"In the seventh month, on the first day of the month1." (Lev. 23:24) Rabbi Yitzhak opened with the verse, "Blow a Shofar at the new moon, at the full moon on our feast day." (Ps. 81:4) Happy are Israel whom G‑d draw near rather than all the nations in the world, and chose them. From afar [from amongst idolaters] He drew them near. This is the meaning of "And Joshua said to all the people, Thus says G‑d Elokim of Israel, Your fathers (Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor, who served other gods) dwelt on the other side of the river in old time," (Joshua 24:2) to indicate that He desired them from a distant place and drew them near Him.

It is also written, "And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the river..." (Ibid. 24:3) We have to examine these verses. Did not the whole of Israel know this [that G‑d took Abraham from amongst the idolaters] and Joshua all the more?

The whole Torah is both hidden and revealed just like the Holy Name, which is hidden and revealed.2 This is because the whole Torah is one long Holy Name, which is why it is both hidden and revealed. If Israel and Joshua knew this, why is it written, "Thus says G‑d etc."?

Truly the secret meaning is that G‑d did great kindness with Israel in choosing the patriarchs,
(i.e. their souls emanated from a high place, than that of the righteous like Noah, Shem, and Ever) making them into a lofty holy Chariot for His glory. He brought them from the supernal, precious and holy river [yesod of bina], the luminary of all luminaries [bina is the light of all lights; the souls of the patriarchs emanated from bina] in order that G‑d be adorned by them. This is the meaning of, "Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the river in old time"" The river is that one specific river.

"In old times/'leolam'
(lit. 'from the world')." What does this [seemingly extra word] convey? This indicates chochmah [and the secrets of the Torah] on the other side of the river from the world, since that river [yesod of bina] is called world.3 Hence "Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the river [yesod of Imma] from the world, "to show the kindness and truth that G‑d did for Israel.

"I took your father Abraham from the other side of the river." What does this verse intend to teach us? Abraham
[from chesed, beneath chochmah to the right] did not cleave to that river [of bina which is to the left] like Isaac [from gevura beneath bina to the left] did, who was attached to his own aspect [of gevura of bina] to draw strength.

Come and see: even though this river
[of bina] is not in judgment, judgments come out from its side [bina is the source of judgment] and are strengthened in it [all judgments are sweetened in that place]. When Isaac [who is the aspect of judgment] grows strong in his judgments [on Rosh Hashanah], the higher and lower beings are gathered for judgment, the throne of judgment, is prepared, and the Holy King [bina] sits on the throne of judgment and sentences the world. Then, "Blow a Shofar at the new moon, at the full moon on our feast day." [The Shofar sweetens the judgments and arouses mercy, and] Happy are Israel who know how to remove the throne of judgment and prepare the throne of mercy. How? through the Shofar.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida include this section? What do they want us to learn?

Our daily intention should be to say, "Oh, when will my deeds be like that of the Patriarchs!" That the stories in the Bible are signs for us, their children. That we are part of a Tree of Life—the Torah—growing and blossoming from the roots which were are spiritual parents, inching upwards more and more toward Heaven. That even if we are miniscule in our service compared to the Giants of our amazing past, still we are standing on their shoulders and can get even higher than they!

For they were the Chariots of the attributes. Abraham showed us how to love. Isaac showed us how to surrender our self's to serve. Jacob showed us how to be a simple/pure/wholesome man, "the choicest of the fathers." From them we obtain important life lessons on how to comport our attributes/behavior in this world. And this affects our lot in the Next World.

Each of these attributes has its source in an even more sublime world, the world of Thought, much higher than that of the world of Emotion. And even higher than that is the place where passion, will, and desire emanate. To bond with our forefathers, to emulate their behavior, and to follow their footsteps in our actions is a key to existing on this planet. The promise is eternality, a reward much more precious than rubies.

What does the above mean to your teshuvah, and why is it being revealed to you right now?

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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