A 1934 year old system that
can teach us how to deal with destruction, consolation and
– Week 2 –
July 4th, 2002: An attack in LAX. Threats of more
attacks. A world shrouded in the shadows of terrorism and
economy, our basic security – all our existing infrastructures
are undergoing an unprecedented reality check – tremors that
will surely change the universe in which we live.
enter the second week of the traditional Three Week mourning
period, when we grieve the destruction of the Holy Temple
in Jerusalem (the first Temple 2424 years ago, the second
one 1934 years ago) – life around us seems to be tragically
reflecting this sad time period.
three week period is one that exposes the cracks in our universe.
Cracks in our systems shake us up; but a crack also exposes
what lies within. We can be demoralized by the cracks or we
can attempt to look between the cracks and see an emerging
now directly experiencing a crack in the continuum of history,
one that can catapult us into a completely new awareness and
raise our consciousness to a completely new level.
the deeper meaning of these weeks – and glean from them a
system how to heal, grow and rebuild our lives – allow me
to cite a discourse of the great Chassid Reb Hillel of Paritch
(1795-1864) in which he explains the deeper significance of
the “three weeks of rebuke, seven of consolation, two of return.”
Kabbalah teaches that the Three Weeks manifest the concealment
of the three intellectual faculties (Chochma, Binah, Daat).
The following Seven Weeks express the revelation of the intellect
of Atik Yomin (lit. ‘ancient days,’ referring to the higher
dimension of Ketter, the crown – the highest Divine revelation)
in the seven emotions. And the Two Weeks of Return is the
elevation of Malchut achieved through the two levels of teshuvah
(‘higher teshuvah’ and ‘lower teshuvah’) that elevates from
Biy”a (Beriah, Yetzirah, Asiyah). This is followed by Yom
Kippur, when the Second Tablets were given, the revelation
of the intellect of Atik Yomin into Biy”a. Followed by
Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, when the revelation of
Yom Kippur is revealed in great joy.
had problems understanding the last paragraph, don’t be forlorn;
most of us have the same difficulty. That is why we need Chassidus
to explain the cryptic language of Kabbalah. Reb Hillel explains
it with an analogy of a teacher and student (which is the
classical and best example to explain the relationship between
the Divine and the mundane).
conventional transmission of knowledge from teacher to student
is a seamless process. It does not require a special effort.
However, when the teacher (out of his deep love to the student)
wants to convey an entirely new concept – one that is beyond
anything yet revealed – he needs to collect his thoughts,
return into the deepest recesses of his mind until he is ready
to being transmitting the new concept.
the process of reflection, the teacher will suspend his transmission
teacher to the student, while he gathers his thoughts. The
deeper he goes into his own mind, the more he immerses into
the new concept, the deeper will be his silence.
the student’s perspective this silence can be perceived as
a disconnection. He can even think that the teacher has abandoned
him. In truth what is happening is that the teacher is connecting
ever more with the student. His silence actually reflects
a deeper bond with the student; this silence is giving birth
to an unprecedented new concept that will afterwards be conveyed
to the student.
Hillel explains, that the Three Weeks reflect a cosmic silence
that progresses from week to week. The Three Weeks begin with
the 17th of Tammuz, the day when Moses broke the
Two Tablets when he saw that the people had built the Golden
Calf, 40 days after he received the Tablets with the Ten Commandments
surface, the broken Tablets are a tragic events and the 17th
of Tammuz is the beginning of the saddest time of the year.
Yet, following that day Moses returned to Sinai to beseech
G-d to forgive the people. His efforts would take 80 days,
but at the end of that period Moses would prevail and return
on Yom Kippur with the second set of Tablets.
Second Tablets are in many ways far greater than the first.
They revealed an entirely new ‘concept’ and introduced an
unprecedented new energy into existence. This new ‘concept’
and energy is born in the Three Weeks (the first three weeks
of Moses prayer on Sinai).* During these weeks Moses was on
Sinai, the people below experienced only silence. But above
a birthing was take place.
Three Weeks progress the silence deepens. The people feel
that perhaps they will not be forgiven. The siege over Jerusalem
intensifies from day to day, until we reach Tisha B’Av at
the end of the Three Weeks, which is the saddest day of all,
when the Temples are destroyed. Traditionally the mourning
intensifies as these weeks pass and reach closer to Tisha
one the first intellectual faculty (Chochma) is concealed.
Though the ‘teacher’ is retreating into his mind to generate
the new ‘concept,’ he still can maintain some form of superficial
communication with the student. In week two the concealment
progresses into the dimension of Binah (understanding). Finally,
in week three all levels of intellect are concealed, including
the third faculty of Daat (knowledge).
as the silence deepens, the new ‘concept’ is developing further
and reaching new heights. The greater the silence, the greater
during this silence, if we look close enough we can detect
a glow on the face of the teacher as he experiences the new
glow, this aura is expresses itself in the seven emotions
of the teacher – and they in turn comfort us (the student)
in the Seven Weeks of Consolation. In each of the seven weeks
we are increasingly comforted as we progressively connect
to the ‘glowing’ seven emotions of the teacher (as will be
discussed in detail in future essays).
Seven Weeks of Consolation are meant to motivate and prepare
us for the work we must do to receive the new revelation birthed
in the Three Weeks. This work entails teshuvah: In order to
grow and be receptive to a new perspective, we must suspend
our old perspectives and free ourselves from our old patterns
of behavior. This teshuvah has two steps – the Two Weeks of
Teshuvah, which allows us to finally receive the new revelation
of the Second Tablets on Yom Kippur. After all this work we
are finally ready to celebrate our reception of the new ‘concept.’
And celebrate we do on Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.
in brief is a synopsis of Reb Hillel’s fascinating discourse,
which apparently is based on the teachings of his teacher,
the Tzemach Tzedek.
know about you, but I find that this explanation provides
us with a brilliant formula to cope with our challenges today.
stand in the second of the Three Weeks – the week of Binah.
Families torn apart by recent violence seem to be experiencing
a deep silence. And we all grieve with them. When we think
about it (or even when we don’t) we are all living in a long
shadow of uncertainty, and the gloom seems to be deepening.
is G-d in all of this?” many of us are asking. Why is G-d
we get through this, and more importantly how will
and so many fundamental questions asked today are answered
by the 1934 year old system that teaches us how to deal with
loss, how to be comforted and how to rebuild a new world.
as we experience great loss, we also witness – and are comforted
by – noble heroism and the majesty of the human spirit – perhaps
a manifestation of the seven ‘glowing’ emotions.
as we hear silence, we must realize that a great new revelation
is being born. And we are privileged to be part of it. We
are blessed to help precipitate a new era – when materialism
will be not an end in itself, but a means to spirituality
– to a world whose entire occupation will be to know the Divine,
to perceive in all of existence the sublime energy within,
the ‘hand inside the glove;’ a “world filled with Divine knowledge
as the waters cover the sea.”
to do so, we must first be cognizant of the tenuousness of
the material world (as an end to itself). We must grieve for
our losses, stand in awe of the silence and recognize the
cracks that have opened up in our existing infrastructures.
Then we must be comforted by the knowledge and the trust in
G-d’s promise, that the ‘destruction’ of a previous state
allows for the birth of a new one. That the cracks around
us reveal a deeper truth. And finally, we must acclimate ourselves
to the deeper truth. We must free ourselves – through teshuvah
– from our subjective pasts and our hardened habits, and realign
our lives to a greater vision of new horizons.
we use these weeks well to align our lives to the healthy
cosmic rhythms of time – the rhythms that reflect the inner
patterns of life and inner forces that make existence tick.
we do our part to prepare ourselves and the world to finally
receive and experience the new revelation: the rebuilding
of the Third and eternal Temple, the final and eternal Redemption.
After the long – 1934 year old – silence, it’s about time.
(lion) – the Mazal (sign) of the month of Av – is an acronym
of Elul, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Hoshana Rabbah. Av gives
birth to the success of Moses prayers beginning in Elul (when
Moses ascends Sinai for the third and final time), through
Rosh Hashana, finally prevailing on Yom Kippur, and consummated
and celebrated on Hoshana Rabbah.