Re’eh – Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17 – The Torah portion (parashat ha shavuah) for Shabbat, Saturday, Aug. 23

Judaism forbids idolatry, as we read this week, “If there appears among you a prophet or a dream-diviner and he gives you a sign or a portent, saying, “Let us follow and worship another god” … do not “heed the words of that prophet or that dream-diviner. For the Lord your God is testing you to see whether you really love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.” What does it mean to worship false gods? We can answer this question by exploring what it means to worship God. The simplest answer is the one given by Hillel to the Roman soldier who asked Hillel to explain the Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel answered, “Whatever is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah.” We worship God when we treat our neighbors, and by extension our families and communities, with kindness, respect and empathy. We worship idols when we care more about ourselves than we do others, when we care more about material success than moral integrity, and when we ignore the needs of others. Hillel’s last words to the Roman were, “now go and learn.” Let us learn true service by studying Torah and serving the needs of others.