Seeing is believing and the first word in this week’s parsha is r’eih –
see. The Torah is evidently of the opinion that belief can be obtained by
seeing life and events. There are things that are self-evident, and that
by viewing those events one can make a correct and cogent choice between
blessing and curses, between good and evil and between eternal life and
mere human mortality.
The prophet Isaiah portrays the non-believers and doubters as being
sightless people – blind to reality and history. Especially in our time
when the ideologies of the past century that led so many millions astray
and that also had a disastrous effect on the Jewish people as a whole have
been proven worthless, it takes a particular form of sightlessness to
continue to somehow believe in them. Even a cursory glance at Jewish
history will reveal that the survival of the Jews as a people and as a
force for civilization in the world is inextricably tied to its faith and
observance of Torah values and lifestyle.
And if one only looks and correctly sees the situation of Israel and the
Jews in the world today, one must be struck by the accuracy of the
predictions for Israel as recorded in the book of Dvarim thirty-three
hundred years ago. By seeing things clearly and correctly, one can choose
blessing and eternal life for one’s self. And that is true for the
totality of Israel and indeed for all of mankind as well.
At the conclusion of Moshe’s life, the Torah informs us that he “saw” all
of the Land of Israel and also foresaw all of the events that would befall
the people of Israel there “even until the last day.” It is interesting to
note that the Lord saw fit, so to speak, to show him the future and let
him see it with his own eyes rather than just tell or describe it to him.
Seeing it impresses its reality to Moshe’s human eyes. Moshe is the symbol
of farsighted vision in Jewish history. Therefore, he is the greatest –
the father, so to speak – of all prophets.
When Jeremiah is told of the coming destruction of the Temple in
Jerusalem, he is not informed of it by a declaration of God. Rather, the
Lord, so to speak, asks him: “Jeremiah, what do you see?” It is by seeing
the impending catastrophe with his own eyes that Jeremiah is able to give
focus and passion to his message of warning to the people of Israel.
Seeing however requires more than good eyesight. It also implies an
understanding of what is being seen, a backdrop to the actual item scene.
And that is why the study of Torah, the understanding of the story of the
Jewish people is so vital for our time and current circumstances. The
Torah is essentially our spectacle to correct distorted vision and blind
spots. It bids us to see clearly and correctly. We would be wise to don
those spectacles and thereby choose blessing and eternal life for
Rabbi Berel Wein
Rabbi Berel Wein - Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com