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Friday
Feb212014

INAUGURATING A HOUSE

It is customary for those who move into a new house to recite the maamer “Mizmor shir chanukas ha’bayis l’Dovid” found at the end of Parshas Bracha in the Alter Rebbe’s Likkutei Torah (98d-100b). * May we soon merit to inaugurate the Third Beis HaMikdash, with the imminent arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

Translated by Boruch Merkur

1.  “A 1.  “A psalm; a song of inauguration of the House, of Dovid – Mizmor shir chanukas ha’bayis, l’Dovid” (T’hillim 30:1): [Obviously there is reason to rejoice at the inauguration of a new house, but] what is the [spiritual] significance of holding a banquet and celebration for this achievement?

THE RELATIVE COST OF HUMAN NECESSITIES

There are three aspects [to a person’s subsistence]: food, clothing, and shelter/housing. Food provides the body with internal vitality. It is ingested and turned into energy by means of the stomach and intestines, the digestive system. Nutrition ascends to the brain and is internalized, energizing the brain as well as the other parts of the body, strengthening all the limbs.

In contrast, clothing surrounds the person, encompassing and enveloping him. Clothes merely shield the person from the elements. Unlike food, it is not internalized and transformed into energy. Rather, clothing literally surrounds the person. Shelter likewise surrounds the person, but not as clothing, which is worn literally upon the body; a house surrounds the person from a distance [providing him with a space to occupy].

Now, it is obvious that food is less expensive than clothing, and clothing is less expensive than a house. At first glance, though, the opposite should be true, insofar as food provides the person with inner vitality. It is ingested and absorbed within, becoming literally one with him, providing his soul with energy. Indeed, it is impossible to survive without food. Thus, food should be more expensive than clothing, for clothes do not provide energy, but merely surround and protect the person. Similarly, clothing in comparison to housing echoes the distance between food and clothing [being progressively more removed from the inner vitality of the person].

Parenthetically, the simple reason for the relative cost of the three human necessities pertains to how long each lasts: Immediately after food is digested, hunger sets in again, whereas, clothes can typically be worn for a year or more, and a house lasts even longer. Thus, houses are more expensive than clothing because of their durability, and for the same reason, clothing is more expensive than food.

In a deeper sense, however, the relative cost of these three human necessities is reflected in their respective points of spiritual origination. The spiritual source of housing is higher than clothing, and the source of clothing is higher than that of food, based on the principle that all that falls lower [in this case, being less inward] has a higher source.

A KING WITH TWO CROWNS

Now, these three levels of human necessity are manifest in the three “dimensions” – olam, shana, and nefesh (space, time, and spirit) – with respect to Creation, as well as to Torah and Mitzvos. [The three necessities have been discussed so far in terms of space and time, dimensions that pertain primarily to the physical world. As we have seen, though, the relative material value of the three necessities depends on their spiritual source in Creation, which is now the topic of further elucidation.]

In general, the spiritual, G-dly energy of Creation can be classified as either Memalei Kol Almin or Sovev Kol Almin. Memalei Kol Almin refers to causal activity, “the manifestation of a force in an action.” Thus, when Malchus [the lowest level] of Atzilus enlivens the worlds of Biya, it literally invests itself within Biya internally, providing it with G-dly vitality. This process of spiritual invigoration reflects the manner by which the soul enlivens the body, disseminating vitality to all the minutiae of the body’s functions: the senses of sight, hearing, and smell, as well as the ability to speak, all of which are situated in the head; the hands, the heart, the stomach and intestines, and the legs, as they are organized in the hierarchy of the body. So too, On High, Malchus of Atzilus, which invests itself within Biya in order to enliven the worlds, infuses all the particular components of Hishtalshlus with inner vitality.

The impact of G-dliness at the level of Memalei Kol Almin upon all aspects of Creation, even the most minute details, is reflected in T’hillim (145:11-12), “They shall recount the glory of Your kingdom, and speak of Your might (g’vuras’cha); to make known…His mighty acts (g’vurosav)”: G-d’s acts are called “g’vuros – acts of might” to allude to the tzimtzumim (the focusing of G-dliness) used to create differentiated worlds. G-dly energy is repeatedly divided and channeled into many different worlds, ad infinitum. This spiritual energy is called Memalei Kol Almin, a G-dly emanation that Fills All the Worlds, for it is the inner vitality of the worlds, “the manifestation of a force in an action,” etc.

