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Re'eh 5767

Re'eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING! Often I receive calls from parents seeking help with their children who are planning to intermarry. Before discussing their situation, I direct them to my website to download a free copy of my book How to Prevent an Intermarriage: A guide for parents to prevent broken hearts. (It is also available in Spanish at Then I recommend that they purchase two copies of Why Marry Jewish by Doron Kornbluth to give to their child and his/her intended - both books are available at your local Jewish bookstore, at or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242.

___Below is an adaptation of an excerpt from SHMOOZE - A Guide to Thought-Provoking Discussions on Essential Jewish Issues compiled by Nechemia Coopersmith and published by Aish HaTorah:

___More than 50% of the Jews in the United States who got married in the past decade married out of their faith. Seven hundred thousand Jewish kids are being raised in other religions.

___For some people, these statistics are a tragedy. For others, they merely portray a natural outcome of living in a multi-cultural society.

___One thing is for sure - there are a number of arguments given against intermarriage that are not valid. For example: "Six million Jews died for you to be here. How can you spit on their graves?" or, in a similar vein, "It would kill Grandpa if you married out!"

___These arguments are neither positive reasons to identify as a Jew nor intellectually satisfying. They certainly are not very motivating to break off a relationship. The appeal to guilt is at best a non-sequitar: The fact that my ancestors believed or practiced Judaism is not a reason I must do the same. Worse, however, than being ineffective, the guilt approach portrays Jewish commitment as a painful burden weighing against a person's desire and self-interest. This isn't a strong answer to the question "Why be Jewish?"

___Another common, but flawed, argument against intermarriage is the need for Jewish continuity. Intermarriage threatens the survival of the Jewish nation. It either weakens or is the end of one's Jewish affiliation plus it virtually severs all offspring's affiliation. (While there are exceptions, the National Jewish Population Study showed that only a very small fraction of the offspring of a mixed marriage end up marrying a Jew.) If you care about the Jewish people, so the argument goes, you must marry a Jew and perpetuate the nation.

___Where's the flaw in this reasoning? The Torah guarantees the survival of the Jewish people regardless of intermarriage. The Jewish people are promised that they will be an eternal nation. The Torah says, "I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations, an eternal covenant, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you" (Genesis 17:7). As a nation, God guarantees our survival unconditionally.

___Even if our survival is being threatened, that is not the concern of a person on the verge of marriage. He is thinking about his own future with the person he loves. He may ask, "Why is Jewish survival so important that I should sacrifice my personal happiness?"

___Intermarriage is first and foremost a personal issue. Why is it in one's best interest to marry someone of the same faith?

___Besides love, there are other factors a person should consider when deciding to marry: life goals, values, family, background, religion... Love does not conquer all; if it did, there wouldn't be such a high divorce rate!

___What is so valuable about Judaism that one should rule out 99% of the world's population as possible spouses? What is the mission of the Jewish people? What does this covenant mean, and is it something that you want to be a part of? Will one's choice for marriage express a commitment to the ideal of being a moral force in the world and to the Jewish vision of tikkun olam, perfecting the world? Or will one choose love over that mission?

___The choice cannot be made in ignorance. The commitment of our ancestors isn't enough reason to live as a Jew. However, our ancestors' commitment does reflect something so sustaining that many have endured the torments of anti-Semitism and felt being Jewish well-worth that price. There is no way to understand that commitment and its rewards without learning the meaning of the Jewish mission and studying Judaism. One must appraise the treasure before selling it forever - to learn what it means to be a Jew before marrying out.

For more on "Intermarriage" go to!

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Torah Portion of the Week

___This week is a jam-packed portion. It begins with a choice: "I set before you a blessing and a curse. The blessing: if you obey the commandments of God...; the curse if you do not ... and you follow other gods."

___The portion continues with rules and laws for the land of Israel primarily oriented towards staying away from idol worship and the other religions in the land. In verses 13:1-12 you will find the section that caused a missionary's face to blanch and silenced him from continuing to proselytize a renowned rabbi.

___One of the indications of the existence and necessity of the Oral Torah -an explanation and clarification (later redacted as the Talmud) of the written Torah (The Five Books of Moses) - comes from verse 12:21 "You will slaughter animals ... according to the manner I (God) have prescribed." Nowhere in the Torah are we instructed in the manner of shechita, ritual slaughter. One might conclude that there was a very sloppy editor. Or -one might conclude that there are additional teachings (the Oral Law/Talmud) clarifying and amplifying the written Word.

___The source of the Chosen People concept is brought this week: "You are a nation consecrated to God your Lord. God has chosen you from all nations on the face of the earth to be His own special nation ... (Deut. 14:1-2)." We are chosen for responsibility, not privilege - to act morally and to be a "light unto the nations."

___The portion then gives instructions regarding: permitted and forbidden foods, the Second Tithe, remissions of loans every 7 years, treatment of those in need (to be warm-hearted and open-handed), a Jewish bondsman, the three pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot).

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

___The Torah uses some mighty strong language this week that really needs some understanding:

"See I am placing before you this day a blessing and a curse. The blessing, if you will listen to the commandments of the Almighty which I am commanding you this day. And the curse, if you do not listen to the Almighty's commandments."

___On top of this, the Sforno, a renowned 15th century Italian commentator, adds "There is no middle way. If a person follows the Torah, his life will be a blessed life. If a person fails to live by the commandments, he will live a cursed life."

___This seems to be a rather extreme statement. However, if we understand that life is either purposeful and meaningful or not, then we can understand that a life of meaning is a blessed life. And a life without meaning is a life devoid of satisfaction and imbued with a sense that nothing makes a difference when life is over anyway (and what could be a greater curse than that?).

___Understanding that there is a God Who created the world, sustains it and supervises it - gives life intrinsic meaning. One can always create a sense of meaning in a diversion - acquiring wealth, following baseball or even in something as noble as helping others. However, unless there is a God and there are absolute responsibilities and values, then there is no inherent meaning to life. It gnaws at one's psyche.

___A person needs to have purpose in life, to know that life is meaningful. To be aware of the Creator and to fulfill His will enables a person to experience the greatest of blessings in this world. Each day will be an exciting adventure full of the joy of doing the Almighty's will. The choice is yours to make. Choose life!

(or go to

Jerusalem 6:53
Guatemala 6:09 - Hong Kong 6:41 - Honolulu 6:47
J'Burg 5:26 - London 8:17 - Los Angeles 7:28
Melbourne 5:21 - Mexico City 7:50 - Miami 7:44

New York 7:44 - Singapore 6:57 - Toronto 8:12


It is not pleasure that makes life worth living;
it is life that makes pleasure worth having.
-- George Bernard Shaw

With Deep Appreciation to
Hal Chadow

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