Women’s Torah Portion

Who Am I? Do I know Myself?

Over many years I had many questions and complaints from many different events and things I witnessed people do. A turning point in my life was when my married life was not so simple and our emotions got riled up. I yelled to my husband, “You don’t understand me!!” He suddenly stopped and quietly said: “Let’s assume that this is true; do YOU understand yourself?

I was quiet. The cat got my tongue. I didn’t know what to answer. The question if I understood and knew myself started echoing through my mind. At that moment I became aware of possibly one of the deepest and most meaningful things I could understand: “I really don’t understand anything! I don’t understand what the person opposite me went through that makes him act like he does, I don’t know of his traumas, upheavals and childhood experiences he had!”

The sweetness of understanding this thought changed me totally and will be with me my whole life.

Every event in a Jew’s life comes to signal to him something essential he must do to repair his character which is why he is in this world. With this, we live in a material world where there is a lot of pain and difficulty which we imagine holds us back from happiness and thriving.

In Va’Etchanan (which we read last week) Moses prays extensively to G-d to allow him to enter the Holy Land. G-d responds; “Don’t continue to talk to me about this.” G-d told Moses that if he would continue to pray to enter Israel G-d would ‘have to give in’ and let him in so G-d asked him to stop. My husband told me what the commentators say about this. If Moses would have entered the Holy land he would have built the temple. Because of the greater holiness of the temple that Moses built it would be indestructible. (Indeed the tabernacle of the Desert that Moses built was never destroyed it is somewhere in hidden storage.) G-d who saw the future saw that the nation of Israel would sin. If the temple could get destroyed then G-d couldn’t take His divine wrath out on the temple and He’d have to destroy the nation for its sins. That’s why Moses was not allowed to enter the Holy land and could only see it from the outside, in order for the Jewish nation to survive later on in the future.

From this episode and the lesson of the commentators my husband explained to me, we learn a few different things: Firstly, G-d ‘melts from our prayers and could change things around if we shake the heavens with our prayers. Secondly, we can never understand the reason why G-d does what he does at any given time or situation. Thirdly, true faith begins at the point our intellect ends as Rabbi Menachem Shach says; “the obligation of faith begins at the place the intellect of man ends.”

So let’s understand that we don’t understand! Let us use the tool of prayer and imbed in our hearts the simple faith that our purpose is to benefit others. We will merit feeling free and fortunate!


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