Posted by: reuvenflamer | September 14, 2009

Love and Meditation – Nitzavim Part1

The Shabbos that closes the door on the outgoing year and blesses the New Year is always the parsha of N‘tzavim-Veyalech (V’yelach, its partner, is read together with it on most years, but the two can be read in separate weeks – N’tzavim before Rosh Hashana and V’yelach after Rosh Hashana).

After hearing the 98 curses (read last week) the Jewish people asked how they could continue in such a relationship? What chances was there for a life of peace and survival when so many curses are hanging over them? Moshe quickly responds: “Atah Netzavim – you are all firmly standing here today.” Rashi explains: despite the many transgressions and even (subtle?) mutinies of the past forty years, you remain standing – strong! You will continue to do so.

This declaration of Jewish sustainability is one reason why this parsha is read each year before Rosh Hashana. Despite the impending judgment on the past and the unknown outcome on the future, “you stand here today, firm, and strong!” Expect a definite blessing for life and strength for the new year.

Following the Torah completely seems an impractical expectation. Are we comfortably drawn to the spirit and ready to drop what we naturally pursue? Chassidim say: If G-d would have written about the evil inclination in a book, and placed G-dliness in front of us (and not vice versa), just think what would be accomplished!

Yet, the parsha writes: “This Mitzvah that I am commanding you today is not outside your grasp, is not distant, not on the heavens or across a vast ocean. Rather, karov elecha ha-davar m’od b’ficha, b’lavavcha, la’asosa – it is close to you, in your mouth, heart, and to do! Even the heart easily feels close to G-d. But how do you love the invisible? If keeping love in a marriage has its challenges, how much more so preserving a G-dly love!

Isn’t living a Jewish life based, and fueled by, emunah (faith). Either you have it or you don’t? There are “religious” Jews (who are The Believers) and there are the “non-religious” who don’t have it (The Non-Believers).

An Eternal Debate

The founder of Chabad writes otherwise in Tanya. The Torah means what it says. Torah is close to each one of us! Enter into the picture “natural love”.

Each of us, explains the Tanya, possess a natural love and attraction for G-d! We do not create it. We do not acquire it from outside. Nor is it rational. This love is stamped into our souls. It is “an inheritance” which we all receive – from the head of the nation to the lowly “water carrier.” However, this innate, inborn love is called “ahava misaterus” (the hidden love). At times, its not consciously felt or even known. For some, it may wake up in only the most extreme or trying of times.

In other words, the challenge is not to create a love for G-d. The demand is to reveal the love for G-d. It must permeate and saturate all parts of life. It is natural but demands effort to reveal it! When it is brought out into the open, then you are “close in your mouth, heart, and in deed.” Nothing will stop it. When it remains obscure, however, you become “distant” and there are good chances that various “reality challenges” will prevent you from connecting your daily affairs with a G-dly realness.

How do I reveal the “ahava mesuteras”?

The RaMbaM lays out a system to build appreciation and love for G-d: “One cannot love G-d except with the knowledge one has of Him; a little stirs a small amount, more knowledge stirs much more!”

Simply put: to know Him is to love Him!

Others disagree.

Yet, the Prophet exclaims: “ who can search for G-d and find Him?” The Tikunei Zohar states: “No thought can grasp Him”! Moshe asked G-d, “Show me your Glory”. G-d answered back that a man of body and soul cannot grasp His true being.” According to this, isn’t the relationship with G-d one of faith and belief and not “knowledge”? Don’t all things come down to faith and creed?


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