Rabbi Avraham Norin
Currently teaches in Israel at the Machon Meir and Ora conversion program

Click Here for the PDF version
When the Rabbis of Babylon divided the Torah into 54 weekly portions, it was not simply done to make a convenient number of Torah portions to be read throughout the year.  The Rabbis intended that the structure of each portion would be studied to teach a message onto itself.
For example, let us look (pun intended!) at the beginning and end of the weekly portion of Re’eh.

First what catches our eye are the linguistic similarities between the two sections.  The beginning of the portion starts with Moshe’s command to the people: “RE’EH” (To perceive the following!), while the end of the portion concludes with the command: “YIRAEH” (To appear before Hashem on the Three-Pilgrimage holidays).
Another linguistic point between the beginning and end of the weekly portion Re’eh is that they both repeat the word “NOTEN” (give). The beginning of the portion mentions three items (blessings and curses, the land of Israel, and the laws and statues of the Torah) that God gives (NOTEN “) us, while at the end of the portion, Moshe commands Israel to bring a present from their property (“K’MATNAT YADO “) to God, as the blessing that He has given (“NATAN “) to you.
A thematic connection between the beginning and end of the portion is their joint focus on a place and time.  The beginning of the portion speaks about Mt. Grizim and Mt. Eival, and the end of the portion speaks about the “place where I will choose”. At the beginning of the portion the word “today” is mentioned three times, and the end of the portion the “three times a year” mitzva of the pilgrimage holidays is discussed.

After noting the linguistic and thematic similarities between the beginning and end of the portion, we can now proceed to analyze them.  Doing so, we find something remarkable:  At the end of Re’eh the people of Israel are on a higher spiritual level than they were at the beginning of the portion.

 While the parsha begins with a commandment to pay close attention to God’s words, it ends with our appearing before God Himself. The beginning of the portion stressed how much we received from God. By the end of the portion, we are commanded to give gifts to God, in appreciation of His blessings. The weekly portion starts with a defined but limiting period and place where the people will hear God’s words. By the end of Re’eh, the people are commanded to have a constant and ongoing relationship with God, three times a year, in the place He chooses.

The structure of the weekly portion of Re’eh shows how the mitzvot of the parsha elevate a person to new spiritual levels. The person who started the portion of Re’eh is not the same person as the one who finishes it. The message is clear: Besides for fulfilling God’s will, keeping the mitzvot of the portion Re’eh grant us the ability to foster a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God.

comments: harbashan@gmail.com