Torah Fax

Friday, August 13, 2004 - 26 Menachem Av, 5764

Torah Reading:  R’ei (Deuteronomy 11:26 - 16:17)
Candle Lighting Time:  7:38 PM
Shabbat Ends: 8:39 PM
We bless the New Month of Elul

Manifest Divinity 

One of the prohibitions mentioned in this week's Parshah concerns the destruction of holy property. After the Torah tells the Jewish people that they are to destroy the pagan shrines and altars of the Canaanites when they enter the Land, they are told, "Do not do this to G‑d your G‑d." The Talmud teaches that this refers to the sin of destroying anything "holy," meaning anything that belongs to the Holy Temple, its altar and other special implements used there.

The Midrash raises an interesting question. Is it considerable that a Jew would attempt to destroy the altar in the Holy Temple? Would anyone be so spiteful as to damage the property of the Temple in Jerusalem? (Conversely, if someone would indeed be so disrespectful, would the Torah's prohibition deter him?)

The Midrash answers that this verse includes another prohibition: we are not allowed to erase G‑d's name. This interpretation has been incorporated into Jewish Law - one is not allowed to erase G‑d's name. This would even include the case of a scribe who was writing a Torah (or tefillin or muzuzah) who made a mistake and had to erase a few lines of text. If one of those lines included G‑d's name, the scribe would not be allowed to erase the Name, even if he would have to begin writing the entire mezuzah from the beginning.

There is however one situation where the Torah permits erasing G‑d's name. In Temple times, a woman suspected of adultery, known as a Sotah, would have to go to the Temple and take an oath that she was innocent. This oath, which included G‑d's name a number of times, would be written on a piece of parchment. The writing on the parchment was then erased in spring water and the Sotah drank the water. If she was in fact guilty, she would miraculously die. If she was innocent, she would survive the ordeal and return to live with her husband in peace in harmony. (For a complete understanding of this topic, see Numbers 5:11 - 31.)

Based on this "Sotah checking procedure," the Talmud notes that G‑d is willing to have His name erased in order to bring peace and harmony between husband and wife. But does this mean that the ends justify the means? Are we allowed to commit one sin - and, in this case, desecrate G‑d's name - in order obtain something positive?

The answer lies in understanding the mystical dimension of marriage. Marriage is not a biological means of ensuring a future for the human race. It is not just a means for two people to express their love for each other. Marriage is also, and perhaps primarily, a vehicle to bring together two potent Divine energies that are channeled through man and woman, respectively.

Each of these two energies on their own cannot express themselves in the world. These two powers have to compliment and synthesize each other and then they can come down into the world in a positive and constructive manner. Chassidic thought teaches that the powers of man and woman, when united, are so great, they can accomplish something which is normally only associated with G‑d Himself: the creation of a new life. When joined in marriage, man and woman have the power to actually (in a limited way) imitate G‑d and bring new life into the world. As great as man and woman are on their own, their true spiritual potentials can only be reached when they come together.

Thus, whatever holiness might be compromised by erasing G‑d's name, is completely compensated by the creation (or the reestablishment) of a harmonious marriage. A peaceful marriage is a living manifestation of G‑d's name.

Our sages tell us that when a marriage dissolves (G‑d forbid) the altar in the Holy Temple sheds tears. The altar was the medium through which G‑d revealed His presence in the world. But even the altar could not reveal the amount of G‑dly energy that a happy marriage based on the principles of the Torah could produce. Thus, when a divorce occurred, causing G‑d's presence to be less felt in the world, the altar cried as if to say, "I do not have the ability to fill that void."

The exile of the Jewish people has been compared to a time of separation between the normally harmonious marriage of G‑d and the Jewish nation. The rebuilding of the Temple (and its altar) with the coming of Moshiach can be considered the reuniting of the partners in that marriage. At that time, G‑d's name will be truly recognized and appreciated throughout the world.
      
Moshiach Matters

Our Parshah, R’ei, begins: “See today  that I am giving you blessing.” The true and ultimate blessing of which the verse speaks is the blessing of the true and complete redemption. Our job is th publicize (in a sincere manner) to all, that G‑d tells us, through his prophets, that today, literally today, we can all see with our eyes the arrival of Moshiach. (The Rebbe, Parshat R’ei, 1991)  
 
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