Parshat Va’etchanan 2018
By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And I Prayed to Hashem
“Hear Israel, HaShem is our God, Hashem is one.” In Rabbi Shneur Zalman Liadi’s treatise “Shaar Hayihud Vehaemenuna”, the declaration that HaShem “is one” also means that all plurality of the universe emanates from and is united through Hashem – “Oneness”. Thus, with everything that we experience, we should contemplate how that experience is manifest upon us through the Divine Will. When we pray, we tap into these Divine channels and make our wills united with the Divine Will; thereby the Divine attributes are “changed” in favor of what we wish for or say in our prayers. This, of course, does not pose a contradiction to the unchanging state of Hashem.The attributes of Hashem, as they are manifest to us, “change” but not the Essence of God. The Hebrew word for “changing one’s mind”, used in the Torah both in a human context and a Divine context so-to-speak, is the verb root n.h.m “lehinahem”. This term is also used in the context of comforting a mourner, as comforting a mourner is meant to “change” the mourner’s vexed consciousness to a more soothed consciousness.
This week’s haftorah calls to comfort the mourners of Zion: “nahamu, nahamu ami” – “comfort, comfort my People.” Commentators explain that the key to comforting lies with the end of this verse: “your God shall say.” In other words, by realizing that it is the Divine Hand that has brought retribution upon us, so too we realize that it is by the Divine Hand – the All-Compassionate One – that we will be comforted with His salvation.
This concept can be illustrated by the story of Rabbi Akiva’s sighting a fox departing from the Holy of Holies in the Temple. When the other Sages saw this incident, they cried; however, Rabbi Akiva laughed. In Rabbi Akiva’s vision this seemingly vexing incident of a fox emerging from our most holy location actually comes to teach us Hashem’s full compliance with the positive prophecy said in His Name just as Rabbi Akiva sees Hashem’s full compliance in regard to the negative prophecy about the Temple’s destruction said in His Name. In this way, we clearly realize that it is none but the Divine Providence that has brought retribution upon us, just as a father wishes to better his son sometimes by scolding. Therefore, it is none but the Divine Providence that will fully comfort us and provide us true goodness in plentitude.
One of the commentators on our haftorah, Nahal Sorek, says that the opening words of our haftorah “nahamu nahamu ami” allude to the three Patriarchs – Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yakov – through various numeric values of these words. For example, the numeric value of “nahamu nahamu” equals exactly the nae of Yitzhak (208). This teaching shows how essential the Patriarchs are for the comforting of Israel and the heralding of the future Redemption. Indeed, it is through the Divine power of our Patriarchs of Hebron that we are all united – “mehubarim” = Hebron – to our One God, the Comforter of Israel, before Whom retribution and salvation are one in the Divine Plan of Goodness.
One of the leading rabbis of Lubavitch Hasidism in Hebron was Rabbi Shneur Zalman Slonim. Rabbi Shneur Zalman Slonim was born in Hebron and was known already in his youth as a diligent and excellent Torah scholar. Later, he studied under the tutelage of the Rebbe of Habad in Lubavitch. The later encouraged Rabbi Shneur Zalman to move to Yafo and take a rabbinic position there, and so he did. Some time later Rabbi Shneur Zalman decided to move back to Hebron. However, the Tarpat Massacre which occurred at that time in Hebron forced Rabbi Shneur Zalman to move back to Yafo where he served as a rabbi till he passed away in 5696 (1936).
Real Stories from the Holy Land #273
Real Stories from the Holy Land: “I was thinking about a certain organization and their methods of telemarketing. At that moment this very organization called me “accidentally.”
Sources: Sefer Hebron
Comments, questions, and/or stories, email [email protected]