The Eyes Follow the Heart

One of the most prominent commandments in the parsha is the Tzitzit commandment.  The Torah explains that the purpose of the Mitzvat Tzitzit is to cause a remembering for all the rest of the Mitzvot and to execute them.

The Torah encourages us to not let ourselves follow our hearts desires and neither expose our eyes to the temptations. Using the word “Velo Taturu” as a recommendation, not letting our hearts and our eyes see things that are better not to see. This attitude will lead us to a level of holiness and closeness to God.

The great idea behind these sentences is that simple deeds, like tying white threads and azure thread can bring a person to a sublime dimension of holiness.

In the words “and you shall not tour …”, the Torah also opens a window to the psychological process that may lead the person to sin.

The Midrash expands on this idea:

“Do the eyes follow the heart?  Or does the heart follow the eyes?  From the order that is written in the Torah we learn that the eyes follow the heart.” This means that the eyes are controlled by the mind, and the will.  That is why it is so important to accustom the heart to positive ideas and ways of thinking and believing so that the eyes will look at the world correctly.  The eye perceives a lot of things, all the time, and the brain filters out the many data and focuses us on the most important things.  For example, if there is a group picture with your photo, your eye will be drawn to your face first.  The brain determines what is absorbed from the tangle of data that the eye perceives.  It is the mind that decides what will remain in our consciousness from what the eye sees.

With this idea one can understand in depth the gap between the report of the ten spies that Moses sent to the land of Israel and the report from the other two spies Caleb and Joshua that were sent for the same mission. The ten spies saw with practical, realistic eyes the challenges and objective difficulties in the conquest of the land of Israel and came to a depressing conclusion that there is no realistic possibility of entering and conquering the land of Israel, as the Torah quotes “that land is consuming her inhabitants.”

On the other hand, Joshua and Caleb haven’t seen the situation with cold logic but make a strong argument about God’s ways, saying “God did not bring us to the border of the Land of Israel for no reason.” If he has brought us this far, he will also bring us in and help us along the way.

The eyes of Joshua and Caleb saw the same things that the eyes of the other ten companions saw.

And yet, their faith and reasoning about God’s actions led them to a different interpretation and to opposite conclusions.  “Do not be afraid of the Canaanite inhabitants of the land, because God is with us”, said Caleb and Joshua.

This teaches us that we must look at life, with eyes full of faith.  A belief that God will help us to overcome our fears or hesitation and move towards a life full of accomplishments and fulfillment of the goals and challenges God has set for us.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Refael Cohen

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