Celebrating the Spiritual Levels of Torah

Torah Portion for the week of September 14 - 20: Nitzavim/Vayelech

(Deuteronomy 29:9 - 31:30)

As we near the end of Deuteronomy and the conclusion of our yearly cycle of Torah readings, Moses gives his final teachings. Once again, he warns us of the disastrous consequences should we turn to other gods, inviting us instead to choose a life-enhancing loyalty to the One. The curses that follow our idolatry are severe, and the blessings of remaining faithful are joyful, as if threats and promises could buy our observance.

But threats and promises speak mostly to the consciousness of our separate self, and, even so, have never proven effective as motivators of our behavior. Time and time again, throughout the text of Torah, we ignored such threats and promises to pursue paths that were motivated by our fear, for from fear comes our collapse into idolatry. It was so difficult for us to follow the Way of a Presence that is Invisible and Universal. We wished for a god able to save us no matter how we acted toward ourselves, toward others, and toward our planet.

It is natural for our ego-selves to yearn for a deity who cares more for us than for others. Idolatry, which involves losing sight of Oneness and seeking self-satisfaction, is always an attraction. Thousands of years after the Torah was written, we are still acting out the basic dramas reflected there, so we are still suffering the consequences of our idolatries. Too much of the anguish and the pain in our world are evidence of our forgetting.

Rather than being harsh on ourselves, it is helpful to realize that we humans have been working on this for thousands of years. It's not so easy to move beyond the separate-self and truly live from the awareness of Oneness. What that awareness brings, however, is always life-changing:

"Then the Eternal One your God will open up your heart and the hearts of your offspring to love the Eternal your God with all your heart and soul, in order that you may [truly] live." (30:6)

When our hearts open, Love is present for us. In Love, we discover the fullness of our Life; through Love, we open to our higher Self; through this Self, we meet the One.

It's time for us to become more aware of the ways in which we have closed our hearts -- to ourselves and to others. When we live in service to our grievances, we are idolators. It's that simple. Now is the time to release grievances in order to heal our own hearts and walk more kindly with all others.

Love is the Way, has always been the Way, and shall always be the Way. The Path and the Goal are One. This is no ordinary reward. It is a simple statement of the reality of spiritual awakening. The opening is always immediate, unique, and life-changing.

Focus Phrases

I risk releasing my grievances against myself and others.
I choose to open my heart to this moment.
Love flows through me now.

Writing Prompts

When I act to receive reward, I discover. . .
I know that my heart is closed when. . .
When my heart is open I realize. . .

“Torah is the book with no end, supporting our understanding of what it means to be a vehicle for the Spirit of Creation.”

Photo: Mark Reden