Raise Your Voice Like a Shofar

posted in: Mashiach, Repentance, Tzaddik | 0

Mashiach and the Mechanics of Rebuke (Likutei Moharan II:8:1)

A little over a year ago, we published a d’var Torah entitled To Rebuke or Not to Rebuke: That is the Question. In that article, we explained what happens to someone who receives rebuke from someone who is unfit to rebuke. In short, instead of arousing within the rebukee a spirit of teshuvah, the rebuker ends up stirring up within him a stench making his soul more ill than it was in the first place. In order for someone to rebuke an other individual effectively, he must be able to place within the rebukee’s soul a pleasant fragrance and inspire him to do teshuvah from love, which is no easy task. However, the souls of the tzaddikim, and especially the unique soul of Moshe Rabbeinu whose soul is the soul of Mashiach, have this ability, in part, because they are the only ones who can actually ‘see’ the other person’s soul, and thus they know exactly the ailments that have befallen it. Therefore, they are really the only ones who are fit to rebuke and heal our damaged souls.

In this article, we want to delve into this teaching further by asking ourselves three questions. First, how does someone become a fit rebuker? Second, how does the fit rebuker actually rebuke? And third, how does the rebuke actually heal the soul of the rebukee?

R’ Nachman teaches in Likutei Moharan II:8:1: כִּי יֵשׁ מְזוֹנָא דְּנִשְׁמָתָא וּמְזוֹנָא דְּגוּפָא וְעַל־יְדֵי מְזוֹנָא דְּגוּפָא נֶחֱלָשׁ מְזוֹנָא דְּנִשְׁמָתָא (For there is sustenance of the soul and sustenance of the body, and through the sustenance of the body the sustenance of the soul is weakened). This reciprocal relationship is analogous to the relationship that exists between Ya’akov and Esav, as explained by Rashi on Bereshit 25:23: לֹא יִשְׁווּ בִּגְדֻלָּה, כְּשֶׁזֶּה קָם זֶה נוֹפֵל (They will never been equal in greatness; when this one rises, the other one falls [and vice versa]). We cannot nourish the soul and the body at the same time. When the body gets is sustenance, the soul is weakened. And vice versa. When the soul receives its sustenance, the body is weakened. But how come? Continuing on in Likutei Moharan: כִּי עַל־יְדֵי מְזוֹנָא דְּגוּפָא, דְּהַיְנוּ עַל־יְדֵי אֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה, עַל־יְדֵי־זֶה מַגְדִּילִין אֶת בְּחִינַת עָקֵב דְּסִטְרָא־אַחֲרָא בִּבְחִינַת: אוֹכֵל לַחְמִי הִגְדִּיל עָלַי עָקֵב (For through the sustenance of the body, i.e. through food and drink, we enhance the aspect of ‘the heel of the Sitra Achra’, in the aspect of Tehillim 41:10: ‘Eating my bread has raised the heel over me’). The p’shat of this pasuk, according to the Gemara in Sanhedrin 106b, is that David was lamenting the unfortunate situation that developed with his erstwhile teacher and counselor, Achitophel, who used to eat with David in friendship and camaraderie, but now had ‘raised his heel’ over David, i.e. had turned against him and become his enemy. However, R’ Nachman sees a remez here to something more all-encompassing: that by eating one’s bread, i.e. food, one strengthens and elevates his own heel [עָקֵב, akeiv] over himself, i.e. over his soul. And what is that heel? It is his own physicality. But not just stam physicality; rather, it is his basest physicality, the lowest part of the entire body—the heel.

But there is also another kind of heel, a heel which is also lowly and base, but it stays in its place and doesn’t elevate itself. And what is this heel? It is the heel of kedushah (Mishlei 22:4): עֵקֶב עֲנָוָה יִרְאַת יְיָ (The result of humility is the fear of Hashem). The word here for ‘result’ is עֵקֶב [eikev] which is very similar to the word for ‘heel’, i.e. עָקֵב. In other words, humility is likened to the lowest part of a person’s physical body, i.e. the heel. It symbolizes humility because it is lowly. It carries the body; it serves the body. It has no mind of its own. Generally, it does what the ‘will’ tells it to do. This is true humility, and true humility leads to the fear [yirah] of Hashem. And yirah is likened to a scent, to an aroma, to the pleasant fragrance that the fit rebuker is able to instill in the soul of the rebukee. Referring to Mashiach himself, the fit rebuker, the navi writes (Yeshayah 11:3): וַהֲרִיחוֹ בְּיִרְאַת יְיָ וְלֹא־לְמַרְאֵה עֵינָיו יִשְׁפּוֹט וְלֹא־לְמִשְׁמַע אׇזְנָיו יוֹכִיחַ (And he will be imbued [haricho] with the fear [yirah] of Hashem; he will not judge by what his eyes see nor rebuke by what his ears hear). This explanation accords with how Rava understood the verse in Sanhedrin 93b, that the word haricho means דמורח ודאין (that he smells and judges). Not only that Mashiach senses or ‘smells’ the soul of each one of us, but that he will also be able to instill into our souls a pleasant fragrance through his fitting rebuke.

