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Parshat R'eih


"'See this day I set before you blessing and curse...'", Moses tells the gathered Israelites, poised to enter their new home, the Promised Land." '...Blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your G-d that I enjoin upon you this day; and curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your G-d but turn away from the path that I enjoin upon you this day and follow other gods, whom you have not experienced. When the Lord your G-d brings you into the land that you are about to enter and possess, you shall pronounce the blessing at Mount Gerizim and the curse at Mount Ebal." This public ceremony in a specifically named location--the mountains are recreated here out of sand in the Hamptons, perhaps not the most spiritual place--would have occurred near modern-day Nablus. Our family was blessed a few years ago to travel to this area with the late Israeli archaeologist Adam Zertal who excavated what he believed (and what may very well be) the remnants of the first altar that the Israelites built on nearby Mt. Erbal as soon as they crossed the Jordan. In R'eih Moses explains that once the Israelites are settled in Israel, G-d will reveal a central location for all sacrifices: "..You must bring everything that I command you to the site where the Lord your G-d will choose to establish His name.'" And he reiterates again and again the prohibition against idol worship; any "prophet or dream diviner" in the new land who tries to influence others to join paganism "shall be put to death; for he urged disloyalty to the Lord your G-d." The laws of kashrut are repeated here along with details of the pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Succoth, and Shavuout, when the Jews would be required to travel with their offerings to the "place that He will choose". Ultimately, that was the Temple in Jerusalem. Shabbat Shalom!

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