From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky
We must love G-d with both our inclinations…
The Song of Moses (Deut. 32:1-4) constitutes the greater part of the portion of the Torah read this week. It begins:
1) "Give ear, O heavens, and I shall speak, Let the earth hear the talk of my mouth."
2) "Let my teaching drip like rain, let my talk flow like dew, like droplets on new growth, like showers on grass."
3) "When I proclaim the name of G‑d, give greatness to our G‑d."
4) "The Rock, perfect are His deeds, for all His ways are just." "[He is] a steadfast G‑d, [with] no corruption, equitable and upright is He."
Let us understand the following differences [in expression] in this passage:
What is the difference between "to hear" and "to give ear?"
Why in the first clause does Moses use the imperative ["Give ear…"], while in the second he uses the future ["Let the earth hear…"]?
We would have expected the imperative in the second clause as well: "Hear, O earth."
Why in the first clause does he say, "I shall speak," while in the second he does not say, "I shall talk?"
We would have expected the second clause to read: "Hear, O earth, and I shall talk."
In the past, the esoteric meaning of the Torah was reserved for the select elite...
Why in the second clause does he say, "the talk of my mouth" rather than "my talk?"
Why, when referring to the dew, does he use the verb, "to flow" and when referring to the rain, the expression, "to drip?"
What is the difference between, "my teaching" and "my talk," especially since both refer to the Torah?
Why did he say "give greatness" to G‑d rather than "utter the greatness" of G‑d? How does "giving" apply here?
Why did he say, "The rock, His action is perfect…" instead of "G‑d's way is perfect…," as did King David? (2 Samuel 22:31; Psalms 18:31)
[Why is G‑d's quality of being steadfast mentioned before His quality of having "no corruption"?] It would seem more appropriate to mention the fact that there is no corruption in G‑d's ways before saying that He is "a steadfast G‑d," since the former is the negation of evil while the latter is the affirmation of perfection. Why, then, are these ideas mentioned in the opposite order?
The answer to all this is as follows:
The Torah possesses both an exoteric and esoteric dimension; these are called "peshat" [simple meaning] and "sod" [secret], respectively. The esoteric dimension is not appropriate for all people, but only for those who are like angels. The exoteric dimension, in contrast, is appropriate for all people.
In the past, the esoteric meaning of the Torah was reserved for the select elite that were spiritually refined enough to appreciate it and interpret it correctly. It is only in recent history that its teachings have become increasingly available to the general public.
[The angels] did not know that, since the exoteric dimension of the Torah is not relevant to them...
Referring to this esoteric dimension of the Torah, the angels said, when the Holy One Blessed Be He wanted to give the Torah to Israel, "How much might there is in Your name!" "Your name" is the Torah, which is all [made up of] names of the Holy One. (Ref. Ramban, introduction to commentary on the Torah; Yonat Elim 29; Shnei Luchot HaBrit, Yitro.) [The angels felt that the Torah, which they perceived as being] only the esoteric dimension, [should not] be given on earth [i.e., to mankind]. This is the meaning of the verse: "G‑d our Lord, how mighty is your name in all the earth, for You have given Your glory over the heavens." (Psalms 8:2) They did not know that, since the exoteric dimension of the Torah is not relevant to them — since they are immortal — but it was given to mankind.
The phrase, "for You have given Your glory over the heavens" may be read: "Give Your glory over the heavens." The angels were thus saying to G‑d, "since Your name, i.e. the Torah — is so mighty, i.e. so sublime and unfit for mortal man — don't give it to them, rather, give Your glory, i.e. the Torah — to us in heaven." (Shabbat 88b) G‑d told Moses to respond to this argument, which he did by pointing out how the simple (exoteric) meaning of the Torah refers to all sorts of situations that are irrelevant to angels.
This, then, is the mystical meaning of, "Give ear, O heavens." The "heavens" are the holy and righteous people, who although they live on earth are similar to the angels who dwell in heaven. To them it is said, "give ear" to the esoteric dimension of the Torah, since this aspect of the Torah, as it were, is not said out loud [so that all may hear] but rather whispered into the hearer's ear. This is why the expression "give ear" is used; the esoteric dimension of the Torah was communicated only to the righteous, since it is difficult to grasp.
