November 5, 2019
Lift up your Eyes, by Tzvi Schnee
(first part written Monday morning on Amtrak, between Florida and New York).
Cramped. Counting my blessings in a deliberate attempt to counter my uncomfortability. 1). the snack bar opens in half an hour – so, I can get my first cup of tea. 2). I was at least able to brush my teeth, notwithstanding the tiny sink in the restroom. 3). I can use my writing as a catharsis for my disconcertedness onboard the train. 4). find solace in Torah; hence, a segueway to the parashas reading:
“And the L-RD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him:
‘Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.'”
Genesis 13:14-15, JPS 1917 Tanach
When Lot, Abraham’s nephew, lifted up his eyes of his own accord and motivation, he saw the prime real estate for flocks and herds, not far from Sodom and Gomorrah. Rather, Abraham lifted up his eyes, in obedience to H’Shem who told him, “to lift up thine own eyes, and look from the place where thou art” (Genesis 13:14). There is a difference between Lot and Abraham, in respect to this passage.
Lot was drawn to the well-watered valley of the Jordan River near Sodom & Gomorrah. He looked with “eyes” influenced by worldly desire. By way of contrast, Abraham looked with his own eyes, the eyes of a tzaddik (righteous person), with the pure intent to serve H’Shem. Moreover, Abraham looked from the place where he was; in other words, free of worldly ambition, he stood on his own ground, so to speak, recognizing who he was at that moment in time, without projecting into the future. All was in the hands of H’Shem, as everything should be for the one who trusts in His Providence.