Chazal describe Hashem’s plan for the formation and structure of the world in the following terms: “ביקש לו דירה בתחתונים — Hashem desired a dwelling place in the world below.” To accomplish this, He created both spirituality (שמים) and physicality (ארץ)1)Genesis 1:1.

Part One: Nefesh — Kohanim

  • Kedushah and dinim of Kohanim, including mumim and mumei korbanos
  • Kiddush and chillul Hashem
  • Level One: Taharah
    • Tumah is a state of spiritual blockage and darkness
    • Tahara is the ability to circumvent the blockage from above
      • Compare with Aramaic Tihara for “high noon”
    • When Adam HaRishon erred, he created a blockage within himself, an extra hurdle between the body and spirituality
  • Level Two: Kedushah
    • Taharah is analogous to purifying the ore
    • Forging the slug into a tool is like becoming a Kadosh
    • The Torah concept of Kedushah (holiness) is one who is accomplishing and living his yeud (purpose)
    • This level requires a willing, self-imposed restriction from those relevant aspects of physicality
  • Level Three: Kehunah
    • Being responsible for the avodah of raising up the korbanos requires a yet higher level of sanctification
    • Each Jew has within himself an aspect of kehuna in that regard
  • Level Four: Korban
    • When a person completely sublimates his physical self to avodas Hashem, he figuratively offers himself up on the altar
  • Level Five: Kiddush Hashem
    • In fact the source of all the lower levels
    • I can’t make myself into a kiddush Hashem, I must be lifted up to that level from above.

Part Two: Zman — The Moadim

  • The five levels represent points in consciousness
  • Everyone experiences momentary flashes of inspiration to different levels e.g. self–sacrifice, separation from the mundane
  • Drawing those momentary flashes out into longer sustained periods brings those flashes into the realm of time
  • This is represented by the moadim (holidays), including the moadim derabbanan — Channukah and Purim, which are represented by the Menorah and Shewbread Table
  • Shabbos represents the highest level of Kiddush Hashem, Hashem himself sanctifies the Shabbos
  • The moadim represent the lower levels, human consciousness sanctifies the moadim through the setting of the calendar.

Part Three: Makom — The Mekaleil

  • In relating the story of the mekaleil (blasphemer), the Torah emphasizes his place:
    • ויצא — he left
    • איש מיצרי — a man from Egypt
    • בתוך בני ישראל — within the [camp of] the Children of Israel
    • במחנה — within the camp
    • ויבאו אותו — they brought him in
    • He placed his tent in the tribe of Dan
  • He detached his very place from kedushah
  • Makom (place) is higher than nefesh and zman. It is when kedushah not only continues through time, but actually permeates space.
  • It is the fulfilment of “ביקש לו דירה בתחתונים — Hashem desired a dwelling place in the world below.”
  • The mekaleil thus is the archetypical materialist

Towards Parshas Behar

Now we understand how Behar (a place) teaches us the value of life. Although life is a hierarchy, with absolute value at each level, any one living being has access to climb that ladder to higher levels, and thus all life is inviolate.

Image Credit: Ilker Ender

References   [ + ]

1. Genesis 1:1