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July 16, 2024

Devarim (These Are the Words) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Devarim Parsha
Deuteronomy, 1:1-3:22
This Week’s Torah Portion | July 7-13, 2013 – Tammuz 29-Av 6, 5773

In A Nutshell

The portion, Devarim (These Are the Words) begins with a long speech that Moses makes before the people of Israel just before his death. The portion contains a historic review of the forty years in the desert, which Moses describes to the people of Israel.

The portion also deals with appointing the presidents of the tribes and the judges, the sin of the spies and the punishment, the relationships between Israel and Edom, Israel and Moab, and Israel and Amon, as well as the wars with Sihon and Og. Moses reinforces Joshua, son of Nun, as the next leader of the people of Israel, who is to lead them into the land of Israel.

Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

From the cascading of the spiritual degrees and what we learn about the perception of reality, we know there is no world outside of us. All that exists are the spiritual states we go through, states that are depicted within us. Everything is within us, as it is said, “man is a small world.”

We move from state to state. Each state emerges out of its predecessor and is included in it. This is called a Partzuf (face). Each state contains what exists in the previous one, the Reshimot (recollections), impressions, and memories out of which it is born, and which it must now implement. Nothing comes out of thin air; everything relies on what precedes it.

These are the stages by which one ascends from the degree of the desert to the degree of the land of Israel. The degree of the land of Israel contains all the previous degrees, from Adam HaRishon (the first man, Adam), with whom the Torah begins. This is why we find that the Torah always repeats states described in previous books and extends them to the next, higher degree.

We use the same pattern in our daily lives at schools, repeating the same material each time on a higher level. That is, we study the same laws but in greater detail. When we study Newton’s laws on a college level, we reencounter what we have already learned several times at school. The difference is that more formulas are added. This pattern repeats itself in various areas in life.

In this portion we ascend to a very high degree. “The land of Israel” comprises all of man’s desires that are processed and corrected into having the aim to bestow, meaning completely corrected.

All we need is to correct what is in us from the state in which we were born and in which we evolved. We need to turn it from aiming to use our traits egotistically, into using them for the sake of others, as in “Love your neighbor as yourself; it is a great rule in the Torah.” Actually, it is the whole Torah, which explains to us how to correct the heart, meaning of all our desires, which are called “heart.”

Today we do not know where we are. We want to discover the meaning of our lives, the reason for life, and what life is for. These and other similar questions awaken specifically in our generation, and often lead to depression, and drug and alcohol abuse. We have no idea what to do with ourselves.

A little less than a century ago we thought that the more we had, the happier we would be. We believed that over consumption was better than balanced consumption, until we found ourselves in a state of crisis specifically because we received too much and did needless things only to satisfy ourselves. We acted out of the assumptions, “the more we sell, the happier we will be,” and “the more we buy, the happier we will be.” We created the monstrous advertising industry to advertise redundant products and to make us think that they were actually essential.

In the last one hundred years or so humanity has progressed in this manner until we have come to a situation where we are not only unhappy, but are also becoming increasingly poor. We are experiencing repeated instances of scarcity, emptiness, and helplessness.

And yet, we have to learn all that on our flesh. It is the first stage in our development, the “preparation period.”

From that current stage we will advance to the next one, in which spirituality develops. We will understand that if we continue living as we have been, we will ruin ourselves completely. We have become a machine that consumes and disposes, but in the end, the world will be depleted of raw materials and we will have nothing with which to sustain ourselves in a reasonable manner.

This brings us back to the old questions, “How are we to survive?” “How can we have a happy life in a society that is balanced, just, and equal?” “What are the values we should follow in order to have a good life, where we have what we need and deserve?”

The heart of the problem is that part of the society receives without any restraints, while others suffer. To mend that, we are entering with the questions we just mentioned into the next stage—the stage of correction, when we must correct ourselves. That stage begins at the foot of Mount Sinai, when we realize that we must establish a just and equal society, with spiritual happiness among everyone, which will spread through unity and mutual guarantee. If we agree to it, we will take upon ourselves the correction method.

The wisdom of Kabbalah is the correction method. It explains how we go through the first stages of our correction. The first stage after the preparation period is called “forty years in the desert.” In that stage we must have a leader who understands what must be done, who moves ahead, and whom everyone follows toward the desert.

