• Leann Shamash

What Do You See?

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

#whatyousee #parshatreeh #reeh #youreyes #wordshavewings #parshapoetry #poetry


Parshat Re'eh contains so much information, so many instructions of how to live well, how to eat, who and what to avoid and how to be seen when bringing gifts to God . The parsha begins with the word "see" and asks us to see the blessings and the curses that God has given us. What does it mean to see these curses and blessings?

God has gifted us the wondrous ability to see. Perhaps how we see the world sends us down different paths in life. Above all, we should be aware of how we see the world influences how we do the world and so this poem came into being.


What You See


And there was evening

And God saw that it was good...

Behold with your eyes

the miracles of retina and cornea,

pressure and fluids competing,

completing each other.

Extraordinary tools

of examination and vision.


Look.

Observe.

See what is around you.


So simple, yet so complex

images before our eyes

shapes of all sizes

angles and sweeping arcs

light and dark,

luscious color layered upon color

we see

objects,

impossibly small

and those so large

they defy description.


This is the prose of the eyes.

No,

this is the poetry of seeing.

**


We blink and a new scene is revealed.

We blink and the world is invented anew.


**

And God saw that it was good

And there was morning....


**

What do you see

when you walk to work or the garage?

From the bathroom to the kitchen?

In your garden or where you sit now?


Look as far as your eyes can see

or an inch from you.


Do you see the bees hover over the flowers?

The raindrops as they splash in puddles at your feet?

Do you notice the tiny ants as they work?

Do your eyes marvel at symmetry of feathers?

Can you see the rhythm of a beating pulse?

The long, graceful curve of the horizon?

The geometry of a snowflake?

The dimples on a face?


Do you see plenty or poverty?

Do you see darkness or light?

Do you see the blessing or the curses?


Can your eyes see happiness?


What is the first thing you see in the morning

and the last thing before you close your eyes at night?


Do our eyes see the difference between right and wrong?

Do our eyes have such power?

Can we see apathy? Can we see charity?

Kindness? Envy?


Do our eyes see what is

or what we want to see?


What do we miss when we avert our eyes?


What do see when you are alone?

When you are lonely?

Can we see love?

Is our heart the lens through which we see?


What do you see through the eyes of others?

What do you see when tears cloud your vision?

And what do you see

when your vision is jaded by age,

power, unhappiness, pain?


And what do you see when your eyes,

these miraculous vehicles that open worlds,

no longer allow you the power of vision?


Is memory the gift of the sightless?

Is imagination the gift for those who see not?


These eyes,

two gifts, two glassy mirrors

seeing into our hearts,

that open the theater of countless universes,

of darkness and light

of blessings and curses

of life.


***

When the Sages who had been studying there took leave of the study hall of Rabbi Ami, and some say it was the study hall of Rabbi Ḥanina, they would say to him the following blessing: May you see your world, may you benefit from all of the good in the world, in your lifetime, and may your end be to life in the World-to-Come, and may your hope be sustained for many generations. May your heart meditate understanding, your mouth speak wisdom, and your tongue whisper with praise. May your eyelids look directly before you, your eyes shine in the light of Torah, and your face radiate like the brightness of the firmament. ......

Brachot 17a


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"See, this day I set before you blessing and curse:" Deuteronomy 11:28

Translation from Sefaria

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