I need to drink a third cup of coffee now to pump out this blog. With everything going on in the world, it is pin drop quiet here at home. I go to the widow and stare out at Mount Gerizim and Mount Eval. Like so many times before this one I want to shake those shoulders of the Land and say, “Just tell us what is going on!” This place of perfect yin and yang, of the actual doorpost gives me a calm and steady answer of its own. I think of Shimon and Levi who redeemed the Land of Shechem sitting right in that cleavage and I ponder on their courage. Some accuse them of recklessness. I think of the strength of Abraham who came here without knowing it, some say he was stubborn –! I think of the power of Yaakov who came to own this place but many say his sons became corrupt in that iron influence. In yin and yang there is always a touch of white within the black and black contained in white. The great lie of selling Yosef contained a semblance of truth as all his dreams came true and he became their leader and King but also acted subservient to them at the ultimate time. A lot of hard things happened in this place but also the everlasting blessings came out from here. These blessings and curses are the blueprint we learn from to do and live a balanced life. This is the recipe for harmony in your life. Ultimately it is for the Bney Yisrael to be the givers of all this goodness the world needs to receive. The power of this Divine domain sometimes is shrouded here though. Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzberg helps us to perceive the ultimate balance demonstrated in this week’s parsha as the mountains represent counter balancing with pushing forward in mitzvoth and pushing back when from refraining from evil.
The adventure of the Blessings and the Curses began with the writing of the Torah and the reading of the Torah and the building of an altar on Mount Eval. (Incidentally the old grey and withered rocks of that altar stand as a monument today on the naked Mountain. The remains of kosher animals used for sacrifices only frustrate the apikoress archeologists more!) Rabbi Ginzberg goes on to say that the blessings were said on Mount Gerizzim and the curses on Mount Eval. The flipside of what we would expect! Indeed the curses said are paralleling the passuk :ארץ ישראל נקנת ביסורים” – “The Land of Israel is acquired through suffering.” On the contrary! Regardless of what we might logically think, hidden in the curse is the great blessing, even more so than the revealed blessings, a higher level of blessing that is hard to receive or perceive in ordinary natural ways, therefore it starts as judgment and suffering (as we see with the Yosef and Dina sagas) but in the end- the great blessing bursts through and breaks the barrier. The great happening on Mount Eval is a supernatural event that enables the invitation into the acceptance of the ultimate blessing.
We have known hard times here. I don’t have to tell you, you’re friends of Itamar…. There were times and many in fact that I could not look up at those mountains. It was exactly 17 years ago in September of 2000 that Yosef was thrown into the pit as the world acquiesced to the Oslo accords and abandoned the Tomb of Yosef. This holy site is situated directly in the center of the two mountains we read about in this Parsha. Our world leaders and also Jewish leaders turned their backs on Yosef as it was burnt to the ground. It was only exactly a year later in September 2001 that the World Trade Center did the same in turn and if anyone thinks the events are not related- tell them to re- examine their knowledge of the connection of the Land to our reality . People call this place the eye of the tornado as most suicide bombers live on the hills surrounding us. Yet- I have to say- It is just so peaceful! WTH! This Parsha also has the famous passuk- “”ברוך אתה בבואך וברוך אתה בצאת “Blessed are you when you come and blessed are you when you leave”- Abraham came, Israel returned- all through this place. The supernatural natural events of OUR RETURN, of the vines heavy with grapes and the landscape changing here answers me though. Fire and floods, earthquakes that shake the earth, eclipse when day is night night is day –The world churns in nervous anxiety, yet the steady promise is answered here. Sometimes what looks like a curse to you is actually an invitation to examine what Hashem is really keeping secret and waiting for you to choose – the ultimate blessing. I want to bless each and every one of you with a tipping of the scales in your favor for the year to come. The New Year is upon us and as September brings lots of tests to so many people in all realms of their lives, it is a great time for re- evaluating and seeing through the shroud. So many of you come to mind as the hurricane pushes on into Florida and northward- Please know you have friends here loving you and praying for you! Shabbat Shalom!
This Blog is being dedicated to the memory of our Rabbi, HaRav Binyamin Herling HY”D who was murdered on Mount Eval during the Sukkot holiday soon after the destruction of the Tomb of Yosef in 2000.