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ראה אנכי נתן לפניכם היום ברכה וקללה. את הברכה אשר תשמעו.

See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing that you listen. (11:26,27)

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Noticeably, the Torah begins with Re’eh, see, in the singular (instead of Re’u) in the plural form; then, it writes lifneichem, before you, in the plural (not lifanecha in the singular form) and concludes with, asher tishme’u, plural that you listen (not tishma) singular. In his Aderes Eliyahu, the Gaon, zl, mVilna, explains that the Aseres HaDibros, Ten Commandments, are spoken to Klal Yisrael in the singular, because when they stood at Har Sinai, all of Klal Yisrael were standing k’ish echad b’lev echad, as one person with one heart. Their unity was complete. Thus, Hashem spoke to them as one unit. Likewise, here, re’eh, see, is spoken in the singular, because all the Jewish People stood melded together as one unit. Regarding lifneichem, before you (in the plural), Klal Yisrael is addressed in the plural, with each individual having before him his individual bechirah, choice. “Will I listen or will I not listen?” In this case, being part of a group can prove to be counterproductive, if the majority of the group is not prepared to listen. Thus, Hashem says: “The choice is yours individually. Even if the majority strays, do not follow. The decision is yours individually, exclusive of the sway of the majority of the people.”

Horav Eliyahu Baruch Finkel, zl, offers an alternative explanation. Veritably, the entire parsha should have been written in the plural, because Hashem was speaking to the entire nation. It begins in the singular – re’eh – to teach that herein lies a message to be conveyed to each individual or community. When the message is for the individual, it carries greater weight and, as a result, the individual takes it much more seriously. Rav Finkel quotes an incident that occurred concerning the Brisker Rav, zl. It was during World War II, and the bombings over Poland had begun. The Brisker Rav was in dire need of hadassim, myrtle branches, for his lulav. However, he did not seek just any hadas; he wanted those that would conform to all of the imposed stringencies that Brisk placed on the branch. It happened to be that Horav Menachem Ziemba, zl, was in the ghetto with the Brisker Rav. He asked the Rav if it were necessary to observe all of the stringencies during a time in which life and death were hanging in the balance. Perhaps now would be a time for the Rav to be mekabel, accept, a regular kosher hadas, without all of the pitchifkes, details. The Brisker Rav immediately replied, “There is no such thing as a ‘good’ time or ‘bad’ time. The mitzvah must be carried out in its entirety at all times. War is not an excuse to relax one’s mitzvah observance.”

The Brisker Rav added, “If Hashem would ask one thing of a Jew, to do something for Him, find a set of hadassim, is there any question that immediately every Jew would drop everything and search for these hadassim? The reason we lack the proper emotion necessary to execute a mitzvah properly is that we do not realize that Hashem Himself is commanding/asking us to carry out the mitzvah; Hashem is speaking to all Jews. This is not a selective mitzvah. This is not the only mitzvah of the Torah. This mitzvah has been a constant command for thousands of years. This is not the very first time that we have been commanded to do this. The Torah is teaching us that we must view every mitzvah that we are about to perform as a personal enjoinment which is reiterated on that very day by the Creator Himself. This can be derived from the pasuk in Krias Shema: V’hayu ha’devarim ha’eileh, ‘And these matters (that I command you,’) asher Anochi metzavcha hayom, ‘today’ (Devarim 6:6). These: only this/these one mitzvah; I, Hashem Himself, command you, only you; today, not thousands of years ago. Therefore, each and every day, the Torah should be in our eyes as a brand new command. Regardless of ‘last year’s’ command, today is this year. If we would sense this concerning every mitzvah, then, the difficult circumstances notwithstanding, we would be only too happy to carry out His will.”

I think this might be the underlying meaning of “living Torah.” Our Torah is not an archaic relic of the past, as some of the secularists would have us think. Our Torah is very much alive, with its Divine Author, Hashem, speaking to us constantly. When we open a Chumash and read the words, it is Hashem speaking to us – now.

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