Toch HaNachal – Friday Night, P' Vayakhel – Pekuday

Friday night, at the first Shabbos meal, Mohorosh Z"l spoke inspiring words based on Lekutei Mohoran, Part II, Lesson 68, which discusses the nature of the Tzaddik and how he is found “above and below”.

Rebbe Nachman says: “The essential wholeness of the Tzaddik is that he can be above and below, that he can show the one who is elevated and who thinks he is on a high level, that it is just the opposite. Likewise, for the one who is on the lowest level, literally in the earth, the Tzaddik will be able to show him that, on the contrary, he is near (samuch) to Hashem. And this wholeness is necessary for the Tzaddik to have, and without it, he is not a Tzaddik at all.” (These are the words of Rebbe Nachman.)

Mohorosh Z"l explained that Rebbe Nachman reveals to us in this lesson a very important idea about the nature of the Tzaddik, namely, that the true Tzaddik is “above and below” simultaneously. He is flying in the upper worlds of lofty thoughts and perceptions. He is an expert in the most exalted knowledge. But he is also below in this world. He leads a household with a wife and children. He is an expert of the human condition. And he is able to give people good advice in numerous areas of life. There is no perfection at all in always being bound only to the upper worlds without knowing how to bring oneself down to human beings and how to infuse them with perceptions of G-d. For in this case, he is a “Tzaddik for himself”, but not for others. This is not a Tzaddik Emes (a true Tzaddik). A Tzaddik Emes is one who can bring himself down from all of his lofty spiritual perceptions in order to engage with people down in this world and offer them good advice so that they too can elevate themselves. This was the level of Moshe Rabbeinu, about whom it is written (Shemos 19): “And Moshe went down from the mountain unto the people.” He was able to bring himself down from his powerful cleaving to Hashem he had achieved on Mt. Sinai – “forty days and forty nights, bread he did not eat, and water he did not drink” – and immediately he was able to reach the most simple among the people, to listen to their concerns and to (Devarim 1) “judge between a man and his brother or his litigant”. However, most people cannot comprehend this. It seems to them that a Tzaddik needs to be, for the most part, removed and separated from more “mundane” human activities. And if he does work with people and happens to be an expert in human nature and current events, then this is a sign that he must not be a Tzaddik, as is the custom among some leaders and famous people, that they have very limited dealings with human beings, and their assistants and secretaries do not allow people to make contact with them. And this is wrongly considered by some to be a sign of the Tzaddik’s perfection. However, Rebbe Nachman reveals to us in this lesson that this is not so. It is actually just the opposite. The essential perfection of the Tzaddik is measured according to his ability to bring himself down to human beings – to be “above and below” simultaneously, i.e. it is measured by two criteria: a). His ability to make known to those who “dwell above” (those who have achieved and believe they have reached very high levels in the service of Hashem) that they know nothing, and b). His ability to make known to those who “dwell below” (those who believe they are on the lowest level) that Hashem is very close (samuch) to them. And only a Tzaddik with these two abilities can be called a “true Tzaddik.”

Mohorosh Z"l explained that this was the flaw of Korach and his assembly. They could not comprehend how Moshe and Aharon could maintain these two levels simultaneously. For how was it possible for Moshe Rabbeinu to be on Mt. Sinai and reach awesome spiritual perceptions, and immediately afterwards come down and judge between people and be deeply involved in their physical needs? And how was it possible for Aharon HaKohein to enter the Holy of Holies, burn the incense and perform the other services, and afterwards step outside and immediately engage in making peace between a man and his wife and between a man and his friend, which for the most part required Aharon to lower and disgrace himself to the extreme, all for the sake of making peace between people? And this is the explantion of the verse which speaks about Korach’s assembly (Tehillim 106): “The were jealous of Moshe in the camp [and] of Aharon, the holy one of Hashem.” The jealousy of Korach’s assembly stemmed from Moshe’s being “in the camp”, i.e. how was it possible that Moshe could be on Mt. Sinai and reach the highest spiritual levels and then immediately come down and be “in the camp” – i.e. (Shemos 19) “from the mountain to the people”? And they were jealous of Aharon for the same reason. For how could the “holy one of Hashem”, who performed the service inside the Holy of Holies, immediately involve himself with making peace between a man and his wife and between a man and his fellow? How could these two levels be harmonized? This is very hard for people to understand. But, Rebbe Nachman reveals to us that it is precisely this double quality, two things that are really one, which is the perfection of the Tzaddik and without it, he cannot be called a true Tzaddik at all. Happy is the one who merits to come close to a Tzaddik like this.

