Blessings, Curses and Exalted Partnership
God, in His endless love, could shower us with nothing but goodness, and lofty, sweet spiritual abundance, always. But He doesn’t. Instead, He has offered us something even higher …
Bridging Earth and Heaven
Every human being is a ladder whose feet are planted on earth, and whose head reaches the heavens. This isn’t just a metaphor, it’s a literal description of our inner reality. Our souls—neshama— are connected to the heights of heaven; and from there cascades a flow of spirituality down through our spirit—ruach—and lower spiritual essence—nefesh. The nefesh is the inner realm where our higher dimensions interface with our bodies, the guf.
The reason man was designed in this way is because we are meant to be nothing less than the bridge between heaven and earth. The heavenly, higher worlds are anything but physical. And this world appears to be anything but spiritual. It would seem that there is no hope of these two worlds ever meeting. It would seem. But that is where man comes in. Man, the bridge between heaven and earth. Man, like a waterfall, is the great conductor of spirituality that brings the light of heaven downward—cascading—into this thick, temporal world of ours.
All worlds, and all dimensions, are interconnected via man. And all goodness and blessing that flows into this world, does so by way of man.
Life, In Three Dimensions
Our holy, p’nimiut infused and inspired teachings, tell us that there are three primary capacities in the human being, and that each is a lavush, a surface-level garment that expresses one of our three essential aspects: Thought, speech and action.
Thought, machshava, is the outer garb that expresses the inner light, the ohr, of neshama. Speech, dibbur, is the outer garb that expresses the inner light of ruach. Action, maaseh, is the outer garb that expresses the inner light of ruach. This means that when a person’s thoughts are holy and good, that they awaken and strengthen neshama, and draw to it the highest lights of the Godly life force. When a person’s words are holy and good—words of Torah and inspiration—they awaken and strengthen ruach, and draw to it the corresponding lights of Godly life force. So too actions. When a person’s actions are holy and good—deeds of mitzvah and kindness—they awaken and strengthen nefesh, and draw to it their lights of Godly life force.
When a person’s life is brimming with good, holy thoughts, words, and actions, then he becomes an abundant, rushing, flowing of light-channeling Godliness into, and throughout, every layer and dimension of all existence.
And this is the sōd, the deeper, beneath-the-surface meaning of, “ Iym b’chukoti … When you will walk in the ways of My statutes, and guard My mitzvot, and do them…”
… Then all of the abundant blessings detailed in the parsha will be channeled into the world. These may be economic blessings of prosperity—“The land will give it’s produce … the threshing will last until the season of vintage.” They may be blessings of the nefesh, “I will bring peace to the land …” And they may be spiritual blessings of ruach and neshama, “I will turn My full presence to you … I will walk among you…”
Every layer and aspect of life will be awash in blessing.
Iym b’chukoti, If You Walk In the Way Of My Statutes …
… and, as Rashi explains, “statutes-b’chukoti,” specifically means the “study of Torah,” while “My mitzvot” is the the living of the mitzvot.”
Torah study is the sōd, the deeper, beneath-the-surface garment for the light of ruach and neshama; it surrounds and embraces and delivers the dazzling spiritual Godliness that envelops our being. And a life of mitzvot, draws the brilliant lights into the practical, physical, societal dimensions of life. When the Adam ha’mushlam, the complete, light-infused person, actualizes the potential in every aspect of his life, soul, and being, he becomes a living conduit of every form and texture of spirituality; and the nation, and the world, are blessed in every way imaginable.
And so now we can understand:
We can understand that when the Torah says that if we live in a certain way that the result will be abundant blessing, or God forbid the opposite, that this can’t be understood in the superficial way of reward and punishment. This life of ours, of Am Yisrael, isn’t about a father giving out sweets to a child, or withholding them. After all, if it was just about handing out treats—
God, in His endless love, could shower us with
nothing but goodness, and lofty, sweet spiritual abundance, always. With all the treats in the world. But He doesn’t.
Instead, He has offered us something even higher …
He has offered us, indeed placed within our hands, the keys to unlocking the flow of blessing into this world. It’s us; we who bring light into this world, into the lives that fill this world—and spread it throughout every world—or not. Or darkness.
He has offered us something even higher …Far higher. Far more profound. Far more, truly, overflowing with bracha.
God wanted to place the keys to all existence in the hands of the nation of Israel, and therefore, within the Torah and mitzvot that are in our hands, rests the well-being of everything. That’s what this parsha, these blessings and curses are truly all about. Not reward and punishment, but breath-taking responsibility and potential. The breath-taking ability to make a difference, to have a far-reaching impact, on the world God created; and then asked of us, to be nothing less than His shutaf b’maaseh b’raishit, His “partners in creation.”
May we merit to be faithful, successful partners, shutafim.
May ours merit to be the thoughts, and words, and actions that unleash the ultimate shefa, abundant flow, of light, and goodness, and sweet blessings into our world.
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Translated by Shimon Apisdorf