VaEtchanan

Torah Fax

Friday, August 8, 2003 - 10 Menachem Av, 5763

Torah Reading:  VaEtchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11)
Candle Lighting Time: 7:45 PM
Shabbat Ends: 8:48 PM
Shabbat Nachamu

A Jewish Workout

This week's Parshah, VaEtchanan, is always read on the Shabbat immediately following our national day of mourning, Tisha B'Av. This Shabbat is known as "Shabbat Nachamu, the Sabbath of Consolation." As we discussed in last week's Torah Fax, in the spirit of Divine Providence, there must be fundamental connection between each Parshah and the Shabbat in which it is read. In our case, we must find a connection between VaEtchanan and this Shabbat's theme of consolation.

 
One of the highlights of this Parshah is the Shema, a succinct paragraph that contains within it most of the fundamentals of Judaism. After declaring "Hear O Israel, the L-rd is our G‑d, the L-rd is one," the Torah continues: "and you shall love G‑d your G‑d with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might."
 
According to the Talmud, when the Torah says, "with all your heart," it means that all of our passions, both material as well as spiritual, must ultimately be directed towards G‑d. One must try to be inspired to the extent that he realizes that the ultimate achievement and pleasure is to follow the path of service to G‑d.
 
But that is only the beginning. We must also love G‑d "with all of our soul." Here too, the Talmud adds clarification: to love G‑d with all of one's soul means that one must be prepared to give up our very life for Him. Thus, the Talmud rules that if one were given the option of converting to another religion or dying, G‑d forbid, one must make the ultimate sacrifice rather than betray one's devotion and connection with G‑d. (Sadly, we have seen this occur on countless occasions throughout our history…)
 
But the Torah still continues. The Torah adds that we have to also love G‑d with all of our might. What does this mean? If a person has already ignited the flames of passion within his soul for G‑d and is ready to give up his very life for G‑d, what else can be demanded of him in his devotion to G‑d?
 
The Talmud gives a unique explanation. "With all your might" means that we must love G‑d with our money as well. A person must be ready to part with his money for the sake of G‑d. And yes, the Talmud regretfully points out, this requirement is not self-understood from the aforementioned obligation to give up one's life for G‑d - because there are those people who love money more than life itself!
 
Chassidic literature provides us with a deeper understanding of what is meant by the phrase "with all your might" which will show the connection with this special Shabbat of Consolation.
 
To love G‑d with all one's might means to go beyond one's natural limit. It is conceivable that a person does everything required by the Torah. He gives charity with an open hand, he studies Torah and cares for the sick. He does everything right and nothing wrong - but he is not pushing himself to his limit. Just as in the world of exercise and aerobics, one must constantly break new barriers and push oneself a bit farther in order to grow stronger and continue to have the maximum workout, so too is it in the spiritual realm. If one stays on a certain plateau, one doesn't give the soul a proper "workout." If the soul does the same amount of Mitzvot that it did the day before and the day before that, it has not exerted itself.
 
To use all of our might means to transcend our limits, to reach new heights in the realm of holiness. We must try never to be satisfied with yesterday's accomplishments. With this approach, we can learn to overcome every obstacle - whether real or imagined. In simple terms: by virtue of the Torah's command to use "all of our might," we are given the ability to go beyond any and all limitations in our spiritual growth.
 
If we think of obstacles that have been experienced on a collective level by the entire Jewish nation, there is none more daunting than the phenomenon known as exile. With the destruction of the Holy Temple almost 2,000 years ago, the Jews have been forced to face every imaginable attempt to thwart their pursuit of G‑dliness. (And that is putting it mildly…) Indeed, the very existence of the Jewish nation has been described by some historians as going "against all odds."
 
The most powerful way through which we can transcend the walls and limitations of exile is for us to initiate that process on a personal level by attempting to transcend our own barriers and obstacles. By dealing with our personal obstacles, we can help bring Moshiach, who is known as "Ben Partzi, the one breaks through barriers." He will bring us true comfort and consolation, with the building of the Third Temple.
 
Moshiach Matters

“And I will remove wild beasts from the land” (Lev. 26:6). According to the Midrash, this will come to fruition in the Messianic era. Rabbi Judah says that G‑d will remove wild beasts from the world, while Rabbi Shimon maintains that G‑d will neutralize their aggressive instinct, as Isaiah (11:6) prophesies, “the wolf will lie with the lamb.” To be continued... (from www.askmoses.com)
Moshiach - It's a Jewish issue. For more info, visit www.moshiach.com

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