This is also why the verb "to speak" is used [in reference to the esoteric dimension of the Torah]. The verb "to speak" [in Hebrew, l'daber] refers to difficult language, as in the verse [Genesis 42:30], "the man spoke to us harshly." In contrast, the verb "to talk" or "to say" [in Hebrew, l'emor, refers to softer speech, used, for example,] when one speaks to women. In our case, it is used [even] for the common men who are like women [in that they do not learn the esoteric aspect of the Torah].
Israel is associated with the Jewish people…as the bearer of the Divine message on earth…Jacob refers more to how they battle the material aspect of the world
This distinction between the verb "to speak" (root: dalet-beit-reish) and the verb "to say" or "to talk" (root: alef-mem-reish) is common in the Talmud and Midrash. It is based in part on the verse preceding the account of the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai: "Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob, and declare to the children of Israel." [Exodus 19:3]
Tradition understands the "house of Jacob" to refer to the women and the "children of Israel" to refer to the men. (Cf. Rashi on this verse.) This is because the name "Israel" is primarily associated with the Jewish people in their role as the bearer of the Divine message on earth, while the name "Jacob" refers more to how they battle the material aspect of the world in the course of fulfilling this goal. These are the male and female aspects of our personalities, respectively, as we have explained previously. The verb "declare" (tageid) used in this verse is phonetically similar to the word for "tendon" (gid), prompting the comment of our Sages: to the men, Moses was bidden to communicate the harsher aspects of the Torah.
The Arizal now reinterprets this understanding of this verse to refer to the exoteric and esoteric dimensions of the Torah.
This is the esoteric meaning of the verse:
"Thus shall you say…" — this refers to the exoteric dimension of the Torah, which is easy to understand
"…to the house of Jacob…" — referring to the common people; [Exodus 19:3]
"…and declare…" — this refers to the esoteric dimension of the Torah, which is 'hard as tendons' to understand for 'not every mind can bear it' (Introduction to Shenei Luchot HaBrit) and 'not all who wish to take upon himself the mantle may do so' [Berachot 16b]
"…to the house of Israel" — referring to the holy [elite].
(The reason why our Sages said that the verb "declare" in this verse implies communicating something 'as hard as tendons' is because there is an extra yud in it, unlike its usual spelling, as, for instance, in the verse: "Declare to My people their transgression." [Mechilta Yitro, Isaiah 58:1]
The spelling of the verb "declare" in this verse is somewhat enigmatic. The imperative of "declare" is hageid (hei-gimel-dalet), while the 2nd person future is tagid (taf-gimel-yud-dalet). Here, however, we have what appears to be a hybrid of these two, tageid, in which the consonants are the same as the 2nd person future but the vowels are that of the imperative (the tzeirei under the gimel instead of a chirik). This draws attention to the fact that the combination gimel-yud-dalet (gid) is the word for "tendon." The implication is thus "declare..." (the imperative, following the vowels) "...in a way as harsh as a tendon" (following the consonants).
chnoch adds: Normally the writings of nthe sagess do not use vowels just like the Torah. Since the bove paragraph is na commentn from the translater and we do not have the original Hebrew to know if the vowels were added we must take the comment with a grain of salt.
This explains why Moses addressed [in the first clause of this verse] the heavens directly. [It was as if to say:] "to you", i.e. the heavens, or the holy elite — "it is fitting that I speak [i.e., communicate the difficult, esoteric aspects of the Torah]." And this is also why he spoke in the first person ["I shall speak"]: since he was talking about the esoteric dimension of the Torah, he referred to it as his own, and he was speaking from the depths of his own heart.
Moses was obviously the most qualified to study the esoteric aspect of the Torah, and thus he considered this aspect of the Torah to be "his," so to speak: "Listen, O holy ones, and I will teach you the difficult, esoteric aspect of the Torah, which is the aspect most dear to my heart."
But the exoteric dimension is suited [even] for the common folk, so [when referring to it] he spoke indirectly: "Let the earth hear the talk of my mouth." The common people, referred to as the "earth," should hear my "talk," i.e. the exoteric aspect of the Torah, which is easy to grasp. He referred to this aspect of the Torah as "the talk of my mouth," since he considered it superficial relative to the esoteric dimension. It issued only from his lips, not from his innermost heart.
chanoch adds: This is why the Kabbalah impacts only a few people in each generation. This is why the Prophecy says there will be people who need to continue to study the Torah even after the Mashich manifests. Others will have learned to fly without magic carpets.
