Vol 33.04 - Chag HaShavuot 1 Spanish French Audio Video
(5748) The Haftorah of the first day of Shavuot is that of the Merkavah of Yechezkel (Tal.Megillah 31a). Specific connection between Matan Torah to Merkavah of Yechezkel, where it stresses that objects below are a "resemblance to the Supernal counterparts" (Avodat HaKodesh 4:18)
1. Rambam writes (Hil. Tefilah 13:9):
“It is common custom to read on the first day of the festival (of Atzeret), (the passage) “Bachodesh hash'lishi” (Ex. 19:1-20:23). And we read as the Haftorah the vision of the Celestial Chariot (Merkavah) – (Yechezkel 1:1-28).
(The source for this is in the Beraita of Tractate Megillah, as the Kesef Mishneh writes).
This is ruled as Halacha in the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch.
Rashi writes that the reason that we read as the Haftorah, the Merkavah of Yechezkel (and this is cited in the Alter Rebbe‘s Shulchan Aruch) is,
“Because G-d appeared on Har Sinai with twice ten thousand times thousands of angels”.
The Levush elaborates further:
“We read as the Haftorah, the Merkavah of Yechezkel because on that day, at that chosen standing, all of them attained the virtue of prophecy. And all of them, young and old, heard, ‘I am the L-rd’, and ‘you shall not have’ from G-d. It is without doubt that all of them perceived, at that event, the workings of the Celestial Chariot, in all its detail that Yechezkel perceived it, as it states, ‘All the people saw the sounds’ which is all an allusion to the workings of the Celestial Chariot. Therefore, we also read as the Haftorah the workings of the Celestial Chariot, which is a semblance of the occurrence”.
It is explained in the Radak on sefer Yechezkel in the name of the Sages, that,
“For Yisroel on the day of Matan Torah saw the Merkavah just as Yechezkel saw it. So much so, that they said that a young girl of their women is as great as Yechezkel the son of Buzi”.
Seemingly, this reason (for the Haftorah of Yechezkel’s Merkavah) requires explanation:
The simple explanation why the Haftorah must “resemble the event” (מעין המאורע) is that in the Haftorah, it speaks (not regarding a side-issue of the event, but rather) concerning the main essence of the event.
In our case, seeing the Merkavah of Matan Torah is not, seemingly, from the essential body of the aspect of Matan Torah – which is the revelation of G-d to all Yisroel, and the giving of the Torah to Bnei Yisroel.
According to this, it seemingly, fits better, that for the reading of the passage of Matan Torah, on the first day (whose aspect is the day that the Torah was given) to read as the Haftorah in Chavakuk, which “speaks of Matan Torah (as it states),
“G-d came from Teman” (which speaks of) Matan Torah.
Moreover, even if one were to say that this is also among the primary aspects of Matan Torah – namely, that the revelation of the Shechinah was with the Merkavah, as the Levush writes (there) that,
“On that day, at that chosen standing, all of them attained the virtue of prophecy. . All of them saw, at that event, the workings of the Celestial Chariot etc.”
Nevertheless, the main emphasis (seemingly) is not in seeing the Merkavah, but rather the revelation of (the glory of) G-d and that all of them heard ‘I am the L-rd’, and ‘you shall not have’ from G-d.
Especially since the Sages state, that due to the seeing of the Merkavah, they were ensnared afterward into the event of the Calf, G-d forbid.
Even if one were to say that the Haftorah must be concerning the Merkavah, it would have seemingly been better for the Haftorah to be from Yeshaya. In other words, the Merkavah that Yeshaya saw. For there, the emphasis is on seeing G-d’s glory, as it states,
“I saw the L-rd sitting on a high and exalted throne, and His lower extremity filled the Temple. Seraphim stood etc.”
Which is similar to a concise version of the Merkavah
(As we indeed, read Yeshaya’s Merkavah as the Haftorah in Parshat Yitro)
Whereas with Yechezkel’s version – the Merkavah is more elaborate and in more detail – yet concise regarding G-d.
One could add:
The revelation of G-d’s glory at Matan Torah, is not similar to the revelation of G-d’s glory in Yechezkel’s Merkavah. Rather it is more similar to Yeshaya‘s prophecy. And even more than this, it resembles Moshe’s prophecy, the greatest of the prophets, as it states, “Face to face G-d spoke with you at the mountain”.
(This is similar to the aforementioned, that they heard ‘I am the L-rd’, and ‘you shall not have’ from G-d.)
According to this, one must also explain the Radak’s aforementioned words. Namely, that on Matan Torah there was the revelation of Yechezkel’s Merkavah. For since the revelation of (glory of) G-d was much loftier than this – “how does a candle in bright daylight accomplish”? (Note: in other words, seeing the Merkavah was much less than seeing G-d’s glory, therefore what did it accomplish?).
One must also explain the main law that “we read the Merkavah, as the Haftorah”, even though it states,
“One may not expound . . the Design of the Divine Chariot (even by) oneself unless he is wise and understands matters on his own”.
Because of this reason, “we are accustomed, in some places, that the most revered Rabbi and Sage recites this Haftorah, and the support for this is from the statement, ‘One may not expound . . the Design of the Divine Chariot unless he is wise and understands matters on his own’”.
So much so, that the Tanna Kamma’s view is that we do not read the Merkavah as the Haftorah, since “perhaps he will come to question and delve into it”.
Tosafot Yom Tov explains:
“The reason of the matter, why we are not concerned (that perhaps he will come to delve into it) appears that, in either event, if he is wise, he knows that an intellectual heart will not comprehend these things, and that being quiet about it is better than speaking of it. And if he is not at this level, it is the same, as it states, ‘He who silences even a fool is considered a wise man’. One should be surely silent in his foolishness and not question these things for he knows that he is not worthy to be given any answer”
However, even according to this it requires explanation:
What is the benefit of reading the aspect publicly? For the intent of the reading is not just for special individuals (יחידי סגולה) that G-d has graced with understanding to understand the Merkavah. Rather it is for all though who are present in the Beit HaKnesset and who hear the Torah reading and the Haftorah. For most of them are not at the level of a Sage who understands on his own etc. – who understands the workings of the Celestial Chariot.
Therefore, one must say that there is a special aspect in Yechezkel’s Merkavah which emphasizes the innovation of Matan Torah (which is why there was the revelation of the Merkavah at the time of Matan Torah).
Therefore, this Haftorah is “resembles the event” (מעין המאורע) which is the general innovation of Matan Torah (and even more so than the prophecy of the Merkavah of Yeshaya).
This special aspect of the Yechezkel’s Merkavah (which “resembles the event”) was given to each one of Yisroel to understand.
(Even though the details of the things of Yechezkel’s Merkavah are hidden, and not readily understood by regular people, for “the workings of the Merkavah are deep . . far from the understanding of general people”.
2. One could say that the explanation of this is:
The Talmud states the difference between the Merkavah that Yeshaya saw versus the Merkavah that Yechezkel saw:
“All that Yechezkel saw, Yeshaya saw as well. To what may Yechezkel be compared? To a villager (בן כפר) who saw the king. To what may Yeshaya be compared? To a townsperson (בן כרך) who saw the king.
In simplicity, it appears that the difference between them is not what they saw, but rather what they told (במה שסיפרו).
For regarding Yeshaya,
“He did not deem to explain everything, for he was a descendent of kings and he grew up in the palace, and a townsperson who sees the king is not startled and does not wonder and is not concerned to tell”.
However, from this itself that Yeshaya depicts the Merkavah like “a townsperson” that “was a descendent of kings and grew up in the palace” whereas Yechezkel is “a villager” whose place is not in the palace of the king – it is understood that Yeshaya‘s prophecy is loftier and more complete. As the Sages state that Yeshaya is called the “great one of the prophets” and the level of his prophecy and understanding was greater than Yechezkel’s understanding.
One could say that the difference is emphasized in this itself. Namely, that Yechezkel’s words come and delineate all the details of the aspects of the Merkavah. Whereas regarding Yeshaya, he mainly emphasizes the aspect of seeing the king himself (and not the details of the Merkavah).
This fits the simple difference between a villager who sees the king versus a townsperson who sees the king. Therefore, since he grew up in the palace of the king and has some understanding of the greatness of the king, Therefore, his seeing (the multitude of details of the aspects of) the chariot of the king, and so forth, does not invoke additional wonder to the exaltedness of the king, as opposed to just seeing the king himself.
Whereas with a villager, who has no knowledge and understanding of the greatness of the king – when he sees the aspects of his greatness and the great extravagances of his sovereignty, this awakens within him excitement due to the king’s greatness (although even then he has no understanding of the essence of the king’s greatness).