Sovev Kol Almin, on the other hand, is a G-dly energy that does not invest itself internally within the worlds at all; it surrounds and encompasses them, as described in Seifer Shel Beinonim, in order to enliven them. Indeed, the main source of life in Creation is encompassing, transcendent, beyond the ten s’firos of Atzilus, which invest themselves within the ten s’firos of Biya – Chesed of Atzilus within Chesed of Bria, as above. Sovev is, therefore, called Kesser Elyon, Supernal Crown [symbolizing its transcendence, as a crown rests upon and surrounds the head of a king]. (Kesser Elyon is described in the earlier verse in T’hillim (135:6), “All that G-d wants He has made,” for Creation originates primarily from the aspect of “G-d wants,” a reference to His Supernal Will. This concept is elucidated in the explanation of the verse, “Let them bring forth royal garments”: vitality extends to every created being at the level of Memalei Kol Almin as well as Sovev Kol Almin, but Creation [itself] is primarily from the aspect of Sovev Kol Almin. See the discussion there.)

Kesser, however, is comprised of two dimensions: the lowest aspect of HaMaatzil (the Creator/Emanator Himself), as well as the head and first emanation to the ne’etzalim (the created/emanated beings). Both aspects of Kesser are necessary for Kesser to serve as an intermediary between the Maatzil and the ne’etzalim, G-d and His creations, in accordance with the principle that an intermediary must include aspects of both the higher and lower dimensions in order to intercede between them, as discussed in Eitz Chaim (41:3).

Now, the lower level of Kesser is called Arich Anpin. It serves as the head and point of origin of the ne’etzalim. Arich Anpin is the source from which emerges, within the framework of Hishtalshlus, the ten tikkunin, the ten s’firos of Atzilus – “One that is long, etc.” (Tikkunei Zohar, Introduction). Arich Anpin itself, however, is makif [beyond Hishtalshlus]. It is at the level of Sovev Kol Almin, encompassing all the worlds in a single continuum.

A HOUSE: MAKIF D’MAKIF

The higher level of Kesser, Atik, is [actually an aspect of G-d Himself, albeit] the lowest dimension of the Maatzil. This level of G-dliness is called Atik, as in, “ha’maatik harim – one who uproots mountains,” bearing no relationship at all with the ten s’firos ha’ne’etzalim. In fact, it cannot even be referred to as makif, encompassing, for every instance of makif has some relationship to that which it transcends; it is called makif d’makif, etc., “transcending” the makif itself.

In this sense, Atik resembles a house. A house is not makif ha’samoch, a close-fitting envelopment, worn directly upon the body like a garment. Rather, a house surrounds the person’s body from a distance, reminiscent of the concept of makif d’makif. (See the discussion at the end of the maamer beginning with words, “HaShamayim kisi,” on the topic of “eizeh bayis asher tivnu li.” Also, see Parshas Pinchas, the end of the maamer beginning with the words, “Tzav es b’nei Yisroel…es korbani lachmi,” on the reason why sacrifices are only offered at the site of the Holy Temple. Look it up there.)

The three human necessities – food, clothing, and shelter – emerge from these three dimensions of G-dliness – Memalei, Arich, and Atik – respectively, and manifest below in the physical world in their familiar material forms. But they do so in accordance with the principle that the higher the point of origin, the lower is the descent and the more deeply it is enclothed below.

Food, which provides inner vitality, stems from Memalei Kol Almin. Foods vary widely in taste and flavor – bitter or sweet, etc. The great variety in foods is a product of the spiritual integration that occurs in the ten s’firos at the level of Memalei Kol Almin – Chesed Sh’B’Chesed, G’vura Sh’B’G’vura, etc. [each s’fira combining with the others in a full spectrum of permutations]. Another quality of food that is characteristic of its spiritual source is that it disintegrates [upon consumption, an earthly manifestation of] the inner light being invested within and confined within the keilim, etc. In the digestive process that takes place in the physical world, the food unites with the person, providing inner vitality. This effect of food is on account of its spiritual source, the level of Memalei Kol Almin, “the manifestation of a force, etc.” And therefore, food is relatively inexpensive. Gourmet cuisine is not imperative; one can live on dry bread, etc., “bread with salt.” Alternatively, one may eat a variety of delicacies, for its source is at the level of “the manifestation of a force, etc.,” which is a confined limit, and a vessel contained within a vessel, which is why food also possesses these qualities.

