“Focus upon three things, and you will not come to sin: Know what is above you — (1) a seeing eye, and (2) a hearing ear; and (3) all your deeds are inscribed upon a record.” (Avoth 2:1)
The plain meaning of this adage indicates HaShem’s continual watch over us, and that our actions will be called as testimony for or against us at a time of judgment, and that constant consideration of this reality will encourage us to make better choices. The Shla”h goes a bit further, explaining that each of these three “focal points” stand to improve a different one of the three faculties of man — (1) thought, (2) speech, and (3) action. “Sight” in Hebrew (as well as English), in addition to the power of the physical eye, refers to thought (think of the “mind’s eye”). The “seeing eye” corresponds to HaShem’s knowledge of our thoughts, a reminder to keep our thoughts positive. The “hearing ear” corresponds to a person’s capacity for speech (which Hashem hears), reminding us to keep our words positive, appropriate and constructive — never destructive. Finally, recalling that all our deeds are recorded, reminds us to perform the right actions and to choose to forego the wrong ones. As we approach Yom Kipur, may we succeed in keeping an awareness of these three factors before us, and may this year be one of improvement for all of us in our thoughts, words and deeds.