Since we know there are no coincidences, there must be something about the Light and teachings in the Torah portions we read during the Ben Hametzarim, the “three negative weeks,” that can assist us during that time. Although these three weeks historically have been negative and difficult, the kabbalists teach that in the greatest darkness, there is the potential for the greatest Light. Therefore, how we go about revealing that great Light during this time is what we are meant to learn and receive assistance for on this Shabbat, through the portion Matot.
The portion Matot deals with vows, not simply making a vow, but how to cancel a vow. What does a vow mean here? It means the unchanging way we have decided to view a situation or person, and how we choose then to always behave towards that individual. For example, let’s say somebody has done something to us that we feel caused us harm, so we made the choice to always view that person negatively, and vow that our anger or desire for revenge towards them will remain forever. If we live like that, if we decide about a situation or individual that this is the way it is, and this is who he or she is and we will never forgive them, we are living our vow- and we are then directing negativity towards them.
Because of the way the spiritual system works, if we have done something negative, then that negativity will come back into our life in some way. We learn in Kabbalah that as we behave, so the Light of the Creator behaves with us; therefore, if we allow ourselves to annul our vows, meaning we remove the din, or judgment, we have placed on others, then the judgment that could potentially come into our lives will also be annulled and removed. So, even if an individual has negativity or darkness that is meant to come to them, if they behave in a way that cancels their vows, then any judgment that is meant to come to them from the Upper Worlds is also cancelled. As such, what are the practical things we need to do in order to connect to the level of annulling our vows? How do we make sure any potential judgment does not manifest?
We can remove potential negativity from coming to us by letting go of the negativity we feel has been done to us. We say, “I let go of darkness that has been done to me, this negativity that has been done to me, and I let go of this vow that I have towards this person or situation.” By annulling the vows, we are essentially saying, “I am going to behave in this way, letting go of negativity done to me, and I want the Light of the Creator to behave in this way towards me as well, removing any type of judgment that is coming to me.”
This annulling of vows is particularly important during these three weeks, because the kabbalists teach that the source of any type of judgment or darkness that is going to manifest in an individual’s life comes from this time. It isn’t just that these weeks can be potentially difficult; they are really the place from which darkness comes into our lives. If we have done things that will come back as some type of judgment into our lives, that judgment gets its energy during this time. However, what we do in these three weeks can also enable us to cut off this potential darkness from manifesting in our lives in this year. And that is why we have the portion Matot that deals with the cancelling of the vows.
During this time, therefore, it is not a coincidence if an individual or a situation comes up that almost forces us to make a vow, to live in a way that says, “This person, or this situation, is negative for me, and I vow never to change that opinion.” Because if it is coming up in our lives now, it means we are being given an opportunity to let go of that negativity, so that judgment can be let go from us. When those opportunities come up, we need to push ourselves to let them go, so that any judgment that is waiting there for us can also let go.
If we can, during the time of the negative three weeks, annul our vows - let go of whatever negative finalized decisions we’ve made about a person or situation - then we force any type of judgment that is meant to come into our lives to also be removed. Since any potential darkness or negativity that is meant to come to us by our own actions receives its energy from these three weeks, the assistance in annulling our vows is a tremendous gift that we receive on Shabbat Matot. By letting go, by changing our mind about an individual or situation, we are able to force any type of judgment to leave us.