Re'eh - Believing without seeing

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Have you ever heard someone ranting about how they received some prophecy of sorts and they know the “real” way. Now, that guy is crazy. But what if someone who isn’t crazy was saying that he had a prophecy and he can prove it too with some sort of sign, and it works, what now? Do we follow his guidance and start worshiping the rocks, the trees, the sun? Our Torah preempts the words of the false prophet; Moshe says, “If there will arise among you a prophet or a dreamer of a dream, and he gives you a sign, and the sign takes place, and he then says, ‘Let us go serve other gods, which you have not previously known, and let us worship them,’ you must not heed the words of that prophet or that dreamer of a dream. God is testing you to ascertain whether you really love God, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul.” (13:2-4)

There are three types of reactions a person can have to this type of test, a person can remain steadfast in his sole devotion to the One God, Hashem. A person’s faith can waver in the presence of a false prophet that he may indeed be swayed to worship a foreign idol. Or a person could be so indifferent to his connection to God in the first place that he wouldn’t even care if this prophet could walk on water, resurrect the dead and grant him three wishes. There are many times when we feel such a strong attachment to God; whether it be through the practicality of torah or the higher feelings of Tefillah there are moments in our life that we have felt like our soul was connecting to something beyond us. This is amazing and we should be blessed to feel such a pure and holy connection on a regular basis but in reality most of the time we don’t feel it – of course the connection to God is there, nothing can remove that connection from us – yet if the words of The One True God Hashem are not enough at times to inspire us and bring us closer to Him there’s no chance some false prophet touting his miraculous capabilities can “inspire” us to serve a fake god. Yet often that is what happens – whether the false idol be a rock, an apple, or a robot, sometimes the false prophet within us – our Yetzer Hara, can entice us with nothing more than an occupation in some other activity than serving God. So how do we look higher than the false idols we envelop ourselves in and begin to see the real real truth in this world and the world Above? Through the ultimate declaration of our faith, Shema Yisrael. The Gemara in Meseches Brachos (5a) tells us that if the Yetzer Hara is accosting us we should say Shema for even when we say Shema without any kavanah we are uplifting ourselves from living in a world where we are indifferent to God, to a glimpse of a world where God’s oneness is known throughout and that world is a world without the evil inclination. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach said on Shema that the more real something is, the harder it is to see. When we are struggling to understand a concept in science or math we can be so lost in one minute and then a minute later we find understanding and we feel like we have had that understanding our whole life. All the more so in regard to spirituality. When we reach a holy level and open our eyes to see what we have achieved, everything is so clear and we feel like we have had this holy understanding our whole life. Emotions, especially love are so intense and strong that we know it completely when we feel it but we cannot prove it even though it is the most real emotion we feel. God is the most real thing in this world below and the world Above and we cant even see Him! But in order to see you must begin without that vision. When we do begin to see Him we see God everywhere, in every flower, in every cloud, in every little stone – not different gods – all One God whose essence is every other thing’s essence. When we say Shema we close our eyes because in the beginning we don’t see God, we’re blind. We hopefully believe. But then through shema, through that declaration of faith we open our eyes, and it’s so clear – clear like we knew it our whole life- He is there and there is no other.