Sedra of the Week: Re’eh

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Sedra of the Week: Re’eh

 Rabbi Alex Chapper looks ahead to the forthcoming portion of the Torah

“Seeing is believing” is the adage that suggests sight is the clearest of the senses, more accurate than hearing, more informative than touch, smell and taste. 

However, until this point, Moses has been telling the people to listen to his final words of warning to hear the mitzvot they have learnt previously and about which he is now reminding them. 

The verb shema (hear) occurs 30 times in the previous two Sidrot and impresses upon us the importance of absorbing everything we have heard with our ears. It is no surprise then that the greatest declaration of our faith is known as the Shema.

So why do we now switch senses? “Re’eh (see), I place before you today a blessing and a curse…” only to revert to being told that the blessing will come about “if you listen to the mitzvot”. What is the difference between seeing and hearing? The latter allows us to perceive something even when it is at a distance, whereas sight is limited to something closer to us. 

Throughout life, we face many situations, a variety of options and a choice of responses but how clearly do we know the consequences of our actions? The only way to discern the difference between a blessing and a curse is to open our eyes to the reality of what is good and what is not.

As we are about to begin the month of Elul, we can see the days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are not so far off and that is why we blow the shofar every day for the whole month, so we can hear and understand that although not yet in sight it will not be long before they arrive.

  •  Rabbi Alex Chapper serves Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue

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