Shabbat Re’ey

Shabbat Rosh Hodesh Ellul
Candles Friday 14th 7:36pm
Havdalah 15th at 8:29pm

Mazal Tov to the Hazzan Uriel Suliman his wife and family family for the birth of their second daughter.

The Torah here in this week’s reading, mandates a specific “place” where the Israelites were to sacrifice to God. Originally whenever anyone wanted to eat meat they had to bring it to the sanctuary where it was sacrificed, its blood, fats and inedible parts removed and then divided up between the owners and the priests.

During the wilderness period the sanctuary was collapsible and moved with the people. After the death of Moshe in the Land of Israel the tabernacle continued to move for some two hundred years from Gilgal to Shiloh and to Nov with interludes where the enemy captured it. According to the Mishna in Zevahim for much of this period, people also sacrificed (killed for food) on Bamot, High places that were also associated with pagan worship. It was not until Solomon’s reign that the Temple was built and a single permanent “ place” became established in Jerusalem.

When the Northern Kingdom split after Solomon’s death two temples were built at Dan and Bethel and once again pagan practices became widespread.

The Samaritans established their Temple on Mount Gerzim. They argued that mounts Gerizim and Eyyval (near Nablus today) were specifically mentioned in the Torah whereas Jerusalem and Mount Zion were not. To this day there is here they worship and sacrifice. The Samaritans also reject the innovations of Rabbinic Judaism. There are very few of them left now, caught between Islam and Judaism. But in a way they were right. Jerusalem was not mandated in the Torah. It was established much later and reinforced by rabbinic tradition.

People often ask why, if Judaism has changed Judaism so much, do we have to abide by all their additional laws interpretations. But it is obvious that the genius of the rabbis was to know what it required to keep us alive in exile as a people and would enable us to reach the miraculous stage of re-establishing ourselves in our homeland.

Where as those who rejected rabbinic Judaism, whether they were Samaritans, Kaarites or indeed reformers? They flourished for a while but eventually failed to become the dominant force in Judaism. In the long term the rabbis ensured our survival.