"See, I place before you today a blessing and a curse." (Deut. 11:26)

The level of divine perception denoted by "sight" is a direct revelation from G‑d, not something we attain on our own. True, the sight-consciousness we are promised in this week's Torah reading is elicited by perfecting the hearing-consciousness of parashat Ekev, last week, which is very much the product of our own efforts. But the sight that follows this hearing occurs essentially spontaneously once we have laid the groundwork ourselves.

A divine curse is actually a blessing in disguise….

The spontaneous, unsolicited nature of this newfound perception is alluded to in the words of the opening sentence of the parasha:

"See…": a vision of something encompasses its totality at once, as opposed to the perception of something formed by hearing and learning about it, in which details are gradually combined to form a complete picture. The experience of sight is therefore sudden rather than unfolding.

"…I": There are two words for "I" in Hebrew, and the word used here, "anochi", emphasizes the intrinsic, transcendent essence of the speaker, rather than simply identifying him. Although Moses is talking here, he is delivering G‑d's message, so the usage of this word for "I" indicates that the vision promised is one of G‑d's essence. Such a revelation is beyond the man's power to directly elicit and can only occur as a divine gift.

"…give": a gift is an unearned bestowal.

"…before you": the word in Hebrew may be read "to your inner self", indicating that this revelation speaks first and foremost to the inner essence of the Jew and only afterward spreads to and overtakes his more superficial faculties. This is the opposite of the way we normally approach self-refinement on our own; we normally begin with what we see, the most visible flaws in our character, and work inward.

"…today": this word invokes the imagery of the clear perception of daylight. In addition, it implies that this vision will be permanent, always present, "today". This is possible only if it is a divine gift not dependent on the possible fluctuations in the recipient's degree of preparedness.

"…blessing": a blessing is a bestowal of divine beneficence beyond that which we deserve.

"…and curse": A divine curse is actually a blessing in disguise. The reason such a blessing must be disguised is that it is too great to be revealed within the limited world.

These words thus underscore the great spiritual potentials we possess and encourage us to make use of them in refining the world through fulfilling the commandments that follow. We must always keep in mind that G‑d has freely given the revelation of His essence to our inner selves.

[Copyright 2001 chabad of california www.lachumash.org; Adapted from Sefer HaSichot 5751, vol. 1, pp. 767-769, 772-774]