Friday, June 03, 2011

Naso 5634 First Ma'amar

The Midrash[1] explains a pasuk from Shir HaShirim (5:15), “שׁוֹקָיו עֲמוּדֵי שֵׁשׁ .../His thighs are pillars of marble …”  שׁוֹקָיו/His thighsrefer to this world.  This is because שׁוֹקָיו/His thighshas the same root asתְּשׁוּקָה/desireand God yearned to create the world as we find in another pasuk in Shir HaShirim (7:11), “... וְעָלַי תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ/… his desire is upon me,” referring to God yearning for the Creation. 

How do we know that this pasuk refers to the Creation?  The Midrash answers with a pasuk describing the completion of the Creation, the Shabbos, “וַיְכֻלוּ הַשָׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ .../The heavens and the earth were completed …” (Breishis 2:1)  וַיְכֻלוּ/They were completed” has the same root as the Hebrew word for yearning as we find, "כלתה נפשי .../My soul yearns …" (Tehillim 84:3)

"עמודי שש/Pillars of marble" refer to the six days of creation because the word שש/marble is a homonym for "שש/six".   According to the Midrash, the pasuk is referring to the six days of Creation during which God erected the world as one erects pillars.

The proof that ... וְעָלַי תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ/… his desire is upon me,” refers to God's desire to create the world needs explanation.  "ויכולו/He completed them" refers to Shabbos, not the entire Creation.  It seems to imply that God yearned for Shabbos, the day on which He rested, as it were.

The answer depends upon a fundamental understanding of the purpose of the Creation.  The Creation is the mechanism through which God's will is revealed.  (Paradoxically, it is also the mechanism by which His will is hidden.)  His will can be revealed both on Shabbos and during the days of the week but in different ways.  The Sfas Emes explains that during the week, God's will manifests through our creative activity.  The days of the week are the pillars, in the language of the metaphor, that connect action with God's will with action.  Creative activity is the mechanism by which God's will is revealed.

On Shabbos, the Sfas Emes teaches, God's will is revealed without action.  On Shabbos the Creation is elevated so that sensitive people can experience God's revelation by dint of it being Shabbos.  This is the reason that we do not do creative activity on Shabbos.  It is not necessary for revealing God's will in the world.  In fact, we reveal God's will specifically by refraining from creative activity on Shabbos.  To the extent that we refrain from performing creative activity in order to subordinate ourselves to God, His will is revealed and renewed for the coming week as well.

Accordingly, God's desire for the Creation and His desire for Shabbos is essentially the same thing.  Both imply a desire that He be revealed albeit in different ways.

[1] Bamidbar R. 10:1

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