This Week’s Torah Portion | September 10 – September 16, 2017 – 19 Elul – 25 Elul, 5777


Nitzavim-VaYelech (Standing-Moses Went) – Weekly Torah Portion

NITZAVIM/VAYELECH
TORAH : DEUTERONOMY 29:9-31:30
PROPHETS : ISAIAH 61:10-63:9
GOSPEL : LUKE 24:1-12/LUKE 24:13-43

About the Weekly Torah Portion

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage.

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will highlight specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.

The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world.

In A Nutshell

The portion, Nitzavim (Standing), deals with Moses’ speech regarding the covenant between Israel and the Creator. Moses makes it clear that the Torah applies to the whole of the people of Israel, to every single one, and was given to posterity. Moses stresses the principle of choice: should a person worship other gods, he will be exiled from the land. But if he wishes to be reformed, the path is through repentance. The Creator allows the people to choose between life and death, but commands them, “Therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy, 30:19).

In the portion, VaYelech (Moses Went), Moses gives his final speech before the people’s entrance to the land of Israel. He reinforces the people so they will not fear fighting for the land because the Creator is with them, and he officially hands over the leadership to Joshua, son of Nun. Moses writes the Torah and instructs the people of Israel to assemble once every seven years to read the Torah. The Creator reveals to Moses that in the future, the people of Israel will sin, and commands him to write a song through which the people will remember the Creator.

Commentary

It may seem as though portions repeat themselves, but any repetition is at a new degree. The whole Torah deals only with the correction of the soul. It is as if the soul is cut into slices according to the degrees of the great will to receive, which is why it appears to be the same.

Similarly, each day in our lives seems to resemble the next, yet each day feels different, and life consists of many days joined together. The special thing about this process is that it is not about the people of Israel or the desert, but about an individual going through the stages of one’s spiritual development.

The spiritual development is done in two stages. The first is the preparation in Babylon, in the Bilbul (confusion). The second stage is in Egypt. In this world, a person tries to do as one sees fit, but gives up because this world is leading us into a state where we are not achieving good results in life. The result is a crisis, similar to the one the world is in today.

And yet, we do not seek the meaning of life, but money, power, respect, pleasures, freedom, vacations, and we are beginning to understand that it is impossible to have them. Whether due to personal crises or because of the global crisis, we finally come to the fundamental question, “What is the meaning of my life?” We seek satisfaction in life but we cannot find it anywhere, and without satisfaction we feel like Prophet Jonah, who said, “It is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah, 4:3).

We seek fulfillment, but we arrive at a situation where there is only one way, as we are discovering these days. Gradually, the whole world is approaching the stage of the question about the meaning of life. Due to the crisis, we are all facing a state of bankruptcy. Although it currently seems that only banks and large corporations are moving toward it, in truth, the whole world is faced with the questions, “What are we doing with ourselves, with our lives?” “What is it all for?” “What is going on here?” These questions lead us to the answer that everything is happening only so we may rise above the satisfaction in our own short lives.

While we are beginning to search for the real fulfillment, the eternal and complete one, above this transient life, we go through stages of inner corrections that lead us toward another life, to the spiritual life, the life of the soul. It is as though we acquire another body, an internal one, which is not made of flesh, but which is all desire. Our corporeal body, the flesh, is where that desire dresses, and it is called a “soul,” which we must reveal and nurture.

There are two stages in the development of that body: the first is called Moses, and the second is called Joshua. Moses is called the “faithful shepherd.” In that stage we rise to the degree of Bina, to bestow with the aim to bestow. It is a degree that is all bestowal, faith. The degrees where we acquire the quality of Moses, the revealing of the spiritual body, are called the “forty years in the desert.”

Following the revealing of the spiritual body—the Kli (vessel) of the soul—we work on filling it with light. We acquire the Kli, conquer the land of Israel, expel from there what is unfitting and undesirable, and fill our Kli with the upper light. This is the degree of receiving with the aim to bestow, the degree of Joshua. It is a higher degree than Moses, or in fact, an “improved” degree of Moses.

We advance in conquering the land (desire) by working on our egotistical will to receive, which opposes us and tries to fail us each step of the way. We get stranded, err, and constantly have troubles with the covenant. We must connect with the will to bestow and constantly choose life, as it is written (Deuteronomy 30:19), “Therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your descendants.”

We can acquire the additional, spiritual life, while we are living in our physiological bodies. It depends solely on our correction, on the extent to which we are immersed in the intention to bestow, on how filled we are with the upper light. When we obtain the upper light we are rewarded with eternal life. This is really our goal; it is the purpose of our lives here in this world, in our physical bodies. The knowledge of that used to be in the hands of a chosen few, unique individuals in each generation, but today the whole world is awakening toward it, and we will all need to reveal our souls.

The portions that speak of the entrance to the land of Israel mention Joshua’s new leadership, and new laws. Today the world is also moving into a new stage, new laws. Will explanations about it help or is it impossible to understand anything until we are actually in the new world?

First we need to recognize our helplessness, that deficiency, similar to the way it happened in the desert when we faced the entrance to the land of Israel but did not know what to do and feared entering it. Even prior to that, at the foot of Mount Sinai, there was a problem of great hatred, similar to the one that is threatening to burst throughout the world today, and pull us into a third world war, a nuclear one.

And prior to Mount Sinai we had to jump into the Red Sea and cross it despite the very real fear of death. Today we are feeling the same great obstacles, standing before us like impassable walls. And yet, the Torah always opens a door before us.

Baal HaSulam writes about it beautifully in a story about a man who sees a wall with a door. He approaches the door, opens it, and enters. In spirituality there is a wall, if you can put it this way because we currently do not see anything at all. We still cannot see what is separating us from spirituality. First, we discover the wall. When we want to break in, seemingly jump into it head first, we discover the door, we attempt to enter, and the door immediately opens.

We see this many times in the Torah: By the Red Sea, Nahshon jumped and the sea opened, by Mount Sinai, and in other cases. The thing is that we are required to “go for it,” to choose life, where for us, this is life, while the current life is death.

Moses Is the Dominion of the Sun; Joshua Is the Dominion of the Moon

“The Creator said to Moses: ‘Moses, do you wish for the world to change? Have you ever seen the sun worshiping the moon? Have you ever seen the moon governing while the sun is still present? Rather, your dying days have come; summon Joshua. Let the sun be taken and let the moon govern. Moreover, if you enter the land, the moon will be taken because of you and will not be able to govern. Indeed, the governance of the moon, Joshua, has arrived, and it cannot rule as long as you are in the world.’”

Zohar for All, VaYelech (Moses Went), item 12

These are two degrees. It is impossible to move from one degree to the next without completing the first. First, one must complete the degree of Moses, degree of Bina—bestowing with the aim to bestow. From it, one advances to the degree of Joshua, to receive in order to bestow. This is the conquest of the land, the entrance to the land of Israel—a desire that is aimed entirely toward bestowal.

In other words, the degree of Moses is “that which you hate, do not do to your friend.” The degree of Joshua is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is a higher degree, an extension of the degree of Moses. The next degree is always another step closer to the end of correction compared to the previous one, and Moses is the fundamental level of all the degrees.

What does it mean that the Creator informs Moses that the people will sin?

There is no other way. We advance only through sins, through the wicked that appear to a person. The Creator says to us in advance, “I have created the evil inclination.”

The whole of creation is the evil inclination. The evil inclination is ill-will, an egotistical desire, the opposite of the Creator. It is a desire to receive with the aim to receive, to be contemptuous of everyone, to exploit, steal from, and deceive everyone. The Creator does not hide what He has done, but explains that He did all that so we would correct ourselves and rise above that ill-will.

The wisdom of Kabbalah is the only one that explains to us how to correct ourselves. One who feels truly deserving of correction must do something with the ego, with oneself, one’s life, and find the fulfillment in life. This is when one comes to the wisdom of Kabbalah. Everything else we do in life is merely customs, but they do not correct us, or even reveal to us that we are bad.

Before Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew New Year’s Eve) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), a time of introspection and reflection, we say, “We have betrayed.” We say that we are wicked indeed, both toward each other and toward the Creator. But were it not written in the prayer-books, who would think that it was so? In fact, even when we read it in the prayer-books we do not really sympathize with it or feel that it is really so.

Why does the Creator have to command us to choose life? Who would choose death?

Our physiological life and death are completely out of our control. Once we are born, there is no question that we will also die. But even the choice whether to be born is not in our hands. From the moment we emerge from the womb, we are beginning our march toward death. It follows that the command to choose life has nothing to do with the physical life.

Does the Creator pave a good path and a bad one, and then says, “Choose,” recommending that we choose the good?

Choosing the good indicates that a person is acquiring the spiritual life while still in this life. “Therefore choose life” refers to the spiritual life. The choice is whether to end life as an ordinary person would—at the end of the physical existence, having lived in order to serve the body, putting it to bed, bathing it, and satisfying its other needs—or to rise to another level while still being in the physical body. The Torah is for those who wish to ascend to another degree, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created the Torah as a spice.” In that case, “the light in it reforms them.”

When a person comes to that Torah (law) of life, to eternity and perfection, that person acquires the additional life during this life. When that happens, that person does not die even when the body does.

These days we are beginning to feel a little bit like one people. We empathize, and we are beginning to deliberate. Are we faced with a very big move we will have to take?

Now is the first time in history that people do not know what to do with the world. We are discovering that everything we have developed over the years is gradually halting, becoming dysfunctional. We do not know what will work and what will not. Suddenly, everything “slips through our fingers,” and leaders do not know how to run the business, for all their knowledge and advisors.

Is this the wall we spoke of earlier, which we keep encountering in every direction?

Yes, we are discovering that the Godly system is beginning to appear. It is called, “the revelation of the Creator to the creatures.” When the Godly force—Godly quality (of bestowal)—appears, it is a system that we do not know how to handle.

Man is the evil inclination. Yet, all of a sudden the good inclination is appearing before us. However, we do not recognize it as good. We see that the world is global, integral, and everyone is interconnected and interdependent, but we do not want to live in it. This is the point where we discover that we are made of the opposite material. After all, the Creator says, “I have created the evil inclination” in you, and here a system appears before us that creates the good, where everyone is connected. If you try to adapt yourself to that system you will find life, “therefore choose life.”

Which Joshua do we need now?

These forces, Moses and Joshua, exist in all of us.

Is there a difference between how people searched thirty years ago, when each was searching personally, and how they search today?

Even when everything was fine, people still need to answer the question about life’s purpose.

But there is a huge difference because today people are not asking what we are living for; the crisis is coming to their doorsteps.

Even today there are people who come to study Kabbalah because they are asking about the meaning of life, the purpose of life, even though they are generally happy. They do not come because of suffering in their everyday life, but because of the emotional pain, since they are empty nonetheless. However, those who come to study Kabbalah are about one percent of the global population. The rest come because of the problems in their daily lives.

Assuming a person is from Japan, and has experienced the earthquake and tsunami, and then the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, would that person not ask, “What is going on here?” “Am I missing something?” Or, would that person simply be lost and would not know how to cope with the world, and anyone who sympathizes with him or her would feel the same?

Every nation, person, and every part in the world is treated differently. We do not know in what way because it has to do with “soul sentences,” but we will all feel the immense pressures that are pushing us toward the entrance to the network of connections between us, the global and integral network that is now slowly appearing, and to which we are not adapted.

Now is the first time in history that we must change and adapt ourselves to the ties that are appearing between us. Previously, we built egotistical connections between us however we wanted. But now we must work to the contrary. The emerging network is “telling us”: “You have to adjust yourselves to me, or you will not succeed.”

Moses encouraged the people to be brave because the Creator is with them. From where can such confidence come? Is it because we are marching toward a very bad situation?

It is the confidence. It is not a bad situation; it depends on how you look at it. Looking at what is appearing before us, we can see that it is salvation. We are being presented with a beautiful example, an opportunity to connect with everyone. The negative reactions we all feel, the suffering, mayhem, problems, and confusions are all so we will try to direct ourselves correctly through them, so we will try to adapt ourselves to our newly formed connections.

These new connections are the Creator Himself; it is the quality of bestowal appearing between us. Of course we hate it and reject it. We do not understand it, but it is Him. This is called “the revelation of the Creator to the creatures. These are really the days of the Messiah, when that light is gradually appearing, a light of bestowal drawing us from our egos upward.

But if a person has no point in the heart, you cannot talk to him before he suffers.

True.

What confidence can we promise? Can we say to him, “Wait, suffer a little more and then we will talk”?

No. Of course he must suffer, but here is where the wisdom of Kabbalah appears in order to explain the reason for the suffering. A person needs to suffer very little, like a clever child who understand and walks in the right direction after the first hint.

Our calendar guarantees that we will achieve all the corrections and abundance by the end of the six thousand years. The question is, “How much will we suffer along the way?” We can shorten these times by ourselves, and not wait another 220 years or so, but rather accomplish it in our current lives.

The end of the portion speaks about Moses being commanded to write a song, to prepare for Israel something that will remind them of the goal. What is so special about song?

