Friday, March 2, 2012

The Ratzon of Exile

According to Rabbi Ezra of Girona, the deeper meaning of Jewish history is the transmission and revelation Torah's secrets. Rather than view exile as a catastrophe, from a Kabbalistic perspective, these periods are those in which the inner dimension of Torah is revealed as medicine for people in times of darkness.

This spiral of Jewish history is encoded according to Rabbi Ezra of Girona in the Song of Songs:

Egyptian exile & redemption: Song of Songs 1:5-10
Giving of the Torah 1:10-14
Building of the Tabernacle 1:15-2:8
Desert Sojourns 2:9-3:4
Solomon's Temple 3:6-5:1
Babylonian Exile 5:2-3
Second Temple 5:3-6:2
Exile of Edom 6:3-8:12
Future Redemption 8:13-14

The One Who dwells in the gardens--The companions listen for Your voice; O, that you make it heard to me!

Make haste, my Beloved, and be like to a gazelle or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices [for the gazelle, even when it runs away, always looks back..]

While the (first) Beit Hamikdash was being consumed by flames, Assaf (one of the Levites who served in the Holy Temple) was composing a psalm:

A song to Assaf:
O G-d,
Aliens have entered Your estate
They have defiled Your Sanctuary
They have laid Jerusalem in heaps...
The Midrash asks:
Should not the verse have said “a wail to Assaf,” “a keen to Assaf,” “a lament to Assaf”? Why does it say “a song to Assaf”? But this is analogous to a king who built a nuptial home for his son, beautifully plastered, inlaid and decorated. Then the son strayed off to an evil life. So the king came to the nuptial canopy, tore down the tapestries and broke the rails, upon which the prince's tutor took a flute and began to play. Those who saw him asked: “The king is overturning the nuptial canopy of his son, and you sit and sing?” Said he to them: “I am singing because the king overturned his son's nuptial canopy and did not vent his wrath upon his son.” So, too, was asked of Assaf: “G-d destroyed the Temple and Sanctuary, and you sit and sing?” Replied he: “I am singing because G-d vent His wrath upon wood and stone and did not vent his wrath upon Israel.”
This is the ultimate level of perception of which we are capable in galut: the understanding that despite how terrible and tragic something is in our experience, we know that there is a higher truth, a greater good which it serves. We might eventually discover this greater good, or perhaps never learn what it is; nevertheless, our faith in the goodness of G-d enables us to bear the hardship and pain of the perceived evil in our lives. But we are incapable of recognizing, or even conceiving of, the intrinsic goodness of the “evil” itself.

But there will come a time when the veil of galut will lift, when the divine essence of existence will shine forth, unobscured by the shell of darkness that encases it today. On that day we shall proclaim, “This, too, is for good.” In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “I shall thank You, G-d, for having afflicted me,” for the quintessential goodness of the “affliction” itself will be revealed.
Based on an address by the Rebbe, Av 20, 5711 (August 22, 1951), adapted by Yanki Tauber

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