Parshat Va’etchanan: Living in goodness (II)

“O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness, Your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth that can do according to Your works, and according to Your mighty acts?” (Deuteronomy 3:24)

Our Sages refer to God’s “greatness” as His goodness with which He relates to His creation, and His “strong hand” as the prevalence of goodness as the cause and purpose of what He created. Likewise, He commands us to make it prevail in who we are, have and do.

Moses tells us that there is no substitute for goodness when he poses the rhetorical question about what other god can be as good as the Creator of all.

Moses also mentions His greatness as the inherent quality of a power beyond comprehension, capable of creating, sustaining and transforming according to His will, in clear reference to the ways that led the Exodus from Egypt, among other unfathomable miracles.

This revealed awareness in Moses was, as he said, the beginning for Him to assimilate God’s ways and attributes as His means to show us how goodness works. Our utmost national leader realized his own words that goodness is the prerequisite to be it, and be manifested.

Moses tells us that the beginning of wisdom is goodness as the Promised Land God wants us to live in. Hence Moses’ insistence to be allowed to dwell in premises of goodness.

“Let me go over, I pray You, and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that goodly hilly country and the Lebanon.” (3:25)

As Moses remarks, all is goodness in the land God promised to the children of Israel. In this verse he mentions in particular the hill sides as the heights of the best we can be; and the Lebanon, one of the names of the Temple of Jerusalem. The latter was destined to be the connecting point between the Creator and the world, through the land and the people of Israel.

Our Sages teach that Moses saw the land of Israel in the distance of space and time, for his prophetic abilities allowed him to see the Messianic times in which goodness will be the only reference in human consciousness. Hence Moses begged God to let him come in to that specific goodness in those particular times.

Moses was convinced that if allowed to enter the Promised Land, he immediately would have built the Lebanon, and initiate the eternal era of goodness in this world. However, the Creator’s will was otherwise, for He wanted the children of Israel to pursue themselves the awareness Moses forged to grasp the goodness he clearly saw at the end of his life.

Since that moment we still are in the process of assimilating goodness and be worthy of it. Once we complete the long journey we have made of this process, we will be able to finally come in to the land where God promised to dwell among (in) us.

The Prophet reminds us in the haftarah for this portion of the week.

“And the glory [the goodness] of the Lord shall be [fully] revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” (Isaiah 40:5)

Here “flesh” represents human life, harmonized “together” with a unified consciousness in which goodness will be the sole reigning principle to bond eternally with its Creator.

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 Zefat.
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