Va’etchanan | ואתחנן | “I pleaded ” / “I besought”
–“Oh Lord, I beg you, I beseech you. Hear my prayer and grant it from grace.”
–Torah of Messiah living defines loving Most High and loving our fellow man.
-And you will return to HaShem your G-d and listen to His voice ( i.e under the divine mandate of Mashiach ben Yosef) ; The Congregation of Yisrael COMES from exile:……and shall worship Hashem on the holy mountain at Jerusalem
The forty-fifth reading from the Torah and the second reading from the book of Deuteronomy is named Va’etchanan (ואתחנן), which means “and I besought.” The first verse of the reading, which says, “I also pleaded (va’etchanan) with the LORD at that time” -Deuteronomy 3:23.
I pleaded with the Eternal at that time, saying, “O Eternal G-d, You who let Your servant see the first works of Your greatness and Your mighty hand, You whose powerful deeds no god in heaven or on earth can equal! Let me, I pray, cross over and see the good land on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country, and the Lebanon.” – Deuteronomy 3:23-25
- Moses pleads with G-d to let him enter the Land of Israel with the people, but G-d once more refuses his request. ( Deut 3:23–28)
- Moses orders the Children of Israel to pay attention and follow the laws given by G-d in order to be worthy of the land they are about to receive. ( Deut 4:1–40)
- Specific areas of the land are set aside to serve as cities of refuge. (Deut 4:41–43)
- The covenant at Sinai and the Ten Commandments are recalled. Once again, the people are exhorted to heed G-d’s commandments. (Deut 5:1–30)
- Moses speaks the words of the Sh’ma, and commands Israel to show their love for Adonai and keep G-d’s laws and ordinances. ( Deut 6:1–25)
- Moses warns the people not to commit idolatry by Worshiping the gods of the nations they will conquer in Israel. ( Deut 7:1–11)
“Va-etchanan”. The word has no ready translation into English. It is a verb, and it includes the word “chanan”, which means “gracious” or “benevolent”. The best translation is content of today’s Parsha, is “I implore you, O Lord, without right or expectation. Graciously grant my earnest request.” Or, in shorter words, “Oh Lord, I beg you, I beseech you. Hear my prayer and grant it from grace.”
There is a lot of Midrash and commentary on the opening word of our parsha. What is the deeper meaning of “vaetchanan,” and I pleaded? The word implies supplication, as in our daily prayers of supplication which are called tachanun, from the same root. Rashi tells us that the language of “chanun” (the same root as vaetchanan and tachanun, but another form, usually translated “grace”) implies asking for a free gift. Moses was so righteous, with so many good deeds and so few sins, he could have rightfully insisted that G-d owed him; but the language of “vaetchanan” implies he asked for a gift, not for something he had coming. Rashi brings proof from a verse where G-d says “I will be gracious to who I choose to be gracious to.” In other words, not necessarily strictly to those who deserve it the most.
Zohar writings: “And I besought Hashem at that time, saying, Adonai Elohim, You began to show Your servant” (Devarim 3:23-24). Rabbi Yosi opened with, “Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to Hashem” (Yeshayah 38:2). Come and see how powerful is the force of the Torah and how superior it is to anything else. For whoever is occupied with the Torah does not fear the higher or lower beings, nor fear evil incidents in the work, because he is attached to the Tree of Life, WHICH IS THE TORAH, and eats from it daily.
For the Torah teaches man to walk the path of truth and gives him counsel how to repent before his Master. Even when he is sentenced to death, everything is repealed and gone from him, not to rest upon him. Therefore he should be occupied with the Torah day and night and not move from it. This is the meaning of, “but you shall meditate therein day and night” (Yehoshua 1:8). If he removed the Torah from himself or separates from it, it is as if he separated from life.
Come and see, there is advice for man. When he climbs into his bed at night, he should accept upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven wholeheartedly and hasten to give Him the deposit of his Nefesh. It was explained that this is since every man tastes AT NIGHT the taste of death, because the tree of death rests upon the world, WHICH IS MALCHUT. And all the spirits of people come out, rise and hide in it, IN MALCHUT. Since they are GIVEN as a deposit, they all return LATER to their place.
Come and see, when man rises at midnight from his bed to be occupied with the Torah, a crier announces over him, saying, “Behold, bless Hashem, all you servants of Hashem, who stand by night in the house of Hashem“ (Tehilim 134:1). Now IN THE MORNING, when he stands in prayer before his Master, the crier proclaims about him saying, “I will give you access among these who stand by.”
After finishing his prayer favorably before his Master, it was explained that it behooves him to deliver his soul with a willing heart to the required place, NAMELY MALCHUT. Man has many counsels about anything. When he is in prayer, all the words a man utters in his mouth in that prayer rise up and cleave airs and firmaments until they reach wherever they reach. They are adorned on the head of the King, who turns them into a diadem. The friends explained that when a man asks the Holy One, blessed be He in his prayer, he should meditate for it to be a prayer of supplication. Whence do we know that? From Moses, as written, “And I besought Hashem“ (Devarim 3:23). Such is a goodly prayer.
Loving Most Ancient Holy one of Israel: Heart, Soul and Might
The Ve’ahavta, found in this portion, declares that “… you shall love the Adonai, your G-d.” Can a person be commanded to love G-d? Can a person be commanded to love another person? How do you decide whom you love? How do you show your love for these people?
