Parshat Va’etchanan: The oneness of Israel and God’s love

Moses fulfilled his transcendental mission as the zealous vigilant-guide who led the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. God’s love heard the people beseeching for freedom and also heard His loyal servant begging for entering the future land of Israel.

And I beseeched (va’etchanan) God at that time.” (Deuteronomy 3:23)

Moses’ attachment to serving God compelled him to implore for more, but his mission was already accomplished. 40 years in Egypt, 40 years in Midian, and 40 years in the desert for a total of 120 years of learning and transformation in one single memorable lifetime.

Moses had the exclusive privilege to meet God “face to face”, and to surrender to Him completely. Moses’ greatest desire was to see God’s presence fully revealed in all creation, and he knew that this is possible only when we conquer the nations in Canaan (the lower aspects of consciousness and negative emotions), and settle in the promised land (the plenitude and endless abundance of love’s ways and attributes).

The Creator allowed Moses to see it from the distance and, as our Sages say, to hear is to understand and to see is to know. Moses saw and Moses knew… what else did he need after seeing it all? Being part of it after “You, O God, have begun to show Your servant Your greatness.” (3:24)

This implies that our true connection with God’s love begins as a practical approach to life with the mission to reveal His concealment in the world. The Promised Land also represents the realized awareness of His love, therefore it is the starting point of living it fully in the material world.

This realization has the power to transform darkness into light, thus revealing love’s concealment by materialistic illusions. The greatness of God’s love is His revelation in all creation, and we see this greatness when we submit all levels of consciousness to His ways and attributes, His Glory. Thus is the true life.

“And you who cleave to the Lord your God are alive, every one of you, today.” (4:4)

Our Sages say that today refers to the constant present tense in which we experience the constant sustenance of God’s love. Considering the fact that God’s love is always with us because He created us and sustains us, it is up to us being aware of that transcendental truth. Even when we live in the illusions of the material world we have access to Him through the Torah.

“From there you will seek God your God, and you will find Him if you search after Him with all your heart and all your soul.” (4:29)

Let’s never forget that He is the only Truth.

“There is none else beside Him” (4:35, 39; 5:22)
Maimonides reaffirms this.

“This is the foundation of all foundations, and the pillar of all wisdom: to know that there is the First Being who brings all existences into being; that all existences of Heaven and Earth, and between them, derive their existence only from the Truth of His Being.” (Laws of the Fundamentals of Torah 1:1)

Moses continues reiterating the covenant between the Creator and His people, and warning about the consequences of following ego’s fantasies and illusions (idolatry) instead of cleaving permanently to Him. Hence he reminds Israel of the Ten Commandments (5:6-17), following His ways, and manifesting His attributes.

“You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live; and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the Land which you shall possess.” (5:29)

This is the context that precedes the most important statement of Judaism which defines the oneness of God with His creation through the awareness of His people, Israel. It is Israel who gives complete sense to this statement because it is Israel who is commanded to be aware of it.

“Hear [understand], Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.” (6:4)

Although this statement is made by Moses our teacher, it is actually the Creator who proclaims it. This is the culmination of the oneness of Israel with Him, and Israel as the trustee of this divine foundation and principle.

The verse is followed by a clear explanation of this principle because it is a dynamic statement that implies an active awareness. This explanation is the way in which we realize such awareness (6:5-25) and love is its essential foundation.

As long as we are in, for and with the love of God we will be one with Him. The verses remark the importance to be constantly aware of God’s ways and attributes in virtually everything we do day and night. This bond of love which exemplifies oneness does not allow any kind of separation because this love only cohabits with God’s ways and attributes, and nothing else.

As we mentioned in previous commentaries, when we choose to separate from love, as the material manifestation of God’s love, the consequences are symbolically illustrated in the Hebrew Bible as “wrath” and “vengeance” derived from “jealousy”. Indeed jealousy, our zeal to cleave to God, keeps us united to His love.

“(…) for a jealous God, even the Lord your God, is in the midst of you; lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and He destroy you from of the face of the Earth.” (6:15)

Indeed we are destroyed when we choose to live in materialistic illusions and not in His truth.

“(…) that they may serve other gods; so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and He will destroy you quickly.” (7:4)

“Because you are a holy people unto the Lord your God: the Lord your God has chosen you to be His own treasure, out of all peoples that are upon the face of the Earth.” (7:6)

Certainly not everyone is touched and inspired by God’s love to follow His ways and manifest His attributes. Therefore if our ancestors were chosen along with their descendants, we as one united Israel must honor this heritage by choosing back to Him.

“The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, but because you were the fewest of all peoples.” (7:7)

Let’s honor the legacy of our forefathers. Let’s honor love for the sake of God’s love.

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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