Manhattan. June 9, 1994. The city is abuzz with Stanley Cup fever as the New York Rangers entered game five, just one victory away from their first championship since the FDR Administration. With hopes of being "on-site" for the city-wide festivities, a friend of mine and I took the train into NYC to watch the game amidst a sea of enthusiastic Rangers' fans at the Champions Sports Bar & Grill.

Alas, the Vancouver Canucks bested the Rangers that night by the score of 6-3. The celebratory champagne would remain on ice for several more nights (the Rangers wouldn't clinch victory until the seventh game finale) and throngs of dejected fans turned in for the evening. Meanwhile, scores of reporters -- hoping to cover a victory - instead turned to the streets to interview crestfallen fans and get their take on the night's events.

Sure enough as we're watching the post-game interviews, the TV analyst-reporter chimes in, "And now we're live from Champions Bar & Grill with some Rangers fans ..." My perplexed buddy looks at me and inquires, "Champions?! Aren't we IN Champions!?" Sure enough, the very same interview that we were watching on the 18-inch screen above us was taking place real-time, in full living color right behind us.

 

"It happened in those days that Moshe grew up and went out to his brethren and saw their burdens..." [Ex. 2:11]. Rashi: "He focused his eyes and his heart to be distressed over them."

"God saw the Children of Israel [enslaved and embittered in Egypt]; and G-d knew." [Ex. 2:25]. Rashi: "He focused upon them and did not hide His eyes from them."

"Hashem said, 'I have indeed seen the affliction of My people that is in Egypt and I have heard its outcry because of its taskmasters, for I know its pains." [Ex. 3:7]. Rashi: "I have focused My heart to understand and know his pains and I did not hide My eyes, and I shall not block My ears to their cry."

As the Alter m'Kelm points out, the Chumash provides only sparse details regarding Moshe's upbringing. We know precious little of his "biography" prior to his Divine encounter with the burning bush on Mount Sinai. The few vignettes recorded for eternity, however, all seemingly share a common denominator - i.e., the capacity not just to see events unfolding, but the wherewithal to internalize those perceptions to the very core of one's being.

As enumerated in the verses quoted above, Rashi repeatedly teaches us that "seeing" means much more than just the visual perception of an event. Yes - that type of sight may be decoded in your brain -- but it does not mean that it has lodged in your heart. True - that may be considered "vision" but it does not yet amount to the Torah's notion of what it means to truly "see."

Decades ago, psychologist Thomas Gordon introduced the world to the notion of "active listening." Along similar lines, via these verses, the Torah offers a glimpse of what "active seeing" can accomplish. For starters, the desire to see "more than meets the eye" is a noble endeavor because it is a means of emulating Hashem. Beyond that, one empowered with "active seeing" can (hopefully) shed the apathy and disinterestedness that plagues so many of us because we are simply bombarded with so much information and imagery - good, bad and indifferent - the whole day through. As a noted neurologist told me, "in many instances, the cerebral work pad is full. We just can't process anymore." And thus, events that should strike an emotional chord within us go by-the-by and are unthinkingly discarded to some remote corner of our in-box.

The following story illustrates the idea. Rabbi Aryeh Levin zt'l was once standing outside his yeshiva in Jerusalem while the children were on a 15 minute recess break. His son, Chaim, a teacher in the yeshiva, was standing and observing, when suddenly his father turned to him. "What do you see my son?" asked Reb Aryeh. "Why," his son answered, "children playing!"

"Tell me about them," said Reb Aryeh.

"Well," answered Reb Chaim, "Dovid is standing near the door of the school, with his hands in his pockets, he probably is no athlete. Moishie is playing wildly, he probably is undisciplined. Yitzchak is analyzing how the clouds are drifting. I guess he was not counted in the game. But all in all they are just a bunch of children playing."

Reb Aryeh turned to him and exclaimed, "No, my son. You don't know how to watch the children. Dovid is near the door with his hands in his pockets because he has no sweater. His parents can't afford winter clothes for him. Moishie is wild because his Rebbe scolded him and he is frustrated. And Yitzchak is moping because his mother is ill and he bears the responsibility to help with the entire household. In order to be a Rebbe you must know each boy's needs and make sure to give him the proper attention to fulfill those needs."

Life is happening all around us. We see what we want to see. You want to see in two-dimensions, there are plenty of excuses to do so. Yet, when you strive to see the whole picture - the picture that Moshe sees - the picture that Hashem sees - that multi-dimensional, emotion-laden, psychologically-rich, true vision of humanity ... that is the moment when true connectivity is possible and with it, the sensation that one is truly engaged in life. And not just a passive spectator.

Good Shabbos.

Rabbi Viders’ book on the Torah portion, “Seize the Moment” has recently been published by Mosaica Press.