Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wrapping up

Here's the last third of the Maamar. It's gets a bit, um, xenophobic at the end. Don't let that worry you. And don't convince yourself that it only means idolaters, and not non-Jews in general. If you want, you can take comfort in the fact that most Jews, even the most religious, come under heavy criticism in this Maamar. Why that would make someone feel better I'm not sure, but hey, whatever floats your boat, right? I hope you like it. Oh, and tomorrow we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming (whatever that is).

These two explanations of "I choose the King", that a person doesn't want even the highest spiritual emanations, but only G-d himself, and the simple meaning, that a person only serves Hashem and not idols, have a connection. The Garden of Eden is great, because it's an incredible spiritual experience, basking in the rays of divine glory. When Hashem himself is chosen though, it leads to complete nullification. If a person makes a mistake and chooses to bask, choosing pleasure in front of truth, then it can lead to a person choosing to worship false gods. He might even come to that these false gods have free choice. Idol worshipers thought that there was something to be gained from serving the sun and stars; choosing anything but Hashem, even his greatest spiritual worlds, is the same thing.
Even is someone wants the Garden of Eden specifically because it's Hashem's there is a problem, because he can come to think that Hashem gave it, or anything in the world, power to choose who to help, as was explained above. A Jew has to know that everything in the world comes only from Hashem.

The main mistake people make in serving idols is that they confuse something which is only a tool for the master. The sun and moon provide benefit for the world, but they have no choice in the matter. The benefit gotten is also mistaken. The physical world is not an ends, but rather only a means with which to serve Hashem. That's why some people choose to worship false gods, because they think that physicality is primary, and therefore they spend their lives trying to accumulate as much of it as possible. The same thing is worth the highest spiritual worlds; they too are only a means to an end, and choosing them is the first step on a slippery path to idol worship.
The source of gentiles is in the "outer will"; they only exist for another reason. They don't realize this, and think that they are the reason for existence, and from this comes the thought that whatever brings the most physical benefit also has the free choice to dispense that benefit. Jews, on the other hand, are the primary purpose of creation, and they therefore recognize that they should serve the primary, Hashem.

The Jewish people serve Hashem because of their souls and because of their intellect. The soul sees that it's source is in the inner will, that it is the purpose for which the world was created, and that affects the brain, that it too should be able to understand. From the intellect the choice in Hashem will permeate every thought, word, and action, causing a Jew to truly be a G-dly person.

King David asks Hashem in Psalm 70 to remember him. This can be explained with a parable. There was once a King who got angry at his flock of sheep (don't ask) and sent them away. At the same time he destroyed their enclosure and fired the shepherd. Later the King was reconciled toward his sheep, and brought them back. He also rebuilt their home. The shepherd wondered what was going on, and asked the King, "Hey, why haven't you rehired me?" So too David asks Hashem, from the end of Psalm 69, "You have remembered Zion and and rebuilt Judah (end of the aforementioned Psalm 69), but I have not been brought back?" Therefore David asks Hashem at the beginning of Psalm 70 to be remembered. The question is, if the King remembered the sheep, why didn't he remember their shepherd? The answer is that a person can have everything but still lack the main thing, which is a revelation of G-d. The purpose of the King is to teach Torah, and since the Torah as we have it now is nothing compared to the Torah of Moshiach, David asks Hashem to let him shepherd the Jews in this infinitely higher way.

Now we can explain the Jew's choice of Hashem and Hashem's choice of the Jews, that Hashem chooses the Jews because they are the purpose of creation, and this leads to the Jews choosing Hashem, because they recognize the truth. A Jew wants Hashem, to the exclusion of all else. Whatever Hashem wants, the Jew also wants. Since the whole purpose of creation is to make a dwelling place down here for Hashem, that is also the Jew's goal. Hashem gives physicality, and the Jew turns it into spirituality, and this will be fulfilled with the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days, Amen.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. R.S. I am very appreciative of your efforts in summarizing this maamar and elucidating some of the concepts. One of the issues of choice, and I assume this is dealt with elsewhere (a hint that you will make this avaialable as well), is the degree to which alternatives are equal. It seems to me that the choice (and I realise that this may be a little simplistic) between service of Hashem and service of idols (in the widest sense of the word) is not, for the ordinary person, a choice between equals. In fact, if anything its a very unfair choice because, in fact, at the most basic level, the idols appear a lot more attractive. Human nature is such that the familiar, the concrete, that which can readily satisfy our senses is far more appealing than the the intellectual. Even the Jews who left Egypt (mentioned in the spirit of fast approaching Pesach) chose to turn back when the physical overwhelmed them i.e. the promise of great spiritual heights to come was quickly dissipated and slavery became preferrable. My point, the physical is so much more tangible than the mystical - presumably why so many have chosen the physical. I'm interested in your comments. Leo d T.