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Come to Jerusalem!

By: Mrs Malka Hubscher

In Parshat Re’eh we find both national mitzvot such as destroying all pagan temples in the land of Israel and others are personal individual mitzvot such as dietary laws of Kashrut. Rav Aviner points out that our parsha is a beautiful example of the harmony and balance that exists in the Jewish people between the individual and the nation. We are required to build a strong, moral and G-dly nation while simultaneously elevating our own personal holiness and relationship with G-d.

One such personal Mitzva that appears in our Parsha is Ma’aser Sheini. In addition to the tithes given yearly to the Levi’im , each individual is required to take an additional tenth of the produce travel with it to Yerushalayim and partake of the produce within its walls. Ma’aser Sheni is brought and eaten in Yerushalayim on the first, second, fourth and fifth year of the Shemitta cycle.

Unlike other gifts given to Kohanim and Leviim, ma’aser sheni is unique in that it is eaten by the owners themselves and the only requirement is that it must be eaten in Yerushalayim. While there is a separate Mitzva of ayilah la’regel three times a year where all the Jewish people make their way to the Mikdash to celebrate the shalosh regalim and bring the required sacrifices, maaser sheni can be brought any time. There is no specific time a year when it is required to go to Yerushalayim to eat maaser sheni, and each individual can come when it is convenient for him. During the holidays, Yerushalayim was packed, the streets and mikdash were bustling with people and one felt the power of the masses. It makes the Jew who normally farms his own land, perhaps secluded on a mountaintop somewhere; suddenly feel part of something great. It is the powerful feeling that a person experiences when he realizes that he is part of a large and great nation, it is the power in numbers. However, crowds can be overwhelming and sometimes the sheer number of people in one place takes away from the intimacy one should feel with G-d at the Mikdash. Perhaps that is the idea behind Maaser Sheni. Once a year, bring your food and eat in Yerushalayim. Come when it is not too crowded, at a time when it is convenient for you, when there is no traffic and plenty of places to stay. Come to Yerushalayim for a quiet, intimate experience with holiness, with Yerushalayim and with G-d. The Alshich explains that it is during this time when you are eating your ma’aser sheni in Yerushalayim when you will have time to reflect upon the produce you are eating from your own felids. While eating this produce in Yerushalayim you will have the time and serenity to contemplate and thank G-d for the blessing of prosperity and recognize that all the produce and all the goodness in your life comes from Hashem.  This realization will continue to inspire and elevate him throughout the year reminding him to always attribute and thank his success to Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

Shabbat Shalom.




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