Dear Readers,

I was walking in a crime-ridden neighborhood of Brooklyn, and there was a shabby-looking man with an outstretched arm, asking for charity. I had some cash in my purse, but I didn’t want to draw attention to it. I quickened my pace, looked straight ahead and pretended not to see.

It was the end of a hard and aggravating day. Nothing had gone the way I had planned or wanted. My husband walked into our home, ready to share something that had happened that excited him. I chose not to see his eagerness. I chose not to share in his exuberance, but to remain in my own cloud-filled, dark corner of reality.

I had had a busy and exhausting week when I met a woman who hinted that she wanted to be invited for a Shabbat meal. Did she have to choose this week—the Shabbat that we had planned to make a simple, easy one, without guests? I closed my eyes to her need and closed my ears to her hints.

So many times in life, we choose not to see. We choose to remain blind to another’s wants, needs or pain, preferring to remain oblivious and ignore it.

This week’s Torah portion begins with the words: See, I give you today a blessing and a curse (Deuteronomy 11:26)

Maimonides in Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance (5:1-3), states that freedom of choice has been granted to every man. If he desires to turn towards a good path, the ability to do so is in his hands . . .

He further writes, “This concept is a fundamental principle and a pillar of the Torah and its commandments. As it is written [Deuteronomy 30:15]: ‘See, I have set before you life [and good, and death and evil]’ . . . For if there were to exist something in the very essence of a person’s nature which would compel him toward a specific path, a specific conviction, a specific character trait or a specific deed . . . how could G‑d command us through the prophets, ‘Do this’ and ‘do not do this’ . . . ?”

G‑d is asking us to open our eyes. See the needs of those around you. See the beauty in giving. See the splendor in opening yourself up to do just a bit more than you thought you could.

Wishing us all a week of seeing!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW