(Torah Portion Re’eh) The Way We Look!
Greetings again from the holy and beautiful City of Jerusalem!
We are spending time in Israel which allows us to reconnect with relatives and friends in Israel and to bask in the atmosphere of this holy land. It also allows us the opportunity of being with our brethren in this special land which connects us all together.
A visitor or tourist is a bit removed from the thick of the politics of the country making it is easier for him to see that we are truly one combined group of Jews – despite our differences.
There are certain statements in the Torah that encourage us to connect to the source of our unity. The Torah tells us in the week’s Parsha, “You – the Jewish people – are the children of the Almighty.” This means we are all one family. Our “Family Israel” functions best when we strive to obey our Father’s – the Almighty’s – directives.
But even if we all share our religious outlook, we each have our own personality, opinion and perspective. So how can we achieve this wonderful ideal of creating a bond of unity with others?
Thirty-one years ago I went on my first trip to Israel to study for the year. As I left, my mother o.b.m., in her sweet and genuine style, gave me sound advice. She told me, “Dovid Hamelech – King David states in a verse in the Book of Psalms, ‘Look at the good of Jerusalem.” My mother explained, “When you look around, you might see certain things that you would assume are not fitting for our holy country. King David therefore reminds us to keep focused on the good of Jerusalem, and not to harp on or get stuck on the negatives.”
In truth, this directive to see the good applies not only to Jerusalem, it applies to our interpersonal relations and with many situations we encounter. If we set our focus on the good in others – our spouses, children, parents, friends and our fellows – our good eye and perspective will spread good and healthy energy!
At a Sheva Brochos* hosted in honor of Tali Rutta and Danny Zarek’s wedding, I shared a very interesting idea that I saw in a Sefer – book – that a Rabbi sold me at the Western Wall one day.
Our portion begins with the verse, G-d says, “Look, I am giving you today, the opportunity of receiving a blessing or a curse.”
What does the Torah mean when it says, “look”?
Says one of the commentaries, the intention is as follows:
The Torah is telling us that blessings or the opposite depend on how we look at things or situations that come our way.
If we look at things with a positive perspective especially from a situation which may easily be interpreted negatively, the Torah tells us that we will see Heavenly blessings as a result of the beneficial perception.
Basically, we are in control of effecting blessing or curse in our lives depending on how we look at things!
The author cites a story concerning the great rabbi of Jerusalem in the early 1900’s, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld o.b.m. Although the Arabs afforded the rabbi great respect due to his piety and holiness, at one point an Arab threw an orange at the rabbi. The rabbi looked at his assailant and said, “Thank you.”
The surprised Arab assailant asked him what he meant, “After all, I threw something at you and your garment is stained.”
Rabbi Yosef Chaim explained, “The reason I said “Thank you” is that I was only hit by an orange. Had you had a stone or something else that could have injured me, you would have certainly hurled it at me! I say “Thank you” for I am grateful it was only an orange!”
From the Rabbi’s perspective and look of the situation he was able to see the blessing that lay within!
*Sheva Brochos are seven blessings that are recited at the conclusion of a meal that is hosted in honor of a bride and groom during the seven days following their wedding.
Traditionally, words of encouragement and praise of the bride and groom and their families are offered.
Wishing you a most enjoyable & uplifting Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks