Bleeding Curtain Miracle
on excerpts from a discourse by
the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the "Tzemech
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn
Parshat Va'eschanan, Ohr
by Rabbi David Rothschild
I. Vessel Breach
Making Supernal Man
Folly's Free Lunch
III. First Temple
IV. Second Temple
Part I. Vessel Breach
Midrash on Lamentations states, "G-d overlooks idol worship, adultery and
murder but He doesn't forgive the neglect of Torah study." A verse confirms
this remarkable assertion, "Why does the land perish, and is it incinerated
like a wilderness that none passes through? And G-d says, 'Because they have forsaken
My Torah.'" (Jeremiah 9:11-12) Cardinal sins aren't listed as the grounds
for exile, only the failure to learn Torah.
The Talmud adds,
"The Second Temple was destroyed due to neglect of Torah study and gratuitous
hatred." G-d provided a sign to prove the point. When the Roman General Titus
slashed the ark's curtain, blood miraculously spurted from the gash. Tosafot comments,
"This was to serve as notification of the severity in which G-d regarded
the Temple's devastation."
At first glance, one wonders
what is the relevance of blood to Titus's deed. The explanation is that G-d indicated
to the Jews what their transgressions brought about.
Let us illustrate this concept with an example from
the physical blood that flows inside the body's limbs. Within the blood resides
the soul's lowest level, the Animating Soul (Nefesh). The abode of the Nefesh
is inside the liver, from whence it ejects spiritual light and life-force into
the blood. Should a limb be punctured, blood spurts forth. Previously, the blood
was contained within the confines of the limb, but now it gushes outward.
it is concerning the Alm-ghty, who is called "the Living G-d." While
certainly G-d neither has a body nor resembles one, nevertheless the analogy does
apply to realms of Divinity.
In the World of Emanation (Atzilut), shine G-d's
Ten Attributes, called sefirot. A sefira is constructed of an inner element, its
light, and an outer one, its vessel. Just as a person's soul is enclothed within
his limbs, so, too, the vessels of the sefirot encase their lights. Kabbala's
oldest text, The Book of Formation, is explicit in its comparison: "The attribute
of Kindness (Chesed) is the right arm," and, "You have made for the
sefirot a number of bodies."
When Jews perform the 248
positive commandments, their physical actions "make" the supernal vessels
above. How is this possible-weren't the sefirot previously emanated directly by
G-d? Genesis's six-day creation process actually refers to the emotive attributes'
Kabbala states that G-d established Emanation's
sefirot in a perfected state. However, this only applies to their natural functioning.
That is, the worlds' life-force is processed by further sets of sefirot, which
operate in the Lower Three Worlds. These low-level sefirot originate from Emanation's
template attributes. In this manner, the universe continues to function.
G-d's Infinity isn't revealed in the world. It remains hidden above. How can it
be brought below? This, Chassidus explains, is the meaning of "making"
in our daily prayers a verse uttered by King David: "L-rd, Yours is the Kindness
(Chesed), the Might (Gevurah), the Splendor (Tiferet), the Victory (Netzach),
and the Majesty (Hod)." (Chronicles 29:10) Enumerated here are five of Emanation's
six attributes. One of the principles of Kabbala is that each seferah includes
an aspect of all ten sefirot. For example, Kindness is subdivided into ten sub-sefirot.
Its highest sub-seferah is Wisdom of Kindness; its lowest is Kingship of Kindness.
verse informs us that the Egyptian exile commenced when Jacob brought his extended
family to Egypt: "All the people of Jacob's household who came to Egypt [were]
seventy." (Genesis 46:27) These seventy souls' spiritual source is the seventy
sub-sefirot of Emanation's emotive attributes.
accounts for the above-mentioned statement that the observance of positive commandments
"makes" Emanation's sefirot. For, by means of their performance, an
unprecedented feat is accomplished, namely, G-d shines forth new, additional Infinite
Light down into Emanation's vessels. There it is guarded as a "hidden treasure"
until Messianic Times, when the world will be a consummate vessel, able to receive
the revelation of the Infinite Light.
According to the natural
progression of Divinity, Emanation had been relegated only "low-level"
Infinity. Through observance of the mitzvot, however, Emanation obtained a greater
magnitude of Light than was its due. In this sense, the practice of mitzvot "makes"
aforementioned newly acquired Infinite Light is deposited exclusively in the realm
of Divinity. Its vessels restrain the Light from shining outward, just as a body's
limbs hold back the overflow of its spiritual light and life-force.
spiritual forces extant in non-holy domains have no access to this Light. Rather,
their vitality is suckled from an extraneous spiritual waste-matter that sinks
below. Chassidus compares the method of their nurture to a person who doesn't
want to give an object to someone else but must. What does he do? He tosses it
backward over his shoulder. In a like manner, a most diminished residue of vitality
sustains denizens of impure domains.
What happens when one of the Torah's 365 prohibitions
is violated or if a person deliberately fails to perform one of the positive mitzvot?
His transgression produces a blemish and deficit in the King's body - the supernal
vessels. Zohar finds support in Isaiah's final verse, "those who violate
Me." (Isaiah 66:24)
One of Emanation's emotive sub-sefirot
is punctured. Now, Light that had been reserved for Divinity, oozes out of the
wound. Evil receives an unearned ration, empowering it with unbounded energy.
to Part II