Reflections on Haazinu and the 10 days of teshuva

On the phrase in Haazinu “When I pray about the exile then you should give greatness to our G-d”, that this is similar to the idea that When Israel gazed upward and submitted their hearts to their Father in heaven, they prevailed in battle (against Amalek).  Chaim Vital relays to us what the Arizal’s comments:

When the Jews came out of Egypt, they were attacked by the Amalekites. Hashem told Moshe to send his disciple, Joshua, to lead the Jews in battle against them.  In the meantime, Moshe ascended to a vantage point where he could observe the battle, and lifted his hands in prayer to Hashem for victory. “And it was that when Moshe would raise his hand that Israel prevailed, but when he rested his hand, Amalek prevailed.”  The sages teach u that it was not Moshe’s hands that magically enabled the Jews to prevail or kept them from prevailing, but rather, when they saw his hands raised they raised their eyes heavenward and submitted their hearts to Hashem, and Hashem gave them the strength to prevail.

Although the plain meaning of this is that we should realize that our ability to succeed in life is dependent upon our submission to Hashem’s will, the flip-side of this idea is that by the same token, Hashem has set things up such that He cannot win His battles unless we “enable” Him to do so – by submitting to His will.  Submitting to Hashem’s will, on the one hand, is indeed an act of self-abnegation, but on the other hand, it puts us squarely in the driver’s seat, since only by doing this can Hashem, so to speak, grant us the power to accomplish His purposes in the world.

Thus, Moshe does his part as the leader by praying to Hashem to alleviate the suffering of exile. But at the same time, he asks us to “give greatness to our G-d” i.e. to grant G-d the power, so to speak, to grant us victory in fighting His battles.”  (pp. 1041-1042 Apples in the Orchard, translated from Chaim Vital by Rabbi Moshe Wisnefsky)


Rabbi Akiva Tatz, in the Mesillas Yesharim group offered through Jewish Workshops, spoke about teshuva as taking our name off of the sin.  He said that all sin was determined at creation, long before we as individuals existed, and we may fall into the sin, but that we can do total teshuva and that removes our name from the sin completely.  The sin may continue to be in the world, but our name is not associated with it, when we do complete teshuva.


It is the ten days of teshuva and obviously the task is to return to Hashem’s will.  The understanding from the above can help us tremendously. The battlefield is the contest between what we think we are, the “me” and the understanding of self as always connected for eternity to existence.  T

The distinction between what we think is ourself, the me, and what is truly the self, the self that is at all times connected to existence from every dimension of body and soul, is central to being able to bring the free will that Hashem intended for us to wield to every moment.  Are we going to turn toward the body/heart that runs after the sins and false beliefs about where love, caring and protection come from OR are we going to seize the moment and submit the part of us that otherwise might gravitate towards falsehood and sin to Hashem’s Will and weave it back into Existence itself?  Obviously we want to do the latter but since the yetzer hara Is the Soton, an angel of Hashem, we feel overpowered, a victim to our feelings drive to attach to the false belief and aveira, even though our mind might tell us the truth.  We go into a dark place inside of us that we all know.  Or we go into that place and think it is light.  Until we understand the mission we are here for as our primary occupation –

( that Hashem has set things up such that He cannot win His battles unless we “enable” Him to do so – by submitting to His will.  Submitting to Hashem’s will, on the one hand, is indeed an act of self-abnegation, but on the other hand, it puts us squarely in the driver’s seat, since only by doing this can Hashem, so to speak, grant us the power to accomplish His purposes in the world. ) –

we attach to the “me” time and time again.


Once we accept this redefinition of our identity as self, a part of existence, and we no longer are deceived by the egoistic me into thinking that our body and will can accomplish without Hashem’s help every second,  then our very feelings and reactions come to our hand as strength from Hashem He is giving to us to “enable” Him – WE are the ones blocking the good that He wishes to give us when we cling to our negativity and aveiras. However, Hashem understands that He creates us this way, with this blindness, and He is patient and creates teshuva so that we may slowly bring ourselves into alignment.

It is the ten days of teshuva.  Each day represents one of the ten middos.  Keter (Rosh Hashana day 1, Chochma (Rosh Hashana day 2) , Bina, Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferes, Netzach, Hod, and Malchut (Yom Kippur).  It is incumbent upon us to make every effort to redirect our middos to His Will and let go of the false beliefs and aveiras which have been incorporated into the “me” that believes in our coping mechanisms and which forgets to judge others favorably.

When we dig down deeply and see from one year to the next that what bothered us before no longer bothers us, then we realize that we are more able to reveal Hashem’ love in this world than previously.  And that is our mission.  How do we accomplish this?


In the moment when we are headed toward negativity, we catch ourselves and remember that we can reassociate our middos (which also touch all the world through earth, water, wind or fire or a mixture thereof) from the false belief and aveira NOT because the circumstances are not happening, but because the circumstances are happening only so that we are empowered to serve Hashem by restoring and realigning this midda with existence – empowering Hashem to bring the mercy and good into the world that is His Will and making it possible for the elements earth, water, wind and fire to more and more be able to reveal Hashem. 


When we look at our lives in this manner, we become vessels through which Hashem’s utterances in which He is hidden can be re-garmented by our utterances and deeds and His light can shine through to the world and His Utterances that form the world can continue, yet revealing Him so He is not hidden, because we affect the elements earth, wind, water, and fire – solid, gas, liquid and radioactive – with love for Hashem.

Here is a walk through example

I am feeling drawn toward a negative thought.

Hashem I feel like attaching to the feelings of anger, fear, longing, honor and safety that are appealing to the logical “me” that is natural and I understand but I don’t want any of what that line of thinking will produce – please help me!

I see that You are giving me access to remind these unrectified middos, that simply cannot retain consciousness in this moment that all there is in the world is Hashem and that Hashem is all that really lives.  I love you Hashem.  I am feeling that love for You so as to reassure the middos churning inside of me that You exist.  I am holding both the draw toward the aveira and the love for Hashem in my heart with the intention that the midda will come toward the love for Hashem, as is inevitable, because the midda is trapped in an utterance from You and truly is longing to be reunited with Existence.  Here are all the thoughts that are coming to mind

the firey radioactive thoughts,

the water that is longing or desirous,

the wind that wants to say hurtful things just to speak which forms destructive beings, and

the sadness that is earthiness pulling me into the dark),

to which the love of Hashem that I am feeling for You is drawing forth the midda.

It is my desire to unify Your Name by flooding the natural reactions with love of Hashem so that the love for Hashem attracts what is hidden inside of what You Hashem are uttering.  It is my will to reveal Hashem’s Will, Torah and attributes of mercy in speech and deed over what is otherwise being experienced as natural because Hashem utters forms into the world in which He is hidden.   I have the emunah to hold steady as all these thoughts are exposed to love for Hashem and I increase love for Hashem  as I say Shema Yisrael….

Watch how the matter settles into calmness.  And better, watch how the next time the circumstance come up, there is no negative reaction but instead a loving response that shines.

We can really change ourselves and improve and perfect the world (by improving the water, fire, wind and earthly elements, restoring to what has fallen Divine consciousness as it existed before Adom’s sin).  It takes emunah, love for Hashem, and effort over time.  Let’s commit to that change NOW.

Gemar vchasima tova

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