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Friday, Menachem Av 29, 5778 / August 10, 2018


One of the many mitzvot (commandments) recorded in this week's Parsha, Re'ay, and in next week’s Parsha, Shoftim, is the prohibition against worshipping idols.


Moshe commands the Jewish people that they must destroy the idols, the altars, and everything associated with them when they enter the Land of Israel.


Moshe also warns the people not to go astray after false prophets who would try to convince them to worship idols, even if they offer a sign or a miracle that comes true; "Do not listen to the words of that prophet or unto that dreamer of dreams, for the L-rd your G-d is testing you, to know whether you love G-d with all your heart and with all your soul. After the L-rd your G-d you shall walk, and Him you shall fear and His commandments you shall keep and unto His voice you shall listen and Him you shall serve and unto Him you shall cleave."


The Talmud tells the following story:  The Roman Emperor Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva why G-d hates idol worshippers?


Rabbi Akiva replied, "I will give you an answer tomorrow."


The next day, Rabbi Akiva appeared before the Emperor and said, "Last night I had a strange dream. I dreamt that I had two dogs and I named them Rufus and Rufina."


The Emperor became furious. "You deserve the death penalty!" he yelled. How dare you name your dogs after me and my wife?"


"Hear what you have just said," exclaimed Rabbi Akiva. "Although there are many parallels between your actions and that of a dog; you both eat; you procreate as he does; and you both die, yet, if I called a dog by your and your wife's name you became furious."


"How much more so with G-d Al-mighty Who is the creator of the entire universe. He is eternal and all-powerful, yet you come along and name images of wood and stone 'God'. Can you expect him to tolerate this? Therefore He despises idol worshipers."


Tonight (Friday night), Shabbat and Sunday is Rosh Chodesh of the new Hebrew month Elul.


Elul is the last month of the year. The month of Elul is a special month. Although there are no holidays in Elul, it is the month in which we prepare for the coming New Year. Elul is the month in which we excel in prayer, charity and good deeds. It is the month in which we take an accounting of what we neglected during the past year, and make positive resolutions (to be kept) for the coming year.




Montrealcandle lighting time: 7:51 / Shabbat ends: 8:58