Torah Portion

Parashat Tetzaveh

Connection

So many Jews spend years upon years in treatment after treatment, go from one method to another, from coaching to meditation, from a psychologist to a psychiatrist, from CBT to DBT to NLP, from Prozac to Prozac plus Clonex…

But the soul will not become fulfilled.  It’s true, there is a little bit of relief.  For sure.  But in the big picture- the feeling is that that’s not it and the lacking continues to eat away at us.

holy temple

Harav Israel Asulin

Translated by Moshe Neveloff

Monday, 6th of Adar I, 5776

BS”D

Once, maybe not so long ago, there were people who felt healthy.  People who learned in order to become wiser and not in order to find themselves; they searched for money in order to become wealthy and not in order to quiet the angry tiger inside of them; they searched for food in order to enjoy it and not in order to escape the pain which is making them go crazy… and if we would quote for them Rebbe Nachman’s words that “the main aspect of exile is in the soul”, they wouldn’t understand what we are saying.

Today the situation has changed.  We all feel this exile, which from moment to moment deepens our feeling of lacking, of longing, of searching, and it doesn’t leave us with a lot of choices, except to feel the pain and to search for a cure…

This is the reason that in this generation we are all searching to be healed.  Some of us, indeed, are searching for the healing in an unhealthy way: in money, food, alcohol, drugs, and movies.  However internally, this is what we want the most and what we are all running after- to be healed!

And we don’t understand why every type of treatment doesn’t fully succeed in helping us.

So many Jews spend years upon years in treatment after treatment, go from one method to another, from coaching to meditation, from a psychologist to a psychiatrist, from CBT to DBT to NLP, from Prozac to Prozac plus Clonex…

But the soul will not become fulfilled.  It’s true, there is a little bit of relief.  For sure.  There is also a little bit of improvement.  But in the big picture- the feeling is that that’s not it and the lacking continues to eat away at us.

Why is this?

“Now you shall command the Children of Israel” (Exodus 27:20) – with these words the Torah opens the portion which talks about the service of the Temple, and seemingly, it sounds like a simple command, Hashem tells Moshe to command the Jewish people.  Is there special meaning to these words?

“Command”, says Rebbe Natan, is not just the language of an order.  “And this is what it means: ‘Now you shall command the Children of Israel’- ‘command’ is the language of connection.” (Likutei Halachot, Laws of breaking bread, 5th law) Command also means to team together, to connect.

What did they connect in the Tabernacle and the Holy Temple?

The Temple was the place where worlds connected, heaven and earth, upper worlds and lower worlds, holiness and secular.  The Temple included everything, surrounded everything and was a very exceptional place.

Imagine for a moment that remnants of authentic videos were found at an ancient site from inside the Temple, and now they are being shown to you.  The camera lens hovers over from above, scanning this great place from a distant view, and then the zoom goes into action, everything grows, comes closer, and you are inside the Temple.

What do you see?  The Temple, which we are longing for already for thousands of years, the place from where knowledge went out to the world, the place that without it we are so compressed, squashed, restricted in the chains of the exile of knowledge and the soul.  This Temple is presented before you, and what do you see there, in the ancient film the archaeologists found?

Flesh and blood.  Kohanim up to their knees in puddles of blood, throwing blood upon the altar and eating a large amount of meat in one meal…

What is this?  How is possible to understand something like this?  What is the connection between the place where God’s presence dwells to these physical effects?  “You shall command”, that is the connection.  That is the deepest essence of the Temple, to connect the extremities into one complete experience, comprehensive and united.  To make God’s presence dwell in this world and to send out knowledge to the whole world amongst flesh and blood.

However it doesn’t just remain there.  Hashem comes and requests from us: “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me- so that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8) – this connection in the Temple shows you the connection which is supposed be made inside every one of you.  “That is to say that you should command and connect and unify the Jewish people…” (Likutei Halachot, ibid)

What are we required to connect?

The Vilna Gaon explains in his commentary to Proverbs: “Heaven and earth, and man who connects them” (Proverbs 1:2) – a person is meant to make the same connection of extremities between heaven and earth.  Heaven refers to the higher part of the pure soul inside every one of us, with all of the knowledge and truth it contains; the earth is our lower, pained, soul, with all of the small and childish needs it contains; and we came to this world to engage in this amazing work, which is called ‘man who connects them.’  The purpose of the creation is to create man.  To make the proper connection between heaven and earth inside ourselves.  To be in a continuous and balanced movement between the higher and lower soul.

Why is this considered something so important?  Why is this the purpose of creation?  What is the problem in making this connection?

Because the painful longing and the burning lacking cause almost everyone today to look for change.  Where?  In one of these extremities- to receive emotional help of any type or to come close to Hashem and the Torah, but only one of them; the lower soul or the higher soul.  To deal with only the emotional needs of our lower soul or to fill only the spiritual needs of the higher soul, and when you catch one end and get stuck on it- you’re still missing something.  There is still not a connection, there is no Temple and not God’s presence.

Indeed, it’s true, a soul in pain prevents a Jew from being present in the world and from fulfilling his special purpose in it, but emotional help is not the only thing he needs.  In parallel he needs also precise spiritual guidance, to get to know the Creator, to receive upon himself the yoke of Heaven, and an inclusive service of Hashem which will connect all of his parts; the lower soul, the spirit and the higher soul.

This is the reason that no psychological method will be sufficient and it will not fulfill you- because a Jew needs “You shall command”, because in the process of healing a Jew, who is unique, the focus is not just on his lower soul, rather to the entire Jewish experience.

We are Jews and our soul needs the boundaries of the holy Torah, not as an addition, but as an essential part of the healing.  These boundaries will protect the soul and help it heal, and furthermore without it the soul will remain exposed to continuous injury which will delay its healing.  In order to truly heal we need emotional help and also personal prayer, dealing with internal blocks and also making progress with keeping the mitzvahs, coming closer to our internal self and also coming closer to Hashem, and mainly- to finding the proper balance between these two parts.

In order to feel that our feeling of lacking receives an answer, it’s necessary for us to receive help which includes all of these aspects, which connects the blocked depths of the lower soul with the light of the higher soul and turns our pained and chained imagination into pure truth, which is clarified and free.

Until with God’s help, slowly, there will be developed inside of us the lofty creation which is called ‘man’.

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