Parashat Re’eh: Why would God punish the Jews



The Israelites were about to enter the land God promised to their ancestors. The moment has finally arrived and Moses addressed the people one last time. In his final speech to the Israelites, Moses reminds his flock that if they keep God’s commandments they will truly be blessed among all the nations. But if the Israelites disobey God’s law they will be cursed.

Why would God punish the Jews for not keeping Torah? Doesn’t that make the concept of free will void? Not necessarily. The Torah is like a roadmap/guide that teaches us to live a holy life. It’s a lifestyle that automatically leads to a good and full life. Choosing not to live a holy life is to embrace a lifestyle that is unhealthy and harmful to our well being. It automatically makes one feel ‘cursed’.

Take for example the dietary laws (which Moses mentions again in this speech). Why is what we eat so important? The saying goes “you are what you eat”. In ancient times it was believed that when you eat the meat of an  animal, that animal becomes part of you. Many Jewish people today (especially in Israel) have decided to embrace Veganism as their new diet. Some Rabbis even call
Veganism the ‘new Kosher’. This helps people live a more healthy and balanced life. When our bodies are happy and healthy, our minds and emotions become happier and healthier.

Finally we look at the part where the Israelites are commanded to build a place in the land where God’s Name can reside. We all know this refers to the Tabernacle and eventually the two Holy Temples that stood in Jerusalem. But with no Temple in Jerusalem today where is God’s Name/Presence to reside? In the synagogue? Yes. Everywhere else? Of course. But most importantly God’s Name/Presence is within us. We are created in God’s image. This Divine Spark is within us. Because we are a holy people it is important to take care of ourselves and our community by living a healthy, happy and holy life of Torah.

Tertius Carstens 

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Torah Reading

Shabbat Re’eh Rosh Chodesh Elul
Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17 
and Numbers 28:9-15
Reading: Dtn. 15:12-16:17
Plaut p. 1271; Hertz p. 813

Isaiah 66:1-3 and 10-13;23
Plaut p. 1492; Hertz p. 944


One Reply to “Parashat Re’eh: Why would God punish the Jews”

  1. LeRoy

    This Torah spark resonated with me and it was a bonus to learn that it was written by Tertius. Well done, Tertius I really enjoyed this post and trust you will write again.

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