A SUMMARY OF R'EY, Deut. 11:26-16:17.
Moshe begins: "SEE, I SET BEFORE YOU THIS DAY BLESSING AND CURSE". Israel, approaching the Jordan, must see themselves free to choose between life's two paths, the noble and the ignoble; connection to God and His Torah is itself a blessing, besides its ultimate rewards. Disconnection eventually leads Man away from his life task, toward a cursed existence. An impressive public ceremony between Mt. G'rizim and Mt. Aval is to imprint this message.
CH. 12: Israel must expatriate all idolatry, scattered throughout the land; once they settle down, God's joyous sacrificial worship is restricted to one chosen place, site of the Temple. Only there can holy foods be consumed, to be shared with Levites, servants, etc. If an animal is not to be sacrificed, it may be eaten anywhere, but only after ritual slaughter-12:20ff. This is nowhere defined in the Bible-it's a clear reference to the Talmud, where it's elaborated in great detail (Chulin). As other nations recognize Israel's unique covenant, they will also realize that its essence is the Oral Law; the Bible does not stand alone-its meaning must be learned from Yaakov's folk in Israel; per the prophets, all will turn to them for guidance in the Messianic Age-if Israel does that good and right in God's eyes, rather than aping other cultures.
CH. 13: Israel must not tamper with God's Torah, nor heed any prophet, miracle worker, or intimate other who would lead Jews to idolatry; such a person is to be killed. An idolatrous city is to be razed.
CH. 14: contains the kosher laws, holy food for His holy folk, who also must not disfigure their bodies in mourning. The sacred second tithe, or its redemption money, is to be consumed by its owners, only in Jerusalem; in the 3rd and 6th years of the 7 year agricultural cycle, it's given to the poor to eat anywhere.
CH. 15: deals with the Sabbatical Year and obligations to the poor and slaves. It closes with the laws of firstborn animals, dedicated to God, unless blemished.
CH. 16: reviews the 3 pilgrimage festivals-Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot, when all males must appear, with suitable gifts, before God at the Temple. Individuality and tribal identity merge there with the oneness of the Jewish nation, its God, and its Torah (Hirsch). This affects all mankind; Israel restores the original harmony between Man and God when it brings sacrifices (lit. "closeness facilitators") with proper intentions; this, in turn, restores the original harmony between Man and Nature, temporarily hostile to Man (the festival theme). Moshe doesn't yet reveal the site, Jerusalem, lest the tribes fight over it (Rambam, Guide; cf. religious politics).
THE USUAL HAFTORA, ISAIAH 54:11-55:5, (also read w/Noach) continues the long slow reconciliation between God and Israel; forgiveness long precedes renewed intimacy. Retention of Jewish values in harsh exile, not just dutiful obedience, is a prerequisite to being at one with God-IN RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALL YOU BE ESTABLISHED (54:14)-M. Hirsch. When Israel is its true self-NO WEAPON THAT IS FORMED AGAINST YOU SHALL PROSPER (Infantada) and EVERY TONGUE THAT SHALL RISE AGAINST YOU IN JUDGEMENT YOU SHALL SHOW TO BE WICKED (the media-v. 17). To achieve this, Israel must examine its values and priorities-WHY DO YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY FOR THAT WHICH IS NOT BREAD (e.g. Western TV and movies) AND YOUR GAIN FOR THAT WHICH DOES NOT SATISFY. INCLINE YOUR EAR AND COME TO ME; HEAR, AND YOUR SOUL SHALL LIVE (55:2-3). Then Israel shall influence and teach, rather than being influenced by corrupt cultures-A NATION THAT YOU KNEW NOT SHALL RUN TO YOU BECAUSE OF GOD YOUR LORD (v.5; the Makuya?).
AUGUST 26 & 27, AV 30 & ELUL 1, are Rosh Chodesh Elul. We read Num. 28:1-15, details of the daily, Shabbat, and New Month sacrifices. The Haftora is Isaiah 66.
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