Re’eh

“Re-vision—the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes,” for poet, Adrienne Rich, is an act “of entering an old text from a new critical direction. As one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century, the late Adrienne Cecile Rich, who passed away in Santa Cruz, was also an essayist and feminist who reminds us of the urgent need to see beyond ourselves, given that for women this act of “seeing with fresh eyes” is more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival.” In so daring to see beyond ourselves with fresh eyes, we can develop new relationships to all texts, even sacred texts. It is all a question of how we see ourselves in relation to the text and its sacred inspiration. So when Moses says to the Children of Israel, “See I place before you today a blessing and a curse”—they enter an important stage of maturity in their covenantal relationship—responsibility. Seeing the consequences of our actions is a sign of growing responsibility. These are proclaimed on Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal as the Israelites are crossing over into the Holy Land. Establishing a Temple is making a place where the divine will dwell in essence and Name.

This will become the new central address for sacrifices, and in keeping with the overall theology of Deuteronomy, no offerings can be made to the divine outside this local. Laws of tithing are discussed including as it relates to produce eaten in Jerusalem, and how in certain years the tithe is given to the needy instead. Here we encounter one of the first iterations of charity as an obligation devolving upon the Jew to aid those in need with a gift or loan. But all such loans are forgiven on the Sabbatical year and all indentured servants are freed after six years of service. The theme of seeing concludes this parshah in listing the three pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Pentecosts, and Feast of Booths as moments when the pilgrim goes to see and be seen before the divine in the precincts of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Encountering the divine in our lives is indeed a “seeing with fresh eyes” which holds out the hope for such sacred encounters through our lives.