Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Devarim 5631 Fourth Ma'amar

In this week’s Haftarah we find, “יָדַע שׁוֹר קֹנֵהוּ וַחֲמוֹר אֵבוּס בְּעָלָיו יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא יָדַע עַמִּי לֹא הִתְבּוֹנָן/An ox acknowledges its master, and a donkey, it’s master’s trough but Israel does not know (Me), My nation does not consider (Me).”

This pasuk can certainly not be understood literally. How can the prophet say that the nation of Israel acknowledges God less than an ox, God forbid, when we bless and pray to Him? The Sfas Emes explains that the prophet is berating us for not fulfilling our mission to clarify and make known God’s rule in everything that He created.  

When the Beis HaMikdash was standing one of the ways we clarified God’s rule was through the sacrifices. The effect of the sacrifices was to bring the entire Creation to a higher level of spirituality, a level on which the spiritual life-force within everything was drawn towards God. This effect was so powerful that even the nations of the world were subservient to God’s rule because of it. When the prophet speaks of the “קִרְיָה נֶאֱמָנָה/city of faith”, he is not only referring to Jerusalem. He is referring to the entire world as well, because all were on a higher spiritual level and were drawn after their spiritual roots. The entire world was a “city of faith”.

The pasuk above then means that even though God’s life force is in the ox, it is our duty to clarify this, to make it known. In this we failed.

Along these lines we find in the book Or HaMe’ir a novel understanding of the mishna in Avos, “כָּל שֶׁרוּח הַבְּרִיוֹת נוֹחָה הֵימֶנוּ רוּחַ הַמָקוֹם נוֹחָה הֵימֶנוּ .../One who is pleasing to his fellow man, is pleasing to God …” Literally this translates as, “One with whom the spirit of his fellow man is comfortable, the spirit of God is comfortable.”

The Or HaMe’ir explains that when the mishna refers to the spirit of man, it is referring to the spiritual force within us that is from God. When a person acts according to what will benefit the spirit, then the spirit of God rests in his actions. As a result, the objects of his actions are spiritually elevated. In the words of the mishna, “the spirit of his fellow man is comfortable from him.”

The way to create a recognition in our surroundings that God is with us, that there is a powerful spiritual aspect hidden within the physical world, is by believing it is there and acting accordingly.

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