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Friday, June 3, 2011

Parshat Naso by Tzvi Briks

Parshat Naso

We have found many subjects in Parshat Naso that seem to have no relationship to any of the topics covered and follow one after the other. According to the Ari’Zal all topics from their Penimiut, or internal perspective, belong with each other. The order of topics in the Parsha begins with the children of Kehat, and the children of Gershon, and the children of Merari (Levite Tribes). This is followed by the sending of the Temei’im (impure individuals) outside of the encampment. This is followed by the obligation to do Vidui (confession) on Chata’im (misdeeds) and the fine of 20% on that which was stolen after one did a Shevua (oath) on the objects stolen. This is followed by Sota (adulteress) and the drinking of the “cursed waters” (Mayim Meorerim). This is followed by matters of Nezirut (Nazirites). This is followed by the Kohanic or Priestly blessings, which is followed by the dedication of the Princes (Chanukat Hanesi’im).

First, let’s explain the children of Kehat, Gershon, and Merari. Why does the Parsha state: Take the sum of the sons (Naso ET Rosh b’nei) of Kehat and the same is stated for the sons of Gershon, but it does not state to take the sum of the sons of Merari. Rather it states as for the sons of Merari? Furthermore, why does it state pertaining to the children of Kehat and the children of Merari – by their families and by their father’s house (lemeeshpechotam leveit Avotam) whereas by the children of Gershon it states conversely, by their father’s house and their families (leveit avotam lemeeshpechotam)? It’s also surprising since the sons of Gershon are the Bechorim (firstborn) why were they not given the important work of carrying the Aron (the Holy Ark) and its Keilim (serving instruments and vessels) but it was given to the children of Kehat who were not the firstborn of the Levite tribes?

This can be explained according to the works of the Ari’Zal. The Ari’Zal explains that in every spiritual structure (koma) there are Vessels and there are Lights (Keilim VeOrot), and the Lights are divided into the Internal Light (Ohr Penimi) that illuminates within the vessel, and the Surrounding Light (Ohr Makif) that illuminates outside of the vessel. This same division was also found in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The Keilim or vessels are represented by the boards (Kerashim) which are the foundations of the House. The Ohr Penimi is represented by the Aron (the Holy Ark), the Meezbeach (Alter), the Menorah, and the Shulchan (the showbread table). The Ohr Makif is represented by the surrounding curtains (Yeriot) of the House, and the Hangings (Kela’im) that surround the Court or Yard.

According to this plan, the children of Kehat who carried the vessels of the Mishkan- their work was in the Ohr Penimi. The sons of Gershon who carried the surrounding curtains-their work was in the Ohr Makif. The sons of Merari that carried the boards – their work was in the Vessels (Keilim) themselves.

The purpose of Torah and Mitzvot in this world or dimension (called the dimension of Tikun or rectification) is to elevate the 288 sparks (Rafach Nitzotzot) that fell in the precreative process of the shattering of the vessels back to their source or root, according to the AriZal. There are 2 methods to elevate these sparks:
1. When B’nei Yisrael descended to Mitzrayim (Egypt) and elevated the sparks of holiness until it became a great wave, and also B’nei Yisrael entered into the desert in the place of “snake, serpent, and scorpion”, and in everyplace they traveled to and encamped they elevated from there the roots of Kedusha ( holiness).
2. The second method occurred on the night of the exodus from Egypt
When B’nei Yisrael could not correct all the sparks and did not have time to tarry, a great Light was revealed and the sparks of holiness cleaved to their root.
The Tikun (rectification) performed by the Korbanot (sacrifices) is the elevation of the sparks of holiness themselves by doing the Korban (sacrifice). Prayers in lieu of sacrifices do the same thing. The Tikun done by learning and doing Torah, extends the light of the Torah below, and by doing this, the roots of beneficence cleave to this great light like the flame of a candle attracted to a torch.

