08 Aug YOLO
“Re’eh – Look – See. I set before you
today bracha, blessing and klalla, curse.”
Moshe is speaking to Bnei Yisroel, placing
before them two totally different life paths.
One of blessing and goodness, the other of
pain and difficulty.
But why the term “re’eh – see”? If Moshe
is speaking, shouldn’t it have been “shema
Moshe is telling the nation “re’eh”,
visualize a life of bracha as compared to a
life of hardship. He understood that the
mind’s eye is so strong, so powerful, that
its images can have a life-long impact.
Malbim explains that in using the term
“re’eh – see”, Moshe is telling his beloved
people to look at the world around them, to
observe its people and their lives. To watch
those who live a life of Torah and mitzvos,
and they will see people who are blessed.
My mother a”h would teach that we should
follow HaShem’s words to Avraham Avinu
– “Veheyei bracha, and you will be a
blessing… and all the people of the earth
will be blessed through you”. (Bereishis
To actually be a blessing. To do good. Be
there for others and you will surely see
bracha in your own life.
While certainly nice, blessing does not
mean a big, beautiful house, over-the-top
vacations or the largest bank account.
Blessing means inner peace and tranquility,
living a purposeful life, a life of meaning
My mother cherished giving brachos. So
often, she would bentch us and so many
others with the bracha to “have nachas
from yourself”. To be not just satisfied, but
proud and happy of where you are in life.
To wake up every morning looking
forward to accomplishing more and more.
The Kotzker Rebbe teaches that we each
have our own individual path to Torah.
What touches one person’s neshama
doesn’t necessarily touch the next person’s.
Re’eh – seek out; find the path that speaks
to you. Find your way of
bringing bracha to the world.
It is interest to note that while
the passage begins with the
word “re’eh – see” in the
singular form, addressing the
individual, it then switches to
“nosein lifneichem, placing
before you”, using the plural
term for you. Our Torah is
teaching us that while we might
live our life as individuals, we
can’t separate ourselves from
the world around us. We can’t say “It’s not
my problem… let someone else worry
about it. Let someone else care.”
One of the messages of parshas Re’eh is
that the “me” has to switch to “we”. Each
one of us has a responsibility to make a
difference. To make the world a better
place. To be an individual who cares not
only about himself, but also about those
Moshe’s message in Sefer Devarim was
not only directed to those of his generation,
but was a message for all generations. The
pasuk continues, “Nosein lifneichem
hayom – I present before you today”.
From Moshe Rabbeinu to his generation,
to modern times and for all future
generations. The message is constant –
to live a life of blessing “hayom –
As a high school student, I loved getting
pretty decorative notebooks and folders.
Many of them had beautiful outdoor
scenes with meaningful messages
printed across them. I remember one in
particular with the message, “Today is
the first day of the rest of your life”.
Hayom – Today. Each day comes with
new opportunities. Each day is a chance
to bring bracha to the world. It’s our
choice. The path lies before us.
This Shabbos we will bentch the new
month of Elul. The parshiyos read
during Chodesh Elul are timely; they
have to do with self-improvement, of
working on ourselves before Rosh
HaShanah. Elul is HaShem’s gift of time
to us. A month to prepare before the
Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgment. A
month of introspection, of tefilla, of
connecting to HaShem. The message of
Re’eh and the message of Elul are one.
As the shofar is sounded each day in
Elul, we are reminded that today is the
first day of the rest of our life. We can
start over again. We can make a
Hamodia magazine carries a column
entitled “An American in Yerushalayim”.
In it, Dov Fuchs shares stories, anecdotes
with messages about his life as a
transplanted American. One week he
wrote about one of his favorite comfort
foods, FROYO, a frozen yogurt. He would
often stop off at the FROYO yogurt store
on his way home from work and enjoy a
cup of FROYO. Until one day, he arrived
and the store is shuttered. He was
disappointed about missing his favorite
treat. A few weeks later he passes by, and
sees a sign on that same storefront which
read YOLO. How happy he was – FROYO
became YOLO, yogurt that’s low.
Dov was thrilled about the newly reopened
store, and tried out the new dessert. And
guess what – it was better tasting that the
original FROYO. YOLO became his new
go-to place. One day, he inquired of the
staff at YOLO as to what were the
ingredients that made this new treat so
delicious. He was told that it’s the whole
milk, heavy cream and sugar. He learned
that the new product wasn’t low-fat yogurt
after all, but that YOLO stood for YOU
ONLY LIVE ONCE. You only live once,
so you may as well take it all in, and get
the tastiest, richest frozen dessert out there.
To Mr. Fuchs, the YOLO experience came
with a deeper message. And as we
approach Chodesh Elul, we should ponder
the real significance of YOLO – You Only
Live Once. Yes, we all have only one
sojourn on this earth. Do we squander that
opportunity on seemingly enjoyable
“sweets” that leave us with no eternal
value, or do we make use of each and
every day to absorb real delicacies – Torah,
mitzvos and good deeds, that will bring us
true life both in this world and in the World
Re’eh – See. The choice is ours. To choose
the right path that leads us to a life of
blessing and fulfillment.