A Commentary on Ramban by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz
“Deuteronomy 12:2-5 You must destroy all the sites at which the nations you are to dispossess worshipped their gods . . . Tear down their altars, smash their pillars, put their sacred posts to the fire, and cut down the images of their gods, obliterating their name from that site. Do not worship the Lord your God in like manner, but look only to the site that the Lord your God will choose . . .
Ramban, “Do not worship the Lord your God in like manner,” the verse according to the opinion of our rabbis constitutes an admonition against erasing the Divine Name
. . . for erasing the Divine Name is equivalent to dismantling a stone altar. For it is forbidden to break down an altar of God and to destroy God’s Name. Instead, give honor to God’s Name and God’s altar, and to the place that will be established as God’s Dwelling . . .
If ever there were a proof text against religious tolerance, it may be found in this week’s Parashat R’eih. Here the Israelites are commanded to “tear down their altars, smash their pillars . . . and cut down the images of their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:3). While we know that, ultimately, the Israelites and their rabbinic counterparts proved far more sensitive and nuanced in their treatment of idolatrous cults (see Mishnah Avodah Zarah 3:4, where Rabban Gamliel diminishes the significance of the presence of Aphrodite in a bathhouse), Torah’s fear is that such idolatry throughout the land of Israel will ultimately seduce the Israelites into abandoning the God of Israel. And tragically, Torah is proven correct in this concern. Repeatedly, throughout the book of Judges and subsequent prophetic books, the Israelites are seduced into Canaanite cults that lead them astray. Immediately after Deuteronomy legislates the zealous command to destroy idolatry, we are told that one should not “worship the Lord in a like manner.” How are we to understand this warning juxtaposed to the destruction of cultic sites?
In explaining these verses, Nahmanides quotes two opinions illuminated by Rashi. First, Rashi argues that the admonition relates to multiple sites of worship. Deuteronomy 12:5 urges the Israelites to sacrifice in one centralized location. And so the verse is geographically restricting divine worship. Secondly, Rashi adds that it is a warning against imitating the practices of idolaters. Quoting earlier midrashim, Ramban heads in an alternative exegetical direction, arguing that the verse actually refers to “tearing down” the Name of God. One must be vigilant, Nahmanides writes, not to “break down an altar of God nor to destroy God’s Name”—as one is commanded to do to the foreign gods.
While Nahmanides’ message may pertain literally to erasing God’s Name or destroying a place of worship, his message may be expanded metaphorically. Every moment in life gives us the potential to “give honor to God’s Name,” just as each moment also contains the potential to destroy and erase God’s Name. The challenge for us is in living lives of holiness and soulfulness where we sense the divine. Both ritualistic and ethical mitzvot ultimately lead us to such a redemptive path. In this way, each of us can contribute to building “God’s Dwelling” in our own day.”
From a previous entry:
“An open letter written to Our Lady Liberty/&Soldiers originally back at the end of the Gulf War:
When thou art forgiven thy trespasses, and experience the hope this brings you, I should hope you feel not some small measure of comfort. It always brings me great relief and joy to realize that I am forgiven and my sins may be washed clean with an atoning sacrifice and renewal of honest devotion to G-d, who is kind to all and maketh the rain to fall and the sun to shine upon both the righteous and the wicked.
May you always have devotion for and to those whom you love most in the world, and may such be returned to you sevenfold.
Encouragement to our troops I bid, as their friend who is well and at peace and hopes this makes them glad and cheers them in some way. I would that the least of those I have known in my journey through this world, feel even an iota of the same by relation and may the morning or one morning soon, find us all fulfilled beyond our wildest dreams and imaginings!
Psa 126:1 When the L-RD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
In turn I would be encouraged by your willingness to allow myself and His Chosen to bring forth a wonderful work and a marvel at last within our Nation’s sacred borders, the same I do beseech of thee this day before all Creation, with bowed head and bent knee; with new, and better appreciated understanding and profound gratefulness for thy labors and workings, sacrifices and designs, ways and means, judgments and decisions and all that makes You , You even if it must set You forever apart from me and He who made We, We, lest We take one another and ourselves too seriously!
Thou art truly a Lady of Liberty. I’ve only ever wished to help you see, just how greatly beloved you are by He and me.
What we intend to bring forth is precisely what Messiah intended, a Renewed Covenant and return to Israel, or pure Judaism.
I’m desiring to establish a Remnant House in my home, and to Resurrect a certain Church Edifice of preordained status, legend and lore not too far from where I am now temporarily situated. I’d like to be able to work with a Synagogue that practices Baptism rites by immersion and as a preamble to joining this Remnant’s travail and work upon the earth as only Our Father’s Chosen people might instruct, guide and be the forerunning messengers for the entire world.
Authenticity is what I desire in Spirit and Design, and I believe I have found it and wish to bring forth the New Jerusalem here in this preordained realm of Massachusetts.
Our soldiers will require proper washings and renewal of Faith and Spirit upon returning to Our Beloved Nation and I hope that they might be among the very first to receive the benefits of our Renewing Work and Traditional, Sacred Way of Life.
You’re who I care about and all I wish to restore.
When we act with contempt for ourselves and others, we make the L-rd very angry indeed…
It doesn’t help anyone nor prove anything, and everyone ends up alone and hurt, because He’s still going to care about us, no matter what we do to ourselves or permit others to do to us.
I’m no genius, I’m really quite silly, I baffle myself most of the time, I merely let the inevitable happen and those who are guilty shall pay the price for their sedition. I’ll let another deal with the how and why.
Bad things happen to good people. But better things are promised to those who endure the bad and remain true to each other and That which matters most.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
I feel no shame this day. Glory to G-d.
It would have been much more pleasant if we had agreed to be lawful and righteous, but sinned crept in and owned us all…”
Now, I recently heard from an old friend, who boasted of becoming “vegan” and shared her enthusiasm for being an animal right’s activist and of her intent of liberating the animal kingdom.
I rather fear vegans and animal lovers are a bubble off, if not to say, entirely Diznified.
While there is much truth to the creature’s right to freedom and “liberation,” so to speak, becoming so alienated from your own dignity and humanity and godliness apart from the animal kingdom is not healthy and works the opposite of a good intention gone to Hades in a hand basket.
Veganism is not for the animals sake it’s for the people’s…
I think eating animal flesh is merciful to animals though…I mean rather than have a soul live too long a life in an animal’s form…which is probably the root cause of such abominable practices as witchcraft and paganism.
As long as the slaughter is humane, I think it is wisdom…
The problems arise when the roles are reversed and animals eat people…or people eat people…you know, biblical horror stuff…
Promoting insanity like PETA, MSPCA and Veganism too profanely, leads to zoos and cages galore…Not liberation, but wickedness which is obviously evident from the age we now live in…or are working overtime to put behind us.
PETA, and the like are pretty vulgar…
G-d granted Noah the blessing of everything for food, we ought not to take it for granted is all…Nor hunt those who choose to live healthy or vegan lifestyles…but some do, in the cancerous society we have been dying in for long enough I should say…Where old souls lay in wait in winter’s never-ending darkness for spring chickens to hatch…
Best to return to a Temple society where people bring sacrifices of well-being to those with the knowledge and responsibility of animal sacrifice…
This will happen as we progress in the Messianic age…I believe.
I imagine we’ve all suffered enough, but justice still remains to be done, and I should think a restoration/reconciliation not out of the question if there be a G-d watching over us….
Of course, what really happened to me and others during this age seems impossible to believe but I now see G-d in it all and know the end will justify all that has come to pass…
Some of it should never have come to pass, and is not easy to forgive…I do not know if it will be or not…and that makes me very sad rather than bitter.
I still stand in awe every hour of what the L-RD has done for me…
He is good and His mercy endures forever.
We have endured much and much has improved because of it…all around…in some ways, but one must never forget that the more things change, the more they stay the same…
People and animals have this much in common; they do not like correction or instruction as much as they ought…
Nothing comes easy and if it does, you’re being robbed.
I owe many souls for remaining as loyal as they could…Bloody hell is no endless joy to endure, and I am grateful for those who may and afford any measure of mercy and consideration for those kept out…That is an American phenomenon, yes? Something to be proud of at the last…
Seems all a dream, all this passage of time since I’ve experienced resurrection personal…and some of it a nightmare…
I’m really not too concerned with the protection of wilderness habitat either…I would urge rather the protection of our children and children’s children from the wiles of the wilderness…
That is not to say we do not care about the environment, creatures small and great, but is to say that we put an difference between and an priority upon our children and our own lives before them.
