Torah Portion

Parashat Pekudei

This is My Movie

We have so many theories and conclusions and opinions and criticism and blame about the world outside. There are so many things which seem to us to be true about the outside world, and we even have colorful proofs, flickering on a white screen.  However, truly, we are just projecting!  We are actually receiving a reflection… Our reaction is not connected to the factual reality, rather to our personal outlook on the reality.  Our outlook depends upon the makeup of our soul.

film projection

Harav Israel Asulin

Translated by Moshe Neveloff

Monday, 27th of Adar I, 5776

BS”D

“What can I do?  That’s the reality!”  Do you recognize this statement?

“Reality, that I was born to parents like these… and siblings like these… and I have neighbors like these… and also my children are like this… that’s the reality and how can you argue with reality?!”

How?  Is it true that it’s impossible to argue with reality?  Behold I see it with my eyes and it’s not a mirage, and I’m not hallucinating and not imaging and I’m not in the middle of a dream.  That’s the reality…

Is it really?!  Who actually creates the reality?

In this week’s Torah portion, Pekudei, Moshe Rabbenu[1] sits and conducts an exact accounting of the amounts of donations which were donated to the Tabernacle and what has been used: “These are the reckonings of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of Testimony, which were reckoned at Moshe’s bidding. (Exodus, 38:21)  “In this Parsha all of the weights of the donations to the Tabernacle of silver, gold and copper are enumerated.” (Rashi’s[2] commentary on the same verse)  For what purpose does he do this reckoning, and who is he reporting it to?

The Midrash explains:  “This is what is said ‘they looked behind Moshe’, and what were they saying?  Rebbe Chama taught that they were saying: ‘Look at the fat neck of the son of Amram (Moshe), and another person answered: ‘Someone who controlled all of the work of the tabernacle, you don’t want him to be rich?!” (That is to say that Moshe stole from the donations to the Tabernacle!!)  “When Moshe heard this, he said to them: ‘your life (a language of taking an oath), we’ve finished the Tabernacle and I’ll give you the bill.’  That is what is written: ‘These are the reckonings of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of Testimony’.” (Midrash Raba on the book of Exodus, 51:4)

This sounds a little shocking!  Behold who are we talking about here?  About Moshe Rabbenu, the leader of the nation, the chosen one of Hashem, the one who received the Torah.  Who is speaking about him?  The Jewish people, who were a generation with knowledge, who saw eye to eye that Moshe is truth and the Torah he received is true, ‘and they believed in Hashem and Moshe his servant’!

So how is it possible to suspect that Moshe is a thief???  And how did the Jewish people let a thought like this enter their minds???

A fundamental question, and in order to answer it we need to have a deep understanding of a hidden phenomenon of the soul, which Rav Wolbe[3] called ‘a magical flashlight’.

The magical flashlight is an internal process of projecting shortcomings, feelings and experiences on our surroundings.

We all walk around here in the world with a portable projector close to the scalp, a hard drive filled to the point of bursting with raw, secretive, hidden films, with a microphone which is hermetically connected to our minds and hearts, and an emergency button which wails hysterically… and all of the people in the world, and all the events, and situations, and episodes and places, everyone and everything is seen on giant split screens.

And we are the ones playing the film…

It seems to us that that’s who he is and that’s who they and the same is true for everyone in the world.

It seems to us that the reason for our angry mood is because of someone or something else around us.  It seems to us that he’s a thief and he’s an exploiter; this person has no tact and the other person is lacking manners in a terrible way; he’s ridiculous and lacking self-respect; they are lacking awareness and selfish; she’s too sensitive and spineless and melts like butter…

We have so many theories and conclusions and opinions and criticism and blame about the world outside us, beginning with ‘corrupt’ ‘greedy’ and ‘lying’ politicians and ending with the neighbors, behold he’s an insignificant person lacking education and intelligence…

There are so many things which seem to us to be true about the outside world, and we even have colorful proofs, flickering on a white screen.

However, truly, we are just projecting!  We are actually receiving a reflection…

Our reaction is not connected to the factual reality, rather to our personal outlook on the reality.  Our outlook depends upon the makeup of our soul.

Rebbe Natan says: “Because it’s impossible to clarify and prove the truth with proofs by any means.  Because anyone can make a contradiction based upon argumentation and say against your word false stories and false proofs, contradict and hide the truth, God forbid.  However, the main way of discerning the truth is in the heart, every person according to what he understands in his heart.” (Likutei Halachot, Laws of the morning blessings, 3rd teaching, 11th paragraph)

We know so little about ourselves.  We project so much onto other people.  We blame, get angry, are suspicious, scared… when really, it’s just what I experience!

Rav Wolbe explains how this magic in the soul works inside everyone, also regarding the generation that lived in the desert: “In the Torah itself we find this internal process: ‘You slandered in your tents and said, Because of Hashem’s hatred for us did He take us out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorite to destroy us.’ (Deuteronomy, 1:27)  Rashi explains: ‘Because of Hashem’s hatred for us’- and He loved you, but you hated Him.  There is a parable which says ‘what is in your heart regarding the one you love is what is in their heart for you.’

A subtle hatred built up in the hearts of the people of the generation of the desert against Hashem, despite their tremendous holiness.  They never admitted this to themselves, because they weren’t aware of this at all.  Behold, the magical internal flashlight showed them the opposite of what was in their hearts, and they said that Hashem hates them.  They believed in this and suffered because of this a terrible sorrow.  It seemed to them that they loved Hashem and aspired to come close to him with all their hearts, however for some reason Hashem didn’t desire them anymore…

This concept is brought as halacha[4] by the Rambam (Maimonides): ‘Someone who always disqualifies others, for example he says about families or individuals that they are illegitimate- we suspect him, that maybe he is an illegitimate child.  If he says about them that they are slaves, we suspect that maybe he is a slave.  Anyone who disqualifies, he disqualifies his own blemish.’

Certainly this person who disqualifies doesn’t know about his blemish, because if he would recognize it and remember it, he would prevent himself from saying it about others, so that his own lacking would not be revealed… but in the hidden chambers of the heart, in the deep layers of his soul the blemish has not been forgotten- and the magical internal flashlight projects his own blemish on to others, to disqualify other people.” (Alei Shor, pages 162-165)

Incredible! Incredible and shocking!

This also explains the wondrous and foolish suspicion of Moshe Rabbenu.  You don’t need to be crazy in order to suspect Moshe of stealing, it’s enough to be a person with a desire for money, to see Moshe deal with so much silver for building the Tabernacle, and to make a simple calculation in the sub layers of the subconscious: ‘If I had been there, I would have pocketed at least a million shekels; Moshe is more of a Tsaddik than me, so it’s almost certain that he took a half a million’… and from there, it is a short path to speak behind Moshe’s back and to spread assumptions, which the irony of them screams to the Heaven: ‘Look at the fat neck of the son of Amram’; ‘Someone who controlled all of the work of the tabernacle, you don’t want him to be rich?’

This causes shivers!  We are really people like this?!

However, it also opens for us an opening to enter the very holy and lofty work of taking responsibility for our experiences.  To contemplate inside, close my eyes to the ‘reality’ on the screens on the outside, to get to know the internal software, and to remember that everything begins with me!  Everything that I absorb from the outside is only my light reflecting back into me.  In the end it’s all my movie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Our Rabbi

[2] A major Rabbi of the Middle Ages, wrote a commentary on all of the Bible and Talmud

[3] An important Rabbi from Jerusalem, lived from 1914-2005

[4] Jewish law

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