Seven Levels of Teshuva Moshe Part Four
Moshe, Netzach and Transforming Mistakes into Merit:
Moshe represents Netzach. Moshe experienced the highest level of clarity possible for a human being. He was granted 9 of the 50 levels of understanding1. He understood that everything in creation from the beginning of time to its end fit together in the grand vision of God2. Everything he did was with the understanding that God has one eternal vision for the world in which everything fits together as trillions of pieces of a puzzle. Moshe was so successful that everything he did lasts forever; the Torah is eternal. Moshe used this clarity to bring forgiveness for the Jews after their sin with the Golden Calf. He is the one who can take the Jews even after they have sinned with the Golden Calf and redirect their passion for a physical connection with God into building the Mishkan. He took their wasted strengths and used them constructively. He turned their sin into merit.
Moshe also used the concept of Sitra Achra to protect the Jews: When they were punished with snakes and God instructed Moshe to make a snake, Moshe used a nichash nichoshet, a copper snake, because copper in Hebrew is similar to snake. He used a snake to protect them from the evil snake3.
Moshe melted down the incense pans that were used by the participants in the rebellion of Korach who died, to make a covering for the mizbeach.4 He turned sin into merit.
Yom Kippur Service:
On Yom Kippur we offer a sacrifice to a being other than God, usually the worst of sins, yet on Yom Kippur it is a Mitzvah. We offer a goat to Azazel.5The Ramban explains that the idea of Azazel, one of two goats chosen by lottery, one for God and one for Azazel, represent Yaacov and Eisav. It was chance that God chose one over the other. It could have gone either way with the two brothers or with the two goats.
Our actions could have gone either way; for good or for evil. God will still take us where we need to go. When we accept God’s ultimate control over our lives and do Teshuva with that realization, we can transform what was for Azazel into a gift for God. We can change our sins into merit.
On Yom Kippur God takes the sins of Israel and places them on the angel in charge of Eisav. The angel says to God, “Master of the Universe, what is my strength that you place all these sins on me?” God takes the sins and places them on the angel’s clothes and they turn red, as the verse says in Isaiah6 “Who is this coming from Edom7?”8
Rabbi Yonatan Eibushitz explains that some of our sins can be blamed on exile. The pain of exile causes a weakening in our prayer and Torah study. There are some sins that cannot be explained by the influences of exile; adultery, lightheadedness and wasting time. The angel of Eisav is unwilling to accept responsibility of the sins that don’t seem to be caused by being in his exile. When the Midrash explains that God places the sins on his clothes and they turn red, it means that Eisav receives Divine influence and corrupts it. That is the cause of all our wasted energies.9 This is the concept of Sitra Achra. When we throw the goat off the cliff we are declaring that it is Eisav’s corruption of good that has caused our sins.