The supernal source for clothing, however, is Kesser, the head of the ne’etzalim, at the level of makif, all-encompassing, surrounding. Thus, below, it too does not serve as the person’s internal vitality; it surrounds the person. And [in extreme conditions, for example] clothing is even more pertinent to the person [than food], for in the winter one cannot go without a coat, etc., and so too in the summer, etc. Since the spiritual source of clothing, Sovev, which is not confined to vessels, exceeds that of food, which is light confined to vessels, clothes are more expensive and more durable; they don’t wear away so readily [compared with how food is quickly consumed]. […]

And a house, which is more distant from the person’s body, originates from the lowest aspect of the Maatzil Himself, makif d’makif, as above. Thus, it descends to the lowest level – stones and earth, the mineral kingdom – whereas clothes come from the plant kingdom. Being that the spiritual source of a house is that which transcends the makif, also in the physical world it is distant from the person’s body. For the same reason, they are more pertinent to man, more so than even clothing, for [in extreme environments] it is impossible to live without a house even momentarily. A house is also more expensive and extremely durable, for its source is extremely high, from the level of makif d’makif. Let this explanation suffice to understand.

 

FOOD, CLOTHES, AND SHELTER IN THE WORLD OF TORAH AND MITZVOS

2. Similarly, [in addition to the manner whereby food, clothing, and shelter are manifest within Creation] they are manifest within Torah and Mitzvos. As is known, Torah is at the level of mazon, sustenance – food for the soul. Mitzvos, on the other hand, are the soul’s garments (as discussed in the maamer beginning with the words, “Eileh massei,” as well as, “Ani l’dodi,” and, “Yonasi, etc.,” among other places).

Although within Seider Hishtalshlus, Mitzvos are lower than Torah, for they are merely the physical deeds [lower than the intellectual, spiritual quality of Torah study], nevertheless, in their point of origin, Mitzvos are actually higher than Torah. In fact, the entire Torah is just commentary on the Mitzvos – both with regard to the revealed as well as the esoteric dimensions of the Torah, such as Seifer HaZohar. Thus, our Sages say, “Torah study is greater as it leads to action” [establishing action, Mitzvos, as the ultimate goal, and Torah as the means of attaining that goal]. Our Sages also say [more directly] that “Study is not the main thing; action is, etc.” Also reflecting the primacy of action, our Sages say (K’subos 86a-b): “But regarding positive precepts, such as the imperative, ‘Build a sukka,’ should one fail to do so, etc., they would flog him until his soul departs.”

Now, [there seems to be an obvious counterexample, for] one for whom “Torah is his trade,” such as Rashbi and his ilk, have no obligation to interrupt their study for t’filla, prayer. And in Talmud Yerushalmi, Shabbos Ch. 1, our Sages say that even for Krias Shma, one of these scrupulously diligent scholars need not interrupt. That is, however, specifically regarding the Mitzva of Krias Shma, but for positive precepts, such as Sukka or Lulav, one is obligated to interrupt, as explained in the Yerushalmi there, cited by Baal HaMaor, Shabbos Ch. 1: “Does Rashbi not agree that one interrupts his Torah study to build a sukka etc.?” [Why in that case would he not interrupt for Krias Shma and davening? The answer is that Krias Shma and davening are different from Sukka, as well as other practical Mitzvos, because] both are considered Torah learning, and one instance of learning does not supersede another.

Mitzvos originate from a higher source than Torah. Although within Seider Hishtalshlus Mitzvos are lower, for Mitzvos are at the level of clothing [which are not consumed, internalized, as is food/Torah], nevertheless, their source and point of origin is higher [transcendent, makif]. In contrast, Torah, is at the level of mazon, sustenance or food [which is internalized and thus more pertinent and vital to the individual], and it originates from the inner aspect of the ten s’firos of Atzilus – “Torah emerges from Wisdom, etc.”

Just as with regard to the consumption of food, since its source and point origin is at the level of Memalei [which is variegated and particularized], it suffices to eat dry bread to sustain human life, yet one may also eat a variety of delicacies, the obligation to study Torah likewise has no fixed measure: One fulfills his obligation with the study of “one chapter in the morning and one chapter at night,” or one may devote himself with tremendous diligence and “toil in it day and night.” This broad spectrum of fulfilling the Mitzva to study Torah reflects the fact that Torah is at the level of mazon [Memalei].

Mitzvos, on the other hand, are at the level of the supernal makif, the level of “one crown, etc.” Indeed, Kesser is higher than Wisdom of Atzilus. Thus, Mitzvos serve as the garments of the soul, as stated above regarding clothing.

AN OFFERING OF GRATITUDE FOR THE MITZVA I DIDN’T ASK FOR

Now, just as Kesser Elyon is the intermediary between the Maatzil and the ne’etzalim, containing both qualities discussed above – makif, as well as makif d’makif – Mitzvos also possess these two aspects. The first type of Mitzvos, such as Sukka and Lulav, are done in accordance with the person’s will. But there are also Mitzvos that are not at all dependent upon one’s volition; they are not even done consciously, such as the Mitzva of Shikcha, leaving forgotten produce in the field for the poor.

In the Tosefta, Ch. 3 of Peia, there is a story about a pious man who had forgotten an omer (a measure of crops) in his field, and he told his son, “Go and offer on my behalf a bull as an Ola sacrifice and another bull as a Shlamim. His son told him, “Father, why do you rejoice in the celebration of this [particular] Mitzva more than all the [other] Mitzvos in the Torah?” And his father responded, “G-d has given all the Mitzvos of the Torah to be performed in accordance with our will. This Mitzva, however, is not performed consciously. Had we done it for G-d of our own volition [leaving produce in the field on purpose], we would not have done the Mitzva. Rather, the Torah says, ‘When you shall reap your harvest…and forget a sheaf in the field…it shall be for the stranger…that G-d, your L-rd, may bless you, etc.’ The Torah designates for this person a blessing.” Here we learn that the fulfillment of the Mitzva of Shikcha is a gift from On High, for which reason [one ought to respond with abundant joy and gratitude] – “I offer a bull.”

Consciously performed Mitzvos, those performed in accordance with a person’s volition, also derive from Kesser [albeit the lower of the two dimensions of Kesser], from Arich Anpin, Supernal Will. The ne’etzalim originate from this level of Kesser [being, in effect, the fountainhead of existence, and by extension, the created world] – “You are He Who has brought forth ten garments.” Mitzvos that stem from our volition, our will, likewise originate from Arich Anpin. And when these Mitzvos are performed, one draws down G-dliness from the level of Supernal Will. [Recognizing that these Mitzvos enable us to connect to G-d] we say a blessing on them, “…Who has sanctified us with his Mitzvos,” and we draw down upon us the aspect of Supernal Will, the makif. They can, therefore, be performed with great joy.

However, the source of those Mitzvos that are specifically not in accordance with one’s conscious will and volition – like the Mitzva of Shikcha, discussed above – is from the lowest aspect of the Maatzil Himself, which transcends Supernal Will. This level is called makif d’makif (the level of Raava D’Chol Raavin, meaning the will of the will, etc.). Thus, as makif d’makif is manifest below, in the physical world, it too transcends consciousness and the will of man.

There are several examples of Mitzvos that are specifically not in accordance with one’s will. Consider, for example, the story of Rebbi Shimon ben Shetach, who escaped to Mitzrayim to avoid being appointed nasi; he did not wish to accept the leadership, so he fled, etc. Nevertheless, he was pursued and appointed nasi. Had he not fled, but instead willingly accepted the honor, he would not have been granted the position; they would not have appointed him as their nasi, for “honor flees from all those who pursue it.” [That is, assuming a position of leadership – as with the Mitzva of Shikcha – cannot be consciously pursued, because] this Mitzva stems from the level of makif d’makif [a G-dly height that transcends the entire Seider Hishtalshlus].

