Our Greatest Enemy

This Shabbat, Moses speaks to us, the People of Israel, the following words: “I stand between you and G-d” (in Hebrew: “אנוכי עומד בין ה’ וביניכם”).

On the immediate level, Moses is simply reminding the Jewish People that he, Moses, serves as the “go between”, the intermediary, the spiritual messenger going back and forth between the People of Israel and G-d.

On a deeper level, the Ba’al Shem Tov explains the timeless wisdom of this verse. According to Kabbalah, “I stand between you and G-d”, implies that the “I”, the “me”, the “ego”, an inflated and exaggerated sense of self, constitutes a spiritual obstacle separating man from G-d.

In other words, when we’re so caught up with our own self, to the extent that we lose focus on those around us, we cannot marvel at the expansive majesty of Being, we “forget” that we are cosmic beings inhabiting an infinite universe permeated by an Infinite spirit which we call “G-d”.

And when we do that, when we experience the world through a mental dungeon of solitary spiritual confinement, when we don’t look and live beyond the self, then misery ensues, and we cannot experience G-d’s immediate and all-pervasive presence permeating the world, and also – G-d as the very life force reverberating and echoing inside our neshamah (soul).

And so, Moses’s eternal words: “I stand between you and G-d today”, constitute a perpetual Torah (spiritual instruction) to remind us to zoom out from our own constricted and narrow consciousness and reach beyond, lovingly and devotionally, to family, friends, community members, our people, humanity and all forms of being.

The more we turn our gaze outward, away from the “I” to the “One”, to the underlying monistic unity of being, the less we are plagued and contaminated by “I-dolatry”, and the more we are anchored in the very source of all life.

May we all cultivate a sacred attunement to the timeless words Moses speaks to us this Shabbat, and reach further, beyond ourselves, to all the different facets and layers of being, to the Infinite One Blessed Is He.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Sessler

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