The Nut and The Rabbi
[God Willing:The Nutty-] Rabbi David Katz
Parashas Balak is a Parasha that ends with Pinchas the son of Aaron slaying Zimri and Cozbi, over threatening matters of Torah existence, by means of promoting illicit behavior between Jews and newly found Gerim. The tactic was brought out through the sorcery of Balaam and Balak, the two agents who worked together [in theory] to curse Israel's existence. The story takes about every road one can think of, and each time the antagonists run into Murphy's Law – as the worst happens at the worst time and in the worst way – at each pending curse of Balaam; they turn into Israel's greatest blessings to record. The story however, as it is told over in Jewish circles, garners little to no attention, i.e. not much creative thought is put into a character sketch as to the true nature of the men behind the masks, in Balaam and Balak. Perhaps the answer dwells in a much deeper reservoir, in that Parashas Balak's identity as a whole may require a further investigation. The answer isn't what we think Pinchas saw with his eyes [as the verse says "Pinchas saw"], rather it's what his mazal [spiritual eyes] saw; and once we can open our eyes into that reality, the masks come off. The outcome is simple: once we can see through Balak and Balaam, the keys to ultimate reality are found in an obscure passage in the Talmud's Chagigah…"of the nut and the rabbi."
To start off the fireworks, the Mystic of Tzfat "The Arizal" [d. 1572] writes in his commentary of these Parshiot [Balak and Pinchas] that through a series of gematria [numerical value] in association with Pinchas' zeal, we arrive to a number of "453." This number has several highly spiritual undertones, as not only is it the value of "King Messiah" but it also rings a bell in the direction of Song of Songs 6:11. The verse there says, "I went down to the garden  of nuts, to look at the green plants of the streams, to see whether the vine has budded, if the pomegranates were in flower." Now that the Arizal has enlightened our eyes into this verse and location, the Vilna Gaon commentary is, with all things being equal, quite apropos.
The Vilna Gaon in his epic commentary of Song of Songs, illustrates key points in our verse, namely analogy of the nut and its deeper significance. He brings the Talmud Chagigah that compares the nut to Torah scholars, or rabbis. In Kabbalistic literature, there is a concept of Holiness, and shells [Klippot]. The nut is the greatest example of this concept, for it contains all of the necessary components to drive the imagery presented by the rabbis. Thus the nations are compared to the nut, and the rabbi is symbolic of a Jew who has a tradition of Torah passed down in his midst. The comparison of the nations and the nut, is explained as its contents beyond the shells, contain something holy and pure inside, but remains a mystery until it sprouts up and becomes prominent in the eyes of its beholder. The Vilna Gaon continues through the verse keeping shape, until arriving to a clear telling over of the fate of all of Israel; the same Israel that is expressed in the Four-Headed Letter Shin that is composed of Priests, Levites, Israelites, and Gerim.
The nut and the rabbi have two things in common: both can get dirty, and when they do, it does not spoil the inner contents, and the nut and the rabbi need not get dirty. Should they no longer become soiled on their exterior, their inner holiness can shine through, and they are both appropriately "Kruvim" – the angelic man, seen in one mutual holy light. The rabbi and the nut were just a necessary means of explaining the fallen state of man, and, as is known until the World is repaired, the world is somewhat dimmed. The rabbi has been given Torah, but no knowledge of "Kruv" and thus his exterior is emboldened with, "I am black, but I am beautiful" as King Solomon writes. The Ger knows of Kruv, but without Torah, he is destined to become sullied, and with a hardened stance, as he waits for his contents to be explained to him. For the Ger is the classic ugly duckling, whose redemption will reveal his swan song – when he can finally sing his angelic praise to God as a proper Kruv. Both men are profusely blessed in Creation while being severely limited in their fallen state. The Light of the Messiah will unite the Full House of Israel, and disregard the monikers of the old rabbi and nut imagery – replaced with a mutual status that is symbolic in the Torah of two Kruvim donning the cover of the Ark of the Covenant. Through Mazal and Torah as one – this reality will be achieved.
The traditional "three headed letter shin" as the Gaon details, represents three types of Jews/"rabbis" – the wise man, investigator, and the one who seeks to fulfill commandments. And this is the intention of the verse: that God "goes down" to the garden of nuts [as anyone non-Kruv is as a "nut", and thus the World is defined as "nuts"], and he, in the revelation "there, is destined to find the Fourth House – the Ger who is intermingled in this scheme. The rabbi presents a ladder for the Ger, for him to find his Kruv-self, and helping the Jews do the same. He may begin by taking on the commandments [Ger Toshav from Nachri], then delving into Torah with his newfound eyes [Ger Tzedek], and ultimately, once he find the true wisdom, he realizes that he is just "Ger" from there onwards: he pursues God, and Ger becomes synonymous with Kruv, as King David said of himself, that he was simply, a Ger.
With their partnership – the Jew and the Ger - the rabbi will begin to open his eyes too; realizing that the commandments - Torah's, and Wisdom's - that he yearned for, were simply a path for him to realize his unique Ger status that takes place on the Land, as he is destined for Kruv-being too. The irony is that the entire construct is of the Kruv-Torah marriage; each one has half of the story, and the context doesn't take hold until each side "plays their cards" right. Therefore they play the nut – rabbi game, until the Ger realizes he can be a rabbi and the rabbi realizes he was being a nut! At that point, the real game begins, and the Kruvim can then rightfully get to know their Creator, as Brothers sitting as one.
This is the real [Parashas] Balak; our classic villains of Balak and Balaam accompanied with our heroes Pinchas and his supporters, only tells half of the story: the rabbi's version. The other side, is the nut who sprouts into a Tree of Life [as the Gaon likens the position of the Ger to that of the Tree of Life] and dares to fly. The Kruv Parasha endeavors to know such things as "Why or how did Pinchas fly?" or "What is really going on with Balaam's donkey?".... and every other question that makes the rabbi and the dirty nut cringe. For it's either too much Torah or too much fantasy for either side to stomach. It is for this area in particular that the Torah of the Messiah will shine brightest, for in efforts to clean house, we had to get dirty. And the rabbi and the nut were born – much like the infamous Red Heifer - that swears from its impurity that it causes, its waters will indeed purify.
In these 2,000 years of Messiah, we have seen epic times of revelation - from Zohar, to the Arizal [as we stated here], and the Chasidic movement, until today – as we sit and pray for the Messiah and redemption to the Full House of Israel. It is through the hidden dimension of Torah, namely applying Zohar and Arizal teachings through Chassidut [think Chabad, Rebbe Nachman, etc. – for this movement has explained "Ger" more than any other time in history, ironically by using the taboo terminology presented here, for a momentous deliverance] that has finally aroused Man [Jews and Gerim] with a map of how to read the Torah; to derive from it a Kruv – code.
Simply put, the Torah, or even our Parasha can be viewed in three distinct levels. If we look at Pinchas, and apply all levels of exegesis, one can say that he was clearly a Jew. Yet in kabbalah we find out he was a reincarnation of Jethro! And the contradiction is resolved after realizing that Pinchas achieved fantastic things, for he found the path to Kruv, became Elijah the Prophet, and doubles as the Messiah himself – something only possible through Kruv! Most know a fraction of the Pinchas story, as it is often quoted, Pinchas is Elijah. Pinchas is something more though; he is an agent sent by God to show Mankind, that there is something beyond Jews and Gerim, or rabbis and nuts, or whatever Torah–default map you wish to follow. [Other religions protocols switch the rabbi and the nut to express the same idea, just from a different point of view]. Pinchas exists to proclaim that, Hashem, The God of Israel, gave the Torah to Israel, and thus we shall follow the default program, and that this is not a contest, but rather a life challenge among Brothers to find out how to realize our dreams.
And our dreams are all the same, to be something awesome created by God! So, Pinchas serves eternally to say: not only is it more than you can imagine, but it is possible, and we are getting closer to it every day….hence, Elijah the herald, and Pinchas the path to Kruv for all Mankind.