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Parashat Re'eh

In this weeks Parasha, Hashem tells the Jewish people:

"See (Re'eh), I am sitting before you (lifneichem) on this day, blessings and curses" (11:26)

My mother, who loves to correct my father's spelling and grammar would point out two errors if my dad were to quote the parasha on WhatsApp.

(Why is my dad quoting the parasha on WhatsApp? I don't know. We just came home from Israel - we're desperate for any kind of spirituality, to be honest).

My mum would say that the word 'see' - Re'eh' is superfluous, he could just say 'I am sitting before you', and the requirement of looking is somewhat implied.

Second, she would say that he had used the singular Hebrew grammar for the word Re'eh; see, and the pleural Hebrew grammar for the word Lifneichem; before you.

But now my story is now truly out of proportion because my mum thinks that speaking Hebrew is the same as saying English words is an Israeli accent and that the Hebrew word for tourist was "touristo".

In the parasha, the added word - 'Re'eh' reads to the human condition of missing the blessings that are all around us. We must actively 'see' the goodness around us, or else we might miss it.

As for the singular, pleural mismatch between Re'eh (see) and Lifneichem (before you) - the Kotsker Rebbe points out that many people are inclined to perceive the same gift in different ways (singular object, pleural ways to see what is 'before us'). Consider for example the different ways different people appreciate their parents:

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” ―Foucault’s Pendulum, by Umberto Eco

“My father never loses patience, never doubts or complains, but always hopes, and works and waits so cheerfully that one is ashamed to do otherwise before him.” - Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

"I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars." —E.M. Forster, Howard's End

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colours of a rainbow.” —Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

All these different ways to appreciate the same simple thing; a parental bond. In the same way, all the good things in the world are differently good to different people, and that, the parasha asserts, is a blessing in itself.

Shabbat Shalom


P.S - I may seem a bit 'mummy and daddy' this week, but please appreciate that whilst I may have lived with these two people for the past six months since returning home from Shnat, my greatest conversation with them has been 'What's for dinner?' After spending three solid weeks with them, I have come to remember that they exist.

See you next time a cousin gets married mum and dad ❤️

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