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A Kabbalistic Dig: V’Zot HaBrachah

V’Zot HaBrachah: Deuteronomy 33:1 – 34:12


Several Chasidic Masters associate Moses with the Sephirah of Da’at of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. The Sephirah of Da’at is known as the hidden Sephirah, situated as the threshold between the seven lower Sephirot of Manifestation and the upper three Sephirot of Transcendence, in an empty space often referred to as “The Abyss.” As one understands each of these rungs on the Tree of Life as a description of higher and higher levels of consciousness from identification with the physical realm of body-mind-emotions to Self-realization, Da’at—which means “knowing” or “awareness”—corresponds to the rung of spiritual Awakening. But how, then, is this Sephirah associated with Moses?

He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, facing Bet Pe’or. No one knows his burial place, to this day.” [Deut. 34:6] Thus is Moses’ burial at the hand of God, described in our Torah portion. Moses’ resting place, like Da’at, is hidden. Moses, the ultimate Prophet, “whom YHVH knew Panim-el-Panim: Presence-to-Presence/Inwardness-to-Inwardness,” [Deut. 34:10] is not an ancient character in biblical history but represents, instead, a level of consciousness within us, hidden from the eyes of the false self, awaiting our realization at the rung of the inner Sephirah of Da’at, of Awakening. Moses is the face of our awakened Self, our knowing (da’at) that our Presence is no other than God’s Presence.

How can we find our inner Moses? What is the path to guide us toward revealing that which is hidden within us? Here again, the Torah seems to be pointing us in a specific direction: “He buried him in a valley.” The text is not only telling us where Moses is to be found, but is also giving us the tools to find him.

We have spent years building up and solidifying our false separate sense of self by filling our inner valley with more and more layers of identification, experiences and attachment, to a point where we have transformed what was once a valley into a mound of egocentric accumulations. No wonder no one knows Moses’ resting place. We are standing atop the mound looking out to find him, all the while ignoring that he has always been right there, buried beneath the surface. The journey to Self-realization isn’t, therefore, about adding more layers of experiences—however spiritual they may be—but a practice in self-excavating. Our True Self isn’t to be achieved, it is to be revealed, to be uncovered the way Michelangelo saw each of his sculptures as already complete within the raw marble block; already there, and just requiring the chiseling away of the superfluous material.

The valley is a pointer for our chisel. A valley is a low place, just like Moses was known to be a humble person. Modesty, honesty and loving-kindness are attributes to be cultivated as tools to engage in our personal Self-unearthing. They are connected to the three Sephirot of Tiferet (heart-space, humility, harmony), Gevurah/Din (honesty, justice, courage) and Chesed (loving-kindness) that lead up to the Sephirah of Da’at, pointing to the modalities of being and acting meant to carve away the “superfluous” layers of self toward Awakening. They echo the words of the prophet Micah: “He has told you, O humans, what is good and what YHVH demands of you—only doing justice (Gevurah/Din), loving kindness (Chesed) and walking humbly (Tiferet) with your God.” [Micah 6:8] Now go and self-excavate!