carving hearts

Appropriate to the hillulah of Rebbe Menachem Mendel, 7th Rebbe of Lubavitch, I learned one of his sichot about the death of a Tzaddik:

קשה מתתן של צדיקים לפני הקב"ה כשבירת הלוחות
The death of Tzaddikim is difficult before The Holy One Blessed Be He like the breaking of the tablets. [of the covenant]

The midrash explains that when Mosheh was bringing down the Luchot (the tablets) and the people sinned, he saw that the letters had flown off the Luchot and so the Luchot no longer had any real substance and he grabbed them and threw them down and shattered them.

The Rebbe explains that the Luchot, (the tablets) were created by HaShem and so they were on such a high level, even after the letters had flown off them, Mosheh still should have saved them. He also points out that the letters were carved into the Luchot so that there was no way for them to fly off. Rather, the carved space of the letters had been filled with spiritual energy, which is what departed from the Luchot. This spiritual energy, (this divine writing) revealed in the carved letters was so high that it raised the carved Luchot to such a lofty level, that their original level (being novel and unique creations of HaShem) seemed like nothing by comparison.

We see that the investment of the energy of the letters in the Luchot raised them to a whole new level of existence. Similarly, the Rebbe explains, that is why we bring the broken Luchot into battle with us, because the goal of conquering the land of Israel is to invest within it the same height of revellation of Godliness, to create a dwelling place for Godliness in this world. To raise the world which was "created by HaShem" to the level of "the writing of HaShem" which reveals His glory in the world. The Rebbe extended this, citing the Rambam, to include bringing Torah observance to the world as well.

What does this have to do with the death of Tzaddikim? The physical bodies of Jews are Holy, "created by HaShem" but when someone reaches the level of a Tzaddik, their soul so invests their body as to make their entire corporeal body spiritual. To follow the comparison through to its conclusion: When the soul of the Tzaddik leaves its body, the body is nothing compared to its former stature. But the body of the Tzaddik reminds us like the broken Luchot, to wage the war of mitzwah. To bring mitzwah observance to the world in order to create a dwelling place for Godliness in this world, in order to elevate the world from "created by HaShem" to the higher revellation of the "writing of HaShem."

(My limited understandings of Likkutei Sichot Devarim כ' מנחם אב (vol.14) Ekevא)


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