Friday, September 7, 2012

Shem My Lover! The Four Beloved of Hashem

Parashat Ki Savo: Explaining Shem Through the Craftsmen
Rabbi David Katz
In this week’s Parsha, the verse [Devarim 26:12] states: “You shall give to the Levite, to the Ger, to the Orphan, and to the Widow,” all in the manner of sacred tithes. Hashem “states” through various works of Midrash that these four archetype characters are to be considered of those whom Hashem loves especially dearly. Conversely, The Jew of the “particular command” is said to possess the maidservant, manservant, son and daughter, all of whom the Jew holds dear to his heart. Thus Hashem is said to express, “when you take care of the four of whom I love, I will take care of the four that you Love as well.” [where applicable] With an astute contemplation of the nature of these four that Hashem Loves, one can see that they carry a significant weight, not only in the eyes of Hashem, but into Torah thought as well, even going directly to Shem in an ultimate sense. The missing component to arrive to these conclusions is to view them in the context of Shem, his Torah, and ultimately the enigmatic passage of the Four Craftsmen of Redemption [Sukkah 52b], which states that the Redemption is equipped with Four Redeemer types. [The Four are: Messiah son of David, …son of Joseph, Elijah, and the Righteous Priest (Shem); Shem even has a share of each role in its root, for we see Shem exist in each setting at various stages of the Torah.]
The Levite is a direct hint to Shem, for the Levite is the original “Priest” as Levi was [a Levi and] brought to God upon his birth in order to receive his name, and it is said that the angel Gabriel was the agent of delivery to Heaven. This would show that the Levite has a particular channel of which to reach Heaven and stand erect in an upper domain. This concept is not utterly unique, for Shem fulfills this role in its inception, for in Shem’s meeting with Abraham at the Temple Mount, it is brought down in the Zohar that within Shem was the presence of the angel Michael, in a very similar fashion as explained for Levi. Thus if the Levite is paradigm of one of the Four Craftsmen, then Shem would fit the bill as the Righteous Priest. The Talmud goes on to state that in the future each of the Four Craftsmen roles will evolve to a higher revelation, thus the Priest will receive in elevation. It is to this respect that the Arizal [Kabalah Master of Tzfat approx. 1600] says in the times of Messiah, the Priest will be routed to the left side rallying around the Levite as opposed to the traditional knowledge of the Priest [of the right side], hence the “Levite” as an aspect of “one of four” [Craftsmen], and Shem ever the unique one would serve to facilitate this shift of protocol.
The Ger is a hint to King David, as King David literally refers to himself as a Ger in his Tehilim. This was foreseen, as stated by several commentaries that in the future King David is to return as the Messiah, only then he will no longer be bound to the Tribe of Judah, for Judah will have existed as the Tribe of Kingship solely to produce a David. [Interestingly David will find life through the Levite, as the commentaries go on to explain that David as the Messiah will exist through a reincarnation of Moses as well, who is a well-known Levite, based on the verse in Genesis: “Until Shiloh Comes”; Shiloh has the same Gematria as Moses.] Thus the future condition of Kingship [through David] will be expressed through a Ger [“conversion”] component, as no longer a faction of Judah. The Prophet Ezekiel prophesies, “I will raise another David” [to be Messiah; through reincarnation]
The Orphan is a hint of Joseph, as Joseph “grew up” in Egypt as an Orphan in figurative terms, and this hints at the Messiah son of Joseph as the representation within the Four Craftsmen. Joseph was devoid of all of his family during his rise in Egypt. The connotation of Joseph as an orphan is to view him as all alone. Fittingly the Judge of the future [and Messiah son of Joseph] will be from the soul root of Pinchas, of whom it is said, he will be a judge alone on the level of an entire Sanhedrin, due to his supreme scholarship, and thus resembling an Orphan.
And finally we have the Widow who is epitomized by the Prophet, more importantly Elijah the Prophet. We see Elijah as the paradigm prophet and easily depicted with context of a widow. To make the comparison work, Elijah in the Midrash is often compared to Moses in terms of quality of prophecy to some capacity. Further view of Moses will yield insight into the widow, as Moses was forced to divorce his wife in order to remain holy at all times for the sake of Prophecy that could come at any moment.  Thus the metaphor of the widow is quite applicable here and even strikingly accurate, as Moses’ wife, albeit a divorcee, she would have been in effect very similar to a widow, due to the conditions of their abrupt and sour separation. The Prophet of the future will go through abrupt and severe separation to be able to serve God when the moment calls for duty. This futuristic scenario is the zealot who “sees” and “perceives” with wisdom as opposed to a superimposed vision from Hashem. Thus he will be similar to a widow in that he will suddenly find himself in a situation where familiar ground is lost in a split second; again, echoing the sense of being a widow of sorts.
All Four Craftsmen and Characters of Affection by God mentioned in the Talmud and in this Parsha can  all be directly linked back to Shem. We have mentioned Shem is the personification of the Priest and thus needs not to be further elucidated. The Ger is symbolic of Shem as well, as all future Ger [Toshav and Tzedek/Toshav] will have a direct affiliation tor Shem for the obvious reasons. Shem has a direct relationship to Kingship, as he is also called “Malki Tzedek” – My Righteous King. Shem was the lone Judge of his day as well, as the Torah says to appear before the Kohen who will judge… Shem is in a similar role when he is sought in regards of Rebecca’s pregnancy and the struggles within her womb. Thus the Orphan also relates to Shem, as Shem has been cast aside as being a rogue Torah personality, seemingly without any connection to anything, much like an Orphan – abandoned. And finally, Shem was like a widow, for he stood alone for 1300 years, a time long enough that all he knew would be long gone, and he would have lost everything, as he stood at Mt. Sinai by the grace of God. It is through the ancient quality of Shem that came along with a sense of being like a widow that his Prophetic Torah would endure and find inclusion into the Torah of Moses.
If we are to look at Shem in the macro and micro perspectives, then the Four characters of the Parsha and the Four Craftsmen ultimately go back to Shem on deeper levels. Shem in plain terms was a Priest, a King, a Judge, and a Prophet; all either literally, futuristically, or conceptually. Thus by nature Shem would identify with being a Ger, Levite, Widow, and an Orphan, again either in a future sense, literally, or conceptually. Hashem says he loves these Four and when we love them, Hashem Loves our proverbial Four. It would make sense that Shem would relate to all Four roles and characters, for Hashem states his Love for Shem, and we know this to be true in the highest sense, as the Midrash quotes God as saying, “Shem my Lover.” Shem very well may be the absolute founding father of the Love of God, to the tune that the Midrash calls Shem a perfect and Kosher Righteous soul. It is said in Shir HaShirim that the Redemption [that Shem takes part in] comes in merit of an insane Love of God. Perhaps Shem is the archetype soul that can actually bring the End, by showing us what it is to Love God, and reach a level of a healthy arousal of Love in its Time; who better to learn from than the “Shem my lover?” Through Shem there is a message of Love and to be Loved, a point the Torah stresses over and over, and in this week’s parsha, Hashem makes this request quite clear, as Jerusalem is to be inhabited by Lovers of God; Offspring of Shem literally and figuratively, beginning with Shem and Abraham in Jerusalem, with their tithes, and their mutual Love for God. Shem was exceedingly beloved by God, at least Four ways as one, and it is rather appropriate for Shem of all Torah personalities to be called originally, “Shem my lover.” This week’s Parsha is yet another illustration of encoded love in the merit of Shem.


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