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Maharal

Chapter 3: Mishna 6: Part 2

This idea (that one who is intimately connected to G-d escapes the limitations and control imposed upon him by physical systems) is embodied in the statement of Rabbi Yossi (Tr. Avodah Zarah 5a): "The Jewish people accepted the Torah [only] so that the Angel of Death, other nation[s], and other 'tongues' (cultures) should have no power over them, as it is written (Psalms 82:6-8) 'I had said, you are Angels, all of you sons of the most High. Nevertheless, you shall die like a man, and fall as one man, O princes.'

The power of the "Angel of Death" represents the process of nature to which man is subjected, for death is a fundamental component of the natural, physical system. The power of nations and culture represents the governmental and social systems to which man is subjected. One who subjects himself to the burden of Torah, which is a Divine system, emancipates himself from being controlled by the natural and human systems (even as he must remain involved in them).

This idea is also taught in Chapter 6 (Mishna 2) " 'The tablets are the writing of G-d, engraved (charut)...,' (Shemoth 32:16). Don't pronounce it "charut" (engraved) but "cheirut" (emancipated), for there is no one who is free save one is involved in Torah, which elevates him...". This Mishna explains to us that one who is involved in Torah elevates himself above the level of the natural system, which regulates the world (in a fixed and compelling way), and above the level of human regulation of society, neither of which are inherently natural (because there is no specific form of government, and no specific set of societal norms which are fundamentally compelling). This elevation frees man from the two systems which can exert control over him (within the physical system).

We still need to understand why it is that one who is involved in Torah achieves this elevation above the natural, physical world. "Sechel" (we have explained this to mean the spiritual/intellectual dimension of man) rises above the material world, which frees man from being regulated by the natural and societal systems, both of which emanate from Olam HaZeh" (the ephemeral, material world, which was created temporarily to enable man to prepare for the eternal "world to come"). One who is involved in Torah transcends the level of Olam HaZeh. Therefore the burdens of government and livelihood are removed from him.

Even though a person can't exist without a livelihood, and he needs to work in order to have the resources necessary to be involved in Torah, he, nevertheless, doesn't carry the BURDEN of a livelihood. When he accepts upon himself the burden of Torah, his livelihood will come to him without difficulty. This is because of his intimate connection with G-d, which raises him above the level of Olam HaZeh (the physical system, the nature of which imposes a struggle to earn ones livelihood).

But if he relieves himself from the burden of Torah, he is gravitating towards Olam HaZeh, the material world, by opting out of an existence in a higher level system. By rooting himself in the material dimension, the natural consequence is that he is subjected to controls and regulations inherent in that world, the burdens of government and livelihood.

When you understand "chochmah" very well (these are code words in the Maharal for the introduction of Kabbalistic concepts) you will understand how it is that one who accepts the burden of Torah has the burdens of government and livelihood removed from him. In the Beith Hamikdash, the Shulchan (Table) was in the north, and it symbolized royalty, which represents the regulation of governmental systems in this world. The Menorah was in the south, and it had seven branches, which represents the seven days of creation, the system of nature in the world. (The number seven always represents a natural cycle, encompassing the totality of the physical world.) This is known to those versed in "chochmah." These two items of the Temple were situated in the Heichal (the main hall of the Holy Temple) which represents the material world. The Torah, on the other hand was kept in the Aron (the Ark), which was in the Holy of Holies, which symbolizes the metaphysical, upper world.

It should be understood that the burden of livelihood and the burden of government themselves are two distinct categories, the former emanating from the system of nature, and the latter system emanating from human consensus and dictates. The Torah transcends both systems, and frees man from their control and limitations, when he subjects himself to the system of the Torah. This was enough of an explanation to those who understand.

(With this concluding line, the Maharal again implies the Kabbalistic nature of these last ideas. Our Rabbis teach us that transmission of Kabalistic ideas is done by giving them over in vague terms, rather than spelling them out in detail, making proper understanding available only to those properly equipped to "fill in the blanks.")

The class is taught by Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky,Dean of Darche Noam Institutions, YeshivatDarche Noam/Shapell's and Midreshet Rachel for Women.



 






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