Friday, August 02, 2013

The Jerusalem Experience

A Torah Thought for Parashat Re'eh 
By Rabbi Mordechai Rabinowitz

In explaining why a person may eat Second Tithe only in Jerusalem, the Torah (Devarim 14:23) states: "in order that you learn to fear Hashem". Sifrei (quoted by Tosafos, Bava Basra 21a) explains: "A person remains in Jerusalem until he finishes eating all his Second Tithe, and sees everyone engaged in Heavenly pursuits and the Temple service, and he too resolves to fear G-d and study Torah".

Not only is a visitor to Jerusalem exposed to the Temple, he also encounters the greatest sages of Israel, members of the Sanhedrin that convened on the Temple Mount. Because he can subsist on his Second Tithe, he need not worry about making ends meet, and is free to take advantage of the Torah capital of the world by devoting himself entirely to sacred endeavors. By restricting the consumption of Second Tithe (and certain other foods) exclusively to Jerusalem, the Torah thus insures that at least part of the year, a family representative is given time off from his daily routine, for spiritual enrichment in Jerusalem. And on his return, his entire family benefits in learning from him what it means to "fear G-d." (Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvah 360).

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