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Shalom. This Shabbat we begin the fifth book of the Five books of Moshe, the book of
Deuteronomy, called in Hebrew the book of Devarim, meaning 'words,' from the first
verse, 'these are the words that Moshe spoke…'
and this week's Torah portion is parashat Devarim, the
first Torah portion in sefer Devarim. This book is essentially different from the
previous four. It was spoken entirely by Moshe Rabbeinu, our teacher Moses, during the last
five weeks of his life, so it is entirely his voice.
The previous four books were informed by a different energy. At first, the direction
was from top to bottom, from heaven to earth…Hashem turned
towards His creations and spoke to them. Then, from the time that Israel's nationhood
was forged at Sinai, Hashem spoke through Moshe,
as exemplified by the many times we find the words, 'And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying…'
But now in the book of Devarim we encounter a new dynamic. 'These are the words that
Moshe spoke to all of Israel...' in this book
rather than Hashem speaking to man, the words flow forth
from below, from down here, from the innermost heart of Moshe Rabbeinu… Thus the book of
Devarim signals a new concept in our understanding of the Torah. Until now the Creator was
speaking. Now, Moshe's words are adopted by Hashem, and are equated with eternal holiness
on the same level as the previous books of the
Torah! This is an example of man reaching a level of
partnership with G-d – the Torah including the words that flowed from man's soul. The
Torah which descended into the world in order to
uplift it and to reveal its Divine essence, effected
Moshe to the extent of purifying his entire being till everyone could see that his face
shone… it's not for naught that Moshe is etched into the
national consciousness as the person who reached the full potential of what a human being could
reach… The only human being who is described as
'the man of G-d' (Ps. 90). Thus the book of Deuteronomy completes the Torah because
it represents human partnership with the Divine,
and is the living example of what dedication to
Torah can accomplish. So over the last five weeks of Moses' life,
beginning on the first day of the month of Shevat and
ending on the 6 th of Adar, the eve of his death, Moshe gave over this book. He explained
the entire Torah to each and every individual;
he said, 'I am close to my death, whoever heard a
verse, or a chapter, or a section, but forgot it, let him come to me now and I will go over
it again.' On the 6th of Adar he was informed
of his impending death and he commanded Yehoshua, and on the 7 th of Adar he blessed
Israel and passed into the Coming World. Our sages refer to this book as Mishneh Torah,
meaning a review of the Torah. But more specifically, it's an explanation of the
Torah. The word used in verse 5 for 'explain'is
'be'er'…the very same word meaning a 'well' of water….Moshe opened the
well of knowledge and understanding for all future generations… He
does indeed review some of the commandments, but the book is far from merely
being a review of the previous four. Devarim introduces many new commandments. And, Moshe
inspires and admonishes. He expresses dire warnings to his beloved Children of Israel
to be on their guard against idolatry and to stay
focused on Hashem's commandments, if they wish to stay in the Land. In general, the
book is completely focused on preparation for the
new life that the people of Israel will be living in their
We need to open up our heart to the book of Devarim, from Moshe's heart to our own:
these are Moshe's last words to his people, all the
way to our generation, from the most selfless heart that
ever was, overflowing with the love of Hashem, His people, His Torah, and His Land.
This week's Torah portion is parashat Devarim, begins famously with words of rebuke…but
this is not your average rebuke. Moshe has to chastise
his people, but he does it gently: his love for
the Children of Israel, even when they were wayward, knew no bounds. He doesn't want
to hurt them, so his words are veiled, encoded; it
could even be called a sweet rebuke. He has to remind
them now of their past sins, as part of their cleansing process, separating them from their
past mistakes, as a reality check, as part of the
preparation, the final stages for entering into the land.
He reminds his beloved people of real sins, yet he is so cautious not to embarrass them
or offend them.
The Torah portion begins, 'These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on the
other side of the Jordan in the desert, in the plain
opposite the Red Sea, between Paran and Tofel and Lavan
and Hazeroth and Di Zahav.' Our sages teach that in this verse and the next, Moshe deftly
alludes to all the places where the previous generation, the generation of the desert – the
parents of his present audience – he alludes to
all the places where they angered G-d during their desert
sojourn. Out of sensitivity for them he doesn't actually mention the sins they committed by
name, but only the alludes to the places. Rashi informs us of so much that is going
on here between the lines.
