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Por más de 35 años, Machon Meir ha dado a conocer a través de Israel como el lugar para obtener una comprensión más profunda lo que realmente significa ser un miembro del pueblo judío. También se ha convertido en el punto de aterrizaje para muchos nuevos inmigrantes de todas partes del mundo, porque de aliento de la vida en la Tierra de Israel del instituto. Majón Meir también ha creado una estrategia para distribuir la Torá en todo el mundo a través de su canal de medios, Arutz Meir. Desde sus inicios, Arutz Meir ha estrenado una serie de series de televisión y archivado más de 25.000 clases que constantemente se están actualizando y ver todos los días en todo el mundo en 5 idiomas diferentes. Con una variedad de temas y discusiones dirigidas por renombrados eruditos judíos, nuestros televidentes seguramente encontrará una clase que va a crear chispas de inspiración.
El libre albedrío en la tora – Parashat Rehe 5774
Machon Meir עברית Rabbi Dov Bigon
Rav Elisha Wishlitzky
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PARSHAH PICKS: The Danger of Ambition Without Values
PARSHAH IN A NUTSHELL: Re’eh
Menachem Av 24, 5774 · August 20, 2014
“See,” says Moses to the people of Israel, “I place before you today a blessing and a curse” — the blessing that will come when they fulfill G-d’s commandments, and the curse if they abandon them. These should be proclaimed onMount Gerizim and Mount Eibal when the peoplecross over into the Holy Land.
A Temple should be established in “the place that G-d will choose to make dwell His name there” where the people should bring theirsacrifices to Him; it is forbidden to make offerings to G-d in any other place. It is permitted to slaughter animals elsewhere not as a sacrifice but to eat their meat; the blood, however (which in the Temple is poured upon the Altar) may not be eaten.
A false prophet, or one who entices others to worship idols, should be put to death; an idolatrous city must be destroyed. The identifying signs for kosher animals and fishes, and the list of non-kosher birds (first given in Leviticus 11) are repeated.
A tenth of all produce is to be eaten in Jerusalem, or else exchanged for money with which food is purchased and eaten there. On certain years this tithe is given to the poor instead. Firstborn cattle and sheep are to be offered in the Temple and their meat eaten by the Kohen (priest).
The mitzvah of charity obligates a Jew to aid a needy fellow with a gift or loan. On theSabbatical year (occurring every seventh year) all loans are to be forgiven. All indentured servants are to be set free after six years of service.
WEEKLY ALIYOT: Parshat Re’eh
Menachem Av 24, 5774 · August 20, 2014
Re’eh Aliya Summary
General Overview: In this week’s reading, Re’eh, Moses continues addressing the Israelites just before he passes away; just before the Israelites cross the Jordan River and enter the land of Israel. Moses commands the Israelites to proclaim certain blessings and curses on Mount Grizzim and Mount Ebal after they enter the land of Israel. He directs them to destroy all vestiges of idolatry from the Promised Land. They must then designate a city where the Divine presence will dwell in the Holy Temple, and they are forbidden from offering sacrifices elsewhere. Other topics discussed in this portion are: tithes, false prophets, the wayward city, tattoos, kashrut, the Sabbatical Year, charity, and the festivals.
First Aliyah: Moses informs the Israelites that they can be the recipients of either blessings or curses — blessings if they obey G‑d’s commandments, and curses if they do not. He further instructs them to proclaim blessings on Mount Grizzim and curses on Mount Ebal — the exact procedure of this ceremony will be described in the Ki TavoTorah reading (Deuteronomy 27:11-16). Moses then commands the Israelites to destroy all idols and their accessories that they will find when they enter Israel. He informs the nation that in the future G‑d will designate a specific location (Jerusalem) where He will choose to rest His Presence. All sacrifices must be offered in this location.
Second Aliyah: Although it is forbidden to offer sacrifices in any location other than the one designated by G‑d, it is permitted to slaughter cattle for consumption purposes, but blood may never be eaten. The consumption of various tithes and sundry sacred foods is also restricted to the designated holy city.
