For the week ending 1 October 2005 / 27 Elul 5765

Parshat Netzavim

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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On the last day of his life, Moshe gathers together all the people, both young and old, lowly and exalted, men and women in a final initiation. The covenant includes not only those who are present, but even those generations yet unborn. Moshe admonishes the people again to be extremely vigilant against idol worship, because in spite of having witnessed the abominations of Egypt, there will always be the temptation to experiment with foreign philosophies as a pretext for immorality. Moshe describes the desolation of the Land of Israel which will be a result of the failure to heed Hashem's mitzvos. Both their descendants and foreigners alike will remark on the singular desolation of the Land and its apparent inability to be sown or to produce crops. The conclusion will be apparent to all - the Jewish People have forsaken the One who protects them, in favor of idols which can do nothing. Moshe promises, however, that the people will eventually repent after both the blessings and the curses have been fulfilled. However assimilated they will have become among the nations, eventually Hashem will bring them back to Eretz Yisrael. Moshe tells the people to remember that the Torah is not a remote impossibility; rather its fulfillment is within the grasp of every Jew. The Parsha concludes with a dramatic choice between life and death. Moshe exhorts the people to choose life.


The Twilight Zone

"Rather, the matter is very near to you in your mouth, and your heart to perform it." (30:14)

A true story. Few things are as fascinating to the modern mind as the occult. In spite of modern societys most treasured conviction that ultimately all phenomena are reducible to scientific equations, there lurks the lingering feeling that there is indeed a twilight zone ultimately beyond human knowledge and comprehension.

Not long ago in Southern California a group of people were invited to witness the powers of a certain witch. Were not talking here about a fairground charlatan; it seems that this woman had genuine access to the powers of impurity that are the basis of witchcraft.

She started off her presentation by inviting someone from the audience to ask her a question whose answer could have been known to none save the person himself. All hands shot up in the hall and she chose one at random. "Tell me what happened to me five years ago!" The woman closed her eyes for a moment, paused and replied confidently, "Five years ago, you were in a serious car crash in which you lost a kidney. Is that correct?" The man gasped and said, "Thats amazing!" Without batting an eyelid, she selected another volunteer, "How much do I have in the bank?" Again she closed her eyes, "About 2 million, give or take a few thousand." Again, the volunteers face registered total astonishment. Slowly she worked her way around the room, revealing peoples hiddenmost secrets, astounding her audience.

In the middle of the crowd sat an Orthodox Jew. What he was doing at this particular gathering is not clear to me but there he was. He too had his hand raised. The witch invited questions from the person to his right and to his left, above him and below him, but she seemed almost deliberately to be missing him out. People in the audience began pointing in the direction of the Jew, indicating that she should take his question. Eventually, there was no one else in the audience left for her to question save the Jew. There was nothing she could do. With great reluctance she turned to face the Jew. As she opened her mouth to address him the color seemed to leave her face; she steadied herself against the podium and then collapsed. People sitting in the front rows of the audience, including the Orthodox Jew, hurried to revive her. Slowly she returned to consciousness. As she opened her eyes she saw a bearded face looking down into hers. "Get him away from me! Get him away from me!" she screamed. She started to heave and then promptly vomited all over the floor.

We have no idea of the power of spirituality that we create when we do a mitzvah.

We dont feel it. We dont recognize it. We make a blessing over an apple and eat the apple. Nothing seems to have changed. In fact, however, we have drawn down around us an invisible aura of holiness. We have become elevated and closer to G-d. We are more spiritual and the world is a more spiritual place. We dont recognize it, but someone whose essence is locked into the dark side recognizes it immediately and is repelled by it.

If this aura surrounds us when we do any mitzvah, think of how much holiness we can bring down when we do the mitzvah of Teshuva, of returning to G-d and seeking to bring Him back into our lives! This mitzvah of Teshuva predates the Creation itself. When we refocus those parts of our lives away from feeding the "other side" and plug them back into the true Source, the "faces of powers of darkness" must turn to a bilious green!

  • Based on the Sfat Emet, and a story heard in the name of Rabbi Leib Kelemen

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