(See the maamer beginning with the words, “Tzena u’r’ena,” on the topic “naaseh v’nishma.” Naaseh is the total eradication of will, transcending consciousness and intellect, which is derived from Raava D’Chol Raavin, discussed above. Thus, two crowns were set upon the heads of the Jewish people at Mount Sinai – one corresponding to naaseh and the other to nishma. These two crowns embody the two levels of Kesser Elyon. Namely, the makif that is drawn down through nishma, as well as makif l’makif, which is drawn down through naaseh, the eradication of will, entirely nullifying one’s consciousness and volition. The Jewish people first said “naaseh” and then “nishma” [specifically in that sequence], just as Atik is Antecedent to all Primordial Existents, a dimension of the Ein Sof, and Arich Anpin [the lower level of Kesser Elyon] is derived from it.

(Similarly, we find among the sayings of our Sages, at the beginning of Chapter 6 of Brachos, that the verse, “You shall gather your grain,” refers to when the Jewish people are not doing the will of G-d, notwithstanding the fact that this verse follows the opening words, “And it shall be if you observe My Mitzvos, etc.” “Doing the will of G-d” means to draw down the aspect of will from Raava D’Chol Raavin. This is accomplished through serving G-d “with all your might,” nullifying one’s will, beyond conscious volition. It is not accomplished by serving G-d only at the level of “with all your hearts and with all your soul, etc.” Therefore, compared to G-dliness drawn from Atik, which is literally infinite, the lower level of service [“with all your hearts, etc.”] is still not referred to as “doing the will of G-d,” etc.

(Reminiscent of the latter distinction is the advantage of the observance of prohibitions over positive precepts. Regarding the observance of prohibitions, resisting the temptation to sin, our Sages say, “A man should not say, ‘I do not want, etc.’ He should say, ‘I do want. But what can I do? My Father in Heaven has forbidden it for me.’” The result of serving G-d in this manner is that “the glory of the Alm-ghty is exalted.” Regarding the special quality of observing prohibitions, see the explanation on the verse, “Sh’chora ani v’naava,” and the verse, “Simani k’chosam,” as well as the verse, “Ra’isi, v’hinei m’noras zahav, etc.”

(In light of the above we can also understand what is written elsewhere, at the end of the maamer entitled, “R’ei reiach b’ni,” regarding the blessings that Yaakov received from Yitzchok. These blessings were specifically not given by Yitzchok consciously. Rather [Yitzchok told Eisav], “Your brother has come with guile.” Indeed, it was impossible for the blessings to be manifest through conscious design, etc. See the discussion there. The idea here resembles the lesson derived from the Tosefta regarding a Mitzva that is “not performed consciously,” etc. That is to say that Yitzchok’s blessings stem from the level of “the dew that drips from Atik.” And this is the meaning of the Midrash, “‘the scent of his garments (begadav)’ – the scent of his betrayal (bogdav),” a reference to t’shuva (repentance). T’shuva transcends the concept of “the scent of his garments,” which is the aspect of clothing. As explained above, clothing is makif ha’karov, a “closely fitting,” transcendent G-dly energy, etc.

(See what is discussed in the maamer beginning with the words, “Va’yishlach Yaakov,” in the explanation of the significance of “over l’socher.” Also, see the explanation on the verse, “Ki seitzei,” regarding the concept of the two makifim, Lamed and Mem – see there.)

It says about Dovid HaMelech, “I shall raise up for you a faithful house (bayis ne’eman),” referring here to kingship (malchus) as a “house – bayis.” Dovid was rewarded with kingship for his quality of humility, extolled in the verse, “My heart has not become haughty…v’domamti (I have remained still).” Like a house made of stone and earth – domem, the mineral kingdom, which originates from makif d’makif – Malchus, the final s’fira of the ten s’firos of Atzilus, originates from an extremely lofty source, makif d’makif, as discussed above.

CELEBRATING IN A PLACE WHERE THERE IS NO INHERENT JOY

Now, regular Mitzvos are associated with joy, insofar as they are performed of man’s volition, as derived from [the corollary of] the verse, [describing how punishments result] “on account of the fact that you have not served [G-d] with joy, etc.” Also, blessings articulated for the performance of a Mitzva end with the phrase, “…Who has sanctified us with His Mitzvos, etc.,” for they originate from the aspect of Supernal Will, as above.

