If everything has the same weight, then nothing has gravitas. One day is not like the next; one conversation is not like the next; each experience teaches something different. We are taught to be conscious and to discern.
The beautiful, precious luchot, tablets, that Moshe Rabenu threw down, we know, broke in pieces, but what did he do with the fragments of stone? The rabbis of the Talmud tell us that, “Luchot v’shivrei haluchot munachin b’aron.” Both the holy presence of the broken pieces and the new luchot were kept alongside each other in the Aron Hakodesh, which travelled with the Jewish People throughout the desert wanderings and into the Land of Israel as a reminder. The ark, they taught, actually represents every person’s soul, for everyone carries with them the broken pieces along with the whole parts of their lives; the broken pieces neither overpower nor overshadow the whole. Keeping the one-ness, recited in the Shma, is essential. The past in Judaism leads towards The Source—Creation and the Revelation at Mt. Sinai just as the future turns toward the glorious destiny that G-d intends for His Holy Universe. This is the promise: Exile and Return/ Het and Tshuva (sin and repentence) / Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. It behooves each one of us to enter the journey.
Marvelling about the splendor of the Land of Israel, Moshe describes Paradise. How can he discuss what he never experienced? Obviously, only because he has Eden already within himself. He has the experience of knowing the eternality of G-d from communing with Him face to face. He knows deeply that G-d is a loving G-d of compassion. If we allow ourselves, we all have this wisdom deeply embedded in our souls.
In this week’s parasha, Ekev, we read the second paragraph of the Shma: V’haya im shamoa, which deals with the consequences of our actions and the acceptance of the authority of the mitzvot. Sillily, in contrast to the first paragraph, where G-d is often described as loving, this second paragraph is reduced to the machinations of a jealous and punishing G-d, as if this were a pagan fight amongst differing deities. But this is not the case at all. V’ahavta deals with the love relationship between G-d and the People and how to demonstrate this love. V’haya im shamoa retells the special relationship between Elokim and the Holy Land and Israel’s necessity to live on that land in the spiritual dimension. The corporeal interweaves with the spiritual on the ground. G-d says the rain from heaven will fall on the land—not the natural world but the heavenly one—the spiritual Israel. It is a spiritual contract, which when abided by, yields blessing. The second paragraph then tells us G-d’s ultimate purpose: to unify the spiritual with the material; the first set of luchot with the second; Heaven with Earth.
May we all strive for the wisdom to both discern and find unity within our lives. Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Ronnie Cahana