The same applies to the difference between Yeshaya and Yechezkel:
The prophecy of Yeshaya, the “greatest of the prophets” – was like a townsperson who has an understanding of the greatness of the king. Therefore, the greatness of the Merkavah of the king does not have any significance for him. Whereas, regarding Yechezkel, whose main seeing was the Merkavah. Nevertheless this seeing brought some understanding and excitement due to the greatness of the king, himself.
One can correlate this with that which the Sefer Avodat HaKodesh writes in explaining Yechezkel’s Merkavah, who writes:
“Since he saw and comprehended the lower Merkavah, he knew of the upper . . for there is a throne above a throne, and a Merkavah above a Merkavah, and a rider above a rider, and glory above glory. Since he saw four Chayot below, he knew and recognized that they have a similar counterpart Above, in the true unification (בייחוד האמיתי), for this has been received. And since he saw below, Chashmal, that surrounds the throne, which is called ‘outer Chashmal’ (חשמל החיצון), he knew that there is a similar counterpart – ‘inner Chashmal’ (חשמל הפנימי) etc. In this vein, from everything that he saw below, he knew that there is a counterpart Above”.
He (the Avodat HaKodesh) then goes on to explain with regard to all the verses, how they are told below and how they allude to Above”.
In other words:
The theme and aspect of the Yechezkel’s Merkavah is that the aspects below are “images of the Above” (דמות העליונות). Therefore, he (Yechezkel) delineates and elaborates in all the details of the Merkavah and its fashion. He emphasizes,
“inside there is the image etc. the image of man to them . . and the image of their faces etc. and the image of the Chayot etc.”
One could say that this is reason for his precise word “image” (דמות), that depicts a thing and its opposite (דבר והיפוכו).
On one side, seeing the image, depicts that he is not seeing the actual thing, but rather only its “image”. This is like one who looks into a mirror where he just sees the image of the thing.
On the other hand, “image” depicts that that it has no entity (מציאות). Rather it is solely the image of the thing. In other words, not only by seeing the image is it possible to precisely know how the thing actually appears. But more than this. The entire “entity” of the “image” is not really an entity, but solely something that is similar to the thing.
This is what Yechezkel saw in all the details of the aspects, below. Namely, that all the aspects are solely that which they are “images of the Above”.
Whereas Yeshaya, being a townsperson, did not explain and delineate all the details of the Merkavah. For, from the very onset, he did not see the “image” as it is below, but rather the essence of the thing, as it is Above.
For since he is a townsperson who grew up in the palace, all these extravagances aside from the king, are insignificant to him. So much so, that he did not feel it as an “entity”.
Therefore, he said,
“I saw the L-rd sitting on a high and exalted throne”
and he just explains the Seraphim which are, “standing above for Him”.
In other words, this just a detail in seeing “’the L-rd’ sitting on a high and exalted throne”.
3. According to this, the connection of the Haftorah of Yechezkel’s Merkavah, with the reading of the passage of Matan Torah, on the day that the Torah was given – is understood.
For it is an “from the theme of the day” and a “semblance of the event” – namely the theme of the innovation of Matan Torah:
The revelation of the Shechinah at Matan Torah was not just a one-time thing (דבר שלפי שעה). Rather it was in order that through this, Bnei Yisroel elevate themselves, through their Avodah and cleave to G-d. The power for this comes to them from G-d’s revelation at Matan Torah. For through this, the event of Har Sinai is eternally fixed within our hearts, whose aspect “they saw and not a stranger” etc.
This is also the theme of the words of the Midrash that G-d’s descending upon Har Sinai was not just a temporary revelation, but rather that it was the beginning of completely new condition of the world. This was through the eternal nullification of the decree that the,
“The upper worlds (Elyonim) not descend to the lower worlds (Tachtonim) (עליונים לא ירדו לתתתונים); and conversely that the lower worlds (Tachtonim) not ascend to the upper worlds (Elyonim) (תחתונים לא יעלו לעליונים)”
The results of the nullification of this decree, and in a revealed manner, is dependent upon the Avodah of Yisroel.
The explanation of the matter is:
It is understood, that from this itself, that they are described as “upper” and “lower”, that in essence there a relation (שייכות), and more than this, a connection (קשר) between them.
Especially, according to what it cited in many places that the existence of every created being is rooted and has its source Above, and that it descends from there. In other words, the root of the Ox, below, is that it stems from the Ox of the Merkavah, and so forth. So much so, that it reaches its root and source which is G-d’s Word and the “breath of His mouth” that creates him and gives him life each and every moment. Moreover, even its “growth” after this comes from its Mazal (מזל) Above, as the Sages state,
“There is no blade of grass that does not have a ‘Mazal’ telling it to grow”
However, before Matan Torah there was a “decree” (גזירה) from the word “cutting and chopping” (גזר וחתך) – between the created being below and its source in the Supernal worlds. However, when (on Matan Torah) the decree was nullified, the power was given to each person, through his Avodah, to draw down and “to see” (לראות) in each created being below, its root and source Above. So much so, that through this, it’s true being is revealed, that it solely comes from the truth of His being”.
Since all beginnings are difficult etc., therefore, on Matan Torah (which then was the manifestation of “I am the one who begins”) there was an extremely lofty revelation.
(This is as is stated in the Zohar that,
“On that day all the secrets of the Torah and all the Upper and Lower secrets were not missing from them. For they saw with their own eyes, the glory of their Master, which had not been like that day, from the day that the world was created. For G-d revealed Himself, in His glory, on Har Sinai. And if you should say, we have learned that a handmaiden saw, at the Splitting of the Sea that which Yechezkel the prophecy, did not see. You can therefore say that it was like that day that Yisroel stood at Har Sinai. It is not so. For on the day that they stood at Har Sinai, the spiritual poison (זוהמא) (from the result of the sin of the tree of knowledge) was removed from them”.
Thus, even at the time of the Splitting of the Sea “a handmaiden saw, at the Splitting of the Sea that which Yechezkel the prophecy, did not see”, yet at Matan Torah it was more than this)
However, the main eternal intent was “Yechezkel’s Merkavah” – to reveal in the world how the entire existence of all of its details are just a “reflection” of the existence of the detail, as it is Above.
(which is why the revelation of the Merkavah was at that time).
Therefore, this aspect was specifically established as the Haftorah of the day of Matan Torah.
This also answers the aforementioned question – why was the Haftorah of the workings of the Merkavah established, when they were not given to be understood by the majority of people.
For even though the details of the aspect of the Merkavah, that are delineated in the Haftorah, are not readily understood and comprehended, as aforementioned. Nevertheless, it is within the power of each and every person to understand and fathom the general theme of the Haftorah. Namely, that all the details of the Merkavah that Yechezkel saw are an “image” through which Yechezkel knew and recognized the “Supernal images”.
4. According to this, one can also explain the reason for the Minhag,
“To conclude (this Haftorah) with the verse: “And a wind lifted me up etc.” (For which we skip one and a half chapters) “Even though this is not written at all, regarding the Merkavah”.
And on the contrary, according to the simple understanding of the verses, Scripture is speaking about the departure of G-d’s glory after the speaking.
For this verse (“And a wind lifted me up, and I heard behind me the sound of a great uproar: "Blessed is the glory of the L-rd from His place") emphasizes the main innovation and aforementioned theme of Yechezkel’s Merkavah.
The explanation of the aspect is:
One of the differences between the Yeshaya‘s Merkavah and Yechezkel’s Merkavah is that
The Avodah of the Chayot and Ophanim are with an uproar (ברעש). As is known this, “the sound of a great uproar” is from the Ophanim as it states in the blessings of Kriat Shema,
“And the Ophanim and the holy Chayot, with a mighty clamor, rise toward the Seraphim, and facing them, offer praise and say: Blessed be the glory of the L-rd from its place”.
Whereas the Avodah of the Seraphim is not with clamor.
The reason of the matter is explained, that the difference between the Seraphim and the Ophanim is similar to the difference between a villager who sees the king and a townsperson who sees the king:
The clamor comes from innovation. Therefore, this is specifically manifested by the villager who sees the king. For seeing the king and his exaltedness causes enthusiastic clamor, due the innovation of the matter. Whereas regarding a townsperson, where this is not (so much of) an innovation in his eyes, he does not clamor. Similarly, this is the difference between the Seraphim and the Ophanim.
In more detail:
The Seraphim comprehend how G-d is holy and separate from the worlds and that the worlds are insignificant to Him. However, the Ophanim comprehend how G-d creates each thing from naught to something (מאין ליש), and that the existence of the world is created from the truth of His being. Because of this, their excitement is with a great uproar. For they comprehend the truth, which is opposite from its appearance to the eyes. For the world appears to be an entity and matter. Yet in truth it is utterly nullified (בטל בתכלית). Therefore, this causes great clamor, like a person who comprehends a new and contrary concept from that which appears to the eyes. Therefore, he exhibits vibrant clamor.
