Parashas Nitzavim – Vayeilech
Eyes of Gerim Within Hands of God
Rabbi David Katz
[***Note: the Parsha introduces a new concept and is the focus of this article. Hashem makes known that He is to be worshipped as the only Deity; an imminent God. The powers of redemption come from this attainment of knowledge, and is the context of the Parshiot. In essence, God gives context to how He should ultimately be perceived on a service level]
The “Parasha” has virtually ended the Chumash, and has succeeded in delivering yet again a proper re-telling of the entire Torah, while simultaneously mirroring the first rendition as it ended in the final Parshiot of the Book of Bamidbar. As we can recall, Bamidbar ended with a redeemer type figure in Pinchas, the grandson of Jethro the Ger, as he made clear to all that Hashem is the only Deity, by revealing the Divine Hand at play [in deliverance to the hand of Pinchas]. This brought closure and context to the entire Torah, and at the same time provides for the substance and pulse of the Torah’s dualistic nature of recapturing the four previous books in one grand setting of Devarim. Thus we have come full circle, and we now have the spiritual DNA made known that causes the soul of Pinchas to sanctify Hashem, as the Torah’s final mission statement is given in the form of Hashem is the Deity of Redemption, and we journey out of focus to a song that will resonate as we approach the End of Days. Moses practically ends the Torah here, the rest is formality, and the eternal challenge begins in the guise of Joshua poised to head towards the Jordan River.
The Pinchas code of redeemer conduct can be quite easily seen in this Parsha, when we take all of its facets and apply proper computation. In short, this code is about Pinchas and Jethro working together, which in generic terms, this is the cooperation of the Ger and Kohen Tzedek, whose partnership gives substance to Hashem as the only Deity, the same that was witnessed by Torah, Haazinu, and the Creation itself. We all know that Jethro [the Ger] earned this privilege by having successfully realized Hashem the Deity [as opposed to just another mundane telling of “god”] function to the All Mighty, and Pinchas is the chosen one by God whose innate gift is to be able to recognize the Deity.
Fate would have it that these two are relatives, common reincarnations [Pinchas contains a soul spark of Jethro], and a duo [representing the Ger and the Jew/Priest] that is/was destined to glorify the Hand of God from afar, and bringing it near to the hearts [and thus the eyes] of all. If bringing a Ger back from afar is the greatest honor of God [Zohar] possible, and the hardest thing to understand [Rebbe Nachman Likutei Moran Torah 14] in Torah – all the more so to bring the unification of He and His Presence to within the congregation! Yet this is exactly what Pinchas did in the closing of the Book of Bamidbar, and as the Torah itself says numerous times about Jethro, he is the eyes that makes this possible. Together, the recipe for Redemption is bestowed to the entire House of Israel.
The Torah in this Parsha promises that this formula works, and this formula alone; we have seen it with Pinchas, we hear it again now, and we are promised that in the End of Days this will be the winning hand – “seeing the Deity’s Hand deliver foes into the hands of the Nation [that consists of Jews and Gerim that shall exist at that time.”] It is the ability to recognize Hashem in motion through our service of Him as the Deity that empowered Pinchas; yet this also proves to be a test of patience while the Hand of God lay motionless, as we saw with Jethro at Sinai and expressed by his departure. The episodes provide perfect contrast, and pose as the ultimate question of Torah philosophy –“can we do anything beyond the perceived will of God?” I.e. can we change our fate/mazal and act beyond our perceived potential/ability?
Although the answer to the philosophy we may never know until the Torah of Moshiach is revealed, thus making it a moot point [see Noah and the discussion should he have existed as a tzaddik in the time of Abraham], the actions of Jethro as a lead-in to Pinchas will show the code in reality. Our Parsha simplifies this entire relationship in Devarim 31:12 – commanding the Gerim to take part in the “reading of the Torah for the entire Nation” [existing of Jews Gerim, women, youth, etc.] The Even Ezra commentary there perhaps tells the whole story with a few terse words, in a way that we can better understand Jethro and Pinchas [i.e. the Ger / Jew – Priest relationship based on righteousness]
The Even Ezra says that the public reading is good for all [especially the Ger] for from it he may יתיהד- “Juda-fy.” When the words of the commentary are understood from the context of its disparate parts, and in light of the Parsha, what comes out of it is that the Ger has the opportunity to emulate Jethro. From his unique vantage point, he has viewing rights to perceive Hashem – God – Deity – Of All as opposed to a secularized [Lo Lishma] diminishment to service of god that is devoid of depth and content of spirit; such a religion is destined to befall the people should they lose sight of Hashem The Deity. With this in mind, what a divine gift that there should be a Jethro and Gerim as a full House of Israel!
