Seeing the Blessing in Ourselves – The Australian Jewish News

“See, today I am setting before you a blessing and a curse” is the first line of Parsha Re’eh this week. The experience of truly seeing and being seen can have a huge impact on our lives.

On Shabbat evenings, I am often outside with my four-year-old daughter. I’ll try to read something and she’ll periodically yell “Ima, look at me”, “Ima, did you see me?” She is demanding to be seen. She requires a witness. This experience has made me reflect on what it is to “see” and “be seen”. The Rambam writes: what does it mean to love God? It means knowing God. In truth, I’m not sure that knowing is always loving, but there is certainly an overlap. My daughter feels loved when she sees her. She feels less alone and more valued when she knows that there is someone she loves, who looks at her with loving eyes.

As we approach the month of Elul and this period of introspection, the idea of ​​seeing ourselves and seeing God has particular relevance.

Avinu Malkeinu – Our Father Our King – We too are witnessing with a loving eye. God is recording our lives with great compassion. Hashem is watching and paying close attention to our every action. All of our choices, wins and losses are recorded.

As Rabbi Alan Lew taught:

“This is a film that never stops rolling. In this God differs from Big Brother who also knows everything we do and say but uses it against us. God watches the entire video with heartbreaking and limitless compassion. God sees us stumble and stumble in this world, weeping profusely as He does.

“It is time that we begin to recognize the truth of our lives. We have a deep need to know this truth, our lives literally depend on it, but we can’t seem to get out of ourselves long enough to see it, and besides, we’re terrified of the truth. But this is unnecessary terror. What is there is already like that. It’s on tape. Failing to recognize it does not make it go away. We can bear the truth, it is already here and we are already bearing it.

“The tape is rolling, the hand is writing. Someone is watching us endure, waiting to heal us the moment we wake up and watch. From the great well of our heart, we feel the eye that sees. We feel the knowing ear, watching the drama of our lives unfold, watching with unbearable compassion.”

Our choices are different when we are being watched. In physics this is known as the observer effect; the disturbance of an observed system by the act of observation.

There is a midrash that teaches of Boaz when he noticed poor Ruth gathering grain in his fields, invited her to eat with him, and fed her corn. However, had he known that this meal would be recorded in the Torah and read every year on Shavuot, he would have roasted a lamb for her!

But he didn’t think anyone was paying attention. He didn’t know that his actions were being recorded. If he had realized that he wasn’t invisible, he would have acted differently.

And this is where the work of Teshuva comes in to redeem us. We perform the Vidui. We confess out loud. We must do the work of seeing ourselves and accounting for our lives.

The Hasidic Rebbe known as Maor VaShemesh interprets the first line of our parasha “See, today I set before you a blessing and a curse” as an invitation to see ourselves and that vision can be a blessing or a curse. If we see ourselves in a selfish and narcissistic way, then it is a curse. However, if we see ourselves in a humble and compassionate way, then it is a blessing.

Rabbi Erin Leib Smokler explains that the command to see (“re’eh”) is an invitation to look in the mirror. Contemplate with honesty and integrity how one values ​​oneself; how one’s ego stands in the way of self-development or how it allows it.

Understand that we have been entrusted with a responsibility that is both a blessed opportunity and a cursed responsibility. And with that awareness we must choose to truly see ourselves, each other and choose the blessing.

Rabbanit Ellyse Borghi from Melbourne received her demicha from Beit Midrash Har’El in Jerusalem and works as a children’s advocate for Legal Aid.

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