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Elijah's Fingers

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Bechukosai

May 20, 2011

Parshas BeChukosai 5771

 

In this week’s Torah portion, the blessings are revealed to all those who keep the laws of Hashem. They are reserved for one who toils in Torah with all his might.

  The Ramban comments by saying the when an individual acts in accordance with the will of Hakodosh Baruch Hu, the Heavens and Earth unite as one, therefore bringing an abundance of bracha to world from every angle. As the pesukim explain: If one were to desire rain, the Heavens would release its waters, and to all those who desire food, the Earth would sprout forth its lavish produce etc. The Heavens and Earth act in harmony, as one, in concert with one another in order to bring life to the world. In truth, the parsha is revealing that all those who keep the chukim (laws) are literally bringing Shalom to the world. Shalom is when things are complete and whole, and Shalom is when everything works as one.

 Toiling in Torah enables the shamayim and aretz to work together in harmony.

  Following the blessings mentioned for those who follow the chukim (laws) is the exact opposite to all those who wish turn away. As one can imagine, the curses are the mirror image of the brachos mentioned, therefore, leaving the world split apart and the Bnei Yisroel scattered amongst the world in fear and utter destitution. However, the pesukim explain further, that even if chas veshalom Klal Yisroel would stray from Hashem's path and the curses do befall them, Hakadosh Baruch Hu will "remember the bris with Yaakov," and guide the chosen nation back to its rightful place.

  In perek vav, posuk mem beis, this very point is relayed. It's noteworthy that Yaakov Avenu’s name in this posuk is spelled with an extra vav. Chazal explain, that there are a total of five places throughout the Torah where the name of Yaakov appears the same way. They also note, that the name of Eliyahu HaNavi appears five times through out Tanach with the letter vav missing from his name.

  Rashi writes on this very posuk that Yaakov, although promised by Hashem that his children would be redeemed, took a guarantor to seal the deal that Klal Yisroel would always be saved. Eliyahu was this individual who agreed to take upon this sacred task by giving Yaakov five vavs from his name as a guarantee for his service.

  One would then question, what good would this be? How does a vav serve as a guarantee? What is the significance of five of them? Why not only one?

  The MaHaral explains. The opened hand of a person reveals five slender fingers. The five fingers are all in the form of the letter vav. The mishna in Meseches Ahalos relays the amount of ayvarim (segments) in the hand of a person is thirty. If one were to take the numerical value of the letter vav and multiply it by five, they would yield thirty as well.

 Eliyahu HaNavi was in a spiritual sense actually "giving his hand" as an agreement of faith to Yaakov. The letter vav is also the letter of connection. Before a word, the letter vav bonds two elements together. (It means - “and”). This letter on a deeper level is the connecting factor of Hashem's four-letter name that connects the yud and the hay of Hashem’s name to the final hay, which represents connecting shamayim to aretz. Eliyahu therefore, was forging a spiritual bond with Yaakov.
 
What is the point or deeper meaning of adding letters to names, or combining spiritual ties to other people?

The name of a person is his true essence. A few examples would add clarity to this matter.

  Avraham Avinu, is known as the pillar of chessed. Before the first circumcision of mankind, Avraham lacked total control over five of his parts: His two eyes, his nose, his mouth, and his reproductive organ. Upon completing the covenant, Avraham sealed his true relationship with Hashem, and HaKodosh Baruch Hu bestowed on him the extra letter hay resembling his final mastery over the "five" remaining characteristics.

  Another example is by Avraham's wife Sarah, who at one point was called Sarai, meaning "My Princess" due to the fact that Avraham was prince of the world at the time. Hashem then replaced the letter yud with a hay to give her a whole new meaning of existence. She is no longer only G-d’s princess, she is the princess of the entire world.

Chazal then explain that this letter yud which was stripped from Sarah, went up to HaKadosh Baruch Hu with a complaint. Hashem assured the little letter that a point would come in time where a tzadik would be given an extension to his name of that very yud.

