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RE'EH 5783

08/11/2023 10:24:16 AM

Aug11

Our parasha begins "Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse.”

“Go to the ant, you lazy person; see its ways, and become wise” (Proverbs 6:6.) In the original Hebrew: “lekh ‘el nemalah `atsel, re’eh derakheha va-hakham.”

I am grateful to my high school Hebrew Lit teacher, Dr. David Weinstein a”h [you might be familiar with the name: he was co-editor of the pocket Ben Yehudah dictionary.] He would begin every class by writing a classical Hebrew “pitgam” on the blackboard [remember them?]. The above verse was one of them. We were expected to memorize them.

I never really understood that verse, until many years ago, waiting with my son for the 4a Eged bus in Jerusalem, we saw a phalanx of oversized ants, marching in line, each ant carrying an oversized (for an ant!) load for construction.

I was reminded of that last week, when going to shul on Shabbat morning with my son-in-law, we saw a gigantic ant hill.

Why do I mention this? Because the great Sephardi commentator, Rabbeinu Bahya, introduces his commentary on this week’s parasha with a similar idea from Proverbs (the lazy farmer who doesn’t plow in the plowing season will find that there is nothing for him to harvest in the harvesting season. (Mishle 20:4)

Rabbeinu Bahya elaborates: there are 4 areas in which a person must avoid laziness: (1)in the house (he brings an example: if one has to fix the roof, if he keeps putting it off, eventually it will cost a fortune;) (2) the body (e.g. a person who lives beyond means will eventually have nothing; (3) the soul: i.e. perfecting good qualities, “middot tovot.” and (4) Torah and mitsvot.

And that is why this week’s parasha begins “behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse.” It’s your choice:  the blessing, if you listen to the mitsvot of Hashem; and the curse if you don’t.

It’s interesting that the grammarian ibn Ezra suggests that the Hebrew word for “curse”, “qelala,” comes from the word “qal,” = “easy.” The easy path could lead to a curse, a disaster,

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Yish’ar koach to Shulamit and Simcha Foxman, who sponsored kiddush last week in memory of their parents.

Dr. Galia Dafni is currently in Florida, tending to her father, Gad Yosef ben Shoshana, who had suffered a fall. We wish refu’ah sheleimah. And yish’ar koach for Galia’s donation in memory of Grandmother Shoshana.

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Beruchim haBa'im ve-hatslacha rabba to Rabbi Ellis and family

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Shabbat shalom. We pray that the Israeli government should follow the path leading to beracha.

Rabbi Menahem White, Chevra Shaas

Tue, May 21 2024 13 Iyyar 5784