The song is for the future, should Israel sin. It is not like the songs we know today, but a special connection between a person and the correcting upper force. It is a system of connections by which one evokes upon oneself the power of correction.

Even when one sins, one can be certain that the mechanism that Moses built in us will help. Moses is the force of bestowal within us. It is absolutely clear of reception, and we return to it when we sin, so it will help us reform ourselves.

Is there no connection whatsoever between this song and songs we speak of today, with rhymes and melodies?

Of course there is no connection between this song and the ones with rhymes and melodies. The song we are speaking of is like a book. A book is disclosure, a Megillah (scroll, from the word Gilui, disclosure).

So it is a spiritual mechanism, like The Song of Songs. The Song of Songs is not a song you sing. A musical piece truly has something about it, and a song evokes emotions.

Clearly, we have emotional expressions on different levels. However, here we are speaking of a special mechanism, such as King David, who wrote Psalms, Solomon, who wrote The Song of Songs, or Moses, who wrote the song. It concerns writing about a special mechanism of connection, which helps the next degrees that fall into sin rise again.

We read in Psalms, or The Song of Songs, or Moses’ song whenever we can take something in our hands, rely on something and thus advance.

The Creator commanded Israel to read it every seven years once they entered the land of Israel.

Seven years marks a complete degree: Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut.

Once we are in the land of Israel and unite, will we still sin?

Yes, no doubt. It was said in advance. From the beginning of the portion we are told, “Do not be afraid to come in; there will be wars there, but you will be saved.”

Israel’s wars are only wars with our desires. It is not the land of Israel, where we must conquer seven nations, but our own seven Klipot (shells), opposite the seven pure spiritual qualities. The war is with our own will to receive, which is egotistical and is called a Klipa (shell). It is the evil inclination that we correct, and thus achieve the conquest of the land, as the desire turns into bestowal, into love of others.

The whole Torah is “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is what we must achieve. Therefore, the system that is appearing before us will eventually compel us, whether we like it or not. Unless we achieve unity with the whole world, to the point of loving every single person in the world, we will not be able to continue, we will have no bread.

This week’s Torah Portion Ki Tavo – September 3-9, 2017

Torah: Deuteronomy 26:1-29
Haftarah: Isaiah 60:1-22

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Ki Tavo (כי תבוא | When you come in)
Torah: Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8
Haftarah: Isaiah 60:1-22
Gospel: Luke 23:26-56
Portion Outline
TORAH
Deuteronomy 26:1 | First Fruits and Tithes
Deuteronomy 26:16 | Concluding Exhortation
Deuteronomy 27:1 | The Inscribed Stones and Altar on Mount Ebal
Deuteronomy 27:11 | Twelve Curses
Deuteronomy 28:1 | Blessings for Obedience
Deuteronomy 28:15 | Warnings against Disobedience
Deuteronomy 29:2 | The Covenant Renewed in Moab
PROPHETS
Isaiah 60:1 | The Ingathering of the Dispersed
Isaiah 60:19 | God the Glory of Zion

About the Weekly Torah Portion

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage.

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will highlight specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.

The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world.

This week’s parasha, Ki Tavo, Deuteronomy 26.1 – 29.8 (9 in English),[i] is best known for Moshe’s lengthy declaration of the blessings and curses that are the natural result of obedience or disobedience to the mitzvot of ADONAI (28.1 – 68). The parasha begins however, with two essential things that had to be dealt with when entering into the Land. First, Bnei Yisrael was to bring a portion of the first produce of the land to the priests as an act of gratitude for Hashem’s blessing (26.1-2). There are two things to note about this offering. First, Rashi interprets this as happening after Hashem has driven out the inhabitants, and Bnei Yisrael has settled in peace, recognizing ADONAI’s provision and care. Second, is that the importance of this offering is in recognizing that Hashem is the one who blesses and gives the increase, not only of the produce of the land but in all aspects of life (26.5-10).

The second important issue covered is the tithe of the produce that is to be set aside to be given “to the Levite, to the outsider, to the orphan and to the widow, so that they may eat within your town gates and be satisfied” (26.12). Three weeks ago, in Re’eh, Moshe reminded the people

However, there should be no poor among you, for Adonai will surely bless you in the land Adonai your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess. If only you would carefully listen to the voice of Adonai your God, being careful to do all these mitzvah that I am commanding you today! (Deuteronomy 15.4-5)

Social justice and care for the poor and needy, are intrinsically tied to Judaism through Hashem’s self-revelation of His character and His expectations of His chosen people. The conditions of this fallen world breed want and need, poverty and despair. But Hashem prepared a solution for tikkun olam, for the repair of the world. He desires to pour out His blessings on His people, not for their betterment alone, but so that through those blessings “to the Levite, to the outsider, to the orphan and to the widow, so that they may eat within your town gates and be satisfied.” But this tikkun olam is not contingent upon the needs. Rather it is contingent upon the LORD’s people following His commandments. This week’s parasha ends with, “So keep the words of this covenant and do them, so that you may prosper in all that you do” (29.8; 9 in English). In the Apostolic Writings, John wrote to his community

We know that we love God’s children by this—when we love God and obey His commandments. For this is the love of God—that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For everyone born of God overcomes the world. And the victory that has overcome the world is this—our faith. (1 John 5.2-4)

We overcome the world, not because of our innate strength or righteousness. We overcome the world because we are the children of God and as His children; we obey (do) and we keep (guard) His commandments. Also, according to John, those commandments are not burdensome or hard. In next week’s parasha, Nitzavim, we will read

For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off. (Deuteronomy 30.11)

This seems to agree with John’s assessment that the commandments of the LORD are not burdensome or hard, but doable by those who love Him.

One comment on the curses listed in this parasha. Often, the last of the twelve curses pronounced from Mt. Ebal – “Cursed is the one who does not uphold the words of this Torah by doing them” (27.26) – is connected with Rav Shaul’s warning to the Galatians, “For all who rely on the deeds of Torah are under a curse—for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep doing everything written in the scroll of the Torah” (Galatians 3.10). If John says that keeping the commandments is a result of loving Hashem, and Moshe affirmed that the “mitzvah… is not too difficult,” then what is Shaul actually saying? Neither within traditional Judaism or in our Messianic faith in Yeshua, are we kept secure by the מַעֲשֵׂי הַתּוֹרָה, “deeds of Torah” but rather we are kept secure by the One who called us and set us apart unto Him. The deeds of the Torah, keeping His commandments, are an out working of our existing relationship with the LORD.

In Va’eira, before the Exodus and before Sinai, Hashem told Moshe,

Therefore, say to Bnei-Yisrael: I am Adonai, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you to Myself as a people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am Adonai your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6.6-7)

Israel was the people of God before Sinai, Sinai just sealed the covenant, the choice that Hashem had already made. But it is the מַעֲשֵׂי הַתּוֹרָה, deeds of Torah that show the world to whom we belong – when we care for the poor and needy, the sick and destitute – and not just those who are like us. Yeshua took the letter of the Torah and expanded it to incorporate all of creation.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than anyone else? Even the pagans do that, don’t they? Therefore, be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5.43-48)

The Haftarah, Isaiah 60.1-22, is the sixth of seven Haftarot of Consolation read between Tisha b’Av and Rosh Hashanah. This week’s reading, more than many others depicts the hoped for Messianic Age when the pain and memory of the exile will be removed, and the glory of the Kingdom of God will be realized. From the very beginning the Haftarah blends together with both the Torah and the Apostolic Writings.

Arise, shine, for your light has come! The glory of Adonai has risen on you. For behold, darkness covers the earth, and deep darkness the peoples. But Adonai will arise upon you, and His glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light, kings to the brilliance of your rising. (Isaiah 60.1-3)

The glory of the LORD will arise over Israel and the light of that glory will draw the nations to the light. Again, it is not to the glory of Israel, but the glory of the God of Israel that draws the nations to the light. There will come a day, and may it be soon, that all Israel will “keep the words of this covenant and do them, so that [we all] may prosper in all that [we] do” (Deuteronomy 29.8) and so we shall all “be perfect (שלם),[ii] just as [our] Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5.48).

This Week’s Torah Portion | August 27 – September 02, 2017 – 5 Elul – 11 Elul, 5777

Ki Tetze (When You Go) – Weekly Torah Portion


TORAH : DEUTERONOMY 21:10-25:19
PROPHETS : ISAIAH 54:1-10
GOSPEL : LUKE 23:1-25

About the Weekly Torah Portion

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage.

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will highlight specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.

The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world.

Winning the Peace

On the first examination, our parashah, KI SEITZEI, may appear to be a collection of many apparently unrelated commandments in a wide variety of different areas. It is not immediately clear in what way the opening words of the parashah — “When you go out to WAR” (Deut. 21:10) — set the theme for the whole of the rest of the parashah. The question is sharpened by the fact that in the previous parashah, SHOFTIM, we already had a Torah section beginning with precisely the same words: “When you go out to war against your enemy” (Deut. 20:1). As discussed in the commentary on SHOFTIM, it is in that section that the Torah sets forth the main laws relating to the conduct of actual war. Our present pars hah of KI SEITZEI begins with a mitzvah that applies after the battle is already over — what to do with a beautiful captive. Yet five verses later, the Torah turns to the laws of inheritance, education of children, lost property and other areas that have little apparent connection with war.

There are indeed a few more references to actual war later on in our parashah. The Israelite camp must be pure (Deut. 23:10); a newly married man is exempt from military service (Deut. 24:5); and at the end of the parashah, we are commanded to remember the first war against Israel, that of Amalek. However, the greater part of the parashah deals with laws that relate not so much to war on the actual battlefield as to life on the home front. In the home itself, in social life and in business, out and about in the town, out in the field and out in the wilds of our own hearts, we confront a different enemy: the Evil Inclination. It is against this enemy that we must learn the stratagems of warfare and battle. “The Torah speaks against none other than the Evil Inclination” (Rashi on Deut. 21:11).

Many of the situations we face every day confront us with choices. These include difficult choices between what reason, intuition and conscience may be telling us to do, and what our more impulsive side is pushing us to do. In Parshas KI SEITZEI, the Torah provides us with guidance in making the right and good choices when fighting the battles of daily life in the home, at work, in business, and in many other contexts.

The opening mitzvah of the parashah, that of the beautiful captive, addresses a fundamental issue facing all who seek to observe the Torah in the fullest way possible. Since the Torah regulates our interactions with the outside world down to the very food we take into our mouths and the clothes we wear, what, if anything, are we allowed to take from the alien cultures around us? The beautiful captive embodies all that is most alluring and enticing in the alien culture. The Torah tells us to “let her hair grow long and her nails grow like claws”: instead of allowing ourselves to jump at surface attractiveness, we must take a little time to discover how quickly this fades and turns ugly. The Torah teaches us not to fall for immediate surface appeal but to consider the long term consequences and ramifications of the choices and decisions we make. The beautiful captive may turn into a hated wife who bears a glutton, drunkard son. The Torah sees to the end of the matter.

One bad choice can lead to a lot of evil and suffering. On the other hand, a single good choice, even over something tiny, can lead to amazing goodness — in this world and the next. What could be more insignificant than walking on a road somewhere and happening to find a bird’s nest with a mother and eggs or fledglings? How can it be that sending away the mother bird before taking the eggs or fledglings (it costs you nothing) guarantees the long life in this world and the next? (Deut. 22:6-7). Only the One who is above time and Who sees from the beginning of a thing to the end knows what are the long-term consequences of our actions in this world, for good or for bad. It is precise because we do not see the long-term consequences of our actions that we need true guidance in making our choices. The commandments contained in TI SEITZEI give us practical guidance in our home and family life, in making a livelihood and doing business, in how we talk and many other areas “in order that He may bestow good on you and you will lengthen your days” (Deut. 22:7).

Each of the commandments in the parashah must be taken on the level of PSHAT — the simple meaning — and each one involves detailed binding laws, as discussed in the relevant sections of the Talmud and Codes. At the same time, each word of each verse contains the deepest levels of SOD — secret meaning — so that when we fulfill these laws in practice, we even unknowingly create configurations of G-godliness and goodness in the world around us and in our own hearts and souls. In the following discussion of the commandments contained in our parashah, they are discussed not in the sequence in which they appear in the parashah but under themes.

The Home and The Family

The opening mitzvah of the parashah, that of the beautiful captive, takes us directly inside the home, which is where the captive is taken to “grow her hair and nails”. Life in the home and in the family is a central theme throughout the parashah. Immediately following the law of the beautiful captive comes a hint of marital discord (the hated wife), followed by the Torah law of family inheritance and the birthright. This is followed by the law of the gluttonous son, whose penalty is to be stoned to death. The requisite amounts of meat and wine the gluttonous son would have to imbibe were so gigantic that in practice no one would ever fulfill all the conditions that would make them liable to the death penalty. The Torah does not want to kill the son, but rather to teach the essence of good parenting, from childhood onwards and especially during puberty and adolescence. Children need not be given everything they want. They must be taught to listen to the voice of mother and father, wisdom and understanding.

