Thursday, Jul 25, 2024

Thirsting For Kedusha

Excerpts Of A Letter From Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin To His Children Dearest Kinderlach, I've been reading about the terrible predicament of our brother in Bolivia, Yaakov Yehudah ben Shaindel sheyichye. Imprisoned without bail, without charges, without a trial… shlepped around, forced to wait in a cage from early morning till late in the day to be granted a hearing … Waiting in vain, refused access to his lawyer. The pain of seeing a Jew in such a state is unbearable. A person is tempted to see this tragedy as the result of a terrible misfortune that “could never happen in a real democracy.” This poor person nebach fell into the clutches of a corrupt regime in a third world country, a primitive place where prosecutors conspire with judges and the verdicts are predetermined. A person would like to comfort himself with the thought that of course these things would be impossible in a real democracy. And then follows the chilling question: But is that really so?

This terrible situation increases ever more our cry to Hashem… Please Hashem, reunite this Yid with his family along with every Jew who needs a geulah proti today. And for all of Klal Yisroel, please, Hashem, bring the geulah kloli now with Moshiach Tzidkeinu!

We see the greatness of Yidden be’achdus, Mee keamcho Yisroel, uniting with tefillos and maasim tovim for the zechus of their unfortunate brothers,  which will surely bring redemption from Hakadosh Baruch Hu.  


The need for Yidden to be unified and to show solidarity with one another is exactly the message the Torah wants us to take from the tragedy of Korach in last week’s parsha.


The Torah says that holding on to any machlokes is an aveiroh, using Korach as the prime example of what a Yid must avoid. Velo yihyeh  keKorach ve’adoso; no Jew should be like Korach and his aidoh.  


Both Rashi and Unkelos understand that Korach’s rebellion began with his act of separating himself. He positioned himself and the followers he recruited away from the klal. That was the first step toward launching his machlokes. 


Why is machlokes so bad? The answer is that it goes against the very purpose for which the Torah was given, “laasois sholom bo’oilom,” to bring sholom into the world through Torah and mitzvos.  When Yidden are able to unite our lower world of gashmiyus with our Creator, and make the world a dwelling place for Hashem Yisborach, that is sholom at its highest form. 


Keeping the lower and higher worlds separate, on the other hand, by causing pirud and machlokes between people, is the exact opposite of sholom.      




A most graphic and extreme example of this condition is prison, whose very purpose is division and estrangement between people. Not only does it separate families from each other, a husband from his wife, a father from his children, a son from his parents. But even for the inmates in prison, separation and divisiveness is a daily staple of life.


Here, in the housing designed for the needs of approximately 60 people, 150 are crammed in. This crowding is compounded by putting two people into a space originally designed for one, and changing the space for Day Rooms designed for rehabilitation into crammed dormitories.


The only place for a person to have a few minutes to be in his own space, to sit and think without another person hovering over him or the tumoh box broadcasting around him, is in the Public Area. But this area is too small for the number of inmates in the unit and lacks enough tables to accommodate everyone. So each table becomes the prized possession of a group who gets to “own” the table and to reserve seats for their own.


 This results in people being separated according to ethnic background and fiercely guarding their turf from the “others.” The white supremacists have their table(s), the Latino Spanish speakers have their table (s), and the Mexicans who speak Spanish but are not liked by the Latinos have their table(s). The Italians have their table(s) and the Muslims have their table(s) and the list would continue only there is no more space for another table!


Woe to one who does not abide by the unspoken laws of “separation,” as we witnessed here through a recent stabbing. So separation can turn deadly, both in the physical and spiritual sense.


Coming back to Korach, the Noam Elimelech explains that Korach wanted to create the same separation between himself (as kohain gadol) and Klal Yisroel as the rokiah thatHashem made on the 2nd day of creation that separates the upper waters from the lower waters.


What possible connection could there be between the rokiah that separates the waters and the machalokes of Korach?


In chassidus, water is the source of taanug, enjoyment. Hashem made a rokiah to divide the upper spiritual worlds and their taanug of kedusha, and the lower worlds where taanug is physical.  


Korach aspired to be a kohen godol but in his view, a kohen godol was not meant to interact with the lower mundane world. This view was in total conflict with Aharon Hakohen’s concept of kohen gadol. Aharon’s high spiritual status did not prevent him from being involved in the mundane world. He was the true “rodef sholom,” doing everything in his power to bring people closer to Torah.


The mistake Korach made is that he was stuck on the concept of separation symbolized by the rokiah on the second day of Creation. He never absorbed the lesson of the third day of Creation, when Hashem showed that the separation between the higher and lower worlds was not meant to be a permanent one.


Even though a separation is needed between the upper and the lower worlds, there must also be a connection between them, to enable kedusha to flow down into the lower world.




That was the concept of the yabosha, the dry land, that Hashem revealed on the third day of Creation.  Man’s job is to remove, through his avodas Hashem, the barriers between the two worlds; to draw forth the Getlichkeit and lichtikeit from the spiritual world and instill it into the dark, parched  physical world.  


What happened on the third day of Creation was repeated in a sense in the third month by matan Torah when Hashem came down on Har Sinai,Vayaired Hashem al Har Sinai,” and the “lower world” went up: “Ve’el Moshe omar, ‘alaih.’ This demonstrated the importance of  bridging the two worlds, that they are not meant to remain separated.  


Just as a person’s thirst grows when he spends time in a dry land, so too the yearning for kedusha increases in a place that is devoid of it. Because of the separation from kedusha, the yearning to bask in Hashem’s light is so much greater. And that itself–the great longing to get past the roadblocks that block a person from kedusha–is the very purpose of the roadblock.


What a powerful lesson. When we experience things that seem to pull us down in our avodas Hashem, whether they are setbacks caused by natural events or difficulties caused by man, a Yid must know that they all come from Hashem. Their goal is to increase a person’s longing to overcome the darkness and remove the barriers between him and his avodas Hashem.


That will surely bring greater light than we can ever imagine by increasing our yearning to connect with the kedusha of the upper world and to rejoice with that connection, with the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu bimheira biyomeinu, when Hashem will be revealed to the whole world. 







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