Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Days of Moshiach And the Refined Physical Body

The Days of Moshiach And the Refined Physical Body
Tishrei 5770 תהא שנת עינים פקוחות
Formatted with footnotes:

Eliyahu Hanavi ascended heavenward while still in his body. Yaakov Avinu didn’t die. Rabbeinu Hakadosh (Yehuda Hanasi), after he passed away, returned home Friday nights to make Kiddush for his family. As part of the Torah of Truth, these events are intended to teach us something about the nature of our existence in general, and about the Days of Moshiach in particular.

It is a principle of Torah that “the beginning is wedged into the end”. The nature of the human body as it will be in the days of Moshiach is the way that it was at the beginning, before the sin of the Tree of Knowledge1. Prior to the sin, the body of man was “pure and clean” without any aspect of evil or waste at all.2 Midrash Rabba states that Adam’s body was so luminescent that it made the sun look dark in comparison. This original body is the Tzelem Elokim (“Divine Image”), which is also known as Adam’s garments in Gan Eden, as mentioned in Sefer HaTanya.3

Adam was placed in the rarified environment of Gan Eden. Although Gan Eden Ha’aretz (the lowest level of Gan Eden) is found in this physical world, is not visible to us because it is the pure dimension of “ruchniyus sh’b’gashmiyus”,4 the “spiritual within the physical” that is “completely separate from this world”.5 The body of Adam itself was on this level of “spiritual within the physical”, and dwelled in the refined spirituality of Gan Eden.6 Gan Eden “was for him what this world is for us now”.7

When Adam and his wife sinned, they mixed evil into everything and were expelled from Gan Eden. The verse says that Hashem garbed them in “garments of skins”,8 which the Shelah explains cover up the original “garments of light”.9 Not only Adam’s body, but the entire world became garbed in a shell of obscuring matter. Following the sin, our entire perception of reality is the reality of this “shell”. In the words of the Rebbe Rashab: “what we see as physical is not physical. What we see as physical is something attached, which we need to separate…what we see is the result of the sin of the Tree of Knowledge”.10 The sin brought into being this world that we know: “a world which is a lie”—alma d’shikra. As the Rebbe Rayatz says: “This world is called alma d’shikra. The physical is a lie, for the true existence is the spiritual life force, not the existence of physicality, and the existence of physicality covers up the spiritual life force.”11

In Kabbalah and Chassidus it is explained that in the period known as the Days of Moshiach the body will achieve complete refinement and return to the pristine level it held before the sin. Man will once again be on the level of Tzelem Elokim, meaning the level of “spiritual within the physical”. Man will shed the “garments of flesh”, which conceal the light of the neshoma,12 much like a snake sheds its skin. Then the Tzelem Elokim, the “garments of light” beneath, will be revealed.

The Two Bodies Within
The effect of the sin—which resulted in the covering and concealing of the “garments of light” with “garments of flesh”—we can understand what the Arizal states in Eitz Chayim, that contained within the material (external) body there are two other dimensions of “body”:
“...he has two other bodies; one is the refined and pure body [the Tzelem Elokim13]…and the second is from klipas noga (the “shell” which can be refined)…and it is called the Animal Soul…and this is the true body which is from klipas noga and it is a garment…which is called garments of skin…”
This means that the “coarse body” of flesh which we perceive with our eyes, which is the “garment” of this world, contains two other bodies: a pure and holy body (the Tzelem Elokim) and the “true body” (the animal soul, which stays attached to the body of flesh14). The Tzelem is described as “the intermediary between the soul and the body”,15 and while it is relatively spiritual (indeed, it is the Intellectual Soul of man), we will see below that it is actually in the category of physical.

We will now examine two cases in Torah of individuals who are described as having a bodily existence after their passing, Yaakov Avinu and Rabbeinu Hakadosh (R’ Yehudah Hanosi),16 and we will see that their being alive after their passing refers to their existence in this “second body”, the Tzelem Elokim.