We read 'These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on the other side of the
Jordan in the desert, in the plain opposite the Red
Sea, between Paran and Tofel and Lavan and Hazeroth
and Di Zahav. Our sages say that some of these names refer to places that don't even exist.
'The words 'in the desert' – refer to what
they did in the desert, when they said, if only we died in this
desert; 'in arava' – he rebuked them for their having angered Him in the desert
by saying, “If only we had died by the hand of G-d' (Exod. 16:3).
In Arvot Moav; regarding the worship of
Baal Peor at Shittim in the plains of Moab, 'opposite suf' – He rebuked them regarding
their rebellion at the Red Sea; 'betweem paran
and tofel and lavan' – for speaking against the manna;
'in chatzerot' concerning the insurrection of Korach, and for not taking the lesson of
Miriam to heart; and 'di zahav' – a reference
to the Golden Calf. But afterwards he blessed them. And he said
may Hashem the G-d of your fathers increase you a
thousand fold. In Ch. 2 and verse 7 we read, “For Hashem your G-d has blessed you in
all the work of your hand; He knows of your walking
through this great desert, these forty years that
Hashem your G-d has been with you, you have lacked nothing.”
We always read these words, about walking through the great desert, a frightening and
awful place, during this period before the ninth
of Av. This allusion to the great desert, also refers to
the great, frightening and awful desert of our lives in our own time, and reminds us
that even in the darkest times, such as right now, as we
reel from the destruction of the Temple, we are called
upon to rebuild it. The verse reminds us that you have lacked nothing. We can go through
a difficult period, like wandering through a
terrible desert for forty years, but G-d is with us and
we lack nothing.
But there is something about this rebuke of Moshe's that doesn't seem to make sense…
this rebuke was for sins of the previous generation!
What does that have to do with these people, their children, who are preparing to enter
into the Land… we know that they were not held
responsible for the misdeeds of their fathers…but yet Moses rebuked the generation about to
enter the Land, assigning them however softly, some measure of responsibility for the past
as well, at the very least for them to learn
from and grow and to know the types of mistakes to
avoid in their new life in their land The major principle of Torah is always that
it's real and now; it's the story of our lives. How
fitting now to read of Moshe's rebuke of the next generation, reminding them of the
foibles of the previous generation, now that we are a
period of spiritual reevaluation, a time of realignment,
stock taking…the annual period of mourning for the Holy Temple, which really should not
be only about mourning but about asking ourselves,
why are we in this situation…why is it continuing, and how we can turn it around.
And so too, just as Moshe rebuked the next generation, our sages state that every generation
in which the Holy Temple is not rebuilt, is reckoned
by Heaven as the generation in which it was destroyed. That includes ours. So in effect,
we too, are given responsibility for the past as well as
for our own generation…it's all a cumulative process and effect…And our generation has
equal responsibility as all others, to be the one
in which the Temple in rebuilt, and the fact is, if it
doesn't happen, it's as if we continue, aid, abet, cause the destruction….
The Shabbat preceding Tisha B'Av is known as Shabbat Chazon, the Sabbath of Vision,
from the first verse in the haftarah prophetic
reading, 'the vision of Isaiah'…But this Shabbat is not
only the Sabbath of Vision; this Shabbat of parashat Devarim actually falls on Tisha B'av
itself, the powerful, evocative, emotional, difficult
and complex day of the destruction of both Holy
Temples and so many other tragedies. But Shabbat is a time of joy and peace and the public
display of mourning is forbidden. Shabbat overrides the fast itself and the outer character
of the ninth of Av is all but completely muted for
all practice and purpose. The fast itself, a 24 period
beginning the night before, is deferred to the next day, Sunday.
This combination of Shabbat and Tisha B'Av is a very special experience…we somehow
enter into a vortex, a time warp, we transcend time
and unite with the higher root, which indeed is the
highest light of Shabbat, and the light of Hashem's love that reaches us on Shabbat
supersedes the public mourning of Tisha B'Av, so we
will fast on Sunday. Our relationship with Hashem as
manifest on Shabbat is described in the holy books as the level of 'banim'– of children.
The revelation of the level of 'children'
is that no matter what, we are all Hashem's children. Deut 14
tells us “you are children of Hashem your G-d.”
So what's amazing? We read in the haftarah in Isaiah, 'Hear, O heavens, and give ear,
O earth, for Hashem has spoken; Children I have raised
and exalted, yet they have rebelled against Me.'
Open up your heart in the deepest way….honestly now….this is a terrible rebuke…but He
still calls us Children.
