Parashah Re’eh 2020 (See) Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17

This parashah continues Moses’ discourse, now going into the second of Three Discourses, this one concentrating on the laws that he has given.

He tells the people when they enter the land to write a blessing on Mount Gerizim and a curse on Mount Ebal. He orders that all the pagan people and their altars be completely destroyed and that the Israelites are not to follow any of their practices.

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When the Israelites sacrifice to God, it must be done at the place where God puts his name (initially this is the Tent of Meeting at Shiloh, later King David moves it to Jerusalem; after Solomon finished the temple, that was and still is the only place where God has set his name.)

Moses warns about false prophets and those who entice others to worship the pagan, Semitic gods of the people who live there. He states that anyone, even a close family member, who tries to apostatize the people must be put to death.

He again warns the people not to do whatever they think is right, but to follow God’s instructions. This parashah ends with Moses reiterating the laws regarding Kashrut (Kosher), rules regarding the Jubilee Year, and the Moedim (Holy Days).


When I read the passage in Chapter 12, verse 8 I was struck by how it is exactly what I read, more than once, in the Book of Judges (Shoftim). Here is that passage, straight out of my Chumash:

 Ye shall not do after all that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes;...

When we read Judges 17:6 and 21:25, we are told this is exactly what the people did. There was no king in Israel, and every man did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. And throughout the Book of Judges, the people bob up and down like a log on a wavy ocean, going from proper worship to paganism, from subjugation to rulership, back and forth, over and over, depending on what phase of their worship they were in at that time.

When they did what God said to do they were blessed and protected; but then they got haughty and prideful, did what they wanted to do, and were cursed and conquered. After being enslaved by one of their enemies for a while, they did T’shuvah (turning from sin), pleaded for God to rescue them and he sent a Judge to do that.

Then they repeated the same pattern.

This is still happening today. Those who profess to be doing what they know to be right, which goes against God’s word, seem to be victorious for a while, but end up in trouble. There is always someone, some country, some leader, doing wrong and stating that it is what they must do because it is the right thing to do.

I learned a long time ago that people don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do. When someone is doing what they “know” to be right, if they haven’t first confirmed that action as being in accordance with God’s instructions, then no matter what they say their motivation is, it is simply them doing what seems right in their own eyes.

And the Bible teaches us, undoubtedly, that when we do what is right in our own eyes, we are wrong. And we are told that, precisely, in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 (it is such an important lesson, I guess they had to tell us twice):

There can be a way which seems right to a person, but at its end are the ways of death.

Too many people say they are doing what is right, but it is really only what they want to do. They make lame excuses or create their own facts to justify their actions, but in the end, it always comes to trouble.

In this parashah, we are told to beware of false prophets and that we will know them as such when what they say doesn’t come about, or by the intent of their prophecy, i.e. if they are telling us that we should worship other gods. Maybe we should look to the people telling us what to do as being prophets, leading us today. When we are told what to do to contain the virus, yet 5 months later a two-week gestational period virus is still running rampant, is what we are being told really the right thing? When people say they are protesting against racial inequality, but do so by burning, looting, rioting and murdering people, mostly those who are the ones they are supposedly protecting the rights of, can we say that is right in God’s eyes? Or is it that they are just doing what they want to do?

People must use discernment and judge correctly- NOT based on what they feel is right, but based solely on what God says is right, and what he says is right is right here in the Torah!

Decide for yourself if you will follow what people say is right, or what God says is right because you will be held accountable for what you do, no matter who told you to do it.

Thank you for being here; please subscribe, share these messages, and I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!





Be Careful What You Ask For

Just shoot me!! It seems like everyone brought back problems from their long weekend and they all are taking a long time to resolve.

To remind you, I am a Help Desk Tech and I thought yesterday was going OK, not too bad during the morning, then all of a sudden, late in the afternoon, I resolved one ticket and looked at my board and there were 7 new tickets. No way was I going to be able to get to them all today.

I remember years ago, when I was working in home remodeling as a Project Coordinator (the person who ordered the materials, assigned the crew to the job and scheduled it with the customer) that I was trying to learn how to rely on the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) for strength and endurance (emotional), and after asking God to teach me how to do that, my job responsibilities doubled, literally, overnight.

At first I reacted as a human, seeing only the “flesh” in that situation, and thought, “Somebody shoot me! NOW!” It wasn’t until a few days after this happened that I (finally) realized that this was the answer to my prayer. I asked God to teach me to rely on His spirit, and for that to happen I need to be in a place where my own strength will not be enough. I will need to be “up the creek without a paddle” because to fall into the hands of the Holy One of Israel, you need to be falling with nothing else to hold onto.

That’s how we humans are-always wanting to save ourselves, never wanting to admit that we can’t. It is a kind of conundrum, since self-preservation is a natural reaction whereas to call on God is something we have to think to do. For us, myself included, calling on God should be the first thing we do, but it seems to come in second or third when the chips are down. We seem, I seem, to always default to trying to figure it out on my own.

So, I asked God for help and He threw me into the fire. Thank you, Lord, for answering my prayer, even though it was a bit of a shocker. As many of us have learned, God always answers prayers, but rarely exactly the way we expect Him to and most often not when we want Him to.

I want to reconcile with my children and have done everything I know how to do, without doing what I know won’t work anyway, and I am in a place where I have only God to help me. I ask that He send them angels to guide them to Him, or to give them a spirit of curiosity to know what Dad’s side in this travesty is, or just to get us sending each other an occasional email. I just want them back in my life, and I want to be part, any part (other than the past) of their lives. I trust God to answer this prayer, but I don’t trust my kids to do their part.

You see, I believe that God will send angels, and that God will give them a spirit of curiosity, but each and every one of us has the free will God gave us to choose what we will do, and even though whatever God wants done will get done, God will not force someone to accept Him. And God will not force anyone to love anyone else.

God will lead us to water but He won’t make us drink- we have to choose to drink. And when we ask God for something in our lives, assuming that we ask for something that is righteous and in His will for us, He will be trustworthy and faithful to answer that prayer. So you better be ready, and looking for that answer.

I am careful, now, what I ask of God because I know the power of prayer and that God will do what is best for me, in the long run. That means it may not seem like the best for me when it happens. I ask for Him to show me, without doubt, like with Gideon and the fleece, what He wants of me. But it scares the heck out of me that when I hear that answer I won’t be strong enough to obey. So I also pray that when He does answer me, He will also make it so that I have the strength and faithfulness to do what He asks.

I know myself- if God wants me to do something that I will have to do without my wife, I don’t think I can. If He requires me to do something that means we have to move away from this house, I don’t think I can. I am not strong enough, faithful enough, and it scares me to death that I will finally hear, absolutely, what God wants of me and I will “pull a Jonah.”

That’s why I am careful what I ask for. I confess, and I hope you don’t think less of me, but I am still struggling to find the strength that Moshe found, that David lived, that Hosea showed and that the Talmudim of Yeshua had, which enabled them to suffer with dignity.

Yet, with all the fear and trembling I have when asking God to strengthen me, I still ask. That’s because, in the long run, it’s all about what He wants and it’s all about what He desires. It’s not about me, or Donna, or my family, or my job….He can replace all of that (as he did with Job.)  No, Steve- it’s not about what you want: it’s all about what He wants.

And to make it worse, even though I would like Him to wait until I feel ready, I know He knows better than me when I am ready and He will not give me anything I cannot handle.

That’s the scary part: I know no matter how impossible it seems, I have no excuse because when God is with me, who can be against me?

Here Come Da Judge!!!

I have to start my day with the newspaper. Not the news, mind you- that is always the same, always bad, and useless to me. I like the Crossword, the Word Jumble and Cryptograms.  This morning the Scram-Lets (you unscramble words, pull out the specified letters and then unscramble them to complete a corny statement) had the statement,”Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.”

It reminded me of a silly joke:

A man got a flat tire and was in front of an asylum for the insane, changing the tire. One of the inmates was standing at the fence watching as the man took off the bad tire and put the lug nuts in the hubcap. After putting on the spare tire, he reached for the hubcap and accidentally knocked it, sending all the lug nuts down a drain. He sat, dejected, not knowing what to do. That’s when the inmate said, “Hey, Pal- why not take one lug nut off each of the other three tires and use them for the spare, since you can safely drive with three lug nuts. As soon as you come to an auto store you can buy 4 lug nuts to replace the missing ones.”

The man was amazed, and said, “That’s a great idea! What are you doing in there?”  The inmate answered,”Hey, I may be crazy but I’m not stupid!”

So, nu? What do these two things have in common, and why the reference to Sammy Davis, Jr.’s well-known schtick from Laugh-In?

It’s all about judging people. The Manual tells us not to judge, lest we ourselves will be judged, but it also tells us that we will judge the nations. Seems sort of contradictory, doesn’t it? Don’t judge others but judge the nations?

In fact, it is not contradictory, but edifying. Saying we are not to judge others lest we be judged is telling us that the way we judge people is how we, ourselves, will be judged by God. That means think about what you are thinking about! By careful to observe, make sure you have facts and witnesses that are trustworthy, and alway, always, always use mercy when coming to a decision. Just the same way that God judges us.

The Scram-Lets statement shows mercy and restraint, allowing love and compassion to intercede where prideful judgement may be starting to rear it’s ugly head. And the story about the man with the flat tire shows that we can’t tell about a person simply by their environment, or what their situation may be at that time. People in jail for committing a crime may have done T’Shuvah and are now ready to be useful and good citizens. People who have had drug problems, or friends who have hurt us, may have cleaned themselves up, asked for forgiveness and turned from hurtful ways.

I am not saying forgive everyone and trust them again, Forgiveness is something we are commanded to do, but trust needs to be earned. If someone stole from me, and asked forgiveness, I may allow them back into my life, but I won’t leave them alone in my house. There is a difference between being a compassionate and forgiving person, and being an idiot. As Scotty said in Star Trek all those years ago, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!”

To judge the nations we need to start small, so let’s start with ourselves. Judge how you judge. Look at yourself, try as best you can to be honest and impartial, and determine if you judge based on what you see and hear, or how you react to the situation. Make sure you remove that log from your eye, first. If someone does something that you find personally disgusting, are they already guilty? Maybe they are; however, that determination should not be from your personal feelings but from the facts. I have been at the wrong end of what I called a “Kangaroo Court”, where I was actually told I might be written up at work for sexual harassment. I asked about the facts, and was told that the HR Department had done a thorough investigation. I asked how could they say that, since no one asked me about it? I thought a thorough investigation meant asking all parties involved, especially the one accused. Seems that all they needed was someone to complain and a complete statement, and that’s all it took for the accused to be found guilty.

(For the record, the witness never even made a formal complaint or wrote a statement. In fact, what happened was someone in the cafeteria, who didn’t even work for the company, was listening to another conversation and thought they heard my name mentioned by the other people who were talking. They thought they heard them relate a joke I had supposedly told and the eavesdropper/complainer thought that someone could have thought that joke might be unacceptable. That was my terrible crime. And the entire process didn’t even meet the company’s standards and practices outlined in their own Personnel Manual. It all boiled down to nothing, other than the HR Director having so little useful work that she had to fly off the handle and over-react, hoping she had a nice, juicy sexual harassment case to process.)

The Bible tells us that we need at least two witnesses. This is in relation to capital crimes, but I think it is a good rule for any time one person is claiming a wrong against another person. Of course, there aren’t always going to be witnesses, which is why it is so important for us to learn how to judge rightly, or maybe I should say, righteously.

Practice judging now. Don’t worry about opportunities- they are everywhere. When you see a homeless person, what’s your first thought? Well, stifle it. Think about why that person may be homeless. When you see someone sick or ailing, do you think how horrible it must be to have to go through that, or are you only hoping they don’t come anywhere near you? When you hear about someone in the news or on TV doing something wrong, do you judge against the entire class of people they belong to (i.e., all athletes, all actors, all politicians, etc?)

We have plenty of opportunities to learn how to judge, to learn to restrain our initial emotional reactions and allow our thoughts and reason to take charge. We do need to go with our “gut” on occasions, but overall it is our compassion, our forgiveness, and the rules and examples set for us by God and Yeshua that we should turn to when judging others.

When Messiah returns to take charge of the world, He will set up His court and assign those who will judge the nations. Do you want to be one of those? Then practice now so that you will be ready and worthy of that title.

Here come da judges!! Here come da judges!!