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Tuesday
May162017

THE MESSIANIC TRIUMVIRATE

THE UNUSUAL SPELLING OF YAAKOV?

At the end of the harsh words of rebuke in this week’s parsha, G-d promises the Jewish people that He will not abandon them.

“I will remember My covenant with Yaakov, and My covenant with Yitzchak too. I will also remember My covenant with Avraham, and I will remember the Land.”

Rashi observes that Yaakov’s name is spelled with an extra letter vov. This is an aberration, for in virtually all the other places where Yaakov’s name is mentioned it is spelled without the extra vov.

Rashi points to five other exceptions to the rule and observes that the Prophet Elijah’s name, which is usually spelled with a vov, is missing the vov in five places and that there is a connection between these two anomalies. Yaakov “appropriated” the letter vov from Elijah as collateral securing that he would come and announce the Redemption of his (Yaakov’s) children.

Why was it necessary for Yaakov to take Elijah’s vov five times and why specifically did he take the letter vov?

Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, author of the classic Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, in his commentary on the Torah, Aperion (cited in the anthology Yalkut Moshiach U’Geula), suggests that the five references hint to the fact that Elijah will make five announcements concerning the Final Redemption.

However, this too must be explored to be fully understood. Why would it be necessary for Elijah to make five announcements?

LIBERATION OF FIVE LEVELS OF SOUL

One possible explanation lies in the nature of Galus-exile. Physical exile is a representation of the spiritual exile of our souls. Our G-dly soul has only a limited ability to express itself because we are in an internal exile.

There are five levels of the soul, each of which must be liberated from exile and allowed to freely express itself.

To understand the significance of the liberation of these five levels it is necessary to describe their function and how they differ from one another.

The lowest level of the soul is called nefesh. It is responsible for the practical aspects of our lives. The nefesh of our G-dly soul is what motivates us and enables us to act in accordance with G-d’s will.

In exile, that motivation is often impaired or even lacking, because Galus is a desensitizing force. Galus removes the motivation and dedication that a Jew would normally have if the nefesh was left to its own devices.

Elijah’s first announcement thus paves the way for the nefesh to be liberated and our motivation for Jewish practice heightened. When a Jew feels the inspiration to do more, it may very well be a sign that Elijah has made that announcement and one’s nefesh is in the process of being liberated.

The next level of the soul is called ruach, which is responsible for our emotions. When a Jew is filled with love or awe for G-d, it is the ruach of our G-dly soul that is behind that emotion. In exile our emotions are occluded. While we might be able to motivate ourselves to do a Mitzvah, it may lack the love and reverence that the G-dly soul’s ruach has for G-d and His commandments.

Elijah’s second announcement then sets into motion a process that allows our spiritual emotions to emerge. Thus, when a Jew feels passion or any other strong feeling for G-d, another person, a Mitzvah, Torah study, etc., it may portend that one’s personal redemption, along with the entire world’s Redemption, is right around the corner.

The next level of the soul is called neshama (which is also the generic name for soul). The neshama is responsible for our ability to understand G-dliness and for our mortal minds to grasp the Divine teachings of Torah. In exile we experience a mental block as far as Torah is concerned. While we may be able to understand secular knowledge, there can still be a formidable impediment to the grasping of anything spiritual and divine.

Elijah’s third announcement thus unleashes the mechanism for our G-dly soul’s neshama-intellectual potential to freely absorb all of this Divine knowledge.

The next level is called chaya, which is responsible for the soul’s ability to exercise unbridled and unlimited will-power to follow G-d’s commandments, no matter the obstacle. When a Jew was prepared to give his or her life for Judaism, it was the chaya aspect of his or her soul that asserted itself. In exile this power can be covered up by the darkness of our condition.

Elijah’s fourth announcement thus prepares us for the liberation of this level, which provides us with the will-power to surmount any obstacle to the fulfillment of G-d’s will.

The fifth and final level of the soul, called Yechida, is the spark of G-dly energy within the soul that contains a spark of the Divine itself. This level, when activated, goes even beyond will-power. It represents the soul’s complete inability to do anything that hampers its relationship with G-d. Is it often identified with the soul’s very essence, which is one with G-d.

