November 21, 2018

Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Re’eh with Rabbi Ben Elton

Our guest this week is Rabbi Ben Elton, Chief Minister of The Great Synagogue in Sydney, Australia. Rabbi Elton earned an MA in History at Queens’ College, Cambridge and a PhD in Jewish History at Birkbeck, University of London. For seven years he worked in the Ministry of Justice in London and then studied for four years at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) in New York. There, he was editor of its journal, a member of its Advanced Kollel and winner of the prize for excellence in Talmudic study. He received Semicha from YCT in June 2015, and in addition has Semicha from Rabbi Chaim Rapoport of London and Rabbi Natan Greenberg of Bat Ayin in Israel. Rabbi Elton is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of London, has been a Visiting Scholar at New York University and Columbia University and a Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. He served as Rabbinic Fellow at Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan until he was appointed Chief Minister of the Great Synagogue in June 2015.

In this Week's Torah Portion – Parashat Re'eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17) – Moses continues speaking to the people of Israel right before he passes away. Moses asks them to recite certain blessings and curses on Mount Grizzim and Mount Ebal after they enter Israel. He demands that they destroy all remnants of idolatry from the Promised Land. He then asks them to choose a city which will host the Holy Temple, and they are forbidden from offering sacrifices anywhere else. The Parasha also discusses false prophets, kashrut, the sabbatical year, and charity. Our discussion focuses on the curious idea of Shemitat Kessafim, the law that forbids demanding debt following a sabbatical year.

Our past discussions of Parashat Re’eh:

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg on the idea that mortality can lead us to despair or to be inspired

Rabbi Bradley Sharvit Artson on the role of the interesting ceremony on Mount Grizzim and Mount Ebal