Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Re’eh

What lesson can we learn from the sacrificial right in the temple for our coronavirus times?

In Parshat Re’eh, we are given a mitzvah ‘וַאֲכַלְתֶּם־שָׁ֗ם לִפְנֵי֙ ה׳ אֱלֹֽקיכֶ֔ם- and you shall eat from the sacrifice before the Lord your God. וּשְׂמַחְתֶּ֗ם בְּכֹל֙ מִשְׁלַ֣ח יֶדְכֶ֔ם – and you shall rejoice in everything you have put your hands to’.

One wonders, why this rejoicing with particular regard to ‘משלח ידכם – what you’ve done with your hands’ [at that particular time?]

The Kli Chemda gives a beautiful peirush here. He brings down the Rambam from the Mishneh Torah in Hilchot Shvitat Yom Tov, where the Rambam tells us that when we sit down to our Yom Tov meals we should do so in the presence of family. Both close family and extended family – and also ‘וכל הנלווים עליו – people who are dependent on us’. We should open our homes to the needy, enabling them to participate in our festive meal. And then the Kli Chemda asks, what happens if, for some technical or practical reason, those who are needy can’t get to our home? Well, he says, we learn from the passuk that we quoted from our Parsha: ‘וּשְׂמַחְתֶּ֗ם בְּכֹל֙ מִשְׁלַ֣ח יֶדְכֶ֔ם – and you should rejoice in everything that your hands have sent – a different way of translating it. Meaning that in such a situation you should prepare food parcels and send them to those who are dependent upon you.

And isn’t that exactly what is happening right now during these very challenging coronavirus times?

It is so difficult for us all because we love having people at our tables and now, the potential for הכנסת אורחים – home hospitality, is limited. However, that is not stopping us from showing kindness to others. We are witnessing an extraordinary level of ‏גמילות חסדים – true selflessness and altruism – through the many food parcels which are being delivered to those who are dependent upon us. Right now during coronavirus times, Baruch Hashem, we are excelling in exactly what the Torah wanted us to achieve. In a situation in which, the needy can’t reach the food on our table, בְּכֹל֙ מִשְׁלַ֣ח יֶדְכֶ֔ם – we should guarantee that food from our table will reach the needy.

Shabbat shalom