Clinging to G-d
In this week’s
portion, Moshe, during his final days, continues to speak to the Nation of
Israel. He exhorts them: “And you who cling to G-d, you are alive today”
is the intent of this verse? Moshe
said this after he had talked about the death of those who had worshipped idols.
When the word “chayim” — life — is used here, is the intent mere
physical life or something more?
Talmud tells us (Rosh Hashana) that righteous people while dead are considered
alive. The word alive obviously has deeper meaning than living or breathing.
What does the verse mean, when it says, “And you who cling to G-d?”
to G-d means performing His will to the best of our abilities. What is the will
of G-d? It is contained in the Torah that He gave at Mount Sinai, where He
delineates our responsibilities as Jews. Moshe is telling the Jewish people,
“those who betrayed G-d by their worship of idols are dead.” Not only
physically dead, but spiritually dead. The word alive connotes something that
has relevance and meaning.
who does his best to observe the will of G-d while still alive, even after he
has passed away, is still considered alive, because the teachings he has so
faithfully followed, and the commandments of the Torah that he has so carefully
observed, are still having ramifications. Whether they live on through his
children, or just the influence he made as a Torah observer, his mark has been
does one get to the level of being alive —
so much so that he is able to transcend death?
One gets to this
level by clinging to G-d. Our performance of the commandments must not be done
is a window that enables us to understand a different aspect of G-d. Every time
we perform each commandment we gain more clarity in our understanding. This can
only happen if we cling to G-d. The first time the word cling – davak
— is used in the Torah it is in reference to the relationship between
husband and wife.
is well known that one of the key components in marriage is passion. This idea
is similarly true in our relationship with G-d.
Chaim of Volozhin explains, in his classic work Nefesh Hachaim, that the
best way to cling to G-d is to study His Torah. The Torah is G-d’s will;
therefore every word studied brings one closer to Him.
we merit, through the study of Torah, to cling to G-d.
Rabbi Jay Spero is the rabbi of the Saranac Synagogue in Buffalo.