• Maverick (Avigdor) Peters

Parshas Nitzavim 2018: Who Are You?

[Moshe told the Jewish people not to try] “to add the watered to the thirsty”. (Deuteronomy 29:18)

What is this talking about?

In Judaism each individual has two parts to himself. Theres the guf and the Neshama. The guf is the human and more animalistic side of us whereas, the Neshama is purely spiritual. Just as an animal acts instinctively and pursues only after his desires so too is the guf. The guf in is in constant pursuit of worldly pleasures. The Neshama on the other hand, has zero interest in anything physical other than to use them to grow in spirituality. These two forces are continually fighting each other.

The question is, which of these is actually “you”? What do “you” want? What do “you” desire? Who are “you”?

The answer is “you” are both. “You” posses these two incredible forces and the job of “you” is to find the balance between them. Additionally, to use the lesser animal self as a way to enhance and bring growth to the spiritual “you”. This is how “you” can benefit the most in life.

The pleasures that our human self desires are readily available to us in galus (exile from Hashem) it is therefore “watered” compared to the Neshama which lusts only for Hashem. It is said that when the Moshiach comes and the final redemption is a reality, there will be a sense of drunkenness for the Neshama. Meanwhile, we find that our animal self tries to add the “watered” to the thirsty Neshama by mixing its own lusts with a higher cause it can't even relate to. It does know that its pursuits are deceptive and empty but it argues that we aren't lacking spiritually.

When the pasuk here warns us, the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains, we are supposed ignore the cries of the guf and instead, listen to our neshama. Our “watered/drunken” guf is so steeped in its pleasures it thinks the Neshama is equally happy. But in truth the Neshamas are struggling, gasping for air. We need to focus on our spiritual self as the Neshama needs more attention to thrive.

Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend!

Maverick V. Peters

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