What You See is What You Get
“SEE, I present before you today a blessing and a curse.”
ראה אנכי נתן לפניכם היום ברכה וקללה
Did the opening of our Parasha really need the word ראה "SEE?" Not really. It could have started off, "I present before you today..." It would not have changed the meaning of the rest of the verse at all. Furthermore, why does Moshe need to paint such a Black & White picture for the Jewish People? It seems like we have ONLY TWO choices to make. Either we DO the Will of Hashem and we will be BLESSED. Or we DO NOT do the Will of Hashem and we will be CURSED! Pretty simple...right??
Well, not really. The most profound attribute of man - over ALL CREATION in the Universe, including the Higher Spheres of Angels and above is בְּחִירָה Freedom of Choice! Nothing, absolutely nothing... not even the animals or the plants or the oceans or the stars have any choice. They are all doing the Will of Hashem 24/7. But NOT MAN!
Why does G-d grant man free choice? Chasidic sources teach us that only thru free choice can man be elevated to a higher plane of Divine service. Were man’s choice between good and evil to come naturally, he would not have any sense of accomplishment. What would he have earned?
For this reason, man is confronted at every stage of his life with challenges which he must overcome on his own. By Hashem's design, evil has no substance, and as darkness is repelled by light, evil would be instantly subdued by the power of holiness. But in order to allow free choice to operate, evil is granted the power to present an obstacle to the forces of holiness. Indeed, the forces of evil are granted sufficient strength to parallel even the highest spiritual levels, for there must always be an evil and a good to choose between.
Nevertheless, these challenges have one purpose: that man face them and overcome them. The good which man manages to spread in the world is in fact his own doing. He is not merely a recipient of Divine favor; he makes a contribution of his own!
So back to our original question, why does the Parasha need to begin with the word, "SEE?"
Just think about all of your senses...hearing, smell, taste, touch and sight. Did you notice that you can take your finger and poke your ears, your nose, your tongue, your skin and you really won't hurt anything. BUT, if you poke your EYES, you will feel excruciating pain! Our EYES are absolutely the most sensitive part of our body - whether they're being poked, being exposed to bright light, underwater, in a smokey room - I believe you get the message by now!
Let’s consider how this Message speaks to us...
For those of us who are familiar with the AA 12 Step Program that throughout the Big Book we learn repeatedly that the key to our Sobriety and Recovery is changing how we SEE the world: "the person, the place, the thing or the situation" (from BB pg 417). As it says on pg 72, the Mission and the Success of our Program is to "get a NEW ATTITUDE, a NEW RELATIONSHIP with Hashem and to discover the obstacle in our path."
Chevra, let's get very clear about this!
ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING!
So let's get back to Parasha Re'eh. And now tie the two messages together. The first message of Re'eh is that we have Choices! And that is up to each of us to make the choice that will either be a Blessing or a Curse...
And the second message of Re'eh is that our Attitude towards the Stuff of Life will determine whether we have Serenity or not!
I invite each of you to consider the following LIST and realized that based on how you SEE each of these items and what your ATTITUDE is will determine if they are a Blessing or a Curse! Think carefully about each item and I believe there is a lot of room for discussion. But as we now understand it the CHOICE IS UP TO YOU.
HERE'S THE LIST: