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Parshas Zos HaBrochah - Simchas Torah

The Joy Of Torah


From His right hand He presented the fiery Torah to them. (Devarim 33:2)
This week's parshah begins:
And this is the blessing that Moshe, the man of G-d, bestowed upon the Children of Israel before his death
Hence, this parshah, which we read each year on Simchas Torah, not only represents the completion of another yearly cycle of Torah readings, but also the end of Moshe Rabbeinu's life. Thus, while we celebrate the fact that we are about to begin another whole new cycle of weekly Torah readings, we can only mourn the loss of Moshe Rabbeinu, who, unlike a Sefer Torah, does not begin again each year.

As the Arizal taught: There is not a single generation in which Moshe Rabbeinu does not return b'sod, "The sun rises and the sun sets" (Koheles 1:5), and "One generation goes and another comes" (Koheles 1:4), in order to rectify that generation. (Sha'ar HaGilgulim, Chapter 20)

The truth is, that Moshe Rabbeinu has been around - in one person or another- throughout ALL of history:

"In the beginning, Moshe was Hevel, who was the son of AdamHaRishon. Later, he (Hevel) reincarnated into Shais, then Noach, and after that, into Shem son of Noach. This is thesod of, "You have said, 'I shall know you by name (shem)'," (Shemos 33:12), an allusion to the reincarnation into Shem." (Sha'ar HaGilgulim, Chapter 34)
That is, 'shem' was the name of Noach's son, but it also means 'name.' Therefore, the reference to 'shem' in theposuk is both a reference to Moshe himself, and an allusion to his previous gilgul inside Shem, the son of Noach.

"Thus, the first letters of 'Moshe' (mem-shin) allude to Shem (shin-mem), and we learn that Shem, Noach, and Moshe are all from the same root, which is the level of Chesed, which is that of Hevel the son of Adam. This is the sod of, "For, from the water he was drawn" (Shemos2:10), that is, the 'waters' of Chesed."

These words were spoken by Basya, the daughter of Pharaoh, who saved Moshe from the water when he was a baby, and were the basis for his name, 'Moshe.' The water to which she referred, of course, was the Nile River. However, on a Kabbalistic level, theArizal revealed that it refers to the sefirah ofChesed, from which Moshe's soul came, which is compared to water.

"When Moshe received the Torah from Sinai, all three levels were incorporated and ascended b'sod 'Da'as Machriyah' ('Resolving Da'as') from which comes the level of 'Written Torah.' This is the sod of 'From His right hand He presented the fiery Torah to them' (Devarim 33:2), for the Torah is given from the side of Gevuros, which is the side of the Gevurah of the Da'as, as mentioned."

In other words, when the Torah was given to the Jewish people through Moshe Rabbeinu, it had (at least two effects). The most obvious effect was that it elevated the Jewish nation, and provided them with a G-dly understanding of creation and our role within it. It gave us a chance to make the best of our lives and earn our worth in the World-to-Come.

However, at the same time, the exposure to the light of the 'fiery' Torah rectified Moshe Rabbeinu, causing all three levels of his soul - Nefesh, Ruach, andNeshamah, to ascend to a much higher level. That explains the 'beams' of light that emanated out from him after he descended Har Sinai after Yom Kippur. (Shemos 34:29)

Actually, Moshe's process of tikun had been ongoing, as we shall soon see, b'ezras Hashem.

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The Arizal continues:
"I have already explained that, until the vision of the bush, Moshe had yet to rectify the letters of Hevel (HEH-bais-lamed) and Shais (SHIN-tav), except for the 'shin' of 'Shais' and the 'heh' of 'Hevel,' hinted at in the name 'Moshe' (mem-SHIN-HEH). The three letters (bais-lamed) of 'Hevel' had yet to be rectified."
This, of course, was a couple of years prior to the exodus from Egypt and the redemption of Torah at Har Sinai, while he still lived with his father-in-law, Yisro. It even had an affect on his own children:
"This is the reason that Gershom and Menashe (Shmuel says: I don't know why 'Menashe' is mentioned here, since no sons other than Gershom and Eliezer were born to Moshe before the vision of the bush) were not that righteous." (Sha'ar HaGilgulim, Chapter 34)
Though Moshe had been a prince in Pharoah's palace, after it became known that he killed an Egyptian to protect a Jew, he fled from Egypt. He spent the next 40 years in Kush, even ruling there before moving on to Midian, and there he met Tzipporah, the daughter of Yisro, and married her.

While living with Yisro, Moshe was a shepherd of his father-in-law's sheep, completely oblivious to the fact that G-d was going to call on him soon to redeem the people he left behind while fleeing for his life. Prior to being summoned to the burning bush - and achieving his tikun - Moshe had fathered two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. As a result, they were affected by their father's spiritual lacking, and thus did not achieve the level of righteousness one might have expected from the sons of the greatest leader the Jewish people have ever known.

However, the Arizal cites another reason for Gershom's and Eliezer's lack of righteousness, to be kept in mind before raising an eyebrow over the descendants of the teacher par excellence:

"The entire Jewish people were like his (Moshe's) children and sparks from his soul; this is the sod of what Chazalhave said: Moshe equaled the entire Children of Israel (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 1:4). Thus, he was like Adam HaRishonwho incorporated all souls. Hence, one should not look questioningly if Gershom and Menashe were not so righteous, since the entire Jewish people were already his 'children'."
However, returning to what we began above:
"The bush rectified the letters of 'heh-bais-lamed' (Hevel) as well. Thus it says, 'The Angel of G-d appeared to him in a flame (bais-lamed-bais-tav) of fire' (Shemos 3:2), to hint that in the beginning the letters 'lamed-bais-tav' were not yet rectified. Therefore, it says, 'in a flame (lamed-bais-tav) of fire,' from the side of judgment, since they were not yet rectified. However, at the bush, they became rectified, and this is indicated by the repetition of Moshe's name ("Moshe, Moshe"). The first refers to [Moshe] before the bush when he wasn't rectified, and the second to his newly rectified state." (Ibid.)
Thus, in a very real way, the Torah is not just about the development of the Jewish people, but about the development of the leader. Thus, it is certainly not out of place that the Torah itself concludes with the words:
Moshe was 120 years old when he died. His eyes had not weakened, nor had his strength dissipated. The Children of Israel cried for Moshe in the Plains of Moav for thirty days, after which the days of crying and mourning for Moshe were completed. Yehoshua, the son of Nun was instilled with the spirit of wisdom, because Moshe had placed his hands upon him. The Children of Israel listened to and obeyed him, and did as G-d had commanded Moshe. There never again arose a prophet in Israel like Moshe, whom G-d spoke to face-to-face, [and who could perform] all the signs and wonders which G-d sent him to do in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh, all his servants and all his land, or any of the mighty acts and awesome sights that Moshe displayed before all the eyes of Israel. (Devarim 34:7-12)
Just think what will be said about Moshe Rabbeinu when he comes back, in the form of Moshiach Ben Dovid, and redeems the Jewish people with even greater wonders, and for good!

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From His right hand He presented the fiery Torah (aish das) to them. (Devarim 33:2)
When one thinks of Yitzchak and Eisav, one can find nothing in common between the two, spiritually-speaking. Yitzchak Avinu was so righteous he didn't even have a yetzer hara, whereas his firstborn son, Eisav, seemed to ONLY have a yetzer hara.

However, one should think again, as the following indicates:

"The matter is like this: The sweetening of the Gevuros (the trait of Yitzchak) can also occur through punishment because Gevuros, at its root, is completely pure and holy since there they are blended together with Chassadim, and together they are a 'Flame of Mercy.' However, when they emanate downward and are distant from their root, standing alone [without Chesed], they became a strong and powerful judgment. Thus, the only way to rectify them is to return them to their root, as the Arizal said regarding the intentions of the shofar" (Sha'arei Leshem, p. 250a)
In other words, the very same trait within creation that was the basis of Yitzchak Avinu, was also the basis of Eisav, his son. However, Yitzchak was the result of the Gevuros at its source, where it is pure and holy, and Eisav was what Gevuros looks like when it descends into our world, separate from Chesed, and becomes the source of judgment and punishment- and the driving force of the yetzer hara.

As long as this spiritual light remains in this state, rectification is impossible. On the contrary, the world seems to drift further and further down the road in the direction of chaos and evil. Thus, whenever these two realities dominate history, one knows without any doubt that Gevuros have descended and stand alone from Chesed, producing harsh judgments and punishing effects.

