An installment in the series
From the Waters of the Shiloah:
Plumbing the Depths of the Izhbitzer School
For the series introduction click
By Rabbi Dovid Schwartz
Behold I have set the Blessing before you TODAY
First Pasuk in Parshas Re’eh -Devarim 11:26
There is an inverse relationship between our age and the quantity and the intensity of our regrets.
When we are young we tend to be more self-righteous and are less aware of our own shortcomings. Even when a young person regrets something the future seems bright and fresh opportunities abound. Few irreversible forks in the lifes road have been taken yet. Most of all, the supply of time seems inexhaustible. Even if mistakes have been made or opportunities squandered there is plenty of time readily available to set things right.
But as we age, our hearts fairly break with regret and remorse. More and more of the open doors of opportunity slam shut. Yesterdays sins engender new ones and, far from learning from our mistakes, we tend to habitually repeat the old ones while continuing to break fresh ground with new ones. Once we reach lifes halfway point we tend to obsess over “woulda, shoulda, coulda”. Worst of all, as the sands in our personal hourglasses dwindle to a precious few we become convinced that even if we could stop messing things up and somehow come up with a plan to rectify the past that the time we have left is insufficient to implement our plan…so why bother?
The coming month of Elul is a season for Teshuva. Yet for many of us, as regret and guilt are the very foundation of Teshuva, Elul has ceased to be a time of optimism and renewal. On the contrary, during Elul the spirit crushing thoughts of “woulda, shoulda, coulda” just intensify.
Rav Laibeleh Eiger explains that the Pasuk emphasized the word HaYom–Today to challenge these depressing thoughts. The Torah is eternal and its message is equally relevant and binding for all times and places. HaShem is assuring the Jews of here and now, of Elul 5773, that he has set THE blessing before us today…this very day. HaYom im Bekolo Tishmoun –“this very day if you were to just hearken to His voice”(Tehilim 95:7). Among the seven Shabbosos of Nechama perhaps the greatest solace of all inheres in the word “HaYom”=Today. It teaches us that huge tracts of time are not required in order to set things right. On any given day and at any given moment that one begins to regret their sins, salvation is nigh. On that very day and at that very moment HaShem sets the blessing before him.
This is why Parshas Re’eh is always read the Shabbos before Elul begins. It sensitizes us to the fact that HaShem recognizes our regret, remorse and general awakening to Teshuva and immediately responds by setting the blessings before us TODAY.
The most famous allusion to the upcoming month Ahnee L’Dodee, V’Dodee lee-“I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me” (Shir HaShirim 6:3) imparts the same message. HaShem is neither k’vyachol –so to speak emotionally stingy nor slow to respond. Spiritual gratification is instantaneous. The moment that “I am for my Beloved” my Beloved reciprocates and “is for me”.
Two more Pesukim in Re’eh reemphasize the instantaneousness, the “Today” of Divine reciprocation, rapprochement and blessing:
L’shichno Tidreshu… U’vahsah Shamah– “Search for His closeness… and you will come there.” (Devarim 12:5). The moment that a person rouses himself and rededicates his heart to Hashem i.e. when we seek out His Shechina and “search for His closeness” we are immediately repositioned “you will come there” I.e. that HaShem becomes revealed to the recipient and accepts him.
Ish K’matnas Yadoh– “every man according to his capacity to give” (Devarim 16:17). i.e. immediately after the preparation has been made to receive and the hand has been outstretched comes…. K’virkas haShem Elokecha asher nosan loch “(as) The blessing of HaShem your L-rd that he gave to you” (Ibid)
Adapted from Toras Emes-Devarim 11:26 (4th D”H Re’eh on page 208)