In Parashat Re’eih, God talks about being careful when there is a false prophet in the midst of the nation, as the Pasuk (Devarim 13:4) states, "Lo Tishma El Divrei HaNavi HaHu O El Choleim HaChalom Hahu," "Do not listen to the words of that prophet, or to that dreamer of a dream.” God warns the Jewish people to never listen to those false prophets, as they are not clairvoyant and are hiding the fact that they worship other gods. The Jewish people should recognize that they are a test from God and not follow them.
The Torah imposes a very harsh consequence on the false prophet when he falsifies a prophecy. The Torah states, "VeHaNavi Hahu O Choleim HaChalom Hahu Yumat Ki Diber Sarah Al Hashem Elokeichem," "And that prophet, and that dreamer of a dream, shall be put to death, for he had spoken perversion against Hashem” (Devarim 13:6). Isn't this a disproportionate punishment? Why would God put a false prophet to death?
We learn from here that worshipping idols is a grave sin that, if Jews commit, they are liable for an extremely harsh punishment. The Torah describes Hashem as “jealous”, and that He cannot tolerate when people think they are better than He; God wants every Jew to realize that He is the one and only God for all eternity.
A second reason as to why the false prophet receives a harsh punishment is because he is not the only one that sins. He causes other Jews to sin as well, which is what God hates most. He leads his peers astray and towards fake gods, and he hurts the entire community.
Later on in the Parashah, we find that God refers to the Jewish people as an “Am Segulah,” a treasured nation (14:2). We are treasured in the eyes of God, but only if we observe the Torah and adhere to His Mitzvot. We have an obligation to believe in Him and trust that He is the one and only – He is the one who took us out from Egyptian slavery.
As Jews, we have many practices that make us distinct from the other nations. For example, we are not allowed to eat the non-Kosher foods. The Sefer HaChinuch explains that this is to keep us separate from the other nations and create a partition between our meals and theirs.
We must be distinct in our commitment to serve the one and only God who created the world, and not be influenced by the world around us. This will eventually merit Mashiach, and hopefully we will experience the coming of Mashiach in our lifetime.