R’eih (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17)
This Week’s Torah Portion: R’eih (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17)
For the poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, saying: “You shall surely open you hand unto your poor and needy kin, in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)
There is a legend in the Talmud about Rabbi Akiva who was challenged by a Roman General who said:
“If your God loves poor people, why doesn’t your God provide for their needs.” Rabbi Akiva replies: “So that we might be saved from hell by caring for their needs ourselves.”
The Roman General responds: “On the contrary, this is what makes you deserving of hell.
Let me demonstrate in a parable. A king is angry at a servant, locks him up in prison, and commands that he shall be given no food or drink. If someone went and fed him a gave him drink, wouldn’t the King be mad?”
Rabbi Akiva answers: “Let me tell you a parable. A king is angry at his son and locks him up in a prison. He commands that he shall have no food or drink. If someone went and fed his son and gave him something to drink, when the king heard of this, wouldn’t he give that person a reward?”
And, are we not all the children of God?
God places both blessing and curse before the Israelites. They are taught that blessing will come through the observance of God’s laws. (11:26–32)
Moses’ third discourse includes laws about worship in a central place (12:1–28); injunctions against idolatry (12:29–13:19) and self-mutilation (14:1–2); dietary rules (14:3–21); and laws about tithes (14:22–25), debt remission (15:1–11), the release and treatment of Hebrew slaves (15:12–18), and firstlings (15:19–23).
Moses reviews the correct sacrifices to be offered during the Pilgrim Festivals—Pesach, Sukkot, and Shavuot. (16:1-17)