So the holy Sabbath is the level of banim…and on this Shabbat, Tisha B'Av that falls out
on Shabbat, the Opter Rav taught that this is
the greatest, most powerful Shabbat of the entire year,
that in the midst of the darkness of these 'between the straits' days, the truth
that Israel are always called his children is revealed, and
on Shabbat there is no mourning, Shabbat is only the
greatest revelation of love. So on this Shabbat Chazon, of parahat Devarim, even though the
calendar says that it's actually Tisha B'Av we are focusing on that love.
The subtle beauty of Moshe's rebuke in this week's Torah reading is a counterpart to
the subtle beauty of this combination Shabbat of vision,
Shabbat of Tisha B'Av in which the mourning has
been not removed, but peeled back…it's still there…the loss, the pain, the destruction
is still there… but the inner root of life, light
and healing has been revealed. The amazing Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev
famously taught, that on this Shabbat everyone receives a vision of the rebuilt Holy Temple,
the Third Temple. It's so within reach, he taught,
that it's impossible not to experience this vision. Maybe its subliminal, perhaps subconscious
but we all merit it.
But what does it mean exactly that every Jew receives this vision. So I've always understood
this to mean, that every person sees it according
to their level, that perhaps the idea is that each
individual sees the rebuilt Holy Temple according to his or her expectation or conception of
what exactly that will be, and how it will come
about. Or maybe according to each one's hopes…or
each one's limitations. And even more importantly, that the vision is commensurate to how much
a person wants the Temple. That's all fine but there is an entirely additional level
of meaning to this beautiful tradition. That it's not
just a romantic notion, but a message relating to the entire
nation having this experience together.
People automatically tend to associate this month of Av with churban – that word means
destruction. The destruction of the Holy Temple. We've always emphasized that we should
remember that the full name of this month, Menachem Av, means 'the consoling Father;'
Av is father. Because everything ultimately will
be revealed as a manifestation of G-d's love for His
children and is part of the ultimate good. But let's go even further. Open up your
heart in the deepest way. Av also means foundation, the
basis, the root or prototype of something. So on one
level, this month of Av is truly the foundation of suffering and destruction.
But everything in this world has a root. The root, the foundation of building, is destruction. So
the month of Av, the month of tragedies and destruction,  is not only Av, as 'father,'
but 'av' as the root, basis of something…this month
of destruction contains the root of building. Every building in the world has its roots
in churban. Just as creation was preceded by the null
and void, just as a tree sprouts forth from a rotted seed, just as the resurrection follows
the disintegration of the body, just as Israel's
establishment as a nation was preceded by the
Egyptian exile, mashiach's soul was first revealed at Sodom, there are many more examples
of this concept in the Torah
So why is it that at the beginning of Devarim, which is the book of those who will inherit
the land, which is Moshe's last will and testament
to all future generations, he begins his speech with
a review of the sins, the backslidings and failures as well as the journeys, of the previous
generation, the generation of the desert, on their way to the land. But why speak about
the past? Why not just get right in to commanding these
concerning their future? All of these incidents that
are alluded to here in these opening verses, were the foibles of the previous generation.
Just last week at the conclusion of the book of Numbers,
all the journeys of the children of Israel were
enumerated. It's getting on time to go into the Land. Can't we be finished and get on?
But the answer is, the generation of Israel
that now enters the Land to live their lives, rises
directly out of all the crises and failings of the previous generation. And so it is with
every generation… when it is our generation's
turn to live, we grow out of the experiences, disappointments and failures, and victories,
large and small, of the previous generations.
This is the lesson for our time. Destruction leads to building; destruction is for the
sake of building. So open up your heart in the deepest
way. Everybody loves to connect the rebuilding of
the Holy Temple to the coming of messiah. This despite the fact that there is no reason
or requirement to wait for messiah to rebuild
the Temple. We are commanded to do this just as we
are commanded to keep the rest of the Torah, and we should be careful not to use the coming
of the messiah as an excuse. But yet everybody
knows that the Jerusalem Talmud states, 'on the
ninth of Av the mashiach is born,…', and so too, in each generation, the aspect of
moshiach is born, comes into the world, on the ninth of
Av. But what does this really mean? Let's try to
explain this statement in a non-mystical vein. Contrary to popular belief, mashiach is not
a mystical figure, but a regular human being.
