This week’s Torah portion, Re’eh, tells us that “When Hashem expands your boundary, as He told you (that He will), and you say, ‘I will eat meat.’ (Why will you say this?) Because you desire to eat meat. (Then,) according to the desire of your heart may you eat meat.”
Just what does the Torah mean by this? Moshe Rabbeinu was telling the Jews some of the laws which would apply when they would finally reach their promised land. Rashi cites the words from this verse, “according to what your heart desires,” and explains the following. “In the desert, however, the meat of a non-consecrated animal was forbidden to them, unless it was first consecrated and offered as a peace offering.” During the 40 years in the wilderness, they could not eat meat simply because they wished to. It was prohibited to have hamburgers for dinner simply because that was what they wanted to eat. Rather they could only eat meat which they first consecrated and brought as a sacrifice.
This, like everything the Torah says, serves to teach us a great lesson for us in our service of Hashem. Throughout the forty years of wandering in the desert, the Jewish nation was not occupied with any physical activities. Hashem miraculously took care of all of their material needs. They ate Mon (Manna) from heaven and drank from “Miriam’s Well,” which followed them throughout their sojourn in the wilderness. Their clothing, which grew with them, were kept clean and pressed by the “Clouds of Glory.” Their sole occupation was to study Torah directly from Moshe Rabbeinu. When they did eat meat, it had to first be sanctified.
Once they entered Israel, they had to begin dealing with the physical world. This was in order to elevate everything around them to G-dliness.
That is the reason that the Torah warns shortly after this to “be strong not to eat the blood, for the blood is the soul. You shall not eat the soul with the flesh.” Upon entering the Holy Land, they were permitted to eat even unconsecrated meat. Eating meat, which had previously been a Mitzvah, had become a mundane activity. Nevertheless, they had to take care not to eat the blood. The “boiling blood,” the excitement of this world should not be their focus. Rather their excitement should come from the opportunity to elevate the world to the Divine.
The same is true of each and every one of us. We must certainly be involved with the physical world in which G-d placed us. However, our excitement should come from transforming this world into a dwelling place for Hashem.
Wishing one and all a good Shabbos and healthy summer.
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 4, Pages 1108 – 1114
IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR FATHER
Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
DEDICATED BY HIS FAMILY
* * *
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י בני משפחתו שיחיו
. Our Parshah, Devorim 12:20.
. Ibid., 12:23.