The Torah Portion of Re'eh
"See (in Hebrew: Re'eh), I present before you today a blessing and a curse." (Devorim 11:26)
The name of this week's Torah Portion, as well as its first word, is "Re'eh" (in Hebrew). The letters of the word "Re'eh" in Hebrew are Raish, Aleph, and Hey. These are the Roshei Teivot (initial letters) of the Hebrew words: "Re'eh Elul Higia" (in English: "Behold, Elul has arrived!"). They are also the initial letters of the Hebrew words: "Elul Rosh Hashonah".
"You shall not do so to Hashem, your G-d. Rather, only at the place that Hashem, your G-d, will choose..." (Devorim 12:4-5)
Someone who erases Hashem's name or destroys items in a Bait Knesset (synagogue) transgresses this verse, "You shall not do so to Hashem, your G-d..." (Devorim 12:4). It is written in the Gemorrah Succah (53a), that at the time that David Hamelech dug deep pits for the Altar, he wrote the Divine Name on a shard of pottery and cast it into the depths, as Achitophel had advised him to do, so that the waters would not flood the world. And this is hinted at in the verse "You shall not do so to Hashem, your G-d" (Devorim 12:4), but for the Bait HaMikdash (Temple) it is permitted, and that is why the verse after that says, "Rather, only at the place that Hashem, your G-d, will choose..." (Devorim 12:5)
"And the pig, for it has a split hoof, but does not chew the cud, it is impure to you... "(Devorim 12:5)
The Sages say that there is none as wealthy as the pig, and none as poor as the dog. The simple explanation is that the pig eats all kinds of filth, but the dog is always hungry. The Gr"a asks, why do the Sages teach us facts about nature? And he explains, that behold, the negative commandment regarding the pig is wealthy, because there are many that fulfill it, since many Jews avoid eating pig. But the dog, which hints at the prohibition of Lashon Hara (forbidden speech) is poor, because only a few people carefully observe the prohibition of Lashon Hara.
The Month of Elul
The Hebrew letters of the name of the month of Elul are: Aleph Lamed Vuv Lamed. These are the Roshei Teivot (initial letters) of the Hebrew words: "L'Bracha V'lo L'Klala" (in English: "For a blessing and not a curse"). They are also the initial letters of the Hebrew words: "L'Chaim V'lo L'Mavet" (in English: "For life and not for death"). And they are also the initial letters of the Hebrew words: "L'Sova V'lo L'Razon" (in English: "For satisfaction and not for starvation").
On the first day of Elul we begin to sound the Shofar. The explanation of the Hebrew word Shofar is that it is similar to the Hebrew word "Shifru", (in English: to improve), i.e., we need to improve our deeds.
"Of David, Hashem is my light and my salvation" (Tehillim 27:1)
On the first day of Elul we begin to say the psalm "L'David Hashem Ori V'yishi" (Tehillim 27:1 -- in English "Of David, Hashem is my light and my salvation") until Simchat Torah. According to the Midrash, the word "Ori" (in English; "my light") in this Psalm refers to Rosh Hashana. The word "V'yishi" (in English: "my salvation") refers to Yom Kippur. "Ki Yitzpinaini B'Succoh" (Tehillim 27:5 -- in English, "For he will hide me in his Succah") refers to Succot.
"One thing I request of Hashem...that I may dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life...and to visit in His Sanctuary" (Tehillim 27:4)
The above verse is written in the Psalm "L'David Hashem Ori" (27:1), which we begin saying on the first day of Elul. It has been noted that there seems to be a contradiction here, because the phrase "all the days of my life" implies that he would be there permanently, on a fixed basis, but "to visit" implies that he would not be there permanently. The explanation is that the nature of a person is that if he becomes accustomed to something, it doesn't arouse him and he doesn't get excited, but if he comes to a new place that causes him excitement. And that is why David said "One thing I request of Hashem...that I may dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life", on a permanent basis, but as if on a visit, with renewal and arousal.
It used to be in Israel that when the announcement of the sancitification of the month of Elul was heard, every person was trembling with fear.
The Torah Portion of Re'eh has 126 verses. 17 commandments. 37 negative commandments.Haftora: "Ania Soara", until "Paarach" (Yishayahu 54:11 - 55:5).
May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat.
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772