Author: Hollisa Alewine


Re’eh holds some of the severest judgments for idolatry. The “odds and ends” that follow are not a disconnected jumble of various instructions. Jewish scholars have been discussing their connections from long ago, but perhaps the easiest summary is found in the Book of Revelation. Israel’s destruction of idol-worship was to create a pattern for the other nations. By destroying the idols, Israel would inherit a land where freedom invited unity, not multiple gods.

The most widely-recognized judgment fulfilled in Revelation is the one pronounced upon an idolatrous city that must be burned to the ground: “Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great…” And it will continue to smoke in order to warn the world away from the deception of idolatry.

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The twelve tribes were to rule the 70 nations, not be ruled by them. Prayer has become increasingly important with the loss of the Temple. The interests of Israel may conflict with the ruling principalities and powers assigned to the nations:

Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was standing in my way for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the latter days, because the vision pertains to the days still future.” (Da 10:12-14)

Join us in Part 2 of VAETCHANAN- O, Jerusalem.

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One of the most heart-wrenching cries of the Torah, and perhaps of all Scripture, is Moses’ plea in Vaetchanan:

I also pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying, ‘Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours? Please let me cross over and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country, and Lebanon.’ But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me; instead, the LORD said to me, ‘Enough! Do not speak to Me any more about this matter.’ (Dt 3:23-25)

What an aching of heart to see the Land of Israel! What a cry of pain! Moses knew that there was more in the Land than giants, wicked kings, idolatry, robbery, and sexual immorality. Those were there to test the hearts of Israel. Did they see impossibilities or opportunities for new miracles?

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DR HOLLISA ALEWINE – DEVARIM (The 2 x 4 Generation)

Question: What’s different about Moses’ delivery of words in Devarim from his addresses in the other books of Torah?

Answer: He uses more textual hints rather than direct hits, such as “Tophel and Lavan” rather than explicitly point out their quarrelings, slanders, and complaints (tophel) about manna (lavan, white). He’s subtler with the second generation, which has the ability to read deeper meanings in his words. The previous generation was the “2 x 4 Generation.” In his lesson on Devarim, a rabbi said even if you hit them upside the head with a 2 x 4, they’d argue, rebel, shift blame, and complain.

Question: What’s different about the generation receiving the Devarim?

Answer: They received Moses’ teaching words of rebuke silently, without pointing out the obvious. These were the mistakes of the previous generation, the 2 x 4s.

Let’s learn from the rebukes of this week’s Torah Portion.

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