ישיבת כרם ביבנה

Tangible Faith

הרב זכריה טובי
ראש הכולל

Parshat Re'eh opens with the verse, "See, I place before you today a blessing and a curse." (Devarim 11:26) Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh asks: Why does the verse emphasize the idea of seeing? It should have said, "Hear" or "Know," just like it says, "Hear, O Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One." (Devarim 6:4) We find a similar language in Parshat Nitzavim: "See, I have placed before you today the life and the good, and the death and the evil." (30:15) Again, the word "see" appears. We also find this usage regarding Shabbat: "See that Hashem has given you the Shabbat." (Shemot 16:29) What is the idea of seeing? Ohr Hachaim further asks: Why does it say here, "Re'eh anochi notein," which seems superfluous? I should have simply said, "Re'eh natati," as it says in Parshat Nitzavim, "See, I have placed before you today the life..."

Ba'al Haturim writes: "Re'eh anochi - See the Ten Commandments that begin with anochi, and fulfill them, because all the mitzvot are included within them." We now understand the double language, "Re'eh anochi," because at Ma'amad Har Sinai it says, "All the nation saw the sounds." (Shemot 20:15) The nation was not able to withstand this and asked Moshe Rabbeinu, "You speak with us and we will hear, and let not G-d speak with us lest we die." (Shemot 20:16) How come when they see the sounds they are afraid of death, whereas when they hear them they are not afraid? What is the difference between seeing and hearing?

On the one hand, seeing is greater than hearing; it is a clearer level of spirituality. When Am Yisrael saw the sound they were on a very high level; they saw clearly, "Anochi Hashem Elokecha." Just as a person sees with his eyes, so, too, the faith was tangible to Am Yisrael, as it says, "You were shown to know that Hashem is the G-d; there is nothing other than He." (Devarim 4:35) This was something visible to the eye. Similarly it says, "Only be careful, and be greatly careful for your soul lest you forget the things that your eyes saw." (4:9) This was a most lofty experience, extremely spiritual, in such a manner that Am Yisrael could not withstand, and therefore they asked, "You speak with us and we will hear." Although seeing is more spiritual, it is broader, not focused; it is impossible to focus on one thing when looking in a general manner. When a person wants to concentrate, he closes his eyes. The advantage of hearing is that it is focused, each sound is heard separately. "Two voices cannot be heard [simultaneously]" - in order to hear there has to be one voice, and this was the nation's request. They want to hear the sounds in order to understand each and every voice separately, because otherwise they will "die," because they will lose their senses, and without them they are like dead.

At Ma'amad Har Sinai, the faith was tangible; Am Yisrael achieved clarity of belief of "Anochi Hashem Elokecha." This is "Re'eh anochi," which is an eternal command, that you should see Ma'amad Har Sinai and the faith should be clear, something that is seen to the eye. However, this spirituality hs to be brought into daily life - "the blessing: that you hear" ... It is not enough to remain with lofty spiritual seeing. It is necessary to bring it to practical actions of performing mitzvot, and this is though hearing each command separately.

The clarity of faith is the source of blessing that stands up for us in all circumstances and all the difficult tribulations that come over us, and this is "Re'eh anochi." When faith is as clear to a person as something he sees - this is a blessing, because if faith is not along the lines of seeing, when a peson is faced with a difficult trial - he is liable to fall, Heaven forbid. However, when faith is in the manner of "I have set Hashem before me always" (Tehillim 16:8), he sees Hashem in front of his eyes in all circumstances; this gives him the strength to withstand every test. This is what it says, "You are standing today all of you before Hashem, your G-d." (Devarim 29:9) Just as the day sometimes is dark and sometimes light, so too when it is dark for you I provide you light. When is this so? When you are all in one group. This is: "Re'eh anochi" even when there is darkness, when a person sees anochi, Hashem, and faith becomes clear to him like Ma'amad Har Sinai, then in all situations of darkness, faith shines and the person hopes to Hashem and G-d takes him out from darkness to light.

This is the quality of Shabbat Kodesh, about which it says, "See that Hashem has given you the Shabbat." Through the Shabbat there is the ability to achieve the quality of seeing. Through the power of Shabbat a person has the possibility of achieving clarity of faith, since Shabbat is the soul of the entire Creation and lights all the darkness.

The Ra'avad writes in Ba'alei Hanefesh (end of Sha'ar Kedusha): "You, man, with your ears hear and open your eyes and see the image of your Creator who stands in front of you opposite you." Only in such a manner, with tangible faith, is it possible to overcome all the difficult trials of life, and this is the deep meaning of "Re'eh anochi."

 

 

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