Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bechukosai 5636 Second Ma'amar

“ואולך אתכם קוממיות/I led you upright.” Rashi, quoting Chazal, explains that they left Egypt with an upright stance – בקומה זקופה. Walking erect connotes a sense of pride. In fact, Chazal explain further that we left Egypt walking uprightly and we were not afraid of anyone. Although the pasuk is referring to the Exodus, this is a forerunner of every future redemption.

This seems to contradict a different saying of Chazal, though, that in order to have proper awe of God, we may not walk upright because, as the prophet Yeshaya said, His glory fills the entire world. Walking with pride shows a lack of awe for God’s glory. How can we reconcile these two concepts? How can we walk uprightly, with a sense of pride when relating to the world but still feel God’s presence and be in awe of Him?

Chazal give us a clue in the previous pasuk, “והתהלכתי בתוככם/I will walk among you.” Chazal explain that in the future, God will walk among us (i.e. we will feel His presence) and yet, we will not tremble. Even though we will not tremble, Chazal tell us that we will still be in awe of God as the pasuk continues, “והייתי לכם לא-להים/I will be your God.” We see that it is possible to feel God’s presence, be in awe of Him and yet not to tremble. In fact, in another place Chazal teach us that we were created this way. Chazal tell us that one of the ways in which we are comparable to angels is that we walk erect. In the ideal world, we should be able to be in awe of God and still walk uprightly. The Sfas Emes explains, however, that since nowadays we are not yet in the ideal world, because of the distractions of this world, the only way to have proper awe is by physically acting out complete subservience.

Chazal are promising us that there will come a time when we will be so completely rectified that we will be able to accept upon ourselves the yoke of heaven, feel God’s presence and be in awe of Him without the need to manifest this awe by physically showing total subservience (i.e. a bent posture.) God Himself testifies that we were on this level when we left Egypt – “I led you out with an upright stance.”

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