These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Your *Own* Eyes

Posted on July 19, 2013 by Andrea Wiese

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Another dvar Torah I wrote for NFTY!

This week in the Parsha, ve’etchanan, Moshe is still reminding the Jewish people about the things they saw and learned in their traveling. He says to the Jewish people, “Take utmost care and watch yourselves scrupulously, so that you do not forget the things that you saw with your own eyes and so that they do not fade from your mind as long as you live.”

When I read the parsha this jumped out at me. On an obvious level I left like, I also don’t want to forget what I have seen during the trip! How do I remember everything? We never stop moving! I feel like it’s an impossible task.

But when I read the line again, I was even more stumped. Why does it say, remember the things you saw with your own eyes? Isn’t that repetitive? Obviously I see with my eyes. I couldn’t possibly see things with someone else’s eyes. Maybe someone is showing me. We all have different mechanchot (educators) to show us and teach us, Sivan, Maya, Michal, Rotem… maybe it’s the way that they are showing us the sites.

But I think it’s more than that, I think Moshe is saying, remember how you saw it. We are all unique, special, and different. The way that Gracie felt and what she saw at Tzippori might have been totally different from what I saw and felt there, even though we both went to the theater, to Yehuda HaNasi’s house, and to the synagogue. Maybe some of you felt excitement and opportunity at how Judaism can progress and adapt and others may have felt fear and wanted to hold on tighter to our traditions.

Whatever you felt and saw, it is yours, and yours to own and yours to remember; yours to go home with, and yours to share and teach to others. I urge you to write, not just about what we did factually, but how you felt and what you’re thinking, what thoughts went through your head when your menchanchot or friend asked a difficult question.

And my blessing for us all, just as Moshe said, is to remember what you saw with our own eyes, to continue to look at Israel and your Judaism with open hearts and open minds, and take moments to step back and reflect so we can remember long after we are back home how each one of us saw and felt Israel in our own unique and beautiful way.