Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah–Re’eh

Deuteronomy 15:4 “However, there will be no needy among you, for the Lord will surely bless you in the land the Lord, your God, is giving you for an inheritance to possess.”

Deuteronomy 15:11 “There will never cease to be needy within the land. Therefore, I command you, saying, you shall surely open your hand to your brother, to your poor one, and to your needy one in your land.”

Seven verses apart, we read “No needy people” and “never cease to be needy.” No, I don’t think that the Torah is schizophrenic. I do believe that their inclusion is intentional, as is their proximity to each other. The statements are not incompatible. If we look at the second one first, we read that “need” will exist throughout our lands. The second is that there shall never be needy amongst us.

This week’s commentary is quite simple. If we pay attention, we see the multitudes suffering without safety, security, love, shelter, sustenance, and any hope for restoration all over the place. Homelessness and hunger; fear and degradation; there are so many people who ache. Until the day that the Messianic Age becomes real, this is our reality. That said, if we read 15:4 as a prophecy of the Messianic Age, then we must care for everyone in “need” who comes into our presence in a way that restores them from their place of need. See, this concept of Messianic redemption does not happen to us; it happens because of us. Each of the major religions absolutely agree on how redemption works. The world cannot experience this ultimate blessing unless people faithfully participate in changing our daily news from horror to hope.

Who are these people in need? We all are; each one of us. We may not suffer at near the same level as do others, but even the great Sufis still need affirmation. Each of us needs something from one another. If we can pay attention to the longing look in another’s eyes, all the more so, we will see the emptiness on the plate in his lap, the pained look of fear on his face, and the tattering of his shelterless body.

There will be no needy amongst us, every day that we pay attention. There will be unfathomable need in the world around us until we do the work of entering each other’s lives. We know this is true. The worldwide relief efforts stemming from natural and war based catastrophes tells us that we innately understand our capacity to make lives whole. Why, then, do we wait for the catastrophe to rally to each other’s side? Let’s be more proactive and let’s change the world. Shabbat Shalom.