Thursday, June 16, 2011

Measure for measure

A generation after the Arizal, the Jerusalem Kabbalist Rabbi Nathan Shapira wrote the book Tuv Ha'aretz on the supreme value of the land of Israel according to the Arizal and the Zohar. Rabbi Shapira himself made aliyah from Krakow, but spent the end of his life on shlichus in Italy. In another sefer, Emek HaMelech, Rabbi Shapira wrotes that "were it not for the prayers of the people of Jerusalem who pray at the Kotel in tears and supplication, these are the perushim and the great chasidim, the world would not exist G-d forbid, and for them it says Mount Zion will be a refuge, these are the Jews who live there and occupy themselves with the world to come." (Emek HaMelech p. 116c)

In one passage in Tuv Ha'aretz, Rabbi Nathan writes a bold critique of the rich stratum of his people living in the diaspora, extolling the special status of living in the land of Israel before Mashiach (my best translation):
Know that a tradition is in our hands that on the day when Mashiach will come with the ingathering of the exiles to the land of Israel, on that very day there will be seven thousand of the children of Israel, and on that very day the dead of the Land will live, and on that very day the walls of fire in Jerusalem will depart...and on that very day the dead of of the Land of Israel will return in the time of their life (b'et chiyutam) [and become] a new spiritual being, and the seven thousand who are alive will all become a new being (bria chadasha), a spiritual body, like the body of the primordial human who sinned and like the body of Moshe Rabbeinu, and all will hover in the air and soar like eagles, and all this before the eyes of the ingathered exiles.
And when the ingathered exiles see that their brothers have become a new being and hover in the air to go and dwell in the lower Garden of Eden to learn Torah from His mouth, blessed be He, then the ingathered exiles will fell a tremor in their hearts and feel great anguish and will ֿbecome incensed with the King Mashiach and will say: For are not we children of Israel like them? From where did they merit to become spiritual in body and soul and not us?
And the King Mashiach will say: It is already well-known that all the attributes of the Holy Blessed one [operate according to the principle of] measure for measure. Those who lived outside of the Land of Israel and made an effort to come to the Land so as to merit a pure soul, who did not take refuge in their wealth nor in their physical body, who came by sea and by land and did not fear to drown in the sea or become captive to harsh masters, in return for treating their spirit and their soul as essential, and not their body and their money, for this they returned as spiritual, measure for measure. 
Yet you, who could have come to the Land like them, but neglected to come because of love of money (chemdat mamon), who worried for your wealth and your body, treating them as essential, and your soul and spirit as marginal, for this, in the same way, you have remained physical, measure for measure...
And for the money that you desired hereby God blessed be He will give you money...and they who did not worry themselves over their body and their money, but over their spirit alone, God will make them into a new being, and usher them into the lower Garden of Eden.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what will happen to those poor Jews who long to live in Yisrael and can not find a way to do so? I guess everyone were right when they said that Israeli Jews see themselves as superior to their Disporah brothers forgetting that living in Israel is also concidered as they are in Disporah.
    I would love for once to see words of love and support for us who are stuck here in Disporah but still find a way to finacialy and spiritually support all their am yisrael in Yisrael even when we lack and are not rich we still will give everything for you! What a shame


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