The education of girls for the life of Torah and the holiness of Israel is no less important than that of boys. The stoning of the girl whose new husband found her to have been unfaithful after their betrothal is not only a terrible punishment for the girl. It is a bitter lesson for her father, outside whose house the execution takes place. “See the offspring you have raised” (Rashi on Deut. 22:21). The holiness of the Israelite home and family is based upon KIDDUSHIN, the act of betrothal whereby husband and wife sanctify and dedicate themselves to one another. In bringing up a new generation, the parental duty is to ensure that girls understand the holiness and seriousness of marriage and of marital fidelity. They must understand what is happening to their pubescent bodies and the attendant dangers in the outside world and from the lurking Evil Urge. This education is particularly important today when the world is flooded with a culture that encourages teenagers to think of nothing but sexual attraction and romance all day every day. The laws of rape and seduction in our parashah underline how carefully parents must protect their daughters (and sons). Protection must start by lovingly teaching our children about the uniqueness and holiness of Israel and the special level of conduct required of BNEY MELACHIM, children of kings — “for your are children of HaShem”.

Our parashah contains the laws of marriage and divorce that make up most of SEDER NASHIM, the Order of the Mishneh relating to these areas. These include the laws of YIBUM, the Levirate marriage, and CHALITZA, the ceremony for nullifying it, with all their many secrets. Many of the basic laws of KIDDUSHIN and NISU’IM, betrothal and marriage, are learned from verses in our parashah, as are the laws of the GET, “bill of divorce”. The prohibition against a divorced woman who married another man from subsequently remarrying her first husband sets Israel apart from the alien culture that licenses switching back and forth from one partner to another. The holiness of the bond between husband and wife is founded on its exclusiveness. In the realities of life in the world we live in, divorce is sometimes necessary and must be carried out with the proper procedure. However, there is no doubt that the Torah prefers not to license divorce (which “makes the altar-stones weep”) but rather that man and wife should joyously build their home together to fulfill “and your camp shall be holy” (Deut. 23:15) for many long, good years. The first year of marriage sets the foundation for all that follows. In that year the groom is commanded that “he make joyous his wife that he took” (Deut. 24:5). The surest foundation for joy in the home is the study and practice of the Torah.

Bound up with the laws of marriage are the laws relating to personal status and those entitled to enter the community of Israel. The community excludes male Ammonites and Moabites (though King David himself was descended from a Moabitess), and Egyptians and Edomites to the third generation. A different status is that of the MAMZER, who as the child of an incestuous relationship of Israelites is also inherently flawed and may not marry into the community. The purpose of these laws is to protect the purity of the Israelite family.

The home is a private domain — so much so that even a creditor may not enter to take a pledge but must wait outside for the debtor to bring it out. But while the home is private, it must be a place of dignity so that G-d’s holy Presence may dwell there. Dignity begins with personal hygiene and cleanliness, which is why the Torah commands us to attend to our physical needs “outside the camp” and properly cover the waste. Within our homes, we are free to do all that the Torah permits, but we must keep our eyes open and take precautions against potential dangers. “Make a parapet for your roof”. The law to make a parapet to prevent someone falling off the roof is the foundation of the general Torah law that potential hazards of all kinds should be removed (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat #427). Not only does the Torah govern how we build our homes. It even governs the clothes we wear: we may not wear mixtures of wool and linen, and men must wear Tzitzit. The Tzitzis are the first line of defense against immorality (which is why the commandment of wearing tzitzit immediately precedes the laws of the betrothed maiden). A man must not wear women’s clothes or ornaments and vice versa.

Making A Living:Between Man And His Fellow

Commandments relating to making a living — from plowing the land to loans and the money economy — also take up major parts of Parshas KI SEITZEI. Just as the separation between Israel and the nations is part of G-d’s order, so is the separation between different species of animals and vegetables. One must not drive the plow with an ox and a donkey together. One may not plant one field with diverse species. What distinguishes Israel is the trait of kindness and compassion, which must be carefully cultivated. When harvesting the crops, gifts must be left for the unfortunate and the needy: the proselyte, the widow, the orphan and the poor. The farmer must even be sensitive to the feelings of his ox: while threshing, he may not muzzle the ox to prevent it munching on some of the produce while at work.

Relevant to all are the laws governing the respective rights and obligations of employers and employees. The employee must work industriously and may not abuse the privileges the Torah gives him. Having completed his work, he is entitled to prompt payment: now the mitzvah is on the employer. The laws in our parashah relating to the money economy include those of giving interest-free loans to fellow Israelites and the strict prohibition of taking interest (RIBIS). Business activity is to be governed by the laws of fair weights and measures.

Not only are we bound to conduct our business dealings with integrity. We are responsible for the property of others if they lose it — our parashah contains the laws of lost property. And if our friend gets into trouble — if his donkey can’t carry the load — we must help him rearrange the load.


Double Standards — And Amalek

The detailed laws in our parashah culminate in what on one level is a business law — the prohibition of keeping a big and a small weight: a big weight to use in weighing what one buys, and a small weight in weighing what one sells. We are to use one standard in our business dealings, and likewise, one standard in all of our judgments and evaluations: the Torah standard. We may not judge ourselves and those we like favorably while judging those outside our preferred circle unfavorably. We are to examine ourselves and others and everything in our lives with sobriety, carefully examining to see how things measure up according to the Torah standard. It is this that protects us from Amalek.

From the proximity of the prohibition of double standards to the law of remembering and wiping out Amalek, we learn that having double standards is what brings the scourge of Amalek. The war against Amalek is a theme during this month of Elul, just as it is in the month of Adar, which is six months earlier and diagonally opposite/facing Elul in the circle of the months. Just as fighting Amalek is necessary for Adar in preparation for Nissan, the month of redemption, so it is necessary as part of the Teshuvah process during Elul as we approach Rosh HaShanah and the Days of Awe.

Amalek “encountered you [KORCHO] on the way” (Deut. 25:18). The Rabbis stated that Amalek “cooled [KAR] you” — When the Israelites were flushed with joy and innocent fervor immediately after the Exodus, Amalek attacked with demoralization and despair. Amalek attacked with MIKREH, “chance” — the philosophy that there is no order in the universe and that therefore everything is permitted. Amalek attacked with KERI, the wasteful emission of seed through sexual permissiveness and immorality. These are the very opposite of the holiness that is the foundation of Israel.

The alien culture around us is now reaching its climax in the espousal of the unholy. The Torah states that a man shall not wear the clothes and ornaments of a woman, and vice verse. Yet the alien culture is obsessed with gender and cross gender issues, and has legitimized homosexual relationships — an abomination in the eyes of the Torah — to the point that the countries which consider themselves most advanced are those that have legislated to give homosexual couples the same rights and benefits as husbands and wives. The Midrash clearly states that giving sanction to homosexual marriages brings ANDROLOMUSIA — chaos in which the innocent suffer from the guilty. We can see with our own eyes how the very world that has sanctioned this mockery of marriage is reeling from the fires of war and terror, crime, violence, economic recession, disease…

The foundation of the holiness of Israel has nothing to do with this mockery of marriage, this vain emission of seed. The foundation of the holiness of Israel is KIDDUSHIN, the sacred bond of marriage and fidelity between the man and his wife. This is the foundation of family, continuity, the education of children, refinement, modesty, compassion and all other good traits.

In A Nutshell

The portion, Ki Tetze (When You Go), details special and infrequent Mitzvot (commandments), such as the attitude toward a rebellious son, a firstborn son of the loved one or the hated one, and the commandment to send a bird from the nest and not harm it, when taking the bird’s eggs or nestlings.

The portion also details many Mitzvot that deal with everyday life, ethics, and social order, such as returning a loss, divorce, and the obligation to be considerate of others in vulnerable situations, such as poor, proselytes, orphans, and widows. Additionally, the portion mentions the importance of a just sentence. The last Mitzva (singular of Mitzvot) is to always remember what Amalek did to Israel when they came out of Egypt, when it jumped them when they were unprepared, and to blot out the memory of Amalek.

Commentary

The portion marks a stage in the spiritual development after the reception of the ego, the reception of the evil inclination from Egypt. First, the evil inclination in us should appear, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination.” That appearance happens when we try to achieve love of others, to come out of ourselves. When we attempt to do it, we discover how much we are actually immersed in self-love and hatred of others. At that time we determine that our hatred of others and our love for ourselves are what is called the “evil inclination.”

That revelation is profound inner work. It is no small task. There is a very good reason why it is written, “I have created the evil inclination.” “I have created” means that the Creator created. The recognition of the evil inclination in a person—that it is hatred of others and love of oneself—is precisely what brings us into contact with the Creator. From that recognition, a person marches on a path of hard work, trying to be good to others, as it is written, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Then a person discovers great internal obstacles, which actually come from above, from the Creator. This is man’s first contact with the Creator.

Following the initial contact with the Creator, a person begins to move along with Him, in partnership. This is when there is, “I have created the Torah as a spice,” and a person has someone to turn to, someone to help one correct oneself.

It is precisely through the evil inclination that a person makes contact with the Creator. The evil inclination is the mediator, the connector between man and the Creator. This is the only reason why man would need it. We might lead an entire life without needing anything, until we try to nurture love of others, and then we see how impossible it is.

Some people recognize the merit of love of others out of their own feelings. It is a drive for something spiritual, to discover the meaning of life, its purpose, it essence. Others achieve love of others through suffering, hopelessness about life, or an overall crisis, as we are now seeing the world over. These people search for a way out of the plight they are in, and discover that the world has become global, integral, and that the only choice they have is to connect to others in a reciprocal manner, or else they might be left hungry the next day.

This fact is becoming increasingly evident. Some people discover it through an inner drive, and some are pushed to it by suffering. But sooner or later all of us will have to connect to others in mutual guarantee, even just to obtain our sustenance.

We are discovering that connection is impossible. Our nature is preventing us from connecting to others, as if it is failing us. We are beginning to recognize that there is a higher governance here, that the Creator, the upper force, is not letting us do anything. At that time the three of us—me, my evil inclination, and the Creator—begin to work together, like Moses in Egypt.

It is written, “Come unto Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart” (Exodus 10:1). Moses, the Creator, and Pharaoh, all work together in us. It is how we advance. We discern the evil inclination, the help made against us, and we have no choice because specifically with its help does one turn to the Creator. Were it not for the evil inclination, we would never turn to the Creator, we would never discover Him, and we would never need Him.

We advance through corrections made on our evil inclination, while increasingly connecting through it to the Creator. The more attached we become to the overall force of bestowal and love that governs the world, even if it is hidden, the more we become exposed to it and attribute it to ourselves. We learn to use our evil inclination, and eventually gladly relinquish it because it was created in order for us to obliterate it.

In this portion we are reaching a greater level of Aviut (thickness) of the evil inclination, expressed in the aforementioned special Mitzvot. A Mitzva is a correction of the evil inclination. Our evil inclination is divided into 613 egotistical desires that we must correct into having the aim to bestow upon others, into love of others. In this portion we are dealing with the biggest, meanest, and heaviest desires. Although it seems that we meet these desires only rarely, in truth, only once we have made many lighter corrections do we come to meet the evil inclination in us that requires this type of corrections.

It follows that the Mitzva concerning a rebellious son, the sending of the bird, and the blotting out of Amalek are the toughest Mitzvot. It is truly our stony heart, the foundation of all the evil. This forms our final contact in our eternal connection with the Creator, as man and the Creator connect together, “Israel, the Torah, and the Creator are one” (The Book of Zohar, Beresheet (Genesis), item 85). This is expressed in absolute love toward others; as it comes from the Creator, so it comes from the creature. This is the goal.

What does it mean, a rebellious son?

Ben (son) comes from the word Mevin (understanding). We do things without recognizing, understanding, or feeling them. We must correct our egos—the will to receive that is expressed precisely between us and others—absentmindedly, without quite knowing the nature of that correction. We do not know what it means to bestow or to not bestow, and we only notice that we do not have good connections with others, and that hatred and rejection are arresting our progress in spirituality and corporeality.

We see that our lives are quite miserable, and we have no idea what might happen tomorrow, which brings us to the need to correct our relationships with others. When we correct the relationships between us, we do something that is above our reason, even against it, because by nature, we have no desire for it: We ask for correction against our will.

We are willing to love others even though we feel no need for it. This work is called “work above reason,” where we do not understand what we are doing or what is happening. When one works against one’s will, it is considered achieving understanding because once we correct, a new reality truly opens to us, where we see and feel in all our senses, in our minds and in our hearts. That degree is called Ben (son), Mevin (understanding), because then we understand the situation, we feel it, and control it.

So what does a “rebellious” son mean?

It is a situation in which one does not want to know one’s next degree and does not want to correct oneself. It happens when there is something within that resists the correction so fiercely that one cannot overcome that rejection. Sometimes there are sons who are obstinate whatever we do. On the one hand, he is your son, but on the other hand, there is nothing you can do with him. In that state the son needs to be brought into correction the way the Torah describes.

