Parashat Re’eh!

Dear Friends;

I hope that you’ll enjoy the following Parsha summary
followed by a Dvar Torah;

” Parsha in a Nutshell ”

Moshe says to the people of Israel, “I place before you
today a blessing and a curse” —  the blessing that will come when they fulfill
G-d’s commandments, and the curse if they abandon them.

A Temple should be established in “the place that G-d will choose to dwell His name there”, where the people should bring their sacrifices to Him; it is forbidden to make
offerings to G-d in any other place.

A false prophet, or one who entices others to worship idols, should be put to death; an idolatrous city must be destroyed. The identifying signs for kosher animals and fishes, and the list of non-kosher birds are repeated.

A tenth of all produce is to be eaten in Jerusalem, or else exchanged for money with which food is purchased and eaten there. Firstborn cattle and sheep are to be offered in the Temple and their meat eaten by the Kohen.

The mitzvah of charity obligates a Jew to aid a needy
fellow with a gift or loan. On the Sabbatical year (occurring every seventh
year) all loans are to be forgiven.

Our Parshah concludes with the laws
of the three pilgrimage festivals — Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot — when all
should go to “see and be seen” before G-d in the Holy

” Dvar Torah ”

In this week’s Parsha, Moshe continues to review the Torah laws with the Benei Yisrael.
Being the last few week’s of his life, Moshe advices the Benei Israel that the
secret to their survival in the promised land is by keeping Hashem’s
commandments. One of the commandments that he reviews with them, is the mitzvah
of giving charity! He tells them the following: ” If there will be among you a
needy person, from one of your brothers in one of your cities, in your land that
Hashem, your G-d, is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, and you shall
not close your hand from your needy brother. Rather, you shall open your hand to
him, and you shall lend him sufficient for his needs, which he is
lacking.”Then a few pasuks later, Moshe continues to say: ” You shall surely
give him, and let your heart not feel bad when you give him, for in return for
this matter, Hashem will bless you in all your deeds…”.

Although the verses are quite self-explanatory, but still, the Chachmim could find ambiguity in the writing. What bothers them is that why does Moshe emphasize so much on the feelings of heart when he commands the people to help the poor? “You shall
not harden your heart”…… “Let your heart not feel bad”….. Usually when the
Torah repeats something, it’s trying to convey an important message.
Accordingly, from these two verses, the Chachamim derive that when giving
charity, you have to feel happy in your heart, which means, you have to give
charity with “joy”. When giving charity, the feeling of happiness in your heart
is as important as the act of giving the money itself! Some Chachamim go as far
as to say that the money given to charity without a joy and happiness of the
heart, does not count as part of your “Ma-aser”- 10% obligatory donation towards

But you may ask yourself, what is the big deal in giving money
to charity and not feeling happy about it? After all, when the poor comes and
knocks on your door, he is not after love and affection, but rather, he’s after
your money! He doesn’t want you to “open your heart”; he wants you to open your
wallet!!! Or for example, if a guy wants to write a 1/2 Million dollar check for
a charity organization, why should it matter if he is not feeling happy inside?
Shouldn’t the organization take the money anyway? Money is money; isn’t it??!!!
Also, it is not so easy to be joyous when giving money to charity. After all,
you might think that the money you give to charity, is the amount that you would
be able to spend less on yourself and on your family! So, why does the Torah
insists so much that we should be happy when giving charity?

Well, there is a story written in the Talmud that best explains the reason for being joyous
when giving charity. The story goes as follows:   “During the time of our Holy
Temple in Jerusalem, a Jewish livestock owner was obligated to give 10% of his
new flock to the Temple. How was this done? Every year, around Rosh Hashana
time, he would pen all his new cattle, from a year old and younger, in an
enclosure. He would then open up the gate and let them out one at a time. As
each animal exited the enclosure he would count: one, two, three,…… seven,
eight and nine. When he counted the tenth he would mark the animal with a red
dye. That animal would then be set aside to be brought to Jerusalem. The
procedure was repeated until all the animals were counted.

A question is asked regarding this prescribed process. Why make the rancher endure this whole process of penning the animals and then driving them out the exit one at a time?
Why not just take ten percent off the top, add a few extra to ensure that no
less than required ten percent was given, and avoid this seemingly time
consuming and senseless procedure?

The answer is that a very profound message is being conveyed to the rancher by virtue of this process. As each animal goes out the door, it is as if the Almighty is telling the person, ‘One is for you, two is for you, three is for you…’ After giving the owner nine,
the Almighty then asks for only one. After getting to keep nine, the rancher is
content and realizes how all of his wealth comes from G-d and although he is
giving, he is getting much more from the Almighty.”

And this is precisely the reason why we should be happy when giving money to the poor! We have to realize that all that we have are given to us by the Almighty, and we should be
happy and delighted to be able to share a small amount of it with others!

Yes my friends, the reason that we give charity isnot because we
have pity for the poor. We give charity in order to acknowledge that whatever we
have are blessings from Hashem and we should be extremely happy to be given the
opportunity to help the poor. We should give money to charity with joy, since
any lack of joy may result in us thinking that we have accumulated all this
wealth on our own! If Hashem has showered us with so much blessings, then we
should be honored to share some of it with others. If Hashem can be so giving,
then, why can’t we??

Remember that life is all about sharing and caring
for others. Whether Hashem has blessed us with wealth, intelligence, physical
ability or even a writing talent, we are obligated to share it with others and
let the others benefit from it too. This is the way to thank Hashem for all that
He has blessed us with! Keeping this thought in our minds, then it won’t be so
difficult to feel happy when giving money to the poor!!

So, the next time someone needy knocks on your door and asks you for money, make sure you smile first. Before you give him anything, think of all the good things that Hashem
has blessed you with. Then open your hands and give him whatever your heart
desires. And don’t think for a moment that you are doing him any favors, but
rather, you’ve been chosen to take part in this wonderful mitzvah. Remember that
these kind of  opportunities don’t knock on your door everyday. You have been
given the privilege this time……… Don’t let it go to waste!!

Shabbat Shalom & Regards;