Friday, July 4, 2014

Setting Up The Spear

                         Parashas Chukat
        National Unity In The Entire House of Israel
                        Rabbi David Katz

This year's Parashas Chukat came under immense scrutiny, not because of any issue of its own right, but because of its profound prophetic message that it delivered three thousand years ago. The nature of this message was inscribed covertly in the passage about the King of Arad, who had taken a captive of Israel from the days of their initial journeys into the Land, a.k.a. the spies. Correspondingly, during this year's annual weekly reading of the Parasha, Israel endured one of its worst tragedies in recent memory, as three teenage boys were kidnapped in Land. The parallels are astoundingly similar between then and now, considering it, geographically, conceptually, character profile, etc. It seems that what occurred here recently, coupled within the focus of the Parasha, was an expression of the cosmos drawn together to show a digital image of the World that we live in, shedding light on our acute realities. The lasting thought through it all is, that Israel is one, and when united as such, we can see the entire House of Israel. And as always, this is expressed through the sacred Four-Headed Letter Shin, as it dons the houses of the Priest, Levite, Israel, and The Righteous Ger. The clincher of this story, as it was conceived in the days of Moses, was that the captive was a Ger; things couldn't be more apropos it seems.

The buildup is methodical from Parshiot Shelach and Korach; leading into our Parasha Chukat,  it sets up a peak in Balak, just before Pinchas hits the climax of the entire Torah, then followed by a resolution before full review [Devarim] in the Book of Bamidbar's final two Parshiot Mattos –Massei. Thus by now, with a closer look into our local proximity, we can see that the episode of the spies brought out a larger authentic reality of life. The nature of the intent was something that defines Mankind's existence - evil speech.  It was and still is being rectified, and due to a forty-year punishment of journeys to ultimately ascend within the Land, all of the people funneled into a median human experience. Simply put, this massive movement of people, that contained the full House of Israel, had to learn the art of humility. They had to learn how to be painfully real. They had to learn the whole Torah, a Torah that is defined by Moses' greatest gift, and appropriately defined his life as Torah.

Now forced to wander the borders of Israel, outside of entry from the sacred hills of Milk and Honey that would be known as the Land of Canaan, God had promised to be in their midst and pioneer their travels. By definition this composes the Torah of Israel [otherwise known spiritually as Shem Yisrael "The Name Israel"] in all of its details, and such that it ensures a direct path to Zion and Messiah son of David. Where Joshua would blaze the trail, in the future the Messiah will walk it in Peace.  Making their experience manageable was attributed to the three famous gifts from God, in the merit of the House of Amram [Moses, Miriam, and Aaron], in the guise of Manna, well water, and protective clouds of glory. This is where the Torah lesson of humility would begin, and as we saw with the spies, they had not even begun to have mastered the art of staying humble. For Israel to remain on top of Zion, they would need to be humble, along with the staying power of hard work and remaining focused on the role that they would play. And so it was, as nearly forty years ticked by for them,  as long as it took us in our time to do as little as turn the page. Who knew it was that simple. [To learn something as simple as turning the page; literally for us, was an analogy for them, yet still resoundingly profound]

As these all began coming into focus, that soon this movement would enter into the Land proper, God began to hyper-prepare them for this harsh dose of real life experiences. They would soon learn the art of the Torah way of eating, drinking, and protection. Simply put, they would have to learn how to build and repair the World. These are necessary skills for the Full House of Israel, for this is their purpose of having being created.  And one day they will perfect this way of living, allowing for Hashem to one day dwell in His eternal house on Zion. Our Parasha kicks things off, for once Miriam and Aaron die, leaving the People with Moses alone,  from their presence was removed the miraculous protection and water. Add in the grim reality that soon the food would be gone, after Moses was promptly punished alongside Aaron (over the striking of the rock), and one could say tough love set in. And from there it only got tougher.

Quickly following the deaths to Aaron and Miriam, and the people faced the world in which they would have to fend for themselves in pure trust with God's providence, and being tested by that same World. The King of Arad heard that Israel was vulnerable as Hashem's gifts were taken away. Still fuming over the spy episode nearly forty years ago, he sought his revenge. The Amalekite [as explained by Midrash] captured a Ger of the Fourth House of Israel, and Israel was faced with its first real national crisis. Anyone who has read through the Torah until now certainly knows that Israel had faced many foes and challenges every step of their progression towards liberty; yet somehow this one was different. It was personal.

The King knew this was a particularly sensitive time for Israel, and as he had been patiently waiting for his opportune time of revenge.  Now was clearly his hour. With the disappearance of the protective clouds and abundance of water, the eagle landed, took its captive, and as much as he exposed young Israel, something of a miracle happened. Israel grew her wings in that moment; a national identity was formed.  Even more than that, humanity finally found its soul. The Kingdom of Priests was born, and now there was a Light to go out to Nations, as the Nations completely grafted themselves within the famed letter shin. This was made possible through the national unity that erupted over the King of Arad's captive strike.

