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Parashat VaEtchanan 5782 — 08/13/2022

Parashat VaEtchanan 5782 — 08/13/2022

Beginning with Bereishit 5781 (17 October 2020) we embarked on a new format. We will be considering Rambam’s (Maimonides’) great philosophical work Moreh Nevukim (Guide for the Perplexed) in the light of the knowledge of Vedic Science as expounded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The individual essays will therefore not necessarily have anything to do with the weekly Torah portion, although certainly there will be plenty of references to the Torah, the rest of the Bible, and to the Rabbinic literature. For Bereishit we described the project. The next four parshiyyot, Noach through Chayei Sarah, laid out a foundational understanding of Vedic Science, to the degree I am capable of doing so. Beginning with Toledot we started examining Moreh Nevukim.

Devarim 3:23 – 7:11
Similar to “going out” is just plain “going,” the subject of the next chapter:

Going [Arabic: al-halikhah] too is one of the terms referring to some particular motions of living beings. Thus: And Jacob went on his way. This usage is frequent. Sometimes this term is used figuratively to designate the extension of bodies more subtle than the bodies of living beings. Thus: And the waters went and decreased; And the fire went down unto the earth. Subsequently this term was used figuratively to designate the spread and the manifestation of a certain thing even if the latter were in no way corporeal. Thus it says: The voice thereof shall go like a serpent. Similar is its dictum: The voice of the Lord Gd going about in the garden. It is the voice that was said to be going about. Every mention of going that occurs with reference to Gd, may He be exalted, conforms to this figurative use. I mean that with respect to what is incorporeal, it is used figuratively to denote either the spread of a thing or the withdrawal of providence, which, in the case of a living being, has its analogy in the latter’s turning away from a thing through going. And just as the withdrawal of providence is referred to as the hiding of the face – as in its dictum: As for Me, I will surely hide My face – it also is referred to as going, which has the meaning to turn away from a thing. Thus Scripture says: I will go and return to My place. As for its dictum, And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and He went away, the two significations subsist together in the passage. I mean the signification of a withdrawal of providence referred to by means of the term “turning away,” and the signification of a spread, diffusion, and manifestation of a thing. I mean to say that it was the anger that went and extended toward the two. For this reason, [Miriam] became leprous, as white as snow. The term going is also applied figuratively to living a good life, without in any way moving a body. Thus it says: And thou shalt go in His ways, After the Lrd your Gd shall ye go, Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lrd.

Note that Rambam is faced with the same problem here as we had last week – we have movement, change, being ascribed to Gd, Who is immovable and unchangeable. I think a big difference with “going” is that going indicates movement in space and time, which can be present in the term “going out,” but is not necessarily so if we take the latter in the sense of “emerging.” “Going” (to a physicist!) means velocity, and that means a change in position over time. This works perfectly well for things that exist within space and time, Gd transcends space and time, and therefore the concept of going has no relation to Gd’s essence.

Rambam again appears to take the tack that some aspect of Gd that interacts with creation, and therefore is subject to space and time, is what actually moves. Thus “I will go and return to My place” means the Shechinah (Indwelling presence of Gd) – the way Gd is perceived in the world (by those refined enough to perceive it!) – is what is “going.” Or “The voice of the Lrd Gd going about in the Garden” – the voice moves, but we don’t say that Gd literally moves. This is more or less the same approach as he takes with “going out,” as we discussed last week.

Another, figurative and idiomatic use of the very “to go” (root H-L-Ch) is to indicate continuing action. Rambam gives the example: And the waters went and decreased which means they were continually decreasing (this is after the rain stopped during the Flood and the waters began receding and the land began to dry out). The Hebrew reads (Gen. 8:3) Vayashuvu hamayim me’al ha’aretz haloch vashuv… Literally this translates as: And the waters returned from on the earth, going and returning. Idiomatically we would say continually returning. A later verse (8:5) reads: V’hamayim hayu haloch v’chasor… Literally, The waters were going and decreasing, or The waters were continually decreasing, or even steadily decreasing. This is apparently what Rambam means by extension, in this case extension in time.

I might point out one more use of the root H-L-Ch – Jewish law is called Halachah – the way on which we should go. This corresponds to Rambam’s example: And thou shalt go in His ways. Avraham is told to walk before Gd: hithalech lifanai. Hithalech is actually a reflexive form. The meaning is something like “walk yourself before me” – perhaps the implication is that Avraham was mature enough to walk independently, as opposed to Noach, who was told to walk “with” Gd, like small children who needs to hold their parent’s hand when going somewhere. (This comparison is noted by many of the classical commentators.) In all these cases there is no physical “going,” rather we are describing a way of life, one in accord with Gd’s Will, or, in Vedic terminology, natural law. Of course in this case it is created beings that are acting, so there is no issue of the impossibility of motion.