The idiom in Hebrew for a common person or an ignoramus is am ha-aretz, "one of the people of the earth." Here the Arizal uses the term to refer to anyone — even a Torah scholar — who does not learn the inner dimension of the Torah. Regarding this aspect, such a person is indeed an ignoramus, and his perspective is entirely material rather than spiritual.
…the secrets of the Torah can be a spiritual boon to someone who appreciates them...but can cause spiritual harm to someone unprepared...
Concerning the esoteric dimension, Moses said, "Let my teaching drip like rain." The verb used here for "to drip" [ayin-reish-pei] also means "to kill," as in the verse: "and they shall kill [v'arfu] the calf there." (Deuteronomy 21:4) The implication here is [that the esoteric dimension of the Torah is] a very powerful revelation, just like rain is not always good for everyone; for example, travelers are vexed by it. So it is with the esoteric dimension of the Torah: it can kill someone who is not fit for it.
chanoch adds: This may have been true in earlier generations. It is no longer true in our generation primarily becue of the revelation of the modern physics theories taught in every school in the western world.
The rain falls on the roads the same as it falls on the fields; in the former context it gives life, while in the latter it is an inconvenience or even a detriment to mankind. Similarly, the secrets of the Torah can be a spiritual boon to someone who appreciates them as they are meant to be taken, but can cause spiritual harm to someone unprepared to accept them on their own terms.
As the rain is a vexation for travelers, so is the esoteric dimension a negative influence on those who have departed from the path of the Torah.
The idiom in Hebrew for "travelers" is "walkers on the paths" (holchei derachim), subtly implying those who walk on paths other than the highway or main road, that of the Torah.
This is similar to the saying of our Sages [regarding the Torah in general]: "if one merits it becomes for him an elixir of life; if not, it becomes poison."(Yoma 72b.)
For the righteous, in contrast, the esoteric aspect of the Torah will "drip like the rain," it will flow abundantly and give them life, like an ever-increasing wellspring. This is why Moses used here the idiom "my teaching." The word for "teaching/lekach" is related to the word for "taking"; he referred to the esoteric portion of the Torah as the part he took for himself.
When referring to the simple meaning, he said, "let my talk flow like dew," since dew is good for everyone, just like the exoteric dimension of the Torah harms no one.
Moses said, "…like droplets on new growth, like showers on grass…" in order to answer the question: if the esoteric dimension is the main and preferred aspect of the Torah, why do we need the exoteric dimension? The answer to this is that raindrops are very small, and are like "droplets on new growth." (The word used for vegetation in this verse, desha, refers to the period in which the grass begins to grow and is just barely seen above ground.) If large drops of water would fall on the new growth, it would destroy them. Once the growth has become a mature grass, the rain falls on it in the form of a "shower," i.e., with larger drops, which the grass can now endure.
Studying the Torah's exoteric dimension trains the individual in the fundamentals of Jewish faith...
So it is with regard to the exoteric dimension of the Torah. When a person is young and his intellect is not fully developed, he learns the simple meaning of the Torah, for his mind cannot yet appreciate or bear the intensity of the Torah's mysteries. After he has learned the exoteric dimension, which is "like droplets on new growth" and "he has filled his belly with meat and good wine," i.e. the exoteric dimension of the Torah, he may approach the study of the esoteric dimension, which is "like showers on (mature) grass."
"Filling the belly with meat and wine" is an idiom commonly used in rabbinic literature to refer to the study of the exoteric dimension of the Torah. (Nowadays we might say "meat and potatoes" instead of "meat and wine.") The imagery is that one should eat his full of the basic staples of life before indulging in delicacies or fancy desserts; in this way he will be assured of good health and be saved the ill-effects of overindulgence in rich foods. Similarly, a person should make his main Torah-diet from the exoteric basics (Torah, Talmud, etc.) and only when he is firmly anchored and grounded in these allow himself to delve into the Torah's mysteries.
Alternatively, we can explain this verse according to Rashi's explanation. He translates the word we have taken to mean "showers" as "storms." Storm winds aid the growth of vegetation when it is very young and closely bound to the mud at ground level. The storm wind dries up the mud and crumbles it; this frees the grass from being stuck to the mud. Afterwards comes the rain, which makes it grow further.
