Topic: Holidays & Time Zones | Posted:March 22, 2017
The portion Vayakhel-Pekudei begins with a discussion of Shabbat, the seventh day of the week, the time when the greatest Light is revealed. All the blessings that we will draw throughout the week draw their energy from Shabbat. So, it begins by saying, “These are the things that the Creator said to do.” The word la’asot, which can be translated as “to do,” is used. But the word la’asot actually has a completely different meaning; it means “to create.”
It says also in the previous portion, Ki Tisa, that the Israelites keep or protect the Light of the Shabbat, La’asot et haShabbat, but, again, the word la’asot doesn't mean really “to do,” but rather, “to create.” And it says in the Midrash that if a person connects to Shabbat properly, it's not that he follows the orders of Shabbat and receives Light, but rather he is the one creating the Light of Shabbat.
The Ramchal says the free will we have is the greatest gift the Creator gives us, meaning what we are doing is actually creating reality. We are creating the spiritual tools and spiritual actions. What this reveals to us is what the Creator means when he says La’asot et haShabbat. Some of us believe that these energies of Shabbat and the Light exist, and our job is to connect to the Shabbat and the Light that exists. Or that when we read the Zohar, the Light of the Zohar exists, and our job is to connect to the Light that's in the Zohar. Or when we put on the Tefillin, the Light in the Tefillin exists, and our job is to connect to the Light in the Tefillin.
But what the Midrash and the Ramchal are telling us is that's not true. And this is an amazing understanding. The Ari speaks about the fact that there are so many actions it says in the Torah that if you do, you'll have length of days; “If you do this, you'll get this blessing. If you do this, you'll get this reward.” Yet so many people do the spiritual actions and don't get the Light or reward the Torah tells us we’ll get if we do these actions. Why?
Because now we can understand in a deeper way. When we come to Shabbat, and in our consciousness the Light exists and our job is to connect to the Light that exists, then we’re not really connecting, because we have not created the Shabbat. We need to come to Shabbat saying there is no Light of Shabbat today and that our job is to create, with our consciousness, understanding, and desire, a Shabbat to exist. Then, we can draw the Light of Shabbat.
Now we can understand why it says that if a person, let's say, is lost in the desert, and doesn't know what day it is and doesn't know which day is Shabbat, but counts seven days, and on the seventh day, he draws the Light of Shabbat, even if it isn’t really Shabbat. How is that possible? If the Light of Shabbat only exists on the seventh day, then he should only be able to connect on the seventh day. But if we understand that we are the ones who create Shabbat, we are the ones that create that feeling, then we can connect and draw the Light of Shabbat.
This is, in my mind, a Rav Berg concept. That even though we think we see the Tefillin, so we put it on our arm and it should connect us to the Light of the Creator, we actually don't realize that we’re not even putting Tefillin on, because they don't exist. Rav Berg often talked about this - people think they're putting on Tefillin, but they're not really putting them on. It doesn't even exist as a spiritual tool, and the fact that it's sitting in our bag doesn't mean it exists. We have to create it into existence every time, prior to our connection. It is the same thing with the Zohar. When we open up the Zohar, most of us think, the Light of the Zohar exists, and all we have to do is connect to the Light of the Zohar. But, no. There's actually a step before that and if we’re not creating it, then we can't draw that Light.
We actually have to create the spiritual tools invested with energy and Light in order to then be able to draw Light out of them. Which means when we come to Shabbat on Friday afternoon, our consciousness has to be, “I am asking the Light of the Creator to assist me in creating the Light of the Shabbat.” And then we will go ahead and do all the actions of connection to draw upon the Light of Shabbat that we created. And then for those of us who put on Tefillin when we come again in the morning, we don't put it on and expect, hope, desire, or ask that the Light of the Creator shines the Light within the Tefillin to us. The first step is asking the Light of the Creator to give us the ability to create the Tefillin every day anew. Because even if we did create Tefillin yesterday, those Tefillin don't exist anymore today. So before we put them on, we have to say to the Creator, “Give me the Light to create the spiritual Tefillin. Give me the Light to be able to invest these Tefillin as a spiritual tool.” Then we can put them on and connect to them. The same thing with the Zohar. Before we open up the Zohar, we have to ask the Creator to give us the Light to create the Zohar today. And only then are we going to open up the Zohar and read from it.
Now we can understand why so many people do the spiritual actions and use the tools, and it doesn't work for them. Because they didn't create them first. And therefore, the Ramchal says the greatest gift that we have is the free will which allows us to create. What does that mean? For example, a cup exists whether or not we have free will. But if, for whatever reason, let's say the Creator took away all of our free will, the cup would still exist. So, what does it mean when the Ramchal says that free will is what allows things to come into existence?
On a spiritual level, when we are not creating, the tool doesn't exist as a spiritual tool, even though it might exist as a physical reality. But it means that today, we have to create a new Zohar, we have to create a new prayer, we have to create a new Shabbat, we have to create a new tool. And then, we can draw from them. So, what does free will mean, the Ramchal asks? That unless we choose to create a new tool, it doesn't exist today from yesterday. As long as we don't create it, it doesn't exist for us; Tefillin is not Tefillin, Shabbat is not Shabbat, the Zohar is not the Zohar.
It's not very often that Moses gathers all the Israelites, but on Shabbat Vayakhel-Pekudei he does. Why? Because he's teaching them a fundamental understanding about the spiritual work. We can use the tools, but they're not there. They don't exist, because we don't create them. The Creator is telling us that before we even think to use the spiritual tools and be able to receive benefit and Light from them, we have to first create them.