These are corrections we need to do with ourselves because everything is within. To some extent, they happen in each state, and it is called “The pain of raising sons.”

Today it is very difficult for parents and children to communicate, and the same is true for teachers and students. There is a big gap.

Yes, especially today, because we are approaching the generation of correction. We are beginning to discover our true nature, which is truly an evil inclination. We see it within us; we are discovering how cruel and inconsiderate we are. We hardly get along with ourselves, not to mention with our partners, our children, and in general.

This is who we are today. However, it is not our fault; it is our nature, which is appearing in this way. We feel it in our children, too. But it is precisely these conditions that bring us to correction. It is called “Pharaoh bringing the children of Israel closer to the Creator.” Our evil inclination helps us recognize that it is no longer possible to continue without putting things in the proper order.

This portion mentions divorce. Today the number of divorces is nearing the number of marriages.

It has passed it. In Europe, fifty-seven percent of the people are divorced, and it is also spreading in the U.S.

Can we do spiritual work with a spouse?

We cannot correct the world without correcting ourselves. If we ever want to marry and have a truly good and solid family, we need to see to the correction of couples. But first, we ourselves must be corrected.

Today it is almost hopeless. It is impossible to commit to marriage because it is a contract where the groom commits before the bride, and today it is very hard to commit. These days, men can commit only if they are under the social pressure of certain circles in society.

It seems that with a spouse it is easier to correct because a person is hesitant to leave ones’ family. Is this truly a good place to work?

We have built many systems that help us get along without a family. We have Social Security, health insurance, old-age homes, etc. Money buys everything, and people can do without the family warmth because they can seemingly buy it.

Today we are moving into a world that is far more complicated, where the money will not help us. We are in an economic crisis that demands of us to connect in a friendly way with the environment, with friends, with family, with children and with parents. We do not have all that, and this is the revelation of the evil that will help push us toward correcting our relationships, correcting human nature. We will eventually come to a state where we will feel lost without a family, and we have no family because we have lost the concept of the family along the way.

What is divorce in spirituality?

Divorce means that a person can no longer correct one’s Malchut, the will to receive, and therefore does not sign a contract with that desire, because as a man, one cannot place oneself over the woman, over the desire that must be corrected. Therefore, a person divorces it.

But we know that a greater desire will follow it, so what is the point of the divorce?

This is why it is written that divorce is the worst option, that Divinity cries for every divorce. We are all parts of Divinity, and if we cannot correct it, it is as though we are delaying the correction, and this is very bad. That said, sometimes people have that feeling, that understanding that additional corrections are required here.

If a man quarrels with his wife and feels that he hates her, and then turns to the Creator and asks for a correction of loving her, is this the way to be corrected?

It happens in spirituality. Indeed, a person needs to cope with one’s will to receive. He is bad, he is wrong, and she is wrong, too. But when we know that we have no choice and we must become corrected, we do it. All those Mitzvot are about the inner man and wife; it is a person’s desire to bestow. The strength to overcome is called “man,” and the deficiency that one must correct, that corrupt desire one has found, is called a “woman.” In the connection between them we correct the relationship.

A person receives a desire for correction from the inner woman, and the strength to correct from the inner man, who is connected to the Creator. It is written, “A man and a woman, if they are rewarded, Divinity is between them” (Masecht Suttah, 17a). Through those three we correct that relation into the right one. If we correct it, we have performed a Mitzva, and so we continue to the next woman (deficiency), and the next man, and the next deficiency, and again, “A man and a woman, if they are rewarded, Divinity is between them.” Then once again we correct them and perform a Mitzva. A will to receive with a Masach (screen) and Ohr Hozer (Reflected Light) performs a Zivug de Hakaa (coupling of striking), and the revelation of the Creator arrives within the connection called a “son,” meaning a person acquires understanding, sensation, Dvekut (adhesion).

Giving a Bad Name

“A man should speak with his wife before coupling with her because she might have been replaced with another. The thing about a woman is that she is from the side of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” In other words, she can be good, and she can be bad, and who knows from which side you should now speak with the will to receive, meaning examine it, how to connect to it and how to correct it. “Her marrow tends to change. However, if she is from the Shechina (Divinity), there are no changes in her.” The Shechina is called Malchut of Atzilut, the corrected state, when she is ready for correction. “This is the meaning of, ‘I the Lord do not change.’ I am the Shechina, who is not afraid of all the other sides, the Klipot, as it is written, ‘All the nations are as nothing compared to Him.’”

The quotes are from Zohar for All, Ki Tetze (When You Go), item 8

Can it be said that the “me” in spirituality is really the will to receive with the addition of the point in the heart, and we only try to balance them out?

The self of a person is the husband and the wife within. We need to know how to work with both of them together so that the self will be similar to the Creator.

What is the Mitzva of sending from the nest?

It is a very complicated Mitzva. It is quite cruel to drive a bird from the nest and take her eggs. Many books have been written about it, and it is also mentioned in The Book of Zohar, and in the writings of the ARI.

We are the Malchut, the will to receive that must be promoted and adjusted to Bina. The “mother” is Bina. The mother of the sons is the mother of the understandings, the attainments.

We need to take the eggs from the mother, the future nestlings, and rear them. We do it by connecting to the nest, and performing the Mitzva of sending from the nest. It is considered a Mitzva (commandment—correction, good deed) because once reaching this degree, it is a Mitzva for that person.

Sending the mother away is actually detaching oneself from Bina, and working with the ZAT of Bina, a part of her that belongs to the person. That person then takes her and turns the desires of ZAT of Bina, correcting the part of Malchut through them. This is the connection of Bina with Malchut in Tzimtzum Bet (Second Restriction). It is a very big Mitzva. When a person ascends, when Malchut ascends to Bina, Malchut becomes detached from her, and corrects herself.

In other words, here, too, as there is a son, there are nestlings, which are the continuation of that quality.

Yes, but it is only when one becomes detached from Bina, when one can use part of her to correct oneself.

There is the issue that Amalek “jumps” on a person when one is unprepared.

Amalek is a big problem. It is essentially the same evil inclination that is in our will to receive. Amalek is really an acronym of Al Menat LeKabel (in order to receive). The Book of Zohar also writes that it is Am and Lek, where Am is from Balaam and Lek is from Balak.

Blotting Out the Remembrance of Amalek

“He asks, ‘Who is the root of Amalek above, in spirituality, for we see that Balaam and Balak are from there, from Amalek of above?’ They were their souls, which is why they hated Israel more than any other nation or language. This is why Amalek is written in the names, meaning Am of Balaam, and Lek of Balak. Also, the Amaleks are male and female.”

Zohar for All, Ki Tetze (When You Go), item 110

When Balaam and Balak conjoin, they build the name Amalek. Amalek is their common root, and this is how they work within us, connected between them. The foundation of the evil in us are Amalek—Balaam and Balak.

But this is how we were created.

True, it is not from us. From the beginning, the Creator said, “I have created the evil inclination,” so Amalek is from Him. Balaam, Balak, Pharaoh, Hitler, they are all from Him.

So who is supposed to blot out the memory of Amalek?

It is for man to correct, and to correct so thoroughly that no trace of it will remain. In other words, the whole of the will to receive will come to aim to bestow through the last element, because if anything is left of it, it grows again.

Why does Amalek jump them?

Amalek emerged from one root, one incident. It is known, even according to what is said in the Torah, that if anything is left of it, it grows within us once again. In other words, until we blot it out completely the problems will not end.

Amalek is presented as shrewd.

Yes, this is why we constantly focus our corrections on Amalek, parts of the will to receive, which are all from it. And yet, it is not considered one of those parts because the first nine, our evil inclination, also consist of the ten Sefirot, the ten Sefirot of Tuma’a (impurity), while we can correct the first nine Sefirot. This is why we do not call them Amalek, but “evil inclination.”

And yet, the essence of the evil inclination, the “Egypt,” the extract of the evil inclination, since Mitzraim (Egypt) comes from Mitz Ra (evil extract), is Pharaoh, and Amalek is a result. Balaam and Balak, however, are its representatives from the sides of male and female. It is still this way today.

Is there a distinct expression to the term, Amalek, in the desires of our generation?

Amalek is when a person bears such vehement hatred toward the people of Israel, toward bestowal, toward love, that he or she cannot accept them in anyway after all the corrections. A person cannot simply say it. Naturally, none of us want them, but once we correct everything, almost to the end, then Amalek appears. It does not appear prior to it.

It is written about it that after all the Mitzvot, after the whole desert, after all that we corrected in ourselves, in connection with the upper light—the Creator—after everything, we have reached the very special and rare Mitzvot in our portion. Only then, in the end, do we arrive at the blotting out of Amalek.

But we are talking about blotting out the memory of Amalek.

Yes, because we have reached the end of the corrections.

Does that mean the worst is still ahead?

No. When we enter the land of Israel there is no longer any evil. Here we are trying to turn it into good. Of course we still discover it, but in a different way, in scrutinizing how to connect to others, not how to detach ourselves from the evil in us, but how to connect to others.

Let us hope that we will soon return to the real land of Israel, first the inner, spiritual one, the Yashar El (straight to God), that we will all be in united and bonded as brothers.

This Week’s Torah Portion | August 20 – August 26, 2017 – 28 Av – 4 Elul, 5777

Shoftim (Judges) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

TORAH : DEUTERONOMY 16:18-21:9
PROPHETS : ISAIAH 51:12-52:12
GOSPEL : MATTHEW 26:47-27:10

About the Weekly Torah Portion

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage.

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will highlight specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.

The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world.

In A Nutshell

The portion, Shoftim (Judges), continues to explain the Mitzvot (commandments) connected to the entrance to the land of Israel. The portion begins with appointing Judges to make the laws and officers to enforce them, so there will be true justice in Israel.

The portion describes the laws of the king, who must be chosen from among the people. The portion also deals with the prohibition to engage in witchcraft and turns the people to the true prophets. Finally, the portion teaches the people how they should conduct themselves in a time of war.

Commentary

The Torah was given to every person, for one to correct oneself, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created for it the Torah as a spice.” Every person, whether or not one demands social justice, should first discover that one is filled with the evil inclination. We must discover that we are completely egotistical in order to perform our correction. Put differently, we need to discover that we are living as criminals.

During the High Holidays we say [1], “We are at fault; we have betrayed.” It is written about these words, “Keep far from a false word” (Exodus 23:7). We need to discover that it is we who have committed those transgressions. If we think what is written is overstated and is not a true depiction of who we are, it is a sign that we have not yet come to know who we truly are, and that we still need to discover the entirety of our evil inclination. This is when the Torah comes to us, because “the light in it reforms them.” That is, the Torah instructs us on how to elicit from it the light that will reform us, so we may achieve the love and bonding with others.

There is much work for us to do: We walk in the darkness, in the desert, in cries, in scrutinies, in raising MAN, in various transgressions, such as with the spies, and the waters of quarreling, until we reach the boundaries of the land of Israel. We correct ourselves until we can use our desires in order to bestow.

However, it is more than a mere restriction of the desire; it is actually using the desire in favor of others. The same desires we have discovered within us—which worked only in our own favor, to cheat, lie, steal, and manipulate—have now come to a point of correction, cleansing, through the forty years in the desert until the entrance to the land of Israel. This is when we approach the stage of the inner work on the ego, the point where we turn the use of the ego into bestowal, in favor of others. This is considered that the angel of death has become a holy angel.

It is a very different type of work. In this work, a person needs Judges and officers. The judges are the decisions that a person makes in advance, from the Rosh (head) of the spiritual Partzuf (face), the Rosh of the Neshama (soul). Judges are the premeditation concerning precisely how to work with one’s ego, how to manipulate it and set it up so that it gives its fullest power and turns all of its negativity toward the favor of others.

Afterward one needs to establish officers over oneself, to not suddenly deviate from the way, since even if the decision is initially correct, one cannot tell the future. This is called the Guf (body) of the Partzuf, of the Neshama. The Neshama are those egotistical desires that one turns into the intention to bestow.

If a person uses the desires according to the form of the ego, that person has no Rosh, nor does he or she need one because such a person is being pushed. However, if one wants to begin to use one’s desires in favor of others, one must first restrict them and then act according to scrutinies and decisions one has made before, through the light that reforms. When one uses one’s ego favorably, it is considered “repentance.” In that state, a person uses those desires only in favor of others, without any favors returning to oneself.

The premeditation is called “Judges,” and the execution is called “officers.” These are two qualities of bestowal—one that plans the action (judges) and the other that executes them (officers). These are the same terrible desires that were in us before, and which we used only to harm others and benefit ourselves. These desires now become Yashar El (straight to God), Ysrael (Israel). They are called Eretz Ysrael, where Eretz means Ratzon (desire), and Ysrael means Yashar El (straight to God). This is how we advance, when our desire is aimed entirely toward bestowal upon the upper force, the Creator, through bestowal upon others.