In contrast, the chanukas ha’Beis HaMikdash (the inauguration of the Holy Temple) served to draw down G-dliness from the level of makif d’makif, which transcends will, the aspect of Kesser, etc. [A special celebration is required to accomplish this task for] there is no [inherent] joy associated with such transcendent heights [being completely unfathomable and beyond the realm of mortal experience, transcending the very concept of will and volition]. Indeed, the wall of a building is at the level of domem, the mineral kingdom, whose point of origin transcends will. Thus, no joy is associated with the inauguration of a house. It was, therefore, necessary to draw down joy at the occasion of chanukas Beis HaMikdash. (See the discussion on the verse, “U’Shavtem mayim b’sasson”: Since wine brings one to rejoice, etc., there is no special Mitzva to celebrate Nisuch HaYayin (the Wine Libation). Nisuch HaMayim (the Water Libation), however, stems from a higher source than Nisuch HaYayin [a spiritual height that transcends will and volition]. It must, therefore, be connected with the aspect of joy, which is why it is said, “you shall draw water” specifically “b’sasson – with joy.” See the discussion there.) In this respect, “Mizmor shir chanukas ha’bayis” refers to rejoicing at the inauguration of a house. Since the concept of shelter, at its source, totally transcends volition, and hence, it possesses no inherent joy, the inauguration of a house is, therefore, accompanied by a banquet and a celebration [in order to bring joy into the home, where it is otherwise lacking].

(This also explains the seeming redundancy of the words, “Mizmor shir,” as noted by Alshich. That is, [special efforts are made to rejoice when no inherit joy is present] as discussed above regarding the story of the pious man, etc. – “Father, what gave you cause to rejoice in celebration of this [particular] Mitzva more so than all the Mitzvos in the Torah? etc.” Certainly the need to rejoice applies to the inauguration of the Beis HaMikdash, which embodies this concept in a general way. See what is discussed about this above.)

THE GOOD FORTUNE OF HAVING CHILDREN

From the verse, “May your house be as the house of Peretz,” we learn that the birth of a child carries the connotation of “house”: [Just as a house originates from a level of G-dliness that transcends will, conscious volition] “having children is not in virtue of merit, but on account of mazal, etc.” Merit corresponds to the radiance of the ten s’firos of Atzilus, which are at the level of inner light, intellect, reason to find merit, etc. The good fortune of having children, however, derives from a G-dly source that transcends intellect; it is at the level of mazal, the Supernal Makif.

Mazal” means “the source,” the mashpia, the place where drops form, resulting in dripping water, etc., flowing from Lebanon, etc. Thus, the mazal (the good fortune) to have children is called “house,” for its source is also derived from the Supernal Makif, etc. It is, therefore, written, “And may He establish for him an everlasting edifice from him, etc.” See what is discussed in Parshas VaEs’chanan, in the maamer beginning with the words, “V’zos ha’mitzva” – that the Oral Torah is called a house – “Do not read ‘banayich – your children,’ but ‘bonayich – your builders.’ See there.

 

WHY WAS SHILO MADE OF STONE?

3. The above discussion sheds light on the teaching of our Sages on the verse, “‘For until now, you have not come to the rest and to the inheritance’ – ‘Rest’ refers to the building at Shilo, etc.” Our Sages distinguish the Mishkan from the building at Shilo, but at first glance, they were [virtually identical, being] of equal dimensions; in every respect the building at Shilo was constructed in accordance with the specifications of the Mishkan. The difference is that the Mishkan was constructed with wooden planks made of cedar trees, and plated with gold, whereas the walls and ceiling of the building at Shilo were made specifically of stone. What is the significance of this difference? Certainly the wooden planks used in the Mishkan were far more valuable than the walls of Shilo, which were made of stone. Why then is specifically the building at Shilo called “rest,” not the Mishkan? [What advantage is there in the stone walls of Shilo over the wooden walls of the Mishkan?]

The answer emerges from the discussion above: Stone is from the mineral kingdom. Although this is the lowest of the four kingdoms, it originates from the highest level, makif d’makif, a totally transcendent aspect of G-dliness. Cedar wood, on the other hand, is from the plant kingdom, whose source is only from the level of makif [which, although transcendent, bears some connection with the inner, lower levels of G-dliness, Memalei Kol Almin]. Therefore, “‘Rest’ refers to the building at Shilo,” where there was a manifestation of makif d’makif, for it was built of stone, the mineral kingdom, and had no exposed wood, the plant kingdom. (See what is discussed on this subject on the verse, “Va’yigash alav Yehuda.”)