The Ve’ahavta also instructs that love of God be given with “.with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might .” Heart, soul, and might have been interpreted many ways. Rashi said that “with all your heart” means that we should be compassionate and charitable. Maimonides believed that “heart” implied that we should devote our minds to study so that we can use what we learn to act ethically. The Mishnah says that there are two sides to every heart – one side that is inclined towards altruism (yetzer ha-tov) and one side that is inclined towards selfishness (yetzer ha-ra). Since both sides are part of life and both are important components of the creative process, we show our love for G-d when we perform mitzvot. Another explanation of the phrase “with all your heart” is that loving G-d is important not only when things are going well for us, but also when we are sad or suffering. Rashi said that “with all your soul” means that we should be willing to give our lives for the principles of our faith.
Other sages felt that “soul” meant the spirit with which we approach our responsibilities and the good deeds that we do. In this vein, Rashi commented that “with all your might” means that we should be willing to use our property and wealth to help other people. There is a Midrash that says that the love of G-d is best expressed when we act in a way that makes others love G-d ( Sifrei Deuteronomy 32).
And I besought HaShem at that time, saying: ‘O HaShem HaShem, Thou hast begun to show Thy servant Thy greatness, and Thy strong hand; for what G-d is there in heaven or on earth, that can do according to Thy works, and according to Thy mighty acts? -Deuteronomy 3:2-3
Our portion also contains our love response to His act of redemption.Moses, “pleading” is the petition that depends upon the chanan [grace] of the hearer.
For you are a holy people to HaShem your G-d; HaShem your G-d has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. HaShem did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because HaShem loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers…” -Deuteronomy 7:6-8
G-d chose Israel for His own holy people: Surely I have taught you statutes and judgements, just as HaShem my G-d commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what great nation is there that has G-d so near to it, as HaShem our G-d is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this Torah which I set before you this day? -Deuteronomy 4:5-8
One reason Israel was chosen, was to be a light to the Gentiles – to bring them to Avinu, our Father in Heaven. Note how those Gentiles would be drawn – by seeing Israel live according to the wise and gracious instructions of HaShem. Torah living was to draw them.
Prophetically speaking of a time yet future: Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of HaShem’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say. “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of HaShem, to the house of the G-d of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem. -Isaiah 2:2-3
Yeshua did: faithfully to His gracious instructions, Love is always tied to obedience in G-d’s Word.
By this we know that we love the children of G-d, when we love G-d and keep His commandments. For this is the love of G-d, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. -1 John 5:2-3
If you love Me, keep My commandments,He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” -John 14:15, 21
Torah living defines loving G-d and loving our fellow man. Yeshua was quoting the greatest commandments from Deuteronomy 6:4 and Leviticus 19:18.
“Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad [Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our G-d, Adonai is one]; -Deuteronomy 6:4 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
Don’t take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai. –Leviticus 19:18 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
Yeshua says about the greatest commandment, the sum of them all:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Torah?” Yeshua said to him, ‘You shall love HaShem your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Torah and the Prophets.” -Matthew 22:36-40
Luke 22 : 13 – 18
John 14:15, 21
In this Torah portion, Moses stresses to the Israelites the importance of keeping G-d’s commandments when they enter the Land of Israel. Moses repeats the Ten Commandments and utters the Sh’ma and V’ahavta.
Rabbi Yesa says that “Hear (Sh’ma), O Yisrael” (Devarim 6:4) is Yisrael Saba. Rabbi Yitzchak said that the large Ayin IN SH’MA includes seventy names, THE SECRET OF THE NAME OF 72 NAMES: THE SEVENTY NAMES PLUS THE TWO WITNESSES. It is overall testimony, NAMELY THE FLOWING OF THE ILLUMINATION OF CHOCHMAH from SUPERNAL EDEN, CALLED TESTIMONY. “Hear O Yisrael” resembles the words, “Hear, heavens” (Yeshayah 1:2) and, “Give ear, O heavens” (Devarim 32:1), WHICH MEANS THEY SHOULD BE WITNESSES. Here too, “Hear, O Yisrael” INDICATES TO MOCHIN OF TESTIMONY.
The term for “hear” (shema) carries with it the implication of understanding, and subsequent obedience. This trusting relationship is the foundation of the Hebrew concept of “faith in G-d.” The word “shema”is in the singular, hence it can be said that this is an admonition for Israel as a single body to always have faith in G-d and take heed to His direction.
Hear [Sh’ma = heed, obey], O Israel: HaShem our G-d, HaShem is one! You shall love HaShem your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. -Deuteronomy 6:4-9
O Israel : Righteousness of Jacob
There is also a teaching in Judaism regarding the term “Israel,” with regard to the subsequent verse (Blessed be His Name whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever) added when the Shema is sung or prayed. As Scripture shows, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel by G-d. It is taught in Midrash Rabbah, that the second line in the Shema (Blessed be His Name whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever), was added due to the righteousness of Jacob.
The Zohar teaches that Jacob, through his righeousness, brought about a unification of the Name of G-d – one that will be permanently accomplished by the Messiah. Hence, when we say “Hear O Israel …”, it is if we are speaking to Jacob through time, calling out to reassure him that we continue his desire to reunify the Name of God and usher in the Messianic kingdom.
At the time just before his death, when his sons were brought together before him, Jacob had planned to reveal to them the time of Messiah’s return. However, God chose to withdraw the Shekina from him momentarily, and Jacob thought he may have done something wrong to curse his family. His sons came to him and said, “Hear O Israel (his name being “Israel”), the Lord is our God the Lord is One. Upon hearing his sons say this, Jacob replied, Blessed be His Name whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever.