At such a difficult stage of history, the most likely solution is that the Gevuros will have to play themselves out, expending their energy. Thus, the very punishment they seem to inflict has the dual result of refining a person and cleansing him- whether during history, or after it ends, and Gihennomis the method of purging. Without such a cleansing, one cannot enter the eternal reality of the World-to-Come.

This is what the expression, "All that G-d does, He does for the good" (Brochos 60b) means. In the meantime, we fail to emotionally appreciate the positive effect of the punishing Gevuros on us within creation, whileintellectually we admit that they are our ticket to the World-to-Come.

If we have sinned, that is:

"However, they (the sinners who have been 'cleansed') only receive it (their portion in the World-to-Come) as a 'free gift,' but it is still not the main good. Rather, the true good comes from the 'sweetening' of the Gevuros by man himself, which is done by righteous people, specifically when they uphold Torah and themitzvos, because Torah itself is from the light ofGevuros - a black fire on a white fire, and therefore it is called 'Aish Das,' as it says towards the end of [Tractate] Makkos: They heard it [Torah] from the mouth of Gevurah (i.e., G-d)." (Ibid. 250b)
That is, black fire - Gevuros - on white fire -Chesed - representing the fact that Torah is the Gevuros AFTER rectification, when it is once again blended together with the light of Chesed. This is what 'Aish Das' means, according to Kabbalah. This is why the keeping of Torah allows a person to rise above the need for suffering and punishment, and in reality, the reason for all the dancing on Simchas Torah.

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Simchas Torah

If you could draw a picture of it, you would see a portion of Heaven reaching downwards into the everyday physical reality in which we live, and where it does not belong. At the bottom of the apex of the stretched piece of Heaven, you would find the Torah, bridging Heaven and Earth together in the most miraculous way.

Thus, Shlomo HaMelech wrote:

It is a Tree of Life, for those who GRASP it. (Mishlei 3:18)
Grasp it? Why 'grasp it?' Because, people hold on tightly to something they cherish and are afraid to lose. Those who understand the true nature of the Torah that Moshe Rabbeinubrought down from Heaven know that it is outside its proper context, though it may appear like just another book, even unG-dly to the unG-dly.

However, Torah is Heaven's way of reaching down into the 'pit' and offering a helping hand to escape. Anyone who grabs on and holds tight can be saved, because as Heaven pulls upward, spiritual gravity in the guise the yetzer hara pulls downward, creating the spiritual tug-of-war that is the basis of our gift of free-will.

It is a Tree of Life, for those who GRASP it.

That is, for those who understand that life in the 'pit' of theyetzer hara is like living in the lions' den- while they're hungry! Only such a person can appreciate the Heavenly gift of a willing hand of salvation, reach for it, and hold onto it with every ounce of energy he has until he is completely clear of the pit.

A ba'ale teshuvah once told me:

"When I first decided to become somewhat Torah-observant, after kicking and screaming the whole way, I said to G-d:
'I hope You appreciate the great sacrifice I'm making for You. I was having a good time until Torah came along, and now I'm turning my back on much of that good time in order to keep Torah, which seems to be what You want from me.'
"When I became more learned, and therefore more appreciative of the value of Torah," he said, "I told G-d:
'I'm awfully glad You waited for me, and showed me Your Torah. It has made my life so much more meaningful. You and I are partners, right G-d working together for a better world, right?'
"However," he continued, "after a few more years of learning, and a much greater appreciation of how Torah saved me from the brink of spiritual oblivion and losing my portion in the World-to-Come, I told G-d, in the humblest and meekest way I could possibly say:
'Dear G-d Thank you so much for having the patience while I wasted my life, and the extreme kindness to make me stumble in the direction of Torah. Had it been up to me, I probably would have wiped myself off the face of the earth altogether years ago. But, in your infinite mercy, You did not, and I am eternally grateful for the gift of Torah that is my greatest source of joy and pleasure'."
Needless to say, he is one Jew for whom holding the Sefer Torah tight and dancing with it on Simchas Torah is a tremendous elevating and exhilarating experience. For him, and others like him, Torah is an 'Aish Das,' a flame of tremendous inspiration to rectify his character traits, and to rise above the mundane reality of everyday life in the direction of Heaven.

Have a great and inspiring Yom Tov/Shabbos,

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