Torah Tidbits


Individual Choices Shape our World
Shabbat Parashat Re’eh
Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh
August 3, 2013 – 27 Av 5773

Individual Choices Shape our World

Mahatma Gandhi reportedly said: “Be the change you want to see in the world!” Perhaps he read our Torah portion of Re’eh which begins with an exhortation to the individual: Re’eh, [See], you, as an individual, have a choice. You can choose the path of goodness and of blessing or you can choose the opposite path. It is up to you.

A careful reading of the beginning of this Torah portion teaches us that the individual’s choices can have an enormous impact on the community at large. In fact, the language which is addressed to the individual at the opening of the Parsha, very quickly morphs into plural language. So, the Torah is saying: “See, as an individual, I have placed before you, as a community, blessing and curse: blessing if you (plural) obey the commandments and curse, if you (plural) do not….” Just two verses later, the Torah addresses the individual once again: “When the Lord, your God, brings you, as an individual, into the land….”

The Torah’s linguistic interplay between the singular and the plural reminds us that each of us is responsible, individually, for our choices. Yet, the choices we make as individuals become part of the greater pattern of the world in which we live. And, if enough individuals make enough good choices, the world, as a whole, will be a better place.

The Torah’s wisdom reminds us that if we define our goals and work together as a kehilla kedosha [holy community], our choices become that much more powerful and that much more effective!

This Shabbat we will recite the blessing for the upcoming Jewish month of Elul – the month in which we will prepare ourselves spiritually to usher in the new Jewish year of 5774! Rosh Chodesh Elul will be on Monday night, Tuesday and Wednesday of this coming week!

May we enjoy the positive synergy of individuals and of community as we come together on this Shabbat and during the coming days, weeks, months and years!

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Gilah Dror