|Rabbi David Wilfond’s Message – Friday, August 11th , 2023|
In the Summer of 1972 Johnny Nash released his classic song “I can see clearly now.” It had been a tumultuous summer for America. The Watergate Scandal dominated the news, and the last U.S. ground troops were being withdrawn from Vietnam. The words of Johnny Nash offered a social commentary in the spirit of the Prophets of Israel. Nash called to the American people to see clearly what was unfolding around them, the lies and deception of Watergate while drawing hope that the bloody war in Vietnam was finally about to end.
Nash lifted the spirits of the generation by singing:
“I can see clearly now the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind, It’s gonna be a bright bright bright sunshiny day.
Oh, yes I can make it now the pain is gone, all of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for It’s gonna be a bright bright bright sunshiny day.”
In this week Torah portion, Moses tries to lift the spirits of the exhausted wandering Jews. For forty years they have been sleeping in the rough as desert nomads. Every few months pulling up stakes, packing up their possessions and moving on the next oasis as another temporary way station. Finally, they are about to cross the Jordan river and enter the long dreamed for promised land. Like Nash’s ability to see clearly, Moses tells his people “Re’eh,” which means “See.” Moses speaks in the singular to address each member of the Israelite community personally to open their eyes and see the possibilities that lay ahead.
In life, there are times we might be blinded by our fears of obstacles. Some people are paralyzed by the worries of “What if?” Moses teaches us to see beyond our anxieties toward the larger picture of possibilities, and then move forward. Thought must lead to action.
This Torah portion always falls before the High Holy Days, when our spiritual tradition asks us to perform an act of
Heshbon Nefesh, an honest introspection and reflection. We are to look back upon our lives of the past year and ask ourselves what have we learned that can help us make better choices for a better future.
Moses concludes this week’s portion with words of hope and happiness. If we open our hands and hearts to the “Orphan, the stranger and the widow,” and help those who are most vulnerable then are community will be “Blessed with joy.”
May each one of us try to see clearly the needs of those around us and may we see ways to increase kindness and caring in our own community.
Rabbi David Wilfond