Bleeding Curtain Miracle

Based on excerpts from a discourse by
the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the "Tzemech Tzedek,"
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn
Parshat Va'eschanan, Ohr HaTorah

by Rabbi David Rothschild

I. Vessel Breach
Curtain Slash
Bloody Wound
Luminance Limbs
Seventy Souls
Divine Residue
Transgression Travesty

II. Organ Manufacture
Curtain Slash
Making Supernal Man
Metamorphosis Exchange
Three Thoughts
Folly's Free Lunch
Light Guards

III. First Temple
Babylonian Avengers
Scholarly Sinners
Restorative Light

IV. Second Temple
Millennium Malady




Part I. Vessel Breach

Curtain Slash

The 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.

Bloody Wound

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.

Similarly 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.

Luminance Limbs

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' emanation.

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.

But 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" vessels.

Seventy Souls

We recite 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.

The 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.

This, then, 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" sefirot above.


Divine Residue

Emanation's 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.

Evil 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.

Transgression Travesty

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.


on to Part II


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