Torah E-Thought: Seeing is Believing
This Week at Chabad Lubavitch Leeds

Light Candles in Leeds :

Friday, 11th Aug  7:30pm
Shabbat Ends,
9:38 pm
Torah Portion: 

Chabad Lubavitch Leeds   Email: [email protected]   Phone:

Message from the Rabbi
Dear Friend,

We’ve been having an amazing time at Camp Gan Israel with the children enjoying activities, sports and trips! It is difficult to believe that it is almost the end of the second week. You can see our pictures below and online here .

During the summer we often have a little extra time on our hands. Why not consider some Jewish study online at or with a new study partner via . See the advertisement below.

For the next month the Shabbat Pack booking form is closed. We will still be delivering to our regular recipients and if anyone is in urgent need they can email
[email protected] and we will do our best to help out.

Wishing you a Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Eli Pink
Director of Education
Chabad Lubavitch Leeds


The microscope was a great invention, which brought to light so many creatures that cannot be seen by the naked eye — but interesting enough, to kosher observing Jews, the microscope brought many challenges. 

In this week’s Torah portion, we learn about all the animals, birds and fish that are kosher to eat. And with regards to fish, the Torah tells us explicitly, “This you shall eat from all that is in the water. Everything that has fins and scales you shall eat, and everything that does not have fins and scales you shall not eat.” 

This means basically that any sea or water creature that isn’t a fish isn’t kosher—turtles, octopuses, lobsters, shrimp, and dolphins, for starters. Some fish aren’t kosher either, like sharks, which have fins but no scales. 

The next verse continues, “And all swarming things among the birds are impure to you,” meaning that water creatures that are not fish are also considered “swarming things.” What’s a swarming thing? Anything that swarms, creeps or crawls, whether on land or under the water - and any swarming thing is not kosher. 

In 2004, the news spread that copepods were found in the New York City drinking water.  Copepods are tiny crustaceans that can be found in many natural bodies of water. Some of them can grow up to two millimetres long, but most of them are so small you can’t see them without a microscope. But even though they are that small, they still have a head, a stomach, legs and antennae. They look like monsters. 

When the news hit New York, the Jews had a problem: Is New York City tap water kosher? There was a huge debate among the rabbis. Most rabbinical authorities ruled that any creature in your drinking water  - or food, for that matter - that is too small to be seen by the unaided eye is not forbidden. If you can’t see it, there’s no prohibition involved. Our Sages said: “Torah was not given to angels.” A human being is not an angel and must therefore only be careful about what they can see. We don’t need to check our food and water under a microscope; once you start with that, you’ll find microbes, bacteria like E. coli and other living and definitely non-kosher things. Determining what is kosher based on what we cannot see would make keeping kosher virtually impossible. 

But a big part of the debate over the copepods in New York’s drinking water was the definition of “visible.” Is a dot in the water enough to be considering “seeing something”? Or do you need to actually see the thing swimming and moving, alive and kicking? Some rabbis held that if you see a tiny dot, it’s already enough to be considered non-kosher. 

The Talmud opines, “hearing does not compare to seeing.” There’s a difference between when you hear about something or if you see it yourself. 

If you hear a noise that sounds like an airplane, and someone tells you that it actually was the static of a radio, you can’t argue with them, because you only heard, not saw; you can’t be sure where the sound came from. However, if you saw the plane fly over your house, then no one will be able to convince you that the sound you heard was not that of an airplane. 

In Judaism, we find this difference too. There are two levels at which a Jew can observe the Torah and mitzvos: Belief and knowledge.

Belief means that a person keeps the Torah because they believe it. They don’t understand it. They’re not convinced about it. They do it because they heard that you’re supposed to believe it. It doesn’t inspire them, but they keep it out of habit. 

The higher level is knowledge. At the level of knowledge, one not only understands that they should keep the Torah, but practically sees with their very eyes the importance of keeping the Torah and mitzvot. They see the urgency and importance of it, and they are so sure of it that it’s as if they are literally seeing something physical. In other words, it’s an established fact to them in such a way that debate has no relevance whatsoever. 

In Jewish history, the first time the Jewish Nation saw G-dliness was at the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. The Torah tells us, “And all the people were seeing the thunder,” on which Rashi comments, “They saw that which is heard, which is impossible to see in any other situation.” G-d was so real to them, it was as if they were actually seeing Him with their physical eyes. 

This is our mission as a Jew. We start our spiritual journey by hearing: We hear about G-d. We hear about Torah. But that’s it. But as we grow in years and in Judaism, we should work on ourselves to start seeing things differently. We move from doing mitvzot because we are told to, to doing mitzvot because it is clear to us that there is no other way.


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Friday Night, 7.30pm

Shabbat Morning, 10.00am

Sunday Morning 8.30am

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Parshah in a Nutshell

Parshat Re'eh

The name of the Parshah, "Re'eh," means "See," and it is found in Deuteronomy 11:26.

“See,” says Moses to the people of Israel, “I place before you today a blessing and a curse”—the blessing that will come when they fulfill G‑d’s commandments, and the curse if they abandon them. These should be proclaimed on Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal when the people cross over into the Holy Land.

A Temple should be established in "the place that G‑d will choose to make dwell His name there,” where the people should bring their sacrifices to Him; it is forbidden to make offerings to G‑d in any other place. It is permitted to slaughter animals elsewhere, not as a sacrifice but to eat their meat; the blood (which in the Temple is poured upon the altar), however, may not be eaten.

A false prophet, or one who entices others to worship idols, should be put to death; an idolatrous city must be destroyed. The identifying signs for kosher animals and fish, and the list of non-kosher birds (first given in Leviticus 11), are repeated.

A tenth of all produce is to be eaten in Jerusalem, or else exchanged for money with which food is purchased and eaten there. In certain years this tithe is given to the poor instead. Firstborn cattle and sheep are to be offered in the Temple, and their meat eaten by the kohanim (priests).

The mitzvah of charity obligates a Jew to aid a needy fellow with a gift or loan. On the Sabbatical year (occurring every seventh year), all loans are to be forgiven. All indentured servants are to be set free after six years of service.

Our Parshah concludes with the laws of the three pilgrimage festivals— Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot—when all should go to “see and be seen” before G‑d in the Holy Temple.

Learn: Re'eh in Depth
Browse: Re'eh Parshah Columnists
Prep: Devar Torah Q&A for Re'eh
Read: Haftarah in a Nutshell
Play: Re'eh Parshah Quiz