A desert is a place where we do not know how to survive, or how to sustain ourselves—our children and women, as well as the cattle—without food and water. It is a people that passes through the desert, an entire nation, or an individual, in whom there are desires and thoughts that one must gradually correct.

In the desert we correct all our desires to the degree of “desiring mercy.” On that degree a person consumes what is necessary for living, and gives the rest to society. “The rest” is everything that one can produce or do in favor of others. A person dedicates everything to society. This is the correction of desiring mercy. Moses, who is in that correction, is the one who pulls a person from the ego into bestowal upon others. He is the one who takes a person through various individual corrections.

Within that process there is a disclosure of man’s egotistical desires, which are called “the sin of the spies,” “waters of quarreling,” and wars with certain nations—Amon, Moab, and Edom—some of which should be “slaughtered.” These are desires we must refrain from using for the time being because they are so intense that we cannot correct them, but only restrict them.

Under special conditions, a person can correct some of one’s egotistical desires, such as “women.” One can also correct desires that were not used egotistically, but still belong to the ego.

For example, the spoils are some of those desires, some of the Kelim (vessels), the abilities that one can correct. This is how we advance through the desert, where each portion is a stage as we pass through stops and camps where we advance and correct ourselves toward a stage of “desiring mercy.”

This is why the children of Israel, with all the tribes, count who is and who is not advancing toward the state of desiring mercy. It is work for the sake of the public. Each person has what he or she needs for normal sustenance. This is called “just division.” The rest, one gives to the public.

It is not that we all have the same. Rather, it is that each of us has what is suitable for our relative consumption. In other words, since everyone is born different and unequal, the meaning of equality is interpreted differently for every person.

Moses’ speech prepares the people for the next degree. The next degree is not one to which Moses belongs, but is the degree where Joshua continues. How can he prepare the people for the future challenges in the land of Israel—with just division and equality among them—when they conquer the land, encountering desires they have never used but must now cope with? How can Moses prepare them for this degree?

The children of Israel used the desires that they corrected, and which they will now correct on a deeper level. In total, there are 613 degrees within us. First, we correct them only on the level of the desert, meaning use them only on the degree of Bina, the degree of desiring mercy. Subsequently, on the level of “the land of Israel,” a person turns these desires to ones with the aim to bestow.

These are the same desires; there are no others but them. Within us is a kind of package of desires, all of which are egotistical with respect to others. They are called the “evil inclination.” We correct these desires in two stages—the “desert” stage and the “land of Israel” stage. However, we always work with the same desires.

In the “desert” stage, a person corrects the desire using the special upper force—the Creator. However, the means to do that is Moses, who is our connection to the upper force. Within us is a quality named Moses, where by using it and connecting to it, we connect to the upper force. This is why Moses is called a “leader.” A leader is one who can help us connect to the upper force. The leader understands and knows all the processes we must go through, or we would have no need for him. He is the highest quality within us, which recognizes the Creator and is similar to Him. Through it, he connects to the upper force.

A person sets himself in a special, direct line, where all of one’s desires connect to Moses, and through Moses to the Creator. For now, this is how he discovers the Creator—partially, from time to time. He “speaks” to Moses openly, and through signs to others, as much as those desires in a person can discover the Creator.

In the next stage, when we enter the land of Israel, the quality of Moses in a person can no longer accompany us. There needs to be a more advanced quality toward the other corrections, a quality called Joshua, son of Nun. In fact, it is still Moses but with a higher role, with more responsibility. Although Moses seemingly gives him this role during their forty years in the desert together, in fact, Joshua is Moses having ascended to the degree of the land of Israel.

The degree of Moses passes away on Mount Nevo, on the other side of the Jordan River. The desires are divided within us into the land of Israel, Jordan, beyond the Jordan River, Lebanon, Syria, and so forth.

Afterward Moses begins the next degree, called Joshua, son of Nun. We all begin our corrections on the degree of the land of Israel. That is, all the desires at the level of the desert climb up to the level of the land of Israel, becoming fully in favor of others.

First the people who live in Israel today must become aware that they are not yet in the “land of Israel.” Can it be said that we have hardly reached the desert?

According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, we are in total exile, not even in the desert.

What about leadership, do we have it?

We have no leadership because we do not want one. If we wanted spiritual leadership we would receive one; we would discover the leader internally as well as externally.

How will there be leadership if we are entering uncharted territory?

