Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Jewish Heritage
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Re'eh) Selective Vision!!

This week’s Parsha begins with the word Re’eh, which means “See”. Moshe tells the Jewish people, “See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing is when you listen to G-d’s commandments; and the curse is when you do not follow the dictates of the Almighty.”

The Malbim explains that the word Re’eh – “see” refers to something apparent, and the blessings are apparent through the sense of accomplishment, fulfillment and spiritual growth of those who embrace Torah observance.

If so, that the blessings that follow one who observes the Torah are evident and clear, why did the Torah find it necessary to warn of a curse if the laws of the Torah are not followed?

This is because human nature is such that although things can be very clear and evident, it becomes difficult to internalize it in one’s mind.

Moshe therefore begins his remarks saying, Re’eh – “See”. If you peer into what I am presenting to you in a profound and serious way you’ll wind up making the right decisions and they will be met with blessing. However, if you do not internalize the message, the opposite will occur.

Testimony by Torah law is accepted from two witnesses. When the testimony of the two witnesses matches, based on what each one saw from his perspective, it confirms that what they saw was exact and accurate and not fabricated or assumed.

As we follow the news about Israel’s current war with Hamas, we see the blatantly skewed reporting against Israel, particularly in the headlines, captions and hateful op-eds.

Too often, they focus on one detail which in of itself, sounds and appears appalling. However, when you step back and see the entire scope, an entirely different picture emerges.

This is another example where people engage in ‘selective seeing.’

There are times when someone sets out to do the worst possible thing, and yet they can experience a moment of clarity.

There is a fascinating story that emerged during the war in Gaza pertaining to a woman suicide bomber.

In the midst of a very dangerous operation, IDF soldiers went into a mosque looking for weapons, explosives and rockets. There they encountered a female suicide bomber who was about to detonate her belt which would have killed the soldiers. One of the soldiers instinctively recited our holy declaration, “Shema Yisroel…” The female suicide bomber hesitated and began trembling, giving the soldiers a chance to grab her and disable her device. She was turned over to a counter-intelligence unit. Their investigation uncovered that the female suicide bomber’s mother was a Jew who married a Palestinian in Israel and subsequently was taken against her will into Gaza. There she lived a life of abuse, humiliation and captivity. In addition to the female suicide bomber, there were two smaller children. An armored force went in and rescued the two small children.

As insane and demoralized as she was, ready to take her own life and the lives of others, the cry of, “Shema Yisroel..” touched her Jewish soul giving her a moment of hesitation and clarity. It saved her life and the lives of many others!

The Torah spells out the names of non kosher species of birds. One of the birds is called a Raah, which literally means, “the bird that sees – because it has extremely good vision.” The Talmud tells us that this bird can be perched in Babylonia – Iraq and see a carcass in Israel. The question raised is for what reason did G-d endow this non kosher bird with such extremely good vision?

Commentators say about this non kosher bird that when it sees a carcass it craves it, yet because of the great distance it cannot indulge in partaking its flesh and in fact, it gets frustrated when it sees other birds feasting and devouring it.

The lesson pertains to how we are to handle our amazing blessing of sight. If one sets their vision and desires on something forbidden and out of reach, it will cause frustration, a lack of worth and a struggle for meaning.

However, if one partakes and indulges in what the Torah allows, training his vision to look at and aspire to that which is permissible, it will lead and guide him to what is productive, satisfying, and rewarding and he will realize much blessing from his efforts.

Wishing you a blessed, uplifting and peaceful Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family