Third Aliyah: Moses admonishes the Israelites not to be lured by the heathen abominable practices of the Canaanites, and to remain true to the Torah; neither adding to nor subtracting from its laws. A person professing to be a prophet who claims to bring instructions from G‑d to worship idols must be put to death. This is true even if the individual performs supernatural acts or accurately predicts the future. This section also prescribes the death penalty for one who attempts to entice others to idolatry, and the catastrophic price paid by a city which has completely succumbed to idolatry.
Fourth Aliyah: As G‑d’s children, we are forbidden to deface our bodies with tattoos or via other forms of mutilation. This section then provides a list of kosher animals and un-kosher fowl. We are also given signs to distinguish between kosher animals and fish and their non-kosher counterparts. The section concludes with the prohibitions against eating meat from an animal which was not properly slaughtered, and against cooking meat with milk.
Fifth Aliyah: After giving a tenth of one’s crops to the Levite, a tenth of the remainder — the “Second Tithe” — is to be taken and eaten within the confines of Jerusalem. Provision is made here for people who live far away from Jerusalem for whom it would be unfeasible to transport so much produce. Instead they may exchange the produce for money which is then taken to Jerusalem and spent on food. There is a three-year tithing cycle. After the conclusion of each cycle, we are commanded to purge our homes of any overdue tithes, give them to their intended recipients, and recite a brief prayer.
Sixth Aliyah: Moses commands the Israelites to designate every seventh year as aShmitah (Sabbatical) Year. During this year, creditors must forgive outstanding loans. The section then discusses the obligation to give charity to the poor with a happy heart, and to lend them money if necessary, even if the Shmitah Year is looming. A Jewish slave must be freed after six years of service and must be given generous severance gifts as he departs.
Seventh Aliyah: The male firstborn of kosher cattle must be consecrated and given to the Kohen to eat. If the animal is blemishless it is first offered as a sacrifice in the Temple. The Torah reading concludes with a discussion regarding the three festivals: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. In addition to some laws regarding each of these festivals individually, we are commanded to rejoice during the festivals and all males must be in attendance in the Holy Temple during these holidays.
TORAH STUDIES: Parshat Re’eh
Menachem Av 24, 5774 · August 20, 2014
The following Sicha illustrates in a striking way an important truth about the nature of Chassidic thought. Chassidut is not simply one amongst many of the branches of Jewish thinking. It is not separate from or merely supplementary to the “revealed” facet of Torah—halachic or legal reasoning. Instead, it lies at the heart of the other branches of Torah, shedding light on them all. In this way, pursuing an apparently minor halachic problem, we may travel deeper and deeper until we arrive, unexpectedly, and yet inevitably, at a fundamental Chassidic truth. In this case the problem concerns the law of a city led into idolatry—one of the subjects of the Sidra of Re’eh. One difficulty that confronts us immediately is the way in which even innocent people seem to be involved in the collective guilt and punishment of the city. The other is that Rambam rules that if the city repents of its sin, this collective guilt is averted. And yet there is a principle in Judaism that repentance cannot save a man from human judgment, only from Divine retribution. Rambam’s ruling is the only exception to this principle. What grounds did he have for making it? In working towards an answer we find ourselves led ultimately to an inward truth about the Jewish soul, its unity and its spiritual power.
1. The Idolatrous City
The Sidra of Re’eh contains the laws which were to apply in the Holy Land to a city tainted with idolatry:
“If you shall hear in one of your cities, which the L-rd your G-d has given you to abide there, saying: Certain men, worthless persons, are gone out from among you and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods which you have not known.’ Then you shall inquire and make search and ask diligently, and behold, if it be truth and the thing certain…. You shall surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword. And you shall gather all its spoil into the midst of its broad place and shall burn the city and all its spoil with fire unto the L-rd your G-d, and it shall be a heap forever; it shall not be built again.’’1
This Sidra is always read on the Shabbat when we bless the coming month of Elul, or on the New Moon itself.
Elul, the month of Divine mercy and forgiveness, is dominated by the idea of teshuvah,2 “returning” to G-d and away from sin. Thus we find in Re’eh an unprecedented statement of the power and scope of teshuvah.
As a general rule, the act of repenting and “returning” to G-d affects only Divine justice, not the rulings of a human court. The principle is stated in the Talmud:3 “Those who were liable to karet (death by the hand of heaven)… if they repent, the Heavenly Tribunal pardons them. But those who have become liable to death by the sentence of a (human) court… even if they should repent, the Earthly Tribunal can not pardon them.” The same applies to lesser punishments: Repentance does not affect the sentence of a human court. The reason is that teshuvah isa change of heart4and so it lies outside the consideration of human judges who can deal only with visible, objective fact.5
Nonetheless, in the ruling of Rambam,6 the punishments to which a city led into idolatry is liable—the smiting of its inhabitants, the burning of its spoil—are averted if the people repent of their collective sin. This is a unique instance of repentance affecting the ruling of a human court.
Rambam’s ruling has been explained by one of his commentators, the Kesef Mishneh, in this way: To become liable for the death sentence an individual must be warned that the act he is about to commit is a capital offense. But in the case of an idolatrous city, the warning about its conduct is collective, addressed to the people as a whole. Therefore the normal requirement of individual caution is not present, and therefore, repentance averts the punishment.
However this explanation seems to miss the central point. What prevents repentance from affecting a human court’s verdicts has nothing to do with warning, but with the fact that men cannot see into men’s hearts to know whether an expression of repentance is sincere or not. Why should this principle not apply in the present case, the idolatrous city? Why should repentance be effective in just this instance? Besides, Rambam’s point is that in this case the people concerned were liable to punishment, and only afterwards won their pardon by repentance.
2. Collective and Individual Responsibility
The Rogotchover Rav7 explains Rambam’s statement in a different way. According to him, Rambam does not maintain that repentance brings universal pardon; but that it changes collective guilt into individual guilt. The law of an idolatrous city involves collective liability. Even the innocent members of idol-serving families, even the property of the righteous men who live in the town, come under its penalties.8 But if the inhabitants repent of their deeds, they become judged as individuals. No one who is personally innocent suffers. But the idol-worshippers are punished, and repentance does not alter their sentence.
But, again, this leaves the central difficulty unsolved. Repentance is something that happens after the act. It follows therefore that between the act and the repentance there is a period when the collective liability of the inhabitants is in force. How can a redirection of the heart, something that no human judge can assess, have the retroactive effect of mitigating a liability or softening a verdict?
3. The Destruction of Sodom
What is the Scriptural basis for Rambam’s ruling? The Rogotchover Rav suggests that it lies in the destruction of Sodom, the city which had been led into idolatry. Before sending His punishment G-d says, “I will go down now and see if they have done according to the cry of it.”9 This cannot mean straightforwardly that an omniscient G-d needed to establish what He had heard by hearsay. Instead it has been taken to mean that G-d would see whether they had repented, and, in the reading of the Targum,10 “If they have repented I will not punish them.”
This is certainly an instance of an idolatrous city given the chance to gain pardon by repentance. But one fact which prevents it from being the precedent on which Rambam bases his views is that it happened before Sinai, before the Giving of the Torah. And there is a general principle that “we do not derive laws on the basis of events before the Giving of the Torah.”11 Also, Sodom was punished by the Heavenly Tribunal.
4. A Group and a Community
There is one further difficulty in understanding the position of an idolatrous city.
There is more than one kind of death sentence in Jewish law, and there is a rule that if a man is liable to death in two different ways for two separate crimes, he is condemned to the more severe or painful of the two.12
But in the case of the idolatrous city, they are liable to the collective sentence of a relatively painless death; whereas each as an individual idolater would be liable to a more severe punishment (stoning). Yet the more lenient one prevails.13
The problem can be put more forcefully. Until the majority of the town worships idols, the collective sin does not apply. Each idolater is guilty only of his personal wrongdoing, and hence liable to a severe death sentence. But when that last person who turns a minority into a majority commits the sin, he brings the whole town into the category of an idolatrous city, and hence to a more lenient punishment. How can this one extra act of the sinner have the effect of softening the liability which already applied to the others?
