Sunday, July 22, 2007

Intimacy In Flames

Now, the Talmud is telling us, that when the enemies of Israel invaded the Temple – during the time of its destruction in the Hebrew month of Av -- they entered into the Holy of Holies, a place so sacred that entry into it was permitted only to a single individual, the High Priest, and only on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. There they saw the cherubs embracing each other. They dragged them out of the Temple and into the streets, vulgarizing their sacred significance.

This seems bizarre. When the enemies of Israel invaded the Temple to destroy it, the relationship between G-d and His people was at its lowest possible point, for that was the reason for the destruction and the subsequent exile. The Jews were about to become estranged from G-d for millennia. The manifest presence of divinity in the world, via the Temple in Jerusalem, would cease; Jews and G-d would now be exiled from each other.

Yet, paradoxically, it was precisely at that moment that the cherubs were intertwined, symbolizing the profoundest relationship between G-d and Israel. How are we to understand this?

The most daring explanation was given by the heir to the founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Dovber, known as the Magid of Mezrich (d. in 1772). Quoting the injunction of the sages that a man ought to consort with his wife prior to leaving home on a journey, Rabbi Dovber suggested that G-d, prior to His long journey away from home, expressed His intimacy with the Jewish people. Prior to the onset of a long exile, the cherubs were intertwined, representing the intimacy preceding the journey.

What the Chassidic master was attempting to convey through this dazzling metaphor – and it is one of the most central themes of Chassidic thought -- was that it was at the moment of the destruction when G-d impregnated (metaphorically speaking) a seed of life within the Jewish soul; He implanted within His people a piece of Himself.

For two millennia, this "seed" has sustained us. The groom may have seemingly departed and was consciously concealed, often to an extreme, yet a piece of His essence was embedded within the Jewish people; a spark of divinity was sown in the Jewish heart.

(Click the title for the full article by Rabbi YY Jacobson. Derech agav, this site is full of hidden links. And finally yes, moshiach still has time to come before his 'bday')

1 comment:

Scraps said...

I've heard another explanation for why the cheruvim were embracing at the time the Beis HaMikdash was burning--that up until then, the Jewish people were so bad that they were afraid Hashem was going to destroy them, and when they saw that He was destroying the Beis HaMikdash, the eitzim and avanim, they knew that klal Yisrael wasn't going to be destroyed and they came close to Hashem again.