Friday, December 25, 2009

So is height everything or not?

A quick summary of a nice sicha in chelek yud for parshas vayigash:

It says that when Yosef revealed his identity to his brothers, he and Binyomin hugged, and cried on each other's neck. Why is the term for Binyomin's neck in the plural form? Rashi explains that Yosef cried for the destruction of the two Batei Mikdash that would be built in Binyomin's portion of Eretz Yisroel, and Binyomin was crying for the destruction of Mishkan Shiloh that would later be built in Yosef's portion.

  • Why were they not crying for their own destroyed Temples?
  • How does the neck symbolize a Beis HaMikdash?
Glad you asked.
The Beis Hamikdash was built at the top of the world, on the Har HaBayis. It wasn't at the very peak, though. There was a spring (Ein Itam) that was 23 amos higher than it.
  • If height is everything, why wouldn't the Beis HaMikdash's location be at the highest part of the mountain?
  • If height does not show importance, why did it need to be located on a high altitude to begin with?
The sages have a saying that the most beautiful part of the ox is its neck.

  • What's so special about a neck? How could it be on a higher level than the head?
Glad you asked that, as well.
The head is meant to accomplish two things. To give chayus to the rest of the body, and to send its intellect down to the heart to create midos and such.
If not for the neck, the body would get no Hashpa'ah from the head. So the point of the neck is an intermediary between the head and the body, and in view of the whole working machine, in a way is more important.

Our body is a microcosm of the world around us. Our nefesh haElokis is our own small Beis Hamikdash. The purpose is to spread the G-dly light of our soul into the rest of our body. Our head represents the part of our neshama which is a pure piece of G-d, but which has no relation to our nefesh habahamis and guf. The neck represents the very purpose of our neshama coming into our body, not to remain in its own G-dly holiness, but to postively effect our body and refine our animalistic soul.

Okay, so we still didn't explain why Yosef and Binyomin were not crying for their own destroyed Temples. Let's add a similar question:
  • When Yosef reunites with his father Yakov in this week's parsha, Yosef cries on his father's neck, but Yakov sheds no tears. Rashi says it was because he was saying Shema, but the Zohar says simply the reason Yosef was crying was again for the Beis HaMikdash. According to the Zohar, why wasn't Yakov crying for the Beis HaMikdash, as well? To Rashi's explanation for Yakov's lack of tears, it is a compliment of his great control over his emotions; he overcame the surge of emotions caused by reuniting with his son after so many years, and was still able to concentrate and say the Shema. But according to the Zohar- Yakov did not cry at all for the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash!?!?
The answer is simple, but its simplicity does not reduce its powerful message.
Crying only makes you feel better. It doesn't solve the problem. (Unless they are tears of tshuva...) As the saying goes, you don't cry over spilt milk. What do you do? You clean it up, that's what.
Yosef didn't cry over his own Churban, because it was in his portion, and he couldn't waste time crying about it. For the Churban of the Batei Mikdash in Binyomin's portion, sure Yosef could help in little ways. However, at the end of the day, it's something only Binyomin has the ability to fix and take care of.
Yakov is the father of all Israel, so the Beis Hamikdash for which Yosef was crying over when they reunited, was in Yakov's portion obviously, so Yakov didn't waste any time crying. He started working on fixing the problem. What was he doing?
He was saying Shema! Our tefillos are in the place of Karbanos. One who recites the Shema is as if he brought an Olah Offering.

The Rebbe says that when one sees a spiritual Churban happening inside your friend, you must try and help him, and rebuke him (in a soft way), if need be. Ultimately, though, to correct your bad behavior is upon you and you alone. Others can only cry for you, and daven on your behalf.

Another lesson is that even though the Avos saw with Ruach HaKodesh that the Temples would be destroyed, they still did everything in their power to rip up this bad decree. A similar story we find with Chizkiah HaMelech, who was told from a Prophet!! that he would die for his misconduct. Chizkiah turned to the wall, prayed, did Tshuva, and lived 15 more years!!

Anyway, it turns out this was more of a chazarah of the whole sicha, instead of a summary. Sorry for tricking you. I wasn't expecting to go on for this long, but hey, got carried away.

Have a Good Shabbos!