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Friday
Aug162019

THOUGHT IS A MISNAGED: DANCE OUT OF EXILE

On the 15th of Av, the girls of Jerusalem would go out to dance in the vineyards in search of their soulmates. The Mishna relates (Taanis 4:8): “There were no greater days of joy for the Jewish people” (other than Yom Kippur, its equal, when the Second Tablets were given – a veritable marriage contract between G-d and the Jewish people – as well as the day we achieve atonement).

The 15th of Av is also a foretaste of the imminent redemption, a day of consolation for suffering in exile, especially for the death and destruction of Tisha B’Av, alluded to in the verse:  “Az tismach b’sula b’machol, etc. – Then maidens will rejoice in dance, young men and elders together. I will turn their mourning into revelry. I will comfort them and bring them joy in their grief” (Yirmiyahu 31:13).

Metzudas Dovid interprets the verse:

Young men and elders together: Inspired by the great celebration, elders will be drawn after the way of the young men, emulating them by reveling in dance.

I will turn: I will transform their past mourning into revelry. In this way they will be comforted for it.

And bring them joy in their grief (v’simachtim mi’y’gonam): The joy will surpass their former grief.

An illustration from Torah is found in the commentary to the Mishna (Kilayim 4:2):

M’chol ha’kerem” – called by that name because it encircles the entire field (Tosfos Yom-Tov) – is the part of a vineyard that is empty between the vineyard and the surrounding fence. The term is reminiscent of m’cholos ha’nashim, women’s dances, for they would dance around in a circle, as in the verse, “Az tismach b’sula b’machol – Then maidens will rejoice in dance.” (Bartenura)

(Interestingly, in English the term “round” refers to either a theatrical stage or dance floor designed so the audience surrounds the center, where the entertainment takes place.)

What could be more sensational than this all-out, all-inclusive celebration? Can you imagine anything so radical and free? What does it mean?

***

Tractate Taanis (31a) concludes with the topic of dancing:

Ulla of the city Bira said in the name of Rebbi Elazar: In the Future Era, the Alm-ghty will arrange a dance for the righteous. He will sit among them in Gan Eden, and each individual tzaddik will point with his finger [to G-d], as it says: “And it shall be said on that day: Behold, this is our L-rd for Whom we have hoped to bring us salvation. This is the G-d for Whom we have hoped. We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Yeshayahu 25:9).

Be’er HaGola (4:57) teaches us the meaning of this Gemara:

Pointing with a finger [to G-d] and proclaiming “hinei-behold” signifies an experience that emerges from daas, directing or focusing attention to a place of sanctity. The Future Era does indeed transcend physicality, yet there will be maidens and young ladies participating in a dance for the righteous.

Now, you should know that these ideas, alluded to in extremely insightful lexicon, articulate the incredible goodness hidden away for tzaddikim in the Future Era, in Gan Eden.

This dance is designed especially for b’sulos, maidens, as the verse states, “Then maidens will rejoice in dance, young men and elders, etc.” … It is a celebration that is not confined to the joy of the heart, which is not tangibly experienced [as revelry] but just felt emotionally; dancing is joy that is fully expressed and overt.

The dance thus pertains to b’sulos in particular, for women, especially b’sulos, are not nearly as intellectual as men. All thought impairs joy, hindering its ability to be fully expressed, for thought is a misnaged, in opposition to joy. Thus, men experience joy in their heart because they are riddled with anxiety, impeding the expression of joy. Nothing, however, holds back the b’sula, as she is not trapped in her mind; she experiences tangible joy.   

In the Future Era, in Gan Eden, the overt joy itself will be termed a “machol la’tzaddikim,” meaning that the joy of the righteous will be tangible, not like joy merely felt in the heart. Also, the joy of the righteous is a celebration of G-d yisborech, as it is written, “Rejoice, tzaddikim, in G-d” (T’hillim 97). For these two reasons it says that G-d will “sit among them in Gan Eden, and each individual tzaddik will point with his finger [to G-d],” meaning that their entire joy is G-d.

With Hashem at the center of our celebration, with G-d at the hub we revolve around, pointing and reaching out to G-d with all our attention and focus, dancing and spinning like a spoked wheel, may we summon the fiery passion required to dance our way out of exile towards the ultimate consolation with the true and complete Redemption – now!

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