Parashat Re’eh- Don’t Make Today Tomorrow’s Yesterday
‘If there will arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of a dream, and he gives you a sign or a wonder and the sign or the wonder of which he spoke to you happens, [and he] says, "Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us worship them," You shall not heed the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of a dream; for HaShem, your G-d, is testing you, to know whether you really love the HaShem, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul.’ (Perek Yud Gimmel, 13)
HaKadosh Barukh Hu warns us that if somebody walks up to you and says ‘In 3 minutes a brick will fall down from that roof’—and this happens (he probably paid someone off 50 bucks to do it) — and uses this to validate himself as a prophet, and then uses his title to go against HaShem has ve’Shalom, we shouldn’t listen to him, since HaShem is using this as a test to see how committed we are to Him
In Parashat Re’eh we are told not to trade in our current commitment to HaShem for something perceived in a vision of the future, just as this false prophet is trying to do to us. We shouldn’t base what we do now on something we feel will happen later in time. The only way that something that will happen in the future can exist now is as a function of our imagination- not in any other way, there is no other way to figure out what the future will hold. It’s all in your mind. We are warned not to become slaves of the world around us based on extrapolations of time created only in our own minds; we must live in here and now. What do I mean?
Sometimes, we trade in what we have in our hands already because we think we will acquire something much greater later on based on what we are conditioned to think the future will be. This is what the pasuk is speaking about. We are warned not to exchange our love and commitment to HaShem based on a conclusion made about the future, even if it looks guaranteed to us, and logically proven to be so. Often times, we think we know what the future will be because it repetitively happened in the past. Just because something happened many times, by no means can we guarantee that life will continue to take that path. Past occurrences should not serve as an oracle for the future. This is the delusion by which the human mind is narrowed.
Think to yourself, HOW MANY TIMES DO WE GIVE UP WHAT WE HAVE TODAY BECAUSE WE THINK WE WILL HAVE A BETTER TOMORROW? How many times do we repress our ambitions, miss opportunities, and sacrifice precious time because we think we know what the future will be and shape our present day based on something that did not even happen yet? HaShem Yitbarakh warns us not to fall victim to this fabrication of the imagination; these are all tests coming from Him, and we must ensure that we pass them every time.
We cannot give up the opportunities we have TODAY because we are unsure of what will be tomorrow. It’s like amassing money in your wallet, only to never use it. Likewise, we cannot direct and mold our lives based on what we think the future will be.
Like the false prophet, It is not our job to determine the future; we must only try to understand the present situation that we are given. We must loosen our grip and stop trying to be in control of things that do not lie in our hands. Just because we want our future to turn out a certain way does not mean by any means that it has to be so. This is something that we have to earnestly internalize. Do not ever allow your past or future to set a limit on your potential that you have today. If you want to achieve something, put your ENTIRE self into it and do it TODAY.
I often say that sometimes, life is like standing behind a glass window. We stand behind it observing the entire world, inspecting and analyzing and wanting to change things everywhere because we think that is how it will operate best. But as much as we scream and yell and jump up and down and wave our arms, NOBODY CAN HEAR US, nothing will change. After all, we are behind a glass wall, remember? Our time would be better spent pleasantly observing the passersby, maybe exchanging a smile, taking in what we can in order to better ourselves in order to become closer to HaShem Yitbarakh.
This is our test. How much Emunah do we have in HaShem that we stop trying to determine our futures and let Him take the lead? That even if we think we see signs and illusions, we should close our eyes and open our hearts to what HaShem really wants for us. This is true love for HaShem. The pasuk says ‘with all your heart and all our soul’; NOT with your mind. We don’t need to do any calculations. HaShem tells us with our hands we should kill that prophet who pretends he knows what the future is and based on that tries to change your commitments; somebody who lives their life that way is deserving to be killed.
If you sit down with yourself and think about the things that make you worry, you would see that most of it exists in your mind more than anywhere else.
‘What am I going to do next semester?’
‘The bills are due next week’
‘What is she going to say when she sees I broke her vase?’
‘If I don’t get in touch with her now then we won’t be able to speak until Monday, and by Monday it’s too late because I’m going to leave the country and it’ll be hard to communicate overseas. And then there’s the time change. So by the time I get back a month will have gone by and she’d already make the sale to someone else.’
My goodness, calm down. You didn’t even call yet. And what if she picks up? Breathe and trust that whatever happens. It’s meant to play out that way-and that it’s for the best. Don’t play the future in your head- it rarely works out how you imagine it. This way you’re setting yourself up to fail because success would mean that .01% chance of reality actually coinciding with the incident that you conjured up in your mind. Your thoughts are contained in your head- the universe has no way of translating these visions into reality. So get real and work with what you have at hand this moment.
Of course we need direction and a measure of planning in our lives but all of this is a function of the mind and doesn’t even exist in real life, it hasn’t happened yet. And yet it is the biggest cause of anxiety and worry in our lives. Is it next semester yet? Is it next week now? Next month? No! You’re always going to be at a state of ‘now’. Did you realize we never actually get to tomorrow? It’s always considered ‘today’ isn’t it? So yalla don’t worry about ‘tomorrow’, you won’t seize such a thing. Enjoy what HaShem is giving you NOW and trust that it’s playing out exactly how it needs to. They say worrying is like a rocking chair-it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.
If all this abstract talk is making you worry more, here’s a practical way to put it. Do you have a problem? No? Then don’t worry. Yes? Alright, so could you do something about it? Yes? Then don’t worry, you can fix it! No? Then don’t worry! It won’t change anything!
I can’t help myself but to go back to being abstract again. Remember, don't ever make today the collateral for tomorrow; there will always be a tomorrow, but you will never get your collateral of today back. Don’t make today tomorrow's yesterday before the day even passes. Just live in the moment and break past all shackles of time that we tend to be bound by. Every second is an opportunity to grow. Worrying doesn’t fit anywhere in this equation.
Be’ezrat HaShem may we all have the clarity to realize this and the strength to internalize this.
Wishing everybody a Shabbat Shalom u’Mevorakh!