Seeing and Appearing

Re-eh, anokhi notayn lifnaykhem hayom b’rakha u-k’lalah

“Re-eh, I am placing before you today blessing and curse”

This week’s Torah portion is all about vision; the open word, re-eh, can mean “See!” or “Look!” Some commentators translate it as “Behold!” or “Pay attention!” The intention is the same; this is important.

The verse seems straightforward enough, but a closer look at the Hebrew makes things interesting; the word re-eh, an imperative, is singular, but lifnaykhem, “before you,” is plural. If you believe, as I do, that every word in the Torah is the way it is for a reason, then you need to pay attention to it.

The Book of Devarim, Deuteronomy, covers the last month or so of Moses’ life, and consists of his speeches to B’nai Yisrael as they prepare to enter the promised land. Here, Moses is, at the same time, speaking to both the individual “you,” and the “y’all,” or “yous guys,” meaning the entire community. It’s not the first time we see this in the Torah, and to me it makes an important statement about the responsibilities of individuals and communities. Plus, it’s a lot easier to get the attention of one person than an entire group.

The entire community is being told–in detail–how they will be Divinely blessed if they observe God’s commandments and cursed if they don’t. However, it’s up to each person to not only internalize this knowledge, but to decide how each will act. How one person understands something may be different than the person standing next to them. We each “see” things through our own unique lenses, even though we’re all looking at the same thing.

How do you see/view/look at things differently from others? Do you see curses as blessings in disguise?

The new month of Elul, the month of introspection that leads up to Rosh Hashanah, begins after Shabbat. What do you see moving forward?

Shabbat Shalom and Hodesh tov!





  1. John Finley

    Hi Susan. Ah, blessings/curses. I’ve found most things to be double-edged swords. Even the relative miracles of technology leave much to be desired. This marvel of a computer, on which I type this, distresses me at times. When I go nearly anywhere, people staring into screens, seemingly oblivious to their fellows. Selfies! Don’t people ever just enjoy the moment anymore? As we receive too much, too fast, the wonder in it never lasts. I use and abuse Facebook, but I’ve never had even the mildest urge to photograph my dinner. Do these things make me too judgmental? “Asking for a friend.” LOL Ciao and Shalom!

    • susan-adm1n

      All good thoughts, John. And I rarely photograph my dinner, but there was the time that the arrangement on the dish looked like Jonah and the whale!


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