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We See As One

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Re'eh

Aug 17, 2012

We See As One

The portion of the upcoming week begins with the words, “See, I have placed before you today blessing and curse. The blessing? Hear the commandments of G-d your Lord. The curse? If you fail to hear the commandments of G-d your Lord.”

There are a number of grammatical anomalies that announce their presence.

1) In the Hebrew language the way to address a multitude is with the word “Re’u”, which means ”see plural.”  The Torah passage uses the word “Re’eh”, which means “see singular”. Moses is addressing the entire assemblage. Why is the singular tense used?

2) Moses begins by enjoining the nation to see. In his subsequent remarks he underscores the importance of hearing.  Why does he switch faculties in mid-lecture?

3) When speaking of the blessing, Moses speaks of hearing the commandments. When mentioning the curse, Moses inserts the word “if”, as he says, “If you fail to hear”.

An important point arises from the resolution of these three issues.

But first, some word definition is in order. The common definition of the word Mitzvah is commandment. While this is certainly true, there is a deeper understanding of the word.

The true root of the word Mitzva means to accompany (Meseches Brachos, daf 6b).

The purpose of commandments is so through them we can relate to G-d, emulate His works, and relate to Him. We can’t hug Him, we can’t kiss Him. We bond with Him by bonding to His word. We accompany G-d through His commandments. He is a constant part of our lives through His Mitzvos. Our lives are invested with spirituality as a result.

When a crowd or an assemblage hears of an occurrence where they were not present, each one hears it in his own particular way. The have their own interpretation of the event that they are hearing about as they conjure up personal images in their minds. Not so, if they witness an occurrence with their own eyes. Then, they all saw the same thing, as one.

The path to performance of Mitzvos can only be started upon by “hearing” of the Mitzvos. One does not actually “see” the benefit or the accomplishment of a Mitzva. One does not see that the world has undergone a change before one sits in a Succah and after one sits in a Succah. We “hear” about it. We hear about it from our family, our community, our rabbi. We have a distinct lack of clarity of what it’s all about. Each one has their own interpretation. And that’s a good thing. It’s a starting point.

When one progresses, especially when a group of committed individuals bond together to grow and gain from each others positive qualities, a process is begun. We begin to understand, we begin to see. The group becomes as one entity, and experiences a shared vision, passing from hearing to seeing.

This is the process that Moses was referring to. He begins his words talking of “seeing”, and he speaks in the singular tense. This is the goal he is setting before the nation, to come together and see as one.

When he speaks of the process, he switches from singular to plural, from seeing to hearing. These are necessary steps.

When he speaks of blessing, he does not include the word “if”. The reason for this being, the natural state of his nation is to have a relationship, an accompaniment with G-d. Performance of Mitzvos creates a bond with G-d. This relationship is the blessing incarnate.

Only when talking of the curse does Moses use the word “if”. Man was never meant to be cursed. This is not G-d’s will.

There is a wondrous reference to these words.  The Torah states:


את הברכה אשר תשמעו


When taking the last letter of the above four words, the word Torah is formed.

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