While in the level of Chaya, one feels the need to sacrifice comfort, money and even life for a Higher purpose, the unmasked Yechida acts effortlessly and automatically; it simply cannot be any other way.

This fifth level is the one identified most with Moshiach and it is uncovered by Elijah when he makes his fifth and final announcement.

ADAM DEGRADED
HIMSELF AND HIS PROGENY IN SIX WAYS

Now that we have some explanation why the vov of Elijah was taken as collateral five times—to ensure that he empowers us to liberate all five levels of our soul—we now have to understand the significance of the letter vov in particular.

The aforementioned Aperion finds an answer to this question by referring to a Midrashic comment that the letter vov is also missing from the word toldos (generations, children) except in two places. The two exceptions are the verse in Genesis which describes the world upon the completion of creation: “These are the generations of the heavens…” and “These are the children of Peretz…”

The Midrash explains that the vov is missing from all but these two aforementioned places due to the fact that when Adam sinned he dramatically altered the perfect nature of the world in six different ways, the numerical value of the letter vov. The first mention of toldos-generations in Genesis contains the letter vov because it was prior to Adam’s fall, when the world still enjoyed an untarnished identity.

Likewise, in the Messianic Age the world will revert back to its state of perfection as Adam’s sin will have been rectified. Thus, the verse that speaks of the generations of Peretz, a nickname for Moshiach, uses the full form of the word toldos.

What are the six changes that Adam’s sin imposed which will be restored with Elijah and Moshiach?

The Midrash lists the following six items:

       His radiance, life, height, produce, fruit, and the luminaries.

Prior to his sin, Adam’s face radiated a G-dly aura. This will return for all of humanity with the coming of Moshiach.

When G-d instilled the breath of life into Adam, it was with the intention that he be immortal. That changed when Adam sinned and brought death to the world. In the Messianic Age, when “death will be swallowed up forever,” we will enjoy eternal life.

Adam’s height is described as reaching from earth to heaven. Metaphorically speaking, this means that there were no barriers between heaven and earth in his consciousness. That lofty stature was lost upon his sin but will be restored in the Messianic Age.

Adam’s sin also affected the earth’s produce and the fruit of the trees. When we fail and degrade ourselves, the entire world experiences degradation as well. Elijah and Moshiach will restore the integrity and vibrancy of the agricultural processes, as well as all aspects of nature.

Likewise, the light that G-d created on the first day, which enabled one to see from one end of the world to the other, became concealed as a result of Adam’s sin. It will be restored in the Messianic Age.

THE THREE SPECIAL MITZVOS ENTRUSTED
TO WOMEN

To sum up the words of the Midrash, Moshiach will restore, light (both Adam’s radiant face and the light of the world), life (an end to human death and completion of the life of produce) and unification of heaven and earth-holiness.

These three elements are the same three special Mitzvos that were entrusted mainly to women: Lighting Shabbos and Holiday candles, guarding family purity-Mikveh, and separation of Challah from our dough (and, by extension, keeping all the laws of Kashrus).

It is easy to see the correlation between lighting the Shabbos candles and restoration of the G-dly light.

It is also easy to understand the connection between separation of Challah and bringing heaven and earth together. Food is a metaphor for all the physical and material things in our lives. When we separate challah (and keep kosher in general) we bring holiness into our earthly and mundane affairs; we bring heaven and earth together.

How do we connect Mikveh with the restoration of eternal life?

The primary function of the Mikveh is the ritual purification of a woman after her monthly period (which represents a loss of potential life). G-d’s presence is overtly present when there is vibrant life.

When we experience a loss or curtailment of life, such as during sleep, our bodies enter a state of pause. G-d’s presence is suppressed. Upon awakening we therefore wash our hands with water, the source of life.

In some instances, as when there is a loss of potential life for a woman, the purification and restoration process requires immersion in a Mikveh, which has been likened, among other metaphors, to the amniotic fluid, symbolizing rebirth and rejuvenation.

Indeed, our Sages tell us that beginning with the Matriarch Sarah it is the role of our women in particular to rectify Adam’s sin by engaging especially in these three areas of light, life and holiness. This will lead and condition us for the imminent Redemption, when we will see uncompromised light, life and holiness!

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