Torah Portion

Va’etchanan 5780

av5780At the beginning of our Parsha Moshe pleads before Hashem to be allowed to enter the land of Israel.  Hashem had told Moshe that he would not lead the people into the Land, but Moshe loved Eretz Yisrael so much so that he continued to pray to annul the decree (Artscroll Commentary).  “I implored Hashem at that time, saying… Let me now cross and see the good Land that is on the other side of the Jordan, this good mountain and the Lebanon.” (Chapter 3, Verses 23-25)

Rebbe Natan explains in Likutei Halachot a deeper reason why Moshe pleaded with Hashem to enter the Land of Israel.  Rebbe Nachman explains in the 54th teaching in Likutei Moharan (Part 1), that a person needs to guard his memory very well so that he will not fall into forgetfulness.  He needs to remember every day that the true purpose of life is preparing for the World to Come (Heaven).  When we pass away, our souls will return to Heaven.  The Heavenly Court will ask us questions about how we lived our lives in this world.  Afterwards, a person needs to use their power of memory on a more personal level.  This means that they need to contemplate well and to examine their thoughts, words, actions and experiences- what are the hints and the messages that Hashem is sending me in order to bring me closer to Him?  Every single day God has prepared special hints just for me, through the thoughts, words and actions that I experience.  However, in order to connect to this powerful aspect of memory, people need to guard themselves from having a bad eye.  Jealousy, hatred, and lust are examples of an evil eye.  Having an evil eye when we look at other people causes us forgetfulness.  Our heart is dulled and we are not able to contemplate God’s messages.  Therefore, Rebbe Natan explains, Moshe pleaded and prayed so many times before Hashem to be allowed to enter the Land of Israel.  This is because the main aspect of this holy memory and deeper understanding can only be attained in the Land of Israel.  (Likutei Halachot, the Laws of Judges, 5th teaching)

Rebbe Nachman also teaches in another lesson in Likutei Moharan, 217 (Part One), that the month of Tamuz, when we begin the Three Weeks, is alluded to in the verse at the end of the prophet Malachi, “זכרו תורת משה”, ‘remember the Torah of Moshe.’  Forgetting the Torah and forgetting our relationship with Hashem happened in the month of Tamuz, when Moshe broke the first set of Tablets.  Therefore, on a deeper level, connecting to the power of memory means to search for and contemplate what Hashem might be teaching us, everyday.  We want to rectify the aspect of memory which was blemished during the Three Weeks.

Every day Hashem is sending us special hints and messages to bring us closer to Him and to who we truly are.  However, many times, we do not understand what Hashem is teaching us.  Many things are hidden from us.  This causes us pain and confusion.  Why did I go through this?  What is this coming to teach me?  On the other hand, there are also times when we are granted the insight to understand the special message which God wants to teach us.

I was just speaking this week with the Rabbi and counselor I meet with on a weekly basis about a certain recent incident which was difficult for me with a neighbor.  We discussed what happened.  The facts of the case, so to speak.  Then we discussed what my feelings were about the matter and what my interpretation of the incident was.  I felt mostly fear about my next interaction with this neighbor.  In the moment, when this neighbor expressed negativity towards me, I was startled and did not know how to react.  I was surprised and did not have any insight.  Now however, thanks to my discussion with the Rabbi, I started to see the matter with more clarity.  I understood an important message which Hashem was trying to teach me.  Usually the pain or negative emotions that we feel about something that happens to us or in a certain relationship are related to our interpretation, our perspective and previous experiences.  Only about two weeks after my difficult interaction with the neighbor was I able to gain some insight and understand that my interpretation of what had happened was negative.  I was only able to realize this after contemplating, with the help of the Rabbi, what had happened a few weeks before.

During this time of year, after experiencing the Three Weeks of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and the Fast of Tisha B’Av, we begin to read the seven special haftaroth of consolation until Rosh Hashanah.  This Shabbat is also called Shabbat Nachamu, which are the first words of this week’s haftarah.  We are reminded that despite the difficulties we might experience, there are also moments of clarity and consolation.  May Hashem grant us and bless us with the ability to know and to remember that everything we go through in life contains within it a special message filled with love from Hashem.

(The image is courteous of chabad.org)

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