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Posted on August 4, 2023 (5783) By Rabbi Label Lam | Series: | Level:

He afflicted you and let you hunger, then He fed you the Manna that you did not know nor did your forefathers know in order to make you know that not by bread alone does man live but on (KOL) all that emanates from the mouth of HASHEM does man live. (Devarim 8:3)

What is added by the word “KOL” – “all”? How does it add flavor to the Manna or meaning to the verse? This is a question I have been pursuing for a while now and new information has recently been revealed to me. It may help explain an obvious and repeating theme throughout Aikev. The combination of names “HASHEM Elochecha” is employed not less than 35 times. What does that mixture of Holy Names imply? What’s the practical message?

The Meor Eynai enlightens our eyes. He writes that the word KOL, in general is a code word, in reference to a the Tzadik who is the foundation of the world. Yaakov replied to Eisav, “Yeish Li KOL” – “I have all!” All means heaven and earth, this world and the next. The Tzadik is essentially the bridge striding and connecting two disparate realms, reconciling physicality and spirituality, with the understanding that they are not two distinct dimensions but rather one seamless continuum, not unlike Yaakov vision of “The Ladder”. The world is fundamentally spiritual and there is more dense spirituality and less dense spirituality. “ALL” is essentially spiritual!

There are four classic approaches to dealing with the seeming dichotomy between the material and spiritual realms that reside within and around each and everyone of us. We are all made of an odd-odd couple. We have bodies that want to run horizontally like any good horse and eat all the goodies of this world. Yet HASHEM breathed the breath of life into us, a slice of eternity was installed deeply within our hearts and it is endlessly curious to unravel the secrets of the universe and rise to the heavens.

1-The classic far eastern approach idealizes the separation of the body, silencing one’s feeling until the signals from the physical are muted and no longer perceived. This is the ideal of Nirvana. 2-The classic western approach is to divorce one’s self from the spiritual. The quieting of the conscience, that small thin voice, allows one to go headlong into the universe of materialism without second thoughts or concern. Can this be ideal?! “Just go for it! Do it!?”

3-There is a third option of flipping and flopping, going for each alternately. There is a price to pay here as well. The Talmud states pithily, “Oy l’Yitzri! Oy L’Yotzri!” “Woe to my negative inclination and woe to my Creator!” Whatever I do to satisfy one of my passions seriously offends the other part of my sensibilities and sensitivities and visa versa. A Professor Meier did an experiment in which he successfully induced neurosis in laboratory rats. He set up the Skinnerian box with two bars for the rat to push. One delivered a treat while the other a punch in the nose. Once the rat got his treat the results were immediately switched and the door now was set up to give that punch in the nose. The other bar that gave a punch was now the bar with the treat. Every time the rat figured it out the stimulus was changed. In the end the rat sits equidistant from the two bars and starves to death rather than risk getting a punch in the nose even with the possibility of finding food.

4-The fourth approach is the “middle east”. Somebody had a horse that he was caring for all day, combing its hair and feeding it. His friend asked him how come he is spending a whole day taking care of his horse. The man replied, “Because he’s a dumb creature and I’m smart!” His friend challenged him, “If he’s so dumb and you’re so smart then get him to do something for you!” If the horse can be disciplined and induced to serve the owner, then both can have their needs and desires fulfilled. So, the Torah helps us navigate pleasantly and negotiate peacefully this treaty of mutual cooperation.

By abiding by this contract, one is essentially bridging two worlds. There is a danger entering the land that one can become preoccupied with material temptations, represented by the name ELOCHIM which is how HASHEM shows up in this world. Then one just might over react and withdraw to the Heavens beyond the realm of time and space as spelled out in the name HASHEM. The real ideal is to join them and enjoy them, because they are really one, and it is not only true with food, it is true about ALL we do!