Parasha Insight by Rabbi Eli Mansour

Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal

In the beginning of Parashat Re’eh, Moshe Rabbenu instructs Beneh Yisrael that after they enter Eretz Yisrael, they must go to the site of two adjacent mountains – Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal.  While facing Mount Gerizim, they must declare a blessing upon those who observe the Misvot, and while facing Mount Ebal they must declare a curse upon those who disobey God’s commands. 

Our Rabbis teach that there are two kinds of angels – those who defend us before God (“Sanegor”), and those who prosecute against us (“Kategor”).  Furthermore, different places in Eretz Yisrael have different spiritual powers.  There are some places that are dominated by the quality of strict justice, where the prosecuting angels have greater power, and other places that are characterized by the quality of mercy, where the defending angels are stronger.  Mount Gerizim is a site of divine mercy, whereas Mount Ebal is a site of divine judgment.  Therefore, Beneh Yisrael proclaimed a curse upon those who violate the Misvot on Mount Ebal, the site of the prosecuting angels, and a blessing upon those who uphold the Misvot on Mount Gerizim, the site of the defending angels. 

The strategy we must employ in trying to restrain the prosecuting angels is to draw them to our side.  Imagine a court convening to try a defendant who is accused of various crimes, and the prosecutor begins by standing up and proclaiming that he believes the defendant is innocent.  Quite obviously, the moment this happens the case is closed.  If the prosecutor does not bring any charges against the defendant, then there is no case.  And this is true in the Heavenly Tribunal, as well.  If the prosecuting angels come to our defense, or if we can have them silenced, then there is no case brought against us. 

This is what we seek to accomplish when we approach a Sadik for a Beracha.  His job is to restrain the Kategor, and to bring him to our side so there will no harsh judgment issued against us. 

In order for the Sadik to do this, two things have to happen.  First, we need to bolster our faith in God as the One who determines our fate.  We often forget that our lives and wellbeing are in God’s hands, and believe instead that we are in full control over what happens in our lives.  We cannot receive Beracha from God until we reinforce our belief in providence, that our fate is in His hands.  This belief is referred to as “Yihud”– belief in the Oneness of the Creator.  Secondly, we need to cultivate Kedusha.  Great Rabbis ensure before going anywhere that the people there are dressed according to proper standards of Kedusha, because they do not want to be somewhere impure.  This is true of the Almighty, too; He will not be present in places where there is no Kedusha.   Once we have achieved these two goals –strengthening our faith in “Yihud,” and establishing proper standards of Kedusha –then we can receive Beracha, God’s unlimited blessing. 

The first letters of these three words –“Yihud,”“Kedusha,”“Beracha”– are “Yod,”“Kof” and “Bet,” which have a combined numerical value of 112 – which is the same numerical value as the word “Ebal.” Through this process, of reaffirming our faith in divine providence and raising our standards of Kedusha, we are able to take “Ebal,” the prosecuting angels and forces of judgment, and bring them to our side.  This is the secret to avoiding “prosecution,” to ensuring that God looks favorably upon us and grants abundant Beracha for us, our families and all Am Yisrael.

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Fri, August 18 2017 26 Av 5777