Parsha Reeh — From ESG to Impact

In this week’s Parsha, you have three cornerstones of Jewish practice. Keeping Kosher, Charity (treating others fairly), and observing the festivals.

My theme for the year is ESG — Environment, Social, Governance. Using this, I will want to highlight a few thoughts.

Kosher — inbuilt limitations

You shall not eat anything abhorrent.

לֹ֥א תֹאכַ֖ל כׇּל־תּוֹעֵבָֽה

These are the animals that you may eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat.

זֹ֥את הַבְּהֵמָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר תֹּאכֵ֑לוּ שׁ֕וֹר שֵׂ֥ה כְשָׂבִ֖ים וְשֵׂ֥ה עִזִּֽים׃

לֹ֣א תֹאכְל֣וּ כׇל־נְ֠בֵלָ֠ה לַגֵּ֨ר אֲשֶׁר־בִּשְׁעָרֶ֜יךָ תִּתְּנֶ֣נָּה וַאֲכָלָ֗הּ א֤וֹ מָכֹר֙ לְנׇכְרִ֔י כִּ֣י עַ֤ם קָדוֹשׁ֙ אַתָּ֔ה לַיהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ לֹֽא־תְבַשֵּׁ֥ל גְּדִ֖י בַּחֲלֵ֥ב אִמּֽוֹ׃ {פ}

You shall not eat anything that has died a natural death; give it to the stranger in your community to eat, or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a people consecrated to your God יהוה. You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.

Thoughts on Environment — Keeping Kosher teaches us to follow rules of consumption and limits our eating habits. Today, we are blessed with an abundance of food and unhealthy eating practices. We overconsume food and the world’s resources. Part of the key to a better lifestyle and fight for a return to God’s Natural world (aka Climate Change) is to curb our consumption habits.

Charity — Treating others fairly

עַשֵּׂ֣ר תְּעַשֵּׂ֔ר אֵ֖ת כׇּל־תְּבוּאַ֣ת זַרְעֶ֑ךָ הַיֹּצֵ֥א הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה שָׁנָ֥ה שָׁנָֽה׃

You* shall set aside every year a tenth part of all the yield of your sowing that is brought from the field.

כִּֽי־יִהְיֶה֩ בְךָ֨ אֶבְי֜וֹן מֵאַחַ֤ד אַחֶ֙יךָ֙ בְּאַחַ֣ד שְׁעָרֶ֔יךָ בְּאַ֨רְצְךָ֔ אֲשֶׁר־יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ נֹתֵ֣ן לָ֑ךְ לֹ֧א תְאַמֵּ֣ץ אֶת־לְבָבְךָ֗ וְלֹ֤א תִקְפֹּץ֙ אֶת־יָ֣דְךָ֔ מֵאָחִ֖יךָ הָאֶבְיֽוֹן׃

If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your kin in any of your settlements in the land that your God יהוה is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kin.

Thoughts on Social — Treating others fairly and helping those in need especially stranger are laid out in these verses in this week’s reading. These are cornerstones of the UN SDGs (which is the basis of ESG) — no poverty, no hunger, better health, and living conditions.

We are commanded to give 10% of our earnings to others. Imagine the benefit and impact If we all set aside 10% to make the world a better place.

Festivals — Remembering, Celebrating

לֹא־תֹאכַ֤ל עָלָיו֙ חָמֵ֔ץ שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִ֛ים תֹּֽאכַל־עָלָ֥יו מַצּ֖וֹת לֶ֣חֶם עֹ֑נִי כִּ֣י בְחִפָּז֗וֹן יָצָ֙אתָ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם לְמַ֣עַן תִּזְכֹּ֗ר אֶת־י֤וֹם צֵֽאתְךָ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֥י חַיֶּֽיךָ׃

You shall not eat anything leavened with it; for seven days thereafter you shall eat unleavened bread, the bread of distress — for you departed from the land of Egypt hurriedly — so that you may remember the day of your departure from the land of Egypt as long as you live.

Thoughts on Governance — We are commanded to remember our past, remember that were slaves in Egypt, and remember that we were saved by God. Remembrance, Accounting is an important part of life. Without sensitivity to the past, we cannot impact the present and the future.

In conclusion, I want to go back to the opening sentence of the Parsha.

רְאֵ֗ה אָנֹכִ֛י נֹתֵ֥ן לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם בְּרָכָ֖ה וּקְלָלָֽה׃

See, this day I set before you a blessing and curse:

Following on from this is a calling to obey the commandments in our Land.

We have a clear choice to choose between good and not bad. We have a clear calling to choose to be blessed. Seek the good and the best in ourselves and others.

Both on an individual level, and as people in our Land — Israel.

We need to use the principles of ESG and turn this into Impact. We all need to help and play our part in the Jewish and Israeli story-A light to the Nations, Tikkun Olam, and Israel as the Impact Nation.


Part 2

In the first part of this blog, I have shown how we can use ESG as a fierce force for good. Unfortunately, it has become politicized and we are seeing a big backlash, The world, unfortunately, seems to be choosing evil over good.

Parsha Reeh — Good vs Bad

רְאֵ֗ה אָנֹכִ֛י נֹתֵ֥ן לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם בְּרָכָ֖ה וּקְלָלָֽה׃

See, this day I set before you a blessing and curse:

Following on from this is a calling to obey the commandments in our Land.

We have a clear choice to choose good and not the bad.

We are commanded to root out the bad.

