH), (Is. 54: II-55:5).
DATE: AUGUST 18,2017;26 Av 5777.
CANDLE LIGHTING: 7:35 PM
SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: MY BELOVED SISTER JUDY ROBINSON HOFFBERGER WAS PART OF THE CHANTING CADRE(LEYNING)FOR THIS PARSHA MAKING IT VERY SPECIAL FOR ALL OF US.
SPECIALs: ROSH CHODESH ELUL (NEW MONTH): AUGUST 21-23,2017;29 -30 Av,1ELUL 5777; NEW MOON:1 ELUL 5777.
D’rosh: RE’EH (“SEE”)
Moses was an interesting evaluator of the human psyche. Diplomacy was not his strong suit in the communications department. Rather he preferred the direct approach to ensure clarity. This is especially true when acting as G-d’s representative (Sheleach) with the Israelite Nation.
Imagine being with Moses and he says with ‘take or leave it clarity’ two (2) options.
…”See this day I set before you blessing and curse, blessing(s) through obedience to G-d…” and curses if you don’t obey but turn away “…and follow other G-d’s. “… (Deut.XI:26-30).
So here it is in black and white to pick one or the other. There is ‘no grey’, no middle ground. It brings to mind the Rockin’ lyrics of the 1977, Meat Loaf- from his “Bat Out of Hell” album hit” Paradise by the Dashboard Lights”
Using a Yankee baseball game metaphorically to describe a commitment between two (2) adolescents parked in a car enjoying each other until the ultimate question is asked of the young man by the young woman before going further with their interaction. Not unlike Moses asking through our” hit Parsha “ RE’EH-(SEE)”, what’s it going to be blessings or curses?
“Paradise by the Dashboard Lights”, In Part:
…”What’s it going to be boy? What’s it going to be?
Choices are ours to be made regardless of their merit. They upon retrospective review can be good or bad. Either way there is accountability and consequences. Each of us makes the choice if whether or not we are going to help those in need.
Even the words of Isaiah in this week’s Haftorah, (Lessons From The Prophets):
…”there are the benefits, ‘the blessing’ returning … “to Zion and to G-d”… (Is.LV: I-5.)
The Parsha has a great deal to offer in our “tunnel lighting”.
There is the creation of a central place of worship (Temple and the evolution of the Synagogue). It suggests that while a ‘Mobile Mishkan’ provides a temporary place of worship, the central place of worship gives permanency.
And with establishing a central place of worship comes the responsibility of supporting full time clergy, support staff. and maintaining of the building and religious instruments and vestments as well.
To go full time, it requires Community support: Dues and the Building Fund are the in the Jewish faith the evolution of Biblical ‘Tithing’.
‘Tithing ‘(Deut. XIV: 22-29). Or as I like to say –HOW MUCH LOVE IS IN YOUR WALLET?
Here is found the roots of origin which evolved into the modern day Synagogue which becomes the center of the Jewish community. It’s my belief First, that any place or time one wants to pray is acceptable as a ’Mobile Mishkan’ (Sanctuary). Because I pray at my home, it provides me the solitude and spirituality of a central place of worship.
There is a direct correlation between the aid to be provided be it financial or non- financial.
The Second part of the equation is supporting the infra-structure of the building or physical place of worship.
It appears Moses was a visionary in defining the basics of “an Operational Budget “and “Capital Budget” for structural repairs both through “Tithing”. Most Synagogues charge membership fees on different levels as well as a structured scale for school tuition and other services rather than ‘tithing. Amazingly, with the sophisticated Boards of Directors there are some Synagogues and religious institutions of other faiths without a Capital Budget so the money comes from operations or another source. Today most ‘Tithing’ in the Jewish Faith is in the form of Synagogue memberships and fees. Creatively it is/ are paid by check, credit card, cash or special events like raffles ,bingo ,casino nights and auctions (excluding gifts). These same methods are used by other Faiths which also includes “Passing the ‘Plate, In Service collections during, “The Offertory” as well. Religion and therefore being able to do G-d’s work is a business .The more resources the more one can do in selecting the utilization of those funds.
HOW MUCH LOVE depending on the religious practice may take the form of the Offertory during the Service by passing plates down the pews. Some take credit cards, pre-printed weekly checks needing just an endorsement (based on 10% of the Individual or Family A.G.I.), and cash excluding gifts, but at the end of the day the Religion knows whether or not it met its ‘tithing’ needs.
Today regardless of Faith there are sadly mergers to survive or worse the place of worship closes which leaves a huge hole for the Community to try and refill, if it can. This is largely due to economics and therefore “not having much love in the wallet”.
Kashrut: Moses reminds the Israelite nation about :
…”the prohibitions against mixing milk (dairy) and meat. (Deut. XIV: 22). Along with this comes the prohibition against eating meat unless the blood is drained from it (uh oh well done!!!). So for those of us ‘rare meat lovers Re’eh suggests this is forbidden due to the connection to idolatry and pagan practices.
Freedom: Can anything more vital to an individual society or entity of any kind then freedom?
It matters not whether freedom comes from being “Re d slave, in servitude of any kind or having one’s freedom to move about ,speak leased as an indenture one’s mind, associate with whomever one desires and freedom to practice one’s religion(faith) of choice without recriminations. Re’eh is the fore runner of our Civil Rights Amendments to the U. S. Constitution (U.S.C.A, Amendments 14-16) and Emancipation Proclamation by Lincoln (January I, 1863).
