This week we learn Parshah Re’eh, found at Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:26-16:17.

Two divrei on this parshah I found which struck me:

This coming week is Rosh Chodesh Elul.

There is so much now, so much upcoming, who am I to try to write about it? Please, find a teacher, a rabbi, someone more knowledgeable than I and ask.

As we turn toward these days of Awe and once again I become overwhelmed and my daily routine experiences upheaval by changes in my academic schedule, Work, and yamin noraim I turn to a slim volume which offers, well, I can’t quite explain it. Guidance? Help? Hope? Why am I drawn so deeply to Pirkei Avot? Why does it hold me more than the tehillim (psalms) that I so often say?

Perhaps it is the lessons. Perhaps it is the (relatively) straightforwardness. Psalms/Poetry can cause years of thought or introspection. I’ve found Pirkei Avot can, but I can also walk away with a surface reaction and be content. I have also found that I can open the volume at seemingly random and find something timely and relevant for my life. It seems I can also just visit JOFA and read this week’s Divrei Torah:

Weekly Jewish Wisdom: A Lesson in Leadership (from 5768/2008).

שבת שלום

Reader interactions

3 Replies to “Re’eh”

  1. I know I asked you something similar a while ago, so sorry if this is repetitive, but I think I didn’t phrase it correctly last time… do you have a suggestion for some sort of Judaism 101 book (site?) that would help me understand your posts and things that other Jewish friends write/talk about? I often click on the links you offer, but I think I’m missing some base level of knowledge to start making sense of the more specific things. Does that make any sense? Thanks!

    Kat with a K recently wrote So…

  2. For example: I had never heard of Pirkei Avot, so I looked it up on Wikipedia, but it seems like I don’t know every third word in the article, so I click on those links, etc…. but I think it would make more sense to go in the other direction. Instead of looking up specific terms and then trying to figure out what a tractate is, what the Mishnaic period is, etc., it would make more sense to learn the basics first and then get to the specifics.

    Kat with a K recently wrote So…

  3. I’m embarrassed. I keep meaning to remember to link, either to a glossary or to sites which explain. However, I tend to write this post at the last minute inbetween other Friday obligations.

    I hesitate to do these posts as I feel I’m incredibly ignorant of Judaism, with my education mostly of an informal nature. I probably should add a disclaimer “I don’t really know what I’m writing. Please keep that in mind.” However, I do these posts because the obligation keeps me learning.

    The main reason I hesitate to do any linkage on these posts is because I have issues with the sites (including the ones I do link). I don’t like divisions and those that attack other viewpoints. I hate conflict and I worry I might come across as saying “my way is right” (which I don’t want to do, my way works for me. Your way is up to you to decide).

    Sometime in the future, hopefully sooner rather than later, to provide some sort of short glossary (to be linked from the main navigation). I’ve been saying this forever, so I don’t know if I’ll ever just do it.

    That said, I think that Judaism 101 is one of the most comprehensive websites for beginners. If you poke around askmoses or chabad you may have luck. I’m not Lubavitch, but think that their website is the easiest to navigate. Check out children’s books.

    I’m not sure what book to offer to non-Jews. The best book I’ve found for Jews is To Be a Jew by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin.

    Kat, I wouldn’t worry about tractates and things. I’m sure this is a jumbled explanation but here’s a try: There are two parts to Jewish Law. One is the Oral Law (aka the Torah, the first five books) and the second is the Written law. The Written law is mostly the Talmud. Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, is a part of the Mishnah (which eventually became what we know today as the Talmud), but is the one part that study of isn’t … well, I’m not sure what word to use, so I’ll chose “by only selected individuals”.

    Please do keep asking me questions either publicly or in private. Please! I know my posts tend to assume some prior knowledge and I hope one day to be able to write so that anyone can understand what I wish to write.

    (this has been edited at an attempt for clarity)

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