Weekly Reading Insights: Netzavim 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Netzavim

To be read on 27 Elul 5765 (Oct.1)

Torah: Deut. 29:9-30:20
Haftorah: Isaiah 61:10-63:9 (7th of the Seven Haftorahs of Consolation)

Pirkei Avot Chapter 5-6

Netzavim is the 8th Reading out of 11 in Deut. and 51st overall, and 52nd out of 54 in overall length.

Netzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20) opens with G-d making a covenant with the Jews, establishing them as His nation. He tells them that if they stray from the Torah, evil will befall them, but that when they return they will be rewarded with blessings, and will be returned to their land. G-d sets before them the choice between good and evil, but warns them to stay away from evil.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:51-65/Netzavim)

On that day all the nations of the world are judged and Sarah [who represents the Shechina] howls in fear because of the harshness of the judgment and the blasts of the shofar, which also arouse great fear. Happy is the lot of the person who understands how to steer through all this and is saved from the harshness of that day, realizing that the arousal of strict judgment is only in order that it be sweetened at its source.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:51-65/Netzavim)

Thus, when a person performs a commandment, he effects both types of coupling. This is because the first two letters of the word for "commandment" [in Hebrew, "mitzvah", mem-tzadik] transform via atbash to yud-hei, which signifies the coupling of Abba and Imma.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Ramban (S:51-65/Netzavim)

It is this which our Rabbis have said: And the years draw nigh, when you will say: 'I have no pleasure in them' - these are the days of the Mashiach, as they will offer opportunity neither for merit nor for guilt." For in the days of the Mashiach, there will be no evil desire in man but he will naturally perform the proper deeds, and therefore there will be neither merit nor guilt in them, for merit and guilt are dependent upon desire.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"But the word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it." (30:14)
This teaches that it is in every Jew's power to bring the Torah closer to him. It is only dependent on our will, that we observe it with our "mouth" and "heart."
(Sefat Emet) (from L'Chaim #637)

"In your mouth and in your heart, that you will do it." (30:14)
Don't think that you have fulfilled your obligation "with your mouth" - just by speaking about doing a mitzva, or "in your heart" - just by thinking about doing one. Everything that is "in your mouth and in your heart" - all of these mitzvot - do it!
(Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk) (from L'Chaim #787)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:51-65/Netzavim)

"If any of you are dispersed at the outermost parts of heaven, from there will the L-rd your G-d gather you." (30:4)
No matter how far a Jew may be from Torah and Judaism, G-d promises to gather him back into the fold of the Jewish people when Moshiach comes. When a Jew is spiritually brought back from "the outermost parts of heaven," it hastens Moshiach's coming and brings the Redemption closer.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:51-65/Netzavim)

The Shlah comments on Tractate Taanit that words are meant to buoy our spirits. Evil precedes but is a sign of the coming good. We see in everyday life that the shell covers the fruit; night precedes day. It is from within darkness that light emerges.

If the Almighty had not created this "shell" concealing the good within, our entire reality would have been different. Every thing good would have been tinged with bad. Every fruit would have been a mixture of sweetness and waste, wine mixed with sediment. Ultimately, the Holy One Blessed Be He wished us to have the wine that is "guarded" - free of the sediment that caused the first sin (according to the opinion that the first fruit that Adam ate was the juice of a squeezed grape). That archetypal event changed the world, causing everything to become clouded and dark.

This darkness is the foundation for the great light that will follow. This is the secret of the Hebrew word for "And He separated" (Gen. 1:4), hinting to how G-d extracted the pure light from within the darkness. Consequently, this is the formula of our reality that we are able and must constantly extract good from within the negative. Secondly, we see that our continued exile, the trials we have been forced to face throughout the generations in fact cleanse us, saving us from much more difficult punishments. Difficulties push us to return to proper Jewish living because we are forced to examine our own lives.

The Shlah continues that this is the reason that the first verse of our Torah portion, "You are standing", follows the curses at the end of last week's Torah portion, and ultimately concludes later with "And this is the blessing" (Deut. 33:1). The curses are really blessings, and albeit from a very deep level of concealment, actually for our good. In fact, as we wrote above, they are the source for personal change. Just as when we realize that our own negative deeds are our destruction, and we use this revelation as a springboard to turn to positive deeds, the negatives actually save us and become positive.

Rebbe Michel of Zlotshuv gives more words of encouragement. On a verse later in our Torah reading, it says, "…And you choose life in order that you and your children will live."

What is going on here? This is Judaism…we fulfill its commandments to receive a prize? Absolutely not, we do the commandments for G-d's sake, not for any benefit! Rebbe Michil explains that when we do a mitzvah in the best way, for the sake of G-d because He commanded us, selflessly, with love, awe, and true intention, then we give that action a spiritual power, a life force that moves to higher and higher levels. Becoming something akin to a shining light, it spreads its effluence of blessings, mercy and life to all beings in the world. This is the inner meaning of the verse that we are commanded to choose life. This is the Jewish message the week before Rosh Hashanah: we should redouble our efforts to do good. Do not let the darkness hold us back. When the Jewish people do the commandments in the best way, we bring a flow of blessings to the world and all its inhabitants. Let us all pray for the arrival of Mashiach.

Shabbat shalom and blessings for a good and sweet year, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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