Friday, August 22, 2008

EKEV: BEWARE THE BEASTS BELOW

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

When approaching a pool of water, we often ask ourselves whether it is right to put our feet into the waters first and then gradually acclimate the rest of our body, or whether it is best to immerse ourselves all at once? The benefits of sudden immersion seem clear: the very shock to the system freshens and energizes, awakening and recharging all the pores of our flesh.


The Torah in our sedra is saying that if you want to shock the system, then that that approach is fine. But know that this rapid shock will cause disequilibrium and imbalance. To achieve long range benefit, slow, gradual immersion works best. This approach is indicated in Ekev,

(Deut.7:22): "VENASHAL HASHEM ELOKECHA ET HAGOYIM HA'EL MIPANECHA MI'AT MI'AT LO TUCHAL KALOTAM MAHER PEN TIRBEH ALECHA CHAYAT HASADEH.....
.
...AND THE L*RD THY G*D WILL PUT OUT THOSE NATIONS BEFORE THEE LITTLE BY

LITTLE; YOU MUST NOT CONSUME THEM ALL AT ONCE LEST THE WILD BEASTS OF THE FIELD INCREASE UPON YOU."


Now this instruction is explicitly made in the context of inhabiting the Land of Israel. But by the use of the word NASHAL it becomes a paradigm for how we should approach all areas of kedusha, or holiness, in our lives.Whether it is the kedusha of living in the Land, or the wonderful dietary holiness precepts (kashruth), or the holiness of the Sabbatical Refuge (shabbos), or KIDDUSHIN- the holiness of marriage, we are urged to experience its full grandeur only after a slow deepening and a gradual unfolding.

This is homiletically achieved through the interpositioning of adjacent letters, a time-honored midrashic technique, which sometimes takes place between the mem and the nun. Thus the letter nun becomes a mem, and so we have not NASHAL, but MASHAL, which means "analogy." And thus our relationship to acquiring holiness in one area of life is analogized to include all areas.

When we begin to keep kosher we first begin with avoiding forbidden foods- the laws regarding pots and pans will come only later. When we first begin to observe the Sabbath, we begin by fully keeping it- but only for one hour a week and only then increasing it until we are able to refrain from MELACHA-creative labor as set forth by the sages, for a full twenty five hours. In marriage we can't expect to fully know our spouse before we get married. In fact, the FINAL act of consummation is known as y'diah, or knowledge. True knowledge may take a whole lifetime. It is said that it is harder to change one character flaw within ourselves than it is to learn the entire Talmud.


Trying to do too much too soon will often backfire. TAFASTA MERUBAH LO TAFASTA. Taking on too much will leave you with nothing in the end. If we don't have the vessels which have the capacity to contain this holy light energy, we will simply burst if we take on the full dose of
Kedusha all at once. We must climb rung by holy rung up the ladder of Kedusha. To skip a rung is to risk losing our balance and falling prey to the wild beasts waiting below.

Shabbat Shalom!
Good Shabbos!

© 1999-2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

I was raised in the musar tradition of silence and meditative thoughtfulness, as were my father and grandfather before me.

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.

1 comment:

Betsy said...

The souls descended from the realm of heaven to earth on a long ladder. Then it was taken away. Now, from up there they are calling the souls home. Some do not budge from the spot for how can one get to heaven without a ladder? Others leap and fall and give up. But there are those that know very well they cannot achieve it, but they try over and over again until G-D catches hold of them and pulls them up. excerpt from Ten Rungs:Martin Buber

NEVER GIVE UP!

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When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.- Abraham Joshua Heschel
The whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the most important thing is to not be afraid.
-Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
"The greatest thing in the world is to do somebody else a favor." - Aish Kodesh
"As you want G*d to give you a chance, give everyone else a chance to also begin again." - Shlomo Carlebach

About Me

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I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!