Nitzavim-va-Yeilech (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)
On Rosh HaShanah all aspects of yourself present themselves before Be-ing who G-ds you…in order to renew your commitment to Divine Guidance and its method of training…so that Be-ing who G-ds you will continue to evolve you as a Holy People… (Devarim 29:9-12
I rejoice in Be-ing, my soul is gladdened by the One who G-ds me, clothing me in the garments of salvation and righteousness, gleaming like the radiant appearance of a bride and groom (Isaiah 61).
According to tradition, last Shabbat we read a list of “curses” in parashat Ki Tav’o, so that all of the curses of the year that is ending will be exhausted before we begin the New Year. On the Shabbat before Rosh HaShanah, we always read parashat Nitzavim which comes between the “curses” and the New Year. (See B.T. Megillah 31b).
This parashah reminds us that the New Year renews our conscious relationship with Be-ing, and this mysterious partnership commits us to both its blessing and its “curse.” In order to enter the New Year in a spirit of joy, we need to see clearly that what may at first appear to us as a curse (alah) also contains Divine energy and will within it (Elah). Seeing our “curse” as a method of Divine training can help us begin to relieve our anxiety concerning facing a Day of Divine Judgment.
In order to continue to evolve you as a Holy People this Day. (Devarim 29:12).
Rashi comments that the evolving relationship with Be-ing is like the sustaining flow of time. Just as each day begins with darkness and continues with light, so Be-ing has shined upon you in the past and will do so again in the future. Your curses and afflictions help you maintain and stabilize your connection to Be-ing. Renewing the covenant means re-enlisting for a new course of training our souls by facing a new series of tests and challenges. By first examining all the previous year’s challenges, we can exhaust their hold on us and awaken refreshed to face a new day and its challenges. Rashi is teaching that we develop stability on the path, precisely through recognizing that the things we find difficult are essential parts of our soul’s training.
One great mystery of Rosh HaShanah is, how through doing teshuvah, our relationship with Be-ing can trump the karmic law of strict judgment. Since we may feel disheartened through identifying with a limiting view of ourselves, Moshe reminds us in thisparashah of a more profound view.
Be-ing who G-ds you will continue to evolve you as Holy People…and is bound to continue to G-d you through the energies of Hesed (unconditional kindness), Gevurah (tough love), and Tif’eret (skillful compassion). For this conscious relationship and its method of soul training do not only involve Be-ing and your present state, but affect both that part of yourself that has already manifested in relation to Be-ing who G-ds you as well as that not yet evolved potential that is still within the Unconscious. (Devarim 29:11-14).
We can be happy through recognizing the “curse” as a method of soul training and be blessed with a peaceful heart, knowing that whenever we act without awareness, Be-ing will not be willing to pardon that, but will awaken us through the Divine soul training method, until these unconscious moments cease to come between us and Heaven. (Devarim 29:18-19).
Because Be-ing is always beyond the limits of our comprehension and consciousness, no law that we can comprehend can ever fully explain all of Be-ing’s power. Even though we commit ourselves to acting according to our best understanding of what the Torah requires of us, there is always much more to reality than our minds can ever grasp.
Be-ing who G-ds us is always a mystery even beyond whatever can be revealed to us in this entire Torah. (Devarim 29:28).
For that reason, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov often exhorted his Hasidim, “never despair.”
Once at Naropa, someone consulted an oracle and received a very frightening reading. When Reb Zalman was consulted, he said: “when you don’t like the reading, give it a positive interpretation.”
You should be happy regardless of what occurs, whether blessing or curse… and return to your Heart, from wherever Be-ing who G-ds you has placed you. Return to Be-ing who G-ds you and listen for the vibration of Divine command at that moment. (Devarim 30:1-2).
In the joy of returning from duality to Be-ing, one is poised to receive Divine guidance.
Then Be-ing who G-ds you redeems your Divine spark and through the power of Divine Love gathers you back from whatever dim state Be-ing that G-ds you had placed you in. (Devarim 30:3).
Regardless of how far you may think you are from integration and devequt (conscious communion with your inner source of holiness), Be-ing who G-ds you gathers you up from there… and returns you to the Land… and you can interface with it, even beyond Hochmah (Wisdom) and Binah (Descriminating Understanding). (Devarim 30:4-5).
The Source of our Be-ing is always present. Within time, we are always resting in the Source, emanating from it, or returning to it. Whenever there is a profound experience of returning to Be-ing, there is a proportionately deep response, of opening our hearts.
Then Be-ing who G-ds you opens your Heart and concealed love for Be-ing who G-ds you pours out through all parts of your deepest self, so you can know what it means to really be alive. (Devarim 30:6).
Rebbe Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, the great advocate for humanity’s fundamental goodness, teaches that Be-ing is not compelled by any karmic law. The essential nature of Divinity is compassion, which takes precedence over dualistic justice. So, on Rosh HaShanah, Be-ing can offer us the possibility of overcoming the karmic implications of the previous year’s divine training methods.
Be-ing who G-ds you overrides all the karmic implications of strict justice regarding all that you have done (during the previous year)… and is again just as happy with you as the moment when you were born. (Devarim 30:9).
In that sense, Rosh HaShanah is a deep re-birthing experience.
Our minds are often fascinated by mysterious and intriguing esoteric teachings and concepts. Although we may enjoy the process of learning to communicate in this way, we need to make sure our fascination for conceptualizing the mystery does not increase our confusion. However subtle and evocative our spiritual language may become, we are always speaking of basic human experience.
This Divine guidance through which I AM is connecting with us on Rosh HaShanah is not from somewhere beyond our own experience. It is not something so abstract that I can’t even explain it to myself. It is not beyond the realm of my own consciousness, so that I should think: how can I ever possibly be evolved enough to know what I need to do? (Devarim 30:12-13).
The Divine Guidance that moves us is as close as our own mouths and hearts. (Devarim 30:14).
So, on Rosh HaShanah, see clearly that I AM places within your own experience both Life and Good as well as Death and Evil; For I AM connects you on Rosh HaShanah to the great Love for Be-ing who G-ds you, so that you will desire to follow Her ways, attentive to Divine Guidance, ready to do what is necessary and what is right, so that you may live and evolve to reach the Land blessed by Be-ing who G-ds you. (Devarim 30:15-16).
I AM assures you on Rosh HaShanah that the parts of yourself that are easily diverted will perish. They will not long be able to obscure your fundamental humanness, which has the capacity to transcend the levels that descend from Binah. (Devarim 30:17-18).
The union of Divine Transcendence and Immanence on Rosh HaShanah, attests that I AM places before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse, so you may consciously choose Life… through loving Be-ing who G-ds you, deeply sensing its vibration, and remaining constantly aware of it…for Be-ing is the very essence of your Life, expressing itself as your humanness, through the energies of Hesed (unconditional kindness), Gevurah (tough love), and Tif’eret (skillful compassion), which Be-ing is bound to manifest. (Devarim 30:19-20).
May the holiness of Rosh HaShanah return us to Life.
May our hearts overflow with love for the Source of All.
May the bondage of last year’s karma be released.
And may we joyfully enter a new round of soul training
In the service of Be-ing.
Le-shanah tovah tikateivu.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner
Shirat Ha’azinu (The Song of Deep Listening)
Compose this song for all your generations. Imprint it in the memory of the Children of Israel. Bequeath them a song to sing that will bear witness to My eternal Presence among them. (Devarim 31:19).
On the last day of his life, Moshe received the inspiration to compose: Ha’azinu, the song of deep listening. (Devarim 32:1). For each year, as we complete the Torah, we lose a Moshe, in preparation for the birth of a new Moshe, the part of ourselves that can hear the vibrations of divine guidance and speak it as oral Torah in the New Year. When the old year’s Moshe recognizes its impermanence, it condenses its entire Torah into a song.
For I know that without me, you won’t be able follow the way that I have been guiding you without going astray and that ultimately something that seems really bad will happen to you when you act in ways that disturb Be-ing. So Moshe whispered the words of this song into the collective memory of all Israel. (Devarim 31: 29-30).
Listen deeply…. The Slonimer Rebbe says that this song is the most important parashah in the entire Torah.
Balance the higher portions of the soul when I AM speaks, so that your body can also hear what is coming through. (Devarim 32:1).
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches us how important it is to make sure that our bodies have a share in the lessons that our souls are learning. As our Torah says of Herself, I am not just way up in Heaven… (Devarim 30:12). The greatness of Torah is not its lofty abstractions, but its power to make us more whole and integrated, right here in the manifest world. When our minds are calm and integrated with our bodies, we can unite Heaven and Earth and receive the lessons we need to positively affect what needs to be fixed in our worlds. To be effective, we need to develop the capacity to speak from the Heart. As the Talmud says:
Whoever speaks while aware of the Divine Presence will be heard… (B.T. Blessings 6b).
With this teaching in mind, the Rebbe Elimelekh reads the verse like this:
Make sure you are aware that Heaven is listening whenever you speak, and then your words will have the power to enter other people’s hearts. (Devarim 32:1).
Let me receive Torah from above like rain and let my prayer nurture growth below like dew… (Devarim 32:2).
For I am bringing forth a new Name for Be-ing and making the G-dfield ever greater. (Devarim 32:3).
It is a Hasidic teaching that as a result of our teshuvah practice, between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we can draw down a new and more evolved manifestation of Be-ing (YHVH) into the New Year. When we think of G-d in too rigid a way, it makes our G-dfield too limited. Because we are made in the Divine image, when our G-d is too limited, our potential is also limited. Just as we need a new Moshe, we also need a new G-d in order for our souls and the world to evolve.
The Ba’al Shem Tov told an odd parable that may seem shocking, but is really liberating when properly understood:
Once a Queen wanted to test the gratitude of Her subjects. So She went out among them to distribute alms to the beggars of Her realm. There was one old woman, who whenever anyone gave her anything, would only say, “whatever you give, comes back to you.” Even when the Queen gave the old woman alms, she only said: “whatever you give, comes back to you.” The Queen was furious when she heard how the beggar responded to Her gift. She went back to the castle and asked the royal baker to make some especially fine pastries that were laced with poison. The pastries were delivered to the old woman. When she saw how fine the cakes were, the beggar decided to save them for the right occasion. A little later, the Queen’s son passed by and asked the beggar woman if she had anything for him to eat. She told him, “Yes, indeed. I have some very fine pastries from your Mother.” The prince ate the cakes and died. When the Queen realized that She was the cause of Her son’s death, She recalled the words of the old beggar woman: “whatever you give, comes back to you.”
As long as our souls are developing in this world, our G-d is also evolving. Whenever we fall out of alignment with Be-ing, we “arouse Divine anger” and can expect to learn an appropriate lesson.
The Shaper of Life acts perfectly, all Its ways follow the law of a G-d who is in training with us; there is no meanness, Its actions are straightforward and direct. (Devarim 32:4).
Ultimately, G-d is also learning from our mutual dance. Our pain is also the Shekhinah’s pain. What we may perceive as Divine disapproval is really G-d suffering along with us.
The Shekhinah is also impaired, the flaw is not just in Her children; the world is still unfolding, as yet only partially evolved. (Devarim 32:5).
One of our challenges is to recognize that we are not only the children of Divinity, but also called upon to be Divinity’s parents.
For Be-ing’s sake, won’t you be wise enough to rescue the Shekhinah? Didn’t your Divine Source place you here in the World of Assiyah for that purpose? (Devarim 32:6).
The great kabbalist, Isaac Luria mythologizes this raising of the Shekhinah as the re-birthing of a new G-d. According to the Lurianic kavvanot (deep visualization practice) we view the ten days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur as a time when the old G-d undergoes surgery. During this operation, the sefirot of the Divine Female (the G-dfield) are separated and expanded, while the previous year’s YHVH (the Source of Be-ing) is anesthetized. When this operation has been completed, a new YHVH is awakened during the four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. During Sukkot, the Divine union of male and female aspects of Divinity can be renewed.
How can we possibly call a new YHVH into existence? Through the secret of:
Neutralize Divine judgment with kindness. (Devarim 32:1)
We can let go of our presumptions concerning what we think the G-d in our minds requires in order to be pleased with us and with others. Through greater kindness, which the Kabbalists call G-d’s greatness, we can now birth a kinder, greater G-d and draw a new YHVH into time and space.
We need to put the crystallized idea of last year’s G-d to sleep, so that an independent Shekhinah can break free of last year’s confining exile. To accomplish this, we listen deeply to Moshe’s song.
Always remember that the manifest world including its current G-d is but one configuration of the sefirot (seven powers of divine emanation) that are constantly changing. Turn to your Wisdom and receive guidance or ask your teachers and they will teach you. (Devarim 32:7).
The way that the Supernal Source manifests in this world with its temporary boundaries and limitations always only reflects the present state of human consciousness. (Devarim 32:8).
The portion of Divine Be-ing that can be established within the realm of human experience depends on the people who can overcome their sense of limitation (without dissolving). (Devarim 32:9).
Such a one finds Divine Be-ing even amidst the mournful pain of desolation and confusion. Then Be-ing encompasses her, enlightens her, and preserves her like the apple of Her Eye. (Devarim 32:10).
Like a giant eagle arousing her young, Be-ing raises one so awakened to Herself, resting only in Divine Be-ing, one knows that no other power truly exists. (Devarim 32:11-12).
The unpleasant expressions of Divine “tough love” are inevitable parts of the dialectic of our relationship of returning to and from Be-ing. Regardless of how much we may feel trapped in them, Moshe’s song guides us to the deeper view:
See now that I AM Present in everything. There is no other power besides Me. I AM is the Destroyer and I AM is the Enlivener; I AM has wounded and I AM will heal. Beyond My reach there is No-thing. (Devarim 32:39).
If we listen deeply enough to this song, we can begin to sense the limitless No-thing from which all the disparate modes of Be-ing emanate. On Yom Kippur, we are instructed to ascend to a level of pure Divine Light that even precedes the emanation ofYHVH. This Shabbat, the Shabbat of Returning, may this song be our guide.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner