Parashat Ki Tavo: Know. See. Hear.
Have you ever heard the famous saying, “Seeing is believing”? I’m sure at some point or another you have. It is one of those sayings that is quickly and easily thrown around to inspire. It is a great quote, however my favorite quote of all time is similar but different. In many ways I find it more inspiring. My quote goes, “By believing one sees (Christensen, James C. Voyage of the Basset).” The difference between the quotes is small, but important. In the first you must see to believe. The second asks you to believe before you see. What is easier for you to do first? To see or to believe?
At the end of this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, Moses says to the Israelites, “And Moses called all of Israel and said to them, "You have seen all that the Lord did before your very eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh, to all his servants, and to all his land; the great trials which your very eyes beheld and those great signs and wonders. Yet until this day, the Lord has not given you a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear (Deuteronomy 29:1-3).” Moses begins by reminding the Israelites of all the great miracles that G-d did before their very eyes in Egypt and along their journey. But then Moses points out that it wasn’t until this moment, the time before they enter the Promised Land that G-d had, “not given you a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear (Deuteronomy 29:3).” So it would seem as if it didn’t matter what the Israelites saw at first. It didn’t matter that they saw G-d to miracles such as the plagues, or splitting the Red Sea before their eyes. None of that made a lasting impact on them. It was only after their long 40 year journey in the desert did they gain, “the heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.” It wasn’t until then that they could truly believe to truly know what happened. It is like the small difference between the quotes I shared earlier. It is more important to G-d for the Israelites to know before they can see and hear. Knowing deep within your heart is the key. Trusting your heart, trusting your intuition is your key to knowing. Is the key to wisdom.
Tonight at your Shabbat dinner table think about what you know in your heart. Ask yourself how often do you truly know something deep in your heart? How often do you trust your intuition? How often do you believe in something before seeing it? Maybe just for a little bit let yourself, trust yourself to believe before you see. Trust yourself to know in your heart, then see with your eyes and hear with your ears.