Through a Lens of Wonder

Yael Eckstein  |  July 12, 2021

An older digital camera against a white background.

These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan—that is, in the Arabah—opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. — Deuteronomy 1:1

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Devarim which means “words,” from Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22.

Has anyone ever told you to “sleep on it” before making a difficult decision? It seems like such a simplistic piece of advice, but you know, it works! Often, when facing challenges, I’ll do just that. I get a good night’s sleep, and when I wake up, I’m able to look at the problem with fresh eyes and see it in a different way. I’m able to face the challenge ahead.

Our Torah portion this week, which begins the final of the Five Books of Moses, is all about looking at something with fresh eyes. Deuteronomy in Hebrew is Devarim, which means “words.” It’s a fitting title for the last of the books of Moses because the majority of the book is Moses’ words to the Israelites as he reviewed their history and the laws that God has given them prior to them entering the Promised Land.

But make no mistake about it. Although much of this book is a “review,” it definitely is not repetitive. In Judaism, we know that there is never anything redundant, or extra in the Bible, and this last book is no exception. There is something fresh and new in everything that Moses said. We just have to open our eyes to see it.

Through a Lens of Wonder

The Jewish sages gave particular emphasis to the opening phrase, “These are the words …” They taught that the word “these” in this context is an expression of amazement and wonder. When we look at the words of Moses, we have to view them through a lens of wonder. We have to look at everything as though we are seeing it for the very first time. It is only in this way, that we can learn something relevant and new.

Tradition teaches that this is why God gave us the gift of sleep. Every night that we go to sleep is an opportunity to press our “reset button,” and every morning is an invitation to see the world anew. As we go through our days, we settle into a rhythm and mode. But when we break for sleep, we allow for a change in perspective.

So tomorrow when you wake up, remember the opportunity afforded to you by a night of sleep. See everything as fresh, new, and full of possibilities. That goes for God’s Word, your life, and your future.

Your Turn:

What situation or challenge in your life requires a fresh look and new perspective? Pray that God will help you to see your situation in a new light.