Re’eh: Sight as a Blessing
Open your eyes and look around you and hear the song of creation.
The portion of Re’eh begins with the words “Re’eh – See, I give you today a blessing and a curse (Deuteronomy 11:26).
Of the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, one would think that “sight” would be considered the lowest of all of them. All the others provide some measure of a physical and sensual experience, while sight does not.
Even more perplexing is the fact that the Talmud teaches that “the yetzer hara ( the evil inclination) has no power except with respect to what the eyes see. (Sotah 8a). This truism was clearly evident with the story of the forbidden fruit in Genesis; “ And the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and the tree was desirable to make one wise; so she took of its fruit, and she ate, and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”( Genesis 3:6 )
It is important , then, to explore why the verse that reiterates the important torah axiom of “free choice” begins with word “Re’eh-See”. Why tell us to use the same eyes that we are warned not to wander off because of. “and you shall not wander after your hearts and after your eyes after which you are going astray.(Numbers 15:39)
The eyes can lead one astray, yet at the same time can give us the vision to walk the path of righteousness. G-d created a world in which His creations were to receive the full potential of choice. That power of choice necessitated that all the options are laid before every one of His creations. That is to say” in plain sight” . G-d on the one hand tells us to use the power of sight in order to make choices . Yet at the same time He warns us to use discernment and caution lest we simply do “as all the things every man does as he deems right in his own eyes” ( Deuteronomy 12:8)
The key element seems to be the power to change “sight” into “vision”. Sight is the ability to see the physical reality around us, while vision is the power of seeing within and beyond it. How then, is such a metamorphosis achieved?
It seems that the secret to that, is ensconced in learning the art of “Listening with one’s eyes”. Open your eyes and look around you and hear the song of creation. When the Israelites stood at the foot of Mount Sinai “the entire nation saw the voices and the sounds, and the sound of the shofar, and the mountain was consumed with smoke.” (Exodus 20:15 ) . Rashi on that verse explains, “They saw the sounds; they saw that which is usually heard, that which was impossible to see under different circumstances.”.
To truly comprehend the Divine message that was relayed then at Mount Sinai and now in our days, the people needed to learn again to listen with their eyes. They need to “see the sounds”.
When the Temple will be rebuilt speedily in our days that phenomenon will be re-experienced as declared by Abraham; “ And Abraham named that place, HaShem will see, as it is said to this day: On the mountain, HaShem will be seen (Genesis 22:14). Until that time the people will need the prescription and the pathway to achieve that ability. Moshe in our portion is giving his people the words that will take them through exile and rebirth. He is giving them the prescription that would be needed to change sight into vision.
Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, that you will heed the commandments of HaShem your G-d, which I command you today; and the curse, if you will not heed the commandments of HaShem your G-d, but turn away from the way I command you this day, to follow other gods, which you did not know.( Deuteronomy 11:26-28)
Moshe is telling them to walk in the path of obedience, constancy and consistency and as a result their powers of perception will be changed