RAV BRAZIL PARSHAS SHELACH תשע"ו
We find in the parsha after the sin of the Meraglim, the parsha of wine libations that accompany the daily sacrifices, which is followed by the parsha of challah. Their juxtaposition conveys that these two mitzvos are a tikkun for the sin of the Meraglim. Let us try to explain how these two served as a tikkun for that chait and a message to us today.
Chassidus explains that these Meraglim who were true tzaddikim, feared to lose the Hashgachas Hashem that accompanied them during the desert. After all there they constantly were surrounded by the miracles of the Maan, Beair, and the clouds of Glory. Hashem took care of all their needs, and all they had to do was to learn Torah undistracted. Coming to Eretz Yisrael would necessitate their departure from a Gan Eden life into one of working for one’s sustenance and livelihood, and consequently spirituality would suffer.
To put their intentions into one word they wanted to live in a world expired from this materialistic world. They wanted to be malachim without a body so they would not be distracted by their physical cravings and only focus and pay attention to their neshamos. But this was far from Hashem’s intention. Man was created from the earth in order to elevate and hallow it through his bechirah. Hashem has plenty of malachim in his heavenly spheres. He doesn’t need more. Rather he desires man through his bechirah to struggle and take upon himself the challenges in order to sanctify his body and senses until he transforms them into spirituality. As the Baal Shem Tov explains the passuk ''השמים שמים לה' that Hashem made the heavens spiritual, 'והארץ נתן לבני אדם' but the earth Hashem gave to man to make it spiritual. “Freebees” from Hashem, the Maan, Beeir and the Clouds of Glory just doesn’t make the grade nor serve the purpose of creation. Entering Eretz Yisrael does.
One has to be inspired by the employment of the body into the service of Hashem. A korban is burnt on the mizbaiach and it ascends upwards to the heavens. The wine libations are poured on the south western side of the mizbaiach through a hole that descended all the way deep to the Tehom where the deep waters lie. The gemarah says (Sukkah 49) that one opinion states that Hashem dug these holes at the beginning of creation and it is hinted in the first word of the Torah בראשית which spells ברא שית Hashem created the Shittin. The avodah of the wine libations therefore convey that Man must strive to go deep into the earthliness of his physical being and into the materialism of the world and elevate them, harness their powers and his instincts, and utilize them for avodas Hashem.
Hashem addresses the creation of Man with נעשה אדם let us make Man. Hashem was addressing the universe that every creation shall give a part of itself and become a partner in the creation of Man. So if Man elevates himself the microcosm of the world then the entire universe will also be elevated together with him.
Dovid Hamelech says in Tehillim מבשרי אחזה אלק from my flesh I will see Hashem. One can see G-dliness from his body if he looks hard enough and he learns lessons from the wisdom that Hashem displays in its daily functions. ורדו בארץ וכבשוה go down into the earth but conquer it. Just don’t allow it to conquer you.
After one becomes inspired over his new mission of sanctifying the physical, he must commit to perspire fulfilling those opportunities and challenges that he constantly encounters on this journey. This is symbolized by the mitzvah of taking Challah from one’s dough. Taking challah is a open statement that one realizes that the source ראשית of everything comes from Hashem and therefore it goes back to Hashem and to those who perform the service for Him in the Bais Hamikdash. When one is attached to the source he experiences the deep energy of spirit that emanates from Hashem. There one does not find himself with rote conduct or mechanical fulfillment of mitzvos. Just like in the Bais Hamikdash we find that the Lechem Hapanim remained fresh eight days later after its placement on the Shulchan, as the day it was first placed on it. This was because it was before Hashem’s Shechinah, the source, and there nothing ever gets stale.
The Ben Ish Chai writes that for this reason we call the bread baked for Shabbos חלה for it symbolizes the לחם הפנים that was removed and replaced every Shabbos. When this episode took place our Chazal say that one could actually see that the Lechem Hapanim was fresh because of its three qualities חם לח הבל the acronym of חלה. It remained hot, it was still moist, and steam was rising from it. The mitzvah of taking challah is to remind the Yid that when he takes the earthen produce such as grain and connects it to the ראשית its source Hashem Yisbarach by taking challah, he should do it with enthusiasm, heat and excitement to the point of sweating הבל. So too, unlike the Meraglim, one must be not run away from earthly challenges but rather embrace them as they come, and strive to elevate them to their source which is Hashem. To conquer one’s yetzer harah will many times involve and demand an expense of tremendous energy and sweat, but this is what avodah is all about, to take on the challenge and consecrate its earthliness.
If one performs mitzvos on cruise control without any input of neshamah, without the fire of enthusiasm and simcha, he leaves the gateway of avodah zarah open for himself. Rote behavior with mitzvos performance, creates detachment of oneself in their fulfillment, boredom sets in, allowing the yetzer harah and outside influence a gateway to take control of your bechirah. The goyim are compared to water as the passuk in Shir Hashirim says מים רבים לא יוכלו לכבות את האהבה the many waters cannot extinguish Yisrael’s love. The Megaleh Amukos writes רבים is the acronym of the four Galuyos רומי בבל יון מדי. The fire that one possesses while doing mitzvos evaporates the water, the yetzer harah, and the influence of the cultures that bring one to avodah zarah and all its facets. This is hinted by the passuk that comes right after the mitzvah of challah which Rashi interprets to mean avodah zarah (15,22). What is the connection between the two? The answer is the above, that if we fill ourselves with excitement and geshmak symbolized by חלה when we fulfill the will of Hashem, then we will be protected from falling into avodah zarah and the culture that attempts to drown us in its waters.
The word בראשית possesses the word אשרי plus the letters of בת. The last word in the Torah is ישראל which also possesses the word אשרי with the addition of the letter ל. The Chasam Sofer writes that the message here is that Torah is surrounded from beginning to end with the feeling of אשרי how fortunate we are to possess the Torah. However, being this feeling of אשרי truly comes about with the fulfilling of mitzvos that carry with it לבת the flame of excitement, simcah, and enthusiasm. Whatever it takes let us keep the fire burning.