What happened next was of epic proportions.  Such that if the Torah defines "epic", here is your eternal definition and generational gold standard. Israel vowed to God, that should the captive be returned, they would decimate idolatry in the Land. This met with God's approval. We learn in several places including here, it was then carried out and cities were destroyed. One place in particular was so destroyed it was promised a share of a unique eternal existence. This would be the Biblical Tzfat; and as we know from tradition, it is the host of Messianic days,  Its special merit was in its total eradication of idolatry and that her crusade was led by God's epic special forces unit.

Many would be astounded by such a concept of "special forces" in Torah, but the Kenites –offspring of Jethro - served just that role. They destroyed what was before Tzfat, and they would go on to father the famed Rechabites - a sect of Gerim that performed some of the greatest achievements of God's word in history, under the auspices of a unique covenant that was created in their merit alone.  Thus not only did Israel find victory, but it was there, in Tzfat [which was north of the original boundary; Tzfat would become added territory, such that was promised to Abraham] where National Unity found its light. 

So, from the great travesty of evil speech against Gerim, which began the wilderness experience, this great tragedy turned into a truly Levitical moment! Just as Levy wished to kill Joseph, and repented into a savior story for Joseph culminating in Messianic days; the Gerim just became the famed "Nilviim" – attachments to Israel, coming into the Fourth House of the letter Shin. If humanity found its soul and reinforcement in their courage, then Israel found something even more. Israel found its left arm, it found its mate, it found its brother and friend, and maybe the clearest analogy is, they found their hand in glove relationship.

The sequence of events has revealed Torah's secret contents, much like a dried out lake reveals her contents of past failed expeditions. The Torah has boiled off all of its excess, by losing its food, drink, and shelter, and by desperation, it revealed its previously submerged contents – the Gerim. Only now, after not having the misconception of "how it will be?", Israel realized "Brothers sitting as one." The events we are witnessing today appear to mirror this concept in a striking fashion.  Perhaps we are living in a way, that we are destined to witness the true Pinchas – Messiah moment once the turmoil boils over from the aftermath of our present captive saga.

The creation of Israel carries a tradition that her righteous souls merit a World to Comer. This was always thought to be an exclusive Jewish club. But as we inch towards that transition in time, and the Gerim are swarming back in record proportion, we are seeing the Torah text in new light. No longer must we interpret an ethno-bias against humanity.  For it is more than apparent that Israel was always meant to discuss all four houses of the Shin. With that settled, we can begin to reclaim the Ger Torah, dusting off its cover layered with the disgrace of ages, and welcome back our Joseph – that lives! May this be the fate of our current state of affairs,  such that the well springs of the next world flow into our world, sweetening the reservoirs of human existence.

It is often wondered whether righteous gentiles, per se, have a portion in the World to Come. One answer, in the formative, is that they do.  But, it is a mere garment to Israel proper. Let's go ahead and answer this up in a novel way, since the obvious answer is that all four houses will be there together, sitting as one family.

Yes; the Ger will be as garments to Israel.  But, think of it this way: Adam was naked in the Garden, and didn't dress until he sinned. That sin led to the creation of Jews and Gerim to replace Adam and Eve, or rather fully express them. When Adam donned the apron, the word used in Hebrew contains the letters that spell "the daunting [task] of the Ger" and has a gematria of 611 [Torah = 611, as well as "repair of Adam"].  Alternatively, it can mean the gathering of the Ger, and two are always one…and the Torah was never meant to be easy. The point is, Adam was always meant to be garmented and his task was to be garmented with Eve, his help mate and sister. With the Ger in The World to Come, Adam's job is finished, and we are all there, fully garmented and one - as a blessed and united humanity – Adam – Mankind. We are all there together; and by merit of the Ger, we are there as a garmented Mankind, for otherwise we would be left naming the animals. God had pity on Adam, and made one big family instead. Such is the heart of God and His Creation!  In the words of Rebbe Nachman, we can summarize this daunting task, with the Ger who serves to complete the building of the Altar within the Temple of Mankind. If the King inspired a demolishing of cities in return for divine favor, let us then on the heels of our current crisis, offer this: give us back your House, and we as Mankind will fill it, because we are the ones here waiting, as one big family with nowhere to go!  What good are consecrated cities without the context of ascending to Zion as a full house of Israel?!

Videos coming soon of previous 2 Parshiot! Weather has delayed the editing, but rest assured they produced on time, and we look forward to publishing very soon to to the site! Stay Tuned


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