The Torah portion Re’eh, begins with the verse:
Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse. (Deut. 11:26)
The first word of this verse, re’eh, literally means “see” in Hebrew. So, literally, this verse should be translated as:
See, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse
Why did Moses implore people to see, as he was about to set before them a blessing and a curse?
To understand this, we need to look at the following verses defining the blessing and the cure:
The blessing, if ye shall hearken unto the commandments of the Lord your God… (Deut. 11:27)
…and the curse, if ye shall not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord your God… (Deut. 11:28)
Does this remind you the setup of the Schrödinger cat experiment, “if the radioactive atom decays… and if the radioactive atom does not decay…”? In both instances, we are dealing with the quantum superposition—in the case of the Schrödinger cat literally, in here figuratively. The future is undetermined; it is in the state of superposition of all possible outcomes. In this case, it is in the state of superposition of blessing, if the Children of Israel head to Divine commandments, and the opposite of blessing if they don’t.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, once said: “the knowledge of the observer creates the reality in the object.” [Likuutei Sichos Vol. 28, top of page 63]
This statement is very much in line with the modern understanding of quantum mechanics. In 1932, the Jewish-Hungarian polymath John Von Neumann made a startling suggestion that it must be a conscious observer who causes the wavefunction to collapse. Later, the great American physicist John Archibald Wheeler said that quantum observer is a “participating observer” who creates the reality by the act of observation. In other words, we are not passive observers; we are participating observers—our seeing is what collapses the wavefunction and creates the reality.
Now we can understand the meaning of the preamble, re’eh – “see.” Moses informs us that the future is in our hand, as we create the reality by seeing into being. He teaches us to see the reality the right way, to collapse the wavefunction “the right way” so that we get the blessings and not the opposite. In essence, we create our blessings by seeing the world with the right eye, i.e., with the right attitude— positively. Perhaps, this is the meaning of the Yiddish expression, “trach gut, zol zain gut!” – think well, and it shall be well.
May we be blessed with the “right eye” to be able to see the reality into a blessing!
Shavua Tov and Chodesh Tov! As it is customary to wish each other in Elul, ktiva v’chatimah tovah leShanah tovah u’metukah—may we all be inscribed in the Book of Life for a Happy, Healthy and sweet New Year!