Vol 36.17 - Yitro 3 Spanish French Audio Video
|Hebrew Text: Chumash-Shmot|
The reason that the first commandment after Matan Torah was: "Do not make an image of anything that is with Me" (Ex. 20:20) and the innovation of Matan Torah ina manner of Bitul to G-d. (5750 Vol. 36 XXXVI Pg 96)
Explanation of the Torah of the Alter Rebbe (cited in Sefer HaSichot 5699 pg.337) concerning the negative commandment: "Do not make an image of anything that is with Me" and the positive commandment: "Make an earthen altar for Me" etc - that the negative commandment precedes the positive commandment because: "nothingness preceded matter"
and the reason that the Alter Rebbe does not explain (like the Abarbanel et al.) that the concept of Bitul is hinted in the in the "earthen altar"
1. At the end of our Parsha (Ex. 20: 19-20) the Torah tells us that after Matan Torah, G-d said to Moshe:
“So shall you say to the children of Israel, You have seen that from the heavens I have spoken with you. You shall not make (images of anything that is) with Me. Gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves”
The Ramban writes, in explaining these words, that:
(He commanded Moshe to tell them) “Since you yourselves have seen that I have talked with you from heaven and that I am the Master in heaven and upon the earth, therefore, do not combine gods of silver or gods of gold with Me, for you have no need of another aid with Me”.
He further explains the essence of the two warnings in Scripture “You shall not make images of anything that is with Me. Gods of silver . .you shall not make for yourselves” that:
“He warned against believing in them, and again warned against merely making them, similar to the verse, “nor shall you set up a statue or a monument for yourselves”.
The commentators have already questioned this Ramban. For it is difficult to say that it comes to warn against faith in another god (for it already states in the Ten Commandments “You shall not have (the gods of others) etc.”).
Therefore, they write a different explanation, namely that here it comes,
“To command them, that together with faith in G-d, they should not place, in their prayers, intermediaries between them and their G-d, and they shall not make images for the purpose of drawing down the effluence of the constellations, to make their possessions successful. For indeed, they do not need them since G-d is close to them, in all their callings out to Him, and He hears them and answers them, not through an angel, and not through any other constellation or intermediary that they request for them. . He brings a proof from the chosen standing that they heard from G-d, blessed be He, at the Ten Commandments without any intermediary between Him and them. Therefore, you shall not make them with Him. In other words to be intermediaries between Him and them. These are Talismans (הטלסמאות) that the ancients would make to draw down the spirituality of the constellations for the success of the imaginary things. He said ‘You shall not make them with Me’ and further repeated ‘you shall not make for yourselves’ to tell that it is improper both for His sake as well as theirs. On his part because you have seen that from the heavens He spoke with you, without any intermediary. And on their part, for they are directed from His providence and guidance, not from the conduct of the heavenly systems”.
This requires explanation:
For even on the making of an intermediary, seemingly, there is no need to warn them immediately after Matan Torah. For this aspect is also in the scope of idolatry (Avodah Zarah). As Rambam elaborates in Hilchot Avodah Zarah. In addition, at Matan Torah all Yisroel saw that
“The L-rd is G-d, there is no other beside Him – and they saw that He is One”. (יחידי)
In other words, there is no other being besides G-d Therefore, how could they think of making an intermediary between them and their G-d?
Therefore, the apparent explanation is that the command of “You shall not make images with Me” is not (just) a specific warning (on Avodah Zarah or Shituf (שיתוף) or an intermediary, and so forth) but, with it, the entire aspect of Matan Torah, is expressed, as will be explained.
2. The first verse that is stated in the Torah after Matan Torah is:
“And all the people saw the voices and the torches, the sound of the shofar . . and the people saw and trembled; so they stood from afar.”
In other words at Matan Torah, Yisroel were made completely Bitul (nullified to G-d).
(Moreover, at the time of Matan Torah, the entire Creation became Bitul, as the Sages state:
“When G-d gave the Torah, a bird did not chirp, a winged creature did not fly, an ox did not low, the Ophanim did not fly, the Seraphim did not say holy holy, the sea did not move, the creations did not speak but rather the world was quiet and silent and the voice of G-d came out and stated ‘I am the L-rd your G-d etc.’ When G-d spoke on Mount Sinai the entire world was silenced in order that the created beings know that there is none except for Him".
In other words, Matan Torah effected a Bitul not only in Yisroel, but in the entire Creation.)
The import of the matter is that Matan Torah contained two aspects:
Both of them come from the two aspects that occurred at Matan Torah:
In other words:
At Matan Torah there was the revelation of G-dliness, that effected the recognition and feeling in all the created beings (and especially in Yisroel) that there is no other independent entity at all, and that “All the beings . . came into existence only from the truth of His being”. In addition to this, there was the aspect of the saying of the Ten Commandments and the giving of the Torah to Yisroel. According to the simple meaning, these are two aspects that are different.
This is the innovation in G-d’s words after Matan Torah:
“You have seen that from the heavens I have spoken with you. You shall not make images of anything that is with Me”.
These two aspects are not two different things. Rather, the essence of Matan Torah is the nullification of man’s being, namely that he should feel and recognize that “You shall not make with Me”. In other words that there is no entity at all, “with Me”.
3. The explanation of this is:
In the scope of the feeling of Bitul in a person, there are, in general, two manners:
The advantage of the second manner over that of the first manner is in two parts:
Whereas in the second manner:
This is the innovation that was made at the giving of the Torah to Yisroel:
The epitome of the elevation ('העלי) in the recognition and feeling of the nullification of being, that people were able attain before Matan Torah, was the level was the level of the Bitul of a Merkavah (chariot). A chariot is completely nullified to its rider. Nevertheless, there is the existence of the “chariot”.
Therefore, even though the “Patriarchs are the Merkavah” (האבות הן הן המרכבה) (the epitome of vehicles for G-dliness)
where “all of their limbs were completely holy and separated from the aspects of this world, and they became a vehicle solely for the Supernal Will alone, all of their days”,
nevertheless, the scope of a “chariot” is, that it is nullified to the rider. There are two things here: the rider, and the chariot that is nullified to it.
The innovation of Matan Torah is that the Bitul was not just an outcome of the submission of Bnei Yisroel to G-d, but rather it was through and due to G-d’s revelation. For since the Torah and G-d are completely One, therefore since “You have seen that from the heavens I have spoken with you”, there is no room for any other being besides Him, even a being that is nullified to Him, may He be blessed.
4. One could say that this is the essence of the Torah teaching of the Alter Rebbe that the Rebbe Rayatz cites.
The Rebbe further states that the reason that here, the Negative Commandment precedes the Positive Commandment is because “absence” (Heder/העדר) precedes “existence” (Yeish/יש), and decay precedes growth. “And according to the degree of the level of decay, is accordingly, the level of growth in the sowing and planting”.
In other words, the essence of the first Negative Commandment is the aspect of the “Heder” (that preceded “Yeish”) – the aspect of Bitul. This expresses the entire essence of the aspect of Matan Torah. For the purpose of Torah is to bring a person to a condition of “You shall not make images with Me” - the feeling of one’s Bitul is in a manner of “Heder/absence” - that he has no self, not even in a manner of “with Me” – something that is secondary (דבר הטפל) and nullified to G-d.
In other words it is not (just) the Bitul that is alluded to in the verse “there is none other than He” (אין עוד מלבדו), meaning that besides Him, there is no other being, however with him (עמו) there is being. But rather that this is like it states, “there is no other” (אין עוד) meaning that there is no other being at all (even not the being of one who is “another” and secondary)
One could say that the essence of this explanation is also alluded to in the homily of the Mechilta (that is cited in Rashi) on the verse, “You shall not make images of anything that is with Me”:
The Mechilta states:
“You shall not make . .the likeness of My servants who serve before Me on high. Neither the likeness of angels nor the likeness of Ophanim, nor the likeness of Cherubs”.