This is the theme of the aforementioned innovation of Matan Torah. That even in the entity of the world, in the lower realms, the truth of its being is recognizable.
5. According to the aforementioned, one can also explain why on Matan Torah, there was,
“Thunder and lightning and there was a very loud sound of the shofar. All the people in the camp trembled”
If we explain this just in the plain sense – that the intent and purpose of the thunder and lightning was to effect fear and trembling in the world, and within Bnei Yisroel. Then, seemingly, the revelation of G-d’s glory itself, as it states, “You have seen that I have spoken to you from Heaven”, should have been sufficient to effect within them this fear and trembling.
And on the contrary, the trembling due to the thunder and lightning etc. is a trembling that is related mainly to the body. Whereas the fear and trembling that is due to the revelation of G-d’s glory, face to face, is a great and deep effect (פעולה עמוקה וגדולה), that (also) affects the soul, and even the “soul of the soul” (נשמתא דנשמתא). Yet notwithstanding this, the thunder and lightning etc., was an integral part of the revelation of Matan Torah?
Rather, this is the very concept (הן הן הדברים), namely that the essence of the aspect of the “uproar” at Matan Torah
(The thunder and lightning . . All the people in the camp trembled, as in the words of the verse: “The earth quaked”)
is not just a clamor that is heard with the physical ear and was like an additional part of the preparation and preface to Matan Torah. Rather, it is a clamor in the spiritual sense. Due to the innovation of Matan Torah, in each detail of Creation, and that in the entire Creation, it was visible that the truth of its existence is not what is apparent and revealed to the physical eye. Namely, that it is an independent entity and thing, but rather that its source is that it was created from the true entity of the Creator.
6. Torah is from the word “lesson/Hora’ah” (תורה היא מלשון הוראה). How much more so is this, when the day of the year, when the Torah was given to Yisroel, approaches. For “these days are remembered and re-enacted” (הימים האלה נזכרים ונעשים). Each and every person of Yisroel must derive a lesson from the Torah-reading and the Haftorah of the day of Shavuot. And according to the aforementioned, one could say that there is a lesson in this, in two parts – in one’s personal Avodah, and in one’s Avodah with another person:
Although regarding the workings of the Celestial Chariot, it states,
“One may not expound . . the Design of the Divine Chariot . . unless he is wise and understands matters on his own”,
this is specifically regarding the “design of the Celestial Chariot”, as it is in the Written Torah and Oral Torah – written in the language of the secrecy of the Torah (סוד שבתורה) . (The details of the Yechezkel’s Merkavah, the Sifra d'Tzniuta etc.)
However, with regard to learning Pnimiyut HaTorah as it was revealed to us through the Arizal, and explained by him – and where he said the time has come where, “it is a Mitzvah to reveal this wisdom”. Therefore, each person is obligated in this. And especially after such a time – that it has been elucidated by Torat HaChassidut, and especially after it has been elucidated in the words of the Sages of the Torah, in a language of understanding and comprehension in a manner of “they should be sustained (from it)“ (יתפרנסון)”. Therefore, this is a “lofty and exalted Mitzvah . . (as it states) ‘Know the G‑d of your father that leads to a whole heart”.
Through this, one comes to see and recognize, in each and every thing, the truth of its existence, that was created from the truth of His being.
Similarly, it is also understood, with regard to one’s Avodah with another. Namely, that the spreading of Torah and Judaism among Klal Yisroel, must be made with a great clamor. On the contrary, when a person’s Avodah is still inward (בפנים), in the four cubits of Torah and holiness, it is sufficient sometimes for the manner to be, as it is – in a still soft voice (בקול דממה דקה).
However, when one goes out of the aforementioned four cubits, into a “sound of the multitudes of Rome”. Then, in order to nullify this sound, it is through a great clamor of holiness. Through this, we will soon merit to hear the “sound of the great shofar”. The specifically great shofar of the future, together with the “voice of the herald (that) brings good tidings and proclaims” – the Geulah, soon mamosh.
MSichas Shabbat Parshat Naso 5745, Shabbat Parshat Yitro 5740
And the ofanim and the holy chayos rise... with a great clamor — The clamor of the ofanim and the chayos comes from the fact that they know that there is a level of G-dliness that they cannot comprehend. The seraphim comprehend the G-dly energy that vitalizes creation and are therefore consumed with yearning to bond with Him.
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