Shabbat Re-eh 5783

It’s been a long time since I was a regular South Park viewer, so until today I was not aware of a sketch from 2021 that became a pop culture phenomenon and viral meme (see me at kiddush if you need that translated). In this episode, the incorrigible and profane Eric Cartman goes with his mother on the Maury Povich show featuring uncontrollable children. Cartman says as a refrain,”Whateva, whateva, I do what I want!” It’s an over-the-top parody of anarchic behavior, but it must have struck a chord with the public, because it spread far and wide. You can even buy a t-shirt with the catch phrase, along with an image of Cartman in a bikini.
If you feel just a bit dumber than you did before learning this, I apologize. But I want us to be aware that concerns about the growth of anarchy are both ancient and contemporary. The ancient worry is expressed in this morning’s Torah reading, Parshat Re-eh. As Moshe emphasizes the centralization of worship that will take effect when the People enter and settle in the Promised Land, he reminds them that up until now, that hasn’t been a concern. “You shall not act at all as we now act here, each of us as we please, because you have not yet come to the allotted haven that the LORD your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 12:8-9). What does Moshe mean when he says that, at the moment, all Isa able to act “as they please?”
On Shabbat morning, we’ll look at a commentary that puts his concern in context of sacrificial worship. We’ll also explore the harsh negative consequences of anarchy in the eyes of the Bible and its creeping influence around the world.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise
Candle lighting: 7:40 PM
Torah Reading: Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17
Haftarah: Isaiah 54:11-55:5