We are forced to conclude that this point—where the majority of the town becomes idol-worshippers—creates a whole new entity, a collectivity, a community of sin. It ceases to be, legally, a group comprised of individuals, and becomes instead one unity. So it is not that their individual liability is lessened at this point, but that it ceases to apply, and a new situation is created, where all are judged as one.
This is why the punishment for an idolatrous city is so extensive, applying even to innocent members of idol-worshipping families (unless they fled to another city), and to the property of the righteous minority. For although individually they may be blameless, they are nonetheless a part of the whole, the community which is judged as if it were a single entity.
And this is why Rambam is able to take as his precedent the case of Sodom, even though it occurred before Sinai. For what he wishes to derive is not a legal point but a conceptual one, namely, the difference between a group of individuals and a community. Even though this distinction has legal consequences, it is not in itself a point of law, and it may therefore be learned from events which preceded Sinai.14
Finally, we can see how repentance—on the interpretation of the Rogotchover Rav—has the power to annul collective responsibility and leave only individual guilt to be punished. For teshuvah has indeed no power to affect the sentence of a human court. But we are not concerned here with a matter of law but of fact, namely, do the idolaters form a unity or are they to be treated as separate individuals? And this—which is not a question of how the law is to be applied but of which law is to be applied—can be affected by repentance. Repentance does not alter the punishment so much as change the facts of the case.
5. The Unity of the Jewish Soul
Yet we have not yet solved our problem, only shifted its emphasis. Human judges can deal only with what they know, not with the feelings of other men’s hearts. If repentance alters the facts of the case how can judges establish what are the facts, how can they distinguish real from insincere teshuvah?
We need to go deeper and understand the inner meaning of the principle that a human court can not pardon on the grounds that a guilty person has repented.
The inner reason is, that what is handed over to human jurisdiction are actions whose wrongness is independent of the heart. Therefore, subsequent remorse cannot set them right. But the wrong done by an idolatrous city is different. It is essentially related to the inner feelings of the idolaters; and so, it is something that a change of heart can effect.
The explanation is this:
The Jewish people are capable of a special kind of unity, an essential oneness, because their souls have their source in G-d who is the ultimate Unity. And even though this is a spiritual unity, it creates in addition a physical unity: “Who is like Your people Israel, one nation on the earth? It is this unity which finds its expression in the law of an idolatrous city where the oneness of the community creates a collective liability so strong as to implicate even the property of the city. But this seems strange. Idolatry is the very opposite of G-d’s will and unity. It wraps the soul in darkness and division. How, then, can it manifest such a oneness?
But there is no paradox. It is precisely because the Jewish soul is a part of G-d that its freewill has no limits; that a Jew can move so far from his true nature as to serve idols and deny his faith.15 Even in this gravest of transgressions the special character of his soul and its power of oneness is manifest.
In all other wrongs that a Jew may commit and be judged by a court of fellow-Jews, there are two distinct harms that he must remedy: The wrong he has inflicted on his soul, and the damage he has caused to the world. Repentance sets right the first; punishment, the second. The two are separate and the one cannot alter the need for the other.
But the whole nature of the idolatrous town is its collective involvement which implicates even innocent inhabitants, even inanimate property. This unity is a spiritual unity; the wrong is a spiritual wrong; and the remedy is a spiritual one—repentance. Punishment is a remedy for harm done to the world. But the “world” of the idolatrous town—neighbors, cattle, property—is entirely assimilated to the oneness of the souls of its inhabitants. It has become totally subordinate to the spirituality, even in transgression. And this is why here and only here, in a township that has ceased to be a group of individuals and become a community, that repentance even heals with regard to the jurisdiction of man.
(Source: Likkutei Sichot, Vol. IX pp. 106-114)