Moses reaffirms the requirement to make sure those who accept release allowed by the ‘Sabbatical (7th-Shmitah year) are to be given a dignified start- up of cattle food etc., a precursor to our concept of ‘severance pay’. (Deut. XV: I-11).This was later adapted to give land grants to “freedmen (non- whites serving in both the Colonial Army and Union Army respectively.
Moses reminds the Israelites to stay away from:
…”dream diviners’ and temptations to try other faiths’ rituals by keeping one’s faith close to one’s heart and soul”. (Deut.XIII:2-13).This includes what would be considered today’s body art and jewelry (tattoos and piercing-including ear rings except those who receive one as their statement of rejection of Freedom. (Deut.XV: 16-18).
Holiness takes many forms and shapes. For me being Holy is G-d giving me the ability to help others through my unconditional faith (AKEDA). Someone could be suffering from an aching heart and soul, an empty stomach, the loss of family or a friend, turn off notices from utilities, repossession of personal or real property(real estate) loss of animals or loneliness.
If even for a split second the burden is lifted and a smile replaces tears, it’s worth it. How can you put a price on that? You can’t. THAT IS LOVE IN THE SPIRITUAL WALLET AND FINANCIAL IF AVAILABLE.
My personal Akeda with G-d gives me the strength to help those who can’t help themselves. We all know the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis. It’s a sad story of sibling rivalry so intense that one brother kills another. G-d asks the surviving brother where’s your brother and gets …”Am I my brother’s keeper”? MY ANSWER—I am/ We are!!!
Kashrut, Rules of Dietary Observance, is the next order of business for Moses:
teaching it is Holy and non-compliance is part of pagan practices. (Deut.XIV:1-21). (See Lev.XI). There are interpretive prohibitions of not mixing milk with meat by not boiling a calf in her mother’s milk. (Deut.XIV:22). And not eat meat rare because the blood must be drained from the meat. So for those of us who enjoy their meat ‘rare’ RE’EH suggests the opposite’ well done’.
Can there be anything more vital to an individual and or society than Freedom. It matters not whether freedom comes through the release of an indentured servant /slave. Moses reminds the Israelites that
…”there is a requirement to provide economic stability for service to the household. The origins of ‘the severance package ’has its roots in the Old Testament. (Deut. XII: 12-15); (Deut. XV: 1-11). Today it is a practice to provide “severance packages” to employees who are transitioning out from their place of employment for the same reasons which includes recognition of service AND to ensure against financial embarrassment by having a fresh start.
Immigrants coming to this country established ethnic neighborhoods of their respective origins and cultures. Growing up in Baltimore I remember the Hebrew Free Loan Society also known as “Chai” which set up interest free loans to those in need. Today there is a modern day version but I understand loans are below market rate interest.
Loan forgiveness went hand in hand with the release of the indentured servants. Moses orders the creation of “Shmitah” (sabbatical in the 7th year) for such purposes including gifts to charities.
Our friend, the month of Elul, says to us be philanthropic giving to those folks and causes in need. Show The Love In Your Wallet and Heart... Faith does not matter what does matter is reaching out to give of one’s self through our most precious gift of time, money and skill sets. It is all G-d’s work. (Deut. XV: 7- II). G-d’s message is making sure the at-risk individual’s self-esteem and dignity remain in- tact.
Unfortunately, today loyalty is not always rewarded to the rank and file blue collar workers and or Ma and Pa workers. Employer memories are short forgetting it was, is and will be those very workers to see us through the tough as well as the good times. In my four (4) decades as a lawyer I have seen first -hand the devastation to families of labor union employees and their families by cutting them off or out-sourcing work to foreign countries to show a bigger profit margin, all the while forgetting our greatest resource is the human resource. Our country was built on that very foundation. The problem exists today in a different scheme.
Moses reminded the Israelites that because freedom is precious:
If it is rejected to stay within the household that slave’s ear is pierced with an awl, hence Biblical Ear rings publically displaying the freedom of choice. (Deut. XV: 16-18). Tattoos were also frowned upon as well. Clearly body piercing and body art having its origins in the Old Testament.
Calendar: Finally there is the calendar for the:
Three (3) Jewish Festivals of: Passover (Pesach), Shavuot (Festival of Weeks) and Succoth (Festival of Booths). These are the three (3) designated “Pilgrimage Festivals” to get to Jerusalem to celebrate.
Isaiah shares in the Haftorah that the Israelite Nation will be restored to full glory. He uses the metaphoric descriptions of precious stones to describe economic prosperity:
…” a foundation laid with precious stones” … (Is. LIV: II-12). This refers to Jerusalem’s walls and grounds. His eloquence continues:
In describing the “Israelite Nation being ... “thirsty of water” to study Torah to quench the thirst.
Isaiah goes on to describe an everlasting covenant like King David’s a reference to the Mashiach, (Messiah) who is in the Davidic family line.
Neil Diamond’s 1969 hit “Brother Love’s Travelin’ Salvation Show” “reaching No. twenty two (22) on the Pop Charts lyrics center around our obligation to help each other while maintaining our unconditional faith, our personal Akeda (binding) with G-d.
In Part: In his sermon with passion:
…“Take tour right hand and lift it up to the heavens for him to take hold and with your other good hand reach it out and grab one who needs your help because that’s what it’s there for”…
Take my hand in yours, Walk with me this day,
In my heart I know, I will never stray
Halle, halle, halle
It’s Love, Brother Love, say
Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”…
What a great way to teach us ---We are our brothers and sisters keepers.
Shabbat Shalom-A Peaceful Sabbath/ Shavuah Tov-A Good Week /Reb ‘Z/ R’Z/STU