Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Tzadik described as being G-d

Megila (18a) (R. Aha also said in the name of R. Eleazar: How do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, called Jacob El [God] Because it says, And the God of Israel called him [Jacob] El. For should you suppose that [what the text means is that] Jacob called the altar El, then it should be written, ‘And Jacob called it’. But [as it is not written so], we must translate, ‘He called Jacob El’. And who called him so? The God of Israel).

Sukkah (14a)   R. Eleazar said, Why are the prayers of the righteous likened to a pitchfork? To teach thee that just as the pitchfork turns the corn from place to place in the barn, so the prayers of the righteous turn the mind of the Holy One, blessed be He, from the attribute of harshness to that of mercy.

Moed Katan (16b) The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: Ruler over man shall be the righteous, even he that ruleth through the reverent fear of God. What does this mean? — Said R. Abbahu, It means this: ‘The God of Israel said, to David spake the Rock of Israel; I rule man; who rules Me? It is the righteous: for I make a decree and he may annul it’.

Drashas HaRan (03) And because this mitzvah is the beginning of the Torah it is intimated in this parshah, just as the root of reward and punishment is herein intimated. For, this mitzvah, being the beginning of the Torah, it is fitting that there be alluded to in it the rationale of the mitzvoth. And we are herein shown that in performing the Blessed One's commandment we are saved from harm — just as this mitzvah [of the Paschal lamb] was seen to have saved them from the plague in Egypt. All this to enforce the belief that the keeper of the mitzvoth is above nature and not subservient to the galaxy and its forces. This is the intent of (Moed Katan 16b): "I rule man, and who rules Me? The righteous man; for I make a decree and he annuls it." That is, I have not made him subservient to nature.

Rabbeinu Bachye (Shemos 33:7), “and whoever sought Hashem would go out to the Tent of Meeting.” This teaches that the Shechinah was no longer resident within the camp of the people. Actually, we would have expected the Torah to write: “whoever wanted to seek out Moses, etc.” The fact that the Torah does not use this syntax indicates that seeking out Moses was equated with seeking out G’d’s presence. Moses was described by the Torah as “Hashem” in this regard. We find that our patriarch Yaakov was also accorded the title “G’d” in Genesis 33,20 where the Torah wrote: ויקרא לו אל אלו-הי ישראל. I have explained all this in connection with that verse. [seeing that every judge is called אלוהים in the Torah, this is not as mind-boggling as it appears at first. It is simply an extension of the principle that the messenger is equipped with the status of the sender, a well-known principle in the Talmud. Ed.] When Rivkah experienced an unusual pregnancy, the fetuses struggling within her womb, the Torah describes her as inquiring from G’d what all this meant. The words used by the Torah are ותלך לדרוש את ה'. The meaning there is that she went to a representative of G’d to ask the meaning of her experience. There too the person whom she inquired from is described as Hashem (Genesis 25,22). There are numerous other examples of the same thing throughout the Bible. We learn from Rivkah’s experience that when the Torah wrote ויאמר ה' לה, that she did not experience a revelation or direct message from G’d, but that she received the word of G’d by means of a person designated by G’d to tell her that she would give birth to twins, etc. We find that both the Messiah and the city of Jerusalem have been accorded the title “G’d” on occasion, such as in Jeremiah 23,6 and Ezekiel 48,34. In the latter instance the word שמה must be read with the vowels קמץ twice instead of a שוא under the letter ש. In all the instances mentioned the rule is simply that the messenger adopts the name of the Sender.

