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    Clearing out the sanctuary – Re’eh

    Chapter 12 of D’varim tells us to clear out the sites where idolaters worshipped their gods. We also have to cut down the graven images of their gods and destroy their names… but the chapter adds, “You shall not do so to the Lord your God” (Deut. 12:1-4).

    Rashi explains this proviso as a prohibition of destroying the Name of God or removing a stone from the altar or the forecourt.

    The circumstances of modern Jewish life give this Rashi a special pertinence. So often it happened that in the interests of appearing “with it” we allow the name of God to be pushed into a back corner of the synagogue.

    “Come to shule to meet your friends,” we tell people – but what we prefer not to say too loudly is, “Come to shule to meet your God!”

    We make it easier for people by downgrading the cornerstones of the Jewish sanctuary – “Don’t worry too much about being kosher… in food, in deed, in business, in public life, in human relationships!”

    We should be making more demands, setting some standards, insisting on criteria. By cheapening, trivialising and vulgarising Jewish life we give away our dignity and sell our heritage for a mass of pottage.

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