Parashah Ponderings

Opening Our Hearts and Our Hands: Deuteronomy and the Poor (article by Rabbi Shai Held)

Parashat Re’eh / פרשת ראה
Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17

Sandwiched between an extensive listing of blessings and curses, on hand, and a reminder about Israel’s sacred festivals, on the other, is an expression of the Torah’s and Judaism’s core value of caring for the poor, needy and vulnerable in our society. As I studied Parashat Re’eh this week, an article by Rabbi Shai Held, Co-Founder, Dean and Chair in Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar, touched me deeply. To gain insight on the centrality of caring for the less fortunate, please read and discuss Rabbi Held’s article — Opening Our Hearts and Our Hands: Deuteronomy and the Poor — with friends and family.

Here is an excerpt from the opening paragraph:

None of the Five Books of Moses is more passionately concerned with the plight of the vulnerable than Deuteronomy, and no chapter in Deuteronomy more powerfully expresses that concern than chapter 15, which focuses on remission of debts and manumission of slaves…. As always, Deuteronomy makes a claim on our hearts as well as our deeds. When confronted with the sufferings of the needy, Deuteronomy wants us to act decently and also, crucially, to care deeply.

May we heed the directives of this week’s reading and work to create a society in which all people feel God’s love.

Shabbat Shalom.

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