Friday, August 18, 2006

Parshas Re'eh

After blogging almost-daily in Israel, I needed a brief hiatus to get my creative juices flowing once again. I'm back in the game, and have come up with a couple ideas for new posts. For now, just a D'var Torah. During the year, I hope to continue posting a D'var weekly, something that I received a lot of positive feedback on. Anyway...

This D'var is adapted from the Parsha Insights of Rabbi Eli Mansour

The parsha starts out with Hashem telling us, "Look ya'll, I got a blessing and a curse to put in front of you." All of the commentaries go crazy with the fact that the word for "Look", Re'eh, is in the singular tense, while the word for "in front of you", Lifneichem, is in the plural tense. The Torah doesn't just do this for fun, so what gives?

In a seemingly unrelated aside, the Kli Yakar gives advice on how one should view life. He says that we should view our proverbial "scales", of both ourselves as individuals, and the world as a whole, as being perfectly balanced with an equal amount of sins and mitzvos on either side. Therefore, if they are perfectly balanced, each action we do, whether it is a mitzvah or a sin, can tip the scales to the corresponding side. The Kli Yakar explains that the individual has the ability to tilt, not only his scale, but the scale of the world when doing a deed/sin - thus, the individual can have a profound effect on the world around him. One that lacks this vision, the Kli Yakar explains, is like someone who drills a whole in their cabin in their boat. Upon the captain coming down demanding he stop, the man says, "Look, I paid for this space - it's mine; I can do whatever I want." What this man doesn't realize is that he isn't just affecting himself; he is also affecting everyone else in the boat.

This is what Hashem is telling us in the Pasuk. Re'eh (look, you individual), I have a blessing and a curse to put Lifneichem (before you; remember, you, the individual, can affect EVERYONE around you, not just yourself).

So many times, after coming back from a great workout at the gym, I rationalize something I probably shouldn't eat, telling myself, "It's OK - you just burned off 300 calories, I can afford these 200." The same thing can happen, and does happen, when doing mitzvos. It's very easy to say a similar thing, that I'm a good guy, daven 3 times a day, learn, etc., so what's the big deal if I do such and such." Or, as often happens, this happens the other way, where people who aren't observant Jews would suggest that since they aren't religious at all, what good is davening once a week; wearing Tefillin once a week, etc.?

If we lived with this mindset - that each and everyone one of our individual actions can tilt the scales one way or the other, it would be much harder to fall into the trap of bringing your past merits/demerits to your credit/discredit, and thus putting more emphasis on each individual decision placed before us. Have a good Shabbos.

Oh yeah, and WO HOO on hitting the 10,000 visitors mark. Thanks Ya'll!

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