Author Topic: Parshat Naso: A Fulcrum to Lift the World  (Read 1908 times)

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Offline Lubab

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Parshat Naso: A Fulcrum to Lift the World
« on: May 25, 2007, 04:58:52 PM »
A Fulcrum to Lift the World
Adapted from Sefer HaSichos 5750, p. 493ff

Why Rav Yosef Would Celebrate
When describing the new dimension of Divine service brought about by the giving of the Torah, the Talmud [1] states that Rav Yosef would hold a unique celebration, because:

"If it were not for that day which caused [a radical change]... how many Yosef's would there be in the marketplace?"
Rashi explains:

"If it were not for the day on which I studied Torah and became uplifted... behold, there are many people in the street named Yosef, what difference would there be between me and them?"
Rav Yosef was speaking in allegorical terms.
The market place serves as an analogy for our material world, highlighting three different dimensions of our existence:

In the market place, there are many separate domains; each storekeeper has his own shop or place of business;

It is a place of sparked activity, every individual eagerly striving to make a profit;

These profits are made through business transactions.

In the analogue: our world is characterized by plurality.
Every element of existence is a separate entity, with no obvious connection to the others.

It is, however, in this realm - in contrast to the World to Come [2] - where the soul can truly advance and profit.

Therefore, our worldly activities are charged with excitement and energy. [3]

The "business exchanges which generate profit" involve bringing entities from one domain to another; causing material entities which appear to be separate to enter G-d's possession, as it were, by revealing their inner spiritual core.

A Lasting Change
Rav Yosef speaks of "Yosef's in the marketplace."
The name Yosef is associated with making an increase. [4]

Rav Yosef was saying that even before the giving of the Torah, there were "many Yosef's in the marketplace," i.e., there were spiritual leaders who were able to generate the profit that results from bringing the material into contact with the spiritual.

Nevertheless, the giving of the Torah made a difference.

Firstly, it established unity.

Before the giving of the Torah, there were "many Yosef's," i.e., the efforts of the different spiritual leaders although significant, were diverse, each with a thrust of his own. The giving of the Torah, however, reveals a higher level of light that brings about a synthesis between these different approaches.

It allows the expression of a level of oneness which is manifold and all-encompassing.

In addition, as reflected in the words of Rashi quoted previously, the giving of the Torah generated the potential for worldly entities to become "uplifted." Before the giving of the Torah, although the spiritual leaders were able to reveal G-dliness within the world, these revelations did not effect the world's material substance.

For example, when Yaakov laid out the poplar, almond, and chestnut staves before Lavan's flock, [5] his actions evoked the same spiritual energies as are drawn down into the world through our performance of the mitzvah of tefillin. [6]

After this spiritual service was completed, however, the staves remained ordinary pieces of wood; Yaakov's service left no lasting effect.

In contrast, when a Jew puts on tefillin, the tefillin become sacred; the mitzvah imparts spirituality into their actual physical substance, [7] and elevates them above the worldly plane.

Not Merely History
Although the radical change Rav Yosef described is associated with the giving of the Torah at Sinai, the intent is not merely to recount a historical event.
For our nation's past is not separate from their present.

In that vein, on the verse, "these days are recalled and carried out," [8] the AriZal explains [9] that when a holiday is recalled in the proper manner, it is "carried out," again i.e., the spiritual influences which distinguished it are revealed once more. [10]

Thus, each year, the celebration of the giving of the Torah on Shavuos lifts a person to a higher level, elevating him to a deeper connection to G-d, and a more elevated plane of oneness.

This is reflected in the name of the Torah reading of the Shabbos which follows the holiday of Shavuos, Parshas Naso. [11]

Naso means "lift up."

More particularly, the literal meaning of the verse [12] which it begins is "Lift up the heads." [13]

Our heads, the seat of our intellect, are our most developed potentials.

And yet, the giving of the Torah affords the potential to lift our heads to a radically higher rung.

For when a person studies the Torah, it is not man contemplating G-d with mortal eyes.

Instead, man is assimilating G-d's wisdom into his thought processes. And the knowledge the person gains remains within him, changing and elevating his way of thin king. [14]

Extending the Connection
A question can, however, be raised: The command to "lift up the heads" was given as part of the charge to take the census of the Levites.
The objects of the command which begins our Torah reading are, however, "the descendants of Gershon," the Levite's charged with carrying the curtains which covered the Sanctuary.

It was the descendants of Kehos who were responsible for the ark which contained the Tablets of the Ten Commandments and the menorah which are both associated with Torah, and the command to take their census was mentioned in the previous Torah reading, Parshas Bamidbar. [15]

If the intent of Parshas Naso is to highlight the elevating effect of Torah study, why is the charge associated with the descendants of Gershon?

The answer is that the study of the Torah is not intended to remain an isolated spiritual activity.

Instead, it should elevate one's service of prayer (the spiritual activity associated with the descendants of the sons of Gershon) and indeed, every aspect of one's conduct.

Moreover, when a person has raised his spiritual level in this fashion, he has the potential to elevate the world around him, lifting it to a deeper level of connection with G-d.

This is reflected in the conclusion of the Torah reading which describes the final stages of the dedication of the Sanctuary.

For the purpose of the Sanctuary was to spread holiness throughout the world, and bring the material dimensions of the world close to G-d through the sacrificial offerings. [16]

Applying these lessons - dedicating ourselves to Torah study, and using our Torah study to elevate our conduct and our environment - will hasten the coming of the time when mankind and the world at large will reach its ultimate peak: "The world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean bed," [17] with the coming of Mashiach. May this take place in the immediate future.


(Back to text) Pesachim 68b.

(Back to text) The World to Come represents the reward granted to the souls for their Divine service. But in that realm itself, there is no service. Therefore, the advances which the soul makes in that are all relative; there is no possibility for radical change.

(Back to text) At times, people are conscious that their excitement stems from their soul's desire to advance. In other instances, they feel vitality, but unaware of its source, express it in undesirable ways.

(Back to text) Genesis 30:24.

(Back to text) Bereishis 30:37.

(Back to text) Zohar, I, 162a.

(Back to text) Thus even when tefillin are not being worn, they must be treated with respect (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. 40). See the essay entitled "What Happened at Sinai" (Timeless Patterns in Time, Vol. II).

(Back to text) Esther 9:28.

(Back to text) See Ramaz, Tikkun Shovavim; Lev David, ch. 29.

(Back to text) Indeed, based on the principle (Berachos 28a), "Always proceed higher in holy matters," we can assume that each year, the revelation is on a higher level than previously.

(Back to text) See the Shelah (Parshas Vayeishev) which explains that even though the festivals and the weekly Torah readings are governed by seemingly separate cycles, there is a connection between the two.

(Back to text) Numbers 4:22.

(Back to text) Within the context of the verse, the intent is that a census should be taken.

(Back to text) See Tanya, ch. 5.

(Back to text) Numbers 4:2.

(Back to text) See the essay in this series entitled "The Dearness of Every Jew" which explains that the Hebrew word for sacrifice, korban, shares a common root with the word karov, meaning "close." The sacrifices bring mankind and our world close to G-d.

(Back to text) Isaiah 11:9, quoted by the Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 12:5, in the conclusion of the discussion of the Era of Redemption.

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"It is not upon you to finish the work, nor are you free to desist from it." Rabbi Tarfon, Pirkei Avot.