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    To see & enjoy – Re’eh

    eyeThe name of the sidra, Re’eh, means “See!” (Deut. 11:26-28). In old-time English translations it is “Behold!” Today we would say, “Look!”

    The same verb, resh-alef-heh, comes in a well-known verse (na’ar hayiti) that is one of a group of added verses at the end of the Grace After Meals. Taken from Psalm 37:25, it says, “I was young and now I am old, and I have never seen (lo ra’iti) a righteous person forsaken or their progeny begging for bread”.

    Beautiful piety, but controversial because it is hardly in accord with human experience. How can King David or anyone else really say they have never seen a righteous person suffering from hunger?

    Of course it is possible that someone living in a palace is shielded from the realities of life, but David didn’t always live in a palace and he must have witnessed poverty and hunger before he became king.

    Because there may be a hungry poverty-stricken guest at the table, some people recite this verse quietly out of human concern.

    Others think the verb which we translate “to see” might also mean “to enjoy (seeing)” – as in Kohelet 9:9, which says, “Enjoy (re’eh) life”, or maybe it means “to gloat over”, as in Psalm 22:18.

    Whatever the meaning, the verse comes in a messianic context, implying, “May there come a time when no-one’s eyes will witness poverty, hunger, deprivation or evil!”

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