smiling through the unbreakable barrier

Rav Adin Steinsaltz once told us that pursuing God is like racing through the chambers of the palace to get to the throne room. Each inner chamber is more beautiful, more wonderous, than the last. At each chamber, there is the danger of getting caught up in the beauty, the magnificence of that chamber, and losing sight of the true goal. One has to strive exceedingly hard to keep to the goal, seeking out the King and nothing less. We have to want the King more than anything that we might encounter along the way. (This meshes really nicely with the previous post.)

The Maor Eynayim on this parashah (Terumah) speaks, as we mentioned before, about the fall and rise that describes spiritual growth. He actually goes on to explain that life consists of two major falls and rises. The first is the fall of being born, and forgetting all the Torah we knew as a child. Then we slowly rise up again to the first level of gadlut, or great-mindedness, at age thirteen when all thirteen of the styles of Torah derivation (same as God's thirteen attributes of mercy) have fully vested. Next is the fall from the level of receiving the Torah and mitzwoth at age thirteen, bar mitzwah, which culminates in a more cycling rise and fall, a constant gradual growth through adulthood that never truly ends until the arrival of Moshiah.

He explains and quotes the Talmud saying that the passuk הנה אלהינו זה קוינו לו - This is our lord.. that we will actually be able to hold out our finger and point, because God will be so revealed, so present, that we will be able to see Him before us, face to face. This is only in the final rise in the time of Moshiah.

[This use of the finger pointing is interesting, because it comes up in other religions also (namely the gateless gate, a zen buddhist work, don't follow this link if you are at all concerned about being careful what you expose your soul to. zen koans are entertaining to Jews simply because they provide mind-bubble gum but without the burden of mitzwoth and the yolk of heaven that comes with Torah study. Rambam's Yesodei HaTorah says that there is truth and there is wisdom amongst the nations, but there is no Torah amongst the nations. I can't say for myself if the linked material has truth and wisdom, I would say it happens not to in this instance. If pondered one might arrive at some wisdom, but it isn't guaranteed, and anyways, pondering anything will ultimately lead to wisdom. When it comes to the world around us, it behooves us to ponder the wonders of the world and connect to the knowledge that is in every created thing (Likkutei Moharan I:1))]

If you want to understand what finger pointing is really about, Rebbe Nachman quotes the Zohar (correct me please if I'm wrong) in Likkutei Moharan I:24 That they asked him where is the middle (ie. the essence) of everything? (In response) He straightened his finger.

Rebbe Nachman goes on to explain the episode and claims he has added nothing new, simply explained the actual meaning of the text. He says that we must perform the mitzwoth with great simcha. (great joy and happiness)

When we perform the mitzwoth with simha, he says that the actual act makes the Shechinah, malchuth, rise up and clothe the keilim of halichah the vessels of movement. (namely Netzah, Hod, Yesod) These vessels, in turn, rise up and clothe the keilim of brachah. (namely Hesed, Gevurah, Tiffereth) These vessels rise up and clothe the intelligences (Hochmah, Binah, Da'ath) which in turn raise up to the level of Keter. Keter is the barrier between the Holy Infinite Light, and all of creation.

Rebbe Nachman explains that we cannot breach this barrier, but when we perform the mitzwoth with simcha as explained, and also with emunah. The emunah allows the intelligences to thrash and beat against the barrier of Keter, forming nine chambers ("beyond") the barrier through which we can experience some form of the Holy Infinite Light directly. (He explains the nine chambers as: the three Intelligences break into their nine component parts (since each actually has three parts -- something mentioned also in the Shaar HaYihud of the Mittler Rebbe of HaBaD, son of the Baal HaTanya.)

This, Rebbe Nachman explains, is what the Zohar calls, מטי ולא מטי - grasping and not grasping It is called thus because we are connecting to and knowing the Holy Infinite Light without actually connecting to it and knowing it. The performance of mitzwoth with simcha and emunah allow us some kind of experience that is beyond the realm of what can be experienced.

[How this actually really has to do with finger-pointing is still beyond me. Though in Likkutei Moharan he does claim to explain it, it is definitely still beyond me. At least, I can rest assured when the Moshiah comes I will understand, if I don't get there before then.]

What do we take away from all this. Pursue God wherever you are with whatever you have and do so with simple faith and great joy.


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