Sunday, August 05, 2007

Reeh Summary

G-d offers two options, blessing or curse. The blessing is given to those who observe the commandments, and the curse to those who stray from the path that G-d has commanded, and worshipping false gods. When the Israelites enter the Land of Israel they should stand on the two mountains of Gerizim and Eival, six tribes on each, and proclaim the blessings and curses.
The Jews are commanded to thoroughly destroy any remnants of the idols of the nations who occupied Israel before them. Conversely they are prohibited from destroying G-d's name or anything that has been sanctified to Him. G-d will appoint a certain place where all the sacrifices and offerings should be brought. Though in the desert, and for the 14 years before the altar was set up in Shiloh (and later Jerusalem), it was permitted for people to bring offerings on private altars, once this Temple has been built and dedicated it will be forbidden for the Jews to offer any sacrifices outside of its boundaries. Any sacrifice which has become blemished may be redeemed and then eaten outside of Jerusalem, provided it has been ritually slaughtered like all other Kosher meat. However certain tithes and offerings may only be eaten within the walls of Jerusalem. During their time in the desert, the Jews only ate the meat of sacrifices, because everyone lived within close proximity of the altar. However once they enter Israel they will also be able to eat non-sacrificial meat.
The Israelites are commanded not to copy the ways of the Canaanites who occupied the Land before them. They are reminded of the horrific rites which they practised, including child sacrifice. Should a prophet arise amongst Israel and tell them to abandon any of the commandments which G-d has given them they should be put to death. Even if they performs miracles and signs, once they say something that contradicts the Torah they must be a false prophet. If someone tries to persuade others to follow false gods and to abandon the G-d of their ancestors they must be put to death. If there are rumours that an entire city has begun to worship false gods, the Sanhedrin (High Court) must thoroughly investigate the matter. If it is found to be true, all the inhabitants of that city must be put to death.
The Jews are considered by G-d as His children and His treasured nation, and therefore they must not make marks on their body as a sign of mourning. They must also be careful as to what they eat, and the Torah here reiterates the species of Kosher and non-Kosher animals. Ten percent of all the crops harvested must be set aside and only eaten within the boundaries of the city of Jerusalem.
At the end of the seventh year there shall be a remittance of all loans. However the Jews are commanded not to be reluctant to give out loans even knowing that if they are not repaid by the seventh year the loan will be nullified. G-d commands the Jews to be generous in making loans. A Jewish slave must be set free at the beginning of the seventh year. He shall also be given wages for the time that he has worked. Should he decide that he would rather remain a slave than return to his home, his master must take him to the courts and the judges shall pierce his ear as a sign that he refuses to be set free.
Every firstborn male animal is sanctified and must be brought as a sacrifice to G-d. However if it has a blemish it may be eaten by its owner. The Jews are commanded once again about the observance of the three pilgrimage festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Succoth. When they come to Jerusalem at these three times they should also bring with them sacrifices to offer to G-d.

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