Va’ethannan – Cultivating Resonance
Adapted from MetaParshiyot 5755 by R David Wolfe-Blank
This Torah portion continues Moshe‘s review of the people’s journey through the desert. The 10 Commandments and their various laws are retold. The Sh’ma Yisrael – the mantra of the Jewish people – is found in this Torah portion. Moshe does his utmost to get the people to stay on track after he’s gone. Yisrael, Moshe teaches, is to 1) hear, really hear that God is One, 2) study the teachings, and 3) live by them together in love.
Moshe tells the Yisrael people as firmly as possible that they make sure to continue the holy way of life into the next generations. Communicating with the children effectively is of paramount importance. Verses from this Torah portion are in the Passover Seder.
This Shabbat is the first one after the three weeks of dissolution and Tisha b’Av. This year it arrives as Tu B’Av, the Jewish day of love, completes. It is called Shabbat Nakhamu-the Shabbat of comfort. The Haftorah portion on this Shabbat differs from the three read during the weeks that have just been completed. It initiates a series of seven Haftorot of consolation that focus on healing wounds. These seven weeks take us from Tisha B’Av through Elul and finish just before Rosh Hashanah.
The name of this Torah portion is Va’ethannan וָֽאֶתְחַנַּ֖ן. The root of the word is חן (hen). It translates in the Alcaley dictionary as grace, beauty, favor, loveliness, and charm. “Hen” is an attribute associated with the S’firah Hod.
Menahem ben Benyamin Recanati, the great Italian Kabbalist, taught that communication between heaven and earth is resonan, and works like two guitars sitting in proximity to one another. When a string is strummed on one guitar, the adjacent one begins to vibrate similarly at the same frequency.
Physicality, we learn from physics, is energy that is slowed down. Energy links through waves, like those made by the orbiting moon and witnessed in the large bodies of water. Humans can feel resonance in day-to-day life and learn to attune to and cultivate it.
For example, being in nature, like on a hike, picnic, or camping, will often bring a sense of ease. Walking barefoot or making contact or a time in wet sand or grass reduces the human body’s noise and brings attunement with Earth’s resonance. For more on this, see www.earthing.com.
Some people carry a sense of ease. It is a pleasure to be near them in their energetic field. It is not necessarily a constant state of being but something worth cultivating. These are people with whom we want to commune. Even more, healers will carry vibrations that are helpful and resonant. Some people heal others simply by their presence.
Meditative practices, like Continuum Movement and Liquid Kabbalah, even more so, support slowing down. It is compelling to consider the data rates of computers and compare them with Earth processes. My computer is currently running at 4.27 GHz. That is fast compared to nature. Another way to represent that speed is 4,270,000,000 cycles per second or 3 x 10^9. Let’s compare that to the rate at which Earth orbits Sun, which is approximately one cycle every 365 days, or .00000003 cycles per second, or 3 x 10^-8. This is much slower than the microprocessors that run phones and computers that most of us have grown attached to and accustomed to. The computers run at 17 orders of magnitude faster than Earth orbits Sun. 1, followed by 17 zeros faster than Earth’s orbit. The number is so large it is hard to comprehend. That is the point.
Speed is often a benefit – but it is also addictive and can be an obstacle, depending on the context. When we move fast, nuance is missed. Moving slowly allows nuance to be seen. Said another way, the slower we move, the larger the aspect that can be grasped. It is imperative to set aside times to be consciously slow. Shabbat is great for this. I am grateful.
This holy verse resonates powerfully. When chanting Sh’ma, The Unifying Principle resonates, and anything else falls away. I learned through Kabbalah siddurim to use it as a vehicle of discernment.
Torah teaches us to chant Sh’ma when we lie down for the night and when we wake up. Daily. On Yom Kippur, Sh’ma a vehicle to acknowledge and move from the deep immersion into the Divine Presence. Sh’ma Yisrael is also the final verse of the traditional deathbed vidui (confession) – the last words during this lifetime. The final word of Sh’ma (Ehad, which means One) invites us to jump into the eternal Oneness for a moment, or eternity.
