momentum of ages

This morning in Today's Tanya I noticed something I hadn't really seen previously:

The Baal HaTanya says that when we perform any action with Holiness, for the sake of God's name, then the energy and life-force expended in that action is engulfed in holiness and becomes itself entirely holy. This is special, because the life-force we receive daily is from our animal soul, which as we've mentioned in the past is rooted in klipath nogah, which is mixed half and half of good and evil. When we use that power for good, it is entirely encompassed in God's supernal light and becomes entirely good.

He goes on to say that this actually leads to the eventual result that the totality of klipath nogah will become thoroughly invested in holiness. This is the job of each Jewish soul in the world, to override the animalistic tendancies of klipath nogah, and instead to channel that energy, that power into the service of God. Lo and behold, through the tireless practice of the 248 positive mitzwoth, and the unblinking avoidance of the 365 negative mitwoth, the collective soul of the Jewish people will achieve this end.

This raises an interesting question, because in the case of the Karbonoth, the animal sacrifices in the temple, the Baal HaTanya explained that raising up one animal in sacrifice actually achieved the effect of raising up all the animals in the world. If this is so with the animal sacrifice, why isn't the performance of one mitzwah enough to raise up the entire klipath nogah?

To this question I have to venture my own answer, potentially frought with many mistakes and misunderstandings, but it seems to my simple mind to be fairly obvious. This difference is all rooted in the collective whole of the Jewish people. The daily animal sacrifices in the temple were funded and represented the whole of the Jewish people. To this end every Jew(ish male of maturity) is commanded to bring one half-shekel to the temple in order to be part of this wonderous effort. Each one brings only one half-shekel, no more, no less. It's a half-shekel to show us that it is incomplete just like every Jew is only completed when they recognise that they are part of the whole of the collective. These half-shekels pay for the daily animal offerings.

So, unlike the daily animal offerings in the Holy Temple, the mitzwoth are performed by individuals, working towards, but not yet actively part of, the collective whole of the Jewish nation. The Temple is a focus, a locus, where all of us can center our energies and our efforts and rally around that singular point. From there all our efforts rise up to God. We can see this with our prayers which today replace the daily animal offerings until the Holy Temple is rebuilt, may it be speedily in our days. The Talmud tells us to focus our prayers always towards Israel, towards Jerusalem, towards the Temple Mount, towards the Temple, and towards the Holy of Holies, in ascending order of priority and foucs. Even when we don't have the Temple, it is still the common focus of the collective whole to raise up all of our deeds and actions to God.

In performance of the mitzwoth it is important to always perform them with the intention of connecting to the collective whole, being but one performer of part of a greater common work. This is why in Chassidut it is stressed that we should have the intent
"לשם יחוד קודשא בריך הוא ושכינתיה בשם כל ישראל - for the sake of the Holy One Blessed be He and His Divine Presence, in the name of all Israel"
when performing any mitzwah at all. In this manner, when the collective whole has performed this mitzwah properly, the klipath nogah will be raised up in its entirety in holiness. Just as the daily sacrifices of the Holy Temple were able to raise up all the animals in the world in holiness.

This is also an amazing aid in focus and kavanah in prayer. When we think of the entire Jewish Nation standing in prayer around the globe and throughout time alongside with us, how can we not be inspired to pour out our hearts and do our part. We are standing not only with our brothers and sisters, our grandparents, but all our ancestors, Avraham Avinu, Moshe Rabeinu, David HaMelech, the whole nation. When we pray like that, what could possibly stand in our way.

These mitzwoth are bigger than us, we're just taking part in actions begun thousands of years ago, completing God's will that is infinite and that has existed literally forever.


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