clothes of the King

[I just wanted to discuss and illustrate a few ideas from the last post on what God's Divine Presence actually means]

Clothes serve two purposes, one is to protect you from the elements, but the other is to enable you to function in those same elements. In other words, a cave is better than a raincoat at protecting you from getting wet, but you can't wear a cave while you are out travelling on a rainy day. The raincoat protects you from the rain in a way that allows you a maximum amount of freedom to do what it is you would do, despite the rain.

Similarly the King's clothes serve the same function. The world cannot survive a momentary lapse in God's infusion of the world with life. Still, the world cannot survive if God's presence were apparent to all. Nothing exists in the presence of God. So, the clothes that God wears (k'v'yachol) serve a double purpose, 1) To shield us from God's revellation which would instantaneously annihilate us, and 2) To allow us to develop a relationship with God in a gradual manner that can grow greatly with time and investment of energies. (Just like all of our other terrestrial relationships)

Like we've said in a previous post the Hebrew letters are God's clothes. These clothes, the Maor Eynayim explains, (parashath כי תשא) that the Hebrew letters, through which HaShem created the world, can be permuted to affect changes in the world. Essentially, in our prayers, he says, we can permute the very reality of the world, through permuting the Hebrew letters in our prayers. Our words have the potential to recreate the heavens and the earth. (As the Noam Elimelech explains that this is what Tzaddikim do.)

We see from here, that the letters work just like our own clothes, both to protect us from the raw-undigestible revellation of Godliness, and to allow us to interact with that same Godliness in a more limited revellation that is tollerable to our human frailty.

I wanted to talk more about how this hiding of Godliness is more similar to an awareness so overwhelming that we are reflexively in denial of it, than that it is something actually hidden. It's like the light of the sun, for example. When sunlight shines on a tree, the tree is lit up and we find it beautiful. If we follow the light, back to its source in the sun, it is too bright for us to look at. We don't walk around all day accidentally glancing directly into the sun, in reality, most of the time we subconsciously avoid looking at the sun because it is too painful. Similarly (l'havdil ein sof havdalot) we spend most of our day subconsciously avoiding the brilliance of divine revellation. We were created this way, just as how our eyelids close involuntarily when we look towards the sun, we automatically blind ourselves to the revellation of Godliness that is unbearable.

The Shechinah is described as a lens that allows us to actually look at that Godliness, just as (again l'havdil l'havdil l'havdil) strong sunglasses make the presence of the sun in our periphery more tolerable.

So, while the clothes of the King, the Hebrew letters, allow us to interact with the King in a safer more palatable, less dangerous interaction, The Shechinah, and our relationship to Her, allow us to increase that interaction and remove some of the layers of clothing, in a measured and protected way.

No matter what level we are on however, the Baal HaTanya reminds us that this world is entirely special in that these clothes the King is wearing allow us to approach and hug the King, something we wouldn't be allowed to do if we were to approach the King in his throne-room with his honor guard all around him. Just like when you hug someone, you don't care about how many layers of clothes they are wearing, so too, we can delight in embracing the King, even if he is hidden in many layers of clothing.


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