We had such a wonderful Shabbat morning this past week; Ben Louwrier read Torah, led part of the service as he celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. What pride we all feel as our young people step up to the bimah and say proudly, “I am a Jew.” A blessing for us all. Mazal tov to Ben and to the entire Louwrier family.
This week we are in Parashah Re’eh – which opens with a demand for the Israelites to SEE. Not just to see – but to see within. We then read about a series of blessings and curses; I think many times we see blessings and curses as opposites. But I think we have all learned that they are far more mutable, and permeable, two sides of the same coin; what may be a blessing for me, is maybe more a curse for someone else. For example, Covid opened doors within our homes for us in many ways, even as those doors may have seemed harshly closed to others.
We read in Re’eh, “The entire word that I command you, that shall you observe to do; you shall not add to it and you shall not subtract from it.” 13: 1. In an interesting printing anomaly, most Christian Bibles begin Chapter 13 with this verse, as verse 1. However a standard Jewish Chumash has verse 1 continue directly from the previous chapter and verse 31, with a break occurring at verse 2. As a result Chapter 13 stands within the paragraph of Hebrew text, whilst in English translation the numerical 13 stands beside verse 1 in almost a separate paragraph. When you start looking at the text, it seems a bit “hall of mirrors” – what are we supposed to see?
In the early days of printing the non-Jewish printers who were printing the Old Testament (sic), took it upon themselves to set the break at this chapter and verse. However Jewish printers followed the prohibition against following non-Jews, and also positively understanding that this verse completes the previous section of Torah. This verse interestingly, is followed by a warning against false prophets – sorcerers, even dreamers offering “signs and wonders” – do not follow other gods – or other printers!