CULTIVATING PROPHECY – ( Rabbi Yoseph Gikatilla from Shaarai Orah
The Sh’ma is used to access prophecy referenced in Torah. In Torah, whenever we see the words Koh Amar כה אמר (YHVH usually follows), it is code indicating the prophecy was brought down by means of Sh’ma. This is generally translated as “Thus says…”. This is hinted at through the gematria of כה, which is 25. There are 25 letters in the Sh’ma Yisrael.
|One||Havayah||Is our Divine||Havayah||Yisrael||Listen|
Listen, you Yisrael person, Havayah is our Divine, Havayah (YHVH) is One.
The Four Letter Name (we call Havayah) holds the Hebrew words for is (היה), was ( הוה), and will be (יהיה).
There are many Elokim, divinities for different groups, in Torah – the Sh’ma declares that Havayah is our Divinity.
SAID ANOTHER WAY
Listen, you Yisrael person, Havayah (who Is Was and Will be) is our personal Divinity; Havayah, unified – is the Single Source of All – even when they seem separate, things are not separate, we all impact one another, everything we do impacts everything else. It all matters.
KABBALAH FOUR WORLD PERSPECTIVE
Kabbalah and Hassidus see each letter in the Divine Name as pointing to one of four specific realms. These realms are modeled on the architecture of the human brain. The breakdown looks like this:
|BRAIN||Sensation||Divine Name||letter||Sound||Realm עולם|
|Cerebral Spinal Fluid||Being – Spirit – Potential||י||yud||Y||Atzilut אצילות|
|NeoCortex||Thinking, Creativity – Symbols, Logic, Leading Edge, Art||ה||hey||H||Breeyah בריאה|
|Limbic Brain||Feeling Activate safety, joy, friendship, heart connection – “Happy puppy dog in us.”||ו||vav||W||Yetzirah יצירה|
|Reptilian Brain||Action, Doing, Manifestation||ה||heh||H||Assiyah עשיה|
This perspective sheds new light on the Sh’ma
Listen, you Yisrael person, Havayah who Is Was and Will Be is our divinity. Havayah is one; spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
Spirit & intellect are here to guide emotion & action.
The Kabbalah Kavananah, “L’Shem Yikhud Kudshah Breekh Hu ooShkintay” (For the sake of union between The Holy One of Blessing and Sh’khinah), contains a vital life secret. It sets the intention to allow spirit and intellect to direct action and feeling. When we know it in our minds and feel it in our kishkas, then we know it is correct. Many things may be right in our minds but do not manifest well in day-to-day life.
It is an invitation to be self-referential. If resonance is out of sync, it is time to reconsider, refine, and move into a different harmonic.
“HEN” AND HOD
“Hen” is refined grace that moves easily, propagates selectively, and leaves a resonant field. Anything not resonant drops away. It is not relevant or useful. Like Hod, on the left-hand side of the Tree of Life, resonance is refined and specific. Only that frequency or a harmonic can pass through. Everything else is attenuated.
“Hen” attracts favor and support from nature. Since all natural processes are gifts from The Holy One of Blessing, we can say that “Hen” resonates favorably with God.
The Torah portion in the S’firah cycle: Va’ethannan counts Hod in Yesod.
D’varim, last week’s Torah portion, and Va’ethannan count Netzah and Hod in Yesod, respectively. They give an excellent example of the differences between Netzah and Hod. D’varim amply displays Netzah’s exterior behavior. It is full of events, battles, place names, and details of happenings. The latter, Hod, is more interior. The Torah portion starts with, “and I prayed. “ It contains the 10 Commandments and the Sh’ma Yisrael – the declaration of a unifying force in the world. These are important to the people’s inner life, prayers, and expressed ideals. They are a far cry from the battle names of wars and travels.
The name of this Torah portion, Va’ethannan, is resonant. The Sh’ma and the ten commandments are in this Torah portion. They are guides into cultivating resonance with The Creator of All. These verses are foundational aspects of a Torah-centered life. “Hen” is an aspect of Hod, and so is fitting with the name and contents of this Torah portion.