The Midrash Rabbah also makes an interesting reference to the Kingdom of G-d. The words”The Lord our God, the Lord is one,” are directly tied to the establishment of the Kingdom of G-d. This concept of “accepting the Kingdom” while reciting the Shema helps us understand why so many Jews have died with these words on their lips:
Midrash Rabbah – Deuteronomy II:31 – … if one was reciting the shema’ whilst walking [he should] stop, in order to accept the Kingdom of Heaven standing. And what part [of the shema’] is termed ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’? [The words], The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Whence did Israel merit to recite the shema’? R. Phinehas b. Hama said: Israel merited to recite the shema’ at the Revelation on Sinai. How [is this to be inferred]? You find that it was with this word [shema’] that God first began [to speak] at Sinai. He said to them: ‘ Hear, O Israel, I am the Lord thy God,’and they all answered and exclaimed: ‘ The Lord our God, the Lord is one.’ And Moses said, ‘Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.’
The Lord is Our G-d (Adonai Elohenu)
The term “Adonai” is substituted for the four-letter name of God, YHWH. Scripture also refers to God as Elohim – a plural term (as is Elohenu). YHWH is usually associated with the merciful (right) side of God, and Elohim with the (left) side of judgment. These two characteristics of God (mercy and judgment) as represented by the terms YHWH and Elohim, do not reveal everything there is to know about God, but give us a degree of understanding of complex nature of the Eyn Sof.
Of course there is only one G-d, and we should understand his various emanations.
The prophet Isaiah made it clear that there was one G-d behind everything:
That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. -Isaiah 45:6-7
The name YHWH also has an association with the upper sephirot (Keter, Binah, Chockmah) and the Eyn Sof, whereas Elohim is related to the seven lower sephirot. The Eyn Sof, who is the “beginning and the end” is one, though there will be a fulfillment of the unity of His Name in this physical world when His Kingdom is established.
The Lord is One (Adonai Echad)
At the elementary (literal ) level, “the Lord is One” teaches that God is the only true God, and there exists no other gods other than Him. Rashi, who taught very much at this level, viewed the Shema in terms of the entire world one day coming to know the one true G-d.
At the next level, the phrase can be interpreted to refer to G-d’s uniqueness, focusing on his qualities as well as His being the only G-d. Maimonides was a great teacher at this level, and wrote about how we could not truly know anything about God due to His unique characteristics
And the Last level, the verse can be understood on the mystical (sod) level, understanding “YHWH echad” as relating to the unity of G-d, as seen in the sephirot and their interrelationships.
This view of Nachmanides: The unity of the Sephirot is expressed in the last word of the Shema: Echad. The word Echad is made up of three letters: aleph, chet, dalet. The rabbis explains that the aleph refers to the sefirah Keter, because the letter aleph represents the number “one,” and God is One. The chet, corresponds to the number eight, and hence, the eight sefirot that follow Keter. The dalet always symbolizes Malchut, because it corresponds to the number four, which emphasizes God’s kingship over all four directions of physical existence.
The Shema says that “the Lord is One,” as if to say that this is an established fact. The prophet Zechariah however, states that the unification of the Name will come in the future: Zechariah 14:9 – And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
SHEMA – UNIFYING THE NAME OF G-D
Zohar: the unification of the name of G-d is to related three pillars of the Tree of Life – the left side of judgement (Elohim), the right side of mercy (YHVH) and the “balanced” center pillar, the unified YHVH.
In the following commentary on the Shema, the Zohar states the following about the unification of the three pillars of the Tree of Life, as well as speaking of a unification of time.
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Raya Mehemna, Page 43b – … the Shema, contains the mystery of the right side, called “The Supernal Grace”, for it effects the union of all things extending unto the four quarters of the universe; and the Holy One, blessed be He, through the medium of this attribute, brings forth order and harmony in the whole universe, a harmony which extends even to the lowest depths. By this attribute of Grace the Holy One created the world, when He wrapped Himself in the garment of light. This Supernal Grace is the Unifier. For this reason the section of the Shema is joined to that of “And it shall be”; for the act which makes each day a unity and likewise forms the whole sum of separate days into the perfect whole, is the fact of following the Divine Will in knowledge and action; and through this act alone (of concentration on the union during prayer and the recitation of the Shema) can that union of which we have frequently spoken be attained: that is, the union of each day, the union which is expressed in the sentence: “Hear, O Israel, YHWH Elohenu YHWH is one”.These three are one. How can the three Names be one? Only through the perception of Faith: in the vision of the Holy Spirit, in the beholding of the hidden eyes alone. The mystery of the audible voice is similar to this, for though it is one yet it consists of three elements-fire, air, and water, which have, however, become one in the mystery of the voice. Even so it is with the mystery of the threefold Divine manifestations designated by YHWH Elohenu YHWH – three modes which yet form one unity. This is the significance of the voice which man produces in the act of unification, when his intent is to unify all from the En-sof to the end of creation. This is the daily unification, the secret of which has been revealed in the holy spirit. There are many kinds of unification, and all are appropriate, one involving the other, but the one which is effected on earth bythe symbolism of the voice is the most appropriate.