If we care most diligently and in no way perversely with and for our own, they and we will be able to care most carefully for ourselves, and thus our world around us…
I think it a matter of greater importance at this time, to ensure that our laws are equal and just and that we, as a nation see to the fulfillment of Scripture in the latter-days, so as to garner the blessings of the Most High, in building an third Temple and sacrificing all private and selfish ambition for the sake of national heritage, and eternal glory.
I mean to be more concerned with animal life than human life is vulgar and insane…Nevertheless:
Pro 12:10 A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast:
PETA, and the like, insinuate that animals should be equal to humans, and that we should live more like animals with animals in order to ensure fair treatment…
It’s absurd, obscene and vulgar.
There are too many people who demand/consume animal flesh for food, to their own hurt, but that is the way of humanity.
Ethical treatment of animals is sacrificing them humanely, not treating them like bedmates, nor hunting them like angry monkeys.
Or using them sanely, as the ox and plow or horse and cart, etc.
But they are just animals. They don’t possess the same spirit as human beings may, nor enjoy the same affectations. They do not know when they are suffering, that it is suffering; they just endure, in ignorance.
And people who treat them as more than become the same way…It’s a matter of indoctrination.
Would it be better to let animals free in the jungle of Africa or something and let wild beasts tear them to pieces? or to promote humane slaughter and equitable, sustainable farming?
Supply and demand and laziness leads to what we have suffered and what we are working overtime to overcome….
More meat goes to dogs and cats than is sane or right. And PETA doesn’t fight this absurdity!
I’m sure those who have cats as pets know their own cat has scratched them more oft than not…
That is the way of the Beast, however…Feed the dogs first and let the children play in traffic…By all means restrain the dog lest it follow the child and get hit by the same automobile…Exceptions being taken into account for exceptional beasts.
PETA’s solution? Perhaps if some hot looking broads get naked and take pictures of themselves in cages, everyone will want to eat more carrots and feel badly for bunnies???
This is not vulgar?
A guy looking at a naked broad in a cage is most likely thirsting for booze and a steak…when he is done ogling her that is…You can be sure, he isn’t thinking about the safety of animals, nor worrying about their mistreatment…
Kind of defeats the purpose and skews the understanding…
Most men are called upon daily to do things animals wouldn’t suffer, for which they need due strength and you expect compassion from them. Lazy brutes are not going to feel badly for beasts treated unfairly when they themselves are treated unfairly.
They need an alternative, for which there is none.
Except, suffering themselves, and men do not think they deserve suffering although the same might redeem them, they know nothing but work, eat, sleep, consume, consume, consume…
We don’t teach people sacrifice by example. We’re raised selfishly as beasts themselves…
People need some years in a wilderness on bread and water of affliction to even make them realize how gross they have become in understanding, not some insulting PETA nonsense…
Be rational. Not confusing.
Righteous judgment follows righteous judgment/upbraiding.
If you treat people like fools they will not learn correction, and some fools will never learn.
Pro 17:10 A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.
But men would gladly sacrifice an million lambs, and beat a trillion children to death before they’ll admit they are fools.
PETA comes off as vulgar and obnoxious to me, not caring and compassionate. I’m sorry.
Convince me otherwise.
I can tell you that perhaps none of the models in the PETA advertisements are vegans. They are all meat-eaters and hypocrites, they are just paid models doing a job for the money…And they probably get off on the perversity of what they are doing…That much is painfully obvious…
Vegans don’t have thick skins of snakes…And if you’ve seen one nude snake, you’ve seen them all…
Look more like cannibals than animal friendly vegans…
Either way, I am certainly not your enemy, nor the enemy of your animal friends…
But the solution is far from the PETA’s abilities or good intentions…
It is in the Scriptures, whether one agrees or not, and if you don’t, you stand on shaky ground indeed…if not accursed.
Nevertheless, the lamb may lie down with the wolf, and the lion eat straw like an ox, when the L-RD is the L-RD and people and animal kind recognize Him as such.
But carry on in vulgarity, spite, pride and the romantic drama of rebuilding vanity and insanity upon itself while indifference’s bounty of apathy felt by all those who suffer in squalor and righteous indignation feel not but the mire of consequence and the enemies of America need not combine and come against her to devour her. For behold, the inhabitants of the USA devour her and themselves.
Babylon must fall.(Jeremiah 50-51)
It’s not so much about slowing our pace as it is walking at one equitable and enjoyable. Need to go listen to the “lazy” Negro slave, who known(sic) when to speak and when to remain silent.
“Tarrypin walk fast ’nuff fer to go visitin’.”
“Jay-bird don’t rob his own nes’.”
“All de buzzards in de settlement ’ll come to de gray mule’s funeri.”
“Watch out w’en you’er gittin all you want. Fattenin’ hogs ain’t in luck.”
Nevertheless, I consider the United States of America home and family, however estranged, strained, tried and tired, we and our relationships may be. And one member of my family means as much to me as another, and I’ve no respect of persons.
No one is to blame but all are accountable.
My family and home will always be my family and home.
As such, I wish to contribute and enjoy what we have been blessed with.
Not being able to find a congregation and place to worship at first seemed a curse, but has turned out to be a blessing well hidden by family members what cared enough to protect the sacred and the ordained/anointed, in order to preserve a bridge between that which is above and that which is below, that we might always be able to work together and coexist.
That is one reason I have always been attracted to the Puritan Faith and Branch of Judaism. A Faith of sojourners, outcasts and pilgrims; Jews who keep it simple so as not to disrupt nor dishonour Creation, nor meddle too perversely in its affairs, but rather learn from Her and garner what one may Lawfully so as to Glorify their Creator in their everyday lives.
I adore the ways in which my people understand, preserve and honour the old as well as the new, even as the enemy continues to diminish and encroach upon that freedom which permits us to live simply with an abundance of ingenuity and charity.
I wish to G-d that my portion or offering and influence may hold the “world” at bay for at least a season longer and enable us to all the more wisely and equitably establish our unique Nation, preserving as much of the intentional, original Liberty which the G-d of our father’s Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bestowed upon us as a promise and covenant everlasting.
Surely G-d shall not suffer that we, who are despised because we take upon us the name of the L-RD, shall be trodden down and destroyed, until we bring it upon us by our own transgressions.
So, while I must be strict with myself and my devotion to G-d, rather than infringe upon or inhibit anyone else’s talent or freedom of expression, or belittle their aspirations, I must strive all the more earnestly to enable them to do their own thing and care for one another rightly within the context of G-dly parameters and righteous judgment often lacking in the world Babylonian.
In the hope that my and their own hearts and wills will lead them back to the G-d of their Salvation. At which time, our minds and hearts may meet and carry out this long awaited “marvelous work and wonder,” in full and honest agreement.
And that perhaps, we may then offer guidance, assistance and blessings to all nations about us and those who will desire to join us rather than oppose us.
It is not easy, especially for those who are cursed for rebellion or ignorance, to suffer and experience the awareness that others are blessed and most richly so, and that is why we as a nation must strive always to be as humble and accommodating as is possible.
Nevertheless, as we have and must continue to do, know when to intervene and disrupt the affairs of foreigners not knowing their right hand from their left. Knowing when to draw a line is not so much as important as knowing who may not cross it.
Let us never be guilty again of establishing an hypocritical Republic/Nation/State.
Everyone has the gift of discernment to differing extents and not all may choose to initiate it in the right way, for the very struggle of survival negates any honourable route of doing so. Thus our Nation is established by dishonourable and honourable vessels, but in the end, all must come to act with one accord honourable with no part incurring guilt upon the whole.
We have muddled through the difficult times and made full use of the productive times, to come to the perfect, and establish the lasting, because of the Everlasting. Let us pay due tribute.
Let it never be said of us that we were guilty of taking advantage of G-d’s Grace and Humility or had set Him at nought when He would to have gathered us. Endeavoring to work around Him and apart from Him as though He did not count, and we ourselves were above the Most High is ungrateful if not unforgivable.
He is of course, much more than necessary but essential to the success of any Nation, Kingdom and Establishment under heaven, if we wish ours to be anything like Heaven in nature or experience.
Without Him our greatest achievements and every endeavor falls tragically short of that which we have every right and obligation to accomplish individually and as a people united.