Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kavata itim (II)

Commenting on Ya'akov's vision of the angels going up and down a ladder, the Midrash (M.R. is in P' Emor) explains that Ya'akov saw the sar of Bavel going up the ladder only to then fall back down; he saw the sar of Madai climbing up only to fall back down; he saw the sar of Yavan climbing up only to fall back down. Ya'akov got nervous when he saw Edom climb up and not come down, but Hashem reassured him that Edom too shall fall. Hashem then said to Ya'akov that it was his time to climb. Ya'akov refused! Hashem promised that Ya'akov would not fall like those other nations, but, says the Midrash, Ya'akov did not believe and did not climb. Everyone asks: Ya'akov Avinu, the bechir ha'Avos, lacked emunah?

Perhaps the Midrash can be explained based on the yesod of the Koznitzer Maggid we discussed yesterday. The rungs of the ladder represent the unfolding of history step by step through the hanhagas hateva (see Sefas Emes, VaYeitzei 5662 - "V'chein hasulam romeiz al hanhagas hateva..."). Each empire had its moment in history and then vanished. Ya'akov wanted nothing to do with the ladder of hanhagas hateva even with the promise of never falling. Ya'akov instead wanted, "Hinei Hashem nitzvav alav," a direct connection only with Hashem, a world run by hanhagas haTorah alone. (Sefas Emes -- "HaTorah etzem Elokus mamash v'hu bechinas haneshomo cheilek Eloka mi'ma'al...")

When you live within the hanhagas hateva, you need emunah to see Hashem behind the veil of hester panim. When you live with the hanhagas haTorah, you don't need blind faith because you see Hashem standing right there alongside you. It's not the Ya'akov didn't have emunah -- the Midrash means that Ya'akov didn't need emunah because he chose a higher calling.

Last week we learned from R' Tzadok that the Meraglim were the greatest of neshomos. They accurately saw the "inevitable" churban habayis and galus from Eretz Yisrael; that's why they cried the night of 9 Av. So what did they get wrong? Because that vision encompassed only events as they would unfold if the hanhagas hateva played itself out. Had Bnei Yisrael adopted the perspective of the hanhagas haTorah, the galus could have been avoided.

There is a tremendous danger in this limited vision of hanhagas hateva alone. The Shem m'Shmuel asks: If Korach was able to see b'ruach hakodesh many years into the future that his descendent would be the great Shmuel haNavi, how could he not see that his own children would do teshuvah on the same day as his rebellion and not suffer his fate? The answer is that teshuvah is incomprehensible using the framework of hanhagas hateva. As the Rishonim ask, if I knock down a house and do teshuvah, will the house rebuild itself? Teshuvah works only because there is a hanhagas haTorah that effects the world as well. Korach's great ability was seeing how the future that would play out based on the rules of the game in hanhagas hateva. His entire argument with Moshe was based on what made sense using the rational rules of this world. What he failed to see that there was a higher order that played by different rules entirely.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:49 PM

    a two-system operation??
    is the "material world" that He
    made "imperfect" ("inherently"!,
    chas vshalom) in G-d's eyes?
    does it not perfectly fulfill its
    galus "hateva" IS "hanhagas haTorah", no?, when man goes wrong*, when he loses* His way...

    one system, with its rewards(s) &
    punishment(s), regarding nearness
    or distance from Hashem {Ya'akov
    grows to Yisrael thru spiritual
    earthiness, thru his tent-centered

    *witness Korach, apparently
    oblivious to his own "higher order"
    ruach hakodesh, in the space of a paragraph!