As mentioned earlier in this study, Jacob was a forerunner of the Messiah and through his righteousness, there was a (temporary) unification of the Tree of Life. The following Zohar verse (commentary on Exodus/Shemoth) presents these points:
A unification of above and below was created through Jacob, as he brought G-d’s two “sides” of mercy and judgement together. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel as a direct result of this:
The Sefirot are crowns, which are the image of G-d ; The “second” crown/sefirot of Wisdom, created the remaining eight crowns below it.
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 175b – R. Simeon, we are told, explained thus the words, “And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall pass from one end to the other.” ‘ “The middle bar”‘, he said, ‘signifies Jacob, the perfect saint, as we have pointed out on another occasion in connection with the characterisation of Jacob as “a complete man, dwelling in tents” (Gen. xxv, 27). It does not say, “dwelling in a tent”, but “dwelling in tents,’, which denotes that he unified the two “tents” (of Severity and Mercy). The same implication may be found here: “The middle bar in the midst of the boards shall pass from one end to the other”, uniting them. Jacob was perfect in regard to both sides, the Holy Ancient and the Microprosopus, and also to the supernal Grace and the supernal Power, harmonizing the two.’ R. Simeon said further: ‘I perceive that Wisdom (‘Hokmah) is the totality of all the holy Sefiroth, and that supernal Grace (Hesed) emanates from Wisdom, and Power (Geburah), which is the prompter of severe judgement, from Understanding (Binah). Jacob harmonized both sides: the Fathers (Abraham and Isaac) signified the totality of all, and Jacob signified the union of the Fathers. Then came the merit of Jacob and synthetized both and made them one, for he signifies supernal harmony.’ R. Simeon added, so we are told, that on that account Jacob was called Israel, because “Jacob” symbolizes that which is below, “Israel” that which is above; “Jacob” betokens incompleteness, “Israel” is the completion of all. Said R. Judah: ‘When Wisdom began to cause the shaping of Crowns, [Tr. note: * i.e. Sefiroth.] with which Crown did it commence? With that which is called “Understanding” (Binah), for in Understanding all is contained; and therefore fifty gates are opened in its name, and thus it is found that all the letters and all the crowns are engraved in Wisdom. Therefore it is written: “Thou hast made them all in Wisdom” (Ps. CIV, 24). 5
The Zohar links the concept of the Fifty Gates of Understanding to the Shema and to the Holy One, blessed be (Tipheret), in the following way:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 139b – Corresponding to these twenty-five, Moses chiselled twenty-five letters in writing the mystery of the Shema (the twenty-five Hebrew letters contained in the verse, “hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one”). Jacob wished to express the unity below and did so in the twenty-four letters of the response to the Shema: “Blessed be the Name of His glorious Kingdom for ever and ever.” He did not bring it up to twenty-five because the Tabernacle was not yet. But as soon as the Tabernacle was completed and the first Divine utterance was pronounced there, it contained twenty-five letters, to show that the Tabernacle was after the supernal pattern, as it is written, “And the Lord spake to him out of the tabernacle of the congregation” (Lev. 1, 1-twenty-five letters in Hebrew). Thus the twenty- five things for the Tabernacle show forth the Sanctuary as a perfect and harmonious whole in accordance with the mystery of the twenty-five letters, as thou, our Master, hast taught us. This is the mystery of the whole Tabernacle and of everything appertaining to its construction. The number twenty-five corresponds with the twenty-two letters of the Alphabet, along with the Law, the Prophets and the Writings, which all form one whole sum and one mystery. When the Israelites proclaim the Unity, expressed in the mystery of the twenty-five letters of the Shema and in the twenty-four letters of the response, and each person in the congregations is doing this with devoutness, then all those letters unite as one and ascend as one unity. Then the forty-nine gates are opened which signify the mystery of the Jubilee. And when the gates are opened, the Holy One, blessed be He, regards each of such persons as though he had fulfilled the whole Torah-the Torah which can be viewed from forty-nine aspects. So it is necessary to concentrate heart and mind on both the twenty-five and the twenty-four letters and to raise them with the whole force of intention to the forty-nine gates, as we have said. Through concentration on this, one will concentrate on the Unity, for our Master has taught us that the “Hear, O Israel” and the “Blessed be the Name” are the summary of the whole Torah.
The most famous verse about Shema, found in Deuteronomy 6:4: Shema Israel Adonai Elohenu Adonai echad. “Hear oh Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is one.
Yeshua’s quote from this week’s portion – the command to love G-d – is called the Sh’ma. The Sh’ma is not a creed. It is a call to action. It is the single declaration of the Oneness of G-d – and the command to love Him – and then a view of what that love will look like when lived out. Listen to these powerful words. These are the words Yeshua wanted you to focus upon when you consider your response to His love for you.
“Shema,” the first word of the verse, is usually translated “hear,” but is a complex word that implies to, “‘accept,’ implying faith, commitment, and obedience.”
Faith in G-d and following Torah are inseparable:
Hebrews 3:7-4:2; says Moses and the children of Israel were preached the Gospel in the Wilderness, but they perished. Were they condemned for “failing to follow every point of the Law?” No, It was due to lack of faith
Rabbi Shaul, in his letter to the Galatians, writes about the purpose of the Torah. He compares it to a tutor to us before faith . Yet, he also talks about “the curse” of the Law. One seems “good” and the other “bad.” How can this be?
The answer lies with the duality of the Torah and its multiplicity of purpose. One function of the Torah is to show man how sinful he is and that he stands condemned before a righteous G-d. This is not all the Torah does however! Only by trusting in God for salvation, AND agreeing to walk in His ways, can man escape judgement -1 John 2:4
The Ritual of the ‘Tefillin’:
From the book of Zohar:
One should put on TEFILIN every day, because they are the supernal Holy Name of engraved letters, YUD HEI VAV HEI, NAMELY THE FOUR MOCHIN, as written, “And all people of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of Hashem” (Devarim 28:10). We learned this is the actual name of Hashem. These are the head Tefilin.
THE FIFTY GATES OF BINAH are the fifty years of the Jubilee, and the fifty days of the counting of the Omer unite WITH THE BRAIN LOBE OF BINAH, in which the spirits of the slaves rest, and their spirit achieves FREEDOM AND rest, as written, “the day that Hashem shall give you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear, and from the hard bondage…” (Yeshayah 14:3). For that reason, FIRST Hei OF YUD HEI VAV HEI, WHICH IS BINAH, rests the spirit and liberates the spirit. The exodus from Egypt comes out from the SECOND compartment OF THE TEFILIN and the FIRST Hei of the Holy Name, as we learned. Up to here, THE FIRST TWO COMPARTMENTS OF THE TEFILIN all is about Yud Hei of the Holy Name.
The third compartment OF THE TEFILIN IS “Hear O Yisrael (Heb. Sh’ma Yisrael)” (Devarim 6:4), which is Yisrael Saba, TOGETHER WITH “And you shall love Hashem your Elohim” (Ibid. 5). Rabbi Shimon taught, this is a high mystery that the supernal Yisrael, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN, was adorned with the aspect of Aba. This is Abraham. Adorned with the aspect of Ima it is Isaac. Hence it is written here, IN THE THIRD COMPARTMENT OF THE TEFILIN, WHICH IS CHESED, “And you shall love,” BECAUSE Chesed comes from love. This is the third compartment OF THE TEFILIN.
The fourth compartment OF THE TEFILIN IS “And it shall come to pass, if you hearken (Heb. vehayah im shamo’a)… Hashem’s anger be inflamed…” (Devarim 11:13-17), WHICH IS ALL AN INDICATION OF harsh Judgment. And harsh Judgment emerges from the aspect of supernal Ima. We learned that though IMA is not of Judgment, Judgment, which is supernal Gvurah, comes out of its aspect. You may say that, “And it shall come to pass, if you hearken” is not Judgment, BECAUSE THE PARAGRAPH ALSO SAYS, “I WILL GIVE YOU THE RAIN OF YOUR LAND IN ITS DUE SEASON…THAT YOU MAY EAT AND BE FULL.” HE ANSWERS, Among all the Sfirot of the King there is none that is not including both Judgment and Mercy, and Gvurah more than the others, in which both good and evil are included. HENCE GOOD THINGS ARE WRITTEN IN THE PARAGRAPH OF, “AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS, IF YOU HEARKEN,” BUT IN GENERAL, IT IS HARSH JUDGMENT.
ACCORDING TO THE SECRET MEANING OF, “HASHEM HAS SWORN BY HIS RIGHT HAND, AND BY THE ARM OF HIS STRENGTH” (YESHAYAH 62:8). THE RIGHT HAND IS THE TORAH AND THE ARM OF HIS STRENGTH IS THE TEFILIN. MALCHUT receives from the strength, THE SECRET OF THE LEFT COLUMN. This is why, “And it shall be for a sign to you upon your hand (Heb. yadechah)” (Shemot 13:9) is spelled with EXTRA Hei. This is the Hei we discussed, NAMELY MALCHUT. Happy is the portion of Yisrael. Hence the last Hei, MALCHUT, receives the Tefilin, being left BECAUSE MALCHUT IS BUILT BY THE LEFT COLUMN. HENCE SHE RECEIVES THE TEFILIN ON THE LEFT ARM.
Rabbi Shimon said, When man prods himself to rise at midnight and studies the Torah until day breaks, and in the morning puts on Tefilin on the head and Tefilin on the holy sign, NAMELY TEFILIN OF MALCHUT, on the arm, and when he wraps himself with a Tzitzit and is about to go out the entrance to his house, he meets the Mezuzah, which is the imprint of the Holy Name, WHICH IS MALCHUT, at the gate to his house; THEN four holy angels join him and go out with him from the door of his house and escort him to the synagogue. They declare before him, give honor to the image of the Holy King, give honor to the son of the King, to the countenance of the King. The Holy Spirit dwells on him, and declares, saying, “Yisrael, in whom I will be glorified” -(Yeshayah 49:3).
The Observance of the ‘Mezuza’:
“You shall write them upon the door posts (‘mezuzot’) of your home and upon your gates” . It is understood as a command to inscribe the words of the Shema as well as of another similar section (‘VeHaya im shamoa’ – Devarim 11:13-21) upon a small piece of parchment, which is then rolled up and secured to the doorpost.
It is a commandment that man should fix a Mezuzah at his door, so that everyone will be guarded by the Holy One, blessed be He, upon leaving THE HOUSE and entering THE HOUSE. This is the secret of, “Hashem shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and for evermore” (Tehilim 121:8). For the secret of the Mezuzah always rests at the door, which is the entrance to the higher, BEING MALCHUT, THE ENTRANCE TO ZEIR ANPIN, ACCORDING TO THE SECRET OF, “THIS IS THE GATE OF HASHEM” (TEHILIM 118:20). This grade is called guardian, so one is guarded.
