Our parsha starts off with a very long and detailed commandment to give to the poor. Clearly, it was important to God, or he would not have spent so many words on it.
We are told that, in the third year of the seven-year cycle (see Re’eh), we are to put aside one tenth of what we produce for widows and orphans (who were the poor people back then.) We are to declare before God that we haven’t saved any of it back. Why? Because the part that the widows and orphans get is holy! Giving every grain of this tithe is sacred to God! It says so in the Torah!
There follows in the parsha a list of curses. Basically, it’s stating some of the commandments in a negative way. For example, you’re cursed if you make an image of other gods. – even in secret.
Also cursed is the person who:
- Insults his or her parents
- Misdirect a blind person (in other words, is cruel to unfortunate people)
- Undercuts a stranger or a defenseless poor person
- Hits a fellow Israelite in secret
- Accepts a bribe
- Does not uphold this Teaching.
It’s a two-way street. We are to follow all his commandments and in return, we are God’s “treasured people,” whom he will set above the nations. If we follow the commandments, our children, our crops and our animals will be blessed. “Blessed shall you be in your coming in and blessed shall you be in your going out.”
Food for Thought
Why does God specifically mention widows and orphans?