The female is inherently
superior to the male. It is in her power to create life. The male cannot
create life. Yet, in this world, the female needs the male and must receive
from him in order to manifest her ability to create. In Messianic times,
the female’s superiority will be apparent.
Deed, the practical fulfillment
of the Divine will, is superior to study and Divine awareness, love and
awe. Yet in this world “study is superior, since it leads to [and cultivates]
deed.” In the future, the superiority of deed will be apparent.
approached [Yosef] and said to him, “In me (usually translated as “please”),
One of the major differences
between the Temples that stood in Jerusalem and the Tabernacle that the
Israelites constructed in the desert was in the way they were built. The
Temples were made almost entirely of stone and earth, while the Tabernacle
was made with (cedar) wood and covered with animal skins. The only appearance
of earth in the Tabernacle was on its floor.
The reason for this difference
is as follows:
As is known, every level
of reality contains the four elements:
“that which grows”),
Animal (chai, “alive”)
and Human (medaber,
“able to speak”).
[The Four Elements: In human terms, for example,
Mineral corresponds to thought, speech and action, which are “inanimate”
and, unlike emotion or intellect, are unable to produce additional thought,
speech and action. They are also compared to the letters of speech and
thought, which are “inanimate” vessels for the ideas and feelings they
contain. (Sefer Yetzirah calls letters “stones.” See essay on Kee Savo.)
Vegetable/Growth corresponds to emotions—love, fear etc.—which
experience “growth,” i.e., maturation, as the person matures. They also
“grow” in intensity as one ponders and contemplates the beauty and desirability
of a thing, or, conversely, the destructiveness and repulsiveness of a
thing. The angels also are described as grass, i.e., Vegetable, since
they experience emotion—love and awe of G-d. They also experience growth,
i.e., their stature increases when they are engaged in song or the fulfillment
of some mission (see Mi Kamocha 5629). Animal, or Chai (translated
not as animal but as “alive”) corresponds to intellect, which “gives
life to all that possess it” (Ecclesiastes 7:12). (See Likkutei Torah,
Chukat 58a; Torat Chaim pp. 19d – 22b.)
The Human, unique in his ability to speak, corresponds
to Kesser (Crown), the essence of the soul, whence the ability
to speak—and thus the letters and words of speech—stem. For it is speech
whose entire being exists solely for the other, so that one can communicate
to others. And it is in “leaving” itself and serving others that the soul’s
essence and infinity is expressed. As long as it is self-contained, even
in the loftiest thoughts, it has not transcended its limited self. Thus
the Human is referred to by his ability to speak (medaber), not
his ability to think.
In the four letters of G-d’s Name, Y-H-V-H, the first
letter, Yud, corresponds to Human, Hey to Animal, Vav
to Vegetable, and the second Hey to Mineral. In sefiros,
Human is Chochmah, Animal is Binah, Vegetable is Chesed through Yesod
(the six emotions), and Mineral is Malchus.]
Heaven and Earth
Now, in the natural order,
Man is the highest and Mineral the lowest. But in the origin of things,
Mineral is highest. For the final product is the first image in the mind
of the creator. Later comes the conception of the steps necessary to achieve
the final product. So what we perceive to be the “highest” worlds are
in fact lower than our own, since ours is the “first image” in the eye
of the Creator, and for whose creation all previous worlds come into being.
Hence the opinion of Beis
Hillel, who maintain that the creation of Earth “preceded” that of Heaven—i.e.,
conceptually. The creation of Heaven may have been first in the chronology
of the world of Action—the world referred to by Beis Shammai, when they
say that Heaven preceded Earth—but in the world of Thought, Earth came
first. (Their debate centers on which aspect to emphasize. See Chagigah
12a; Beyond the Letter of the Law p. 275).
So if Mineral is lowest
in this world, it is highest in its original, conceptual manifestation.
This accounts for the puzzling fact that the ground, the lowest element,
has the capacity to produce its “superior,” the Vegetable kingdom, which
in turn has the ability to sustain its superiors, Animal and Man. For
as we read in the Lecho Dodi prayer, “the final deed was first in thought”—thus
the “lowest” element precedes all others and therefore sustains them.
[It is for this reason that through talking, a seemingly inferior
faculty, the “superior” faculties of intellect and emotion are intensified
and enhanced. When one verbalizes a thought, one gains deeper insight
into the matter. When one articulates an emotion, that feeling is intensified.
Hence the paramount station of speech in Jewish law—the prayers must be
enunciated verbally and the study of Torah must be performed with the
mouth, not only with the brain. For, as explained, the ability to speak,
the “inanimate” letters of speech stem from the essence of the soul, and
are therefore inherently superior to the intellect and emotions they contain.
(See English translation of Yom Tov Shel Rosh Hashanah 5659, introduction
and p.30ff; Sefer Hamaamarim Melukat 3:194; LS 6:116.)]
