A Grammatical Error? - ראה

Friday, 26 August, 2022 - 3:04 pm


A Grammatical Error? 

The opening statement of the Parsha, the declaration of free choice, seems to have a grammatical error. Moses states: 

Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse. (Deuteronomy 11:26)

In the original Hebrew, “see (behold)” (“Re’eh”) is in the singular form, whereas the continuation of the verse “before you” (“Lifneichem”) is in the plural. 

Moses commands the people that when they enter the land of Israel, they should create a ceremony of collectively accepting blessings and curses: 

And it will be, when the Lord, your God, will bring you to the land to which you come, to possess it, that you shall place those blessing upon Mount Gerizim, and those cursing upon Mount Ebal. (11:29)

When the Jewish people stood at Sinai and accepted the covenant with G-d, they did so as individuals; each individual Jew stood before G-d and heard the ten commandments, which were stated in the singular. Once they entered the land of Israel, however, the covenant was expanded, whereby each individual was responsible not only for himself but also for the entire community and nation. This explains the grammar of the verse: the covenant begins with the singular and shifts to the plural to highlight that every individual is responsible for the collective. 

When people form a nation, the danger is that the individual loses the sense of the power of his own actions. One may feel that he is only one person whose actions are inconsequential in comparison to the many. Judaism reminds the person of the incredible power of each and every action. Every effort can make a difference within himself and within the broader world. Sometimes the effect is spiritual, but often one action can have a tangible impact on the person's environment, whereby a positive act can ripple and begin a revolution of blessing and positivity.

As the Talmud states, and as codified by Maimonides and repeated countless times by the Rebbe:  

A person should always look at himself as equally balanced between merit and guilt, and the world as equally balanced between merit and guilt… if he performs one mitzvah, he tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and brings deliverance and salvation to himself and others. (Maimonides, Teshuvah 3:4)

(Adapted from the Kli Yakar)

Comments on: A Grammatical Error? - ראה
There are no comments.