Friday, April 09, 2010

Shemini 5631 First Ma'amar

The reason we were created and our primary mission is to reveal the Godliness that is inherent within the Creation.  God wants us to come close to Him and experience Him.  But how can we experience the infinite?

We learn how to experience the infinite from the mitzvah of counting the Omer.  Counting is a form of clarification.  By counting we sort out a jumble into its separate components.  What is it that we are clarifying with the counting of the Omer?  The Kabbalists teach us that we are clarifying God’s attributes – midos.  Each of the seven weeks represents a different attribute through which God can be revealed in this world.

The reason the attributes are called midos is highly significant. In order to enable us to come close to God, He created the mechanism of midosMida means a measure as well as attribute.  He gave us the ability to reveal Him in finite measured doses.  Underlying every component of the Creation is a spiritual light that is a measured dose of the infinite and relates to one of the seven midos.

What do we have to do to reveal God and experience Him?  Paradoxically, the Creation which hides God, is also the mechanism through which we can reveal Him, come close to Him and experience Him.  By intending to achieve God’s will in everything we do, we reveal His will and experience Him.  The Chiddushei HaRim understands this from a Midrash at the beginning of this week’s parsha regarding the Mishkan.

Following the seven days of Milu’im/initiation of the Mishkan, God’s presence was still not felt.  Moshe Rabbeinu tells the nation of Israel, “... זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּה ה' תַּעֲשׂוּ וְיֵרָא אֲלֵיכֶם כְּבוֹד ה'/This is the thing that God commanded you to do, then God’s glory will appear to you.” (VaYikra 9:6)  According to Chazal,[1] Moshe Rabbeinu is telling the nation to rid themselves of their inclination towards idol worship and to worship only God.  Just like God is one, so too, our service should be dedicated only to Him. 

How do Chazal see a reference to idolatry in this pasuk?  The Chiddushei HaRim explains that Chazal understand the pasuk restrictively.  Do only what God commands you.  Everything we do, even the most mundane activities can be transformed into commandments of God if we intend to do them for the purpose of accomplishing His will. 

Then “וְיֵרָא אֲלֵיכֶם כְּבוֹד ה'/The glory of God will appear to you.”  Why?  Because the glory of God is already here, hidden within everything in the world as the prophet Yishaya tells us (6:3), “... מְלֹא כָל־הָאָרֶץ כְּבוֹדוֹ/… The whole world is filled with His glory.”  Our mission is to try to find the will of God in everything we do.  Not realizing that God is in everything is an aspect of idolatry. 

Moshe Rabbeinu hints at this mission when he prefaces his command with the words, “זֶה הַדָּבָר/This is the thing.”  One who can say, “This is the thing” has clarity.  No other prophet used these words and Chazal teach us that they allude to the fundamental difference between Moshe Rabbeinu’s prophecy and the prophecy of all other prophets.[2]  The highest level of clarity is one who knows that he has achieved and revealed God’s will through his actions.

Our mission of revealing God in Creation is also hinted at in a Midrash on this week’s parsha explaining the following pasuk, “חָכְמוֹת בָּנְתָה בֵיתָה חָצְבָה עַמּוּדֶיהָ שִׁבְעָה׃ ... שָׁלְחָה נַעֲרֹתֶיהָ תִקְרָא .../She built her house with wisdom, she carved out its seven pillars… She sent out her maidens whom she calls …” (Mishlei 9:1-3).  The Midrash explains this pasuk in terms of the Creation.  “She” in the pasuk refers to God.  The seven pillars are the seven days of the Creation.  The maidens whom she calls is Adam and Chava or mankind.

The Sfas Emes explains the Midrash allegorically.  The seven primary character traits within each of us parallel the seven days of Creation.  They define our total beings and are the pillars through which we can draw out the holiness that is inherent in everything in this world including our very actions.  This holiness is the original spiritual light that was revealed during the seven days of the Creation and which God hid after the Creation was completed.  It is identical with God’s revelation and it is hidden within the Creation.

God gave us the ability and the obligation to reveal the hidden spiritual light that inheres in the Creation.  God’s will is identical with the hidden spiritual light.  God and His will is one and the same so if we say that God is hidden by the Creation, His will is also hidden by it.  If we look around us, we do not see God’s will.  To our senses, the world seems to be running on its own.  But in reality, God’s will underlies and inheres in the entire Creation.  By realizing that it is only God’s will that empowers our actions and intending to achieve His will through our actions, we in fact reveal it.

The Chiddushei HaRim explains that this is the reason the pasuk in Mishlei refers to mankind as נַעֲרֹתֶיהָ/her young maidens.  The young are in a constant state of stimulation, movement and growth.  The implication is that mankind reveals God through action.

We find in the Zohar[3] as well that meriting the holy spirit entails hard work – implying action – whereas the evil inclination will enter a person who sits idle and does nothing.

Practical Application

The bottom line from this involved ma’amar is that our mission in life can only be achieved through action and that we need to have the correct intent.  Our intent must be for the sake of God.

[1] Sifra Shmini Mechilta deMilu’im 6
[2] Yevamos 49b, Sifri Matos 153
[3] Zohar 2:128a

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