For man is not guarded except by the Holy One, blessed be He, who constantly guards and is present at the door TO THE HOUSE, while one is inside THE HOUSE. Another REASON FOR THE MEZUZAH is that one must never forget the memory of the Holy One, blessed be He. This REASON is like the Tzitzit, as said, “that you may look upon it, and remember” (Bemidbar 15:39). When one sees that reminder, he is reminded to do his Master’s bidding. The secret of Faith is that the Mezuzah includes a male and a female together.
In the book of Solomon IT IS WRITTEN: near the entrance, against the two grades, comes a certain demon that has permission to harm. It stands at the left side OF THE DOOR. Man lifts up his eyes, sees the secret of his master’s Name IN THE MEZUZAH AT THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE DOOR and remembers it, and THE DEMON cannot harm.
All that the Holy One, blessed be He, does, follows its own kind. There are two grades to man, one to his right and one to his left. The one to the right is called the Good Inclination and the one to the left is called the Evil Inclination. When one goes out of his house’s door, that demon lifts up its eyes and sees the Evil Inclination dwelling at the left side. It is attracted to that side WHERE THE EVIL INCLINATION ABIDES, NAMELY THE LEFT, and is removed from the right. Then at the LEFT side rests his master’s Name, NAMELY THE MEZUZAH, and it cannot approach him to cause him harm and that man goes out and is saved from it. Upon coming INTO THE HOUSE the Holy Name IN THE MEZUZAH is to his right, AND THUS THE RIGHT OVERPOWERS THE LEFT, and it cannot prosecute him.
When man fixes a Mezuzah at his door, when he enters his house, the Evil Inclination and the demon guard him in spite of themselves and say, “this is the gate of Hashem, into which the righteous shall enter” (Tehilim 118:20). When there is no Mezuzah at a man’s entrance, the Evil Inclination and that demon GROW STRONG AND come together and place their hands on his head when he enters and begin to say, Woe to so-and-so who went out of his Master’s domain. From that time ON he is not guarded and there is no one to guard him. May the Merciful One save us.
The presence of a mezuzah on the doorposts of a house is a testimony that this is the dwelling place of people who honor G-d and are dedicated to His service.The mezuzah is meant to be a reminder to love G-d and worship Him alone.
When we understand the significance of doorways and gates in Jewish culture, the words of Yeshua become even more meaningful. He said, “I am the gate ….” (John 10:7–10)
As Joshua boldly declared, in preparation for leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land, “As for me and my household we will serve the Lord.” -Joshua 24:15
As Maimonides, the great Jewish sage wrote in the Mishneh Torah:
There is no harm in writing Shaddai on the outside; but those who write on the inside the names of angels, or holy names, or verses or other formulae, will be among t those who have no share in the world to come. For these foolish people not only prevent the fulfilment of a great commandment, which has for its object, the remembrance of God’s unity, and the love for Him and the worship of Him, but they turn the Mezuzah into an amulet used for their own selfish interest, believing in their foolish hearts that it will protect their material possessions.
The doorpost has such significance that G-d commanded the blood of the first Passover Lamb to be applied to the mezuzah (doorpost) of each Israelite household.
“Then Moshe (Moses) called for all the leaders of Israel and said, ‘Select and take lambs for your families, and slaughter the Pesach (Passover) lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop leaves and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and smear it on the two sides and top of the door-frame. Then, none of you is to go out the door of his house until morning.’” -Exodus 12:21–22
When the angel of destruction saw the blood on the doorpost, it would “Pass-over” that home and not enter to destroy.
“For Adonai (the Lord) will pass through to kill the Egyptians; but when he sees the blood on the top and on the two sides, Adonai will pass over the door and will not allow the Slaughterer to enter your houses and kill you.” -Exodus 12:23
The blood of the lamb on the doorposts of our heart saves us from the wrath of G-d. By placing a mezuzah on the doorpost of our home, it gives witness to God, to the world, and to the adversary, that this is a home that serves the one true God.
When Yeshua, was asked by a someone which commandment he considered the most important, he replied with the passage found in a mezuzah:
“Sh’ma Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad. [Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one].” -Mark 12:29; Deuteronomy 6:4–5
We are told of the day when the Shofar will be blown and all the children of Yisrael who were lost, who lost their faith, will come again to worship G-d on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.
“a great Shofar shall be blown”: HE ASKS, What difference does it make to us whether it is a great or small SHOFAR? AND HE ANSWERS, It is a supernal Shofar, by which slaves are always freed. This is Jubilee, NAMELY BINAH, which is a supernal and great Jubilee. When it is aroused TO BESTOW PLENTY, every kind of freedom of the worlds is aroused through it. And it is called a great Shofar.
The Congregation of Yisrael COMES from exile:
and shall worship Hashem on the holy mountain at Jerusalem” (Yeshayah 27:13),
“And it shall come to pass on that day, that a great Shofar shall be blown, and they shall come who were lost in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt” (Yeshayah 27:13). “And it shall come to pass on that day”: what is that day? AND HE ANSWERS, It is that day known to the Holy One, blessed be He, as written, “one particular day which shall be known as Hashem’s” (Zecharyah 14:7). “on that day” is as in, “on that day, when Gog shall come against the land of Yisrael” –(Yechezkel 38:18).
Torah Reading: VO-ESCHANAN-By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
“AND I TRIED TO INGRATIATE MYSELF.”
In the opening word of our PARSHAH of VO-ESCHANAN, Moses tells how “I tried to ingratiate myself” with G-d — elicit His favor — praying repeatedly to be allowed enter the land of Israel, “Eretz HaTzvi”, the “Land of Beauty, the graceful gazelle”, and come to the place of the Holy Temple. The Midrash teaches that in order to try to revoke the decree against his entry to the land, Moses prayed no less than 515 prayers — corresponding to the gematria (numerical value) of the word VO-ESCHANAN. The root of this word is CHEN, meaning the “grace” that is bestowed by G-d as a gift of pure love and kindness. The grammatical form of the word is HISPA’EL – reflexive: the person praying must WORK on himself or herself in order to become open to that gift. The parshah is a call to us to the inner work that must be combined with our Torah study: the work in our heart and soul to open ourselves to G-d’s grace — through meditation, contemplation, prayer and refinement of our traits. We must try and try again and again!!!
Parshas VO-ESCHANAN, is always read on this, the Shabbat of comfort after the fast of Tisha B’Av — SHABBOS NACHAMU (so-called after the opening words of the Haftara). Having mourned past destruction and ruin on Tisha Be’Av, it is now time to put the past behind us. We must bind up our wounds and embark on the work of rebuilding and reconstruction during the coming days of Teshuvah in the months of Av and Elul, leading up to the New Year and Days of Awe. To initiate this period, many Bnei Torah have the custom of taking trips away from the city in order to able to broaden their horizons, gaze at the sky, the hills, the sea and G-d’s other wonders for the sake of physical and spiritual reinvigoration.
Parshas VO-ESCHANAN provides us with spiritual sustenance for this reinvigoration process, giving us the very foundations of our faith in the One, Unified, Incorporeal G-d. In some of the most sublime passages in the Bible, Moses evokes the awesome greatness of G-d, the greatness of Israel, His chosen people, the preciousness of the Land of Israel, and the love and fear of G-d. Moses takes us again through the fearsomeness of the Giving of the Torah, and teaches us our basic declaration of faith, repeated twice daily: SHEMA YISRAEL, HASHEM ELOKENU HASHEM ECHAD. Many other phrases from our present parshah are also incorporated into the regular set prayers in the Siddur.
REPAIR AND RECONSTRUCTION
At the center of the parshah are the second telling of the Giving of the Torah at Sinai and the Ten Commandments. In the annual cycle of the Torah reading, we read about the Giving of the Torah once in parshas YISRO close to 15th Shevat (January-February), and a second time half a year later in VO-ESCHANAN, which is always read close to 15th Av. The account in YISRO is also read on the anniversary of the Giving of the Torah, on the festival of Shavuot. In this way, we return at regular intervals to the birth experience of the soul of Israel. The mid-point of the months of Shevat and Av are times when our souls begin to ready themselves for actual rebirth forty-five days later in Nissan (Pesach, physical rebirth) and Tishri (High Holidays, Succot, spiritual rebirth).
The difference between the accounts of the Giving of the Torah in YISRO and VO-ESCHANAN is the difference between “before the sin” and “after the sin”. The account in YISRO comes in the days of innocent exuberance after the Exodus from Egypt, before the fall — the worship of the golden calf. The account in VO-ESCHANAN comes long after sin of the golden calf, after the deaths of Nadav and Avihu (SHEMINI, Leviticus 10), after the “Graves of Lust”, the sin of the spies, the rebellion of Korach and the other sins and rebellions recounted in the book of Numbers. We are older in more ways than one. With the passage of time, we may have fallen into bad ways. In VO-ESCHANAN we come back to basics again, the Giving of the Torah and the Ten Commandments — this time with the purpose of learning how to RE-build and RE-construct, even after destruction and ruin.
We cannot avoid getting older physically, but spiritually we must try to stay young — for the wiser and more advanced we are spiritually, the closer we should be to G-d’s endless, never-exhausted fountain of vitality and grace. “It is not good to be old,” cried Rabbi Nachman. “There are pious and righteous elders, but to be old is not good. You must remain young, renewing yourself each day and making a fresh start” (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #51).
The journey back to the basics and retelling of the Giving of the Torah in VO-ESCHANAN come to rectify the sin of becoming old spiritually, which is the main cause of destruction and exile. This sin is so serious that the analysis of its roots, given in our parshah (Deut. 4:25-40), forms the Torah Reading of reproof in the synagogue on Tisha B’Av. “When you give birth to children and children’s children and YOU GROW OLD IN THE LAND and you CORRUPT.”
New converts and returnees who have come to the Torah from far away, with all the excitement and enthusiasm of spiritual discovery, are often shocked and deeply disturbed to find old and seemingly tired communities whose observance of the commandments looks habitual, stale and devoid of inner meaning. Similarly, newcomers to present-day Israel who came in search of the Holy Land are often shocked by the rampant unholiness and corruption they encounter.
The Torah indeed gives us to understand that one of the main hazards of a tradition handed down from generation to generation is that the enthusiasm of the pioneers becomes ossified and encrusted in forms that often alienate people and drive them away. Corruption sets in, leading to the idolatry and evil that are the very opposite of the Torah. This is the root cause of the exile, leading to the scattering of Israel among the nations.
And yet — “EVEN FROM THERE, IF YOU SEEK OUT HASHEM YOUR G-D, YOU WILL FIND, IF YOU SEARCH HIM OUT WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND ALL YOUR SOUL. In your time of trouble, when all these things find you at the end of days. And you will return to HaShem your G-d and listen to His voice” (Deuteronomy 4:29-30).
The voice we must listen to is the authentic voice of revival and regeneration emitting from outstanding Tzaddikim like the Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Nachman, who broke free of the encrusted obfuscation of spiritual old-age in order to bring us back to the basics — the love and awe of G-d that must fire our service.
New enthusiasts should try to judge long-time practitioners favorably. It is far from easy to maintain consistent, energetic service of G-d for years on end, day after day praying the set prayers and practicing the rituals while facing the endless pressures of making a living, bringing up families, etc. in a troubled world where we seem to see no clear sign of Redemption.
Precisely because it is so easy to fall, Moses exhorts us again and again not to allow ourselves to grow old, not to forget, not to go astray. The regular return to the basics — reading a second time about the Giving of the Torah from a new angle, re-reading the Ten Commandments — comes to teach us that we must constantly strive to renew ourselves and keep things fresh. “And let these things that I am commanding you TODAY be on your heart” — “They should not be in your eyes like an old edict that nobody minds, but like a new one that everyone runs to read” (Deut. 6:6 and Rashi ad loc.).
TEACH THEM TO YOUR CHILDREN
The greatest challenge for Israel is to hand on not only the outer forms of the Torah but its inner fire to the coming generations. Each of the three founding fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, strove to inculcate the knowledge of G-d in his children. VO-ESCHANAN returns repeatedly to the importance of teaching children and inculcating genuine faith in them — another task that is far from easy. “And you shall teach them diligently to your children.” (Deut. 6:7). “When you son asks you in the future, saying ‘What are the testimonies, the statutes and the laws that HaShem our G-d has commanded you?’ And you shall say to him.” (Deut. 6:20).
The Torah’s answer to the new generation, given in the ensuing verses, forms the foundation of the Haggadah recited at the Pesach Seder table. In essence, the answer is that there is such a thing as slavery, and that only G-d has the power to release us from it — for our good — through the observance of His unique commandments.
Slavery may not be only physical. Today, the most prevalent form of slavery is the mental slavery of those enmeshed and ensnared in secular “culture” which encourages the pursuit of everything except G-d and His truth. At the end of parshas VO-ESCHANAN, the Torah warns strongly that we must recognize idols for what they are and destroy them. (When we are powerless to destroy the idols of the outside world, we can at least destroy them in our own minds.) The Torah teaches the maintenance of strict separation from idol-worshippers. “For you are a holy people to HaShem your G-d, He chose YOU to be a treasured people from all the peoples on the face of the earth. And you shall know that HaShem your G-d is the G-d, the faithful Power, guarding the Covenant and kindness to those who love Him and observe His commandments to the thousandth generation.” (Deut. 7:6 & 9).
Shabbat Shalom!!! – Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
Haftarat Vaetchanan – Isaiah 40:1-26
This week’s Torah and haftarah portions are always read after Tisha B’Av [9th of Av]. They are always read after our three week period of mourning over our sin of the Golden Calf, and our lack of faith at Kadesh-Barnea and the sin of the spies. We have mourned and repented and fasted.
We have asked the question, “When will You reign in Zion?” For these three weeks:
- We have seen the spiritual devastation of our lives – which reflects the devastation of the Land after Babylon and Rome finished their destructions.
- We have felt the spiritual dryness brought about by our sin and our pride
- We have prayed
- We have wept
- We have mourned over our sin and our lack of faith
- We have sought the righteousness of HaShem
- We have repented with open hands
The Holy One, blessed is He, answers us from this week’s Torah and haftarah. We knew He would, because we believe Him. His Word is sure to us.
Nachamu, nachamu ami!
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” says your G-d. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from HaShem’s hand double for all her sins.” -Isaiah 1:1-2
Yochanan the Immerser [John], a cry is once again heard in the wilderness:
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of HaShem; make straight in the desert a highway for our G-d. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; The glory of HaShem shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of HaShem has spoken.” -Isaiah 40:3-5
Redemption draweth nigh! These are the days of Mashiach [Messiah]. These are the days of comfort. The Almighty is drawing us to Him – and this is by the work of Messiah.
These are days of comfort and rest. These are days that we quietly reflect how we have been rescued. Our tears have dried. Our mourning is past. Our repentance is steadfast.
We look expectantly toward Zion… and ask the faith-filled question, “When will You reign in Zion?”
O Zion, you who bring good tidings, get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, you who bring good tidings, lift up your voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your G-d!” Behold, HaShem G-d shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young. -Isaiah 40:9-11
Blessed art Thou, HaShem, Who brings forth the Manifestation of Salvation. ( Baruch Atah HaShem, matzmiach keren Yeshuah )
We will see that the children of Israel return to Most High and Torah of Mashiach, And will hug in the Holy Land, and by obeying and listening the “VOICE of Most Ancient Holy One of Israel”, will bring offerings in a righteous way on the holy mountain and also bring the Ark of the covenant with pure heart in the right place ( i.e In Har HaBayit, on the foundation Stone) .
We will Welcome the son of David on Mount Zion, Jerusalem.
[ Ha Khadosh Baruch Hu – Baruch HaBa B’Shem Adonai ] – Gaddi, President, BeitYisrael International.
Gaddi – President
A Servant of Most Ancient Holy one of Israel and Disciple of Yeshua HaMashiach