Drash on Re’eh: Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17
Rabbi Em Mueller, Sim Shalom Online Synagogue
August 30, 2016
I was reminded of the Taliban or ISIS destroying those huge old stone sacred sites in Iraq, and how the world mourned their loss, when I read in this week’s parashah that, among other things, we must destroy, only in the land of Israel, the sacred sites of other peoples. We are forbidden from destroying sacred sites outside of Eretz Yisrael – the land of Israel. We do this to insure that we will not be persuaded to desert our God. Rabbi Reuven Firestone, at reformjudaism.org, points out that these passages remind us our “tradition is not so much what one believes as how one behaves. One cannot legislate belief, but one is obligated to legislate behavior.”
Then I was thinking about our prayers — the first prayer we say morning or evening is gratitude for the continuity of day following night, following day, following night. . . . It is this constancy, this knowing that morning will arrive with its opportunities, and then night will arrive with its rest, that helps us hope that our actions have effect. We don’t believe the sun will rise; we know it will! From that one small understanding, we can conceive of an accumulation of action: If every day we wake up and try to do something good, just one good thing, then we might help to bring justice and peace to this world. Just as each new day brings light and new opportunities, so can our actions be rejuvenated, giving us energy to shape the world in paths of justice and peace.
May this be God’s will.