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Parashat Pekudei: Aliyah by Aliyah


וְכֶ֛סֶף פְּקוּדֵ֥י הָעֵדָ֖ה מְאַ֣ת כִּכָּ֑ר וְאֶ֩לֶף֩ וּשְׁבַ֨ע מֵא֜וֹת וַחֲמִשָּׁ֧ה וְשִׁבְעִ֛ים שֶׁ֖קֶל בְּשֶׁ֥קֶל הַקֹּֽדֶשׁ (פקודי לח, כה)

“The silver from the community who had been counted came to 100 talents and 1775 shekels…” (Exodus 38:25)

First Reading: Predictions About the Coming of Mashiach

Over the centuries, some of the greatest Torah scholars and Jewish leaders have made predictions regarding when the Redemption will occur, when the Mashiach will come, despite the opposition voiced against this by one of the Talmudic sages.[1] As we will see, there was a relatively well-known calculation made by the Alter Rebbe based on the above verse. Studying his prediction can offer us clarity about why predictions are necessary.

Taking Advantage of the Prediction

We are now at the outset of a very special year, 5775. In the Chasidic tradition, from the Alter Rebbe and on, this year was predicted to be a year in which the Redemption would occur. Such a year is known in Jewish lore as a “year of the end” (שְׁנַת קֵץ), or a “kaytz,” since the Redemption is meant to end our exile. Knowing that the year 5775 is a kaytz is important because every such prediction is meant to awaken us to the fact that there is a special opportunity, and we should take advantage of it. Thus, this year has a special potential which can be actualized and the kaytz—the end of exile and the beginning of redemption—alerts us to this potential.

Still there is a difference between a regular year, and as such, every year has the potential of being the one in which the exile ends and a year that is noted as a kaytz. The latter is regarded as a year in which the Redemption comes “in due time” (בְּעִתָּהּ), without requiring too much of our intervention. In a kaytz year, the Almighty may bring the Redemption even if we are in state of “undeserving” (לֹא זָכוּ). This is in contrast with a regular year when the Redemption may come “speedily” (אֲחִישֶׁנָּה), the product of our involvement, requiring us to be in a state of “deserving” (זָכוּ) the Redemption. Nonetheless, even for Redemption in a kaytz year, there is some awakening on our part that is required so that we may be judged “deserving” Above.

The source of the kaytz in the year 5775 is in the verse from our reading, “The silver of those of the community who were recorded came to 100 talents and 1,775 shekels by the sanctuary weight.”[2] This verse was pointed to by several tzaddikim as a verse that implies a kaytz. What is the verse discussing? The Israelites were commanded to each give half a shekel of silver. From the silver that was collected, 100 talents were used to make the bases of the Tabernacle walls and there were 1775 shekels left-over.

Now the number the verse mentions with reference to the left-over silver is 1775. How does this become the year 5775?

Six Thousand Years of History

The sages state that our present reality will last for 6000 years.[3] These are divided into, “Two millennia of chaos, Two millennia of Torah, and Two millennia of Mashiach.” These six millennia correspond to the six emotive faculties of the heart that are also referred to as the “six extremities” (ו קְצָווֹת).

The first millennium corresponds to loving-kindness (chessed), because “His loving-kindness is everlasting”[4] (כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ); the beginning of Creation was marked by God’s loving-kindness,[5] which allowed for the extended lifespan of those early generations.

The second millennium corresponds to might (gevurah), God’s attribute of judgment, most strongly associated with the flood and the restart of humanity.

The third millennium corresponds to beauty (tiferet) associated with Torah. It was in the year 2448 that the Torah was given on Mt. Sinai, in the very middle of the that millennium.

