web analytics
April 21, 2015 / 2 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Torah »

The Rebellious City

Azrielli Tower - Shema Yisrael

A bit of (non-Jewish) history can help us understand this week’s Torah portion: In the early 1500s, the Catholic church was being fundamentally challenged by movements which claimed it had monopolized religious power and used to enrich the church and its officials. The most radical of these movements were a particular sect of Anabaptists. Anabaptists believed that every man had to come to G-d independently – seemingly the opposite of this week’s commandment that “man shall not do everything they see as upright in their own eyes.” In the city of Münster, these radical Anabaptists saw their chance. Coming from across Germany, the Anabaptists joined together in a violent proto-communist revolt and established a ‘New Jerusalem’ which was soon led by the ‘prophet’ Jan Matthijs. Just as in this reading, there was a prophet who called for incompatible worship and a city that established an incompatible belief system. Traditional forces encircled the city. They even built new walls designed to stop Anabaptist emissaries from spreading their beliefs and gathering support. Then they brutally starved it out. When the final holdouts surrendered with a promise of safety, they were slaughtered. The leaders of the revolt were publically tortured and then executed. And the cages in which they were tortured still hang in the city center – as a permanent warning to all.

The parallels to this parsha are strong. In Münster, you had people who did what was right in their own eyes – led by a self-proclaimed prophet. In Münster, you had a religiously rebellious city pursuing an incompatible vision of morality. And in Münster, you saw a brutal suppression by the wider community – which justifiably feared the radical and violent reformation of society.

Near the end of Parshat Re’eh, the Torah records a very unusual formulation. It states “the Lord your G-d brought you out of Egypt at night.” And then just a few verses later, it states “you shall slaughter the Pesach offering in the afternoon, as the sun sets, at the appointed time you went out of Egypt.”

The two times disagree. In fact, the Jewish people were physically brought out of Egypt at night (or in the early morning). But they brought themselves out of Egypt when they put the blood on the doorposts. This blood separated them from the Egyptian people. The Torah explicitly refers to blood as the animating soul of flesh. We know blood connects the many cells of the body. It animates them, giving them potential. When the Jewish people put the blood on the doorposts, they created a new body with new potential. Each home was a cell, connected by the blood which Hashem had commanded.

Blood plays a major and repeated role in this week’s parsha. We can lay claim to an animal’s flesh (its physical reality) but not its Life (which is its potential). The blood of the animals belongs to the land. And if we consume the blood, things go wrong for us – as if we have internalized the animal’s potential. Blood is more than a food, it is a carrier of something more fundamental and not necessarily well understood. As a modern example, there is currently a pig epidemic in the U.S. Five percent of the pig population has died. It is suspected that the source is the feeding of slaughtered pigs’ blood to newborn piglets. While nobody understands the mechanism (at least not yet), there is an underlying message that blood carries with it more than just nutrition.

It is the connection between the cells and thus the carrier of Life.

For a society, something other than blood plays that role. We can see it in the Shema, when the blood on the doorpost is replaced by something else: words.

About the Author: Joseph Cox is the host of CreateConnectProtect.com, a podcast dedicated to the universal messages of the Written Torah and their application to modern policy.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Rebellious City”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Rav Aharon Lichtenstein
My Encounter with Rav Lichtenstein
Latest Judaism Stories
Torah scroll. (illustrative only)

For humans, reducing flesh is generally a good thing whereas its expansion is generally a bad thing

Hertzberg-041715

Lincoln was not a perfect man. But he rose above his imperfections to do what he thought was right not matter the obstacles.

Arch of Titus

Adon Olam: An Erev Shabbat Musical Interlude Courtesy of David Herman

Daf-Yomi-logo

Oh My, It’s Copper!
‘…And One Who Is A Coppersmith’
(Kethubboth 77a)

The omer sacrifice of loose barley flour was more fitting for animal consumption than human consumption and symbolizes the depths to which the Jewish slaves had sunk.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

His mother called “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, a moment earlier dark with pain, shone with joy and hope

Kashrut reminds us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong.

In a cab with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach & Rav Elayshiv discussing if/when to say tefillas haderech

The successful student listens more than speaks out; wants his ideas critiqued, not just appreciated

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

What do we learn about overcoming loss from the argument between Moses and Aaron’s remaining 2 sons?

Each of the unique roles attributed to Moshe share the common theme that they require of and grant higher sanctity to the individual filling the role.

Because of the way the piece of my finger had been severed, the doctors at the hospital were not able to reattach it. They told me I’d have to see a specialist.

“The problem is that the sum total is listed is $17,000. However, when you add the sums mentioned, it is clear that the total of $17,000 is an error. Thus, Mr. Broyer owes me $18,000, not $17,000.”

More Articles from Joseph Cox
syria_iran_map

To defeat parasites-the hosts of terrorists-we need to deny them new people, potential terrorists

"AYMAN, the Advice Imam"

And now for MORE Muslim musings-Go Ask Ayman-

But a rally has no effect on the terrorists themselves. In truth, it validates what they have done.

There is nothing totalitarians like less than mockery.

A new advice column from Ayman, the advice Imam ( Remember the value of “free, fictional” advice)

We do not have Israel simply to dwell in but to fulfill our national purpose, or risk destruction

Slavery was universal; So, why was Egypt targeted in this object lesson?

If the UN Grants national recognition to Palestine, why stop there? Tibet, Chechnya, Basque…

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/the-rebellious-city/2014/08/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: