“And at that time, when the desire to realize the dream of the Land of Israel was most present in my mind, I prayed 515 times to the Lord of Being: please, please let me express the true prayer that would enable me to realize my dream.” (Devarim 3:23) In this verse, which begins parashat Ve-etchanan, if we read the Torah of our Hearts, we can each feel the depth of the great yearning of Moshe to bring about the ultimate Redemption in his lifetime. “But, since the time was not yet ripe, for your sakes, the Source of Being, became pregnant with my Dream. And the Lord of Life assured me, ‘you have already done enough, you really don’t need to speak to me about this again. Just go up to the highest level (beyond time and space) and there you will see it All for yourself…’” (Devarim 3:26, 27).
This parashah, which we read after the 9th of Av, points to one of the deepest and challenging moments in life, when we realize that despite our best efforts, we simply are not going to get the job done in one lifetime. This is not to say that we have not accomplished and experienced great miracles. But, we ultimately come to the sobering realization that the true purpose for our being here in this world, which is envisioned by the Moshe in us, is not going to be completed by us. That is the great, shocking, reality-check of the 9th of Av. And yet, in this parashah, which is read on Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Consolation, we already begin to discover a new energy. We can already anticipate the 15th of Av, linked in Tractate Ta’anit with Yom Kippur, as one of the two most joyous and auspicious Holy Days of the year.
What is the secret of this amazing energy shift? The Zohar gives us a hint in a fantastic myth. Ya’akov and Esav were bargaining over the months of the year. Every month that Ya’akov gained would be a month of Compassion, but all of Esav’s months would be difficult months of Judgment. Esav took Tammuz and Av, while Ya’akov was able to claim the months of Elul and Tishri. However, always seeking ways to sweeten jusgment with lovingkindness, Ya’akov managed to liberate the second portion of Av from Esav. The result is that now the second half of Av is joined with the entire month of Elul, the month of Teshuvah, the best time for getting back into alignment with the Divine will. Indeed, the Holy Qedushat Levi, Rebbe Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, noted that Av is an acronym for Arur (cursed) and Barukh (blessed). The blessing part of Av begins with this parashah and reaches its height on the 15th of Av.
So what is its secret? When Moshe accepts his mortality, his thoughts turn immediately to how to insure that his dream will continue to unfold after him. He immediately receives divine guidance concerning the need for a successor and he makes sure to include in this parashah, the most essential keys to consolation and continuing the path to Redemption. Here are several of the most important.
“Just be as careful as possible to stay awake so that you never forget what you yourself experienced.” (Devarim 4:9). Especially, at this time, we need to remember and recount those amazing and undeniable moments when we experienced directly in our own lives, the Divine Presence.
“I AM the Source of Being, your Divine Empowerer, who enables you to break free from identifying with the apparent limitations (of the egoic personality) that periodically enslave you.” (Devarim 5:6). “Hear (and meditate) on this for yourself (in the way your mind can understand it)…the Source of Being, your Divine Empowerer is (the only) One.” (Devarim 6:4). “Right now, shift into the parasympathetic mode of feeling consciousness in which your Heart does know that…there is nothing anywhere other than (the One).” (Devarim 4:39). “And then you yourself will have direct knowledge that there really is nothing other than that One.” (Devarim 4:35).
“And, even if that (ego death) seems scary to you, (don’t worry), the Moshe in you can mediate between you and the Truth” (Devarim 5:5) “so that you can cleave to the Source of Being, your Empowerer, and remain alive” (Devarim 4:4), “even though the Source of Being, your Empowerer, is truly a consuming fire… ” (Devarim 4:24).
And when you really do see this in your own way, “you will love the Source of Being, your Empowerer…” (Devarim 6:5) “and you will be sure to mindfully do everything that you need to do and that it is right to do, which I AM commands you to do.” (Devarim 7:11).
May we all have the merit to really take the message of this parashah to heart and recognize for ourselves, the ultimate consolation of knowing “eyn od milvado,” there truly is nothing but the One. May we slough off the old persona that dies on the 9th of Av and be reborn and renewed together in the re-aligning energy of the 15th Av, that greatest of all Holy Days, because it draws energy from the future, in which the Holy One is already dancing with us in a circle in which all are equal.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner