The Great Gift of Unfulfilled Desire

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The Great Gift of Unfulfilled Desire

Michael Berg
July 29, 2020

Moses desired to enter into the Land of Israel; however, as we know from this portion Va’etchanan, that did not happen. But it seems to make no sense that if the Creator loved Moses as He did, and Moses was as connected as he was, that Moses’s desire to enter into Israel did not get fulfilled.

The kabbalists say that a desire that is manifest loses its strength. When you have a desire to drink, for example, and you can't drink, the strength of that desire grows and grows. Whereas when you have a desire to drink and you do drink, that desire becomes diminished. This is also true in spiritual things; any manifested desire is of a lesser strength, and therefore, lesser ability than un-manifested desire. So, before Moses leaves this world, he wants to give us the most important gift - which is Light that we haven't yet received, or rather, the desire for the Light we haven't yet received.

There’s a section in the Zohar, in Vayechi section 120, in which Rav Yosi says that nothing was hidden from the friends, or students, from the time Rav Shimon Bar Yochai left the cave, which means after he started teaching. They were able to see the supernal secrets as if they were as Light-filled as they were when revealed at Mount Sinai.

Then it says that after Rav Shimon Bar Yochai left this world, the gates of Heaven and the gates below were all shut down; all that the students learned from Rav Shimon Bar Yochai was completely forgotten. And this is interesting, because you don't find this often throughout history. For example, when Moses left this physical world, Joshua continued teaching. In every generation, when even the greatest of leaders pass away, their teachings continue on. But the unbelievable souls who were the students of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai lost everything when he left this world. This doesn't make logical sense, because it would seem that even if a person disconnects from or loses his teacher, he retains what he learned, at least to some degree. But, in truth, that's because none of us are real students, as the students of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai were. For all of us, ego has unfortunately taken over our consciousness and makes us believe that we own any part of the wisdom that we have.

The portion Va’etchanan begins with Moses begging the Creator. It says in the Midrash, and Rashi quotes it, that Moses was asking for something that he hasn't earned. Rav Brandwein says that in the physical world - which is an indication of the way things work in the spiritual world - if somebody owes you something, they never want to be around you unless they can pay you back. But if he can't pay you, and even often if he can pay you, it's never a good feeling, right? Somebody who really owes you something just doesn't want to be around you. So, too, is it with our relationship with the Creator. If we feel the Creator owes us, then the Creator doesn't want to be with us, the Creator isn't with us. That's why Moses always made sure that he never felt that the Creator had to give anything to him.

Therefore, the reason the students lost all their learning when Rav Shimon left this world was because they constantly maintained this understanding. So when Rav Shimon Bar Yochai was removed, his wisdom was removed with him, because they never saw it as theirs. And this was important, because it was that pain and desire they felt which enabled them to maintain a connection to the Light of the Creator and to Rav Shimon Bar Yochai.

So, now it makes sense why the Creator didn’t give Moses his last request – it’s because if you don't have lack, if you don't have pain, then you don't have connection. As such, the gift that Moses received on this Shabbat was the gift of pain and the gift of desire. In fact, the kabbalists teach that all the prayers we have ever prayed and any assistance that we have ever received was from the channel that Moses creates on this Shabbat; and what Moses gives us on this Shabbat is unfulfilled desire. And, as we know, the greatest desire is the unfulfilled desire.

Before he leaves this world, Moses receives the greatest gift: to be guaranteed that he'll never disconnect from the Light of the Creator. And it’s not because his desires were fulfilled, not because the Creator gave him all the gifts and all the wisdom. The greatest gift that Moses ever received from the Creator was that there was unfulfilled pain and desire, and, as such, Moses could be guaranteed that his connection to the Light of the Creator will always be constant. That's the gift Moses gives us on this Shabbat.

We can be spiritual people, we can be growing and learning, but we have to ask ourselves this single important question: how much pain do I feel today about my lack of wisdom, understanding, growth, and connection? Our connection is only as powerful and strong as the pain that we feel from the lack of that connection. On this Shabbat, if we ask for it, Moses comes back to every single one of us and gives us that pain and that desire.