“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today . . . ” — Deuteronomy 11:26–27
The Torah portion for this week is Re’eh, which means “see,” from Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 54:11–55:5.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the great Hasidic master of the 18th century, once said, “In this world, a person has only the very day and very moment in which he finds himself. Tomorrow is a completely different world.”
We’ve heard about the importance of living in the present, but Rabbi Nachman seems to elevate this idea to a whole other level. Today isn’t just important; it’s a world unto itself. Tomorrow, it will be gone, and another one will take its place.
The Jewish sages talk about this idea in terms of “sparks.” They explain that each day has its own “spark” – its own opportunities and challenges; its own potential for greatness and also for failure; the possibility for new blessings and also, heaven forbid, for curses. Once the day is done, that spark is gone forever, and with it, all the options that were open to us just that very morning.
With this understanding, we can have a new appreciation for the opening verses of this week’s Torah portion. It begins, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today.”
According to Jewish tradition, every word of the Torah bears unfathomable significance. Not one word or letter is extra. In these verses, the word “today” could have easily been omitted without changing the general meaning of the verse. Yet, the word is used, not once, but twice. The word “today” beckons us to look a bit closer.
It’s not just that we have a choice in life whether or not to follow God and bring blessings into our lives, or the opposite. It’s that we have the opportunity and duty to do so every single day. It doesn’t matter how righteous I was yesterday. I need to choose God all over again today. In the same way, it doesn’t matter how miserably I failed yesterday; it is a new day, and I can choose God today.
At the funeral of a great rabbi, his son remarked that his father had “length of days.” Someone remarked, “How can you say such a thing? Your father only lived 66 years?” The son replied, “Length of years he did not have, but he did have length of days.” The son’s father had made every day count by choosing God every day of his life.
Friends, choose God today and every day. The psalmist reminds us, “This is the day the LORD has made” (Psalms 118:24 NLT). Make it count!
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President