I’ll be starting a new weekly segment here called “This Weeks Parsha”, I’ve been doing it off and on over the past couple months, but I just want to make it an official thing. This blog talks a lot of smack, (smack I think is for the greater good, but none the less smack) so I think it would be a good thing to balance it with a little divrei torah. So from this Friday and on I’ll post a little something about the Parsha.
Translated and adapted by Shalom Goldberg. Taken from Likutei Sichos volume one, second Sicha.
1. In the beginning of this week’s Torah portion the Torah says, “When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male…”
2. The Rebbe now quotes the “Or Hachaim” (a commentary on the Torah written by Rabbi Chaim Ben-Attar, 1696-1743):
The “Or Hachaim” asks, why does the Torah use the wording, “And gives birth to a male (V’Yalda Zachor)”, which connotes a surety regarding the birth of the male, which is different from its’ choice of wording a few verses later regarding a female, when it says, “If she gives birth to a female”?
The “Or Hachaim” answers and explains that this verse is not only simply discussing the laws of purity when a woman gives birth; it is also speaking about the Jewish people, who are referred to as a “woman”. Moreover, the Hebrew word used in this verse to mean “conceive” is “Tazria”, which literally means “to contribute seed”.
Consequently, the Torah is telling us that when the Jewish people contribute their seeds of Torah and Mitzvos- as it says, “Sow for yourselves seeds of righteousness”- a “male” will definitely be born, which means that we will experience the final and complete redemption.
The final and complete redemption is referred to as a “male”, as opposed to a “female”, because of their inherent characteristics. Tosofos explains that just as a woman has aches and pains after the joy of giving birth, so too were there exiles for the Jewish people after all their previous redemptions. However the level of a “male” is that of an eternal unchanging status. So too, the final and complete redemption will be eternal and unchanging.
3. The Rebbe now discusses the Jewish people being referred to as a “woman”:
Regarding the creation of women, the Torah says, “This shall be called Woman, for from man was she taken”. In other words, the feminine form of the word, “Ish – Man”, is, “Ishah – Woman” (a derivative of the word “Ish – man”), because the first woman (Eve) was created from man (Adam).
When we consider the comment of our Sages that, “‘A man’ is none other than the Holy One Blessed is He, as it says, ‘Hashem (G-d) is a man of war’”, we will apply this freshly mentioned idea here as well: The Jewish people are called a “woman” because we come from Hashem who is the “man”.
Furthermore, being that every name of the Jewish people expresses a different aspect of them, we can understand that the name “Ishah – woman” expresses how our entire existence is only from Hashem- “for from man was she taken”. The name “Ishah – woman” testifies that for a Jew nothing else is important besides Hashem; not only do we not care about anything coarse or physical, the highest spiritual rewards we receive from serving Hashem are totally irrelevant to us, even the highest levels in Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) are totally inconsequential compared to Hashem Himself.
4. The Rebbe now continues analyzing and explaining our verse:
After the Torah refers to the Jewish people as a woman, it tells us that we must plant the seeds of Mitzvos and good deeds in order to bring the final and complete redemption. The Torah is teaching us that after we internalize the feeling of “for from man was she taken”- total subservience to Hashem, we must now begin “planting” Mitzvos and good deeds; and just like planting is done in the ground, so too, our Mitzvos and good deeds must be done in this physical world with physical objects.
One cannot say, “It is good enough for me to have good thoughts and warm feelings towards
G-d because after all, ‘G-d desires the heart’”. The Torah is telling us that we must act on our feelings and serve Hashem with action. If we were to sit and cry about a certain poor man’s situation, this would not help him one bit. We must go and give him money to help him. So too with all the Mitzvos; we must use physical wool for Tzitzis (the “fringes”) and physical parchment for Tefillin (phylacteries).
This is the formula for bringing about the future redemption termed “male” for its’ everlasting character.