Why do companies spend millions on celebrity endorsements? Madison Avenue knows well that it is not good enough to have a good message, you need to have the right person to deliver it.
That was the insight of the 18th century rabbi known as the Or HaChayim, Rabbi Chayim ben Moshe ibn Attar. Moses, he said, was the person to deliver Torah because he exemplified its values.
See, I place before you today blessing and curse: blessing, if you will heed the commandments of Adonai your God that I command you today; curse, if you will not heed the commandments of Adonai your God, but turn away from the path that I command you today to follow other gods that you do not know.
It takes a special person to deliver a message like that. You would not believe just anyone who told you that you have to change your life to meet the standards of God. Moses was the right person to transmit the Torah because of who he was.
The Or HaChayim reads the first two words of the portion, Re'eh anochi, as the command, "See me!" (Oddly, the verb, re'eh, is in the singular form, as if Moses were talking to only one person. More on that later.)
Moses, according to the Or HaChayim, used the great stature that the Israelites attributed to him to amplify his message. When the Israelites saw Moses, they saw a man of great power, authority and prestige. Since Moses appeared as a person who had received every blessing that God promised to those who follow the commandments, people believed Moses when he promised that they could receive that blessing, too.
In seeing Moses, people believed what the Rambam (Maimonides) taught: "Each person has the potential to be as righteous as Moses our Teacher" (Hilchot T'shuvah 2:2). Moses inspired people to believe that they could accomplish everything that he had achieved.
Yet, Or HaChayim says that Moses himself was not seduced by belief in his own greatness. He was able to "re'eh anochi," to see himself in ways that others could not, for Moses understood that all people have the same divine spark within them that he had. When he said, "See me," to the Israelites, therefore, he saw them. He attributed his own greatness to them.
That is why, according to the Or HaChayim, re'eh anochi, "See me!", is written in the singular. In his mind, Moses was talking to one person, to himself. In the end, the thing that made him such a great teacher was that he could see himself as he truly was, a creature of God just as his students were creatures of God. That is what truly made him great. That is what truly made him the right messenger for the Torah.
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