 Ramchal (Mesilas Yesharim 26) But for the Holy man who constantly clings to his G-d, whose soul treads freely among true thoughts in love of his Creator and fear of Him, behold, it is considered as if he is walking before G-d in the Land of the Living, while still here in this world. Such a man is himself considered as a tabernacle, a temple and an altar. This is as our sages said (Gen. Rabba 62:6): "'and G-d went up from him' (Gen.35:13) - the forefathers are the divine chariot". Likewise, they said: "the righteous are the divine chariot". For the Shechina (divine presence) dwells within them just as it dwelled in the Temple. Due to this, the food they eat is like a sacrifice offered upon the fire of the altar, for certainly it was a great elevation for those things to be offered on the altar, since they were offered before the Shechina. The elevation was to such an extent that its kind, all over the world, was blessed, as our sages stated in a Midrash. So too, the food and drink which the holy man eats elevates that food or drink as if it had actually been offered on the altar. This is similar to what our sages, of blessed memory, said: "one who brings a gift to a Torah scholar is as if he had offered first-fruits (Bikurim)" (Ketuvot 105b), and "[if a man wishes to offer a wine libation upon the altar], let him fill the throat of the Torah scholars with wine" (Yomah 71a). This does not mean that Torah scholars were craving for food and drink, G-d forbid, that one fills their throats like one stuffs a glutton. Rather, the matter is according to the intent I explained. That Torah scholars who are holy in their ways and in all their deeds are actually just like the Temple and the altar, for the Shechina (divine presence) literally dwells upon them as it did in the Temple. Thus, what is offered to them is as offered on the altar, and the filling of their throat is as the filling of the basins. In this way was all use they made of the things of this world. Since they were clinging to G-d's holiness, blessed be He, behold, it was an elevation and an enhancement for that thing which merited to be of use to a Tzadik (righteous person). Our sages already referred to the matter of the "stones at the place" which Yaakov took and put under his head: "Rabbi Yitzchak said: This tells us that all the stones gathered themselves together into one place and each one said: 'Upon me shall the righteous man rest his head'" (Chulin 91b). The general principle of the matter: Holiness consists of one's clinging so much to his G-d that for any action he does, he will not separate nor budge from G-d, blessed be He, so that the physical things he uses will attain greater elevation than that which he diminishes in his clinging and level due to his using physical things. However this refers only to one whose mind and intellect is always fixed on G-d's greatness, blessed be He, and His exalted holiness, such that it is as if he is actually among the lofty angels while still in this world. I already mentioned that a man is unable to do this on his own. He can only rouse himself in the matter and strive towards it. And this is after he has already acquired all of the previous virtuous traits we mentioned, from the beginning of Watchfulness until the Fear of Sin. Only with this will he approach the Holy and succeed. For if he lacks the previous traits, he will be like an outsider or a blemished [Kohen] of which it is stated: "an outsider (non-Kohen) shall not come near" (Bamidbar 18:4). But if after he has prepared himself with all these preparations, he persistently clings with powerful love and intense fear in pondering G-d's greatness and infinite exaltedness, he will separate himself from physical matters little by little and will direct his heart in all his actions and movements to the true inner clinging, until, a spirit from on high will pour upon him and the Creator will cause His Name to rest upon him, as He does with all of His holy ones. He will then actually be like an angel of G-d, and all his actions, even the lowly and the physical ones, will be like Temple sacrifices and services. Behold, you can see that the way to acquire this trait is through much Separation, intense study of the secrets of divine providence, the hidden matters of the creation, and knowledge of His exaltedness, blessed be He, and His praises, until one clings greatly to Him, and knows how to have intent in his thoughts, as was proper for the Kohen to have intents while slaughtering the offering, receiving its blood, and sprinkling it, until he would draw down the blessing from G-d of life and peace. Without this, it is impossible for him to reach this level, and he will remain physical and corporeal like all other human beings. That which helps to attain this trait is much solitude and Separation, so that in the absence of distractions, one's soul will be able to strengthen more and cling to its Creator. The detriments to this trait [of Holiness] are lack of true knowledge and much association with other people. For the physical meets its kind, awakens and strengthens, and the soul remains trapped in it and will not escape its prison. But when one separates himself from others, remaining in solitude, and preparing himself for the receiving of His holiness, behold, in the way he wishes to go, he will be led, and with the divine help G-d will give him, his soul will strengthen within him and defeat the corporeal, cling to His holiness, blessed be He, and be rendered whole (perfect) through Him. From there, he may ascend to a higher level, namely, Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh), then his thinking will ascend beyond the bounds of human limits. His clinging may reach such high levels that the key to revival of the dead will be given to him, as it was given to Eliyahu and Elisha. This will reveal how intensely is his clinging to G-d, blessed be He. For in His being the source of life, who bestows life to all living things, as our sages of blessed memory, said: "three keys the Holy One, blessed be He, has retained in His own hands and not entrusted into the hand of any emissary (angel): the Key of the Revival of the Dead..." (Taanit 2a). Behold, one who clings to the blessed G-d completely will be able to draw down even the flow of life itself from Him, which is, what is attributed to G-d more than anything else as I wrote. This is what the Beraitha concludes: "Holiness brings to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit brings to the Revival of the Dead".

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