Thursday, February 1, 2018

Above And Below United

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In parshas Yisro we read the (Aseres Hadibros) Ten Commandments, which begins with, "(Vayedaber) And G-d spoke all these words (laimor) to say." Usually when it says laimor, it means that it should be repeated to the Jewish people or to later generations. However, at the giving of the Ten Commandments, all of the Jewish people were present, even the souls of all later generations. So, what is the meaning of the word laimor in this verse?

The Maggid of Mezritch says, that it means that we have to put the Vayedaber into laimor, we have to put the Aseres Hadibros, the Ten Commandments, which means the Torah, into the Asara Maamaros, the Ten Sayings with which Hashem created the world.

In other words, don't make the mistake of thinking that the Torah and the world are separate domains. Don't say, "when I am doing Jewish things, like praying, studying Torah, doing mitzvahs, etc. I will do as the Torah dictates, but when I am doing worldly things, eating, drinking, business, etc. I will act as the world dictates." Hashem wants us to bring our Torah way into worldly affairs, that we should eat, drink and do business the way the Torah wants us to. Even when we talk, it should be apparent that Torah is our way of life.

The Midrash tells us, that when Hashem gave us the Torah on Mount Sinai, the decree, that what is above can't come below and what is below can't go above, was abolished. Our forefathers studied Torah, and did mitzvahs even before the giving of the Torah, but their mitzvahs didn't affect the physical world, imbuing the physical with holiness, above and below didn't mix.

All this changed with the giving of the Torah. Now we can infuse the physical with holiness, the mundane and the holy become one.

This is clear from the Ten Commandments themselves. From all of the 613 commandments that Hashem gave us, He chose to give these ten personally, to every Jewish person. One would think that He would have chosen the most spiritually sublime ideas to tell us, and while He did say, "I Am the Lord your G-d," and "You shall not have any god before Me," which are holy and sublime ideas, it also has, "You shall not murder," and "you shall not steal..." which are the most basic physical no nos. Even if Hashem wouldn't tell us these, we would understand that they are wrong.

The fact that Hashem juxtaposes the oneness of G-d together with not murdering and not stealing, shows that He wants us to fuse the physical and the spiritual. This works both ways, that which is above comes below and that which is below goes above, as will be explained.

Murder and stealing are wrong, and each of us understand that, but we shouldn't only keep them because they make sense, we should keep them because of the "I am the Lord your G-d," that is hidden in these laws, meaning, that they are Hashem's will. This should be the primary reason for keeping them. And the same is true for all the Torah laws that make sense, we should keep them because they are Hashem's will. This is drawing what is above down below.

On the other hand, those who need commandments to tell them that murder and stealing are wrong, that Hashem should have to say it with thunder and lightning, otherwise they wouldn't get it, they too should contemplate on the greatness and oneness of Hashem. This is, below going above.

How do we bring the above and below, spiritual and physical together? Through mitzvahs. Because the 613 commandments that we received at Sinai, came from the essence of Hashem, as the first word of the Ten Commandments is "Anochi, I Am," which refers to Hashem's essence, above all of creation, physical and spiritual. It is the part of Hashem that has no name, and no description. Since it is above creation, it can fuse opposites, above and below, spiritual and physical together.

This is why our mitzvahs can do this, while our forefathers mitzvahs could not. Because with the giving of the Ten Commandments, our mitzvahs gained the power of "Anochi," Hashem's essence, which can bring opposites together.

Hashem did this because our essential purpose is to make this physical world into a dwelling place for Him. By infusing the physical world with holiness, we make it ready for Him to dwell in.

This is also hinted in the first three words of the Ten Commandments, "Anochi Havaya Elokecha."

The name Elokecha, is like Elokim and Elokeinu, it is the only name of Hashem that is written in the plural, and it is the only name that is written in the possessive, Elokecha, your G-d, Elokeinu, our G-d, etc. This is because it refers to how Hashem relates to the physical world, and it fills everything in nature with the specific amount of G-dliness it needs to exist. It is also the only name of Hashem that people can relate to somewhat, that is why we say it in the possessive, Elokecha, your G-d, Elokeinu, our G-d. This is the name that fills the physical world, it is below.

The name Havaya surrounds the world, it is beyond any physical limitations. Havaya is the words, hayahhoveh and yehiyeh (past, present and future) combined in one word. In other words, it is beyond space and time. It is above.

Anochi, as mentioned above, is the essence of Hashem, beyond all of existence, physical and spiritual, and therefore, it can unite opposites, Havaya and Elokecha, above and below together.

May we be successful in bringing the two together through our mitzvahs, making this world into a dwelling for Hashem. This is the work that will bring Moshiach. May he come soon.
In honor of my son Moshe, whose birthday is this week. May you have an amazing year, in which you make Hashem proud, the Rebbe proud, your parents proud, and most importantly, yourself proud. Shnas hatslacha my precious boy. 


  1. Thank you for your beautiful post! Happy birthday to Moshe! May Hashem bless him, you and your entire family! Yesterday ai had the pleasure of hearing your beautiful wife Dina speak at our Jewish Women’s day event in Freehold NJ. She really inspired me to push myself and not settle for good enough.... i will fight to stay inputed and to be/do my best to live to my potential. Thank you for sharing your Dina with our community:) all the best Raizel

  2. This is so beautiful .Your wife spoke so well tonight here in Pittsburgh. She was inspiring and touching.I am in awe. Your emunah is enviable .may Hashem bench you with only revealed good, a Refuah shlaymah and Moshiach now!

  3. After reading Yitzi's weekly Parshiyos, to say nothing bout how tremendously inspiring and helpful your words are, - i have no doubt Chabad rabbies and Rebbe will bring Moschiah here to us beyameinu. Benji from Moscow.