Metaphors in the Torah: “Re’eh” (Deuteronomy 11.26 – 16.17)



Illustration: Thank You Offering to the Lord

By: Providence Lithograph Company 1913
Public Domain 
This week’s Torah portion discusses two subjects which most people confuse, because we live in a sense based world which values material possessions. A blessing is generally considered to have some connection with wealth and a comfortable, as well as healthy, lifestyle. A curse is generally associated with the opposite of these things. Also “luck” is sometimes also connected to blessings and curses, so a person who is considered to be “lucky” is considered “blessed”.

My personal interpretation of these words is different, although I do admit it is difficult to get away from the idea of being blessed is the same as being rich.

In short: a person who is: “blessed” is a person who: “receives communications and guidance from God” and a person who is: “cursed” is a person who: “does not receive communications and guidance from God”.  

In previous articles we showed the connection between trees and knowledge in relation to the trees in the Garden of Eden. We also noted that in the Book of Deuteronomy it was forbidden to cut down fruit trees. Hence, Adam and Eve are punished by being sent out of the garden and separated from the sources of knowledge found there. Interestingly, later, when speaking about Noah, it is not said that Adam himself was cursed. What is written is that the ground was cursed.

In other words: Adam still had the ability to learn, but God would not allow the land to supply him with knowledge.

If this is correct, then it means that being “blessed” has something to do with: “the ability to pass on knowledge to others”. This makes a certain amount of sense since: "Mount Moriah" is also called: "God's Mountain" and the name "moriah" comes from the Hebrew word for "teacher", hence the Book of Genesis goes on to say: "The Lord will provide on his mountain" In the end of the story the Lord provided Abraham with a sheep, a metaphor usually associated with the word of God.

As a general rule: most people believe that Abraham made a covenant with God in which it was agreed that: If Abraham taught God’s ways to his descendants, then they would be able to live in the land of Canaan forever.

Nonetheless, in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses says that his words are like a heavy rainfall and his words are also “Israel’s inheritance”. In other words: The earth/land is a school and the knowledge contained in the words God gave to Moses are the inheritance promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The key point here is that it is God’s words which must be learned, not the Talmud.

Or, put another way, men must learn to gain access to God’s words in order to receive a blessing (i.e. knowledge of God).

Thus, as I mentioned in another article: when Abraham is commanded to teach God’s ways to his descendants, what this means is that Abraham is to teach his children the method to hear God’s words. So, when the angels come to speak with Abraham he was sitting at the entrance to his tent and later Jacob is described as a person who sat at the entrance to his tent.



The issue then becomes: Why is the land of Canaan so important? Can’t one hear God’s words anywhere? Well, obviously the answer is: “yes, one can hear God’s words in other countries” because Abraham heard God’s word when he was told to leave his family and go to a place God would show him. Furthermore, Moses heard God’s words in Egypt.

Nevertheless, another very important theme of the Torah is: “purity”. In fact, the New Testament is mis-translated when it quotes Jesus speaking about clean and un clean foods. The Torah does NOT speak about “un-clean” foods, it speaks about “impure” foods. And as we have mentioned in many articles, the knowledge is not contained in the tree, the knowledge is contained in the fruit of the tree.

Hence: in the Torah: “food” is a metaphor for: “knowledge” and each type of food represents a specific type of knowledge. So, as we have mentioned many times: "the Torah is the bread of life". Therefore the Torah is not talking about: “un clean food”, it is talking about “impure knowledge” which has been contaminated by other sources.

Following this same line of logic, Ezra does not condemn the relationships of Solomon with his foreign wives because he is saying the off spring are not genetically Jewish, what he is saying is that these foreign wives introduced  “impure” ideas to the “pure” teachings of God.

Thus, it is not so much that the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a holy land which produces a lot of milk and a lot of honey. It is more that this location, apparently, produces the best conditions to make oneself accessible to hear God’s teachings.

Accordingly,, The land of Israel functions as: “a speaker” (i.e. something which amplifies God's voice) and the closer one is to the source of the voice, the easier it is to hear the message clearly. Can one hear the message in other lands? Obviously: "yes", as we have already noted in regards to Abraham and Moses; but the best place to hear the voice of God  is in Israel.. When Adam and Eve were punished they were expelled from the source of knowledge known as: "The Garden of Eden". When the Jews were punished they were expelled from Israel. 

This then brings us to the point: Can a person live: “a full Jewish life” in America?  If you mean: “studying the Torah and the Talmud” equals: “a full Jewish life”, then the answer is: “yes”.

But, if “a full Jewish life” means: “listening to the words of God” as Abraham, Samuel, and Elijah heard them and following these words and living a lifestyle in accordance to these words, then the answer is: “No !!!” One cannot live a full Jewish life in America.

What must be remembered here is that Moses said his words were like rain water and his words are: "the Torah". Yet Moses was prevented from entering into the land promised to Abraham , Isaac and Jacob because he supplied the Israelites with water and did not honor God's word. Also, it must be recalled that after Moses provided the Israelites with water he called them: "the fallen ones". (i.e. The theories put forth by the rabbis that Moses was punished for striking the rock with his stick are in-correct. Moses provided the Israelites with "diluted" or "watered-down" explanations about God's words. Actually what Moses did was to "adulterate" God's teachings in violation of the 7th commandment).

In fact, common sense will tell you that living “happily” in America is a form of: masochism. The Jews were expelled from the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as a punishment. What American Jews are now saying is: “Well, maybe that’s true, but I like the punishment” (i.e. I like it when my boyfriend hits me).

Think about it: Who do you REALLY want to listen to?

 The words of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Or: The words of your rabbi?