The Parshah at hand really fits the times. Elul is around the corner.
The beginning tells you things as they really are; Hashem presents you with the possibilities of living a life in which you are really alive, or choosing to live a life in which you are dead…The classical definition of death is that nothing at all in someone's body still functions. Spiritual death takes place when nothing is moving forward spiritually. Look back at your life-so many changes take place in early childhood. The difference between a fifteen year old and a twenty five year old is also vast. Is there always that much change that takes place between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five? Odds are you have made many of the life decisions that define your life from the outside. You may have married, began your family, and are already established in your career. What are your plans for the next forty or so years? More of the same? You may be asking, "Why not? If I am happy, why keep on making changes?" this way of thinking takes you to spiritual death. Some people stop "living" far earlier….
Discontent isn't the same as growth. You don't have to be unhappy in order to want to move further. When you go back to your childhood, you may remember how happy you were with each new barrier you were able to knock down. Going to school yourself, choosing your own clothes, learning how to work a computer or to drive were marvelous moments, weren't they? You are programmed for self-actualization. In fact, so is everything else on the planet. There aren't any birds who can fly who select not to, or any plants that just don't feel like photosynthesizing. The Torah tells you that G-d wants you to choose life. It also tells you to choose blessing over curse. The simplest meaning of the word "blessing" is wishing someone well. This isn't the entire story. The root letters of the word brachah ברכה (blessing) are beit ,ב reish (200) ר and chaff(20 כ). Each letter is the first expansion of its unit. Two is the first number that goes beyond one, twenty the first expansion of the tens, and two hundred the first expansion of the hundreds. By the way, please take notice of my new keyboard that also has Hebrew letters!
Being blessed means being more.
The way the Torah presents you with the instruction to choose uses the word Re'eh, which means See! In the singular. Alsheich points out that the reason for this is that unlike an earthly ruler, Hashem is concerned with the inner reality of each of us not just that in the broadest sense that "the work gets done". One of the problems that some of you face when you are making your way in the Great World, is that you may feel rather invisible. You go to work or to school, attend shul on Shabbos or not, and no one else seems to be effected one way or the other. The people around you may even invite you for Shabbos or a holiday, but if you can't make it, you don't get the figure that they will feel that they missed anything really important.
You are wrong.
When Hashem created vegetation, He made innumerable blades of grass. Each one of them has an angel that stands above it and tells it to grow. Each one of the billions of ants has its own message (those of you who are familiar with Pirkei Shirah, the nature song, will even know what its message is!). Humans are far more unique than anything else in nature is. Your face isn't identical with anyone else's face (even if you are a twin). The inner world that you live in is equally as unique. That's why Hashem began creating humans by forming one individual, not an entire human population. There are roads that only you will walk, choices that only you will make. You are part of a community that is broader and more eternal than the specific "hood" you live in. The give and take of being part of the Jewish People is an indelible part of your identity. When you go to shul, accept an invitation, maintain your ethical principles and standards in the workplace or in school, you are becoming a living blessing. You are effecting the people around you whether they are sensitive enough to feel it overtly, or whether the effect is to subtle form them to recognize it at the time. You are a giver, even when you think that you are forced by your life circumstances into being the eternal taker. There will be other times in your life, when you feel that you are overwhelmed by other people and their Needs and their Issues. That means for the moment at least that you are in a different role, and have to tap into a different way of drawing down the blessing that your situation opens up to you. A well-known song was composed around one of Rebbe Nachman's works (IN Lekutei MOharan 2:11 and 63).
Know that each shepherd has his own niggun
And each blade of grass has its own song
From the song of the grass, the shepherd's niggun is made….
How beautiful it is to hear their song
To pray with them and serve Hashem with joy
And from the song of the grass, who sing with purity and no thought of reward
Your heart is filled with song and yearns
For Eretz Yisrael, and awakens its light and draws it to you
Enjoy your blessing, choose it and do not be afraid or alone. You never really are, and it is time that you let that realization touch you.
All the best,
N.B. This letter forms the basis for the introduction to the Rebbetzin's Guidebook for Teshuva -
Coming Soon! Be'ezrat Hashem