The fourth millennium corresponds with the sefirah of victory (netzach) and in it both the First and Second Temples were constructed in Jerusalem. Jerusalem (and the site of the Temple in it) is associated with the Hebrew word for “victory” (נֶצַח) as in the phrase, “And the netzach is Jerusalem.”[6] The Second Temple was destroyed just before the end of the fourth millennium, 172 years before, and the Alter Rebbe explains in an essay what the significance is that that was the time in which the exile began.[7]

The fifth millennium is paradoxical. Even though it begins the two millennia of Mashiach, as above, it also is when the deepest darkness of the current exile took place. Indeed, the fifth millennia corresponds to the sefirah of “acknowledgment” (hod), which can also be translated as “splendor” and the upheaval in splendor is alluded to in the verse, “My splendor has turned against me to destroy me.”[8] So on the one hand, this is a time predestined for Mashiach and on the other hand, it allows for negative and dark forces to act against us. The fifth millennia in particular is connected with another verse, “From above He sent a fire, down into my bones. He spread a net for my feet, He hurled me backward; He has left me forlorn, in constant misery”[9] (מִמָּרוֹם שָׁלַח־אֵשׁ בְּעַצְמֹתַי וַיִּרְדֶּנָּה פָּרַשׂ רֶשֶׁת לְרַגְלַי הֱשִׁיבַנִי אָחוֹר נְתָנַנִי שֹׁמֵמָה כָּל הַיּוֹם דָּוָה). The final word in this verse, translated as misery (דָּוָה), permutes to spell the Hebrew name of the sefirah of acknowledgment (הוֹד).

After the fifth millennium, we did not yet merit something different and entered the sixth millennium, which corresponds with the sefirah of foundation (yesod). Currently, we are deep into the sixth millennium. Foundation represents the covenant of procreation, which is why so many Torah scholars identified the blemish of the covenant as the reason for the lengthening of the exile, which the fifth and sixth millennia had the potential to end with the coming of Mashiach. It is for this reason that especially since the Ba’al Shem Tov, we say that the Redemption depends on rectifying our covenant by attaching ourselves to the tzaddik of the generation.

1775 Years into the Two Millennia of Mashiach

Currently [2015], we are in the sixth millennium and the year is 1775 years after the beginning of the fifth millennium. Thus, this year 5775 (2015) has the potential of being a year of “In due time,” a description of Redemption that occurs as we said, depending on our awakening from below.

The phrase, “in due time,” comes from the verse, “I, Havayah, will speed it in due time”[10] (אֲנִי הוי' בְּעִתָּהּ אֲחִישֶׁנָּה). The plain meaning of this prophecy is that when due time comes for the Redemption to occur, God will make it progress swiftly. When a kaytz arrives, like this year, then we must do all in our power to make it progress swiftly.

Instilling Hope

Did the Alter Rebbe actually mention the year 5775 in his essay on this verse?

If he would have, it would have been very surprising, because 5775 is so far in the future from when he spoke about this verse. Even Maimonides, who was a completely rational person, when he is beside himself and speaks about a year of a kaytz—a prediction about when the Redemption will occur—does so out of his inner drive and urgency that Mashiach should come “Now.”

It is questionable if a scholar who does not wish for “Mashiach Now” can be considered a great leader of Israel, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe stressed. It is not fitting for a leader to openly state that the Redemption might come in 200 years. The leader must be intent on strengthening the Jewish people, strengthening their faith in the Redemption, and ensuring that they do not despair of it. As Maimonides’ principle of faith states, “Even if he tarries, I will wait for him to come on any given day.”

Thus, when the Alter Rebbe taught this verse from our parashah as alluding to a kaytz, he did not mention 5775. The notion that 5775 is a special year is not explicitly mentioned in that essay. Still, there is a secret tradition in Chabad (which the Rebbe gave permission to make public) that the verse does allude to 5775. But in the Alter Rebbe’s essay, he identifies the year 5603 (1843) as the year that is a kaytz.

Once more, discussing a kaytz is an absolutely extraordinary thing for the Alter Rebbe, and for Chabad in general, just as it was for Maimonides. Still, a prediction was given. As we know, the Mashiach himself is considered “extra-ordinary,” which is why the Talmud[11] refers to him as “Caesar,” an “emperor,” suggesting that he is like a child who is born by a Caesarean procedure and is taken out of the wall of his mother’s belly. The Mashiach is an extraordinary individual and so we find extraordinary discussion of his appearance.

(from a class given on 7 Tishrei, 5775)


וְהַטּוּר֙ הָֽרְבִיעִ֔י תַּרְשִׁ֥ישׁ שֹׁ֖הַם וְיָשְׁפֵ֑ה (פקודי לט, יג)

“The fourth row: an aquamarine, an onyx, and a jasper…” (Exodus 39:13)

Second Reading: The Symbolism Behind the Onyx and the Jasper

One of the most resounding issues we face in our study of Torah is what to do with disparate opinions. Everyone is familiar with the saying, “Two Jews, three opinions.” But when it comes to Torah, this is no laughing matter. The verse we will now look at provides us with an example of when two seemingly different opinions do not have to contradict and there might be room for applying both. As we will see, this verse alludes to a surprising state of affairs in our relationship with God and sheds light on how to navigate what might seem to be an unresolvable conflict.

