2016-09-14 / Religion Column

The heavenly voices can still be heard

Chabad In Medford

Parashat Ki Tavo
Deut. 26:1-29:8

Do you hear heavenly voices?

You probably don’t think so, but many of us actually do. If you’re thinking to yourself this sounds kind of strange, read on and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The portion of Ki Tavo begins with the mitzvah of Bikurim, the first fruits. Every year in ancient Israel, a farmer would take the first ripened fruits of his land, travel to the Temple in Jerusalem, and offer them as a present to G-d’s representative, the Kohen. This symbolized his expression of gratitude for the blessings that G-d had bestowed upon him.

Following this mitzvah, the Torah continues, “You shall observe and perform them [the mitzvot] with all your heart and soul.” The great sage Rashi questions the juxtaposition of the verse concerning the fulfillment of mitzvot with this specific mitzvah of Bikurim. He then explains that a heavenly voice would declare to the pilgrim, “You merited to bring this year’s first fruits, may you do so next year too.” Thus, by doing the mitzvah of Bikurim, he would be encouraged to continue fulfilling mitzvot in the future.

Well, you may ask, how does this apply to me?

We don’t bring first fruits anymore, and weren’t heavenly voices only heard thousands of years ago? But the truth is that while this phenomenon happened more often in the past, surprisingly our sages say that these heavenly voices are present now as well. Kabbalistic tradition teaches that the Jewish soul is comprised of five levels. The lower three levels descend and actually enter one’s body, while the higher two levels—the soul’s essence— remain in the higher spiritual realms. These two types of levels can be considered the conscious and subconscious of the soul. They are two spiritual frequencies that can receive different levels of spiritual signals. Whereas in times of old, the levels of the soul within the body were able to either spiritually or even physically hear heavenly voices, nowadays it is only the essence of the soul that can hear them. Nonetheless, despite our inability to receive these heavenly signals on a conscious level, our subconscious—the essence of the soul—can and does hear them. Consequently, this effects and inspires us here in this world.

This explains the rather odd phenomenon of sudden feelings of inspiration to do good, or to change our ways, that awaken unexpectedly from time to time. We wonder to ourselves what elicited these sudden feelings when we were occupied with completely different matters. The answer is that these feelings are our conscious response to the heavenly signals from above that were received by our subconscious. Similarly, the days of Shabbat and the festivals are times when the essence of our soul experiences a unique G-dly revelation that inspires and energizes us to strengthen our relationship with G-d.

This is most definitely true in this month—the month of Elul— when we contemplate our past year’s accomplishments and mistakes, and prepare for the New Year. In this month, G-d’s mercy is revealed, inspiring us to improve our relationship with our Creator. Every single Jew, regardless of his level of observance, affiliation or non-affiliation, experiences these feelings. The only issue is our awareness and motivation to capitalize and turn these feelings into productive action. This Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, let us not ignore or neglect these divinely inspired feelings and emotions, rather let us utilize them by taking upon ourselves another mitzvah and truly make this a spiritually meaningful year.

May G-d grant all of us a good and sweet year, both materially and spiritually. s

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