If we consider creation as a whole, it begins in Unity and diversifies and expands, eventually producing a system complex and refined enough perfectly to reflect the original Unity – the enlightened human nervous system. The system is continually evolving – an ongoing process. But from the point of view of Unity, Unity is all that there is, and there is neither coming nor going nor process. In Maharishi’s words, we go from “here” to “here” through “there,” only to realize that “there” was “here” all along.


Commentary by Steve Sufian

Parashat Va’Etchanan
“Va’etchanan” means “And I pleaded.”  Moses says he pleaded with Gd to let him enter the Promised Land but Gd said, “No.” You can only view it from the mountain.

To be in the Promised Land is to Be, to Be Fully Restored to the Awareness that our individualities are Gd in disguise, to Be fully restored to the Awareness that we are All-in-All and that our individuality is one cherished role of the Infinite roles we play.

The surface level of this parshah doesn’t tell us this; it tells us the story of Moses only from the individual level and we have to perceive that Moses was only speaking about his physical body entering the physical Promised Land: his soul was already in real Promised Land, Oneness with Gd.

“Play nice; don’t fight”. Momma may have said this to us and our playmates when we were children.

Moses reviews the events since leaving Egypt, including the Ten Commandments/Statements/Utterances, which tell us in detail that we should play nice with Gd, not fight Gd; we should not fight our parents; we should not fight truth; we should play nice with our spouses, with everyone. In many different ways Gd declares in the 10 Commandments that we should cherish Gd above all and we should cherish every aspect of life as an expression of Gd, respect all and live in honor and in peace. When we play nice in this way, we stay together, we live as members of a community, of a nation, moving together along a sacred path.

When we play nice, Gd appears to us and leads us so that trouble does not approach us but we are guided into the good land, the Good Land, the land of our soul in which we directly experience that Gd is Gd, there is no other and the physical land wherever we are is Holy, the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a holy people to the Lrd, your Gd; the Lrd, your Gd, has chosen you to be His treasured people, out of all the peoples upon the face of the Earth.” (translation,

What qualities do we as the Jewish people have that make us holy that Gd loves us particularly and protects us?

The answer to this may lie with the qualities that Moses had, the qualities that enabled him to be in Gd’s presence and living though our ancestors were afraid they would die if they even heard one word more of Gd’s voice than they heard when He gave the 10 Statements/Utterances/Commandments at Mt Sinai.

What qualities were those? Do we as Jews have them specially? Are we Jewish if we don’t have them? Is anyone who has them holy and treasured by Gd whether they are Jewish or not? How can we get these qualities of holiness if we don’t have them? Increase them if we do?

Torah tells us that Moses was the humblest man there was: and humility means he was completely open to Gd; though Gd preserved Moses’ individual personality, Moses used it entirely to serve Gd, even though this sometimes meant challenging Gd. It also meant that he was aware that everything he did, every thought he had, was Gd acting through him, thinking within him.

This openness and awareness meant Moses could be in Gd’s Presence without fear.

This openness meant he was open to the Holiness that is Gd and therefore, he experienced himself as holy, treasured, special.

This quality our ancestors also had some of, enough to be special enough to deserve special attention.

Would we say today that the mere fact of being born Jewish, raised Jewish, converted to Judaism makes us holy, treasured, special? Some would, I don’t.

In our world we have people of many religions, and many who are not much observant of the details of their religion but most people in the world seem to be friendly.  Though the mass media seem to favor reporting hostility and corruption, “Love thy neighbor as thyself, thy Self” seems to be the most common nature of the human heart.  Perhaps from Gd’s point of view, we Jews are a little more loving, a little more friendly, humble, open than others but my perception is not fine enough to say this is so or not so.

I do feel that our religion is a good source of guidance to grow in holiness, friendliness, love of Gd above all, love of our neighbor as our Self.

These qualities we can continue to grow in by doing our best to follow the guidance of Torah, the Rabbis, and the Righteous, the Tzaddikim; our parents, our family, our elders, our teachers, our friends: as we grow in respect and humility, in love and in the desire to serve Gd and our neighbors. Through these desires and actions, we lose any fear that might cause us to put obstacles between us and Gd’s Presence and we lose any fear that would cause us to put distance between ourselves and our neighbors we become open for Gd to reveal Gd’s Oneness within us, and we become “We” and we become One. We play nice: we don’t fight.

Lovely! Let us keep acting this way, growing this way, and experience Fulfillment, Holiness we can live and share with everyone.

Baruch HaShem