When the Angels Argued

To start our discussion, let us look at an interesting passage in the Talmud regarding two of the stones set in the High Priest’s Breastplate, identified by some as the onyx (שֹׁהַם) and the jasper (יָשְׁפֵה). The discussion is set against descriptions of the future glory and beauty of Jerusalem in the time of Redemption:

The verse reads, “And I will make your towers of kadkhoda [your gates of previous stones; the whole of your encircling wall of gems]”[12] (וְשַׂמְתִּי כַּדְכֹד שִׁמְשֹׁתַיִךְ). Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said: Two angels in heaven, Gabriel and Michael, disagree with regard to the material that will be used to form the walls of Jerusalem. One said they will be made of onyx, and one said of jasper. The Holy Blessed One said to them: “Let it be like this [kedein] and like that [ukhedein], i.e., let them be formed from both together. This compromise is indicated by the word kadkhod, a combination of this [kedein] and that [ukhedein].

The phrase, “Let it be like this and like that” (לֶהֱוֵי כְּדֵין וּכְדֵין) is very similar to the phrase, “these and these are the words of the living God”[13] (אֵלּוּ וָאֵלּוּ דִּבְרֵי אֱלֹהִים חַיִּים הֵן). Despite their similarity, they mean two different things. “These and these…” is not meant to be applied practically. The practical decision follows one of the opinions. In this case, the phrase refers to the ongoing disputes between the Academy of Hillel and the Academy of Shamai and the sages ruled, that “the ruling follows the Academy of Hillel.”[14] Instead, “these and these…” is meant to reveal that Above, in the supernal realm, both opinions are considered true. Of course, in practice, you can only follow one of the two opinions.

But the phrase, “Let it be like this and like that,” indicates a state in which both options can be exercised in practice. Even though at first the two options may seem to contradict one another. This is the direction in which the Alter Rebbe interprets the options: onyx and jasper. Each indicates a form of Divine service and both forms can be maintained together.

The Higher and Lower Tzaddikim

The Talmudic discussion quoted above is the subject of several essays from the Alter Rebbe,[15] in which he explains what each type of precious stone symbolizes in this disagreement between the angels. To begin, we need to know that the onyx is the stone representing Joseph and the jasper represents Benjamin. In Kabbalah, the two brothers are referred to as the “higher tzaddik” and the “lower tzaddik.”

Joseph and the onyx represent what is known as direct Godly revelation, a state in which God reveals Himself to the individual from Above to below. This is known as “direct light” (אוֹר יָשָׁר) or “direct revelation” of Godliness.

Benjamin and jasper represent the ascent of the individual towards God. It thus is known as “reflected light” (אוֹר חוֹזֵר), from below to Above.

Bringing the Supernal Down, Purifying the Mundane

Returning to the Talmud, there is a dispute between the two angels (or two Talmudic sages—”And some say that this dispute is between two sages in the Land of Israel: Yehudah and Chizkiyah, the sons of Rabbi Chiyya”) regarding what type of service will be performed in the future Jerusalem. One says, it will be the service of receiving God’s direct revelation, the other says, it will be the service of ascent from below to Above to Godliness. In practice, both are needed. Each type of service has its benefits.

To explain this in a bit more details, the jasper, chosen by the angel Gabriel and Rabbi Chizkiyah, represents the individual’s self-refinement that then allows him to ascend towards God, to the point where he is integrated above. Self-refinement is not the result of the drawing down of direct light or direct revelation from Above.

One of the descriptions of direct light can be found in the sages’ statement that, “A maidservant on the Red Sea saw what the prophet Ezekiel could not see.”[16] The maidservant was at a very high level, otherwise she could not see beyond what Ezekiel could see in his prophecy, but she remained a maidservant. There was no act of self-refinement and what she saw was purely in merit of God descending and providing her with the vision. The maidservant did not become a prophetess. This is an example of direct light, which contains tremendous revelations, because God is omnipotent and can reveal Himself in whatever way He pleases, to anyone—even to the least refined individual, without requiring him or her to change. This is certainly wondrous.

Should You be an Onyx or a Jasper?

We might ask, which is better: Is it preferable for the lower individual to refine and ascend to meet that which is Above—an act of “reflected light?” Or is it preferable that what is above should reveal itself in the unrefined individual below without any effort on his part—an act of “direct light?” Would it better to be onyx or to be jasper?

After explaining the meaning of this dispute, the Alter Rebbe adds another point. For the direct light to be revealed in the unrefined individual, it has to originate from a source that is higher than the level to which self-refinement can lead a person. The direct light in this case must come from God’s very essence. So, which is better: to remain in your lowly state without refining yourself and have God reveal himself in you or is it better for you to refine yourself and ascend towards Godliness?

Modern Application

This difference of opinion is relevant nowadays to the whole question of how we should go about refining reality, specifically when considering the situation in the Land of Israel where the state establishment is officially disconnected from Torah. One option would be to bring down a new revelation (direct light) into the establishment as it stands. The other option that we need to work with the establishment and refine it so much that the reality in the Land of Israel will change so much that it will elevate by itself and be able to integrate into the supernal light. The place of the supernal light is in the Torah, in the “Position of Torah” (דַּעַת תּוֹרָה).

So, which should we choose? Should we be drawing the “Torah position” down into reality causing it by some miracle to descend and illuminate and conquer reality without changing it in the slightest. What this would mean is that we would have a Jewish state, run according to the Torah’s position on issues, and yet the majority of the citizens of this reality would not be careful to keep all the Torah laws. In such a case people would remain the same but the establishment would be different. This would be the onyx option.

Or perhaps the opposite is true. Work slowly to refine the establishment until it is willingly open to accepting the Torah’s will, meaning until everyone does teshuvah. This would be the jasper option.

The ”Other” Son

If we connect these two options for changing society to the concept of the “other son” (בֵּן אַחֵר) that Joseph is meant to brings closer to God, we get the following explanations. If the most important thing is drawing direct light down from Above without refining the lower reality, then Joseph is tasked with revealing that “regardless [of the people’s state], they are called ‘sons.’”[17] This in the Talmud is Rabbi Meir’s position—even when a Jew is like an “other,” he is still considered a “son.”

But according to the other option that we dubbed the jasper option, the refinement of the “other” is paramount, thus the point of “an other son,” is to take the person who is “an other,” is estranged from Judaism, and turn him into a son.

Another way of saying this is that Benjamin and the jasper represent teshuvah out of love, which has the ability to make sins performed on purpose into merits. But Joseph and the onyx represent the toil of the tzaddikim, which is higher than teshuvah. This type of work reveals the essential light of God everywhere, in the form of, “God is all, and all is God,” and nothing more.

Since they do not contradict, it seems that both are necessary, and both forms of Divine service are needed to rectify our reality.

(from a class given on 5th of Elul, 5774)



וַתֵּ֕כֶל כָּל־עֲבֹדַ֕ת מִשְׁכַּ֖ן אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד (פקודי לט, לב)

“All the work of the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, was completed….” (Exodus 39:32)

Third Reading: Discovering God’s Purpose for Creation

“I have come to my garden, my sister, my bride.” Said Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman: When the Almighty created the world, He yearned to have a dwelling place below, just as He has one Above… Moses came and brought it [the Divine Presence] down to earth… When? When the Tabernacle was constructed.”

Creation and the Tabernacle

When learning the account of the construction of the Tabernacle, we find a clear connection between it and the account of Creation in Genesis. The sages enumerate a long list of parallel phrases used in both.[18] One of the most pronounced is the conclusion of both accounts. The account of Creation ends with the words,

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good… The heavens and the earth were completed… God blessed the seventh day….”[19]

And at the end of the construction of the Tabernacle,

“All the work of the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, was completed…. Moses saw that they had indeed done all the work exactly as God had commanded, and Moses blessed them.”[20]

The Sabbath, the day of rest with which Creation ended, is intertwined into the work of the Tabernacle, both at the end of the instructions God gave to Moses and at the beginning of the instructions Moses passed on to the Israelites. Moreover, from these passages, the sages gleaned that the work on the Tabernacle was forbidden on the Sabbath. This is another clear reference to the connection between the workings of Creation which halted on the Sabbath and the 39 categories of work which were part of the making of the Tabernacle, which then became the basis for how to refrain from work on the Sabbath.

Becoming God’s Partner

For all the clarity of this parallel between Creation and the Tabernacle, what is it meant to teach us? The usual explanation is that the creation made by God was left unfinished, entrusted to us, humanity, to complete it. We perfect reality with the 39 categories of labor, the concerted intentional efforts made by mankind through culture and civilization. These allow us to partner with God. Of course, these human efforts cannot be considered complete and stable if they do not stem from and include a clear awareness of God as Creator.

Does God Have Purpose

If Creation has a source, has a Creator, then it must have a purpose. However, we must admit that this conclusion is based on our limited human logic, which dictates that an intelligent agent does not act without purpose. In fact, we might argue, man cannot escape his own monotonous nature without placing a purpose or goal before him to guide his actions.

But it is not at all granted that the Creator must be the same. Who has scaled the heavens into God’s mind to tell us whether He too requires purpose? Why would He require purpose to act?  Is He not already perfect in every way? Is His will not perfect even if He chooses not to act?

Indeed, in the holy works of the Torah’s inner dimension, we encounter two different formulations regarding God’s drive to create.[21] The first is: “there is no reason to His will.” Which is the same as saying, “He creates without purpose.” The second is: “there is a concealed reason to His will,” or we might say, “There is concealed purpose in His act of Creation.” Even though both deny that the Creator would have the same type of limited purpose that a human might have, still, the two statements are different.

The Will to Create and the Will to Dwell

The two formulations regarding God’s purpose would seem to apply to two different types of creation. The first, whereby God creates without purpose is mirrored in nature. The second, according to which God has a concealed purpose in Creation is mirrored in the commandment to construct for Him a dwelling place—the Tabernacle and, later, the Temple.

We began by noting the similarity between the summations of Creation and the construction of the Tabernacle but note that there is one important difference between them: God creates Creation from a place of freedom, but man constructs the Tabernacle by harnessing his will and subjugating Himself to God’s commandments. True, nature too has laws and order that it must follow, so to speak, but these do not define nature. In fact, nature is full of what to human intelligence looks like waste: incomprehensibly vast empty space between planets, stars, and galaxies in the cosmos, thousands of hatchling fish—few of which will keep the species going, etc. Thus, nature is not as subject to order as it would seem.

In fact, nature is destined to return to a disordered state due to the law of entropy, a state in which everything is just one, big, homogeneous soup lacking rhyme, reason, or purpose. Until then, the forces of nature continue to clash with one another, but in the end, does it matter which wins; for the victor too will end up a formless mass. All this reminds us of the meanderings of the Infinite in and within itself (שעשועים עצמיים), which permit Him to squander that which has no value and required no effort—for He knows that in the end, there is none but He, everything is He, and so there is no difference between the victor and the vanquished.

Man Against Nature’s Chaos

But there is another conclusion that can be reached. This one is more personal and urgent. I tell myself that even if God is pleased with His creation, be it as it may be, I would prefer to survive and not be swallowed up and carried off into the tumult of the clash between the forces of nature. If I wish to sustain my “self,” with all its shouting existence, I must battle to save whatever I can from nature’s chaos—whatever can help prevent me from being swallowed up.

It is under this premise that the mind stands in opposition to nature, not as something that would work to complete or perfect nature. The more humanity develops its culture and civilization, the more it invests in personal character, the further it distances itself from hearing the call of the Infinite that permeates reality. It closes itself off and sequesters itself, holding on to small enclaves of security, and forgoing any chance of meeting the vast expanses of nature.

God’s Purpose Revealed Through His Home

Thus, when God commands us to build Him a home, it is through that dwelling that He will be felt and His purpose, reason, and will (i.e., in a sense, His “needs”) will be revealed despite our seclusion from the Infinite in nature. A regular dwelling is like a garment that a person wears, though it is further removed from his body than his clothing. Still, one’s home is considered a garment, and the soul might be said to have more freedom to express itself because the home is not as tight on the body as an article of clothing would be.