This is why we need the two forces—officers and judges—keeping us and tending to us, performing the right scrutinies. Previously, we have only the scrutiny of bitter and sweet. Sweet means what we wanted, and bitter means what we did not want. Here, however, it refers to another scrutiny concerning bitter and sweet—a scrutiny of true or false.

Truth means bestowal upon the upper force, nearing him, connection with others and actualization of the quality of bestowal. This is why humanity was given it, so we may carry out the connection and work on ourselves, as it is written, “Through the love of man to the love of God.”

Correcting the desires means changing them from caring for ourselves, from reception, into using them in favor of others. It is a correction from falsehood into truth, so it will not be bitter to us, but sweet. Truth means using the desire in favor of others even if it tastes bitter. It is called “making a Mitzva (singular of Mitzvot).

Man is made of a desire to receive pleasure. There are 613 Mitzvot, which are the 613 desires in us, our 613 egotistical drives with which we exploit others. We should turn them into being in favor of others.

There are two degrees here: one is called the “desert,” through which a person reaches the degree of Bina, bestowal, and the other is called Eretz Ysrael (land of Israel), the desire to bestow, when a person actually acquires, meaning corrects the use of all the desires with the intention to bestow. This is how a person becomes a Kabbalist—receiving the revelation of Godliness, which is our goal. It is the same for each person and for the whole of humanity.

In truth, we are already in our final correction, in complete redemption. We transcend the egotistical use of our desires and qualities, and we elevate them into altruistic usage, in favor of everyone, and in favor of the upper force, the Creator. This leads us to the general correction of our desires, connecting us together so that each of us achieves the revelation of the Holy Divinity, the Assembly of Israel, through our correction in relation to others.

When a person discovers that all of one’s desires are to use and exploit others, a person asks for correction. But does that mean that one desires to harm others?

Of course we do not feel or understand if we should imagine ourselves as harming others, or perhaps agree that it is so, even if we do not feel this way.

We tend to judges people by their actions. However, the majority of the transgressions discussed here are in the intention, and not in the action.

We are unaware of them in our actions, too. We begin to see that we are committing these sins when we begin to move toward others. Mistakes and sins are only in relation to others. When we truly begin to act toward bonding, we discover how incapable we are, how we reject, forget, and oppose it, and how we are fooling ourselves all the time, even subconsciously.

All of a sudden we discover that we have totally forgotten that the Torah behooves that we achieve bonding, love, “All of Israel are friends,” etc. It is a process that happens to everyone; we cannot achieve spirituality and observe the Torah whatsoever unless we follow the path of bonding between us.

What is a judges?

Judges are thoughts and desires that appear to us out of many others that are still buried in us. We more or less know our qualities, we can judge the state that they are in, and we can turn their aim in favor of others, or at least see how much we have no desire to give to others, and what felons we are. This, in itself, is a high degree.

The wicked people in the Torah are not ordinary people. It is a high degree. The Torah was actually written for the wicked, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination.” The Torah is intended for those with an evil inclination. If a person does not feel that he or she is selfish, a criminal, that person does not need the Torah; it is not meant for such people.

By which law does the judge sentence? By which law is a person declared a transgressor?

The judge is the individual. Once directed toward connection with others, a person begins to judge oneself: “Do I really want to connect with others?” That person scrutinizes why he or she wants to connect: What is the basis upon which I should observe that law? Is it clear what should be done? Has anyone told me that I should do it? Do I want the next world or this world? Am I hoping to gain something out of it? Or, do I really want to do it for the Creator without any self-gratification?

Each step along the way contains many degrees on which we discover that we are evil. If we do not push ourselves toward bonding with others, we will not discover how opposed to unity we are. There is a lot of work before we reach the state of “I have created the evil inclination.” In that work we discover that the Creator has created the evil inclination in me, and besides it, I have nothing.

We do not understand the nature of creation. Creation is the evil inclination. We are unaware of the extent to which we seek only our own good, and not the good of others. Moreover, the more others suffer, the more superior we feel, which gives us pleasure and fulfillment.

It is very misleading. An ordinary person in a law-abiding society does not feel like a criminal if he or she did not do anything unlawful.

True, but this is the corporeal, earthly life. Here we are talking about something else. If you want to discover the Creator, you need to turn your intention to bestowal, to love others.

What if we said it to someone?

We would be ridiculed, no doubt.

It makes no sense, and it is completely untrendy.

True, which is why we need to explain that today we must use the true Torah. The wisdom of Kabbalah is called the “true Torah”; it is the internality of the Torah because the light in it reforms. In other words, it is a method for the correction of the soul. We are in exile from the spiritual world, and we must therefore correct ourselves and discover spirituality, discover the Creator. This is the purpose, and the Torah was given to us so we would come to “know the God of your father and serve Him” (1 Chronicles, 28:9).

In a corrected state will there be no judges and officers, no laws?

No. Here, in this world, we have to live according to what humanity determines, according to what the people and the government decide. We should respect these laws because they were made by a hidden Providence.

In this world we have to be like everyone else, “I dwell among my own people” (2 Kings, 4:13). However, within us, we need to come to know Him, to rise to the level where we somewhat resemble Him, if we wish to open our eyes in the Torah, if we want to discover Godliness and the upper laws, and to feel and come to know the Creator. We attain the revelation of the Creator to the extent of our Dvekut (adhesion), the measure of our equivalence of form.

Can there be a match between the corporeal laws and the spiritual one?

Yes, at the final and complete correction.

And before that?

Before that, certainly not because we determine corporeal laws according to our egos. The more we begin to keep these laws in spirituality, together, we will also want to project them onto the corporeal world. We cannot do it separately. Prior to the ruin of the Temple, when the people of Israel kept these laws, we kept them and also lived by them.

Are there any officers in society today?

No. Today officers and judges work by laws that people determined. It has no connection to spirituality. We also cannot establish spiritual laws between us because we cannot keep them. All spiritual laws deal with the love of others. These are laws of the general, global system, which is appearing today and is beginning to require us to keep it.

But the current situation is to the contrary. People want justice but do not know how to implement it.

The network of connections between us is appearing all over the world. We are all connected through it and we are all dependent on one another. This is why people sense the necessity for change, that they must do something. We all feel uncomfortable, nothing that we try succeeds, we are in states of crisis in our families, at work, in the education system, in culture, and basically everywhere.

But this is something more internal. We often feel that crisis regardless of what is happening outside.

It makes no difference; what matters is what we feel. On the outside things can be beautiful. On the whole, people are not starving, yet many are going out to the streets and raise a cry. They are unaware that behind their demands for social justice lies a cry from the lack of connection. This is the truth that is appearing in the world today.

The world is manifesting itself as integral, global, as entirely interconnected. Yet, people feel disconnected and the lack of unity, and this is what awakens them to riot.

The portion speaks of a king who must be chosen from among the people. If a king is an all-powerful ruler, how can we speak of kingship in that state? It is as if today the people were to democratically appoint a leader as king; it sounds completely unrealistic.

When all the thoughts and desires work toward the land of Israel, to the desire for the Creator, the desire for comprehensive, mutual, and complete bestowal, a person chooses the foundation with which one influences everything. With that foundation, one reaches the Keter (crown), meaning similarity to the Creator in every way.

We creatures are in Malchut (kingship), which is our big will to receive. The upper force that created us, on the other hand, is in Keter. We need to connect all our desires from the “people.” Out of the unity of everyone, we choose our most basic foundation, and call it a “king,” like King David, Messiah son of David, who is Malchut that reaches Keter. A king in Israel is not as a king in other nations, the way romantic novels picture it. Being a king in Israel is the hardest work there is.

Is it about a person?

The king is the supreme judge. He is the person to whom people come to ask questions, and he cannot turn away those who come to him.

Does he also pass judgment?

Yes. Maimonides and other sources write about that work, which is hard work indeed.

Is it realistic to have a king in Israel today?

The king is not one who sits on the throne. He is the supreme judge. The king is the one who knows how to arrange, bring together, and correct the most crucial decisions with the aim to bestow. He is responsible for the entire nation, for collecting all the people’s desires within him, and raising them up to the Keter.

There is either a king in each of us, or a general king between us, raising us to the Creator and leading us toward correction. Messiah son of David is the one who pulls the whole of Malchut to the degree of Keter.

Today people have no faith in the government; they want to take charge and make decisions. Is this a new phase emerging that will lead to the conclusion that people need a representative to speak for them?

No. The people need to demand help from the government to receive education toward mutual guarantee. This is the obligation we received on Mount Sinai, when we were asked if we are responsible for one another, and if we want to be as one man with one heart.

This is our correction—“that which you hate, do not do to your friend.” This is the stage of the desert. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is the stage called “land of Israel,” mutual guarantee, to be “as one man with one heart.” We must provide the education of mutual guarantee by ourselves, and to all the people. The government can help because it has the instruments, the resources, and the media, but it is the people that must demand it.

What about the judicial system? Will we need officers and judges to keep the mutual guarantee?

We will have to rebuild the system so it is an educating system, with people who advocate, like officers and judges, a sort of renewed Sanhedrin.

The portion mentions witchcraft and divination. Why were they forbidden? Wouldn’t people change for the better if they knew where the world was headed?

We are forbidden to rely on miracles or tell the future. The only permitted actions are those in which we serve as our own judges and officers, to promote our progress. The wisdom of the Torah, meaning Kabbalah, objects to any witchcraft and blessing. It objects to notes and pleas from the Rabbi, to red strings, holy water, and horoscopes of any kind. All of it is considered “idol worship.”

It is similar to what is said about Abram before he became Abraham, the father of the nation. He was engaged in selling idols, which is a preliminary degree that exists in each of us, in anyone who has not yet been corrected through a genuine disclosure of the evil inclination, because then one demands the actual spice for the Torah.

The people of Israel learn about conducts during war. What is war?

It is a struggle against the evil inclination. Man’s enemies are those that dwell with him in his home, those that are in his heart, meaning all the desires, thoughts, sins, and mistakes that he should turn into Mitzvot, into acts of bestowal. An act of bestowal is called a Mitzva (singular of Mitzvot). There is an endless war here, the Creator’s war with Amalek, which lasts for generations.

But as a result, we built an army with an ethics code and values.

We had no other choice. In the past, too, we had an army. So did King David, and so did all the others. As long as people have not been corrected, there has to be an army. If we were to change ourselves even a little toward mutual guarantee, we would immediately come and see that our neighbors all leave us in peace.

After all, we are not doing anything that is fundamentally wrong. The minute we direct ourselves correctly toward love of others between us, within Israel, and begin to connect as before, in brotherly love, we will tilt the direction toward the positive, the mutual, and we will witness peace and quiet throughout the country, health, education, and the end of external or internal struggles.

[1] The ten days beginning on Rosh Hashanah and ending on Yom Kippur. Known also as the “Ten Days of Repentance.”

This Week’s Torah Portion | August 28 – September 3, 2016 – 24 Av – 30 Av, 5776


Re’eh (Behold) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Re’eh (Behold) Parsha

TORAH : DEUTERONOMY 11:26-16:17
PROPHETS : ISAIAH 54:11-55:5
GOSPEL : JOHN 16:1-17:26

About the Weekly Torah Portion

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage.

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will highlight specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.

The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world.

In A Nutshell

The portion, Re’eh (Behold), begins with Moses’ words to the people to come and see the blessing and the curse, which the Creator commands them. If the people adhere to the Creator’s commandments they will be blessed. Otherwise, they will be cursed.

Afterward, Moses surveys before the people the preparations to enter the land of Israel, the duties and the prohibitions that accompany the entrance, the work of the Creator specifically in the Temple, and the prohibition to listen to false prophets that deflect the people from the serving the Creator. The portion also cites the laws of Kashrut,[1] tithing, Shmita (remission), and the three festivals on which it is customary to make an Aliya la Regel (pilgrimage) to Jerusalem.

Commentary

The Torah speaks only about the inner meaning of all the matters just mentioned. It is written, “Behold,” referring to the reception of light of Hochma, which is seeing. Seeing is the highest of the five senses, and marks the highest level of attainment. When a person truly sees whether what is happening is a blessing or a curse, he is standing right before the entrance to the land of Israel.

Eretz Ysrael: Eretz means Ratzon (desire), and Ysrael (Israel) means Yashar El (straight to God). In other words, Eretz Ysrael is a desire aimed entirely toward bestowal, toward mutual guarantee, connection between everyone “as one man with one heart.” At the foot of Mount Sinai we accepted the condition, “love your neighbor as yourself,’ to be “as one man with one heart.” Forty years later we complete the correction and are ready to enter the land of Israel, where all the desires are connected in true mutual bestowal. This is why it is called Yashar El (straight to God). The Creator—the quality of bestowal and love that exists in the world—governs the whole of reality.

After the forty years of correction—forty degrees from Bina to Malchut and from Malchut to Bina—we must obtain the general correction of our will to receive so it is entirely in bestowal upon others. This is the degree of Bina, the degree of Hesed (mercy), the degree of Abraham. Afterward there are the 613 Mitzvot (commandments) by which one correct all 613 desires into having the aim to bestow upon others, because “love your neighbor as yourself” is a great rule in the Torah, a rule that includes everything within it.

All we need is to correct our egotistical desire into bestowal, love, and mutual guarantee. This is in fact the condition for the reception of the Torah. The Torah is an instruction how we can correct ourselves. The light that reforms is really the power of the Torah, the power of the light that corrects us.

It is written, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created for it the Torah as a spice,” because “the light in it reforms them.” One who discovers the evil inclination within, the egotistical desires, the hatred, repulsion, the Mount Sinai (mountain of Sina’a (hate)), deserves to receive the correction method called Torah, or “the wisdom of Kabbalah,” because this is where the light is hidden. This is why Kabbalah is called “the internality of the Torah,” and “The Torah (law) of truth.”

This is how we advance toward the entrance to the land of Israel. Henceforth we must know, “see” how to tell our corrected desires toward others from the uncorrected ones. Have we truly become a nation now, with our common desire, which was previously the land of Canaan, then Egypt, and then a desert?

These are degrees of our common desire, in which we passed through stages in our relationships. Now we are entering a relationship called Yashar El, which is solely toward mutual bestowal. We are becoming similar to the Shechina (Divinity), to the Assembly of Israel, with all of our desires being straight to the Creator (Yashar El), directly toward bestowal and mutual love, where we are discovering the common quality of bestowal called “the revelation of the Creator to the creatures.”

It is written that the Creator appears only in the land of Israel, in a desire that is directed only by equivalence of form. When we are in a state of love and bestowal upon each other, we discover that common force in Nature; it appears to us.

The common force that appears within us is called “the conquering of the land” because at that time we can enter our egos with the quality of bestowal and begin to conquer all of our desires. We can begin to place them under the governance of mutual bestowal and mutual love. We gradually fight all the nations, meaning our own thoughts and desires that rebel against bonding and mutual guarantee, against the unity between us. Once we sort out those desires, we separate them from the Kedusha (holiness).

This is the portion’s main theme. Within us are several kinds of desires, called “still,” vegetative,” “animate,” and “speaking.” We correct them from easy to difficult. The list of laws before us tells us how to tell them apart and how to perform scrutinies and corrections. These are the rules concerning Kashrut in the still, vegetative, and animate, and how to distinguish the relations between humans.

The preparation for this process has already been done by the light of Hochma. We did it in the desert, meaning in the state of the “desert” within us, through the light of Hassadim. Now we are correcting ourselves through the light of Hochma. We shift from the degree of Hafetz Hesed (desiring mercy), which is “that which you hate, do not do to your friend,” and enter Eretz Ysrael, a degree of “love your neighbor as yourself.” These are the two stages leading to correction.

We test all our desires to see whether they are a blessing or a curse. If a person is in self-love in those desires, they are a curse because nothing good will come out of them to that person. However, if one corrects them, there is the promise that one will always be in equivalence of form in those desires, in closeness to the upper force, the common force, and that no harm will come to that person.

Even today, if we wish to live in Israel safely and prosperously, with just division, we can achieve these only by correcting our egotistical desires, only through mutual love. If we begin to connect, we will immediately feel that there is a force among us that is putting things in order. No one understands how to do this, but we have the Torah and we can make that connection and be an example to the rest of the world.

We need to understand it and make those corrections. These are the corrections of the three years of Orlah (uncircumcised) fruit, the seven years of Shmita (remission), and the Yovel (jubilee, fifty years’ anniversary), as well as the rules of Kashrut on different levels—prophets and priests. All of these explain to us how we should arrange things within us so as to destroy the idol worship that we see all around us and within us when we bow to other goals besides the love of others and establishing of our Temple.

Bringing an offering is also related to the correction. The word Korban (offering/sacrifice) comes from the word Karov (near), meaning to draw near to the quality of bestowal, to the Creator. The Ketoret (incense), from the word Maktir (crowning), brings a person closer to Kedusha (holiness), to bestowal upon others. We need to understand that Kedusha and Tuma’a (impurity) are the love of others and its opposite.

What are the blessing and the curse in our generation?

This has not changed through the ages. The Torah is eternal, since the time of the creation of the world, since the creation of the entire reality, since the world of Ein Sof (infinity), through all the worlds down to the cascading of our reality today. Today we must relive history and climb back to the world of Ein Sof, but not with our physical bodies, but in our minds, in our awareness.

This can happen only by correcting our egotistical desire that was created this way to begin with, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination.” Correction means achieving love of others through the upper light, the upper force. In fact, it is the whole of the work of Kedusha (holiness), the work of the offerings, which brings one closer to it, always knowing where one is still not corrected.

When we read the Torah, we see that we are constantly making mistakes, such as in the desert and in other places. Almost every portion repeats the story of the children of Israel falling time and time again. However, we fall only to discover the desires that are still uncorrected, and to bring them to Kedusha, to correction. Through the corrupt desires we achieve correction, bonding between us.

So why are we falling now? What have we fallen into in our time?

Our generation is a special one. We have reached the final realization, the complete correction of the world because the whole world is discovering that it is in a vague and unclear situation. All our systems are corrupted and we cannot find our way in this world because we are incongruent with the laws of Nature.

The nature that is now appearing to us is appearing from within. It is a nature of bestowal, a nature of love of others, a global world. Although we are still relating to the manifestation of this reality egotistically—not getting along with it, declining to connect, to unite with others—the reality that is appearing is compelling us do so. It is emerging from within, out of the network of connections between us that forms a global-integral world, which we do not match.

It is precisely when we discover that we cannot find our way in the world that the wisdom of Kabbalah appears. Without it we will be lost because we will not understand what is happening to us. The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that we must reach mutual guarantee, which is the law that was given to us at the foot of Mount Sinai, and which we must keep. That law states that the more we feel reality as opposite from us, as one we cannot get along with, the more we and the world must be corrected.

The corrections are in unity, in moving toward reciprocity, in communicating, in congruence with Nature, which we will feel as good, helping, supporting, and not as resisting or threatening, as we currently feel it. Although all our systems are currently on the verge of collapse, we feel primarily the economic and financial systems because all our life’s systems depend on them, especially the food that we need in order to survive.

The wisdom of Kabbalah reveals to us the short, good, and easy way. All we need is to listen, and life will suddenly run smoother. If we engage in it, we will see how much light there is before us, which we will follow safely and enjoy life.

It is especially true here in Israel. We have a method. If we unite, we will form a focal point for the rest of the world. All of life’s events happen specifically in order to disclose to us the problem we must solve in order to be saved. We will truly have to correct ourselves in unity, and truly become the people of Israel—connected, bonded, and liberated from all the troubles. By that we will become “a light for the nations.”

Is it against human nature to ask people to love everyone?

For now we must begin superficially. We need to understand that solving our problems and truly arriving at the land of Israel, in prosperity, safety, and abundance, is possible only if we unite.

Uniting means being in mutual guarantee. This is the condition we took upon ourselves when we received the Torah at the foot of Mount Sinai, and it is where Nature is pushing us, because it is the law of the comprehensive integral system that is appearing before us today. We can learn this law from science too. It tells us we have no other choice, if we are tied together in this way, we must arrange our systems accordingly.

It is especially true for us, and subsequently for the rest of the world. This is why charity is pointless, and the same goes for thinking that we can succeed through the work of this or that committee, by raising taxes or by paying this or that sum.

Even if we divide the common pie we will not succeed because the law of Nature—which determines that we have to be connected “as one man with one heart—is against us.

How do we do it?

We need to learn how to do it. We go by trial and error but we see that it can be done, and actually quite easily. The only obstacle is a psychological barrier that we must leap over. When we do, it will happen easily. We only need to turn a tiny “knob,” like a little child who presses a button and switches on a huge machine. Indeed, this is who we are.

It will happen at once only if we comprehend that unity is the solution to all our problems. If we do not, we will suffer more and more blows and from them we will still learn what to do. However, it is a long and painful road.

But there are problems all over the world.

Yes, and in the end the whole world will come to us.

Pointing the finger at us?

Yes. They will subconsciously, and even consciously feel it. They are even saying that we are to blame for all the troubles in the world. They will demand practical solutions from us. So before it happens we must make the wisdom of Kabbalah known throughout the world, and show them what it means to be “a light for the nations.”

And the Lord Said to Abram after Lot Was Separated

“Only the Creator governs over the land of Israel. When Israel sinned and were offering incense to other gods inside the land, Divinity was seemingly rejected from her place because they were anointing and burning incense for other gods to connect with Divinity, and then they were given governance. The incense makes a tie so as to connect. Hence, they were sucking from Divinity and received the governance from her, and then the rest of the nations ruled, the prophets were cancelled, and all those high degrees did not rule over the land.”

Zohar for All, Lech Lecha (Go Forth), item 185

In truth, everything depends on whether a person “invites” the upper force to be next to him. The upper force is a force of bestowal and love that is above our egos. This is why it is called “upper”; it is a nature above our own. We must bring it a little closer to us, draw it according to the equivalence of form so it will be in us, and then we will fear nothing.

What are the laws mentioned here, such as kashrut and tithing?

They are all corrections of the will to receive.

Can following these laws only on the physical, material level award me those corrections?

No. Following on the corporeal level will not help. It is as if we want to share our income through our own calculations. It is not going to work because it is our hearts that need correction, and not acting with our hands and legs.

However, we need not avoid physical actions because they keep the framework of the nation. It is a certain approach that should persist in the nation, but the important thing is the correction of the heart. Baal HaSulam wrote that the Torah was given to men of heart,[2] meaning to correct the heart, as it is written, “Write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs, 3:3). The whole Torah was written only to correct the heart.

Correcting the heart is inner work.

Inner work is all that is required of us, correcting the desire. Our bodies are flesh, and there are different things we can do with it. The flesh can smile at others while in truth we want to kill them. We have no need for this bogus smile, this superficial attitude toward things. We need the heart, the connection of the hearts. If we do not do it, we will be in big trouble, so let us hope that it will become more prevalent in the nation and we will advance favorably.

For who is God, besides the Lord? And who is a rock, besides our God?

“For who is God, save the Lord?” Everything is in the permission of the Creator. It is not as it seems in the stars and fortunes, which show something and the Creator changes it into another way. “And who is a Rock, save our God?” means that there is no such painter as the Creator. He is the perfect painter, who makes and paints a form within a form, a fetus in its mother’s insides, and completes that picture in all its corrections, and instills a high soul within it, which is similar to the upper correction.

Zohar for All, Lech Lecha (Go Forth), item 328

All that a person needs is to want the correction. That force that is over us, the overall desire to bestow, is called the “Creator.” It is that which depicts in us the right images. The connections between us are called “its forms,” and in the end, according to our requests, it connects us and is found within us. It is called “the dweller clothing in the Shechina (Divinity).” We are the Shechina, the Assembly of Israel. When we are united, the quality of bestowal is in us.

When we truly achieve this mutual guarantee between us, will we discover the kashrut, the tithing, and all these laws between us?

When we begin to come closer, we will experience everything that is written in the Torah.

What is the work of the Creator, the Temple?

Man’s heart is called “a house.” All of man’s desires are called “man’s house” or “man’s heart.” When everyone intends toward bestowal, toward bonding with others, it is called “holiness.”

Is it a certain state of mind, in which one does the work of the Creator?

It is not a state of mind; it is one’s attitude, one’s intention with regard to others.

Can it be anytime and anywhere?

Yes, of course. It makes no difference where you are physically.

The portion mentions the three Regalim (pilgrimage festivals), which in our world appear as festivals of Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.

These are degrees. The more we correct ourselves, the more we advance on the 125 degrees. And the more we advance, the more breaks there are between the degrees, such as days of the week, the Sabbath, beginnings of months, the three pilgrimage festivals, then the Shmita, Yovel, and so forth.

The three pilgrimage festivals, Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot, are special degrees. In the ARI’s Gate of Intentions, he mentions them quite often as great and sublime. These are measures of our connection. If we work and work, and connect between us, and suddenly something closes, it is called a Regel (leg), meaning a step forward. And as we connect and correct our relations, making them closer, we reach another stage.

The three stages are NHY, HGT, and HBD, or Ibur–Yenika–Mochin (conception-nursing-adulthood). We learn about it in the wisdom of Kabbalah. This is how we advance until we build between us a complete Partzuf (face), which is called Adam (man) who is Domeh (similar) to the complete quality of bestowal, which is the Creator.

Is the state of Eretz Ysrael an absolute or is there still more work in it?

According to this portion we are now moving into the land of Israel and must correct all our desires through the light of Hochma. Working in the land of Israel is not simple whatsoever. It does not happen all at once, but is rather a long process.

Can we understand from the Regalim that we are working on bonding but see no results, until a new state suddenly appears, and this is the next step forward?

Yes.

Is this a Regel?

A Regel is the end of all the previous stages. It is when a person stops, as though parking, and continues from it toward the next period.

How does the tithing connect to all of that?

Tithing means a tenth of Malchut. Malchut is the tenth Sefira in our entire structure. We have desires called Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, and Malchut. Malchut is the tenth, but since we cannot correct it, we pass it on by giving a tithing (ten percent), and this is its correction.

To whom do we give it?

To the people, to the Temple. The house is more than just man’s heart. Beit ha Mikdash (The Temple House) is entirely outside of us. It is in our connections with others, in our desires toward others, and we dedicate Malchut to that.

Summary:

All we need to do is to connect. In the bonding between us we will discover the whole Torah, we will resolve all our troubles and problems, and we will be given the great respect that the people of Israel deserve.

[1] Laws of Kashrut define what is kosher, meaning permitted for eating or for preparing food, wearing, and other areas of human conduct.
[2] “Introduction to the book, Panim Meirot UMasbirot”

This Week’s Torah Portion | August 06 – August 12, 2017 – 14 Av – 20 Av, 5777


(Ostrava-Vitkovice-Jewish Temple-Synagogue and Town School)

Ekev (Because) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion
August 5, 2017 at 10:00 pm · Filed under Torah Portion

Ekev (Because) Parsha

Deuteronomy, 7:12-11:25

EKEV
Regular Shabbat Readings
* Note: On Jewish holidays, special readings often interrupt the regular cycle.

Ekev (עֵקֶב | Consequence)
Torah: Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25
Haftarah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
Gospel: John 13:31-15:27

Portion Outline
TORAH
Deuteronomy 7:12 | Blessings for Obedience
Deuteronomy 8:1 | A Warning Not to Forget God in Prosperity
Deuteronomy 9:1 | The Consequences of Rebelling against God
Deuteronomy 10:1 | The Second Pair of Tablets
Deuteronomy 10:12 | The Essence of the Law
Deuteronomy 11:1 | Rewards for Obedience
PROPHETS
Isaiah 49:8 | Zion's Children to Be Brought Home
Isaiah 50:4 | The Servant's Humiliation and Vindication
Isaiah 51:1 | Blessings in Store for God's People

About the Weekly Torah Portion

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage.

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will highlight specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.

The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world.

In A Nutshell
In the portion, Ekev (Because), Moses continues his speech to the people of Israel. He reiterates that if Israel keep the laws and the ordinances that the Creator commanded them, they will be awarded happiness, health, and triumphs over their enemies. But if they do not, the Creator will not keep them and they will be lost among the nations.

The portion also describes the virtues of the land of Israel, the seven species. Finally, the people are commanded to teach these things to their children and to carve the Mezuzah[1] on their doorsteps.

Commentary

Moses warns the people to keep the laws of Nature because the Creator is Elokim (God), and in Gematria (numeric values ascribed to Hebrew letters) it is “The Nature.”

The Creator gave us the Torah (Pentateuch), the laws of the world. The Torah is like a physics book, except that the laws in it are absolute, and totally precise. Only Israel received them. If we act according to these laws we will be above everything. We received a promise in advance, and this is truly what is happening. If we keep the laws before us we will receive anything we want—happiness, respect, security, health, eternity, wholeness, this world and the next world.

These laws come down to one: “love your neighbor as yourself; it is a great rule in the Torah.” All we need is to keep that law—love of others. The whole Torah speaks of nothing but that.

The problems begin with keeping that law. We cannot do it alone. It is only possible in an environment that sustains us, along with all the members of that environment. Only through mutual support can we truly keep that law. Baal HaSulam (Rav Yehuda Ashlag) mentioned in that regard a story about two friends sailing in a boat. When one of them began to drill under him, his friend asked, “What are you doing?” the other replied, “It is none of your concern, I am drilling only under me.”

We are living in special times these days. We all feel that we are in a single boat, and this is the proper condition to finally begin to keep the general law of love of others, the common law of Nature, the mutuality. The global and integral crisis has placed us against our will in a single boat where everyone is drilling under him without regard for anyone else.

Now we must all begin to reorganize and connect with one another in mutual guarantee. Everyone must guarantee that everyone else will not break the law, and everyone will care for everyone else in the same manner. A person musters the courage and power to not harm others, to not drill a hole. If we approach the general law of Nature in this manner we will truly feel that we are lacking nothing because there is nothing better than when we are in congruence with Nature.

It is like the spies: a person begins to see the fruits of the land of Israel, the sun, and the light, as it is written that the Creator is present from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, meaning happiness, health, and safety. No one will be able to approach our borders and say that it is not ours, because we will be in congruence with the laws dictated from above. These are the same laws that are actually only one: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is the same mutual guarantee that helps us care for one another.

Therefore, if we keep this law, which is the essence of the Torah, we will have abundance. If we do not, we will find out increasingly clear, as is happening now, that we are dependent upon everyone. We have no idea what is happening with our country’s defense, and even when we do understand and know in advance what might happen, things still happen. If we refrain from keeping the clear condition, we arrive at where we are, and who knows where we might end up.

We are dependent on the World Bank, and the Common Market. In fact, the whole world is interdependent without understanding why it is so. We were given excellent starting conditions, a book that explains the laws of the world, and the wisdom of Kabbalah, which explains how to rise above these laws, and which shows us that we can rise above Nature. If the Creator promises us security, happiness, and health, it is all we need. These three parameters are all that demonstrators throughout the world are asking. They, too, need nothing more than safety, happiness, and health.

Security is a fundamental element that defines our attitude toward life. Happiness defines our independence with regard to the rest of the world, without anyone being able to bring us down or up. The same goes for health; it all depends on us. All we need to do is keep within our nation the condition, “love your neighbor as yourself.” It is easy to keep that condition in mutual guarantee. If we understand it and support each other, in a short period of time we will rise to such a level that no one will be able to harm us, not on the economic level, not on the level of health, and not on the level of defense.

It is time that through explanations we will achieve the feeling of mutual guarantee and mutual love in the nation, and everything that is written in the portion will come true.

If we are in a state of mutual guarantee, will we not have to be considerate of the entire world? Will we be happy even if other things are happening elsewhere or will we suddenly understand how dependent we are on everything that happens in the world?

It is not written anywhere in Kabbalah that we must take into consideration what is happening in the world. The world is governed from above. All the leaders, whoever they are, are managed from above. Our world is a world of results, the lowest world.

The common force, the light, comes from Ein Sof (infinity) through all the worlds, which are concealments of the light, and through them it influences our world, us, and all the nations of the world. We can only react to it and adjust ourselves to the upper world through our actions.

The bonding between us indicates that we are in congruence with the upper world, which is entirely as one. Our soul above is called Adam, and it is one, just as the upper force is one. Adam’s soul divided into many souls, but if we collect them all together, all our desires, our inclinations, we will adjust ourselves to the upper force, the common force of Nature. Elokim (God) in Gematria is “The Nature.”

Will the world not influence us then?

Not only will the world not influence us, but by elevating our desires, we become the ones who influence the upper world, and the upper world will, in turn, influence our world and all the nations of the world. Prophet Isaiah wrote that the nations of the world will take the children of Israel on their shoulders and bring them to Jerusalem to build the Temple. It is an allegorical way of saying that the whole world will understand that there is only one place for the land of Israel.

Will all the people have to achieve that mutual guarantee, understanding, and Dvekut (adhesion)?

Yes, mutual guarantee and mutual love. We have to keep the law, “love your neighbor as yourself.” However, we need not think about when it will happen because as soon as we keep this law and move toward it, even by a fraction of an inch, we will no longer be opposite from Nature but in congruence with it. The tendency, the intention is in the making, just like a disobedient and troublesome child was suddenly begins to behave well. We immediately begin to treat him differently. As we do these things we will immediately see that we are on the right track because all of a sudden we will feel empowered, that our actions are blessed.

We hear that everyone wants love. When we begin to talk about mutual guarantee and mutual connection, people feel satisfaction, a sensation of love. No budget can cover all the problems and troubles that exist in the nation. No one will agree to be the last to receive a piece of the pie; each one will pull in one’s own direction and there will never be an end to it.

We must sit at a round table like a family, and first and foremost, treat each other with love, and bring everyone under the umbrella of mutual guarantee, where we are all one. We must make our decisions like a family: one needs housing, another needs some money, another’s health is poor, and another one is old, and so on. As in a family, after the conversation at the round table everyone will understand what we need to do in order to change the situation. Everyone will also feel satisfaction in being the one who made concessions, who was big-hearted.

We are assuming that in a family, people care about each other.

This is the point that we are missing. Without it we will never reach a solution. We will have more and more committees but nothing will help. People will not even go to those committees, and if they do, it will be only to show that they are useless. Our world is global, round, and if we cannot find a solution or a process that agrees with the laws of the world we will lose. And it will be a big loss because the next eruption could be much worse. We need to think about it in advance so we will not say afterward, “We tried but it didn’t work out.” The damage that will be done to the people will be very big and will invoke such bitterness and pain that we cannot tell where it will lead.

What does it mean that today the world is global? How did it suddenly become global?

There is nothing new about the laws of the world; only we have changed through history. It is written in the wisdom of Kabbalah that from the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first—as Baal HaSulam, the Vilna Gaon, and others said—our world will move into a state of being global.

“Being global” means that the primary law appearing in the world is the law of the circle: we are all connected and dependent on each other. And if we are dependent and connected, it is impossible to start fighting. We must come to some settlement, something sensitive, considerate, in mutual guarantee. We are quickly approaching that state around the world.

We will soon find that not only do we feel the need for a solution, but that there is no other solution other than mutuality. Once we arrive at a solution after having sat with everyone, we will feel satisfied. We will be respected for having made concessions for others, and we will feel warmth because we were considerate of others. We will feel safer because we will not be alone anymore; we will be together with everyone.

In this way we discover the power that exists in unity, which acts in accord with the upper force. Everyone must feel that power, the entire nation. In the wisdom of Kabbalah the force appears immediately to those who become connected to society. Now the world is about to discover it. The unrest throughout the world are only the beginning of this surfacing because what people really need, even when they cannot express it, is love.

It is written that we should teach our children and write on the Mezuzah.[2] Does this concern internal states?

The sons are us. In previous portions the sons were our own future states. The current state is called a “father,” and the next state is considered its “son,” its result.

Is it not clear that we are moving from state to state? Is there something we must do in order to move to it?

Of course. We must constantly move toward it when ascending to the level of keeping that law, as well as in the new conditions in which we nevertheless maintain the law of unity, the law of love.

Does that mean that a greater measure of connection between us is our sons?

Yes. In fact, the whole portion is a result of Shema Ysrael (Hear, O Israel), from the previous portion, which is why it is written so. It is also written on the Mezuzahs. A person going out of one’s state or returning to one’s state refers to the exit and the entrance to the house.

The house is the person’s Kli (vessel), a person’s heart—all of one’s desires. When we connect the new desires and correct them, when we enter and exit, the light is always with us. This is the correction called Mezuzah. It is a special light with which a person must be equipped in order to embark on new corrections.

In total, our soul consists of 613 desires. We need to correct those desires one at a time, from light to heavy, so they have the aim to bestow upon others, and through others to the Creator.

A state of Arvut (mutual guarantee) is when we all care for one another. Today when people are feeling bad they will agree to unite. But what will keep them together a day after the trouble is over?

Mutual guarantee. This is why it is not enough to decide to love each other now. The question is “How can we keep the love over time?” The answer is that only through mutual guarantee is it possible to connect us in such a way that if one falls, everyone falls, and everyone sustains everyone else.

If I had nothing before and suddenly have something thanks to mutual guarantee, of course I will be happy about it. What about those who had plenty and gave it up?

This is why when we speak of implementing mutual guarantee, we are speaking of a round table around which we will all sit together, even a hundred people. Each of us will raise his or her concerns, and request what he or she needs. But first we must unite among us. Only through our unity, in mutual guarantee, as one nation in a small country, will we resolve our problems. There is no other way to work them out because we have nowhere from which to take the money, and no way to divide the pie in a way that increases our deficit. We will be only hurting ourselves this way, and it is clear that nothing will come out of it.

We have only one alternative: A deliberation that leads to bonding and love. If we begin to organize the entire nation around the table, and begin to act through the media, in reality shows, on TV, on the internet, in theatres, in music, and in cooperation with different artists, we will educate the people toward the concept of “mutual guarantee,” and then we will see how everyone is connected. It will not be long before we see different people.

We will feel it when we drive our cars, and we will feel it in children being less violent toward each other. We will feel it everywhere. We will begin to influence the entire world with this force because it is specifically we who are giving to the entire world, though it may not seem that way right now. As soon as we have the good force, it will spread to the entire world.

We cannot bring security to the country unless we muster the power of Arvut. Today it is impossible to govern in the traditional way, however we may try.

There is only one thing we need to add to the efforts to keep us safe: we must implement the law, “love your neighbor as yourself,” as it is promised here. This is called “Torah” (law) and not other symbols, as others think about the Torah, and the meaning of the Mitzvot (commandments) of the Torah.

The Torah means “I have created the evil inclination, I have created for it the Torah as a spice,” because “the light in it reforms them.” We need to come to a state of love. If we come to it there will be happiness, health, and security.

