‘MOSES,’ BY Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1513-1515, at San Pietro in Vincoli (Rome).
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Moses’s long speech, part of which we read in this week’s Torah portion of Re’eh, is aimed at instructing the nation about to enter the Land of Israel on how they should behave in all facets of life: personal and public, legal and social, moral and ritualistic. The Jewish nation is unique in its customs and laws, all focused on creating a value-based society that will serve as a model for all of humanity. One of the subjects about which Moses directs the nation listening to his words is the issue of ritual sites. Moses knows the custom of those residing in the land and he expresses concern that the nation entering the land will adopt these customs – as indeed occurred in later periods of time – and therefore, after describing the idolatrous rituals that took place at that time: “upon the lofty mountains and upon the hills, and under every lush tree,” he warns the nation:
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