Mohorosh Z"l connected the above ideas to our Parsha in the following way. Our Parsha records the building of the Tabernacle by Betzalel and Oholiav, as it written (Shemos 35:30-33): “See, Hashem has called by name, Betzalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Yehuda. He filled him with the spirit of G-d, with wisdom, insight and knowledge, and with every craft – to weave designs, to work with gold, silver and copper; stone-cutting for setting, and wood-carving – to perform every craft of design.” And immediately afterward it is written (Shemos 35:34-35): “He gave him the ability to teach, him and Oholiav, son of Achi-samach of the tribe of Dan (once again the word samach, which has a few meanings: to support, to lay one’s hands on, or to be near; and “Ahi” means “my brother”); He filled them with a wise heart, etc.” First, Hashem commanded it should be made by Betzalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Yehuda, and the Torah recounts his praises in great detail (“He filled him with the spirit of G-d, etc”). The very next verse after Betzalel was commanded to build the Tabernacle says that Oholiav should join him, as it is written: “He gave him the ability to teach, him and Oholiav, son of Achi-samach, of the tribe of Dan; He filled them with a wise heart, etc.” Rashi has already explained this verse (Shemos 35:34): “He [Oholiav] was of the tribe of Dan, of one of the lowest of the tribes, of the sons of the handmaids and yet the Omnipresent equated him with Betzalel with respect to building the Tabernacle even though Betzalel’s tribe, Yehuda, was among the greatest of all the tribes, in order to fulfill what is says in the verse (Iyov 34): “He regarded not the rich more than the poor.” We need to understand why Hashem commanded that the Tabernacle should be built in this fashion. In other words, why was it necessary to join Oholiav to Betzalel in the building of the Tabernacle? According to the words of Rebbe Nachman we can understand it very well. The perfection of the Tzaddik is precisely when he is “above and below” with the power to connect the greatest one in Israel to the smallest one. And this is exactly the idea of erecting the Tabernacle. It was in order to prepare a place for the Shechinah (Divine Presence) to reside near each and every Jew, from the greatest of the great to the smallest of the small. Therefore, at the very beginning of the construction of the Tabernacle, we find the command to Betzalel to build the Tabernacle; Betzalel, one of the elite of Israel, of the tribe of Yehuda, one of the greatest of the tribes, who was called Betzalel because he was so close to Hashem that Moshe said to him (Talmud Berachot 55a), “You must have been in G-d’s shadow (b’tzel el),” and of whom it is said, “He [Hashem] filled him with the spirit of G-d.” And immediately after appointing Betzalel there was the command to join to him Oholiav son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan, one of the lowest of the tribes, to teach that it was necessary at that very time to be “above and below” as well as to bring near all those who were still below “in the earth”. These people are in the category of the camp of Dan, who is called (Bamidbar 10): “The rear guard [literally, the gatherer] of all the camps,” who were partly composed of those who were ejected by the cloud (see the Baal Haturim on Bamidbar 10:25). For the completeness of the “Tabernacle of the Tzaddik” is built upon these two categories and one alone is no perfection at all. For the Tzaddik needs to teach the most elite that they are just “b’tzel el (in the shadow of G-d)”, that they still have room to go higher and higher; and to teach those who are on the bottom floor and who think they are far from Hashem, that “li av (‘I have a Father’, from Oho-li-av), that Hashem is the Av Harachaman (the Father of Compassion), and that He is samuch (next to) and very close to them, and He is ready to support them (li’smoch – to support) in all of their falls. And this is Oholiav son of Ahisamach. Therefore, through building the Tabernacle in this fashion there will be space for each and every Jew, on whatever level he may be, to enter within the bounds of holiness, and to attain divine perceptions according to their level and situation. And Hashem should help us be close to the true Tzaddikim and to enter the wondrous Tabernacle that Hashem is building for the souls of Israel, until we merit to return in perfect repentance before Him, to be included in Him completely, now and forever. Amen v’amen.


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