Indeed, the leaders themselves have no idea what to do.

Where is Moses?

If we want him, we will have him.

Is it inner work?

It is also inner work. If we want to correct ourselves we will discover him on the outside, too. All of a sudden, a new leader will appear whom we did not see or know before. And we will know that it is truly him.

The children of Israel also did not wish to accept Moses’ leadership. Several times during the period of the desert they tried to bring him down. On each degree, a person must scrutinize if this is truly the force that one is following, since that power constantly increases.

It is not a nation or cattle that someone is taking with them. Everything is obtained by educating the people. Only through education does the people begin to see where to go and who can be the leader. The people will see it very clearly. This is why everything must be done by education. All the slogans that people write must first be explained: What is equality, what is justice?

Indeed, what is equality? After all, we are different and we have different needs.

True, everyone should receive differently in both quantity and quality. It cannot be any other way.

But someone might say, “My ego requires ten million dollars a year.”

This is why we first need an education system that will teach us Nature’s laws, the laws of Creation that are appearing before us now. First, we must all learn about it, open our eyes, and see the world we live in. Perhaps we are unaware of what the world is truly like; perhaps we are demanding things that harm us, as babies sometimes do.

Those who are suffering might listen, but right now not everyone is suffering.

We all think we are suffering, and we all think we deserve more. Therefore, according to the wisdom of Kabbalah we must begin to balance out society, and at the same time begin to educate, teach, and oblige everyone to study Nature’s laws. We send our children to approximately twenty years in school and university to prepare them for life. Now we are all as little schoolchildren in regard to the world that is appearing before us, and we must all go to school.

The wisdom of Kabbalah explains what we are facing. This is precisely why it is appearing. If we do not learn, we will continue on our path, just like an obstinate child who does not listen to its parents and puts itself in danger.

We need a preparatory stage. At the moment, many people are out on streets yelling with pain. First they need to be given something to calm them down so they may listen.

It has to be in tandem, or it will lead to terrible destruction.

You mean you cannot settle for just one of them, but must establish both?


The ruin of the Temple happened due to unfounded hatred. How can we avoid unfounded hatred today?

This hatred is the result of our heightened egos, the sin of the spies. We do not want to go to the land of Israel, and it seems to us that it is hard, forbidden, that it is not for us, that it is dangerous. We are made to think that Kabbalah can make us mad, that it is mysticism. In short, we are repelling our own correction any way we can.

The spies tell us, “We must correct ourselves; we must come to a state where we are all friends, brothers, in mutual guarantee and equality.” But what equality are they talking about? Do they want equality? These are nothing more than slogans. Everyone is saying, “Give me what I deserve!” But why do they deserve what they demand?

For people to listen there must be a terrible decline.

True, but we can prevent it. To do that, we need to make our real situation known. We are currently in a new generation, in a completely different place. Our reality is different. We have yet to find the proper name for it, but social ties are different, and so are our international connections.

When people are in pain they begin to hate those who are not like them. And yet, we are now witnessing a process of fusion. How do we keep from disintegrating due to unfounded hatred?

It is a process of coalescing whose purpose is to break, not to build. This is the biggest problem—that all these forces are now uniting in order to break. Therefore, we should explain as much as we can that there is something very risky here, that we must deliberate, that we must set up round table discussions and begin these discussions throughout the nation, continuously.

What is social justice? Is there such a thing as objective, absolute justice?

Yes there is—when each receives only what is needed to survive in a reasonable manner.

Who would monitor it?

According to the overall budget, as much as one can. First, it is tested in percents, how much each one needs overall. Similar to Social Security, everyone receives the same amount, the poor and the rich receive the same allowance from Social Security.

It is an economic calculation that in the end must be balanced out. The important thing is to bring the world and the nation to know where we are and why we are the way we are. Now we are required to understand what is a state (country), what is that system, how it works, and how to determine rules. Each of us must partake in it, giving something of ourselves.

What is the condition for success?

The condition for success is that we sit down and learn what is the new world, just as children are prepared for twenty years before they become productive citizens. We have yet to reach that level—being citizens of the integral world we live in. There are new laws that have surfaced, and no leader or government knows what do with them. Answers can come only by studying the new foundations, which the wisdom of Kabbalah reveals to us.

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1 Comment »

  craig wrote @ July 15th, 2013 at 6:50 pm

thanks for this weeks lesson.

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