Wings for Elevation


Leshichno Tidreshu

Cleaving to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land

You Shall Appoint a King Upon You

“Rule over the entire world with Your Honor and ascend above all earth with Your Glory” (High Holidays Prayer). The “Honor of God” is translated by the Targum translation in many contexts as referring to the Holy Presence. This can be explained by saying that the Holy Presence represents the Godly Manifestation as we can receive, just as “honor” represents the level of reverence on the side of the one who receives the other’s presence. There are few figures whose “honor” is considered an absolute value, and even parents or Torah masters, who are to be honored by Biblical commandment, may forfeit the right to be honored if they wish. Not so is the case in the case of a king, who may not forfeit his right of honor. The law is based on the words “upon you” (in our title quote), which is interpreted by our Sages to an obligatory hierarchy (upon=above) in which the “awe of the king must be upon you”. The fact that the Torah ties greater absolute respect to the more human king even more than the saintly/Divine Torah master seems to echo a similar lesson found in the Zohar. The Zohar in the “Idra Raba” states that God cares for the honor of the human righteous even more than His own Honor. The Zohar proves this principle by the instance when the hand of the wicked king Yerovam was miraculously frozen in air when Yerovam stretched his hand out to harm Ido the prophet – in “honor of the human righteous”, a matter we never see in regard to the rampant idolatry at that same time which dishonored “God’s own” honor. In yet another similar light commentators note that God reacted much more harshly (40 years in the wilderness, death of an entire generation, retribution for countless generations after)  to the sin of the spies, which pertained more to the honor of the Holy Land , than the sin  of the Golden Calf, which pertained to “God’s own honor”, so-to-speak. This concept parallels our Sages’ teaching that the laws of Rabbinic origin are in a sense more severe than even laws of Biblical origin, for the punishment for transgressing Rabbinic laws is (Divinely actuated) death, while Biblical laws are punished for by 39 lashes (Eiruvin 21b). R. Yonatan Eibshetz explains that this is so since Rabbinic laws must be strengthened so that they will not be taken lightly or scorned in contrast to Biblical laws which are more naturally revered. Another explanation posed by Rabeinu Nisim is that transgression on Rabbinic matters does not come generally from a mere evil impulse for the sin as in Biblical commandments, but rather comes from an innate scorn for the Godliness inherent in Rabbinic teaching, which is in essence a much more direct offense against God. In this way we can explain why the honor due to the Holy Land and also “human honor” takes such importance, for these matters represent God’s attribute of “Honor” itself (versus its opposite – scorn, disrespect, etc.) the most, more than any other matter. When we add the contemplation upon the “honor of the Land of Israel” with the gratitude for this Land, the Holy Presence within it, and its commandments, we essentially unite the attributes of love and awe towards HaShem and His Holy Presence of the Holy Land. Indeed, the Reshit Hochma, the great master of Hebron, teaches that gratitude and joy are an extension of love, while “honor” is an extension of the attribute of awe. Practically speaking this means that while it is good to contemplate the internal meaning of the commandments pertaining to the Holy Land and thank God for them (as we explain in our issues), at the same time one should know that all that can be said or contemplated is infinitely far from the true significance of this cosmos in the cosmos and the spiritual worlds, thereby infusing one with great awe. The Zohar describes these two attributes of love and awe as being the two “wings” by which one may take spiritual ascent, as we wish to do in our quest for the Holy Presence in our Holy Land. Essentially, the cradle of the primary royalty of Israel, the Kingdom of David, is none other than Hebron. This is Hebron the City of Royalty, Honor of the Holy Land.

Real Stories from the Holy Land: “I was looking for a specific teaching in a sefer. I opened the sefer randomly, and the very page I opened (among hundreds of pages) was exactly the teaching I was looking for (this is only one of many such instances).” Y.G

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