Supporting the Fallen

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for recorded lectures by Rabbi Ginsburgh

The following is a summary of the audio lecture:
"Supporting the Fallen" (#L_018)

 Translation Aid

Supporting the Fallen

The 5th of Av, the Hillula of the Arizal 



The Light of the Tzaddik

On the yahrtzeit (day of passing) of a tzaddik("righteous person"), we can experience the light of all the teachings of his lifetime. An all inclusive tzaddik  is above the destruction of the holy Temple. Although he participates with the Jewish People in mourning its destruction, the Temple in the tzaddik's heart is alive, and he inspires all the Jewish People with the hope that the Temple will be rebuilt.

When we learn what the Arizal, whose yahrtzeit is on the 5th of the Hebrew month of Av,taught about the Temple, we can experience his own experience of the Temple standing.


Sweetening Severe Judgment

God's Name, Elokim represents severe judgment. If the world were to be run strictly according to severe judgment, though, it could not exist. The Arizal explains that for this reason, God, in His Divine mercy, sweetened the judgment of Elokim with His Name, Havayah, which represents mercy. The inner dimension of the Torah teaches us that although life's difficulties seem to us to be severe judgment, on a deeper level they are God's sweetening mercy.

The numerical value of Elokim is 86. When God's Name of mercy, Havayah, is spelled out in full, it equals 45 and is referred to as mah (spelled: mem heithe value of 45). The last chapter of Lamentations that we read on the 9th of Av begins with the verse:

Zechor Havayah meh hayah lanu
"Remember, God, what (meh = 45)
became of us (lanu = 86)"

The Arizal explains that when we say this we should have in mind that as a result of our sins,mah, God's Name of mercy, transformed to lanu, the numerical value of God's Name of severe judgment (Elokim = 86).

Moses, who referred to himself and Aaron as mah ("what") was the epitome of selflessness. The word lanu ("to us") indicates self interest. When meh becomes lanu, it means that our self interest has transformed our selflessness, which draws down Divine mercy (God's NameHavayah) into severe judgment (lanu — Elokim). This makes us vulnerable to harm and destruction, which is what occurred on the 9th of Av on a national level. The nation of Israel had fallen from mah to lanu. Particularly during the three week period of mourning from the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tamuz (when the walls of Jerusalem were destroyed) until the 9th of Av(when the Temple was destroyed), the fallen need to be supported.


Three States of Exile that Must be Redeemed

In the second blessing of the Silent Prayer, we praise God, Who supports the fallen (somech noflim), heals the ill and redeems the imprisoned. These three types of people live in a state of exile, unhealthy in their service of God. If not for God's constant and miraculous support, their situation would be obviously hopeless. The culmination of God's support for these three states of exile is the coming of Mashiach and the resurrection of the dead.

The Arizal explains that during the three weeks of mourning until the 9th of Av (called "Between the Straits") we should have a simple kavannah in mind when we praise God for supporting the fallen in the second blessing of the Silent Prayer.

What is a Kavannah?

A kavannah is an intention with which one meditatively imbues his actions in order to sweeten a given reality. It is advisable to concentrate on a kavannah ("intention") only if one feels its inner meaning. If a person uses a kavannah just as a mental exercise, without heartfelt intention to connect to the sweetening process of the kavannah, it can also have a negative affect, God forbid.

How do we Support the Fallen?

The Arizal explains that when we pray, we need to have a kavannah that will support the fallen Name Elokim, and restore Divine mercy (Havayah). The Name Elokim is spelled: aleflamedheiyudmem. The first and last letters of this Name, alef and mem, spell em, "mother," alluding to "womb." Inside this womb are the other 3 letters of Elokim; lamed, hei and yud. The numerical value of lamed, hei, yud is 45, the same as mah. Significantly, 45 is also the numerical value of Adam. Elokim, God's Name that represents nature, represents the Divine pregnancy with man inside the womb. Through our narrow self-interest, we have reverted back to a fetal-like state of contracted consciousness. The womb is a reality of straits, which must be uplifted. The Arizal explains that to uplift ourselves, the Jewish People and the world from the destructive straits of contracted self-interest, we must uplift every letter inside the Divine womb.

In our minds, we concentrate on uplifting the lamed to kafthe hei to dalet, and the yud to tet.This is somech noflim. We have lifted Adam, all humanity, from its lowest state of fetal consciousness to a new state. The three new letters, kafdalet, tet, equal 33. The numerical value of the womb, alef, mem is 41. Together this equals 74, which is the numerical value of ed (ayin,dalet), "witness." Man has been lifted from the straits of destructive self-interest to the selfless state of bearing witness to God's absolute unity and the imminent redemption.


Resurrecting the Dead

The culmination of the uplifting of the fallen, healing of the ill and redemption of prisoners is the resurrection of the dead, which seals the second blessing of the Silent Prayer. The Arizal introduces us to an additional kavannah that augments the kavannah above. The second blessing ends with praise of God, mechayeh hametim("Who resurrects the dead.") Both the first and last letters of these two words are mem, hei, which is two times mah. This associates with the verse in Chavakuk 2:3:

Im yitmahmeha chakeh lo
"If Mashiach tarries, wait for him…
for he will come, he will not be late."

In the word yitmahmeha, "tarries," the word mah appears twice. If we experience the tarrying ofMashiach, we are in a spiritual state of pregnancy and straits. We must reach into the womb (represented by the first word of the verse, Im, spelled: alef, mem; same letters as em,"mother") and uplift the fetus in spiritual straits inside. We sweeten this double mah (45, as in the first kavannah) by waiting (chakeh, numerical value of 33) confidently for Mashiach'simminent arrival and testifying to the fact that he is surely on his way. Once again, the 33 has uplifted and sweetened the 45.

