Parshat Ki Tavo by Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land
The Nerves and The Patriarchs
In continuation of our study of the nervous system, we will continue to the third primary component of this system after the brain and the spinal cord, the nerves. There are three types of nerves in the body: 1. Motor nerves – These nerves control voluntary movements and actions by passing information from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles. 2. Autonomic nerves – nerves that control the involuntary or partially voluntary activities of the body, including heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and temperature regulation. 3. Sensory nerves – These nerves relay information from the skin and muscles back to the spinal cord and brain. The information is then processed to let you feel pain and other sensations.
We may draw a parallelism between these types of nerves and the three Patriarchs. Avraham, the paradigm of “out-going” kindness, parallels the active voluntary motor nerves. Yitzhak, in contrast, the paradigm of judgment and restraint, parallels the autonomic involuntary nerves. Yakov, the paradigm of connection, unity, and communication, parallels the sensory nerves which allow one “communication” with one’s surroundings.
In this Parsha the individual bringing the First Fruits to the Beit Hamikdash is commanded to declare that “I have come to the Land that Hashem has promised to our Patriarchs.” This means, and so is also halachically re-enforced (Rambam Bikurim ch. 3), that even one who was born in the Land of Israel is supposed to say that he “has come” in the present to the Land of Israel, as if describing himself in a national-historical context, that the People of Israel have come to the Land of Israel after the Exodus from Egypt.
This idea can also be seen in the subsequent telling of the story of the Exodus, which we say on every Seder night, when we are supposed to “see ourselves as if leaving Egypt,” so too we may say that the one bringing the First Fruits of the Holy Land is supposed to see himself as if entering the Holy Land at the present. From this, it also follows that talking about the Land “promised to our Patriarchs” and “crying out to the God of our Patriarchs” mentioned in this declaration plays a much more imminent role than may be superficially seen. In other words, we, in the present, are entering the Holy Land in the merit of our Godly parents of Hebron.
The nerves of the body give a person an imminent sense of “being in the here and now”. Tying his imminent connection to the Patriarchs, as shown above, may show how our Patriarchs play an imminent role in our real lives. During these Days of Compassion, we may great mention of their merit before the Almighty in the Selichot, for their merit continues with us to this very day.
From now till the Days of Awe, when we pray to be written in the “Book of Life,” we will relate real stories that demonstrate Hashem being the “King of Judgment” through stories of the afterlife, near-death experiences, etc. Also, Maarat Hamachpela is considered a “channel” to the afterlife: “I turned in to Bograchov Street (Tel Aviv). Ahead of me I had to pass the skeleton of a new building under construction. Suddenly, I felt a violent blow strike my head, as a heavy eighteen-foot wooden beam, plunging from the scaffold atop the five story-structure, hit me. All at once, I felt I was outside my body, floating upward about twelve to fifteen feet above the sidewalk, watching the scene below. I did not know how I left my body, or how I got up there. Everything happened so suddenly that I was caught completely by surprise. I saw a large woman bending over my body, trying to detect a sign of life in my motionless form. Then she started screaming for help.
This is my body, I thought, but I am not inside it. I am looking at it from above. How is this possible? With what eyes am I seeing this, and where are my ears? A gradual change began to occur in my status of “observer”. The events in the street began to fade away into the darkness, and through this darkness, I perceived a glimmer of brightness. As the radiance came closer it grew in intensity, becoming a glorious, powerful light, radiating an abundant flow of exalted spirituality. In harmony with this flow of illumination, the events in my life began to pass before my eyes. The images were three-dimensional, and I saw myself taking part in them. My entire life flashed by, from the day I was born until the very moment I fell to the ground. The magnificent stream of light was accompanied by a flow of sublime love, the kind of love I had never before experienced. Faced with this overpowering love, I felt incapable of remaining an independent entity; I simply melted away. I felt a powerful bond with this marvelous presence. This was the will of a Higher Power, a Being of infinite might. I felt a strong pull to become part of this wonderful eternal flow. The pull of this powerful love of the benevolent light was almost irresistible. I felt my willpower crumbling and melting away. Faced by this outpouring of goodness and love, I was losing my will to be a separate individual. It felt as though a loving mother embraced my individuality and pulled my “I” towards a state of perfect happiness, toward an elevated state of being that ensured everlasting sublime delight. I was filled with great compassion for my loved ones who would remain in this world, for my body, for the life I had wasted. A wave of pity swept over me.
I felt that this force of compassion brought me back into my body. Overcome with tenderness, with a boundless sense of compassion, I burst into tears. The woman bent over me, and grabbing my hand, she coaxed me to get back on my feet.