Parshat Shelach 2018

Parshat Shelach 2018

Parshat Shelach
By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron


לשכנו תדרשו
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
When You Come to the Land

“And bring us upright to our Land…” The term “upright,” “komemiut”, as used in the blessings of Parshat Behukotai, is interpreted by our Sages in Breshit Raba (12, 6). On a simple level, our Sages explain this term to mean that Israel will not be afraid of any foreign power or being. However, in a homiletic interpretation, numbers of Sages interpret the term “komemiut” to be literally related to the word “koma”, i.e a physical height of man.  According to one opinion, when Israel observe the ways of the Torah, they will be blessed to have the stature of Adam in the Garden of Eden, i.e 100 cubits. According to another opinion the ending suffix, “miut” of kememiut doubles this height, amounting to a stature of 200 cubits. Yet another opinion indeed begins with the 100 cubits of Adam, as hinted by the letters “kome”=”one level of height,” and then adds another 200, since “miut” (the suffix of “komemiut”) can be read “meot”, “hundreds,” and the lowest amount that can be used for the plural “hundreds” is 200, and then these two “levels of height” are added together to sum 300 cubits. Yet another interpretation explains “komemiut” to refer to a continuous process of growth, similar to that of some trees, which can live for 600 years. Based on this inference, our Sages infer that just as a baby grows at a rate of about a cubit and-a-half throughout his first “year”, since conception till after birth, so too man will grow like a sycamore for 600 years at a growth rate of a cubit and-a-half each year, amounting to a total height of 900 cubits!

All these enormous proportions of human stature remind us of the spies’ words about the people of the Land of Israel generally and of Hebron specifically. Although the spies wished to talk negatively about the Land, nevertheless we have noted before that Rebbe Nahman of Breslov interprets their words, albeit homiletically, to refer to praises of the Holy Land, for the True Godly Torah only writes the truth, whether this truth can be extracted literally or homiletically. Homiletically speaking, the giant proportions of people in the Holy Land may refer to the high spiritual potential of the Holy Land to “grow spiritual giants.” Indeed, we have noted in the past the verse which refers to Avraham our Father as the “giant of giants”, referring to his giant spiritual stature. This description follows perfectly with Kiryat Arba, the “City of the Four,” being the focal point of four “giants,” Anak, Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, as described in this parsha, corresponding to the “four spiritual giants” (along with the Matriarchs, their wives considered one essence with them) buried in Hebron, Adam, Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yakov. In this way, we also may understand the previous homiletic describing Adam in the Garden of Eden at the height of a 100 cubits as (also) representing a giant spiritual stature. The Sages reached the interpretation (Hagiga 12a) of 100 cubits to through the verse “You (God) have put Your “hand” upon me”. The word for “hand” – “kaph”, has the numerical value of 100, referring to Adam’s height. Since God’s “Hand” is obviously a spiritual concept we should ask what is the spiritual significance of such a height and its relationship to God’s “Hand”? One of the opinions in the Talmud brought in conjunction with the teaching of Adam’s height being a 100 cubits is that 100 cubits is alluded to in the height of the Temple. This teaching sheds light on Adam’s height as well, suggesting that a 100 cubits, the “Hand of God”, represents a certain level or intensity of the Holy Presence or Providence, i.e the “Hand of God”, both upon Adam or within the Temple, through such a measurement.    

By understanding the “Hand of God”, i.e “100 cubits”, as one type of spiritual energy from the Holy Presence, we can pose an interpretation of 200 cubits, 300 cubits, or 900 cubits mentioned before, as referring to different levels of such spiritual energy. In this way, the first three opinions discuss the first three “Hands”, or spiritual energies, while the fourth opinion relates to a stage of nine such spiritual energies. In truth, these energies, called “sfirot” in Kabbalistic literature, are all described in the spiritual development defined in the Kabbalah, complete with the “unfolding” of the first three energies into nine energies through a process of multiplying “one and-a-half” as described in the homiletic above (a detailed kabbalistic analysis of this is outside the scope of our discussion).  

The homiletic we have discussed here belongs to the important midrashic work which originated in the Land of Israel, Midrash Raba. In contrast to the Babylonian Talmud, which incorporates much aggadic material alongside halachic discourse, the Yerushalmi Talmud is mostly halachic since, in the Land of Israel, where the Yerushalmi Talmud was written, there were already specified aggadic texts such as Midrash Raba. Indeed, Midrash Rabba gives us a glimpse into the lofty, even semi-kabbalistic, spiritual insights of the Sages inspired in the holy air of our Holy Land.

One of the most famous elucidations on Midrash Raba is the “Matnot Kehuna,” written by Rabbi Yissachar HaKohen of Hebron. Rabbi Yissachar HaKohen moved to the Land of Israel in 5340 (1580), there becoming a pupil of the renowned kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Kordevero. He later moved to Hebron and wrote his famous work “Matnot Kehuna,” and also “Mareh Kohen,” an index to the holy Zohar.


Real Stories from the Holy Land #268

One day I lent 200 NIS to a friend. That very same day, I received 200 NIS back on a loan I had given to another friend that had not been paid for numerous months. I don’t usually merit to give loans to people and I don’t have a gemach for such purposes.

Sources: Sefer Hebron p. 127.  

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