Cleaving to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
והיתה שבת הארץ לכם לאכלה
“Blessed are You HaShem our God King of the Universe Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us on the eating of the sacrifice.” This blessing will be said, God-willing soon, on the eating of sacrifices in the vicinity of sanctified Jerusalem, the 9th gradation of sanctity after the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Similarly, upon eating truma the Kohen recites a similar blessing, except for the conclusion which ends “upon eating truma”. In the past we have discussed the relationship between truma and sacrifices may also reflect, in some way, the relationship between Hebron, called “Zion” according to the Arizal, the holy city of the Land of Israel in general, subject to the laws of truma, versus Jerusalem the Holy City of the Temple aloof from the rest of the Holy Land in regard to its sacrifices and its many other laws. We may also say that these two levels represent the natural level of holiness in the number 7 (Zion, Hebron, truma, etc.) versus the supernatural level apparent in the number 50 (Jerusalem, sacrifices, etc..) we have discussed before. In a somewhat similar way, this week’s parsha points at the “sanctified” produce of the Shmita as meant “to be eaten”. That said, in this instance the our Sages interpret the Torah’s stipulation that this Shmita produce should “be eaten” not as a positive mitzvah qualifying it for a blessing like sacrifices or truma, but rather as an indication on the proper usage of Shmita produce. They learn that “to be eaten” means that Shmita produce may not be used in a derogatory un-edible way such as spoilage or the like. However, productive benefit of Shmita produce, even as fuel to light a lamp, for example, is permissible. In other ways, however, Shmita produce functions just like sanctified objects, as it “sanctifies” the money used to buy it (a prohibited act – the way Shmita is permitted to be transferred is only for free. However, numbers of poskim maintain that a charge for the work of harvest conducted by the Beit Din (Otzar Beit Din) may be charged, for it is not payment for the fruit itself). The common factor in all the cases above is the consumption of “sanctified” food into one’s internal body. In this way one becomes fully united with the sanctity emanating from the Temple (in sacrifices) or the Land of Israel (in truma or Shmita produce) on an internal level. With this contemplation we can gain greater understanding into the meaning of the consumption of sacrifices being limited to sanctified Jerusalem. Our Sages teach that the 1st till the 7th gradations of the Temple correspond to the “Holy Presence Encampent” when Israel were in the Wilderness, meant only for the Kohanic family (including Moshe Rabeinu who had a semi-Kohanic status for a time). The Temple Mount corresponds to the “Levite Encampent” which surrounded the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. In turn, “sanctified Jerusalem” corresponds to the “Israelite Encampment”. In the past we have shown how the Kohanic family took on the attributes of Avraham, the Levites the attributes of Yitzhak, and the Israelites the attributes of Yakov. In the past we have also explained how Yakov also represents the unifying character among the Patriarchs. Therefore, it is not surprising that the most unifying concept of the sanctity of the Temple, i.e the internalization of sanctified foods into one’s own being, is represented specifically by the Israelite Encampment, i.e Sanctified Jerusalem. Of course, here again we see the “sparks of Hebron” in regard to the Temple, for Hebron’s very name suggest this very unity, where Israel and their Patriarchs become one essence with the sanctity of the Holy Land.
Real Stories from the Holy Land: “Once I had an oral rabbinical exam. On the way to the exam I met a Torah scholar who had recently taken a similar exam (by a different examiner), and I asked him: “what question did they ask you?” He told me the question, which ‘turned out’ to be the exact same question I was asked just a bit later by my (different) examiner.” (Y.S)