Friday, November 22, 2013
VaYeishev 5632 Second Ma'amar
The Sfas Emes teaches that the source of all hischadshus/renewal that we experience comes from outside the physical world. It comes from the spiritual. If we seek renewal and newness within the physical, we will be frustrated in our efforts. Nature belies renewal and novelty. How can we merit renewal?
The Sfas Emes answers that we can merit renewal by connecting to the spiritual. How? We find a pasuk in the chapter of Tehillim (30:2) that we read during Chanuka, “ארוממך ה' כי דליתני .../I will exult You, God, for you have lifted me up …” The Chiddushei HaRim explains that the word דליתני/you have lifted me up alludes to דלות/meagerness. It is not much of a kindness if God lifts us up and this causes us to become arrogant. Therefore, the Chiddushei HaRim quoting the holy Rav of Parshischa explains that God lifts us up in a way in which we remain humble. He helps us to connect to Him and, remaining humble, we stay connected. Being connected to God is the only way to experience hischadshus/renewal and novelty in this world.
The Chiddushei HaRim also teaches that this is the meaning of the words that we say every morning, “מגביה שפלים .../He lifts up the lowly …” When we think about this we are beset with questions. Once He lifts them up, they are no longer lowly. But to be of a low spirit is something for which we strive. Why, then, would God lift us away from lowliness of spirit? This prayer must be understood differently. When God “lifts” us up, He is not lifting us away from humility. Rather, He is bringing us close to Him – connected to Him, as it were. The Chiddushei HaRim explains that God lifts up those who will remain lowly even after He lifts them up. He helps us to come close to Him and remain humble. Again, being close to God, we are open to experience His hischadshus.
We find this concept in a Zohar explaining the pasuk, “טוב ילד מסכן וחכם ממלך זקן וכסיל .../A poor and wise child is better than an old and foolish king …” (Koheles 4:13) The Zohar says that the child represents the yetzer hatov/good inclination whereas the old king represents the yetzer hara/evil inclination. The good inclination guides us to be wary of the suggestions of the yetzer hara, to realize that life is fraught with dangers – מסכן/poor has the same root as סכנה/danger – and to fear sin. The yetzer hatov helps us to be wise. What is חכמה/wisdom? The Zohar explains that חכמה comprises the same letters as כח מה'/strength (or potential) is from God. The foundation of wisdom is to realize that all power and all potential are from God. The pasuk states this explicitly, “ראשית חכמה יראת ה'/Awe of God is the beginning of wisdom.” (Tehillim 111:10)
When we tread carefully in this world and realize that everything is from God, we “connect” to Him and are able to experience renewal. Things take on newness. One who thinks that he is secure on his own experiences only staleness.
We can understand a pasuk in this week’s parsha according to this concept as well, “... והוא נער/… and he was a youth” (Breishis 37:2) referring to Yosef. The word נער/youth, has the same root as the word התעוררות/revival. Yosef always had hischadshus because he was always connected with God.
Our nation experienced a tremendous hischadshus on Chanukah as well. At the time of the Chanukah story, we as a nation were on quite a low level. The Assyrian Greeks has instituted terrible decrees forbidding us from keeping the mitzvos. We cried out to God and He saved us through miracles and wonders. Every miracle was a hischadshus that came from outside the physical world. This is clearly alluded to in Tehillim (40:2-4), “קוה קויתי ה' ויט אלי וישמע שועתי: ויעלני מבור שאון מטיט היון ... ויתן בפי שיר חדש .../I have greatly hoped for God. He inclined to m me and heard my cry. He raised me from the pit of raging waters, from the slimy mud … He put a new song in my mouth …” The word יון/slimy, in this pasuk alludes to יון/Greece.
May we merit God lifting us close to Him thereby experiencing hischadshus in our lives.