Dvar Torah Re’eh
The Sidra starts with Moshe telling the people “RE’EH”, look here, I place (NOTTEN) before you today a blessing and a curse. (Deut. 11;26) What is implied here is, that man has a choice to do good or to do bad. The correct choice is in our hands. One choice will lead to a blessing and the other to a curse. This is what we know in Judaism as “free will” and is one of the main concepts in our religion. If there were no free choice, there could not be reward and punishment and the Torah would not be binding.
What is interesting is that Moshe uses the present form NOTTEN, “I place” and not the past tense, “I placed” (NATTAN) which would have been more appropriate since he had given the laws a long time previously. The Vilna Gaon explains that this informs us that the choice is in our hands every day. It is an on-going process. People may have chosen the wrong type of life style because of various conditions in their lives. This does not mean, however, that they must continue in that way. Every day the choice is yours to change your ways and live a different type of life.
The Vilna Gaon also asks why the Torah changes the verb form from singular to masculine. First it starts with RE’EH, which is in the singular and then it says LIFNECHEM, which is the plural. He explains that people may be inclined to excuse their behavior by saying everyone is doing it. Why should I be different? That is why the Torah speaks in the singular, says the Gaon; it is to admonish each and everyone that the choice is up to us individually. We are responsible for our actions and it has nothing to do with how others behave.