  Before allowing Yehoshua to partake in the mission of the Meraglim, it is said that Moshe placed a yud before his name, resulting in Yehoshua's new name. Chazal explain that Yehoshua was likened to the moon, as were the Imahos (mothers) of Klal Yisroel. The reason for this is because the moon is an astrological entity that only reflects. The Imahos reflected the Forefathers, and Yeshoshua reflected Moshe, who is compared to the sun. Moshe knew that Yehoshua's sole vision of himself was as one who reflects Moshe’s light to the world. But until now he had never left Moshe’s side. He therefore granted him this yud to alter the entire spiritual build of his name, which enabled Yehoshua to stand up against the Meraglim. Moshe took that very letter from Sarah because he needed that essence which Sarah contained. By doing what Moshe did, he actually connected Yehoshua's soul to Sarah's.

 This is the meaning behind the guarantee that Yaakov Avenu sought from Eliyahu. Only by uniting Eliyahu’s soul with Yaakov can the Jewish nation be redeemed from golus. Avinu. Uniting their names brought about the bond between them.

  This parsha speaks of golus and redemption. Golus, which is the lack of unity and stability, where the Bnei Yisroel are scattered. Klal Yisroel is considered one person, one entity. When the parts of an entity are scattered, that spells death for the entity.

  The point of Klal Yisroel is to unite as one. The MaHaral says that the word "Echad" is made up numerically of one, eight, and four. "Alef" - referring to Yaakov, "Ches" - referring to the eight Shvatim born from Rachel and Leah, and "Daled" - referring to the remaining four Shvatim born from Bilhah and Zilpah. When Yaakov Avenu laid his head down to rest in Beis El, the twelve stones around Yaakov's head all united as one. Yaakov Avenu gave birth to twelve sons who must function as one in order to be a living entity.

The Gemorah in Taanis (6b) relays that Yaakov Avinu never really died; the pesukim never reveal his passing. It just appeared that way. Eliyahu also is known to have gone up to Shamayim alive in a chariot of fire. Yaakov and Eliyahu both carry this aspect of uniting Klal Yisroel. Yaakov was the head, the father, and leader of the twelve Shvatim, and Eliyahu, proven from the five missing vavs, took over this mighty task. It is now Eliyahu who acts as an extension of Yaakov. He now brings the realm of "Shalom" to the Jewish people when they desperately need it.

 Death results when the body and soul are not at peace with one another. They were created to function as a whole. When they fail to do so, the soul must undergo its fate and the body must revert back to its former origin in the ground. Eliyahu HaNavi viewed the physical world as an extension of the world of the spirit. All contained within is a tool to be used for one common purpose.  His body and soul were one. So, he did not die.

 Just as one must view all parts of himself (the spiritual and physical ones) as one entity, so, too, must he view himself as part of “the Adam” of mankind. Man cannot complete himself. Without our fellow members of Klal Yisroel, one is like a heart without a brain, or a liver without a stomach. We complete each other and therefore we live.

When one studies Torah half-heartedly, and reserves some energy for other pursuits, he is in effect serving two masters. He serves Hashem with a portion of his koach, and preserves some koach for his own selfish pursuits. He is in the midst of a struggle and is not one with himself. If he cannot unite with himself, he cannot unite with the fellow members of his nation. When he fails in this aspect, he is unable to unite with his creator as well. This causes the entire world to come apart at the seams.

When we become one with ourselves, we then are capable of realizing that every Jew must work as part of a whole, and then we can connect with a bigger “whole”, with shamayim. The connection to Hashem will only be finalized when everyone joins together, shamayim and aretz will finally be united as one and the brachos promised by Hashem in this week’s parsha will become a living reality, for shamayim and aretz will function together as one unit..

 

Eliyahu is the one who will gather all the scattered portions of Klal Yisroel from their exiles. He will be the instrument to bring people back from the dead, thus uniting their body and soul. He is the penultimate unifier.

 

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