Never resort to mystifying something and thus avoid
a simple explanation, especially when the explanation involves you. For example, never
resort to thinking that the Temple will descend from
Heaven, since you are the one who has to build it. So
– what does it mean that the moshiach is born on the ninth of Av. Is this literal?
Where is this soul, and why that day?
Is moshiach born from the pain of the Jewish
people? No. But as we have cited, destruction gives
way to building. Moshiach is 'born' from the resolve, from the impetus of the collective
repentance of the Jewish people. The cycle of Av is all about sincere repentance – in
fact, it's the beginning of the period of preparation for
the High Holy Days, and as we have learned, repentance motivated by love has the power
to transform rebellious sins into acts of merit. The
messiah is just a person, a great person, but his unparalleled capacity for empathy,
wisdom, and an understanding that encompasses the collective
human consciousness, is the legacy of King David. King David was also a composite soul,
himself granted 70 years of life as a gift outright
from Adam, whose soul contained the souls of all humanity, who cared enough about the
future of his progeny and was willing to take a chance
on David to fix his mistakes, that he agreed for
his diminished lifespan of a thousand years to be further diminished to 930 years so that
David could live. The companion concept to this
idea of the soul of the messiah coming into the world
on Tisha B'Av, is the teaching of our sages, that Moshiach's soul is a composite of us
all… that his soul contains a little bit of goodness,
an aspect, a spark, of every single one of us. And when
that all comes together, when everybody is really committed to shining forth their part,
when everybody has their vision of the Holy Temple,
he steps up to the plate, into the light, perhaps as
much of a surprise to him as it is to everyone, but he's sick and tired and isn't going
to take it anymore, and he will lead the whole world
from ultimate destruction to ultimate building. But it
is up to us to start the work.
There is so much evil in the world, so much pain and suffering, exploitation and affliction.
The Holy Temple is the promise of a better world.
That's why we mourn. - Mourning is not about that the Temple was destroyed in the past,
but about that it has not been built in my generation,
so I am the problem. The entire process of redemption, everything we are looking forward
to, a better world, peace, blessing, life, it's
all waiting for us to make happen. This is what Tisha B'Av
is really all about because this is what the Temple is really all about. The power of mashiach
is right here among us, but will we have the
strength and resolve to birth it? The hardest thing in
the world is to take responsibility. It's so much easier when it's mystical, beyond
my control; when it all G-d's fault. Like what do you
want from me, I'm waiting for mashiach.  Open your
heart. We are the vision of the rebuilt Temple. Who better than we, in our generation, in
our time. The cycle of destruction to building
has played itself out in our generation, and we, more
than 50 years after the liberation of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, are the seers. We have
the ability to see the rebuilt Holy Temple and
to transform the destruction of Tisha B'Av and the
disgrace of the Temple Mount, into the vessel for the restoration of the Divine Presence.
Destruction to rebuilding. If we want to see Moshiach, then what are we waiting for? What's
your vision for the next fifty years? Do we want to have Tisha B'Av every year? Isn't
this mourning getting old? We need no permission
to end the cycle of mourning and to facilitate
G-d's promise, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, that “the Holy Temple will be firmly
established as the head of the mountains, and it will
be exalted above the hills, and all the nations will stream
to it. Many peoples will go and say, 'come, let us go up to the Mountain of Hashem, to
the Temple of the G-d of Jacob, and He will teach
us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For
out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of G-d from Jerusalem.' We don't
need permission in writing, we already have it… and
for all of us that are waiting for G-d to shine
forth miraculously, surprise, He already did…G-d is waiting for us.  What if G-d also has
a vision of the rebuilt Holy Temple, and we
are the vision? It was on the night of Tisha B'Av, generations
before the destruction of Jerusalem, that the spies convinced all of Israel to give
up on the Israel project even before they started;
this was the root cause of the destruction of the First and Second Temples. And that
pessimism, that negative outlook, is the root cause of all our problems today as well.
This Shabbat, the Shabbat of vision, the Shabbat of Tisha B'Av, as we hear Moses words of
rebuke, and recall the rebuke of our sages, and the call to our generation to rebuild
the Holy Temple and take responsibility… May we be
blessed with the vision of the Holy Temple that we
will build in our time. May we be blessed with a vision of a better world, a world of
peace, a world of hope. A world of Hashem's light.
May we merit to the consolation, to the joy of
Jerusalem. May we merit to rebuild the Holy Temple.


Tisha b'Av: People Get Ready!

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Amy.Lin 2019 年 10 月 19 日 に公開
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