Thursday, November 6, 2014

Parshas Vayera - bringing the shechinah into olam hazeh

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah:

וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו ה' בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא וְהוּא יֹשֵׁב פֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל כְּחֹם הַיּוֹם

“And Hashem appeared to him in the plains of Mamreh while he was sitting at the entrance to the tent in the heat of the day.”

Rashi explains:

"ישב" - ישב כתיב בקש לעמוד אמר לו הקב"ה שב ואני אעמוד ואתה סימן לבניך שעתיד אני להתיצב בעדת הדיינין והן יושבין שנאמר (תהלים פ"ב) אלקים נצב בעדת אל

“[The word yoshev is missing a vov so can be read as vehu yashav, he sat. Avraham tried to stand but Hashem said to him, ‘You sit and I will stand and you will be a sign for your children that I will stand in the meeting of dayanim and they will sit.’”

It is difficult to understand the connection between Hashem standing when He came to visit Avraham to do bikkur cholim and between Hashem standing while the Sanhedrin decide the halachah.
  •  When Hashem visited Avraham Hashem told Avraham to remain seated as he was ill, why then is this a reason for the Sanhedrin to remain seated while they decide the halachah?
The Pri Tzaddik explains as follows:

The Pirkei d’Rebbi Eliezer (perek 29) says:

אמר הקב"ה למלאכי השרת באו וראו כחה של מילה עד שלא מל אברהם היה נופל על פניו ואח"כ הייתי מדבר עמו שנאמר ויפול אברהם על פניו ועכשו שנמול הוא יושב ואני עומד ומניין שהיה אברהם יושב שנאמר וישא אברהם את עיניו וירא והנה שלשה אנשים נצבים עליו

“Hashem said to the malachim, come and see the strength of milah, before Avraham had a bris he would fall on his face and only afterwards I would talk with him as the passuk says (Bereishis 17:17) ‘and Avraham fell on his face’, and now that he has had a bris he sits and I stand. How do you know that Avraham was sitting as it says, ‘And Avraham lifted his eyes and he saw three men standing over him.”

The reason that Avraham Avinu fell on his face before he had bris milah was because not every part of his experience of olam hazeh was subjugated to avodas Hashem. It was therefore not possible for Avraham to reconcile olam hazeh with his understanding of the giluy hashechinah and he was not able to experience olam hazeh and also the giluy hashechinah simultaneously.

However after Avraham Avinu had the bris he subjugated his entire experience of olam hazeh to his avodas  Hashem and therefore there was no longer any contradiction between his perception of olam hazeh and his understanding of the giluy hashechinah, therefore he was now able to remain sitting when the shechinah was revealed to him.

Similarly, when the Sanhedrin decide the halacha, they show that anything in olam hazeh can be considered and decided on in the light of the Torah and that the will of Hashem can be applied to everything that we experience.

Therefore, just as Hashem stood and Avraham sat when Hashem visited Avraham after he had a bris, so too Hashem kaveyachol stands when the Sanhedrin decide the halacha to show that by the Sanhedrin deciding the halachah, they are bringing the shechinah into this world.

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