Topic: Well Being | Posted:August 6, 2014
Moses uses the names Hashem Elohim; the Tetragrammaton is the name of mercy, while Elohim is the name of judgment. Rashi, the great kabbalist and commentator, says that there is a secret to why Moses puts these two names together here.
The Baal Shem Tov explains that the secret to transforming a time of judgment or negativity into a time of mercy is called a “window.” Every judgment that comes down, every negativity that a person experiences, has hidden somewhere within it what's called a sliver, or a line, of mercy. And in order to transform any negativity into Chesed, mercy, one has to find that line of mercy within it and focus on it. So, the window that we have to open up is seeing the mercy and Light within the judgment.
The secret of the Ari's teaching, the Baal Shem Tov says, is that the way to sweeten judgment - and judgment means any time a person experiences either small or great times of negativity, illness, darkness, or sadness - is to elevate Malchut, which represents judgment, to Binah, which represents understanding. When you take the judgment and find within it the line of mercy and you focus on that spark of mercy, you then begin the process of transforming or elevating that judgment from the realm of Malchut where it's totally dark into the realm of Binah, where it can be transformed into total Light.
This is the secret to transforming judgment or darkness into Light: you have to open up the window into that judgment, find the sliver of mercy in it, and focus on it. Then you slowly but surely elevate the judgment up to its source, up to Binah, and it becomes mercy, Chesed. And this is the secret of what Moses was asking for on this Shabbat. As we have said, the Land of Israel is not about being in a geographical place; it's about a state of connection to the Light of the Creator, which is a state of consciousness. A person who is in what's called the Land of Israel is a person who always finds and sees the Light, and never sees darkness.
There’s a story that helps us understand this:
Around 1965 or ‘66, Rav Brandwein was in Safed with the Rav and one other person for Shabbat. On Shabbat afternoon, the three of them went for a walk in the old city, when suddenly a big tour bus stopped. People got off the bus and were clearly not connecting to Shabbat – they were smoking, taking pictures, etc. The tour guide asked Rav Brandwein if he could show them around; Rav Brandwein was born in Safed, and his family lived there for generations (his family is buried in the same cemetery as the Ari), so he said sure. He spent about an hour with them, walking through the whole city, pointing everything out and explaining everything. After that hour, the other person who was with them asked Rav Brandwein, “I don't understand. How, in the middle of Shabbat, could you walk around and guide these people who are smoking and taking pictures and doing all the things that are not connected to Shabbat?” Rav Brandwein turned to this person and said, “You know, to tell you the truth, I didn't see anybody smoking or taking pictures.” Why didn’t he? Because, as the kabbalists teach, when a person is in the Land of Israel - which means when a person is truly connected to the Light of the Creator - he cannot see anything negative.
On this Shabbat of Va’etchanan, Moses asks the Creator to give him the ability to see the goodness in everything. Because for Moses, it wasn`t about entering into the physical Land of Israel; it was about giving us the merit of seeing the goodness in everything. And that is the secret of being in the Land of Israel. Moses knew that the only way anybody will ever be able to enter into the Land of Israel, to a total connection with the Light of the Creator, is if they are growing in their ability to see the mercy within the judgment.
However, this pretty much goes against what we so often do. We need to realize in our daily lives that every single time we see something negative in another person or situation, we are separating ourselves from the Light of the Creator, because if you're seeing something negative, it means you're disconnected.
Therefore, we have to ask ourselves on this Shabbat - do I find less things wrong today than yesterday, in people, in situations? Because if you're not growing in this area, it's an indication that you are not entering into the Land of Israel, you are not entering into a true connection with the Light of the Creator.
But if we are finding more and more goodness in others, and it becomes even more and more difficult for us to find negativity, it means we are getting closer to the Light of the Creator. And so if we find ourselves getting upset and moving on, never creating a window into that action or saying to ourselves, “let me find why this is great, let me find that line of mercy within there,” then we never assist the Creator in transforming those forces of negativity into Light. Yet when we understand that our work is to use the window into this judgment, to transform difficulty into a time of mercy, then we grab every single one of these opportunities, giving the Creator the ability to transform those forces of destruction into Light.
We are meant to find the goodness within every difficulty, transform it, and make it into Light. That is the secret, the strength, and consciousness that Moses gives us on this Shabbat. In all that happens in our lives, we have to remember that there is goodness within everything the Creator does.