The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .


Friday, April 13, 2007

Parshas Shemini

Based on the works
of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Likutei Sichos vol. 27:3

Adapted by Mordechai Lightstone

One of the Chassidic masters once remarked,
“Oh Creator of the Universe! You have placed the temptations in the streets, and the reward for Your Torah hidden in the books. I say make it easier for Your children; put the reward in the streets and the temptations in the books.”

This week's Parshah speaks about the laws of Impurities in Food. The Rambam (Maimonides) codifies in his monumental work, the Mishne Torah, that there are three prerequisites for food to be rendered ritually impure (tamei).

The first two are listed in the first chapter of the ‘Laws of Impure Foods.’

1. Any food which is fit for
human consumption . . . can contract impurity, while food that is not fit for
human consumption can not become impure.

2. Even food fit for human consumption can not become tamei if it is not first
doused with one of the ‘seven liquids’ (water, oil, blood etc.)

A third condition can be found in the second chapter,

3. Even food (in this case fruit) that has met the first two requirements will not became tamei so long as it is connected by even the smallest life giving root.

It is known that every law that we learn can be applied to our own service of G-d. What then is
the lesson that can be drawn from the above three laws?

It is well known that impurity (tumah) is only found in places of holiness –for by their
very nature, the forces of impurity have only a limited source of divine energy
from which to exist. They are therefore attracted to sources of holiness like moths
to a lamp on a dark night in an attempt to ‘nurse’ off additional morsels of
divinity upon which to subside; the greater the source of holiness, the greater
the potential for impurity

This then is the explanation of the first law –food in a broader sense means ones needs . . . the food of a human (ma’achal adam) spiritually apples to the food of the soul, our fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos. When does the Evil Inclination come to distract us? When we try to fulfill G-d’s will; in matters devoid of G-d’s will there is no ‘pushing’ from the ‘other side’.

There is, however, a second requirement for tumah -the necessity for the food to be doused in liquid. Water (the archetypal liquid) has several qualities: It flows from a high place to a low one, in conjunction with food it serves the role of helping in the digestion and distribution of the sustenance, and finally it can serve as a bond (for example with clay). In the spiritual realm, it represents the life, the vitality, behind the performance of a mitzvah. When one serves G-d with a joie de vivre, not in a dry and rote manner, then it will not remain in ones own life, but rather be promulgated to the outer limits of our world. Joy is infectious, and the joy of a mitzvah ought to start a pandemic. That being so, then by the first principal of impurity, the Evil Inclination works even harder to stop one who is ‘doused with the liquid’ and vitality

All of this may arouse a valid question by the inquiring Jew on the part of G-d. ‘How is this just? When I make an effort to do Your will, You send an Evil Inclination to stop me. The harder I try, the harder it gets; if I serve you with joy –it unleashes even nastier beasties to bother me, when I try to help others, the legions are called out? Where is the justice?”

The answer lies in the third law of ritual impurity. When can tumah be contracted? Only when the fruit is severed from its roots and source.

A Jew, so long as he is connected to his essence, may be inundated by all of the waters of the Great Deluge, he may face the forces of impurity in its proverbial eye . . . nothing will sway him –for he is connected. The root of every Jew is his holy soul; the internal and eternal spark of G-d within. So long as we are true to our source the Evil Inclination is powerless. So long as one is connected to the essence of ones soul –even by the smallest root (as long as it is one that can give life), not only is there no impurity, but rather there can be no impurity –evil does not exist in the first place for there to be a need to abrogate it.

How do we accomplish this bond to our soul? By enriching our lives with the esoteric aspects of the Torah –by learning Chassidus, for in the realm of the esoteric, beyond the façade, there is only true unity; and unity by its very nature permeates every facet of reality. When we accomplish the learning of Chassidus it will enrich our learning of the exoteric laws of
the Torah, our fulfillment of physical Mitzvos, until ultimately it will actualize in our world and bring about the time of which the Prophet speaks, when “the spirit of impurity shall be removed from the face of the Earth” . . . the complete and final redemption through Moshiach.

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chanie said...

Thanks for giving the daily Rambam a new dimension (though I'm not on that cycle...).

chanie said...

And although hilchos maachalos asuros was a bit ago.

Mottel said...

It's actually not on the daily Rambam, but rather on last weeks parsha -Shemini talks about tumas ochlin in the last aliah . . . perhaps I should make that clear.
I'm glad you enjoyed it though.

chanie said...

wasn't it the last two? lol, zeh lo meshaneh.