05 Aug 2021 Parshas Re’eh – Seeing the Good
In the beginning of this week’s parsha, Parshas Re’eh, Moshe says to the Bnei Yisrael: רְאֵה, אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם—הַיּוֹם בְּרָכָה וּקְלָלָה – See, I am setting before you, on this day, blessings and curses (Devarim 11:26).
While there are shivim panim la’Torah and many interpretations of each word, phrase, and pasuk in Torah, the following insight is relevant to each and every one of us, at each and every age and stage. With so many challenges, struggles and questions in life, sometimes it becomes difficult to remember to count our blessings and focus on the good that we have.
As King David instructs and exhorts us, with his wisdom and faith: מִי–הָאִישׁ, הֶחָפֵץ חַיִּים אֹהֵב יָמִים? לִרְאוֹת טוֹב – Who is the man who desires life, who loves days? One who sees the good (Tehilim 34:13). The key to living a life well-lived and loving days is to be a person who focuses, not on what is lacking, but what is present and blessed.
Commenting on the first verse of the parsha, Rabbi Yissocher Frand writes, “Quirks in the grammar of the Torah’s verses hold many lessons for us. Moshe tells the Jewish people, ‘See (re’eh), I am setting before you (lifneichem), on this day, blessings and curses.’ The word re’eh is in the singular form of the verb (lashon yachid), but the preposition of lifneichem is plural (lashon rabim). Why the discrepancy and inconsistency?
“Furthermore, why was it necessary to preface the gift with the word ‘see’? If you give someone a present, is it necessary to tell him, ‘Look, I am giving you a present’? Is it necessary to point out the obvious?
“The answer is that blessings are not always so obvious. If we don’t make an effort to ‘see’ them, to perceive them, we may not even be aware that we have been blessed. If we think about it, life is full of blessings. In fact, life itself is the greatest blessing. But we take all these things for granted and do not realize how very blessed we are. Therefore, the Torah reminds us to ‘see’ the blessings Hashem has given us.
“The Kotzker Rebbe zt’l (1787-1859) points out that blessings can be given collectively to many people, but each individual will perceive it in his own way, depending on his own particular personality and outlook. Blessings can be universal, but the perception of them is always individual. Therefore, when Hashem tells us to ‘see’ He uses the singular form, but the placement of the blessing is expressed in the plural” (Rabbi Frand on the Parashah, p.262-263).
Perhaps it is human nature to focus more on what we lack than what we have. However, if we but stop and contemplate the grandeur of the world around us, the great gift of life itself, the workings of the human mind and body, and the privilege of being part of Am Yisrael, perhaps then we would truly ‘see’ all the blessings spread out before us.
Miriam Peretz is a well-known Israeli woman, mother and spokesperson and the face of many Israeli families who have lost sons in battle R”L. Miriam lost two sons in the IDF; her son Uriel (age 22 years) fell in 1998 in battle with Hezbollah in the north, and her son Eliraz (age 31 years) fell in 2010 in battle with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, HY”D. Between the loss of her first and second son, her husband Eliezer a’h died at the age of 56 years old, which Miriam attributes to a broken heart. And yet… incredibly, this woman of valor lives a life of: רְאֵה אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם הַיּוֹם בְּרָכָה – recognizing and counting her blessings, and noting the constant presence of G-d in her life.
Miriam powerfully relates, “In the past few years, I have held a constant dialogue with G-d. I discover His mercy in every step of my life, in every angle and situation. On Rosh Hashana eve, I was slicing meat and I almost cut off my finger. At the last second, the knife fell from my hand. I lifted my eyes from the sink, looked through the window to the skies, and said to G-d: ‘Thanks for thinking of me. Thanks for having mercy on me, for permitting me to stand in synagogue this Rosh Hashana without a bandage on my hand. I could have been seriously hurt, but at this crucial moment, You were here with me. Thanks for your kindness to me.
“There’s nothing worse than losing two sons. Yet I, who experienced the worst that could possibly happen, am busy all day long finding G-d’s kindnesses. One day I decided to do an exercise. I took a piece of paper and drew two columns. At the top of the first, I wrote ‘List of my complaints to G-d,’ and for the second, ‘List of G-d’s kindnesses.’ The first list was short: Uriel, Eliezer and Eliraz were taken from me before their time. The second list was practically endless: my daughter Bat-El got married, little Gili danced and sang at their wedding, Uriel’s friend came to visit, my daughter-in-law Shlomit invited me to spend Shabbat at their home, despite a slipped disc in my back I can still go up the stairs and climb up to my children’s graves, I can open my eyes, stand on my feet, enjoy the blossoming of the trees, laugh with my rambunctious grandchildren – and the list goes on and on.
“My dance with G-d has become a daily event. I feel a deep connection to Him. I get up from bed after a sleepless night, I see the sun in the window and say, ‘Thanks for what I have right now.’ Not for the good that might come tomorrow or the next day, but for now. I say, ‘Thanks, G-d, for not forgetting me, for never being too busy for me. You’re always available to listen to my pain’” (Miriam’s Song, p.375-376).
May we always be blessed with many blessings, and may we have the courage, humility, foresight and hakaras ha’tov (recognition of the good), to realize and appreciate all the brachos that G-d showers upon us.
בברכת חודש טוב ושבת שלום,