from a discourse of the Tzemach Tzedek by Rabbi Yossi Marcus
Moses’ words in the first
few verses of Devarim are somewhat cryptic. They appear to be a description of
some of the travels and encampments of the Israelites. But the commentators read
them as a camouflaged criticism of the nation: the names of the places mentioned
allude to the nation’s failings and sins, says Rashi.
Why the subterfuge? Rashi
explains that it was for the dignity of Israel that Moses concealed their sins in ambiguous phrases.
It has, however, been pointed out that later the leader’s reproach grows more
explicit: Rebels have you been with the G-d! Inciters have you been…! Others
therefore explain that Moses wished to gauge their openness to rebuke. When they
proved comfortable with his indirect references to their shortcomings, he dispensed
with the subtleties. But this answer, too, is not completely satisfying.
Kabbalistically, the two
modes of rebuke offered by Moses addressed two different elements within the psyche
of his listeners: the “hidden” and the “revealed.” The hidden was addressed indirectly—while
the revealed was addressed directly.
hidden and revealed
The Zohar divides the many
spiritual “worlds” into two general categories: the hidden world, alma di’iskasya and the revealed world,
alma di’isgalya. These worlds are the primordial
root of the hidden and revealed aspects of the human system.
The Divine Name Havayah,
Y-H-V-H, is thus split in two: yud-kei
and vav-kei. Yud-kei embodies the hidden world, vav-kei the revealed. The yud
embodies Chochmah (wisdom), the hei Binah (understanding). Vav-kei embodies
the revealed world: vav embodies the six emotions, hei embodies
Malchut, the lowest sephirah.
di’iskasya - alma di’isgalya. When something is called “hidden” this means that it exists
in a purer, less defined form than in “the revealed.” “Revealed” connotes a more
coarsened form of the original. Along with revelation also comes susceptibility
to corruption and the possibility that the Divine light will be improperly siphoned
by negative and dead energies.
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of
compares the hidden world to the drop, which contains, in an undefined form, all
the elements of the future human that will grow from it. As the fetus develops
within the womb, the drop is revealed and defined. The more developed the fetus,
the more “impurities“ it accrues, such as nails and hair (which are “dead” entities.)
When it is completely formed it begins to excrete, whereas as long as it is in
the womb it does not excrete.
Similarly, in the hidden
world there are no impurities. In the revealed world, especially in the lowest
elements thereof, impurity and “death” can find a home.
In this way Rabbi Schneur
Zalman explains a Talmudic rule regarding the various formulas of the blessings.
The Talmud states that a short blessing begins with boruch (blessed) but
need not end in boruch. A long blessing, by contrast, begins and “is sealed”
with boruch. Kabbalistically, the short blessing, which says much in few
words, corresponds to the hidden world, where all exists in undefined form. The
long blessing corresponds to the revealed world, where all is spelled out. Now
the word boruch, which in its deeper meaning means to draw forth, evokes
the drawing forth of the energy of whatever is spoken of in the blessing. Thus
the longer blessing, which evokes the Divine energies of the revealed world, requires
a boruch at its end to “seal” the blessing and ensure that these energies
are directed to proper and holy channels. By contrast, the blessing that evokes
the energies of the hidden world needs only one boruch in the beginning
to begin the flow.
(Ironically, the lack of
impurity in the hidden world often appears to us in a negative light. Rabbi Schneur
Zalman explains in his Tanya
that all that occurs in this world is generated from on High. The misfortunes
that a person experiences do not stem from an evil place but rather from “the
hidden world.” When the energies of the hidden world are expressed in this world
they may take the form of what we consider “misfortune.” The Talmud therefore
states that one should accept all situations cheerfully: those perceived as good
as well as those perceived as bad.
Thus King David proclaims:
“Happy is the man whom You chastise, O G-d.”
The Name of G-d used in this verse is Yud-kei, since it is Yud-kei, the hidden
world, that generates what we perceive as chastisement.)]
The soul of man, which is
created in the Divine image, also possesses a hidden and revealed world. One aspect
of the soul, the “hidden world” remains aloof from the body, while the other aspect,
the “revealed world” manifests itself inside the body.
The Kabbala describes the
soul as having five attributes, which in turn are divided in two:
Chayah and Yechidah are
the aspects of the soul that remain beyond the body, while Nefesh Ruach
and Neshamah are manifest within it.
Chayah and Yechidah are
alluded to in the Yud of Havayah. Chayah is the body of the Yud, while Yechidah
is represented in the sarif at the tip of the Yud. (Yechidah, which means “alone”
and “unique,” is the most sublime aspect of the soul and is therefore alluded
to in a mere sarif, since its sublimity all but escapes expression.) Nefesh,
Ruach and Neshamah are represented in the other three letters: the
vav and the two heis.
So Moses’ indirect rebuke
addressed the Chayah Yechidah of the people—as our sages say, “the wise [need
only] a hint”—while
the direct rebuke addressed their coarser element, which is manifest in the body
and animal soul, Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshamah.
av”a and zu”n
In kabbalistic terminology,
Moses’ indirect rebuke is described as rooted in Gevurah (strength, judgement)
of Av”a. Its purpose was to rectify the Av”a of the nation. The direct rebuke,
by contrast, stems from Gevurah of Zu”n and served to rectify the Zu”n of the
[Av”a is an acronym for
Abba and Imma, literally father and mother, referring to Chochmah and Binah, wisdom
and understanding, which are considered the “parents” of the emotions. Av”a refers
to the mind of a being and is therefore called “the hidden world.”
Zu”n is an acronym Z”a and
Nukva. Z”a in turn is an acronym for Ze’er Anpin, which is an appellation for
the six basic emotions. Nukva, meaning female, refers to the lowest sephirah Malchut.
The six emotions as well as Malchut, which is identified with action, are called
“the revealed world,” since their activities are more apparent to an outsider,
while the activities of the mind are hidden.]
all of israel
This explains an enigma
in the first verse of Devarim, “And these are the words that Moses spoke to all
of Israel.” The biblical commentator Klei Yakar points out that this is one of
two instances in the Torah where Moses is described as addressing “all
of Israel.” Why so? According to the above it is understood that the verse means
to say that with his words Moses addressed all of Israel, meaning every
aspect of their being. (Indeed the Hebrew word for all, kol, is
made up of a kof and lamed, which equal 20 and 30 repsectively.
The kof therefore alludes to the two hidden aspects of the soul, Chayah
and Yechidah, while the lamed alludes to the three revealed aspects, Nefesh,
Ruach and Neshamah.)