Parashat Re’eh – A Modern Day Moloch

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In the third aliyah of parshat Re’eh, a horrendous practice that certain cultures considered to be a part of their religious worship is referenced.

You shall not do so to the Lord, your God; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates, they did to their gods, for also their sons and their daughters they would burn in fire to their gods. (Deuteronomy 11:31)

At a certain time in history, people would literally offer up their children as a sacrifice to their gods. They would burn their children on an altar in the name of the god Moloch.

It’s almost unfathomable to think of such a practice taking place. What would compell a person to sacrifice their own flesh and blood to a deity? What rationale could someone possibly rely on? Only a monster could do such a thing.

What’s puzzling is that the Torah warns us not to partake in such practices. It says that this is an abomination to God. Perhaps it was in reference to the story of Abraham and Isaac. It’s possible that people may have taken the story to heart, and attempted to sacrifice their own children to demonstrate their devotion to God. Maybe.

I think that if there were normal Jews who would literally kill their children for God, they were mentally deranged. And I have to assume that the Torah was not written to instruct the mentally deranged. There must be something more relevant to “normal” people like me and you.

Maybe the Torah is talking about some of the other ways in which mankind has effectively sacrificed its progeny. When young men and women still in their teenage years are sent to fight in wars, that might be a manifestation of Moloch. When harmful practices are threatening the natural world we live in, that might be setting future generations on fire. When children are raised in homes without parents or role model aside from those on television, that is an offering up to perverse and false gods.

Maybe Allen Ginsberg had it right about Moloch. We need to realize that what we sow today, our children reap tomorrow.

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