“Wow! How did I not see that the first time? It was right in front of my eyes,” I said, turning to my daughter on the couch.

We had just watched a minute-and-a-half video called the “Selective Attention Test” by Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris. The video prompts the viewer to watch how many times a basketball is passed betweenThe perceptions of our minds are quite baffling players wearing white shirts. Viewers concentrate so hard on the basketball that they don’t notice anything else that appears on the video—in this case, a gorilla! “I bet the other 25 million viewers also missed the gorilla; otherwise, it wouldn’t be called one of the most famous psychological experiments. It just goes to show that what we think we are seeing, we may not be. The perceptions of our minds are quite baffling.”

When we are blessed with the ability to see, we are also blessed with the ability to choose where we focus our attention. Amazingly enough, there is the possibility of being “blind” to something right before our eyes. This is a blindness not of the eyes, but of the mind. It’s referred to as “inattentional blindness” or “perceptual blindness.”

Coined by psychologists Arien Mack and Irvin Rock, it refers to the lack of ability to perceive something in our direct line of vision because we are attending to something else.

Perhaps an example of this can be found in the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers. The brothers spent many years away from Joseph and yet when they stood directly in front of him in the palace in Egypt, they didn’t recognize him.

How could this be? The brothers had last seen him as a young boy of 17, and now he was a fully grown man with a beard. Nevertheless, it is pretty remarkable that not one out of the 11 recognized him. The commentaries further explain that the brothers could not have imagined that this powerful royal figure was their brother, Joseph. They stood before him, and yet he was invisible to them.

This is perceptual blindness which is a “form of invisibility (that) depends not on the limits of the eye, but on the limits of the mind. We consciously see only a small subset of our visual world, and when our attention is focused on one thing, we fail to notice other, unexpected things around us, including those that we might want to see.”1

The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that Geulah, the period of Redemption, is here and we just need to open our eyes.

But how can this be? The world around us seems to be filled with strife, disease and lack. On a global scale and even on a personal, much smaller one, individuals, families, and communities are suffering, fighting and complaining of lack. But let’s look closely at the words the Rebbe used: “Geulah is here; we just need to open our eyes.” The Rebbe is referring to the eyes of our minds and is encouraging us to step out of our “inattentional blindness” in order to recognize a new reality.

There’s a story that author and life coach Martha Beck once shared in a training class I attended. She was sitting next to a whitewater rafter on an airplane and asked him how it is that when he is rushing down the rapids, he doesn’t hit the rocks? How does he steer his craft safely in dangerous waters? He replied that he places all his attention on the space between the rocks and that where his attention is, his power goes. He concluded that if he focused on the rocks, he’d probably hit them.

According to the Rebbe, in the present moment, the process of Geulah is unfolding before our eyes. When we choose to focus our attention on the signs of Geulah as defined in Torah prophetic sources, more signs are revealed.

This is a choice for us to make. We can put our attention on the “rocks” and see all the negative things in the world at large (especially if we constantly watch the news, which rarely focuses on the positive). Unfortunately, this choice is dangerous and will more than likely cause us to hit the “rocks”—meaning, be filled with a sense of despair. But if we choose to place our focus on where we want to go—towards world peace, healing and abundance, then we just might be filled with a spirit of hope and empowerment. Putting our attention on Geulah and its signs will bring power and strength to this reality, and help reveal this prophesied time.

Here is what I’ve noticed in the last few years where it appears that the world is ripe and ready to expose G‑dliness:

  • When “random acts of kindness” is a I am no longer willing to remain in “perceptual blindness” phrase used throughout the world today, and it is common practice to give to strangers, I recognize Geulah.
  • When I sit in a parenting class and learn the tools that encourage children to develop self-regulation and inner wealth by making choices based on their character strengths, virtues and values, I see Geulah. This is helping to develop a more refined society in which inner policing rather than a dependence on external policing will prevail.
  • When I read in a random magazine at a doctor’s office about individuals who change from work clothes into superhero clothes to deliver food to the homeless, I recognize Geulah.
  • I’ve been in coach-training classes in which the non-Jewish teachers share stories of the Baal Shem Tov; I’ve come across social-media memes quoting Chassidic teachings; I’ve been to concerts where famed singers belt out Torah phrases to audiences of diverse faiths. The Baal Shem Tov taught us that “when the wellsprings have burst forth to all corners of the world”—when the teachings of chassidut will spread far and wide—Moshiach will come, bringing in this time period of full Divine light. And this is the world we live in today.
  • When every store I walk into has a means to give charity at the cash register, I recognize Geulah.

My list can go on and on because I love to gather these moments of noticing Geulah. I am no longer willing to remain in “perceptual blindness” and block the G‑dly light that is roaring to get through and usher in a time of peace, health and abundance.

Let’s encourage one another to put our attention on this beautiful process unfolding before our eyes, to peel away the last few blockages that separate us from G‑d’s presence in our world and to truly tip the world fully into Geulah. Amen!