The home protects the person like a garment, but its variants are much greater. Because of the variety of options that can make up a home, the fact that it is built one way and not another expresses the will of the owner even more than clothing.

Likewise, when the Almighty commands us to construct Him a “home,” the Tabernacle, down to the last detail, it is meant to express His precise desire. In other words, He cares, He wants it this way and not that. But remember what we said about nature, where the exact opposite is the case.

Man’s Spirit

Because God commanded that all His desires, all His fancies for the Tabernacle, His home, all be artfully made by human beings, and they should be guided by their own craftsmanship, this suggests that human beings have a way of revealing God’s concealed purpose (for creating reality) and can identify with it. Man is not destined to merely fight against the forces of nature his entire life, trying to keep them at bay. Rather, he can access His Creator’s deep, concealed reason and choose to mimic Him.

We have discovered then that God has a vested interest in human beauty, in orderly beauty and not only in the wild, untamed beauty in nature. God yearns to have a place to dwell, one that reflects His affinity with man who seemed to have a desire and need for order only because he is limited. Yet, these limits are now found to have a source High Above. It is only that “like has found like,” God has found man and man has found God.

We are All Furnishings

We can better understand the novelty of the Tabernacle by considering that the Torah does not say, “They shall build me a Tabernacle and I will dwell in it,” it rather says that “They shall build me a Tabernacle and I will dwell in them.” Apparently, every person can feel like a furnishing in God’s House. Our stance, our location, and our cleanliness have significance and can affect the harmony of the entire dwelling and therefore should be considered carefully. The individual who is mindful that his entire body should act exactly according to God’s commandments will soon feel that there is a spirit that breathes through the entire dwelling, providing him with a slight peek into the concealed purpose behind all of Creation.

To conclude, it is not by chance that God yearns to create a place to dwell below and wishes to enter and fill His home—the Tabernacle and the Temple—because it is a home that allows His preferences to exist harmoniously. The boundaries between the parts are what allow them to cooperate and shine out even to the individual who feels estranged and alone in a world of dissociation.

(from Malchut Yisra’el vol. 3, pp. 307-316).



וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֹתָ֖ם מֹשֶֽׁה (פקודי לט, מג)

“Moses blessed them” (Exodus 39:43)

Fourth Reading: Finding Order in Chaos

The fourth reading ends with the verse, “Moses saw that they had indeed done all the work exactly as God had commanded, and Moses blessed them.” The final three words, “Moses blessed them” (וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה) is a perfect square since its gematria is 1024, or 32 squared. In cubits these are the exact dimensions of the Courtyard Altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. 1024 is also the total number of letters in the Shema.

The middle word in the phrase, “them” (אֹתָם) is itself a square, since its gematria is 441, or 21 squared.

In a phrase with three words where all the words have an odd number of letters, we can take the first, middle, and final letter of the words. In this case they will be— וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה—which spell “chaos” (תֹּהוּ), the World of Chaos, whose value is 411. Since there are three letters in the word “chaos,” the average value of each letter will be 137, the value of “Kabbalah” (קַבָּלָה), etc. Apart from these three letters, the rest of the phrase equals 613. So the phrase, “Moses blessed them,” 1024, has the same value as the sum of 613 and “chaos” (תֹּהוּ), 411.

Creation of Being, Creation of Chaos

The Torah’s first word is “In the beginning” (בְּרֵאשִׁית). Since this word has 6 letters it can be permuted in 720 different ways. One of the most straightforward permutations is “I have created shin” (בָּרָאתִי ש). What is interesting about this permutation is that the value of “I have created” (בָּרָאתִי) is 613.

Isaiah says, “I have made the earth and on it I have created man.”[22] Regarding this verse, the Lubavitcher Rebbe writes in HaYom Yom, in the name of the Ba’al Shem Tov that: “I am who I am” have made the earth. And for what? For man. And for what have I created man? For “I have created” (בָּרָאתִי), whose value is 613. The world was created for man so that he can follow Torah and its commandments. So “I have created” is the purpose of creation.

What does the shin (ש) in this permutation—“I have created shin” (בָּרָאתִי ש) stand for? One possibility is that it stands for some phrase whose value is 300, the value of shin. For example, it could stand for “the spirit of God” (רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים), or it could stand for the filling of God’s Name, Elokim (אלף למד הי יוד מם), whose value is also 300. The spirit of God that was hovering over the waters[23] is the spirit of the Mashiach.