Similarly, the exoteric dimension of the Torah serves to separate the individual from his gross materialism. Once he has been somewhat detached from materiality and the matters of this world he can go on to learn the esoteric dimension. It will then develop him further, "like showers on mature grass." For mature grass is already detached from the mud and clay and can bear the heavier showers that promote its growth to maturity.
Studying the Torah's exoteric dimension trains the individual in the fundamentals of Jewish faith; this knowledge prevents him from misunderstanding or misinterpreting the imagery or allusions found in the esoteric tradition. Learning and following the Torah's laws sanctifies the individual, giving him at least the basis of a higher perspective on life in which the spiritual is ascendant over the material.
chanoch adds: What has to happen is the study of the exoteric levels which includes the Hebrew letters, words and sounds causes changes to the soul that elevates the level of belief until it reaches a level sufficiently to accept the idea of certainty. This is my opinion.
Moses then said, "When I proclaim the name of G‑d, give greatness to our G‑d." This too was to answer the question of why both exoteric and esoteric dimensions of the Torah are necessary. The answer given here is that the Torah is similar to the [Divine] Name Havayah, which also possesses both a hidden and revealed dimension. The hidden dimension is the name itself, as it is written; the revealed dimension is the way it is pronounced, as the name Adoni.
This is similar to our Sages' explanation of the verse: "This is My name forever, and this is My remembrance for all generations." (Exodus 3:15) The word for "forever" [l'olam] can be phonetically interpreted to mean "to conceal" [l'aleim, in modern Hebrew: l’ha’alim. (Pesachim 50a)] The word for "My remembrance" [zichri] can also mean "the way I am mentioned," referring to the way the name Havayah is to be pronounced throughout all generations, i.e. as the name Adoni.
The name Havayah was allowed to be pronounced as it was written only when the Temple stood — and even then, only in the Temple itself.
So it is with the Torah, for G‑d and His name and the Torah are all one, for [as mentioned above], the Torah is all names of the Holy One, Blessed Be He.
Just as G‑d's name possesses both a hidden and revealed dimension, so does the Torah, since the Torah is, after all, G‑d's name.
This is why Moses said "When I proclaim the name of G‑d, give greatness to our G‑d," meaning, "When I recite a blessing and say 'Blessed are You,' you should respond 'Blessed be He,' referring to our G‑d Himself, referred to by the name Havayah. When I then [continue and] say 'Adoni,' you should respond, 'and blessed is His name,' referring to the name Adoni.
The name Havayah is considered G‑d's proper name, and in many contexts is taken to refer to His essence (as opposed to any of His attributes). The name Adni, in contrast, is just one of the various names of G‑d that refer to Him as He manifests Himself in one of His attributes—in this case, the attribute of kingship, since the word Adni literally means "my lord" or "my master." The essential idea here is that — except in the Holy Temple, where the revelation of G‑d is most intense — the average person is not able to bear a direct revelation of G‑d's essence and still retain his own independent existence. Rather, we refer to G‑d, even when reciting a blessing in the 2nd person ("Blessed are You…") as the lord and master of the universe. That is, we relate to G‑d as He is manifest in this world. This is, of course, a much lower aspect of Divinity than G‑d's essence itself.
Thus, Moses is here telling the Jewish people: whenever I refer to G‑d in a blessing as "You," i.e. I address G‑d's essence, you should respond "Blessed is He," referring to G‑d Himself, abstracted from any particular attribute. When I then pronounce G‑d's name (as Adni), you should respond "Blessed be His name."
This is the mystical explanation of why after the first words of blessings ("Blessed are You, O G‑d"), those hearing the blessing respond baruch Hu uvaruch shemo — "Blessed be He and blessed be His name."
Thus we see that G‑d's name possesses both a hidden and revealed dimension.
If you then ask, but why does G‑d's name itself need to have a hidden and revealed dimension? Would not the hidden dimension [i.e., the name Havayah] be enough, seeing that it is the main and essential name of G‑d?
