Choose Wisely Reflections on Parshat Re’eh
Liluei Nishmat Harav Gershon Yankelewitz
This weeks’ parsha begins with Moshe telling the Jewish people that they should see that today he is giving them a blessing and a curse. It is interesting however, that the word that Moshe relays this message over to the Jewish people is “to see that I am giving you over today a blessing and a curse,” (Devarim 11:26) in the singular form while the rest of this passage is in plural. The Chatam Sofer (as seen in the Artscroll commentary to the Chumash) learns that this change of tenses teaches us a powerful lesson. That the singular language of see represents how individuals have power to affect the entire world (i.e. everyone around them, the plural) for good or bad, blessing or curse.
This is the essence of a fundamental principle in Judaism that GOD gives man the power of free choice but as Ben Parker once said in the movie “ Spiderman,” “With great power comes great responsibility.” It is therefore, important for us to ask ourselves are we being responsible in making our decisions? Are we choosing blessing and the good? Or instead GOD forbid curse and bad.
I had the privilege earlier this week of attending the funeral of Harav Gershon Yankelewitz Z’’TL a Rav at Yeshiva University who passed away just a few days ago at the age of 105. A common theme presented in the eulogies given by Yeshiva University President Richard Joel and Rav Yankelewitz’s son was how Rav Yaneklewitz lived the 105 years he was on this earth to the fullest dedicated to a life immersed in giving his all into everything he did and taking every interaction and relationship he had with others extremely seriously.
While, we are not all Rav Yaneklewitz we need to ask ourselves how we can make the best decisions to go for blessing, the good and how, as the Chatam Sofer mentioned, that can affect the world at large in a positive light sanctifying GOD’s name instead of the opposite GOD forbid.
With the month of Elul, a time of self-reflection leading up to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur upon us may we use this time especially to work to make blessing and good throughout the world and may this lead us into the days of Moschiach may he come speedily in our days.
Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom, Gut Shabbes.