WEEKLY SCRIPTURE READING
Torah Portion: Parashat Re'eh
Shabbat: August 12, 2023 | Av 25, 5783
Prophets: Isaiah 54:11-55:5
New Covenant: John 7:37-52
TODAY’S PRAYER OF AGREEMENT
Paul’s prayer in Colossians
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins”.
Walking After the LORD | Further Thoughts on Parashat Re'eh
"You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and heed his voice; you shall serve him and cleave to him" (Deut. 13:4). Here the sages note that the word "after" (i.e., acharei: אַחֲרֵי) implies a sense of distance and that when we feel distant from God, we should begin taking steps so that we can learn to cleave to him...
Experiencing "distance" is a blessing from heaven, then, since without sensing our great need, how could we turn and seek God for healing and life? Indeed, someone who regards himself as close to God may actually be far away from him, while the one who realizes how distant he is may in truth be drawing close (see Luke 18:9-14).
We cleave to God (דְּבָקוּת) only if we first see ourselves as "acharei," or removed, as it is written: "The LORD is near to the brokenhearted (קָרוֹב יְהוָה לְנִשְׁבְּרֵי־לֵב) and saves the crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18). As we learn to walk with God, we are in tension between reverence and love; we feel distant yet we are invited to draw close to God's heart to heal our alienation (James 4:8).
Brokenness distills the intentions of the heart by helping us to be more honest with ourselves. We begin to realize that we are more vulnerable than at first we thought; that our faith is not as strong as we imagined, and that our motives are often mixed and unconscious. Illusions are striped away; idols crumble; deeper levels of selfishness are uncovered; the gap between our words and our deeds is exposed...
It is one thing, after all, to intellectually think about faith or to idealize spirituality, but it is quite another to walk out faith in darkness. Yet it is only there, in the rawness of heart, that we discover what we really believe and how our faith makes traction with reality...
John J. Parsons