R’eih and Blessing for Elul, Machar Chodesh

You are a very stubborn nation. Why? Because (Ekev) you provoked God your Lord in the desert. So Moses tells the Israelites as he continues his lesson to the people in the wise words of Devarim. All is by no means lost, however. We can make the difference between disaster and success. Not alone, for we rely on the grace of God, who has already guided and supported us ever since His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The ultimate choice, though, is ours and it is a simple choice. Follow the laws, build and maintain a just society free of corruption, refrain from the glorification of things and from idolatry and we will be great. Disobey, allow self-interest and the thirst for wealth and power to overrule our moral sense, replace God with a deification of material objects, and we will be subjected to alienation and the rule of others.

As Moses speaks, he weaves the moral choices in with the history of the people so far. He also says the words which have become part of the litany of Jewish prayer: “If you are careful to pay heed to my commandments, which I am prescribing to you today, and if you love God your Lord with all your heart and soul… Be careful that you heart not be tempted to go astray and worship other gods, bowing down to them.”

And so we come to R’eih, the choice between a blessing and a curse. The parsha covers a lot of ground: idolatrous practices, the responsibilities as a chosen people, kosher food, treatment of slaves and the remission of debt. In other words, it treats of both ritual duty and of social laws and justice. There is a lot more, and to find this out and to share Shabbat morning with the community, come along at 10.30. This week Harvey Kurzfield and Murray Brown  will be leading us, so a real treat.