Thus, Rambam zal, as well as Seifer HaChinuch, siman 492, enumerate among the Biblical prohibitions, “Do not plant for you an asheira, etc.,” deriving from this verse that it is forbidden for there to be any protruding wooden beams in the Beis HaMikdash. Failure to do so results in the transgression of “Do not plant, etc.” Only internal, structural wooden beams are permitted, such as those in the ceilings. The Beis HaMikdash must be made specifically of stone, the mineral kingdom, whose spiritual source is extremely lofty, etc. (The difference between protruding and structural wooden beams is discussed in the maamer on the verse, “Simeini k’chosam.”)

On this basis, our Sages said that [the Persian king] Koresh [son of Queen Ester] became tainted, commanding to build the Second Beis HaMikdash three rows of hewn stone and one row of cedar beams, etc., which is forbidden, for there may be no exposed wood in the Beis HaMikdash. It may only have skeletal wooden beams, which signify the internal aspect, not extruding beams, for the outer material embodies the makif, which is to be made strictly of stone, as above.

ANGELS IN A GREAT UPROAR

This is the meaning of the verse, “Acacia wood [planks] standing” – the wooden planks stand [upright, likewise the angels called] S’rafim stand [in silence before G-d], but [other angels called] Ofanim and Chayos HaKodesh [worship G-d] “with a great uproar, etc.” The latter [dramatic, impassioned manner of Divine service] is a reference to the section of prayer beginning with P’sukei D’Zimra until Krias Shma. This portion of Shacharis is at the level of “Acacia wood [planks] standing,” the plant kingdom, as above. The Chayos HaKodesh are in a great uproar on account of the fact that they are cognizant of the world’s discreet existence [appearing separate from G-d’s oneness]. Since they feel the nullification [of existence, of Creation] to Hashem Tz’vaos – [expressing this rapture by saying] “kadosh (holy), etc.” – they are in a great uproar. The S’rafim, on the other hand, who do not perceive the separate existence of the world, as do the Ofanim, “stand above Him” – above the Sh’china [the aspect of G-d that invests Itself within Creation].

The foregoing describes the davening before Krias Shma. The 248 words of Krias Shma itself, however, are called 248 stones, signifying the mineral kingdom, as above. Thus, it says [regarding Yaakov Avinu], “And he took of the stones of the place” – [Yaakov took] the 248 words of Krias Shma, the aspect of Malchus, which is the lowest level – “and he placed them m’raashosav (lit., from his head).” It does not say “under his head,” but “m’raashosav – from his head,” for Malchus originates from the highest aspect, higher than Mochin (lit., brain; Supernal Mind): “m’raashosav.” “He set it [i.e., the stone] as a matzeiva, a pillar, and he poured oil upon it”: At first the stone [symbolizing Malchus] was just a point beneath Yesod, but Yaakov raised it up and made it into a matzeiva. “And he poured oil upon it” – he drew down the aspect of Supernal Mind, “shemen mishchas kodesh,” the aspect of Supernal Wisdom.

THE REJECTED ONE BECOMES THE CORNERSTONE

The above discussion sheds light on the verse, “The stone that was rejected by the builders has become the chief cornerstone”: Malchus is called “stone,” domem, being part of the mineral kingdom; it is at the level of osiyos, letters – “two stones [referring to two letters] build two houses [i.e., two words], etc.” Just as the mineral kingdom [earth] is the lowest of the four elements, Malchus is the lowest of the ten s’firos. Nevertheless, it “has become the chief cornerstone,” for the source of the mineral kingdom is far higher than all of the ten s’firos of Atzilus; it is at the level of Supernal Kesser.

“That was rejected by the builders”: Sara gave her maidservant Hagar to Avrohom and said, “perhaps I will be established (ibaneh; lit., I shall build) through her.” Similarly, Rochel gave her maidservant, Bilha, [to Yaakov] and said, “Perhaps I too will be established (ibaneh) through her.” The mystical significance of this concept of “building” through a maidservant hinges on the notion that there are two aspects of Malchus, described as milui ha’Hei. [Milui ha’Hei is the “expansion” of the second letter Hei that appears in G-d’s name Havaya, YKVK. That is, when the second Hei is spelled out as a word, comprised of the letters: Hei, Hei.] The Supernal Hei [the first Hei in Havaya] signifies Bina, Understanding; the Lower Hei alludes to Malchus; and the milui ha’Hei symbolizes the lowest aspect of Malchus, which descends and invests itself within the lower worlds, Biya, to be “the head of foxes” [see Avos 4:20]. When compared to Malchus proper, this level of Malchus is called “maidservant.”

