Parashat Re’eh

Parashat Re’eh – Erev Shabbat 30 August Week of 25-31 August Torah Portion: Deuteronomy 11.26-16.17 Haftarah: Isaiah 54.11-55.5  Theme: Khilufa: G-d’s Blessing

“See!” (Re’eh) was G-d’s invitation to Moses and the entire people of Israel before they enter the Promised Land. G-d placed a choice before the people: blessing or curse, life or death, yet G-d encouraged the people to choose blessing and life over curse and death. What is there to “see” anyway?

Looking at the choices given by G-d, one might ask: do curse and death also come from G-d? This might be somewhat irreconcilable given that G-d is compassionate. The connection between the Hebrew term re’eh and one of the choices which is “curse” (qelalah), may help to solve this mystery.

Upon the first reading, in the words of the L-rd in today’s parashah readings contemporary readers would immediately see free choice. With a closer look at the choices, we can discern that G-d seems to show us that this is not simply a choice between blessing and curse or life and death; we have the potential to disobey, ignore and therefore choose another way that departs or opposes G-d’s will for us. In reality, there is no choice to be made between a blessing and a curse, surely we will chose blessing for obvious reasons, But events, circumstances and even our context do play in our decision, such that we blur the “curse” and to mistakenly see this as a blessing. The good or blessing is not often apparent or explicit. Often things are opaque or hidden, which makes it tricky in making the correct decision, the one that will be a blessing. Hence, it matters for us to give a considerable amount of thought, a deeper perception of matters, and discern with all honesty before making a decision that will significantly change our lives. Thus, we need to see (re’eh)!

The exercise of thoughtful discernment is required for any decision that will lead to a turning point in life or usually when we see ourselves at crossroads. We do not want to curse (qelalah) our life in the process of choosing. What then is the connection of re’eh (see) and qelalah (curse)? In the Aramaic translation of Onkelos qelalah is translated as khilufa, which in Aramaic means “exchange” or “transmutation.” This can mean that khilufa is a covert form of blessing, as both are derived from the same essence. In other words, khilufa or qelalah is a concealed good, because (1) there is no direct evil, curse or death that comes from G-d, and (2) the good we thought to be, though the outcome is negative, nonetheless retains the possibility of becoming a curse or a blessing. This is because a negative outcome can be “transmuted” (khilufa) into a blessing or a curse, depending on how we choose to receive, perceive or experience it. Therefore, we have the free choice or the power to reconfigure the qelalah (curse) into berakhah (blessing), the negative into positive, because G-d does not will to give us curse, death or evil, but gave us the option and capability to “transmute” his blessings. G-d gives us the opportunity to discern the good even when this is opaque. In truth, it takes courage, trust and honesty to oneself to make a rightful decision, when set before us are choices between two inconceivable good. When the outcome of our decision is righteous, our choice becomes virtuous.

For Reflection and Discussion: [1] Recall a choice you made on your “crossroads” where its outcome has been a “curse.” How did you handle and looked at the negative outcome? What were your thoughts? Is this G-d’s punishment or an opportunity to gain wisdom? [2] What are some of your consideration when making a choice, especially a life changing one? [3] What particular choice in life that made you wiser?

Kristine C. Meneses, PhD;
Bat Kol Alumna 2016
[Copyright © 2019]

PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Parashah commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the ISPS-Ratisbonne, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of ISPS-Ratisbonne Bat Kol-Christian Center for Jewish Studies. The commentaries, along with all materials published on the ISPS-Ratisbonne Bat Kol-Christian Center for Jewish Studies website, are copyrighted by the writers, and are made available for personal and group study, and local church purposes. Permission needed for other purposes.  Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

Share this with your friends

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp