Topic: Well Being | Posted:January 31, 2013
This week we are coming to another important Shabbat, the Revelation at Sinai, the Aseret Hadibrot, translated as the Ten Utterances, but perhaps known better as the Ten Commandments. The Zohar explains that what happens on this Shabbat – then and now - is that the totality of the Light of the Creator is revealed, and therefore, Death removed from this world… which we know that the Israelites then lost when they fell at the Golden Calf.
Every week we read through the different writings of the kabbalists to find teachings, and I have to say this week was very difficult, because there is so much written about this portion. However, there is one secret I’d like to share with you here that I find to be very exciting and important.
One section of this Torah portion says, before the Ten Utterances even begin, vayityatzvu betachtit hahar, “The Israelites gather at the base of the mountain.” They are waiting for the Revelation, they are standing at the base of Mt. Sinai. But the kabbalists say there is a deeper story and secret to the words vayityatzvu betachtit hahar, “they stood at the base of the mountain,” and that is this - the Creator uprooted Mt. Sinai and held it above the heads of the Israelites, saying to them, essentially, that if they accept the Torah, if they accept the spiritual work, fine. But if not, they will die here, for He will drop the mountain on their heads.
The Creator, seemingly, is forcing them to accept the spiritual work. The Talmud, when referring to this story, ends it with a statement that we can have a great excuse when we fall, because we can say to the Creator, “look, we didn’t really accept this. We didn’t accept all the rules of the spiritual work. You forced it on us. So we have excuses.” In fact, this whole week’s portion is full of excuses. The instance discussed here is such that even before everything begins, the Creator takes the mountain and puts it on their heads and says if you don’t accept the spiritual work I will kill you all; from here, the kabbalists say, everybody has an excuse.
What’s crazy about this situation is that we know the Israelites were very excited to both do their own spiritual work and accept doing the work, as Rav Ashlag explains in The Wisdom of Truth, for the entire world. They accepted all of it whole-heartedly, with excitement. There was no doubt in their minds.
So then why did the Creator have to force them? Why coerce somebody who is completely excited to do it? It doesn’t make any sense.
The answer is a very important understanding. When we fall, and we all do, daily, the Negative Side wants us to think that we’ve made a terrible mistake - “I’ve fallen. I’m in a place of darkness. I’ve created a spiritual hole for myself. Am I connected to the Creator at this point? No. I’m in a place of darkness, the Creator’s not here. Because of my negative action, I’m all alone now.” Then, because of those thoughts, we may wallow in the mistake, wallow in the darkness, and stay stuck.
But that’s a lie the Negative Side tells us, and it’s a lie that we, unfortunately, believe more often than not. So, what is the truth? The truth is that even before we fall the Creator knows we are going to fall, and He not only is there in the hole before us, He’s already built a ladder and prepared a path to take us out. There’s a concept the kabbalists call archaztiv velo arpenu, where the Creator says “I hold onto this person and I never let him go.” And this is the truth. Every time we fall, that hole, that darkness is not really dark; it’s full of Light. The Creator is with us, in the darkness. The Negative Side doesn’t want us to see that. The Negative Side wants us to think we’ve fallen into darkness and built such a huge hole that we can forget about even trying to connect back to the Creator.
Which brings us to a beautiful teaching: Where is the Creator actually closest to us? When we are in the hole. When we fall, the Creator is there with us, holding our hand and dragging us up with Him. We are actually closer to the Creator when we are getting out of a hole than when we are on a straight path. The secret of this story, therefore, is that the Creator knew the Israelites were going to fall; when He’s giving the Utterance, He’s already in the hole, and He’s already built the ladder out.
So the understanding that we receive this week is not to believe the lie of the Negative Side when we fall. Because the Creator is there, and grabs our hand, achaztiv velo arpenu, “I’ll hold onto him, I won’t let him go,” and we can leave the darkness right then, because at the moment we find ourselves, because of our own actions, in a place of darkness, it is in that exact moment we have to realize that we are closest to the Creator. The Creator was in this darkness before us, waiting for us. He’s built the way out.
If you maintain this consciousness you cannot only go out of the darkness immediately, you can create a closer connection to the Light of the Creator in those moments. One of the gifts we can take with us from this week’s portion is that the greatest connections we make are when we leave the darkness of our fall with the assistance that the Creator has put there for us before we’ve even fallen.
The Creator does not want you to wallow in the darkness, wallow in your mistake, or wallow in your fall. If you have the consciousness that the complete Light of the Creator is there with you in the darkness, then not only do you go out of it immediately, but you also have the greatest connection to the Creator through your process of going out of the darkness with Him. It’s a powerful, beautiful, and practical teaching that is one of the great gifts of this Shabbat; one that we can use every time we fall.