But there is another explanation, that the shin stands for the word, “being” (יֵשׁ)—the being that was created ex nihilo, from nothingness. So, “I have created shin” stands for “I have created being” (בָּרָאתִי יֵשׁ).

Now let us note that “chaos” (תֹּהוּ) has the same value as “being from nothingness” (יֵשׁ מֵאַיִן)—the “being” (יֵשׁ) that was created from nothingness. We now have that, “Moses blessed them” (וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה) equals “I have created something from nothing” (בָּרָאתִי יֵשׁ מֵאַיִן)!

Order in Chaos

Modern Chaos Theory stipulates that there is concealed order even where there is chaos. In the account of creation, the word “chaos” is followed by the word “void.”[24] The Bahir explains that this word “void” (בֹּהוּ) stands for, “it is in it” (בּוֹ הוּא). What is in the chaos is concealed order.

The World of Chaos mentioned earlier is alluded to in the life and death of the Seven Kings of Edom. Because they were all chaotic, they all died without leaving an heir. But the last king, the eighth king, Hadar is the order hiding within the chaos. In the psyche this all corresponds to the seven emotive faculties of the heart. When a person breaks down emotionally these seven emotive faculties shatter one by one, but then the purpose of the shattering is revealed—the eighth king.

Likewise, after the sin of the Golden Calf, God commanded to construct the Tabernacle. It was also known as, “the Tabernacle of Testament”—testifying to God’s forgiveness. God forgave them for the Golden Calf and brought His Presence to dwell in their midst.

Moses’ blessing, as Rashi writes, was, “May it be the will that the Divine Presence shall dwell in your handiwork.” The final verse of the fourth portion brings us full circle to God’s forgiveness. There turned out to be order in the chaos, in the sin. Indeed, at the very end of our parashah, we read that, “The cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and God’s Presence filled the Tabernacle.”[25]


(from a class given on 26th of 1st Adar, 5771)


[1]. Sanhedrin 97b: What is the meaning of the phrase (Habbakuk 2:3) “And it declares of the end, and does not lie”? Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says that Rabbi Yonatan says: May those who calculate the end of days be cursed, because once the end of days that they calculated arrived and the Mashiach did not come, people will say that he will no longer come at all. Rather, the proper behavior is to continue to wait for his coming, as it is stated (Ibid.): “Though he tarries, wait for him.”

[2]. Exodus 38:25.

[3]. Sanhedrin 97a.

[4]. Psalms 136.

[5]. See also Ibid.

[6]. Berachot 58a.

[7]. Ma’amarei Admur HaZaken Al HaTorah, vol. 1, pp. 419-422.

[8]. Daniel 10:8.

[9]. Lamentations 1:13.

[10]. Isaiah 60:22

[11]. Sanhedrin 98b.

[12]. Isaiah 54:12.

[13]. Eiruvin 13b.

[14]. Ibid.

[15]. Likkutei Torah Re’eh 24d and ff.

[16]. Rashi on Exodus 15:2.

[17]. Kiddushin 36a.

[18]. Bamidbar Rabbah 12:13. Tanchuma Pekudei 2.

[19]. Genesis 2:1-3.

[20]. Exodus 39:32 and v. 39.

[21]. See Sod HaShem LiYerei’av, Sha’ar Ta’am HaBeri’ah.

[22]. Isaiah 45:12.

[23]. Genesis 1:2.

[24]. Ibid.

[25]. Exodus 40:34.

[26] Bamidbar Rabbah 14:9.

[27] See Netiv Mitzvotecha, path A:13 (Brought in the preface to the book, Ba’al Shem Tov Al HaTorah §4).

[28] The Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek once said to his son, the Rebbe Maharash that there are also hidden tzaddikim in this time, but that they manifest as something else (Ramach Otiyot, 222). The essence is the same, but the garment has completely changed.

[29]. There are three schemes of Kabbalah known in Chasidic thought as: 1) Evolution (הִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת), 2) Enclothement (הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת), and 3) Inspiration (הַשְׁרָאָה). See What You Need to Know About Kabbalah, p. 9ff. See also Tanya, Iggeret HaKodesh 25.

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