Re'eh: The Meaning of Kindness

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Moshe Burt


According to Rashi, Moshe Rabbeinu begins our Parsha, Re’eh, by informing the B’nei Yisrael about the blessing and the curse to be pronounced to them upon their entry to Eretz Yisrael from Mount Gerizim and Mount Eval.

Moshe Rabbeinu continues his mussar saying:

Behold, I set before you … a blessing and a curse; the blessing if you heed the commandments of Hashem, and the curse, if you will not observe his commandments. (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posukim 26-27.

Toward the end of the parsha, we are informed:

If there be among you a destitute person of one of your brothers within your cities in your land which Hashem … gives you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 15, posuk 7)

This author views “V’ahavtah, L’rei’echa Kamocha”, that which Hillel told the Ger “on one foot” as summing up the entire Torah; wanting for your brother what you would want for yourself, and not wanting for your brother what you would not want for yourself, as the link which binds these two these two p’sukim in our Parsha.

One of the most illustrative stories regarding the link between these posukim is one cited in Rabbi Mordechai Katz’s sefer L’lmod U’Lamed (page 170) on our parsha about the consequences of lacking Chesed:

There was once a man who enjoyed all of the good things in life; successful business, devoted wife, a beautiful, spacious home. He was content to continue this good life indefinitely.

One day, as he sat down to a sumptuous meal, there was a knock at the door. A beggar was seeking a few spare morsels of food to deaden his hunger. The man responded scornfully, as he slammed the door; “Why don’t you go out and earn a living instead of depending upon others to support you”.

Not long afterwards, the man noticed that his business began to decline. He soon had to cut back on his lifestyle by pawning off many of his valuable clothing and belongings. The business downturn continued unabated. He gave up all of his furniture and soon, his house as well. His wife volunteered to find work to pay for food but the man refused. Feeling ashamed at not being able to support his wife, he divorced her.

Several months passed and the wife found a new suitor. He was a newly wealthy man and they married and established a household.

Once again, one night as the couple were preparing for dinner, there was a knock at the door. A beggar appeared asking for food. The new husband was much more Chessed oriented than the previous one. He invited the beggar in and provided him with enough food and money for weeks. The beggar, eyes downcast, accepted the Chessed gratefully.

After the beggar departed, the husband noticed a strange look on his wife’s face and asked what was wrong. She explained, “I knew that beggar. He was my first husband. He looked so thin and pale that I hardly recognized him. How sad to see a man sink so low.”

The husband thought for a moment and said, “If that was your first husband, then I just realized something. Do you remember that a beggar once came to your previous home asking for bread and was turned away? Somehow, good fortune seemed to come to me after that and I became wealthy.” We are told, “he who closes his ears to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be heard.” (Mishley 21:13) (L’lMode U’Lamed, pages 170-171.)

It is against the background of the two posukim cited above and the consequences of lacking Chesed that one could speak of the importance of a myriad of chassadim. But, as recalled by this author so often in the past, there are two causes which beg, which cry out for the kindness, the chessed of B’nai Yisrael.

The first of these causes is a general need for perceptiveness in dealing and helping his fellow Jew, regardless of gender, when his fellow has a crisis, lacks appropriate food, lodging, parnossa and more.  This includes seeing to the needs of such as widows, widowed children, the abused, aggrieved and victimized spouse and being perceptive enough to see one's fellow's lacking which is behind the proverbial story of the poor man who asks the rabbi "how do I make Kiddush on milk?" and the rabbi realizes that he has no money for wine.

The second of these causes is more specific.  Since the onset of Oslo, and particularly for the 6 years since the expulsion of the former Gush Katif residents in 2005, successive regimes -- from the Prime Minister, all ministries, to all sides of the Knesset, have tried to gloss over, obscure and hide their outrageous and eggregious contempt for the governed, particularly the systemic brainwashing and orientation of the governed masses. These regimes continue their libels, slanders, defamations and accusations against the Jews formerly of Gush Katif to this very day. Such accusations are exemplified by a Haaretz editorial  a few years ago;

"Each has received some $500,000 in compensation. The main difficulty in absorbing them stems from the fact that they left behind an economic paradise, which was subsidized by the state, and most lack the professional skills needed for a free-market economy. In this, they are different from the Russian immigrants who were successfully absorbed in Israel".

The editorial further claimed:

Two-fold reasons why the former Gush Katif residents “are unable to rebuild the businesses they left behind in Gush Katif, where they acquired their professional knowledge and experience;”

Their businesses were not profitable even in Gush Katif. The second reason is they no longer enjoy cheap Palestinian labor, nearly free water, free land, subsidized electricity and tremendous tax benefits. The Gush Katif evacuees’ lobby in the Knesset is trying to acquire even more compensation, each time for something else. It is very likely that this lobby will succeed, considering settlers’ lobby victories of the past.

The leftist media exploits the short memories or collective amnesia of the viewers in order to create lies, when repeated often enough in the media, on the university campuses, among the leftist ngo's (non-government organizations) which are well- oiled by their leftist financial sources and benefactors in Europe and the US, corrupt politico and bureaucracies and are thus endoctrinated and engrained into the minds of collective masses, inevitably becomes "truth" despite being patent falsehood.  And so these outrageous lies and falsehoods have proven injurious to not only 10,000 former Gush Katif/Shomron residents but to an entire deceived citizenry.

Six years later, the Knesset-enacted law mandating restitution funds which were torturously slow in materializing, has caused consequences such that many or most former Gush Katif residents have seen their meager restitution funds absorbed by living expenses incurred over this period due to inability to secure positions or (possibly due to governmental and leftist-inspired discrimination) or lacking necessary financing to begin new businesses.    Many will, therefore, be unable to build when and if the regime ever finally signs agreements with all of the former residents as to new construction of their permanent homes.
This all very much brings to mind the scornful cynicism of that wealthy man who blew out the beggar, and became a beggar himself.  Chas V'Chalilla that the scenario of the above story would play out on a national level due to hard-hearted ongoing deception of the governed by Israeli governance and resultant disdain of many of the deceived masses.

“… You shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother.”

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole  --  be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage to stand up to prevent the eviction of Jews from their homes and to prevent the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication.