Monday, May 19, 2014

v'lo sigal nafshi eschem - integrating holiness

Among the brachos that start Parshas Bechukosai is the blessing of, “V’nasati mishkani b’socichem v’lo tigal nafshi eschem.” (26:11)  Rashi explains the latter half of the pasuk to mean that G-d will not be disgusted with the Jewish people.  Ramban asks:

ולא ידעתי מה הטעם בזה שיאמר הקב"ה כי בשמרנו כל המצוות ועשותנו רצונו לא ימאס אותנו בגעול נפשו
Here the Torah is talking about a time when we are doing everything right and G-d is promising peace, prosperity, a Beis haMikdash – doesn’t it go without saying that when that happens he won’t be disgusted by our behavior? 

The Ramban goes on to offer a mystical interpretation of the pasuk, but other meforshim stick with Rashi’s reading and offer various defenses against the Ramban’s question.  As I mentioned last post, the Netziv writes that even in the best of times there will always be wrongdoers.  G-d is promising that he will overlook those individuals and not be disgusted and repulsed by their behavior.  Others interpret the promise here as meaning that even when things turn bad, G-d will still not be disgusted.  Ralbag reads the promise of a Mikdash in the first half of the pasuk not as the trumpeting of a climactic achievement, but rather as a consolation: when you do wrong, you will have a Beis haMikdash to offer korbanos in and seek forgiveness.  The latter half of the pasuk promising that G-d will not grow disgusted despite our sins perfectly fits that context.

The Shem m’Shmuel makes an important psychological point.  He understands “v’nasati mishkani b’sochichem” as referring not to a physical building, but rather as a promise that G-d will dwell within each of us.  What happens all too often when people “get religion” is that they divorce themselves from life and from the world.  People have trouble integrating holiness with the mundane, and so it becomes an either/or choice, or a life filled with mood swings.  The Torah therefore adds, “v’lo tigal nafshi eschem.”  Becoming a “mihskan” doesn’t mean becoming disgusted with everything else in life.  It means integrating holiness into those other aspects so that the whole is greater for it. 

1 comment:

  1. Throughout the torah we find hkbh punishs everyone even though it was do to a few
    Examples might be, refidim, mara, the eigel, complaining; even about going back to mitzrayim, etc...
    When there is an achdus factor, which causes the shefa to land, the individual sins do matter.
    So hkbh is assuring us it wont m'akev and prevent it here.