Monday, April 23, 2012

feeling the pain of others

Rashi writes (VaYikra 9:23) that after the miluim, after all the korbanos, the Shechina still did not come down to the Mishkan.  Aharon blamed himself, thinking that it was his role in making the eigel that prevented the Shechina from descending.  He came to Moshe and complained and asked Moshe why he ever put him up for the job of kohen gadol only to face public embarassment and humiliation.  Moshe responded by immediately entering the Mishkan with Aharon and davening with him until the Shechina descended.  

Rashi further writes that the people saw how for seven days Moshe put up the Mishkan, performed the daily avodah, took it down.  When the Shechina still did not enter the Mishkan, the people came to Moshe humiliated, wondering if their efforts in making a Mishkan were in vain.  Moshe responded by telling them that once Aharon does the avodah the Shechina will descend, demonstrating that Hashem accepted not only the Mishkan, but accepted Aharon as kohen as well.

R' Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi in his sefer Birchas Mordechai says a beautiful vort here.  The fact that the Shechina did not enter the Mishkan for seven days did not bother Moshe.  The fact that the Shechina did not come down immediately after Aharon did his avodah did not bother Moshe.  The Shechina itself seemingly was not moved by the construction of the Mishkan, the offering of korbanos, the service of Aharon.  What changed things?  What caused the Shechina to enter the Mishkan?  It was Aharon's feeling of embarrassment that changed things.  It was Klal Yisrael's feeling of humiliation changed things.  

Had the issue been purely a bein adam laMakom, there might have been very good reasons for the Shechina not to come down to the Mishkan.  Who knows what was needed for kapparah?  However, when the Shechina felt the pain of Klal Yisrael, the suffering of Aharon, it relented and was drawn to the Mishkan to comfort and be close to Klal Yisrael.  When Moshe heard that there is a bein adam l'chaveiro issue here, that his brother was suffering embarrassment, that Klal Yisrael felt humiliated, he stuck his neck out to beg for rachamei shamayim and Hashem responded.


  1. See R' Chaim. this is exactly what I'm talking about.
    a) If one believes that HKB"H is an indivisible entity then it's difficult to speak of the "Shechina". What does it mean? Note the passuk does not refer the "Shechina" but to k'vod Hashem (although the midrash - as quoted by Rashi - does refer to the "Shechina").
    b) The "Shechina" feels this, the "Shechina" feels that. The "Shechina" is "moved, relented, was drawn". How much do we anthropomorphisize? Isn't it more correct to say the "Shechina" does not "feel" and the "Shechina" is not "moved"? Is there a meaning here beneath the anthropomorphism? What is it?

    Here's my stab at b). I accept as given that Hashem does not "feel" and is not "moved". However, Hashem is aware of the pain of human beings and what it means to the them. As such, it is a moral imperative on Him (by His own rules) to act to alleviate this pain as long as it does not interfere with or contradict other imperatives.
    a) I hope this is not k'firah
    b) I don't know where this leads.
    c) I don't think this is very Maimonidean.

    Again, this is being asked good-naturedly; I'm just trying to get to some solid ground. Thanks.

  2. chaim b.7:12 PM

    >>>How much do we anthropomorphisize?

    Machlokes between the Rambam and the mekubalim whether anthropomophism is simply an analogy or whether there is meaning to the terminology, i.e. there is a correspondance on some level between what goes on up there and the terms we use down here. See ch 1 of R' J. Immanuel Shochet's "Mystical Concepts in Chassidism" (also printed in the english editions of Tanya I think). There are a few pieces in the Shiurei Da'as that are based on this idea. You can ask this on pesukim in chumash -- why do you bring it up davka here?

    1. Thanks for your response. The chumash is very anthropomorphic but since (I would say) the accepted hashkafic position today is that it can not be taken literally, I struggle. It's d'var Hashem. So I struggle.
      But you write with such confidence (and of course many others do as well) in such an anthropomorphic manner - so I want to know - what does it mean to you? What are you saying when you write "the Shechina felt the pain"? I couldn't write that sentence because I don't really have a meaning that I can connect to it.
      Thanks for the references - but you are a living, breathing, yareh shamayim that I can connect to. I want to know how this works for you and whether I can incorporate into my hashkafa.
      Thanks in advance for any time and effort you can spare me.

  3. Rav Bloch writes in Shiurei Da'as that the term "l'saber es ha'ozen" is used and not "l'saber es ha'lev" (you don't think with your ear, do you?) because we only have the most superficial understanding of such ideas, but can never fully comprehend them. When I wrote what I did I meant that just as a person feels compassion and is moved to respond, so too, kavyachol, Hashem chose to run the world at that moment in such a way that it would be perceived as an act of compassion. I can't do better than that, but I pulled out my Shiurei Da'as and think if you take a look at vol 1 p. 158-159 you will see he speaks exactly to your point. The idea of the hanhaga of the entire cosmos (both seen and unseen) having on a macro scale forces that direct it that are somehow identical in some way to forces that we experience on the micro scale as human beings is a yesod in the Shiurei Da'as in many, many places, e.g. see the first three shiurim in the sefer, see the end of the shiur on Nishmas haTorah.