Tabernacle and Temple
Now the Tabernacle was
only a temporary dwelling of the Divine manifestation and therefore reflects
the reality of the “order” of worlds, where highest precedes lowest, and
Earth is lowest. Thus its floor was Earth, its walls Vegetable, and its
roof Animal, following the order of “Heaven precedes Earth.”
But the Temples—permanent
dwellings, as in the verse “this is my dwelling forever” [as opposed
to the Tabernacle which moved from place to place]—were
a taste of true reality: the reality of things as they exist in their
source, the reality that will pervade in the Messianic era, the seventh
millennia, the Shabbos of history.
At that time, the hierarchy
of existence will be seen as it is in the world of Thought, where “Earth
precedes Heaven.” The “woman of valor [will be] a crown to her husband”
(Proverbs 12:4), since “woman,” i.e., Malchus [which is called “female” because it receives from the “higher” sefiros],
will be seen as it is in its source as being above ZA [the six
sefiros of Chesed through Yesod, which are the “male” aspect of the ten
sefiros], the higher sefiros.
Thus the Temple, the permanent
dwelling, was constructed primarily of stone and earth, the lowest element,
since is represented the Messianic reality when Malchus, or Mineral, will
be seen as supreme. (The Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 4a) therefore
sees wickedness in Cyrus’ instruction that the walls of the Temple be
constructed of three tiers of stone and a fourth of wood.
(The Talmud says his intention was that “if they rebel,
I will set it on fire.” On a deeper level, though, the use of wood in
itself ran contrary to what the Temple was to represent. (Though Solomon
used wood as well, this was done in a different way—see Talmud ibid.))
The inherent supremacy
of Mineral is apparent even now in its humility. Unlike the Vegetable
kingdom, which produces tall and proud trees, the earth is trodden upon
by the feet of all. This selflessness is an expression of its lofty source.
Yosef and Yehudah
Yosef and Yehudah are Heaven
and Earth, Vegetable and Mineral. Yosef, which means to increase, embodies
growth. He is like the towering cedar tree that reaches the greatest heights.
He is ZA of Atzilus, the “emotions” of the sefiros, which, as mentioned,
experience growth. Yehudah, on the other hand, represents Malchus of Atzilus,
the selfless and “inanimate” sefirah. Hence his name Yehudah, from the
word hoda’ah, acknowledgement and humilty.
Now in the natural order,
Yosef is above Yehudah, since Malchus receives from ZA. Thus Yosef is
the vizier of Egypt who provides sustenance to all. Yehudah, like Malchus,
is the recipient. He therefore approaches Yosef and says “in me, my master,”
i.e., let the light of ZA enter Malchus. As the Zohar writes, “And
he approached—this is the coming together of one world to another.”
Namely, the lower world, Malchus approaches the highter world, ZA, to
be sustained and cultivated. As in the Tabernacle, Vegetable transcends
Mineral. [This was the fulfillment of Yosef’s dream in which all the tribes “gather
bundles,” which then turn and bow to Yosef’s bundle. This represented
the need for the tribes, represented by Yehudah, to come to Yosef to achieve
“the second refinement” (Vayigash 5670). See essay on Vayeishev,
But in the Messianic era,
Yehudah will rise beyond Yosef, the woman of valor will be the crown of
her husband, since the final deed is first in thought. The selflessness
of Yehudah will be revealed to be superior to the love and awe of Yosef.
Hence we read in the haftorah
that Yosef and Yehudah will in the future come together and “my servant
Dovid will rule over them forever”—Dovid, of the tribe of Yehudah, will
be seen as superior to Yosef.
(This explains a story
in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 102a, end) regarding Yerovam, the formerly righteous king of Israel
who led the secession of the ten tribes from Judah and Benjamin and their
descent into idolatry: The Holy One blessed be He grabbed the garment
of Yerovam son of Nevot and said to him, “Repent! Then I, you, and [Dovid]
son of Yishai will stroll together in the Garden of Eden.” Said Yerovam,
“And who will be first?” “The son of Yishai,” came the reply. “Then I
am not interested,” said Yerovam.
Yerovam, who descended
from Yosef, wished to maintain the status quo, where Yosef transcends
Yehudah. He did not have the humility to accept the Messianic condition
when the son of Yishai will precede him.) (Torah Ohr)
It is known that Moshiach
is called Dovid because Dovid epitomizes selflessness and so does Moshiach.
Although Dovid was a monarch, he referred to himself as poor and destitute
(Psalms 70:6). Similarly, Moshiach, though he will be unsurpassed in greatness
and the spirit of G-d will rest upon him and he will teach Torah to the
Patriarchs and to Moshe of blessed memory—yet, he will have the ultimate
humility and he will study with simpletons.
To bring about his arrival,
a commensurate activity is required: the teaching of Torah to all, even
the ignorant and simple. And in a humble and selfless way—not for the
gains to be had from teaching, but for the sake of the recipient. This
brings closer the day when “my servant Dovid will rule over them,” may
it be now (Melukat 6:84).
& [Adapted and
summarized by Rabbi Yosef Marcus.]
a discourse of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, "the Alter Rebbe."