From Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah

Friday, September 5, 2008

SHOFTIM: TWO HEARTS, ONE YEARNING

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Jewish DNA reflects a yearning to simultaneously ascend two figurative mountains: the universal call to serve humanity on the one hand, and the particular call to serve the Jewish people on the other hand, and in so doing preserve our culture, religion and heritage and be alone with our G*d.

Ultimately through fulfilling both yearnings we then come to serve G*d in the deepest way. For serving humanity, and serving G*d’s priestly nation of Israel, G*d’s servants for humanity, is the ultimate path to serving G*d Himself. After all, Kohein means servant. Lekhahein is the infinite form meaning to serve, and what is a truly lived life but one which was a life of devotion and service.

VERACH HALEVAV YELECH VEYASHOV LEVEYTO...(Deut.20:8)

…and let the faint-hearted return home (rather than let his cowardliness demoralize the nation).”

This is the usual meaning of the verse. But really it is saying something else altogether, because RACH actually means “soft.” It is saying that a soft heart is the true heart, the heart of the home, the heart we should always bring into the home. And we all have two hearts, in that the word LEVAV, for “hearts” alludes to the plural on account of the doubling of the letter vet. Their doubling is said to allude to the two inclinations– the good inclination (yetzer hatov) and the evil inclination (yetzer hara). See also the shema and veahavta prayer- “bechawl levavcha u’vechawl nafshecha u’vechawl me’odecha (with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might).”

But we have two other inclinations that are paired together as well- the Sinai inclination and the Yerushalayim inclination; the universal urge and the nationalistic urge. In truth, we should serve G*d with both urges.The call of Sinai in the wilderness, that zone of undifferentiated universality, where Israel received its charge to bring the Torah, the light of the world, to the nations of the world competes in our hearts with the yearning to be alone with G*d on His holy mountain in the city of David.

But really they don’t contradict each other at all. Really the two are actually one very deep yearning– that we will one day play host to all the nations of the world who will then come up to Yerushalayim, to G*d’s Holy Mountain to testify to G*d’s Oneness.

Read the rest here

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