Monday, April 27, 2009

Acharei Mos-Kedoshim

Out Of Order: Digression for Progression

Possuk16:24 "He washed his flesh in water in a holy place, and dressed in his clothes.."

It is very difficult to start the spiritual war for Hashem – the extraction of the holy sparks from the depths of the klippos/impure forces – until we first feel some flashing or illumination from the pleasantness of kedushah/holiness and Heavenly avodah/service. Only then does it seem possible to start the ascent, level by level, in avodah. Similarly, it’s only possible to increasingly ascend upwards in levels, once the holiness has been extracted from the klippos and once we first rectify the blemishes that we have wrought.

Really, we don’t know where to start. Therefore we need great wisdom for this, jumping from one matter to another; sometimes engaging in an aspect of one avodah, other times in an aspect of some thing else.

With this we can well understand Abaye’s order of the Temple avodah (Yoma 33a, read every morning). There were a number of stages in the avodah that were not performed completely sequentially, one stage finishing completely before beginning the next. They started with the large arrangement of wood but did not continue with the two logs of wood. Rather they continued with the second arrangement of ketores/incense. There are many wondrous anomalies there. Sometimes the Cohen is busy with the avodah outside and then, before finishing that, he is required to perform the avodah inside. All this is because we need to jump from the wisdom of one avodah to another: From the avodah of the outside to the inside, and from the inside to the outside. For who of us is greater than the Cohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, who had to constantly change from outside to inside and from inside to outside?

However, the battle is more powerful each time: Each avodah has to be conducted with great wisdom, while the sitra achara and klippos strengthen themselves anew with every single avodah. And so, many people fail and fall in their avodah and can’t withstand the battle. This caused the destruction of both Temples and causes all calamities that befall the Jewish nation.

Therefore the main consolation for us now is the holy Torah. Our Sages teach us: “Since the destruction of the Temple, Hashem only has [desire for] the four amos of halachah in his world”. This is so, since the holy Torah encompasses all the aspects of holy avodah in the world. When we truly engage in Torah study, it is as if we are engaged in all the avodas of inside and outside. And, regarding Torah study, there is no requirement to have specific intent of order, jumping from one avodah to another, because Torah includes them all. Through occupation with Torah alone, all rectifications are automatically and completely made, each one in its rightful manner. For this reason our Sages tell us that “it [the Torah] is more precious than pearls/peninim (related to p’nim/inside)”. They mean that the Torah is more precious than the Cohen Gadol - the only person that goes into the innermost/lifni ve’lifnim/the Holy of Holies (in the Temple, on Yom Kippur). For true absorption in Torah study rises above all holy avodas – even above that of the Cohen Gadol on Yom Kippur. It “enters” even further inside/lifnim than the concept of lifni ve’lifnim; it corresponds to “more precious than peninim”. The reason for this is that the Torah is composed of all the tikkunim/rectifications, fixing everything together.

In respect to our need for a certain order in our avodah – the Torah informs and instructs us in the appropriate order. That’s why it’s called “Torah” – for it teaches/morah a path for penitents, for everyone in the world – whichever place he is in. Thus our main comfort and consolation is the Torah. It corresponds to the “four amos of halachah”, which is an aspect of the four amos that every person occupies, whichever place he is in.

Choshen Mishpat Hilchos Chalukas Shutfim 5:11,12 according to the Otzar Ha’Yirah, Yirah Ve’Avodah 126

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tazria-Metzorah

Seven: Days of Orlah and Canaanite Nations

Possuk 12:3 "He shall circumcise the flesh of his foreskin on the eighth day"

Torah, the land of Israel and the mitzvah of milah (circumcision) - which is tikkun ha’bris (rectification of the covenant i.e. sexual misdemeanors) - are all bound together. It is only possible to merit the land of Israel through the mitzvah of milah, which is tikkun ha’bris. We see this in the verse: “He cut the bris/covenant with him to give him the Canaanite land”. Similarly, Rashi explains the verse in Joshua “and this is the matter/word that Joshua circumcised them”, to mean that he circumcised them through speech. Joshua said to them: “Do you think to inherit the land uncircumcised?”

This relates to the seven days of orlah/uncircumcised state that pass over the infant before his milah. It corresponds to the seven nations that were in possession of the land of Israel, before being transferred to the Jewish people once they performed circumcision. This is the meaning of the verse: “He cut with him the bris to give him the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite and Emorite”, and reckons all the seven nations that are exiled through tikkun ha’bris, corresponding to milah that is performed on the eighth day. For by the eighth day, all of the seven days of orlah have already passed over the infant, and chessed/loving kindness is revealed through the uncovering of the opening of the amah/reproductive member. This chessed, initially closed and hidden during the seven days of orlah, is revealed through milah. Through this we are able to conquer the land of Israel – for everything is bound together.

Yoreh Deah Hilchos Milah 3:5