30/31 Aug: Re’eh : Shabbat comes in 7:37 pm, ends 8:38 pm
Parashat Re’eh – See and Listen
Parashat Re’eh (the Torah portion entitled ‘See’) begins with a charge to take note of the ramifications of following the ways of the Torah. The opening verses read as follows: ‘See, I place before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, that you will listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you will not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God..’.
The Sefat Emet (‘The Language of Truth’), the late 19th Century Ḥasidic commentary of Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger, points to an interesting oddity in this opening: the verse introduces the blessing with the words ‘that you listen’, and the curse with the words ‘if you will not listen’. The assumption of the Torah is that we will walk with God in the world; falling away from this is a possibility, but not the default.
Do we enter the world ultimately good, and learn evil, or vice versa? According to the Sefat Emet’s reading of the opening verses of Parashat Re’eh, goodness is in our nature. It is a perspective that may encourage us to listen more keenly to our instincts, our consciences, and the still small voice.
Rabbi Natasha Mann