אה אנכי נותן לפניכם Behold I am setting before you a Beracha and a curse (11:26) - Why does the Parasha open with a singular (Re’eh) and continue in the plural (Lifneichem)? Rav Aharon Kotler ztl. explains that even when the majority does not select that which is “Tov”, the individual is still obligated to do so. While seeing and choosing from the options is a communal obligation, the individual is not exempt from choosing Hashem and His will.
כי אם אל המקום אשר יבחר ה’ באחד שבטיך שם תעלה עולותיך For in the place that Hashem shall choose on one of your tribes that is where you shall bring your korbanos (12:14) - The Gemara (Zevachim 53) notes that the Mizbeiach was not perfectly square at the bottom. Rather it was was missing a corner on the 4th side. Why? The Beis HaMikdash was the dividing line between Yehuda and Binyamin. However, doesn’t this create a problem based on the principle that Yirushalayim was not to be divided between tribes? Tosafos explain that the idea of the line at the base of the Mizbeiach only applies if one holds that Yirushalayim CAN be divided. Alternatively, there is a Halacha L’Moshe M’sinai that we must not make the base of the Mizbeiach perfectly square. The problem is that this idea appears nowhere else. Rav Schachter Shlita mentioned in the name of Rav Chaim and Rav Soloveitchik that there are 2 concepts that imply dividing. There is the spiritual divide of the land into sections which CAN be allowed and the monetary division which cannot -- implying that no one owns the land in Yirushalayim and no one can sell it.
בנים אתם לה’ אלוקיכם You are children to Hashem (14:1) - Rashi comments that we do not make marks on our bodies as that is the way of the Emori and we, as children of Hashem are to appear handsome and wholesome, not torn. Rav Isaac Sher ztl. explained that nowhere else are we referred to as children of Hashem except here. The reason is clear. Even when we are at our lowest point in our personal lives, we need to remember that Hashem still holds from us and we should think highly and stately of ourselves because of that relationship.
לא תאכלו כל תועבה Do not eat any abomination (14:3) - Ramban explains that eating anything not kosher are destructive to the pure soul. That which is non-kosher creates a thick, impenetrable membrane surrounding the soul. Rav Simcha Zissel Broide ztl. adds that the consumption of non-kosher destroys the soul of the person. When it comes to the issue of Orlah, we find that the non-kosher affects the body negatively as well. The point that we are to take away is that forbidden foods has a negative effect on the completeness of the person. Changing our diets has the effect of improving both the body and the soul.
למען תלמד ליראה So that you will learn to fear Hashem (14:23) - Why do we need to learn to fear? Fear is an emotion -- it cannot be trained? Rav Shaul Yisraeli ztl. explained that while certain things may be inborn, one can never be too complacent to think that it is not above weakening. Emunah is one of those things. Throughout the year, man’s involvement in earning a living makes him too busy to think about Hashem and His role in our lives. Therefore, when one goes up to Yirushalayim and carries the Maaser Sheni with him, he is reminded of how routine there -- combines the spiritual into the daily routine and man becomes aware of Hashem in his Daily routine and is inspired to keep seeking it too.
נתון תתן לו You should certainly give him (15:10) - Rabbeinu Bachaya explains that the Torah’s intent here is to teach us the Mitzva of Tzedaka -- that it should be done with comfort and with a sense of earnestness -- without Gaava. If one gives Tzedaka in this manner, s/he will maintain wealth that way. It is reminiscent of the reason that the Tosafos Yom Tov who was the Rav of Cracow is buried near the fence -- in a place uncommon for someone of his stature. The reason why is that there was a person in town known as Shimon the miser. He refused to give a penny to anything while two others in the town -- the baker and the butcher were quite generous. When Shimon died, the Chevra Kadisha decided to teach him a lesson and buried him by the fence. At the same time, the butcher and the baker stopped giving as generously. They explained that they were really the front people for Shimon the miser but had sworn to not let anyone know of his Chessed. When the Tosafos Yom Tov learned of the man and his real generosity, he requested in his last will and testament -- to be buried next to Shimon.
שמור את חדש האביב Guard the month of spring (16:1)- The Torah highlights that the Pesach season is the spring season. Why? Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch ztl. Suggested that the Torah was going against conventional wisdom. Normally we assume that after Hashem established the seasons he selected the proper month -- spring -- for them to leave Mitzrayim. However that was not His intent. Rather, since the month is the month of redemption, therefore Hashem made it spring which is the time of planting so as to remind us that the root of the success of the season is the fact that Hashem brings freedom during this time of the year miraculously.
Haftorah: And the land is my footstool (Yeshayahu 66:1—Shabbos Rosh Chodesh) – What does Yeshayahu mean in his description? Rav Schwab ztl. explained that humans, as opposed to angels, are able to choose to serve Hashem or not to. Everything else in creation submits itself to the instinctual will of Hashem. Hashem’s Kedusha was brought down to the earth by man’s service of Him.