The working relationship will have the Ger Tzedek rise [as the Jews fall – as per Ki Savo] and he shall perceive Hashem The Deity, and from context [and obvious human nature] he will bear a witness from his fellow Jew. In history this was Pinchas and Jethro, yet this proposition stands for all time –when the Ger Tzedek [he who learns Torah and has been delivered from afar] finds the true Deity there will by nature be the “Jewish Priest” - now a baal teshuva [also having come from afar] to compose proper witness to the Hand of Hashem as He is the only Deity. Hashem on this level and his having been perceived in this way, is the Messianic vision of Hashem, He who redeems Israel. Thus this was the winning formula for Pinchas and Jethro that culminated in Moab and will happen again in the End of Days.
The philosophical question that arises from this partnership is to simply ask why then didn’t Pinchas lead Israel into The land and/ why did Jethro leave Sinai, thus making it not a Messianic moment, i.e. no Golden Calf.
The answer is quite simple: Jethro did not see the Hand of God delivering enemies at Sinai because it simply wasn’t happening at that time. Pinchas is even more proof for he was not activated by the episodes of Sinai. For the formula to work, Hashem’s Hand must be in motion, delivering foes into one’s hand [i.e. Pinchas] as the Deity and thus this action necessitates sanctification. Pinchas [from Jethro’s inspiration as eyes for the people] saw such Divine Emanation at Moav with Zimri and Cozbi, he acted on it, and this will be the fractal code of the Final Redemption through the End of Days. Anything short of the one-time episode of Pinchas and / or a Gog V’Magog scenario does not constitute the absolute Hand of God in motion. The pre-requisite however is to be able to identify the Deity should the Hand of God be in motion! Seeing the essence of God in motion as The Deity is sure to arouse the Heart of Man to usher in redemption.
The only question left is the nature of Loving God beyond boundary. One can surmise that Jethro should have stayed at Sinai, and perhaps in the eyes of Pinchas this would have been the revelation of God’s hand, thus triggering a true Sinai Messianic Story, and Israel would have been a reality within three days! The contradiction to this is found in Shir Hashirim, where King Solomon says, “Don’t arouse the Love [of Gerim and Jews] before the time.” Yet can man act so that we may see God’s hand in motion? Can we perform a human Red Heifer moment, by doing something too right, to illicit a response of the highest righteousness?
The Parsha says, when one goes against God, the Deity comes against the evil and we become agents of mazal for each other, driven by the concealed Hand of God through mazal. This brings up every philosophical issue that exists under the pretext of mazal, fate, freewill, destiny, change of mazal, etc. Yet we see that Jethro was ultimately to stay at Sinai! The effect would have awoken Pinchas while Jethro would have had no reason to stay, for the Divine Hand was not in delivery mode, i.e. there was no Pinchas moment. In the end, Jethro did leave, Pinchas will avenge evil in the End of Days, Hashem designed it this way, and the Parsha makes this whole engine work on one axiom [that brings light to Jethro’s heart]: “The hidden are for God, but the re3velaed are for us and our children forever, to carry out the words of this Torah.”
In the end, we have the Torah, and this Torah has paved the pathways of expectations of our Deity, Hashem hu Elokim. We have seen exile and redemption, good and evil, etc. etc. Yet buried in all of the explanations of how to serve God, is one gem of all jewels: The Ger who is commanded to learn Torah, and that learning should yield insight into the Essence of our God, He who is a Deity that we are to Serve and Love - as this is Life and all that is Good. Perhaps the Blessing is surely there and has a destiny for all who see it, much like Jethro who has provided eyes for the people.
The Ger and the Baal Teshuva – Priestly – etc. would then be destined to find their way back to Torah by means of Hashem’s greatest hidden Blessing, and are to place matters on their heart, to behold the Deity and His Hand in Motion, like Pinchas and Jethro before all. The redemption will happen, Hashem will show His hand, mistakes will be made, all to erupt the Love before its time. Like the Red Heifer [an impurity for the sake of turning into purity], the ashes have been poured to gain a peak at the Divine wishing to be seen – in countless generations of contact between Jews and Gerim; evil will surely return to Good thus making Very Good.
On the Sixth day Hashem saw it was Very Good – as the Kabbalists state encoded in those words is the Final End; for that is where Hashem’s Hand performs as the Deity. Perhaps it is on that day and at that time that the true Love of Torah [and not going for Moshiach] and her wellsprings can finally reach the farthest extremes…in short, in merit of bringing back Gerim [through Torah] one like Abraham before all will merit the revelation of Shem, and as the Baal Shem Tov was told, this will usher in our Righteous Messiah.
All it ever takes is a Ger and a Jew to Deify Hashem together and witness the Divine Hand from the eruption of Love in each other, Torah, and ultimately aimed for the heart of God. Is redemption ever really that far away? Learn about the Deity together and find out, for is there another way to learn to Fear God?
Don't Forget Audio Shiur On Parasha 11 P.M. [Tzfat Time]