In general, this refers to the Supernal Chariot (המרכבה העליונה). In other words that the Avodah of Bnei Yisroel starting now, is not like “the likeness of My servants”, meaning the Bitul that is in a manner of “My servants who serve before Me” – the Supernal Merkavah. Rather, it is higher than this, utter Bitul - “there is no other” (אין עוד).
5. A glimmer of this aforementioned difference is also present now (after Matan Torah) in Avodat HaAdam. This is the difference between the Bitul that is manifested when a person fulfills G-d’s Mitzvot, versus the Bitul that is manifested when studying Torah.
As the Alter Rebbe explains,
For the words of Torah that he expresses from his mouth are, in actuality, the words of G-d (הרי הם דבר ה' ממש), as it states, “and I will place My words in your mouth” - My actual words. For the word of G-d which is Halacha (דבר ה' זו הלכה), is that which is revealed within him and is what is spoken from his throat (והיא המדברת מתוך גרונו).
In other words:
This is why the aforementioned aspect of the negation and Bitul of self is stated in an expression of a command and Mitzvah – “You have seen that from the heavens . . You shall not make images with Me”. This comes to teach that the Bitul is not an independent thing that comes and results from the revelation of Matan Torah. Rather it is connected with the Ten Commandments, the Torah that was given at Matan Torah.
6. According to this, it is understood why the Alter Rebbe explains that the main Bitul is that of “You shall not make images with Me” and not of the verse “An altar of earth you shall make for Me and you shall slaughter on it”, as many of the commentators of Torah explain, namely that “An altar of earth you shall make for Me” depicts submission.
For according to their explanation, Bitul is the submission and nullification that stems from the deeds of the person. This aspect is a preface and preparation to Torah. For without this, he opposes G-d and His Torah, as the Sages state: “He and I cannot dwell together” and “Torah is not to be found in the haughty”.
(As it is explained that this is the continuation of the verse before this “You have seen that from the heavens I have spoken with you”.
“For ‘although G-d is exalted, He regards the lowly’, and even though My dwelling place is in Heaven, nevertheless from My holy above, I spoke with you. This is the sign that G-d does not desire those of lofty stature. Therefore it states, ‘You shall not make . gods of silver etc.’. And this is why there is a commandment regarding the altar, not to make it of silver or gold, but rather ‘An altar of earth you shall make for Me’. For this depicts the attribute of humility”).
Whereas, according to the Alter Rebbe, the Bitul is due to the Torah, which effects complete Bitul, the scope of “heder/absence”. Therefore, he explains it in the expression of “You shall not make images with Me” that emphasizes that there is no other entity (even in manner of “with Me”, “With” meaning secondary) (אפילו בדרך אתי, "את" הטפל).
7. The Alter Rebbe explains on a deeper level, even the explanation of “An altar of earth you shall make for Me”. Namely, that it is not just a command to have submission and humility in order to be fitting to receive the command, and so forth. Rather it is a deeper level, that comes as a result of the Bitul of the person in a manner of “You shall not make images with Me”, the scope of “heder”.
This is as he states:
“Decay precedes growth and according to the degree of the level of decay, is accordingly, the level of growth in the sowing and planting”.
The explanation of the matter is:
After the explanation of “You shall not make images with Me”, the Alter Rebbe continues (there) and states:
“And the Positive Commandment is: “An altar of earth you shall make for Me, and you shall slaughter beside it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings”
you shall slaughter on the altar to become actual dust and ashes”.
This, seemingly, contradicts that which was previously stated.
For from his words in the beginning that:
and that the reason why the Negative Commandment here precedes the Positive Commandment is because “Decay precedes growth and according to the degree of the level of decay, is accordingly, the level of growth in the sowing and planting”,
it is understood that the essence of the aspect of “An altar of earth you shall make for Me” is the growth. In other words the being and the elevation of the person, not the Bitul (“heder”).
Yet afterward, he continues in the explanation of the verse, that its entire subject is the heder and the Bitul of the person “to make himself an altar of Bitul to offer your elevations on etc.”?
However, they are the same thing (הן הן הדברים):
When the Bitul stems from the person, meaning the submission and humility that the person effects within himself. Even if it may be a Bitul that is in a manner of “like “a servant that fulfills the command of the king and carries out his word”. In this case, even when he comes to the level of “An altar of earth”, namely the aspect of complete Bitul, there remains within him an aspect of virtue and completeness (מעלה ושלימות). As is plainly understood, when a servant fulfills the command of the king, he feels a sense of virtue and completeness (מעלה ושלימות) that is effected through him (similar to the dictum, the servant of the king is a king himself).
This is what is explained there, that the aspect of “An altar of earth” comes in continuation to the Negative Commandment of “You shall not make images with Me”. In other words the Bitul that is manifested through Torah. For in this, there is no entity at al besides the Torah that he learns (even not an entity that is nullified).
In the verse “An altar of earth you shall make for Me, and you shall slaughter beside it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings”, it is explained how this Bitul (of “You shall not make images with Me”) is imbued even in the midst of the being of the person. For even as he is, in his being of its own accord, when he is not studying Torah, his Bitul should be in the aforementioned manner, where there is no self at all.
On this he continues:
“You shall make yourself an altar of Bitul, ‘your burnt offerings’ meaning your elevations, ‘your peace offerings’ meaning your completeness, you shall slaughter on the altar to become actual dust and ashes”
The explanation of this is that his Bitul is not in a manner that he is an independent being who submits and nullifies himself to G-d. For then the Bitul is due to his Avodah and virtue. Rather the Bitul is in a manner of slaughtering (באופן של זביחה), where there is no being and “virtue” of Bitul, here at all. This occurs specifically when the elevations and the completeness, in other words, the true elevations and completeness that are called so, according to the Torah of truth (תורת אמת)
(Where the epitome of the elevations and completeness that are related to G-d and to His Torah are with Bitul itself)
are slaughtered on the altar. In other words, that it is not felt by the person that he accomplished and did any lofty or great thing for G-d, and he is made complete in his Avodah. Rather it is entirely an altar of Bitul, without feeling of elevation or completeness.
8. In the Torah of the Alter Rebbe there, he continues:
“An altar of Bitul is still not something. However, one must slaughter on it, the elevations and completeness”.
(אַ מזבח פון ביטול איז נאָך קיין זאַך ניט, נאָר מען דאַרף אויף אים זובח זיין די עליות ושלימות)
Seemingly, this is just a repetition of words. However, one could say that, in this, he is adding a loftier level.
For with these words, he adds two things that were not previously said:
One could say that the innovation of this is that, not only does he feel, that in all of his Avodah, it has not made any elevation within him (בו), and there is no completeness within him, but more than this - that there is no elevation and completeness, here, at all. For he is imbued with the Bitul of “Heder” and “there is no other” (אין עוד).
In a simpler style:
The Avodah in all aspects of Torah and Mitzvot must be without the feeling of one’s self. In other words, it must not be in a manner that he is studying Torah and fulfilling Mitzvot. Rather it is similar to one who “bows automatically” (מנפשי' כרע). This means that the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvot is (as if it is) by itself, without his being. In other words, all of his Avodah in Torah and Mitzvot is just that he should fulfill the Supernal Will. It does not matter to him, whether he is the one who fulfills G-d’s Will. For he does not feel his being (not even as a person that fulfills G-d’s will). The thing that matters to him is just – the Will of G-d.
MSichas Motzai Shabbat Kodesh Yud Shvat 5721
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