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Torah Portion Re'eh - Wrong Choices Lead to an Empty Life

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17

“See,” says Moses to the people of Israel, “I place before you today a blessing and a curse”—the blessing that will come when they fulfill G‑d’s commandments, and the curse if they abandon them. These should be proclaimed on Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal when the people cross over into the Holy Land.

For Noahides

When I start writing a piece, after reading up, I write what comes to my heart. Usually I can substantiate this well with texts by others. This time I have allowed myself a little more freedom and am writing what I think, where I can bet completely wrong, but after this warning, I feel free enough to write.

My thoughts were drawn this time to the names of the two mountains. Gerizim I can trace back to “grz” which can mean "axe". And by extension with cut off. It can be linked to the meaning of "circumcision" and "divide". Every time a blessing was spoken the people , they had to look at this mountain. A mountain that was outwardly lush and fruitful. Blessings come about as we learn to better and better distinguish, divide, between what G-d requires of us and what we should leave behind. Here at the Mount coupled with the mitzvah of circumcision (note that this is not a mandatory mitzvah for Noahides, although it may be adopted to inhibit fleshly needs). Mitzvot, and therefore the 7 Mitzvot for Noachide provide blessings in our lives, make our lives more lush and fruitful because doing a mitzvah leads to a new mitzvah.

When I think of the name Ebal עיבל, my mind makes the association with Abel הבל, where I then think of "vanity", "transience" and "fog". If we don't do what G-d requires of us - out of vanity because we think we know better ourselves - or out of evanescence and we don't want to jeopardize our quick lives in comfort - we receive curses. So the people had to look at Mount Ebal looking rocky and barren. Wrong choices, bad choices lead to an empty and barren life.

The curses we can think of as fog, it is not an abundant wealth of rain that makes crops grow and bloom well, but it does bring water and allows the life of plants to continue. In this sense, a curse is a blessing in disguise*. In the hope that by experiencing the curse, man can keep his soul alive and will return to G-d, thus receiving the rich blessing of rain.

Brought By Angelique Sijbolts


Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the Noahide Academy. She has been an observant Noahide for many years. She studies Torah with Rabbi Perets every week. Angelique invests much of her time in editing video-lectures for the Rabbis of the Academy and contributes in administrating the Academy's website in English and Dutch. She lives in the north of the Netherlands. Married and mother of two sons. She works as a teacher in a school with students with special needs. And is a Hebrew Teacher for the levels beginners en intermediate. She likes to walk, to read and play the piano.

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* Rabbi Shneur Zalman


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