Parshat Nitzavim: The redemption of love

Our sages say that the First Temple was destroyed due to murder, incest and idolatry; that the Second Temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred; and that the Third Temple will be built when we all love each other.

We are truly redeemed when we care for each other as it is commanded to us.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself, [for] I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18)

We say that the entire creation is a manifestation of God’s love and constantly sustained by Him. We also say that being an emanation of God and sustained by Him, creation consequently is an expression of Him. Therefore we have to perceive and understand creation, ourselves included, as a manifestation of God’s love.

This is what we are and nothing less. We just have to assimilate this truth in all levels of consciousness, because love is who we are and love is what we manifest when we are fully aware of it.

“You are all standing (nitzavim) this day before the Lord, your God (…)” (Deuteronomy 29:9)

This is emphasized in all aspects of the chosen people, “every man of Israel”.

Our sages teach that Israel has a multifaceted identity that virtually encompasses every potential quality, and they understand this diversity not as qualities that make us different from each other (rich, poor, artist, shepherd, wise, ignorant, foreigner, woodcutter, water drawer, etc., etc.) and as caretakers for each other.

“All Israel are guarantors for each other.” (Talmud, Shavuot 39a)

Just by the fact that we are children of the same Father who commands us to love each other. Redemption is the invitation to love each other because when we care for each other we are indeed redeemed.

Thus we understand that creation is an utterance of God’s love and such as we relate to the Creator, His creation and to each other with love.

We do that in the unity evoked when we all stand today before our Father to embrace His covenant (Deuteronomy 29:11)

This redemption is fully understood in relation to our exile in the darkness of ego’s materialistic illusions.

“Because you know how we dwelt in the land of Egypt, and how we passed among the nations through which you passed.” (29:15)

We have to bear in mind that love’s ways and attributes do not dwell with ego’s fantasies and illusions. Again we are reminded that we live by the choices we make (29:18-19) and their consequences.

“Because they went and served other deities, prostrating themselves to them, deities which they had not known, and which He had not apportioned to them.” (29:25)

We can learn from this verse that what we truly know is our Father’s love for us, as our Creator who sustains us because that is our truth.

What we don’t really know is the darkness of ego’s illusions, the “deities” that love does not offer because they are not part in our connection with God. What we don’t know is God’s business.

“The hidden things belong to the Lord, our God, but the revealed things apply to us and to our children forever; that we must fulfill all the words of this Torah.” (29:28)

In our darkest hour we know that we can return to our Creator, to our essence, because He is always here and present as the very air we breathe.

“(..) and you will return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice (…), then the Lord your God will bring back your exiles, and He will have compassion upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations.” (30:2)

Love, as a material manifestation of God’s love, is our redemption because love is our true identity, and we need His truth to disperse all darkness, the foreskin that does not allow us to see the truth.

“(…) the Lord, your God, will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you may love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, for the sake of your life.” (30:6)

Yes, it is for the sake of our life because God’s love creates life and sustains life with all His blessings (30:9).

In the darkness of materialistic illusions we perish, but in the blessings of divine love we live.

“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live; to love the Lord your God, to listen to His voice, and to cleave to Him. Because that is your life and the length of your days (…)” (30:19-20)

And the Creator is our life.

“In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His compassion He redeemed them; and He bore them, and carried them all the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:9)

These words can come only from the greatest love of all, God’s love, the one that can redeem us from the darkness we have created for ourselves in the world. And He is still waiting for us to return to Him.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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