We have now answered our first question of how someone, i.e. the Mashiach, becomes fit to rebuke others. He becomes the fit rebuker because of his humility, by strengthening his heel of kedushah. And how does he do that? By nourishing his soul with Torah and tefillah instead of nourishing his body with food and drink. Of course, this takes tremendous self-discipline and mesirat nefesh over many years, but that’s how he does it.

Now the second question: How does the fit rebuker actually rebuke the rest of us?

In the words of R’ Nachman: וְהַתִּקּוּן לָזֶה הוּא עַל־יְדֵי בְּחִינַת קוֹל (The tikkun for this is through the aspect of voice). The fit rebuker must have ‘voice’. What does this mean? It is the deeper meaning of what Yitzchak said when Ya’akov came before him to receive the blessing. After Yitzchak reached out and felt the hairy skins placed over the smooth flesh of Ya’akov by his mother, he thought that he must be Esav, yet this son didn’t speak like Esav. He spoke like Ya’akov, as Yitzchak said (Bereshit 27:22): הַקֹּל קוֹל יַעֲקֹב (the voice is the voice of Ya’akov). And what is this voice? It is the voice of humility, the voice of submissiveness, the voice of truth. This was the Ya’akov who learned Torah day and night and who did what his mother Rivkah told him in order to make sure that the blessing did not go to Esav. This is the Ya’akov who eventually learned in the yeshivah of Shem and Ever for 14 years before venturing on to Lavan, who worked for seven years for Rachel, who was shomer einayim under the chuppah and didn’t even see Rachel being switched for Leah, who worked another seven years for Rachel, who took care of Lavan’s flock in the dry summers and wet winters, in heat and cold, at night and during the day, all without complaint! This is the Ya’akov who would bow before Esav seven times upon his return to Eretz Yisrael, who gave him all of his material possessions, who upon learning about the abduction and rape of his daughter Dinah responded with silence, who mourned over Yosef for 22 years, refusing to be comforted. This is the voice of Ya’akov, the voice of unparalleled humility, of acceptance, of the one who was given truth (the sefirah of tiferet) even as Avraham his grandfather was given the sefirah of chesed (Michah 7:20). And this is the voice of Mashiach, doing whatever it takes to bring another Jewish soul to teshuvah, suffering whatever needs to be suffered to sweeten judgments against the Jewish People, despite being despised by most, and suffering in his own flesh the iniquities of us all (Yeshayah 53:3-5). It is exactly as Bila’am the navi said (Bamidbar 23:10): מִי מָנָה עֲפַר יַעֲקֹב (Who can count the dust of Ya’akov?). Who indeed! Who can even begin to fathom the humility of Ya’akov?

As R’ Nachman explains, this ‘voice’, the voice that grabs on to the heel of Esav and subdues it, is also the river mentioned in Bereshit 2:10: נָהָר יֹצֵא מֵעֵדֶן לְהַשְׁקוֹת אֶת־הַגָּן (the river that emerges from Eden to water the garden). It is the healing river that waters the garden, the garden where we, where our souls, the real we, grow. We are watered by this ‘voice’ and we grow as a result, producing beautiful fragrances and beautiful fruits. But what exactly is this voice? The voice of the fit rebuker is a voice ‘like a shofar’ (Yeshayah 58:1): קְרָא בְגָרוֹן אַל־תַּחְשֹׂךְ כַּשּׁוֹפָר הָרֵם קוֹלֶךָ וְהַגֵּד לְעַמִּי פִּשְׁעָם וּלְבֵית יַעֲקֹב חַטֹּאתָם (Call out from your throat, do not hold back, raise your voice like a shofar, and tell My nation their crime and the House of Ya’akov their sin). It may be like a shofar, but what is it? How does the fit rebuker actually rebuke? It is explained there in Likutei Moharan: וְנָהָר יֹצֵא מֵעֵדֶן הוּא בְּחִינַת קוֹל הַנִּגּוּן שֶׁל הַשִּׁיר שֶׁיִּתְעַר לֶעָתִיד כְּשֶׁיְּחַדֵּשׁ אֶת עוֹלָמוֹ שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת שִׁיר פָּשׁוּט כָּפוּל מְשֻׁלָּשׁ מְרֻבָּע וְזֶהוּ כַּשֹּׁפָר – רָאשֵׁי־תֵבוֹת: פָּשׁוּט כָּפוּל שָׁלוּשׁ רָבוּעַ – שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת הַשִּׁיר שֶׁלֶּעָתִיד שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת הַקּוֹל הַמַּשְׁקֶה אֶת הַגָּן שֶׁעַל־יְדֵי זֶה הַקּוֹל דַיְקָא הוּא יָכוֹל לְהוֹכִיחַ (And the river that emerges from Eden is the aspect of the voice of melody [niggun] of the song that will be aroused in the future when He will renew His world, that is the aspect of a simple, double, triple, quadruple song, and this is ‘like a shofar’ [כַּשֹּׁפָר], rashei teivot for simple [פָּשׁוּט], double [כָּפוּל], triple [שָׁלוּשׁ], quadruple [רָבוּעַ], which is likened to the Song of the Future, which is the voice that waters the garden, that through this voice, dafka, he is able to provide rebuke).

We have thus answered our second question. How does the fit rebuker provide rebuke? He does so with niggun, with melody, with song. This is the voice of healing that waters the garden, the river that flows from Eden. And it also the voice of the redeemer who is able to raise his voice like a shofar. It is the voice of the one, the only one who can instill within the souls of his people the desire to do real teshuvah.

Now we can turn to the final question: How does the rebuke actually heal our souls? It is as we have already said. His voice, his niggun is like a beautiful river that emerges from Eden. Its refreshing waters provide vitality and life to the plants in the garden, i.e. to the souls that grow there. This niggun is a new kind of song, a song that has never been heard before. Whereas all of the songs that have been sung to date are all aspects of shirah [שירה, fem.], this song is an aspect of shir [שיר, masc.], a shir chadash as it says in Tehillim 96:1: שִׁירוּ לַיְיָ שִׁיר חָדָשׁ שִׁירוּ לַיְיָ כׇּל־הָאָרֶץ (Sing to Hashem a new song, sing to Hashem, all the earth!). It is a shir chadash because it emerges from Mashiach himself, who has made himself one with Ze’ir Anpin, the ultimate and true ‘Adam’, the husband of the Shechinah, and thus, his niggun is shir (whereas all of our songs to date have emerged from Knesset Yisrael, from the Shechinah herself and are, therefore, aspects of shirah).

But we haven’t actually answered the question yet. How does Mashiach’s niggun heal us? The secret of the voice of rebuke is the secret of the simple, double, triple and quadruple song mentioned earlier. This song is mentioned in the Tikkunei Zohar (Tikkun 23, 51b). It is a song or niggun corresponding to Hashem’s name spelled out like this: י, י-ה, י-ה-ו, י-ה-ו-ה. The י corresponds to the ‘simple’ aspect of the song, a pure undifferentiated light, corresponding to the light of keter. The י-ה is the ‘double’ aspect of the song, the light which divides into chochmah and binah, the two sefirot of the mind. From there, the light descends into the body, first to the three upper sefirot of chesed, gevurah and tiferet. These correspond to the ‘triple’ nature of the song, the י-ה-ו of Hashem’s name. Finally, the light descends even further, i.e. the water of the river flows further downstream, watering down to the four lowest sefirot of netzach, hod, yesod and malchut, corresponding to the four letters of Hashem’s name, י-ה-ו-ה. This is the simple, double, triple, quadruple song, the song of Hashem’s name that washes us completely from top to bottom, from keter to malchut, and purifies us from all filth, from all impurity, from all sin. And it is a song of unparalleled chesed, for the gematria of this song (י, י-ה, י-ה-ו, י-ה-ו-ה) is 72, the same gematria as חסד [chesed]. It is a song of chesed because it keeps starting over again at the beginning, and each time it starts over, the water flows downstream further than it did before. In other words, every time we will fall and stumble, there will be no place for despair. We’ll just start over again, and when we start over again, we’ll progress even farther than we did the first time because it’s a song of tremendous encouragement, love and chesed.

Through the power of this niggun, tefillah and Torah are finally elevated to their source (and with them, all the holy sparks that have been collected and purified from this lower world). But perhaps more importantly, the Shechinah herself rises from the dust and ascends through all the sefirot, singing the song of each sefirah as she ascends to her rightful place (Tikkun 23, 51b): בשמ׳ דיקוק סלקא צלותא דאיהי שכינתא אוריתא בנגונא שכינתא בנגונא ישראל סלקין מגו גלותא בנגונא (With the name of Hashem, tefillah ascends, which is the Shechinah, Torah with niggun, Shechinah with niggun, Yisrael ascends from galut with niggun). There you have it. This is how galut ends—by hearing and accepting the niggun of the fit rebuker, of the redeemer, whose voice is ‘like a shofar’, the river that flows from Eden to water the garden where our souls grow, to instill within us aroma, fragrance, and the fear of Hashem, a song that will renew the face of the earth, that will encourage each and every one of us never to give up, to know that we can succeed, that there is no despair in the world, and that every little bit of good that we have done (or will do) in this world has meaning, is beloved by Hashem, and will be remembered and rewarded eternally.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *