In this week’s Torah portion, Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17), Moses explains to the Jewish People: “See, I give you today a blessing and a curse”. (11:26) But why use the verb “SEE”? Why not “LISTEN, I give you today a blessing and a curse”?
According to our rabbinic tradition, one of the most valuable faculties God has bestowed upon us is sight. In fact the Sages teach that one who has loss their eyesight, suffers like one who has died. The rabbis explain that hearing is not necessarily firsthand. If a witness reports about hearing that the accused committed a crime it is ‘hear-say’ and not admissible in a rabbinic court.
However, a witness who testifies that he/she saw the actual crime being committed… they are a viable witness! They saw it happen! BECAUSE THEY WERE THERE! Another example I learned is that Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman co-wrote the Oscar winning screenplay for the 1977 movie Annie Hall, and they were interviewed together by the journalist Susan Braudy. The following words were spoken by Marshall Brickman, but he attributed the adage to Woody Allen. “I have learned one thing. As Woody says, ‘Showing up is 80 percent of life.’ Sometimes it’s easier to hide home in bed. I’ve done both.” Thus, Just show up.
When we sat shiva for my brother and our fathers, Samantha and I noted that the mere presence of friends made all the difference. We don’t remember what they said, we don’t remember what we heard. I just remember that they were with me by my side. They just showed up.
The High Holidays are a mere five weeks away. The is such a burden on everyone, the rabbis, the cantors, and even the people in their seats, to find meaning and significance to each prayer, each reading, every page. And yet so many people have learned that just showing up, being a part of a kehillah – a community of like-minded people, a people with shared history and culture, gives us a great sense of spirituality and comfort. Just as we benefit from a welcoming shoulder to lean on, a kind gesture or warm smile, so too we can gain succor and empowerment being in the mere presence of our fellow congregants.
After three years of fighting a pandemic, it has truly been joyful gathering together in our Sanctuary for it is a blessing to pray and lift our voices in song together. And just your being there… will be a blessing that empowers and inspires you, our families and our community.