IT CAN ONLY BE BUILT THROUGH DOVID

On this basis we can understand what is written in Asara Maamaros, in the maamer Chikur Din, part 3, Ch. 10 – that our Sages say in the Agada about Dovid HaMelech: “[Dovid’s father] Yishai believed that [in conceiving Dovid] he had approached his freed maidservant. But in fact, the maidservant had shared signs with Yishai’s wife [to disguise her identity], as did Rochel to Leia.” See the discussion there for further insight on the matter. (However, in the Gemara, as well as in the Rabbos, this Agada is not cited. On the contrary – the inference derived from what is said in the Rabbos of Tazria (14:5), “The intent of Father, Yishai, etc.,” is not in accordance with this teaching.) In any event, here “maidservant” symbolizes and expresses the concept of milui ha’Hei, the lower aspect of Malchus, the level of domem, and it is called “stone.” Thus, it says, “The stone that was rejected by the builders,” for the “builders” mentioned above rejected the “maidservant” [this aspect of Malchus], insofar as it is “the head of foxes,” its legs descending; it is the lower level [of Malchus], literally the level of domem. In fact, this aspect can only be built through Dovid and what he represents, for the reason elucidated in Seifer HaGilgulim, as well as what is explained in Asara Maamaros, cited above.

Nevertheless, when this “structure” is built, it brings extra upliftedness to Malchus of Atzilus, causing it to become, through this elevation, the “chief cornerstone.” This dynamic is explained in Ramaz, Parshas Ki Sisa (189b): All the birurim (the refinement of physicality through proper interactions with it) that rise from below, by means of the lower aspect of Malchus, ascend to Malchus of Atzilus, and it [further] raises the birurim upwards. The result of this process is that it “has become the chief cornerstone,” meaning that in Atzilus, a [second] loftier refinement takes place.

Now, birurim [the sparks of G-dliness that ascend from the physical world] are from the World of Tohu, which transcends the World of Tikkun (as discussed in the elucidation of the verse, “Sh’chora ani v’naava,” cited above). It is none other than these birurim that are the main contributors to the establishment of “the binyan – the building, or structure,” for “their beginning is wedged in their end and their end is wedged in their beginning.” Of course, there are several aspects of stones: avanim mefulamim, avanim nekuvim, etc.

ALL FOR THE SAKE OF HIS WIFE

From all the above we will understand what our Sages said (in Yevamos 62b) on the verse, “to cause a blessing to rest on your house” (Yechezkel 44): A man’s blessings are for the sake of his wife. Thus, Rebbi Yossi said, “In my days I never called my wife, ‘wife’; I called my wife ‘my home’” (Shabbos 118b).

But this needs to be understood: The groom writes to his bride in the k’suba, the marriage contract, “I will honor, and provide food, and support, etc.” At first glance, though, this is puzzling, for our Sages say, “A man is only granted sustenance for the sake of his wife.” How then can the groom pledge, “I will honor, and provide food, and support”? [How can he be charged with providing for his wife’s needs when apparently he plays no role in the process?]

But actually, both concepts are true. The main avoda is to draw down Chassadim HaElyonim, Supernal Beneficence, which is derived from the masculine Divine attribute. It is possible, though, that the Chassadim will appear strictly as a G-dly revelation, and the like, and not at all be manifest below in the form of material livelihood. Drawing down from Atzilus benevolence and mercy into the physical world – “He provides (physical) bread for all mortals” – is “for the sake of his wife,” the feminine Divine attribute, Malchus of Atzilus, which enlivens the lower worlds [Biya]. It is this feminine attribute, which is the manifestation of the Supernal Makif, that is called “my home,” and it provides the capacity for Chassadim HaElyonim to be manifest below, in the physical world. See what is discussed in Parshas Korach on the verse, “V’yigmol sh’keidim,” and see the end of the maamer beginning with the words, “V’asisa bigdei kodesh.” 

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