This week’s Torah portion, Re’ah, 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 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. Instead, they could only eat meat, which they first consecrated and brought as a sacrifice.
Just as everything the Torah says, this teaches us a great lesson in our service of Hashem. Throughout the forty years of wandering in the desert, the Jewish nation did not perform 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 first to be sanctified.
Once they entered Israel, they had to begin dealing with the physical world, to elevate everything around them to G-dliness.
Shortly after this, the Torah warns us to “be strong not to eat the blood, for the blood is the soul. You shall not eat the soul with the flesh.” When we entered Israel, Hashem permitted us 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” of the physical should not be their focus. Rather, their enthusiasm should come from the opportunity to elevate the world to the Divine.
The same is true for each of us. We must certainly be involved with the physical world in which G-d placed us. However, our excitement should come our ability to transform this world into a dwelling place for Hashem.
I wish one and all a good Shabbos and sweet new year.
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 4, Pages 1108 – 1114
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס
. Our Parshah, Devorim 12:20.
. Ibid., 12:23.