When we don’t know what to decide
In Parshat Masai, Hashem talks to Moshe about Israel’s borders, and says:
“You shall give the Land as an inheritance by lot to your families; to the many you shall increase its inheritance and to the few shall you decrease its inheritance; wherever its lot shall fall, his shall it be, according to the tribes of your fathers shall you inherit.”
These are the boundaries that Yehoshua Bin Nun needs to conquer from Eretz Canaan, and there is a big difference between what is found within those borders, and what remains outside. Because whatever is within these borders is sanctified with the holiness of Eretz Yisrael, and whatever is outside this boundary doesn’t have that kedusha, or holiness.
Rashi asks on this verse, why does the Torah say that the land with ‘fall’ into their portion, and doesn’t express this in different language, for example by saying: ‘The land that you will receive’. Rashi’s first answer to this question is: The Torah says will ‘fall’ in order to teach that the land will be divided according to a goral, i.e. by casting lots.
And this goral is referred to as ‘falling’, as we see written about Haman that he ‘cast pur [lots], this is the goral.’
The question is asked about this: There is another place in the Torah where it talks about the goral, and there it’s written ‘aleh hagoral’ (aleh is the Hebrew word for ‘going up’, i.e. the opposite of ‘falling’) from the Yom Kippur liturgy.
Also, let’s examine why the land should be divided by lots, davka, and why the goral should be referred to as a ‘falling’ over here, and a ‘going up’ over there.
When they divided the land between the tribes, each tribe received a different area in Eretz Yisrael. There is a big significance attached to each of the regions that was distributed to the tribes, because the spiritual work of a person is hugely affected by the place where he lives. Each area of land had to be carefully suited to the particular spiritual work of that tribe.
The wisdom behind this distribution of the land is so lofty and so hidden, that nobody, not even Moshe Rabbenu and not Yehoshua Bin Nun, could really grasp it. So, Hashem told Moshe to cast lots, and that by way of casting lots, Hashem would reveal to Am Yisrael the wisdom behind the division of the land.
Whatever came out via the goral was the direct will of Hashem.
WHEN WE DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DECIDE
Sometimes in our lives, we’ll be put in situations where we find ourselves at something of a crossroads, such as when we need to make a specific decision. This can happen in all areas of life, but sometimes there are also huge implications connected to our decision, and we still have no idea what’s the right thing to do.
In order to clarify the situation, a person needs to consult with his friends, and to go to the rabbis and the Tzaddikim to ask for advice. But sometimes, even after all of this, a person still has doubts. Maybe he didn’t get a clear answer because shemayim has hidden the matter from the tzaddikim, and they don’t know what advice to give this person right now.
The advice on how to deal with these situations is to try to get some answers by way of the ‘secret of the goral’. The goral contains concealed, hidden wisdom, and it’s knowledge that is coming from a higher, more lofty place than we can grasp ourselves, with our limited minds.
Rabbi Natan tells us, in Likutey Halachot, that the goral is also called the ‘path of the simple one’. There’s a path of the chacham, or wise one, and a path of the tam, or simple one. The ‘wise path’ is where we try to use our intelligence to clarify matters, from a place of actually being able to grasp the subject, and to clarify it properly.
But when we’re in a situation where it’s impossible for us to truly grasp the matter with our minds, then we need to follow the ‘path of the simple one’.
The ‘path of the simple one’ revolves around prayer and hitbodedut, or talking to God in our own words. It’s where we tell God that “I want the truth! But I don’t know what the truth is! If I would know what the truth is, I would act on it, but my problems is that I don’t know what the truth is! I asked around, I tried to clarify it, but I didn’t get a proper answer from anyone.”
So now, we need to request that Hashem should show us the path that He wants us to take. You should know that when a person prays a lot, as much as possible, about the same thing, this brings down the light of the goral for him, and then Shemayim reveals the truth to him about what decision he should make.
And afterwards, a person should then know that this was the will of Hashem, whether it successfully works out, or not.
THE LIGHT OF THE GORAL
The light of the goral helps a person to clarify what the truth really is. But we need to understand why the Torah refers to the goral in some instances as a ‘falling’, and in others as an ‘elevation’, or rising up. In the holy books, we find a very deep answer to this question, inasmuch as the goral contains a type of wisdom that’s it’s impossible for us to grasp.
That means sometimes, the outcome of the goral is that a person becomes elevated, but that other times, he falls, and is unable to successfully complete what he was hoping to do. Let’s take an example:
Reuven and Shimon are a couple of good friends. They are both demonstrating some considerable self-sacrifice to achieve a certain goal, and both of them want to succeed. In Shemayim, both of them are esteemed in the same way, except that Reuven succeeds and goes ‘up’ in the world, while Shimon doesn’t succeed, and everything continues to be very hard and stressful for him. This is called the secret of the goral.
FIGHTING AGAINST 70 MINISTERING ANGELS
Rashi writes another commentary about the verse: ‘This is the land that will fall [into your inheritance]’. There’s a midrash where it’s written that Hashem will destroy (from the same language as ‘to fall’ in the Hebrew) the ministers of the 70 nations before Moshe, and tie them up, before telling Moshe that the ministers no longer had any power, and that the land would simply fall before the Jews And then, they would be able to conquer it.
It’s written in the holy books that upstairs in shemayim there are 70 ministering angels, one for each of the 70 nations of the world, one ‘minister’ for each country. There’s an ongoing war that occurs between these ministering angels, because each of them wants to rule over a bigger part of the world. Their ability to rule comes from how successful they are in diverting the spiritual and materialistic shefa, or bounty, of Eretz Yisrael.
We’re talking about spiritual aspects and spiritual wars here. The spiritual portal for all the world’s bounty is located above Eretz Yisrael, and this bounty first comes down to Eretz Yisrael and only afterwards is it distributed to every corner of the world.
Around Eretz Yisrael, there are 70 openings, and each of the ministering angels stands by their particular opening and takes their portion from the bounty that comes down to the world.
The nations of the world fight over who will rule over Eretz Yisrael, because when they rule the land, they receive a tremendously great ability to rule over, and control, the whole world. The essence of the war between us and between the ministers of the world is that it’s a spiritual war.
Every minister has its own particular negative character trait, or lust, that he’s responsible for. When Am Yisrael, collectively, succeeds in overcoming this negative character trait, or lust, this nation will immediately capitulate to us. And when the opposite happens, God forbid, when Am Yisrael falls into one of these traits that’s controlled by one of these ministers, then this ministering angel receives even more strength to rule over, and enslave Am Yisrael.
All of these ministers receive their power from the root of all the lusts, which is the lust for immoral relations. This is the main strength of the most powerful yetzer hara (evil inclination) that exists.
And so the essence of our war against these ministering angels of the foreign nations boils down to our war against the lust for immoral relations.
THE LAST CHANCE
In kabbalistic terms, this lust is called nukva de’tuma raba, and it’s the deepest pleasure afforded by this material world. When a person gets some enjoyment from something material, like for example, a cream cake, he’ll now start to look for all different types of cream cake so he can get even more enjoyment out of it. This type of pleasure-seeking enslaves a person to the klipot (the evil side), and also amplifies its strength in the world.
You need to know that right now, we’re mamash before the geula, and that the yetzer hara feels that it’s about to be uprooted from the world. It doesn’t look like that to us – it looks like the yetzer is very strong, and is ruling the world. But really? It can already see that its end is approaching, and that’s why it’s amplifying itself in the world, and fighting against us with all its strength.
It’s battleplan is to try to give us the maximum enjoyment possible from the material world. The yetzer hopes that by doing this, it’s going to beat us, and then it won’t be cancelled out of the world.
Today, every single Jew is battling against the klipot, and against this main lust internally, and it’s a very difficult war. Evil appears to be winning at the moment, and it’s the easiest thing in the world to fall into the most disgusting places. All the gates of tumah (impurity) are open.
But, on the other side of things, we need to know that the measure of good is always much greater than the measure of bad. The gates of kedusha have also been opened, including the light of Rebbe Nachman, the light of the true tzaddik.
Today, we can go and visit kevarim (holy burial places) of big tzaddikim like Yosef HaTzaddik, and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who merited to completely subdue the klipot. We can get some tremendous strength from these tzaddikim to continue our own fight, and to finally pull away from the bad side and its lusts.
This war against our lusts is split into two parts. The first stage is when we make every effort we can, with mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice), in order to not fall into them, and to try to distance ourselves from them as much as possible. But we won’t always succeed! The yetzer hara in our generation is very, very strong.
The second stage is to invest some mesirut nefesh on the side of our will, i.e. what we want to happen. This means to pray a lot, and to spend a lot of time doing hitbodedut. We need to tell God that we don’t want any of the pleasures of this world, and that all we want is just to be good Jews, and to be busy with Torah and doing more mitzvahs.
Even if a person feels as though the klipot are driving him crazy, and he’s stuck in a place of deep spiritual concealment, and that it’s not really true to say that he only wants Hashem – even then, a person shouldn’t become confused! He should just repeat over and over again, that “My true desire is to only be with HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and to do Hashem’s holy will.”
And this is the truth! Because the essence of a person is his holy soul, his neshama elokit, and not his animal soul.
We should know that when a person truly grasps hold of this point of wanting good, and really connects to it, and when practically they are doing all they can to get away from the bad, eventually, they will for sure succeed. Because it’s by way of wanting good that we subdue the ministering angel that is actually overseeing that desire, and eventually, we will also win the whole war that we’re waging against the ‘bad’.
And this explains how Hashem was able to bring down the ministers before Moshe, and was able to tell him that they didn’t have any power any more. Moshe was such a huge tzaddik, and he merited to achieve a level of completely rectifying his middot (character traits) and lusts, so I his merit Hashem was able to subdue all the ministering angels of the nations before the nation of Israel.
The people of Israel still had to go out and fight against the nations of the world, but victory was guaranteed for them, because their ministering angels above had already been defeated.
May it be Hashem’s will that we should also merit to achieve this.