Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Seeing The Divine In The Physical

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The Haftora for the first day of Shavuoth is Yechezkel's  vision of the Divine Chariot, of which we are told, that at the Giving of the Torah, every Jewish person experienced the Divine Chariot similar to that of Yechezkel.

Even though this is true, it seems to be a side note, the main event was that Hashem spoke to us face to face and gave us the Torah, so, why do we read this Haftora? During the year when we read the Ten Commandments in parshas Yisro, we read the Divine Chariot of Yishayahu, which is less detailed and more focused on Hashem, which seems to be more in sync with the idea of the Giving of the Torah, experiencing Hashem. Why don't we read that Haftora on Shavuoth?

In general, we are forbidden to teach about the Divine Chariot, even in a small group, because of its holy and esoteric nature, but here it is being read for the whole community. Why?

We must conclude that there is something unique about the Divine Chariot of Yechezkel that fits the theme of Shavuoth and the reading of the Giving of the Torah, and that there is a lesson that each of us can take from the Divine Chariot, without exposing its deep secrets.

The Talmud says that the difference between the Divine Chariot of Yishayahu and the Divine Chariot of Yechezkel, is the difference between the experience between someone who lives in a big city, compared to someone from a small town. When the king comes with his whole entourage, the city dwellers don't get all excited by the fancy carriages, the uniforms and the royal display, because they see it all the time. His only excitement is in seeing the king himself. On the other hand, when the small townsfolk see the entourage, being that they never experienced such a display, every detail is exciting. They get lost in the fancy carriages and uniforms and the king is but the center of the whole experience.

In actuality there visions were the same, the difference was how they expressed what they saw.

Yishayahu is like the big city dweller, being accustomed to the spiritual realms, he doesn't get excited about the details, his only excitement is in seeing Hashem. Yechezkel, like a small townsfolk was not accustomed to the spiritual realms, for him every detail was exciting.

The difference between the two visions, is that in Yishayahu's, the focus is Hashem, and in Yechezkel's the focus is the details, from which Hashem's greatness is experienced.

From Yechezkel's words we understand that his vision was a likeness of the higher realms, as he constantly uses the word "likeness." Whereas Yishayahu just says what he saw, as the higher realms were open to him.

Now we can understand why we read Yechezkel's vision of the Divine Chariot. The main idea of the Giving of the Torah, was that Hashem descended on Mount Sinai. It was the connecting of the higher and lower realms. Even though they were always connected, the connection was hidden and inaccessible. Everything down here in the physical world is a reflection of what exists in the higher realms. And everything down here has its source in the higher realms. Before the Torah was given, we couldn't understand the higher realms from what we experience below. When Hashem descended on Mount Sinai to give us the Torah, all that changed. Now we can understand the higher realms from what we see in the physical world. Through our efforts, service to Hashem and doing mitzvahs we reveal and see the source in everything, and we draw G-dliness from above into this physical world.

We don't see it directly, we only can understand it indirectly like Yechezkel's vision of the Divine Chariot, where he only saw a likeness, from which he understood the higher realms.

Even though not everyone is allowed to learn the details and the secrets of the Divine Chariot, this general idea, that through our efforts we can reveal this connection, can be understood by all and does not infringe on its esoteric properties.

This will also explain why the Haftora skips one and a half chapters and concludes with, "And the spirit carried me and I heard a great mighty sound behind me, 'Blessed is the Glory of Hashem from its place.'"

In the morning prayer, before reciting the Shema, we say, "And the Ofanim and holy Chayos rise up with a great mighty sound towards the Serafim, facing them they praise and say, 'Blessed is the Glory of Hashem from its place.'"

Serafim, Ofanim and holy Chayos are different types of angels. Why do the Ofanim and holy Chayos make so much noise when they say their prayer? Why do they say, "from its place?" Why don't the Serafim make noise?

When we recognize that reality is different from our perception, we are amazed with wonder, and this creates a great excitement. This is what the Ofanim experience when they recognize that Hashem is creating everything. Because from their perception the world is real, but when the realize that it is really Hashem that is the force that is making everything exist, they get excited and that is the cause of the "great mighty sound."

They say, "from its place," because they don't see Hashem, they understand Him through their reality, and although it's very exciting, it is still distant.

The Serafim are from a higher realm, they are not excited because they see Hashem, it is nothing new to them.

This is also why by the Giving of the Torah there were "sounds and Lightning." It wasn't to frighten us, because hearing hearing Hashem speak is frightening enough. Rather, it was the excitement of the new idea and ability entering the world, that we can bring heaven and earth together and draw G-dliness down into the physical world.

This all began at the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and when our work is done, the world will be full of G-dliness and Moshiach will come.

May we merit to finish the work our ancestors started and witness the coming of Moshiach. The time has come.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this very inspiring post!!!