21 October 2018

It's Either One or the Other, But Not Both

12 Marcheshvan 5779

Or HaRa'ayon, Chapter 25, Havdalah continued...
...Rashbam wrote (Ex. 25:10) that "for the sake of the ark, which was the main purpose of 'They shall make Me a sanctuary' (Ex. 25:8), it was necessary to make a tabernacle." On the ark was the kaporet, the ark cover, from which emerged the two cherubs, as it says, "I will commune with you there, speaking to you from above the ark-cover, from between the two cherubs" (Ex. 25:22). Here, then, was the center of holiness in the world, the holiest place in the Holy of Holies. G-d made the cherubs to symbolize G-d's clinging to Israel, as we have learned (Yoma 54a):
     When Israel would make festival pilgrimages, the curtain would be rolled aside for them, and they would be shown the cherubs which clung to one another, and they would be told, "Observe how much you are beloved by G-d. It is like the love between a man and a woman."
The cherubs symbolized the love of G-d and Israel as if it were a male-female love, as is described in Song of Songs. The cherubs clung to one another miraculously. 
...Yet...Solomon who built the Temple symbolizing Israel's clinging to G-d and their separating themselves from unseemliness, defilement, and from the nations, turned away from holiness and went and clung to non-Jewish women, who it was a mitzvah to loath and separate oneself from, as it says, "Solomon clung to them with love" (I Kings 11:2). I have previously quoted Bamidbar Rabbah, 10:4:
     It says, "The words of King Lemuel" (Prov. 31:1). Why was Solomon called Lemuel? Yishmael said, "The very night Solomon completed work on the Temple, he wed Pharaoh's daughter Bitya, and there was rejoicing over the Temple amidst rejoicing over Pharaoh's daughter, and the latter rejoicing exceeded the former."
King Solomon was called Lemuel because he cast off the yoke of Heaven. That is, "Lemuel" connotes "lama lo E-l," "Why does he need G-d?" We see that the Temple, holiness and G-d to which he should have clung, he instead separated himself from, whereas the non-Jewish woman whom he should have separated himself from, he clung to. For this reason, evil clung to Israel, as our sages said, "When Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter, Gabriel descended and stuck a reed into the sea and raised up an island, upon which was built a Roman metropolis" (Sanhedrin 21b).
Once more we see the poetic justice of G-d's punishment to Israel: Solomon, who separated himself from the Temple's holiness, who wedded Pharaoh's daughter to ensure Pharaoh's alliance against his enemies, and who did not trust in G-d, was punished by G-d: The very day of the wedding there began to arise the enemy who ultimately destroyed the Temple and the Land. Indeed, "Only you, the ones who remained attached to the L-rd your G-d, are all alive today" (Deut. 4:4). By contrast, when we turn away from clinging to G-d, we see fulfilled, "For our soul is bowed down to the dust, our belly clings [davka] to the earth" (Ps. 44:26).
The opposite of devekut, clinging, is havdalah, separation, refusal to cling to something. ...King David said, "I will set no base thing before my eyes. I hate the doing of crooked things. It shall not cling to me" (Ps. 101:3). Thus, the refusal to cling to any object connotes a wish to be separated from it, as G-d said to Moses and Aaron, "Separate yourselves from this community" (Num. 16:21). This is the basic principle of havdalah.
G-d decreed upon holy Israel that they must be separated from impurity and from impure nations. The idolatry and foreign culture of the nations cannot coexist with G-d's Torah or with G-d Himself. It, therefore, says, "You shall be holy to Me, for I, the L-rd, am holy, and I have separated you out from among the nations to be Mine" (Lev. 20;26). Our sages comment, "'I have separated you out from among the nations to be Mine': If you are separated from the nations, then you are Mine, otherwise, you belong to Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylonia and his associates" (Torat Kohanim, Kedoshim, 9).
To be continued, iy"H...


  1. Beautiful post. His taking so many foreign women was his undoing and therefore, eventually, the nation split when Yeravan Ben Nevat (house of Yosef/Ephraim) usurped the kingdom where the 10 tribes joined him and are lost forever. How strange, hard to understand when he was blessed with such wisdom and yet was so very 'foolish'.

  2. Speaking of havdalah... Is this the final split between chardal and DL that has been decades in the making?

    1. Bennet's a snake in the grass. Can't stand him.