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Email CANDLE LIGHTING
7:26 PM in New Brunswick, NJ
Shabbat Ends 8:27 PM
Friday, 21 August 2020
Parashat 
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The Blessing of Exile
One characteristic of a mature person is the ability to foresee the future. Not in the sense of prophecy, per se, but in the sense of having the vision and wisdom to see where a particular course of action can lead; to be able to predict the results of one’s choices. Teens and young adults are notoriously hasty in their judgments. They do not have the experience or patience to weigh their decisions; they tend to act impulsively, heedless of consequences.

This is precisely the type of foresight that this week’s Torah portion exhorts us to display. The opening verse of Parshat Re’eh is: “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, that you will heed the commandments of the Lord your God… and the curse, if you will not heed the commandments of the Lord your God” (Re’eh 11:26)

At its face, the message of these verses is that it is in our hands whether G-d will rest upon us his blessing or the opposite, G-d forbid. G-d turns to us with a request: See the good and the bad, the blessing and the opposite. See the outcome of your choices, and choose life. Choose the course of action that will bring you true satisfaction, happiness and blessing.

Yet these passages contain another message for us as well. There is a way to frame every situation so that a blessing seems like a curse, or vice versa. The way we perceive a situation, “Re’eh,” determines the result. Within every negative situation there is a positive purpose, and even the greatest blessing can turn into a curse if we approach it with the wrong attitude. G-d is telling us to see the blessing within every “curse”; to learn how to transform negative events into opportunities for growth.

The entire lengthy exile was a “curse” of this sort. The entire purpose of exile is to draw out our inner strengths and lead to the ultimate goal, the true and complete Redemption. The exile, dark and bitter as it is, is a process that leads up to the glorious future. Knowing that there is a purpose to this exile gives us the strength and fortitude to meet its challenges, to thrive and succeed even in the most adverse circumstances.

At the same time, though, there is a limit to our ability to withstand the lengthy exile. At a certain point, we can no longer make peace with exile, or attempt to see it in a positive light. We are children exiled from the table of our father; is there any excuse or justification that will make it seem all right for us, that will take away the pain? The shechinah, divine presence, in exile is a wound to our spirit that leads us to cry out to G-d, how much longer? How much longer can we endure suffering in exile?
We have had enough trying to find the blessing within the curse, turning the negative into positive. It is time for us to experience the true and complete good, in a tangible way, with the true and complete Redemption.
 

 


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