Commentary for Re’eh

14 Aug

In this week’s parshah Deut. 15:19-23 teaches us the laws of sacrificing the first-born animals of the flock. Every year, the firstlings of the flock must be consecrated for sacrifice to God. One should not work the animal because this might cause it to develop a blemish and thus be unfit for sacrifice to God. If, even without being worked, it happens that a disqualifying blemish is found on the animal, it should not be sacrificed. Instead we are instructed to eat it, just like any other animal. Everything may be consumed but the blood, which is always forbidden from being eaten in Lev. 17:10-14.


Then, in the final verse of the chapter, we get a strange addendum: “you shall spill it [the blood] on the ground like water (Deut 15:23).” In the arid Middle-Eastern climate- and especially in ancient times- water is not something that is just casually spilled on the ground. It is a precious resource that is conserved as much as possible. So how can we possibly fulfill God’s commandment to spill the animal’s blood on the ground like water if we rarely ever spill water on the ground?


By comparing the blood of the sacrifice to water- a precious resource that should not be casually wasted- the Torah is teaching us that we must look at the sacrificial animal in a similar manner. We must always remember that the animal is being sacrificed to serve God and to sustain us. Even if the animal is disqualified as a sacrifice, we must still make use of it to ensure that it’s sacrifice was not pointless.

The animals we use for sustenance- both spiritual and physical- give their lives for us, and we must not treat this sacrifice casually.

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