Parashat Nitzvim – Standing Upright – 2009
“You stand upright this day, all of you before the Lord…” (D’varim 29 9:10)
There are times to sit, times to run and times to stand. We remember Abraham running to serve his guests. “and Abraham hastened into the tent.” (Vayera 18:6,7) “and Abraham ran to the herd.” We imagine Rachel as she had taken her father’s images and put them in the camel’s saddle and sat upon them. Solomon “sits upon the throne.” (Kings 1:46) And in this week’s parsha, Am Yisrael stand- still to receive Hashem’s word. These three motions of sitting, running and standing parallel the 3 spheres of time- then(past tense) (sitting and contemplating) when(future tense) (running to do something) and now (present) (standing in Da’at). Da’at, or yishuv da’at is translated as “peace of mind”, or in Kabbalah- knowing. It is experiencing the moment as it is- the precise moment, without dwelling on another time.
Da’at is placed in the middle brain, situated between Chochmah and Binah, representing the “connector” between mentalities and attributes. Harav Areyeh Kaplan brings down in his book “Inner Space” that Da’at generally refers to the intimate connection between Adam and Eve as in “and Adam knew (from the word yada- based on da’at) his wife. When Am Yisrael were standing (in Da’at) they were now able to see the Godly moment as it says in the verse, “See, I have set before you life…”(D’varim 30:15) When a person can see, he can choose life. (When a person is running to do something he can’t see. When he is contemplating on what was, he isn’t seeing either) When a person reaches the balance of seeing and knowing(Da’at) he reaches the level of perceiving that all of G-d’s attributes, as contradictory as they may seem, are all one, then (s)he can also realize that time can stand still too. This is what marriage is all about. Husband and wife with their different personalities combine to make one soul. This is what knowing is all about!
With this picture in mind, we turn to the haftara in Isaiah 61-63. “I will rejoice with the Lord… for He has attired me in garments of salvation.. like a bride and like a bridegroom.” (standing and seeing) and “On your walls, Oh Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen, all day and all night (the guards are standing and seeing). The mental image of Am Yisrael standing on Har Gerizzim and Har Eval as the canopy of their marriage to Hashem as they entered the Land is realized as we come to understand what standing, seeing and knowing mean. The standing in this parsha that we read thousands of years later relates to all the realms of time. The warnings come along with the promises for the future redemption of Israel in her rightful Land- “Hashem will return your captivity and have compassion on you and will return and gather you from all the nations of the world whom G-d has scattered you…”
Shabbat Shalom, Leah Goldsmith