The Connection to the Temple

A deeper understanding of how to support the fallen is through the measurements of the vessels of the Temple. In the Torah, all the vessels of the Temple are depicted by their length, width and height. The Arizal explains that each vessel is a physical manifestation of spiritual powers. Their measurements reflect these spiritual powers as follows:

  • length refers to the intellectual attributes, (chochmahwisdom;  binahunderstanding; da'atknowledge)

  • width refers to the emotive attributes  (chesedlovingkindness; gevurahmight; tiferet,beauty) and

  • height refers to the behavioral attributes (netzachvictory; hod, splendor; yesod,foundation).

Why is the Intellect Long?

Relative to the body the head is narrow. In Kabbalah it is explained that the purpose of the mental powers is to spread Divine consciousness all the way down to the heels of the body. (This is physically manifested in the nervous system, which descends from the head to the feet.) If the entire body becomes permeated with Divine consciousness, it will not rot in the grave, as in the case of great tzaddikim. The head is narrow so that this Divine consciousness will have to descend throughout the body.

Interestingly, the highest level of the Divine figure is Arich Anpin "the Long Face." This comes from the phrase describing God in the Torah as erech apayim, "long nose" or "long breath." These phrases describe God's long-breathed infinite patience, which is infinite mercy. In direct proportion to the spiritual length of the head, the Divine consciousness of infinite patience permeates the body all the way down to the heels.


Why are Emotions Broad?

When the lights of the mind reach the body they become released from the confinement of the spiritual womb of understanding. They are born as emotions of love for God, fear of God and mercy, and spread out in breadth throughout the body.


The Supporting Legs

When we understand how the measurement of height manifests spiritually, we can understand how the fallen must be supported. Just as the legs support the body, our natural behavior supports our state of consciousness. Our purpose is to fulfill God's commandments in a way that should be natural to us. In Kabbalah, the legs are the scales of equilibrium. If Divine consciousness is not natural to us, it means that we are out of equilibrium, which can cause us to stumble and fall. If we fall, it is because our legs, all three behavioral attributes are weak, and must be supported and sweetened. Let us explore the function of these attributes and how they can be strengthened.

Supporting the Attribute of Netzach

Netzach is confidence, trust in God. It is represented by the right leg. More than the faith that believes that the anticipated good will happen eventually, confidence is the surety that the anticipated good will happen now. We wait for Mashiach with the confidence that he can come today, no matter what the outside reality.

The opposite of confidence is despair. Sometimes, when a person has invested all his energies into making something happen imminently, and it does not work out, he may fall into despair and possibly collapse. The power of netzach, in the words of the Friedricker Rebbe, is that "nothing is ever fallen." We must never despair, and continue to do our utmost to bring theMashiach, with the firm confidence that his arrival is imminent. This is the beginning of supporting the fallen.


Supporting the Attribute of Hod

Hod is simple sincerity. It is represented by the left leg. Simple sincerity is endurance, never giving up even in adverse conditions. In our generation, people commonly tire. Hod means never tiring, but rather always persevering, step by step, in our goal to bring the Mashiach. (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, who even at an advanced age would work tirelessly with no signs of fatigue, exemplified this trait).


Supporting the Attribute of Yesod

Yesod is the sense of urgency that our goal has to become reality now. If a person becomes indifferent to his goal, not determined that it be realized now, this third leg of yesod has been blemished. Supporting yesod means to renew the sense of urgency  and to bring our goals to actualization.


The Inverted Seal

The phenomenon of the "inverted seal" is integral to Kabbalah and Chassidut. The "inverted seal" means that whatever has a higher spiritual origin will manifest in reality on an inversely lower level.

In Chassidut, the spatial dimension of height is generally referred to as "depth." Chassidut explains that the origin of depth is in keter, ("crown"), the supernal level of superconsciousness of the soul. Keter is the origin of faith in God, the serenity and existential pleasure in being one with God, and the will to fulfill God's desire in creation — to make the entire world His dwelling place. Keter is the ultimate depthIn this example of the inverted seal, the lowest manifestation of the attributes — height, representing behavior — has its origin in the highest dimension ofketer, depth.

Following this pattern, the dimension of width, which manifests as the intermediary attributes of emotions, has its origin in chochmah. Chochmah is insight, the lightening flash that precedes intelligence. It is not an intellectual power, but sits above the intellect (and below keter) and inspires it.

The dimension of length, which manifests as the highest attributes of the intellect, has its origin in binah, the lowest of this triplet. The consciousness of binah is that of the river of mental power flowing all the way downward.


Corresponding Attribute

Manifestation in Reality


Level of Source
















When our natural consciousness is in line with Messianic consciousness, we will have the confidence, perseverance and energy to support ourselves, our people and the world, never falling in our concerted efforts to bring the Mashiach.

Translation Aid

  • B'gmatria — in numerical value
  • Chatan — Groom
  • Hashem — God
  • Hashem echad — One God
  • Hei Menachem Av — The 5th of Av
  • Kallah — Bride
  • Kavvanah — intention
  • Kriyat shema — The Shema prayer
  • Perek mem beit — chapter 42
  • Pnimiut — inner dimension
  • Rashbi — Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai
  • Remez — allusion
  • Shabbat Chazon — The Shabbat preceding Tisha B'Av
  • Shiva asar b'Tamuz — The 17th of the month of Tamuz
  • Shmoneh Esrei — The Silent Prayer
  • Tanach — The Torah, Prophets and Scriptures
  • Tisha b'Av — The national day of mourning on the 9th day of Av
  • Yahrtzeit hillula — day of passing of tzadik

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