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Re'eh 5768

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

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! When most people hear the word "Kiddush" they think of the food reception following Saturday morning services. The word "kiddush" means "to sanctify" and on Shabbat morning (as well as Friday night before the meal) one sanctifies the Sabbath with words remembering that God created the world and took us out of Egypt - and then says the blessing over a cup of wine.

Kiddush HaShem, then, means "Sanctifying the Name" referring to sanctifying God's name. It is incumbent upon us to sanctify God's name. The source in the Torah is the verse: "I will be hallowed among the children of Israel" (Leviticus 22:32 ). What does this mean and how do we do it?

There are two aspects of Kiddush HaShem. The first specifies when one is required to give up his life. The mitzvot (commandments) were given "to live by them" (Lev. 18:5) - and not to die from them. Therefore, if a life is in danger, one may violate all of the commandments to save it - EXCEPT three: (1) not to murder, (2) not to engage in illicit sexual relationships, and (3) not to worship idols. For those, a Jew is required to forfeit his life (Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 74a).

The second aspect of Kiddush HaShem is in everyday living. One should live his/her life so that people will bless the parents who gave birth to you, the Torah that you live by and the Almighty. Rambam, Moshe Maimonides, specifies in the Mishneh Torah, Foundations of the Torah, Chapter 5, that if one speaks pleasantly with others, shows honor and concern for others, and is honest in business, he creates a Kiddush HaShem. Then "he will be praised and beloved and others will desire to emulate him. This person has sanctified the Almighty." This is how a Jew is to live in his everyday behavior!

The following story illustrates the greatness of our people and how our Torah teaches us to raise our children with values:

Many children travel to school or yeshiva in Jerusalem by bus. Many of them carry a cartisia (a pre-paid bus ticket good for numerous rides), which is hole-punched by the bus driver each ride. One time, Chaim Sholom Kupfer of Los Angeles witnessed a touching Kiddush HaShem on the Number Three bus.

There was an unusually long line of people waiting to board the bus, so the driver opened both the front and the back doors and called out, "tell everyone to get on and let those in the back pass up their money or cartisiot." As the people continued to board the bus, an eight year old boy made his way to the driver and extended his cartisia to be punched. "I already punched your card," said the driver. "No, you didn't," said the boy softly.

It was hot. The driver had lost his patience a few stops earlier and was in no mood for an argument. "Get inside," he ordered. "You are blocking the people behind you." The little boy looked up at the stern-faced bus driver and said softly, "I can't. That's stealing."

"I told you, I punched your card," repeated the driver. "Get inside." The little boy walked toward the middle of the bus, downcast. The driver looked into the rearview mirror and noticed that the boy was leaning against a pole and crying. He stopped the bus and called the boy up front. "What's the matter, young man? Why are you crying?"

The little boy came forward and said softly, "I can't. I'll be stealing."

The driver took out his puncher, took the cartisia from the child, punched it, and gave it back. He then patted the boy on the head and said in amazement and respect, "That's beautiful!"

(From Along the Maggid's Journey with permission of Rabbi Pesach Krohn on behalf of Mesorah Publications available from your local Jewish book store, or by calling toll-free: 877-758-3242)

For more on "Kiddush HaShem" 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 states:

"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" (Deut. 11:26-28).

The first word of the verse, "See" is written in Hebrew in the singular, though Moshe is addressing the whole Jewish people. What may we learn from this?

The Ibn Ezra responds to this question and comments, "He (Moshe) is talking to each person individually." Moshe began his address in the singular to tell every one that he should listen to what he has to say as if he were speaking to him alone.

When listening to a speaker (or even a rabbi!), it is easy to think, "He is speaking to everyone else here. I don't have to take what he says seriously since he is not really directing his words to me." This is an error. The way to grow is to view the words of the speaker as if they were directed only to you. Then you will take the words to heart.

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Jerusalem 6:31
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New York 7:15 - Singapore 6:52 - Toronto 7:40


A man should never be ashamed to own
he has been in the wrong,
which is by saying, in other words,
that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
-- Alexander Pope

In Loving Memory of
Marilyn Levine

Heartfelt condolences to
Barbara Growald

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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