אַבֵּ֣ד תְּ֠אַבְּד֠וּן אֶֽת־כׇּל־הַמְּקֹמ֞וֹת אֲשֶׁ֧ר עָֽבְדוּ־שָׁ֣ם הַגּוֹיִ֗ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַתֶּ֛ם יֹרְשִׁ֥ים אֹתָ֖ם אֶת־אֱלֹהֵיהֶ֑ם עַל־הֶהָרִ֤ים הָֽרָמִים֙ וְעַל־הַגְּבָע֔וֹת וְתַ֖חַת כׇּל־עֵ֥ץ רַעֲנָֽן׃

You must destroy all the sites at which the nations you are to dispossess worshiped their gods, whether on lofty mountains and on hills or under any luxuriant tree.

Today, the Jewish return to our Land of Israel is undermined by the hatred, lies, and terror of the Palestinians.

On the Yishai Fleisher podcast

Yishai speaks with veteran Israeli advocate Maurice Hirsch about fighting the deep-seated antisemitism and anti-Zionism of Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO/PA. Then, on Table Torah: Why we should be proud of our strength — when we recognize that it comes from God.

Maurice is a director at Palestinian media watch(PMW)

“PMW believes that the key to the future is peace education. Our research, however, shows that Palestinian children have not been given that key. More than two decades since the signing of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority is still actively poisoning the minds of its children with hate.”

We have since 1995, and the Oslo Accords, duplicity, and double talk.

As we can see in the Parsha, we are commanded to root out Idol worship (aka hatred, lies, and terror)

We are given a choice — blessing or curse. good or evil. The Palestinians have chosen the side of evil.

They educate their children to hate. Their heroes are terrorists who killed innocent civilizations, They pay people to kill the Jews. They indoctrinate their people and the world to hate the Jews and delegitimize Israel. They practice Apartheid on the Jews. We are not allowed into their areas, and they forbid the sale of the property to Jews.

Yet, Israel treats them as peace partners, finances their anti-Israel efforts, and more.

Time to call a spade a spade.

I am sharing this post by Hillel Full, which adds some flavour to what I am trying to express.

“Today’s feature is Mark Halawa.

While Mark is an amazing professional with serious online influence, it’s his personal story that is most extraordinary.

I have followed Mark on Twitter for a very long time. You can find him at @HalawaMark. The man is a walking inspiration.

His bio reads “A faithful child of Abraham. Muslim & Jew. Father to brilliant girls. Businessman. Public Speaker.”

Mark “Mordechai” Halawa was born into a secular Muslim family in Kuwait. I mean, I could stop there, and he’d already be one of the most interesting features I’ve ever done.

His father owned a successful construction business that provided a privileged life for him and his four siblings.

Even though he and his family were non-observant Muslims, his father was extremely anti-Israel.

Growing up, Mark had heard family rumors, which proved to be true, that his maternal grandmother was Jewish.

While studying at the University of Western Ontario, he met a rabbi who, to his obvious shock, explained to him that according to Jewish law, which determines religion through the mother, he was a Jew.

He then began to explore his religious roots, which ultimately led him to Israel to study in Yeshiva.

He now uses his remarkable story to bridge gaps and spread truth in the hopes of one day having peace in the region.

Mark now lives in Jerusalem with his wonderful wife and children.

From a recent profile on Mark: “Mark Halawa remembers the Friday when he was 10 or 11 going with his grandfather to a mosque in Kuwait. It was not something he did with his father, who had little time for religion.

The imam began by talking about the importance of taking care of parents or of giving charity in secret. But then he moved on to more political matters. “Look what the Jews are doing to our Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine,” he declared.

And then he went on to “how the evil Jewish brothers of the prophet of Islam, Yosef [Joseph], dumped him down the well to kill him just because he went to them and told that he is the prophet of Allah… Everyone became angry, I was huffing and puffing.”

It was not the kind of upbringing to prepare him for where he is now — raising a Jewish family in Jerusalem across the street from where the Prime Minister of Israel lives.”

When Mark’s father was three years old, Israel’s War of Independence broke out and the family fled their home in Beit Shean, following instructions from the Jordanian army “to go to Jordan because the Arab armies are on their way to liberate the place and kick the Jews’ butts”.

After they moved to Kuwait in the 60s, his father became a successful engineer and worked with the man (and arch-terrorist) who became the face of the PLO, Yasir Arafat.

Despite Mark’s western education, he still recalls one teacher regularly talking of Palestinian teenagers killed by “Zionist bullets” and another asking him, “If one rocket can kill seven Jews, how many Jews could you kill with five rockets”.

“Within a few years, he found himself speaking out against campus antisemitism and learning about the Holocaust. “I never knew there was such a thing called the Holocaust. A rabbi from Aish Hatorah offered me to go to Poland and Israel on a leadership trip in 2009. I saw everything that we were taught we wanted to do to the Jews had been done to the Jews already. I was just devastated.”

“On a trip with 30 students from North America, he spent a week in Poland and three weeks in Israel, where he “fell in love” with the country — “every day I had a culture shock”. Having previously thought it was an apartheid country, instead he saw “Jews and Arabs and Muslims and everybody — you don’t know who who was”.

Mark now works as a principal at The MERSAD Group, a boutique consultancy firm dedicated to excellence in the area of advanced security solutions, intensive fish-farming technology, and Bio-Fuel cost reduction solutions. Their services cater to governments, and Fortune 500 companies. He’s been there for a decade and a half.

“But while some people who undergo such a religious transition come to repudiate their past, he still likes Muslim culture.

Yet his journey has come at a cost. “Today I am barely speaking with my parents,” he told Limmud, “but I am trying always to keep the peace.” His dream remains to welcome them one day at his home in Jerusalem over Shabbat.”



Jeffrey Levine provides CFO, Director, ESG Advisory Services through and is a promoter of ideas and trends where Innovation meets ESG

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Jeffrey Levine

Jeffrey Levine provides CFO, Director, ESG Advisory Services through and is a promoter of ideas and trends where Innovation meets ESG