Yaakov Avinu Did Not Die
Our sages tell us that Yaakov Avinu didn’t die, despite the fact that the Torah itself states that he was eulogized, embalmed, and buried. The Lubavitcher Rebbe exlains that the expression “he didn’t die” means that his body didn’t die, and that this is no contradiction to the fact that the Egyptians saw that he died and “did these activities with the body of Yaakov”16*.

On the passing of Yaakov Avinu, R’ Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin writes that “his passing was merely like removing this garment and dressing in another garment of the Supernal world, and this garment was buried but this has nothing to do with death...what does it concern me that as far as this world is concerned there was a burial of the body, in any event according to the truth he didn’t die at all…”17

Rabbeinu Bachya states: “Yaakov Avinu didn’t die, but he remains existing in body and soul, this body is the second body the ethereal body in which the soul is garbed in the form of a body and it has tangibility, but it is exceedingly ethereal…and the first coarse body was embalmed and buried…and this is the same thing as Rabbeinu Hakadosh in [the Gemara] Kesuvos.”18 Additionally, the Tzemach Tzedek says that what happened with Yaakov Avinu (that he didn’t die) is “in the way of the resurrection of the dead.”19 Note that in Igeres Hakodesh20 the Baal HaTanya brings that Yaakov Avinu rectified the sin of Adam, and thus resembles him, and the Mitteler Rebbe states that this resemblance refers to their Tzelem Elokim.21

Rabbeinu Hakadosh Would Return to His Home
In the writings of R’ Chayim Vital, z”l, it states that “Rabbeinu Hakadosh is Yaakov Avinu himself”21*. This accords with the comment of Rabbeinu Bachya quoted previously, which links “Yaakov Avinu didn’t die” with the Gemara Kesuvos 103a about Rabbeinu Hakadosh. In that Gemara it describes how after his histalkus (passing) , Rabbeinu Hakadosh returned to his home to make kiddush for his family (thereby fulfilling their halachic obligation). The Gemara reports that once the neighbors came by on Erev Shabbos and the maid told them “be quiet, Rebbi is here”—which indicates that although the family knew that Rabbeinu Hakadosh was present, these neighbors could not see him!

We can understand this better in light of what the Arizal explains,22 that angels cannot be seen by ordinary people. However, those possessing a refined soul (nefesh) can see them, because an Intellectual Soul which is in a state of refinement is able to see the nefesh (the form and extremely refined substance) of the angel. This is the same phenomenon, explains the Arizal, as those who see Eliyahu Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet) and Rabbeinu Hakadosh—it is the same as seeing angels. He explains that what they are seeing is not a created being of this lower world (i.e., a material entity), but rather the “chaluka d’Rabbanan”, the refined “garment” that they wear. This garment is the same as the garments of Adam in Gan Eden, and corresponds to the “second body” of tzaddikim, their Tzelem Elokim. (See Toras Shmuel22*, which states that “the bodies of angels are called chaluka d’Rabbanan”).

Thus far, it would seem that we are discussing some sort of spiritual body. However, in regards to the incident with Rabbeinu Hakadosh recorded in the Gemara, the Lubavitcher Rebbe raises the following question23:
[Since Rabbeinu Hakadosh was] a neshoma from the world of truth [i.e., he had passed away], how could it be possible that he will make kiddush on physical wine, and not only that, but that he will make others hear kiddush and will satisfy their obligation?!
Since our sages tell us that the dead are not obligated in commandments, we are left with a question about the status of Rabbeinu Hakadosh. The dead are not obligated in the commandments, and thus they cannot perform them on behalf of others. Yet in this case Rabbeinu Hakadosh did in fact perform the commandment on behalf of others. The Rebbe resolves this paradox quite simply :
Since he came to his home in a way that the members of his household saw him, and as emphasized in Sefer Chassidim that he would appear in Shabbos clothes, etc., it is understood that at that same time his neshoma descended and enclothed in a physical body and was seen to eyes of flesh, so consequently, he is in the category of a soul in a body.24
As explained above, the body of Rabbeinu Hakadosh after his passing was his “second body”, meaning his Tzelem Elokim, the garments of Adam before the sin. And such a body, which is “close to the level of the nefesh”,25 is considered here to be in the category of a physical body!

Rebbe Rayatz: No Change
This gives us a basis to understand the Rebbe’s explanation of what occurred (and what didn’t occur) on Yud Shevat, 5710, the day of the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz (the Previous Lubacitcher Rebbe, in 1950). The Rebbe spoke at that time that the Rebbe Rayatz “stands and serves” “without any change from his perspective”. “It is not how it appears to eyes of flesh (physical, and even more so material) that there was, G-d-forbid, an interruption [of life]—but rather here, too, he stands and serves.”26 The Rebbe provides an explanation as to why there was “no change from his perspective”: “this which was taken from him was only the external garment—and as far as the aspect of garment—he was given a better garment.”27

This is an external garment, the attached “shell” which covers over the pure and refined physicality beneath.28 From this it is possible to understand how, after Yud Shevat, the Rebbe can speak of the Rebbe Rayatz having long life, meaning “life in the simple sense, physically” even though “we are speaking about a situation which to eyes of flesh it appears that an interruption occurred.”29

Our eyes of flesh see only the coarse, external body which, like Yaakov Avinu’s external body, was buried in the manner of the world; but the essential part, the inner dimension of physicality does not change—like Yaakov Avinu and Rabbeinu Hakadosh, who live on in their bodies. The only thing that changes is how it appears to those who view things through eyes of flesh alone, as the Rebbe said “he [the Rebbe Rayatz] went up, and we stayed in our places, so we can’t see him with eyes of flesh.”30

Open The Eyes
On 9 Kislev, 5752 (1992), the Rebbe stressed the need “to learn the subject of Redemption, in a way that this will open up the heart and the eyes and the ears—and that they will understand, see, and feel as simple reality within the physicality of the world—the true and complete Redemption in actuality.”31 Numerous times the Rebbe spoke of the need to “open the eyes”, and the question arises: which “eyes” are we talking about?

We can find a hint in the Sicha of parshas Bo, 5752, when the Rebbe said “the spiritual eyes of the Jewish people already see the Redemption; now we only need to open up the physical eyes, that they too should see the Redemption the way it is revealed to eyes of flesh at this time.”32 Paying attention to the Rebbe’s words, we can identify three different eyes: a) spiritual eyes; b) physical eyes; and c) eyes of flesh. The Rebbe states that the eyes of flesh are open, and the Redemption is already revealed to them. The spiritual eyes of the neshoma also see the Redemption. What remains is to open the physical eyes.

To understand the concept of opening the eyes, we have an explanation of the Mitteler Rebbe. He explains that this seeing of the physical eye “comes about through the seeing of the eye of the Natural Soul which [sees now] in physicality, except that now the bodily materiality of the human intellect and the heart is not refined”.33 Elsewhere he writes: “The refinement that the neshoma brings upon the body refers to the fact that there is the possibility for elevating the intellectual natural soul that it should also ascend to G-dly holiness.”34

In other words, the physical eye refers not to the fleshly eye, but rather to the sight of the Natural Soul, which is what relates to and comprehends the physicality of the world (i.e., it sees physicality). Also note what was quoted from the Arizal above, that “the Intellectual Soul sees the nefesh of the angel; so, too, those who see Eliyahu Hanavi and Rabbeinu Hakadosh.” All of this physical seeing refers to the seeing of the Intellectual Soul.34*

Refined Physicality
From the foregoing we are able to distinguish three distinct aspects of the person: the neshoma which is spiritual; the “garments of light” of the Tzelem Elokim, which are the intermediary; and the body of flesh, which is the external “garment” of this world. In a state of exile our eyes see only the body of flesh. Most of us cannot perceive angels or the great tzaddikim who have merited to remove their garments of flesh and can appear in the world in their Tzelem Elokim.

One whose materiality is refined is capable, with Hashem’s help, of seeing (via his Intellectual Soul) the tzaddik’s supernal garments, called the chaluka d’Rabbanan).35 It should be noted that this perception is seen exactly as one sees everything else (“re’iyah chushis”) as a real existent entity and not an abstract intellectual or spiritual vision. In other words, the Tzelem Elokim which is an intermediary between the spiritual and the physical and is not enclothed in coarse material is perceived just like part of the material world.

This Tzelem Elokim is the clean and holy body which remains after the evil of the sin has been completely refined out, and its physicality is restored to the state of refinement of Adam. This is the body of the days of Moshiach, as the Rebbe Rayatz says: “in the days of Moshiach there will be the aspect of man in its perfection, namely that all the evil will be eliminated and it will be only the aspect of Tzelem Elokim.”36 As explained above, a neshoma is enclothed in this Tzelem Elokim and appears to others in the world, it is in the category of physical and thus even able to render halachic decisions.37

The Connection to Moshiach
We know from the Rambam that Moshiach is a flesh and blood human being, a Jewish leader descended from King David. We also know from sources in all parts of Torah (Tanach, Rashi, Midrash, Kabbalah) that Moshiach is revealed and then undergoes a state of concealment, before being revealed again in the fullest sense. Rashi on Daniel 12:12 states “our King Moshiach is destined to be hidden after he is revealed and to be revealed again. So we find in Midrash Ruth...“ (We also find this concept brought by the Chasam Sofer in his commentary on the chumash, Toras Moshe 9b, and Rabbeinu Bachya on Shemos 4:9.) Rabbi Chayim Vital reveals the nature of this concealment:
Like we found by Moshe that he went up to the firmament as body and soul, and remained there for 40 days, so to it will be with the Moshiach after he merits to that neshoma and recognizes himself that he is Moshiach, as it states Moshiach will be revealed but he still won't be recognized by the rest of the people, and afterwards the Moshiach will bebody and soul in the same way that Moshe came into the cloud...(as quoted in Ohr Hachama on Zohar Shemos 7b)
In order to see what makes this relevant to our discussion, we must first understand what occurred when Moshe Rabbeinu went up to Mount Sinai in the midst of the cloud. It is explained elsewhere in Ohr Hachama38* that “’Moshe came into the cloud’ means that he separated from the material body”. The Shach al Hatorah comments, “Moshe went up and merited what no one else merited, which is that his material physical limbs became spiritual...“ As expressed in the Me’am Loez, “Moshe reached the level of angels, and became completely spiritual.” The Arizal39 states explicitly that Moshe’s body became like the body of angels when he entered the cloud, which we learned above is the garment called “chaluka d’Rabbanan”.

Thus Moshiach, during his time of concealment, is like Moshe Rabbeinu on the mountain: his physical body is transformed to literally the body of an angel. Yet we have also learned that there are indeed those who can see this level of refined matter, and that this brings it into the category of a physical body (pure and refined physicality to be sure). Thus, when Rabbeinu Hakadosh would appear in the world in this refined form, he was obligated in the commandments40, and he could be seen by members of his household. Indeed, he was fully “chay v’kayam”—alive in a physical sense. So it was with Moshe and so it is with Moshiach.

It becomes clear from these sources that Moshiach, during his period of concealment, is alive in a physical body yet it is on a greatly refined level of the physical that has little in common with our coarse materiality. Refined physicality as it was before the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, which is the level of physicality to which the entire world is destined to return.

When Moshe entered into the cloud on Mount Sinai and “separated from the material body” to be “transformed to the level of angels”, there were those among the Jewish people who were unable to recognize that Moshe was indeed fully alive (not only spiritually Above, but also physically here below). However, in this last generation of exile, the first generation of redemption, every Jew is capable of recognizing this!

The only remaining task, as the Rebbe said, is to “open our eyes”. The most direct way is by learning the subject of Moshiach and Redemption and thus achieving an intellectual recognition—seeing with the mind—which will lead easily and automatically to seeing with “eyes of flesh”. In this way we will merit to see the Rebbe and the complete revelation of Moshiach in this year of 5770—”a year of opened eyes”!

יחי אדוננו מורנו ורבינו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד

Formatted with footnotes:

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