To answer this question, Moses continues, "The Rock, perfect are His deeds, for all His ways are just." "The Rock" refers to the name Adni, which in turn refers to G‑d's attribute of stern justice. As is known, the name Havayah refers to the Divine attribute of mercy, while the name Adni, when spelled backwards [rearranged], spells "judgment" [in Aramaic, dina]. The attribute of justice is necessary in order to reward the righteous and punish the wicked. G‑d wanted to create man with two inclinations—the good inclination and the evil inclination; this is why He is called "perfect," for both inclinations contribute to the service of G‑d—yes, even the evil inclination. As our Sages explained the verse, "And you shall love G‑d, your G‑d, with all your heart…" — with both your inclinations: the good inclination and the evil inclination. (Berachot 54a)
The "evil inclination" motivates man to engage in activities that emphasize and aggrandize his material side, at the expense of his spiritual side. If the individual can harness this inclination and use it to see to the needs of those physical aspects of his life necessary for his continued and increasingly enhanced service of G‑d, he is loving G‑d with both his inclinations.
chanoch adds: The above paragraph is the translators opinion. This must be emphasized. My teachers explained it differently yet it is too long to explain here.
This is how the sage answered the heretic [who mocked the commandment of circumcision, saying that if G‑d wanted man circumcised he would have created him thus. The sage answered: just as beans need to be cooked [in order to be eaten, so does man need additional perfection even after he has been born the way G‑d created him]. (Bereishit Rabba 11:6) Similarly, G‑d desired that man should rectify the evil within him by his own efforts, and in this way be perfected [by his own efforts].
chanoch adds: thus removing n”Bread of Shame”.
"Musical Works by Moses" is the next installment of the series.
Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."
From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky
G-d continues to give us chances to reveal His holiness in the world
This 2nd installment continues the passage presented in: "The Ins and Outs of the Torah".
The Song of Moses, which constitutes the greater part of the portion of the Torah read this week, begins:
Give ear, O heavens, and I shall speak,
Let the earth hear the talk of my mouth.
Let my teaching drip like rain,
Let my talk flow like dew,
Like droplets on new growth,
Like showers on grass.
When I proclaim the Name of G‑d,
Give greatness to our G‑d.
The Rock, perfect are His deeds,
For all His ways are just.
[He is] a steadfast G‑d, [with] no corruption,
Righteous and upright is He.
[If someone] corrupted, he did not corrupt Him,
Their blemish is His children's,
A stubborn and twisted generation.
Shall you do this to G‑d?
You degenerate and unwise people?
Is he not your Father, your creator?
He made you and established you.
At the end of the previous installment, we saw how the Arizal explained the verse "The Rock, perfect are His deeds" (ibid.) to mean that G‑d created man imperfect in order to allow him to perfect himself through his own deeds.
This, then, is the mystical meaning of "The Rock, perfect are His deeds." "His deeds" refers to Adam, whom G‑d formed with His own hands. (Agadat Bereishit 11:19)
The phrase "perfect are His deeds" is actually written in the singular: "perfect is His deed", and thus can be understood to refer to G‑d's most perfect creation, Adam. The Arizal now relates this to the following verse: (Habakkuk 3:2)
G‑d, I heard what I heard from you, and I was afraid. G‑d, sustain Your deed in these years, In the midst of these years, make it known That in anger, You remember to be merciful.
Habakkuk…was a reincarnation of Adam…
Thus, [the prophet] Habakkuk, who was a reincarnation of Adam, said, "G‑d…sustain Your deed in these years [of their exile]."
Habakkuk heard that G‑d was going to exile the Jewish people, and was afraid. Since he was a reincarnation of Adam, the "deed" of G‑d, he similarly refers to Israel as G‑d's "deed". But the mystical meaning of this passage is as follows:
When [G‑d] called [Adam] in the Garden of Eden [after he sinned], He said, "Where are you?" [Referring to this, Habakkuk said, "G‑d,] I heard what I heard from you, and I was afraid. G‑d, sustain Your deed" [i.e. Adam] in these years." I.e. even though he will not live a thousand years, at least let him live "In the midst of these years", i.e. most of them.
Adam was intended to live a thousand years. When he sinned, his life was shortened to 930 years.
From this, we see that the word "Your deed" refers to Adam.
Similarly, King David, who was [also] a reincarnation of Adam, said, "A psalm, a song for the Shabbat day." (Psalms 92:1) It is known that Adam composed this psalm. King David said about Adam, "For I rejoiced, O G‑d, in Your deed" (Psalm 92:5), referring to Adam, for [Adam] gave [King David] seventy of the years of his life. Were it not for this, [David] would have had no life at all.
Adam…asked G‑d to grant David 70 years of his own life…
When Adam sinned, G‑d banished him from the Garden of Eden. This was on Friday afternoon, but Adam was allowed to stay in the Garden of Eden through Shabbat. He therefore composed the Psalm: "A song for the Shabbat day". When King David re-composed this psalm thousands of years later, he did so as the reincarnation of Adam.
King David was destined to be a miscarriage, but when Adam prophetically saw this, he asked G‑d to grant David 70 years of his own life, and indeed, King David lived for 70 years. This is another reason Adam's life was shortened from 1000 to 930 years. (Zohar I:91b)
David could not be born until [his grandfather] Obed came and rectified Adam's [sin of abrogating G‑d's] command "to work and to guard" [the Garden of Eden.] This is why he was called "Obed".
"Obed", or, in Hebrew, "Oved", means "the one who works". Only after someone had rectified Adam's sin could his prayer be fulfilled.
chanoch adds: This concept of being a reincarnation of a particular Tzadik is actually an Ibur of that soul. The Tzadik asks your soul for permission to use your body to effect this particular tikune for the mistake that the Tzadik made. This is my opinion.
And parallel to [G‑d's] curse to Adam, "you shall eat bread by the sweat of your brow" (Gen. 3:19), [King David's father] Jesse was called "the Bethelemite" [literally, "of the house of My bread"].
In any case, this is another indication that the word "Your deed" refers to Adam.
We now return to the original subject of this exposition: why G‑d created man "imperfect".
G‑d desired to create Adam with an evil inclination, so that he eat the fruit of his own efforts…
And for this reason, G‑d desired to create Adam with an evil inclination, so that he eat [the fruit] of his own efforts, achieved through his own toil, i.e. subdue the evil inclination.
"For all His ways are just", and He does not want man to indulge and enjoy life in the Garden of Eden for free, the way the soul originally "ate off its father's table", receiving charity and unearned gifts, before it came into this world. Rather, G‑d desired that it come to this world and gather [the rewards of fulfilling the] commandments and [doing] good deeds. Only "then will it rejoice over G‑d" (Isaiah 58:14), as a reward for its deeds, and not an unearned fashion.
[Grammatical note: it…its Interpreting the second person form of the verb as the third person.]
Thus, since "all His ways are just", Adam had to possess two inclinations, a good inclination and an evil inclination.
And [as well, G‑d's] Name had to possess both judgment and mercy, i.e. the revealed and the hidden, so that if Adam would sin, he could be punished for his wickedness. [For the same reason] the Torah also had to possess both an exoteric and esoteric dimension.
Submitting to G‑d's will…puts us squarely in the driver's seat…
If you ask, how can it be said that "all His ways are just" when we see that there are wicked people who prosper [and righteous people who suffer]? For this reason, [Moses continued in his song,] replying first about the righteous [who suffer]: "[He is] a steadfast G‑d", and may be relied upon to give him his reward, i.e. [his just portion in] the World to Come. This is the same meaning as that of the verse, "…who guards the covenant and the loving-kindness [to repay those who love Him and keep His commandments] for a thousand generations," (Deut. 7:9) referring to the World to Come, which is the world that is all truth.
The World to Come is unlike this world, wherein the righteous can suffer.
It is a thousand generations long. [G‑d therefore] prefers not to repay [the righteous] in this world, in which life is short.
Concerning the wicked [who prosper, Moses] continued: "…[with] no corruption."
Meaning: be assured that He is not miscalculating.
The fact that He bestows goodness upon him is because "He is righteous", and is performing a kindness and charitable act with the wicked person.
Also, "He is upright", and must therefore reward the righteous in the World to Come, in which there is enough time for Him to bestow on him all the honor due him.
If you then ask: since all the fearsomeness was created only to punish the wicked, it would appear that someone who causes a blemish [through sin] blemishes (G‑d forbid) [the One] Above. To this, [Moses] replied that it is not so. Rather, "[If] a person corrupts, he does not corrupt Him", i.e. he does not corrupt [the One] Above at all, only "His children [suffer] their blemish", i.e. the blemish accrues to them, the children, alone.
[The result of sin] is called a blemish since man possesses 248 members and 365 sinews.
