Parsha

For the week ending 3 August 2013 / 26 Av 5773

Parshat Re'eh

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Overview

Moshe presents to the nation the blessing of a spiritually oriented life, and the curse of becoming disconnected from Hashem. When the nation enters Eretz Yisrael they must burn down any trees that had been used for idol-worship, and destroy all idolatrous statues. Hashem will choose only one place where the Divine Presence will dwell. Offerings may be brought only there; not to a private altar. Moshe repeatedly warns against eating animal blood. In the desert, all meat was slaughtered in the Mishkan, but in Eretz Yisrael meat may be shechted anywhere. Moshe lists the categories of food that may only be eaten in Jerusalem. He warns the nation against copying ways of the other nations. Since the Torah is complete and perfect, nothing may be added or subtracted from it. If a "prophet" tells the people to permanently abandon a Torah law or indulge in idol worship, he is to be put to death. One who entices others to worship idols is to be put to death. A city of idolatry must be razed. It is prohibited to show excessive signs of mourning, such as marking the skin or making a bald spot. Moshe reiterates the classifications of kosher and non-kosher food and the prohibition of cooking meat and milk. Produce of the second tithe must be eaten in Jerusalem, and if the amount is too large to carry, it may be exchanged for money with which food is bought in Jerusalem. In certain years this tithe is given to the poor. Bnei Yisrael are instructed to always be open-hearted, and in the seventh year any loans must be discounted Hashem will bless the person in all ways. A Jewish bondsman is released after six years, and must be sent away with generous provisions. If he refuses to leave, his ear is pierced with an awl at the door post and he remains a bondsman until the Jubilee year. The Parsha ends with a description of the three pilgrimage festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Succot.

Insights

HyperKosher

"You shall not eat any carcass" (14:21)

I can remember a slightly more innocent world where the actors and actresses in Hollywood were referred to as "stars." Of course to call a human being a star in itself is a tremendous piece of fantasy and exaggeration.

However, hyperbole, as everyone knows, is subject to the law of diminishing returns. If everyone is somebody and nobody is nobody, then to get noticed being a "star" isn’t good enough, and in the 70s a new epithet emerged the "superstar." Of course, these mere mortals were as tarnished and faded as their predecessors, the "stars," but the march of exaggeration and the debasement of language is not to be halted by squeamish concerns of accuracy or truth.

The "superstars" short reign came to an end with the advent of the "megastar."

Where to from here?

A kosher shechita (ritual slaughtering for kosher food) involves the fulfilling on numerous halachic requirements. The shochet (ritual slaughterer) must be a G-d fearing person. He must be allowed to work without the pressure of fulfilling a quota. He must be allotted sufficient time to check the smoothness of his knife and the health of the animal. He must be calm enough to be able to apply the correct amount of pressure to the blade during the shechita itself.

The shochet must check carefully the animal’s lungs. An adhesion on the lung is something not easily detected and often a decision must be made about this that will affect whether the animal is kosher or not.

If the lungs are completely free of adhesions, the animal is "glatt kosher."

On the average, between two and four percent of all cows that are shechted are "glatt kosher."

How is it, then, that nowadays nearly every restaurant/butcher/deli proclaims that they are "glatt kosher?" It’s just not possible.

The answer is that the world of kashrut is not immune from the dreaded disease that affects so much of modern discourse hyperbole.

Glatt ain’t what it used to be.

© 1995-2014 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at ohr@ohr.edu and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions www.ohr.edu

« Back to Parsha

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) and your donation is tax deductable.