August 24, 2022
“See, this day I set before you blessing and curse.” (Deuteronomy 11:26).
This important and often quoted line from Torah is found in the first verse of this week’s Parasha, Re’eh.
The English translation does not fully capture what the Hebrew holds, part of which is a reminder of the importance of community, and our role as individuals within a community.
Here’s the Hebrew:
רְאֵה אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם הַיּוֹם בְּרָכָה וּקְלָלָֽה
The first word, “re’eh” means see and is in the singular command form. See!--Meaning YOU, see! it is important that as individuals we see, witness, pay attention.
Then, three words later, the focus shifts from the individual to the collective with the word, “lifnaychem” which is in the 2nd person plural and means before ALL OF YOU.
Put these pieces together and a more literal translation would read:
You (as an individual) must see that this day I have placed before (All of You), blessing and curse.
This verse points out our inextricable connection to the whole. “Together-ing”, as individuals, we make up the kehilla, the community. Communal cohesion, or lack thereof, has a large part to do with our experience of blessing and curse. When we are connected, supporting and nurturing each other, we are blessed, even when challenges befall us–even when those challenges feel like curses. When we choose community, we are blessed with collective strength and vitality. We cannot get through this thing called life without a strong communal foundation to hold us–for all the joys and simchas and for all the heartbreaks and tragedies.
Strong community is a blessing. May we continue to build our own CBI community from love and kindness. Aleinu. It is upon each to give generously of our time, resources, and talents. And should a challenging time come to any one of us as an individual, the community will say, “See! We are a blessing, right here before you.”