Parshat Re’eh: Choosing the blessing

The name of this week’s portion is Re’eh, usually translated as “see”. We have said many times that our sages teach us that to see is to know, and knowledge is what we need in our search for God’s love.

“See (re’eh), I set before you this day a blessing and a curse.” (Deuteronomy 11:26)

Thus we become aware of the choices we make, for we choose based on what we know. The wisdom of the Torah reminds us that in life we have to make choices every moment, either with or without previous knowledge. We learn from experience, by trial and error, true and false, right and wrong. We humans are empiricists by nature because we learn from the choices we make, and that is how we achieve knowledge and wisdom.

When we conceive and experience God’s love we become aware that the best choices we make are those related to His ways and attributes, which are the blessing. That’s the whole point of the entire Hebrew Scriptures, and it is also the point of Re’eh.

We have to choose being and doing love’s ways and attributes in order to cleave always to God’s love, thus we have complete awareness of our oneness with Him. The curse is the consequence of our choice to live in the illusions and fantasies of the material world. Choosing the blessing implies eradicating completely what separates us from our Creator.

“You shall utterly destroy from all the places where the nations, that you shall possess, worshiped their gods, upon the lofty mountains and upon the hills, and under every lush tree.” (12:2)

This means we have to clear all levels of consciousness from negative traits and expressions. It is the war we have to wage in order to conquer the promised land and settle in it.

“Because you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be His own treasure out of all peoples that are upon the face of the earth.” (14:2)

Once we achieve this awareness we become the blessing of God’s love, and all this starts when we make the choice between the blessing and the curse.

The portion continues with Moses reminding us not to eat unclean animals, which also represent the lower aspects of consciousness. We must not bring into us anything that is not positive, uplifting, constructive or enhancing.

Our mystic sages say that all things in creation contain sparks of divinity because all emanates from the Creator, and our duty is to reveal those sparks by sanctifying them. This process occurs when we bless the foods before and after eating them. We also do this when we use anything around us, including stones, as means to sanctify God’s Name.

In their wisdom, our sages teach that everything in creation exists for the only purpose of glorifying God’s Name.

When we reveal love concealed in the darkness of egotism and selfishness we realize that love is endlessly abundant, as the light that does not diminish after being shared with others. Hence our most rejoicing moment is when we share the abundance of love with those waiting to also reveal its goodness in their lives.

“If there be among you a needy man, one of your brethren, within any of your gates, in your land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your needy brother; but you shall surely open your hand to him, and shall surely lend him sufficient for his need in that which he wanted.” (15:7-8)

Love is our greatest need and our greatest fulfillment. Everything we are and have come from the Creator and belong to Him as the Psalmist reminds us.

“For everything comes from You, and from Your own hand we give to You.” (I Chronicles 29:14)

The portion ends with the following verse.

“Every man shall bring as much as he can afford, according to the blessing of the Lord your God, which He has given you.” (Deuteronomy 16:17)

Our sages ask…

“Who is rich? One who is satisfied [happy] with his lot.” (Pirkei Avot 4:1)

Some say the “lot” is not necessarily what we are or have but our individual relationship with the Creator, for by this depends who we are and what we have.

The more we are aware of His love, the more we are connected to Him. The more we love, the more we reveal His glory in this world. Hence we give according to the blessing He has given us, and the greatest blessing is His love.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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