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Re'eh: Daring to be Different

This week’s Torah portion begins quite dauntingly with the following formidable warning, “See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse… the blessing [will come] when you listen to m+-y commandments – the curse when you do not listen to me, and follow other gods” (Devarim 11:26-28). God could not make it clearer: He is telling Klal Yisrael that we will be blessed if we follow His commandments, and we will be cursed if we serve Avodah Zarah. Throughout the Torah, including in the Ten Commandments, we are admonished against serving idols – and we are told clearly the kinds of curses and punishments that will befall us if we do. Furthermore, the Jewish people saw and experienced direct evidence of these punishments following their unfortunate interactions with the Midianite women who enticed them to serve Baal Peor. It is therefore curious enough that God again warns us against serving idols at the start of this Parsha. But that is not all.