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Parshat Re’eh – Cleaving to G-d


Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17 From 6 August till 12 August

אַחֲרֵ֨י ד’ אֱלֹהֵיקם תֵּלֵ֖כוּ וְאֹת֣וֹ תִירָ֑אוּ וְאֶת־מִצְוֺתָ֤יו תִּשְׁמֹ֙רוּ֙ וּבְקֹל֣וֹ תִשְׁמָ֔עוּ וְאֹת֥וֹ תַעֲבֹ֖דוּ וּב֥וֹ תִדְבָּקֽוּן׃

It is your G-d Hashem alone whom you should follow, whom you should revere, whose commandments you should observe, whose orders you should heed, whom you should worship, and to whom you should hold fast. (Deuteronomy 13:5)

You can give Deuteronomy 13:2-6 the heading “false prophets”.

Noahides believe in the G-d of Israel as the ONE G-d, who is the Creator of Heaven and earth.Noahides are forbidden to worship other deities or act against G-d’s will, which He made known by affirming the 7 Noahide commandments to the world by Moses at Mount Sinai.

Rabbi Moshe Weiner gives the following description of what a false prophet is:

“A Jew or a Non-Jew who claims that G-d sent him to add, remove, or change a commandment from those that G-d gave through Moses (the 613 Jewish Commandments and the Seven Noahide Commandments), is a false prophet. This applies even if he says that G-d sent him to explain the observance of a commandment in a way that differs from the tradition that was received from Moses, or that G-d sent him with a message that one of these commandments was only meant for earlier times, but nowadays G-d has changed or nullified it.”[1]

We see in this section of Tanakh that false prophets can do not only apparent signs or marvels, but also signs and marvels that happen. However, we must understand that nothing happens without G-d’s will, it is G-d who gives them permission to do these signs and marvels. The reason why G-d allows it is given in verse 4:

כִּ֣י מְנַסֶּ֞ה ד’ אֱלֹֽהֵיקם֙ אֶתְכֶ֔ם לָדַ֗עַת הֲיִשְׁכֶ֤ם אֹֽהֲבִים֙ אֶת־ ד’ אֱלֹהֵיקם בְּכׇל־לְבַבְכֶ֖ם וּבְכׇל־נַפְשְׁכֶֽם׃

Do not heed the words of that prophet or that dream-diviner. For your G-d Hashem is testing you to see whether you really love your G-d Hashem with all your heart and soul.

The word for “testing”- מְנַסֶּ֞ה  – also means “elevating.” Thus, this verse may be interpreted to mean: “G-d is testing you in order to elevate you to a higher level of Divine knowledge”. [2]

How does that work? Consider the gym. You can only strengthen your muscles if there is resistance, the more resistance the stronger your muscles become. Similarly, here. Your mental muscles can only get stronger if there is some form of resistance. As soon as there is a force trying to pull you away from G-d, you must try extra hard to hold (תִדְבָּקֽוּן –   דבק– to cling, stick, stay close, cleave, keep close) on to Him, which will make you stronger in your faith and in your relationship with Him. But how can we hold on to Him?

In the previous Parsha – Eikev – we saw the commandment to attach oneself to Hashem ( The mitzvah of dveikus) “You shall fear Hashem your G-d, worship Him and attach yourself to Him and swear by His Name” (Devarim 10:20), “For if you observe all these commandments which I command you, do them, that you love the L-rd your G-d, walk in all His ways and attach yourself to Him” (Devarim 11:22).

That which was taught in Eikev is now repeated in Re’eh, for now it must be applied in practice, applied against the false prophets and against their message, and the main “tools” we have are: ‘fear’ and ‘love’ for G-d.

“Fear” is linked to the mitzvot that forbid something and “Love” is linked to the mitzvot that command something. In the case of the 7 Noahides Commandments, we see that at first glance there is a particular emphasis on “fear”. The 7 Noahide Mitzvot consist of 6 prohibitions and 1 commandment. But bear in mind that this is only a mode of formulation, and they all have their counterparts as well.

  • 1) The prohibition of blasphemy (cursing the name of G-d).
    Correspondingly, one must honor the name of G-d.
  • 2) The prohibition of idolatry (polytheism). Correspondingly, it is a positive Mitzvah to believe in and reinforce the unity and singularity of G-d.
  • 3) The prohibition of murder. By implication, there is a positive mitzvah to sustain and preserve life.
  • 4) The prohibition of incest and sexual immorality. The positive corresponding Mitzvah is modesty and sexual purity.
  • 5) The prohibition of theft. One must, therefore, respect and safeguard the property of others.
  • 6) The prohibition of eating a limb torn from a living animal. Therefore, one must only eat of a properly deceased animal.[3], [4]

Chazal give the example of that when Jews take Kosher food and drink to themselves their thoughts will also be Kosher. And that when they do not observe the rules regarding Kashrut their thoughts will also not be Kosher.

We can draw these thoughts further. What you encounter, you get infected with. If you hear words of Torah, connect with people who have good midot (attributes), if you listen to Torah-based music, etc., then your thoughts will be focused on G-d, and you will attach yourself to Him performing His Mitzvot.

But the opposite is also a fact. If you listen to words that are not in line with Torah (False prophets and the broadest sense of the word) or with people who have bad midot or music made for the wrong reasons, then your thoughts, your actions and your speech will become further and further disconnected from G-d. Your life will become increasingly detached from the spiritual and attach itself more and more to the material.

The above is a way of attaching yourself to G-d, but doesn’t it say that G-d is a burning fire? How can we approach Him in this way?

The Gemara (Kesubos 111b) asserts, “Is it possible to cling to the Divine Presence? Is it not written ‘for Hashem your God is a consuming fire’ (Devarim 4:24), on the contrary, this verse teaches that anyone who marries his daughter to a Torah scholar is considered to be clinging to the Divine Presence.”

Similarly, the Gemara (Sotah 14a) states, “What is the meaning of what is written: ‘You shall follow Hashem (attach yourself to Him)’, but is it actually possible for a person to follow the Divine Presence? Has it not already been said, For Hashem your God is a consuming fire, the meaning is rather that one should follow Hashems attributes. As He clothes the naked so should one clothe the naked. As He visits the sick so also should you visit the sick.”[5]

We can extend this to our own lives. We should attach ourselves to the Sages, to the Rabbis, who can teach us how best to perform the mitzvot, and we can carry this through to our own lives by improving our attributes. An accessible way to improve and develop our traits is by setting aside study time for Mussar[6].

Not listening to the false prophets, or whatever it may be that keeps you away from G-d, is not enough. It is a passive attitude. We must adopt an active attitude.

Cling yourself to G-d through His Sages, His Rabbis, His mitzvot and develop your attributes so that they are in line with G-d’s attributes.

By Angelique Sijbolts


[1] The Divine Code by Rabbi Moshe Weiner 4e edition p. 53
[2] Kehot Chumash Parsaht Re’eih 13:4
[3] The Noahide Laws, A project of Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim p 10
[4] See also the blog: Only Seven Mitzvot?
[5] Developing Dveikus by Rabbi Daniel Stein
[6] Mussar The Musar movement (also Mussar movement) is a Jewish ethical, educational and cultural movement that developed in 19th century Lithuania, particularly among Orthodox Lithuanian Jews. The Hebrew term Musar (מוּסַר), is adopted from the Book of Proverbs (1:2) describing moral conduct, instruction or discipline, educating oneself on how one should act in an appropriate manner. (Wikipedia) See our page “books for Noahides” for example the books of Alan Morinis.
נתיבות שלום 

With thanks to B. Yaniger for the inspiration

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