9/01/2016

Shabbat Re’eh

Rosh Hodesh Ellul
Candles Friday 2nd 7:06pm
Havdalah 3rd 7:59pm

What was the role of the Prophet? It was to convince people to behave in a good and spiritual way. It is true that some of them, particularly in the early days, performed miracles. But Moses is known for his words not the miracles, that anyway never seemed to have had a long term effect.

This week we have the law of the false prophet. If someone calling himself a prophet comes and performs miracles and the aim of these miracles is to get us to abandon our religion and our people, we must not listen to him. This is a test of our faith. Very strange. So miracles do not mean anything unless the message is the right one.

What then was the point of the miracles in the bible? There is a difference between God’s miracles and those of humans. Human beings are adept at illusion and delusion, tricks that seem like miracles but are not. But people who do not know the tricks can easily be fooled. It is true some people are so insecure they need miracles. But really it is the message that counts.

We do not think people are great because they play tricks or make predictions that may or may not come true. We do not idolize or sanctify. That is why none of the primary figures of other religions impress us. Moses was and is great because of the Torah and it is the Torah that defines us. False prophets pretend to be what they are not. We must beware, even of those who seem outwardly to be religious. As the Torah tells, we need to look beneath the surface.

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It is traditional to start saying Selihot during the month of Ellul in preparation for Rosh Hashannah. Selichot are poems, written in medieval times that remind us of our obligation to be good people and to ask God for forgiveness for ignoring His commands. As for other human beings, we must ask them to forgive us directly. It is quality that matters not quantity. Better to say a little every day, even one line, and think about it than to say a lot of meaningless words just for the sake of it.