Parshat Eikev The Blessings of Love – Reflecting on Pain and Wea
By Ariel-Ben-Avraham of Safed, Israel
Reflecting on pain and weakness
Immediately after posting my commentary on last week’s parshah (July 15), I underwent a quadruple by-pass operation at Rambam hospital in Haifa. Everything happened very, very fast and this I should consider a blessing, though I had plenty of “slow” time to reflect on the whole experience. The main reflection came out of the overwhelming weakness as a result of the operation. It is in this weakness that I truly grasped some of the principles of Judaism that we think we understand but actually not as we must.
In weakness we realize that strength is what keeps us alive, and not in helplessness or lack. Weakness became for me the catalyst to realize that the vessel that I am was almost empty, and therefore I started thinking about who created the vessel, how it is filled, and with what it is filled. Reflecting on this made me experience, not only in my own flesh but also in all levels of consciousness, that I was an illusion created by an illusion of myself. No matter how much I have intended or tried to approach who created me, I do it amid the illusion that separates me from Him.
It was more about weakness than about pain. As excruciating as it might be, pain shakes us up; but it is the absence of strength what makes us realize that life and all Creation are sustained by our Creation and none else. In this I am including all dimensions and levels of consciousness: nothing is the result of our creation, but His. The reflection was not necessarily leading to anything in partirticular but to the realization that only G-d is. This realization encompasses all possible ethical approaches to life and Creation, including the awareness of humbleness that leads us to accept His will, the One that is. This whole reflection was amazingly matched by an e-mail that I received after the operation from my Rabbi in Chicago, where I lived before I made aliyah, which I feel compelled to share with you:
It is written in Job: “My thoughts are not your thoughts and My ways are not your ways.” Ultimately the religious individual accepts the reality that we are the created and He is the Creator. We are finite and He is infinite. We live in our time, He knows time from the beginning to the end. We must accept that as Moses did, we are the revering, the servant of G-d. I have faced death in my own life. I underwent an operation the doctors thought I would not survive. My children were told to inform my greater family that I would not survive. I vividly recall being wheeled to the operating room. I was serene. I placed myself in G-d’s hands and simply relaxed. G-d, THE GOOD, would determine my destiny.
Judaism requires we live as if there were no G-d. We must direct our lives and not simply pray for Divine intervention. Yet, there are times during which we have done our level best. There is nothing else we can do. In those times we fall back into the loving hands of G-d, knowing He will do with us as He sees fit according to His timeless plan for Creation. Ariel, relax. G-d in His wisdom will determine your future. “The L-rd is my shepherd I shall not want.” It is true, I know it in my heart and soul. Let the Shepherd care for you in His way.
Rabbi Phil Lefkowitz
As the Rabbi said it, we are our Creator’s invention and not our own. And our lives, either in weakness or in strength, are in His loving hands.
Parshat Eikev: The Blessings of Love
In the portion of this week Moses emphasizes in the dynamics of how we relate to G-d, Love. In this context, eikev not only means because but due to: “And it will be, because you will heed these ordinances and keep them and perform, that the Lord, your G-d, will keep for you the Covenant and the loving kindness that He swore to your forefathers.”
(Deuteronomy 7:12). The text continues with the blessings of Love when we cleave constantly to Him (7:13-15), specially His power to overcome the evils that we suffer when we choose the attachment to lower passions and ego’s fantasies (idolatry). We know that this attachment may be stronger than our will, and think: “these nations are more than I, how can I drive them out?” (7:17). Moses urges us to trust in Love as our deliverer, the Redeemer that guides us in our quest to submit all levels of consciousness (ego included) into His ways: “(…) remember what the Lord your G-d did onto Pharaoh, and onto all Egypt.” (7:18). As we mentioned in previous commentaries, Pharaoh represents ego’s pretentious rule over all dimensions of consciousness, and Egypt the resulting narrowness and limitations.
We must understand that the ways and attributes of Love are not conditional to their blessings but inherent to them. We love, therefore we are blessed. As we say in the book “God as Love”, Love is His cause and His effect because He encompasses all. We just need to achieve that awareness by being and doing His ways (8:6, 10:12, 11:22), which Rashi refers to as being and doing His image and likeness: “He is merciful; then you too should be merciful. He does acts of loving kindness; then you too should do acts of loving kindness”. This is the dynamics of our relationship with our Creator: after we conceive Him as Divine Love as He is, we relate to Him such as by being and manifesting His ways and attributes. Thus we are aware that we are Love because we were created by Love, due to Love, and for the sake of Love; and this cause is its own effect: when we realize this identity we will be able to express it, and be Love in what we are and do. This awareness has the inherent power to reveal Love when and where concealed, because we are able to tell between Love, Truth, and material illusion.
We lose this sublime awareness when we let ego’s agenda take over our lives: “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.” (8:17), and its devastating consequences (8:19-20). We know that we can be very stubborn in the process of redirecting our ego and all levels of consciousness into Love’s guidance: “(…) because you are a stiff-necked people.” (9:6, 13). We don’t claim to be perfect, but we know what perfection is when we see it in all Creation. Only then we realize that Love is perfect, and our happiness, joy and plenitude come out of Him.
Loving our Creator is the Essential Commandment to fully understand our relationship to Him: “Because if you shall diligently keep all this Commandment which I command you, to do it, to love the Lord your G-d, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave unto Him.” (11:22). This is our heritage, our identity, and the source of all our blessings.