Since man's body is composed this way, it follows that the soul, in whose image the body is created, and which "fits" the body perfectly, also possesses 248 spiritual members, or aspects, and 365 spiritual sinews, or connecting channels.
Someone who neglects to perform an active commandment causes the [spiritual] member [of his soul] that corresponds to that commandment to be lacking altogether. But when he transgresses a passive commandment, it is similar to sticking a finger in an eye: he injures what he already possesses.
A "blemish" on the soul is thus caused by transgressing a passive commandment, by doing something one should not do.
This is the meaning of the phrase, "His children [suffer] their blemish".
G‑d, however, may He be blessed, "makes plans so that no one pushed away will be pushed away. [forever]" (Samuel II 14:14) He reincarnates the person two and three times, [in order to give him the opportunity to rectify his wrongdoings in subsequent incarnations]. This is the meaning of the phrase, "A stubborn and twisted generation". He brings the person into the world the first time, and he sins; he then has to be reincarnated a second time in order to rectify [his wrongdoings], but instead he makes things worse. Thus, he is called "stubborn". [G‑d] then reincarnates him a third time, but the individual returns to his folly. This is the meaning of "twisted".
Therefore, he continues, "Shall you do this to G‑d?" He acts for your good, but you anger Him.
The Arizal now returns to verse 3, "When I proclaim the Name of G‑d, give greatness to our G‑d."
An alternative explanation [of this verse]:
Moses said, "When I call upon the Name of G‑d" - he prayed about the exile in the psalm that begins "A prayer of Moses", as it is written [there], "Satiate us in the morning with Your loving-kindness" (Psalms 90:14), referring to the "morning" of the Redemption.
Exile is allegorically referred to as "night" and redemption as the "morning" that follows it.
Moses said: "When I pray about the exile" - this being the meaning of "When I call upon the Name of G‑d" - "then you should 'give greatness to our G‑d.'"
This is similar to the idea that "When Israel gazed upward and submitted their hearts to their Father in heaven, they prevailed" (Rosh Hashanah 3:8)
When the Jews came out of Egypt, they were attacked by the Amalekites. G‑d told Moses to send his disciple, Joshua to lead the Jews in battle against them. In the meantime, Moses ascended to a vantage point where he could observe the battle and lifted his hands in prayer to G‑d for victory. "And it was that when Moses would raise his hand that Israel prevailed, but when he rested his hand, Amalek prevailed." (Ex. 17:11) The sages teach us that it was not Moses' hands that magically enabled the Jews to prevail or kept them from prevailing, but rather, when they saw his hands raised they raised their eyes heavenward and submitted their hearts to G‑d, and G‑d gave them the strength to prevail.
Although the plain meaning of this is that we should realize that our ability to succeed in life is dependent upon our submission to G‑d's will, the flip-side of this idea is that by the same token, G‑d has set things up such that He cannot win His battles unless we "enable" Him to do so - by submitting to His will. Submitting to G‑d's will, on the one hand, is indeed an act of self-abnegation, but on the other hand, it puts us squarely in the driver's seat, since only by doing this can G‑d, so to speak, grant us the power to accomplish His purposes in the world.
G‑d…only manifests His greatness and power when the Jewish people perform His will…
Thus, Moses does his part as the leader by praying to G‑d to alleviate the suffering of exile. But at the same time, he asks us to "give greatness to our G‑d", i.e. to grant G‑d the power, so to speak, to grant us victory in fighting His battles.
Therefore he said, "Give [greatness to our G‑d]", which is similar to the thought [implicit in the verse,] "Give strength to G‑d" (Psalms 68:35). He, may He be blessed, only manifests His greatness and power when the Jewish people perform His will. This is also the meaning of [the continuation of] this verse, "…His greatness is [dependent] upon Israel." Even though, [as the verse continues,] "His strength is in the heavens," he nonetheless only manifests His greatness and power when the Jewish people do His will.
Even though strength is the Almighty's to apportion as He sees fit, and He can do whatever He wants, G‑d still refrains from exercising His power until the Jewish people submit to His will, so they can be fit to exercise this power.
From this we learn, as well, that G‑d will only bestow true success and power upon those who have actualized their G‑dly potential enough to be able to properly use them. If a person is not sufficiently refined and subservient to G‑d's will, he will misuse the power.
"Giving Greatness to G‑d" is the next installment of the series. You will find it below
Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah;
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