This, therefore, explains the 3 aspects of the tribe of the Levites positioned to serve Hashem. The children of Merari and the children of Kehat described by the scripture as “to their families to the house of their fathers”, their quintessential work was to elevate the sparks of holiness upward. “The house of their fathers” is the spiritual root from which they fell whereas “to their families” is the dissemination below with the vessels, like leaves that fall from a tree. However, there is a difference in the method of the Tikun. The children of Merari carried the vessels themselves alluding to the descent into the place of the fall and from there they elevated the 288 sparks. The job of the children of Kehat was to extend the great light from the Holy Ark and the Menorah and elevate the 288 sparks on high. However, the work of the children of Gershon was at the level of the Ohr Makif or surrounding light. The AriZal explains that the Ohr Makif surrounds the Keilim that have within them the Ohr Penimi or internal light. This therefore guards and protects the sparks in the vessels that might be tentacalized by the Chitzonim (externals, or existential forces of evil). The Ohr Makif has its root in the Keter (the sefira loosely termed as the Crown). The root of the firstborn, the children of Gershon, is also the Crown. After them the children of Kehat extend the light, and after them the children of Merari elevate the vessels themselves.

Understanding these concepts allows us to understand the rest of the Parsha. Sending out the impure outside of the 3 encampments follows the same logic. There are 3 types of Tumah (impurity):
1. The Metzorah is sent external to the 3 encampments
2. The Zav is sent external to2 of the encampments;
3. The impurity from a dead corpse (Tumat Meit) is sent external to only one encampment.
The impurity of the Metzora (severe skin dermatosis) indicates that the essence of one’s vessels has been affected indicating that the Or Penimi and Or Makif have been removed, and only then can the impurity (Tumah) control the Body of the Keilim. Therefore one is sent outside of neither the 3 encampments indicating that one does not possess an Ohr Makif or an Ohr Penimi nor any keilim.
A Zav (bloody show of the reproductive organs from a male or female not congruent with a cycle) is a Tumah that is excreted from the body internally which alludes to the removal of the lights from a person, but the Keilim have not been defected. Therefore one is sent outside of 2 encampments.
In the Tamei Meit, the lights (internal and external) have not been removed but the impurity surrounds his vessels, and therefore one is sent outside of one encampment.

Thereafter, scripture states confession after a Cheit, or sin, and the fine of 20% on a theft one makes an oath on the stolen item. Someone who sins (intentionally performs a misdeed) defects 3 things that are removed from him: internal and external lights and the Keilim that have been defected. When one does Teshuvah (return to the spiritual norm), one rectifies the keilim and returns the internal lights. The Ohr Makif, however, only returns when one performs Vidui (confession) stated out loud verbally. Then the being is complete with an Ohr Makif, an Ohr Penimi, and Keilim.
This is why the fine of 20% is added because it represents the fifth partzuf or hologram of the Keter, because it is not enough to return the stolen item which represents the Keili, the Ohr Penimi and the Ohr Makif, but one has to extend the fifth light from the Keter.

In the Sota, when she drinks the” cursed waters” in the internal aspect of her body the Ohr Penimi is removed and by shaving her hair the Ohr Makif is removed, the Mayim Meorerim can then affect her keilim directly if she sinned, and the punishment is done against the body. If she has not sinned the Ohr still stays in the Keili and there is no effect.

The Nazirite wants to ascend and separate from the pleasures of this world through 3 ways: one separates from, wine, hair cutting, and impurity of the dead. The essential will of the Nazirite is to guard oneself from materialistic attraction. Therefore, one surrounds oneself with 3 things that extend the Ohr Makif for protection. Becoming inebriated with wine removes the Ohr Makif of Holiness and in its place is the Ohr Makif of impurity. Sanctifying the hair represents the Ohr Makif, and the death of a corpse represents the Ohr Makif of impurity and avoiding it represents the Ohr Makif of Kedusha or holiness.

The Priestly blessings are where the Kohanim extend the Ohr Makif, the protective force over Klal Yisrael, in order to protect the Upper unification that is performed during Sim Shalom.

The Chanukat hanesee’im, the dedication of the Princes extends the Ohr Makif like the Keter which is the Prince of the Sefirot (Luminous emanations).

Tzvi Briks
Rosh Chodesh Sivan
Based on the work of Rav Raphael Moshe Luria, Zatza”l, translated, and abridged

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