When Abraham established the nation he explained to everyone who came to his tent in Babylon about the meaning of Arvut, about the quality of Hesed (mercy), which is Abraham’s quality, and that this is how we should relate to one another. This is how he established the nation, and this is how thousands of people followed him. It all depends on whether or not we can connect today. It is not merely a promise; we have no other choice; it is the only possible solution, and we must listen before the troubles come.

[1] Mezuzah (doorpost): Texts from Deuteronomy inscribed on parchment and rolled up in a case that is attached to the doorframe
[2] “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy, 6:7-9).

This Week’s Torah Portion | July 30 – August 05, 2017 – 7 Av – 13 Av, 5777

VaEtchanan (And I Besought) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

VA’ETCHANAN
TORAH : DEUTERONOMY 3:23-7:11
PROPHETS : ISAIAH 40:1-26
GOSPEL : LUKE 22:13-38

PORTION SUMMARY

NOTE: From the Sabbath following the 9th of Av through that preceding Rosh Hashanna, the Haftara readings will be from the Book of Isaiah and focus upon God’s desire to comfort His people Israel.

About the Weekly Torah Portion

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage.

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will highlight specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.

The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world.

In A Nutshell

The portion, VaEtchanan (And I Besought), repeats the prohibition that Moses was prohibited—to enter the land of Israel—and that Joshua is to succeed him and lead the people to the land of Israel. The portion deals with the commandment to keep the Torah and remember the standing at the foot of Mount Sinai, as well as with the concept of repentance, which appears here for the first time. Here appears the known text of Shema Ysrael (Here, O Israel).

Moses makes another speech, where he repeats the Ten Commandments. He also distinguishes three cities of refuge on the Eastern side of the Jordan River, warns of idol worship in the land of Israel, and instructs the destruction of the statues. He also reminds the people that the Creator is the one who led them into the land of Israel, the good land that they are destined to inherit.

Commentary

The portion, VaEtchanan (And I Besought), contains all the conditions for the dwelling of the people of Israel in the land of Israel. The people of Israel began its history with Abraham, who established in Babylon a group. That group distinguished itself from the rest of the Babylonians, who did not wish to unite “as one man with one heart,” meaning to be in the quality of Hesed (mercy), which is Abraham’s quality.

That group of people agreed to live in Arvut (mutual guarantee), and actually began the formation process of the people of Israel. Following the exodus from Egypt, the group took upon itself the commitment to be as one nation despite the problems and the egos of its people.

The formation of a single nation was conditioned upon a successful “passage” of the ordeal at the foot of Mount Sinai, which is a mountain of Sinaa (hate). On Mount Sinai, the people assumed the preparatory stipulation for climbing over that mountain—being “as one man with one heart.” Only by adhering to this condition is it possible to receive the Torah, the upper force that can unite everyone. That condition is met through the point in the heart of each person, a point named Moses, which draws the people onward into the desert and subsequently to the land of Israel. This is the point where everyone must unite.

The stipulation that held the people together was Arvut (mutual guarantee). Even today, to be a nation we must meet the condition of caring for one another on the material level, too. This is the scrutiny that we are facing in Israel today—having everyone see that no one lacks basic sustenance on the material level.

When we come together, we enter the land of Israel through the correction called “forty years in the desert.” This is a state in which all become a nation and are willing to live together in a global and integral manner, as is appearing in the world today, and as Nature requires.

Today, some have much more than they need, while others barely meet their most basic needs. The only way we can acquire what we need is by being responsible for one another. Only through unity will we be able to create a special force that will help us overcome the difficulties and properly divide our produce and profits, just like a family.

“As one man with one heart” really means “as a family.” In a family we divide what we have to each one based on each one’s needs. We sit at a round table and talk. We take every argument and problem into consideration, weigh each one’s priorities, and decide how to divide what we have gained among us. We reinforce the weak and support them.

If we manage the people and the country in this way, we will find that the nation is connected, and that the Creator—the force of bestowal and love—is among us. We will feel how we resolve all the problems and rise above all the obstructions. When we take upon ourselves the good, we immediately produce new powers among us, and then, “This day you have become a people” (Deuteronomy, 27:9).

The condition of unity between us allows us to resolve all the problems, as it is written toward the end of the portion, that adhering to that condition leads us to being as one, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy, 6:4). When the force of love is between us—the force of unity, the necessity to be together, the Arvut—we sustain and keep one another. That force is leading us, the people of Israel, to the land of Israel—to the desire Yashar El (straight to God), straight toward the quality of love and bestowal.

Only if one produces the force called Elokim (God), which is the overall love, the Arvut, does the force, “The Lord your God,” which one has created, walks ahead when one enters the land of Israel. That force helps us cope with the difficulties there, and fight the seven nations there, which are stronger than us.

In many ways, it is similar to Israel’s current situation, being surrounded by nations that wish to destroy it. It is only by that force that we truly “defeat” everyone. In the end, we bring not only ourselves into unity and connection, but the entire world. We become “a light for the nations” by showing how we can all be united in our world, which requires a global-integral connection among everyone. It is just as Nature, the Creator,[1] appears to us as one, and closes us in such a way that compels us to be like it, as one, in Dvekut (adhesion) with it.

When we produce the force of love between us by bonding, we become similar to the Creator, to the overall force in Nature. In that state we are in harmony with Nature, and we balance the ecology, technology, economy, and everything else. Everything falls into place only by the force of unity, albeit it may not seem that way, and it may not be clear what the force of unity has to do with resolving any of these problems.

We have yet to understand that we are part of Nature, that we are in it. The network we are in is integrally managed, with all its parts interconnected. If we, too, connect in synchrony with Nature, we will be rewarded with the fruits of the land of Israel, as the spies saw them but thought they would not be able to enjoy them because the fruits were so great, and the people that dwelled in the land were so mighty. Here lies the solution: if we unite, that force will march before us and will shatter all the enemies.

As long as we produce between us the force of Arvut, it will resolve everything. Whatever happens, through the force of unity we can all be under the umbrella of Arvut, the umbrella of love, through which the world will truly be corrected.

Following Moses, Joshua had to lead the nation into the next stage, the next degree. How does one lead the people while keeping everyone united despite the challenges?

The Torah does not tell us what happened after the entrance to the land of Israel, or how to break the idols, which are our evil inclination. When idol worshipping, we place before us statues such as money, power, respect, envy, and hatred. The Torah does not tell us precisely how to break them down within us. Nothing is said about the construction of the Temple and the conduct within it.

We basically have two ways to go. We can take the short, and good way, where we achieve our own correction and the correction of the world, or we can take the hard way, if we do not keep the condition of Arvut.

Now we are going through difficult times, through troubles …

We need not regard it as trouble, but as an opportunity. The conditions we are in are an opportunity, and in them we must become corrected. Without difficult times, how will we overcome the evil inclination, how will we know it?

Assume we all establish Arvut, we all take care of each other and people go along with it because it solves their problems. What is the next step?

There is nothing but maintaining the Arvut.

What about the love we have to reach?

It is Arvut. The first stage in Arvut is “that which you hate, do not do to your friend,” meaning at the very least avoid harming others. The next stage is “love your neighbor as yourself,” which is the overall rule of the Torah. There is nothing more than that. There are two conditions we must follow: avoid harming others, and then, above it, treat them with love.

Lately, we have seen many people openly admitting that what they really need is love.

People need to understand the true meaning of Arvut. We need to sit together at a round table and discuss things, explain the definitions of each word until we actually feel what we are talking about.

Arvut means that we are all responsible for one another, in everything in life. When one has the right relationship with others, there is no need to think of oneself. While you think about the others, the others think about you.

It is just like a family. In a family, the care is not for oneself, but rather for the entire family: the children, the elders, the sick, and the weak. We divide the family income and everything else we have according to everyone’s needs.

How do we make decisions in a round table format in a country of seven million people?

Imagine what it will be like when we need to make this type of decisions with seven billion people! We need to aspire to have all factions around the table. We need to find factions whose representatives have not come to the table, perhaps because they are too weak or have despaired. We need to help them raise their questions.

Also, the round table must be an ongoing thing. We must set an example of a nation that is discussing with love, with everyone seated together around the same table: left, right, and middle, even enemies and foes. The common point that connects us is that we all belong to one nation, as it is written, “love covers all transgressions” (Proverbs, 10:12). The transgression is the hate that we feel for each other. In other words, it is fine that we are hateful, but there is one rule: we must all live like a family.

Will that make the hatred subside?

No, it will not subside. The principle in the wisdom of Kabbalah is that “love covers all transgressions.” In other words, the transgression of hate remains. It points to disagreements and to the difference in qualities that we all have. Disagreements between us are good because above them we build a Masach (screen), an umbrella that covers over those transgressions.

We unite despite our disputes because the principle of love must be above everything else. That principle “uses” those disputes as a lever to raise us above Mount Sinai, above the mountain of hate. We all sit around the table and build above us the concept of “Moses on Mount Sinai,” and Moses pulls us up. When we achieve the quality of love that connects us, we become a nation. Before that, we are not considered a nation.

Is this true for the rest of the world, as well?

First, about us here, in Israel: We have had the spiritual gene since the time we were a nation. Today we are not a nation but a collection of exiles. If we implement the principle of Arvut and use the differences between us to add to the concept of Arvut, we will truly feel that we are in the land of Israel.

If we are united, no one will be able to harm us. It will not be because we will be strong, but because the force of Nature will be in us, in synch with the global, integral Nature, as it was written that the Creator walks before us and fights all our wars,[2] just as He shatters man’s hatred toward others.

There is no doubt that our neighbors will gladly join us, and then we will see that the hatred was there only in order to unite us. No other country in the world is in a similar situation. Our unity calms our neighbors because there is only one force that operates in Nature, and its purpose is to lead us all to unity, connection, harmony, and balance with the global Nature.

Do the Ten Commandments detail how to achieve Arvut or do they detail what we find once we achieve it?

The Ten Commandments are a condition. The system of unity between us consists of ten parts, called “Ten Sefirot.” We should interpret each of them. We need to set those ten parts—our connections to others—in order. If a person puts his relation toward others in order, in ten distinct approaches, he puts in order his entire attitude toward others.

Do these ten Sefirot appear once we achieve Arvut?

It is also about how to achieve Arvut because this is the goal. In discovering the Arvut, you discover your own higher state where you have risen above troubles. All of a sudden you discover that Nature is already producing everything you need. You discover the sources of energy, vitality, health, and love that exist in the world, and the close relations that exist between all parts of Nature, and which we suppress.

This sounds like a miracle.

If you speak to people who live in the wild, such as in the woods, they often say that Nature actually radiates love to them. The unity, the holism in it radiate an attitude of love.

Will we enter a new realm of reality through our desire to achieve Arvut?

Yes, we will discover internal forces that are currently hidden from us because we constantly view others through our egos. When we begin to give as Nature gives, we begin to perceive a completely different wavelength, much like a radio receiver.

How do we begin? What is the first step toward Arvut?

We have to sit at the round table and scrutinize those concepts and how we can achieve unity. Arvut is the condition that made us a nation in the past. Afterward, we lost it with the ruin of the Temple. We have been in exile, and now we need to recreate ourselves as a nation.

A nation is like a family. We must see ourselves as one big family. We need to relate to all the problems, and we will find that it is good that they are appearing now. The problems give us something to talk about, a need to feel each other. These days, people’s primary need is connection with others; they even riot and go on protests just to feel connected.

You Have Begun to Show

“Come and see, the Creator has given all the nations in the world to appointed ministers who rule over them,” meaning the different forces of Nature. “But Israel, the Creator holds them as His lot and His share, to actually unite with them.” We see what is happening with us throughout history. We are a special people and there is no way to avoid it. “And He gave them the holy Torah to unite in His name. Therefore, ‘You who cling to the Lord,’ and not to any other appointee, such as the rest of the nations.”

(Quotes in the above paragraph are from Zohar for All, VaEtchanan, item 17.)

What is the holy Torah? It is “love your neighbor as yourself, this is a great rule in the Torah.” There is nothing but the love between man and man; this is the whole Torah, and there is nothing else. We think that these are different actions and means, but these are customs, superficial actions whose purpose is to sustain the people as long as they do not understand what is required of them, meaning while they are still in exile. It is only until we come to the global situation when Nature demands of us, when Elokim demands that we unite.

What Nature are we talking about? What is this law? What do you mean by “Nature”?

“Nature” is the common force that runs the entire universe according to a purpose and a plan. We see that all of Nature’s parts are connected. That connection includes us, except we are detached from the rest of Nature. This is why we must first unite in a manner of “love your friend as yourself,” become global, integral, connected like the rest of Nature.

When we achieve that, we will begin to feel the common force that operates and that has operated throughout evolution. We will unite with that force and we will be aware of the path that we have taken. In that state we will discover the reasons for everything that happened along the way, the reason and the meaning of life, and the goal to which we are drawn.

[1] In Gematria (Hebrew numbering of letters), Hateva (The Nature) is tantamount to Elokim (God)
[2] “The Lord your God who goes before you, He shall fight for you” (Deuteronomy, 30:1).