Parshat Beha’alotcha May 29 2010
G-d created a world whose inner essence is holiness. But in order to have access to it, one must first be able to discern and recognize it within Mother Nature – vis-א-vis G-d, the tzaddikim, and the land of Israel. What you see is not always what you get. And vise versa.
Likutey Moharan on “Avoiding Honor” touches upon just what happened at the end of this parsha, Parshat Beha’alotcha. “We are required to minimize our honor and maximize G-d’s honor. For, one who pursues honor may attain kavod melachim (the glory of kings), but he cannot attain kevod Elokim (the glory of G-d). Of such a person it is written, “It is the glory of kings to inquire into a matter” (Proverbs 25:2) Everyone asks about him, “who is he and what is he? What has he done to deserve such honor?” Then they oppose him saying he is unworthy. But one who flees from honor, as it says about Moshe Rabbeinu “And the man Moshe was very meek, more so than any men that were upon the face of the earth, he attains kavod Elokim, G-d’s glory. Concerning Moshe it is written, “the glory of G-d is to conceal a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2)
Sometimes difficult questions come up about the Tzaddikim. This is inevitable because they resemble their creator. G-d’s greatness is so intense, influential, and powerful in His uplifted and lofty state. We can’t even comprehend or begin to achieve in fathoming G-d’s ways, so the reservations we have about His leadership move in as He is concealed in nature, in a world that renews itself through sleep and awakening. The contraction of G-d’s light makes Him hidden. When we look at the tzaddik, as how appears with a face like this, a body like that, teeth like those and hair like that – we come to a real test at perceiving G-dliness in him.
Suddenly the children of Israel, including his own siblings, begin to challenge Moshe Rabbeinu, the man that led them out of Egypt through the desert, provided them with food and water and turned them into a holy people. He was being questioned. He has a lisp. He took a Kushite woman. How could he leave us for forty days and nights? How could he do this and how could he do that?
G-d was being questioned.
The distrust and mistrust only continued as the concept of the land of Israel was greeted with skepticism. Demanding to put their eye on it, and seeing it so steeped within the realm of nature with it’s bars and beaches, it’s holiness contracted within it’s physicality. Whatever was seen was exaggerated, the people were giants there, the fruit huge. It was implausible- beyond belief! It remained an enigma, like G-d, and like Moshe Rabbeinu. The people later asked to return to Egypt, their real McCoy, than enter such a strange land. They rejected it and therefore would not enter it. Aside from Caleb and Yehoshua, Moshe’s faithful servants who saw in him who he was and what he was- pure holiness, all perished in the midbar. The spies who were the nesiyeah hador (the Princes of that generation) may have had kavod melachim (the glory of kings) but they did not come even close to understanding kavod Elokim (the glory of G-d). That is why they couldn’t bring the redemption.
Looking back and reviewing things past, the conflict between Yosef and his brothers personifies that of the tzaddik emet (the true righteous one) who was on the level of kavod elokim and his brothers who were tzaddikim but on the level of kavod melachim. They were not able to perceive Yosef, in all of the material physicality Mashiach Ben Yosef represents. Therefore, they persecuted him, selling him into slavery. Any talent he may have had, like interpreting dreams, becoming the CEO of the biggest supermarket in the world, and just being able to give plain good advice, he ran away from honor and proclaimed G-d the true success for his success. Later, when the brothers realized their mistake and the full extent of their wrongdoing and the harm they had caused, they confessesed, “What can we say, how can we speak, and how can we justify ourselves? G-d has uncovered the sin of your servants.” (Bereishit 44:16) By admitting to this mistake they were then able to rectify. This is adjacent to the time Yosef revealed himself to his brothers. This triggered the reconciliation that alludes to the ultimate Tikkun Olam that will come about when the real Mashiach will be revealed by all of mankind and the Kingdom of David will rise and reunite with Mashiach Ben Yosef. This will only happen though when kavod melachim is obvious with in Mother Nature. Then it becomes kevod Elokim. This will only happen when no-one doubts the tzaddikim, Eretz Yisrael and Hashem Himself.
Shabbat Shalom, Leah Goldsmith