Parsha sheet: Beshalach – Cosmic Applause

Click here to download PDF

Two Hands

Towards  the conclusion of ‘Shiras HaYam’ (15:17-18) it says: “You shall bring them and implant them on the mountain of the heritage the place for your dwelling that You made Hashem, the Mikdash, Hashem, is constructed by Your ‘Hands’. Hashem will reign forever.” What is it about the Beis HaMikdash that is “constructed by Hashem’s hands” more than anything else that He created? Rashi on the words the “place for your dwelling” says that it alludes to that the Beis HaMikdash on Earth is parallel to the Divine throne in Heaven (which elsewhere in Chazal is referred to as the “Beis HaMikdash  above”). What is the significance of this alignment? Rashi goes on to explain regarding the “….the Mikdash, Hashem, is constructed by Your ‘Hands’”: “Beloved is the Beis HaMikdash for the world was created with just one “Hand” as the pasuk (Yeshayahu 48:13) says “and my ‘Hand’ (singular) founded the Earth…etc.” and the Mikdash is made with two “Hands”.  But when will the Mikdash be made with two “Hands”? At the time when Hashem reigns forever in the future when all Kingdom will be his forever” what do these ideas mean? In what way is this world created only with one “Hand” and the Beis HaMikdash with two “Hands”? Why is it necessary for Hashem to reign forever in order for Him to build the Beis HaMikdash with two “Hands”?

Rashi vs the Gemara

The words of Rashi are strikingly Parallel and yet contradictory to the Gemara in Kesuvos (5a): “Bar Kapparah ‘darshened’: greater are the handiworks of the Tzadikim more than the handiworks of Heaven and Earth. Regarding the handiwork of the creation of Heaven and Earth it says (Yeshayahu 48:13): “….and my ‘Hand’ (singular) founded the Earth and my ‘Right’ (singular) propped up the sky” whereas by the handiwork of the Tzadikim it says “….the Mikdash, Hashem, is constructed by Your ‘Hands”. The gemara proceeds to bring Pesukim that seemingly say that Hashem  created the world with “two hands” and by each and every one the Gemara says to read it in single form as “Hand” or to attribute the plural to the “Fingers on the Hand”, but still only one “Hand”. The Gemara then brings the pasuk (Tehillim 19:2) “The heavens speak the glory of Hashem and the handiwork of his “Hands” are told by the sky” and the Gemara says that it is again referring to the handiwork of the hands of the Tzadikim attested to by the sky by giving rain. Rashi on the Gemara explains that the rain is in response to the  prayers of the Tzadikim, so it is therefore the handiwork of the Tzadikim who do their thing with “two hands”.  What is this idea of “two hands” being better than “one hand”? One could argue that doing something with only “one hand” is even more impressive! All the pesukim the Gemara brings, especially the pasuk from this week’s Parsha, are all literally talking about  “Hashem’s Hands”! In this week’s parsha the whole ‘Shiras HaYam’ is  addressed to Hashem and the pasuk “The heavens speak the glory of Hashem and the handiwork of his “Hands” are told by the sky” also literally refers to Hashem’s “Hands”! How can Bar Kapparah explain that it refers to the hands of Tzadikim?!? Why is rain something done with “two hands”? A pasuk that would imply that Hashem created Heaven and Earth with “two Hands” is in “Mizmor shir l’yom Ha’Shabbos”(Tehillim 92:5)”…You have gladdened me Hashem with your creation and with the handiwork of Your Hands I will rejoice….”. Why didn’t the Gemara raise this clear difficulty and attempt to resolve it? Rashi in our parsha adopts the idea that from the Gemara that “two Hands are better than one” but rejects the idea that the “two hands” are those of the Tzadikim and sticks to the literal meaning that they are Hashem’s “Hands” and limits the “Two Handed aspect” of the Beis Hamikdash to the future one. Why did Rashi reject much of what the Gemara said?

A World of units

The key to the issue is to get some understanding of what the Torah means by Hashem’s “Hand”, an expression used extensively in the these last few parshas, and what are “Two Hands” as opposed to “just one”. As is well known, it is a cornerstone belief that Hashem has no body and is of infinite power, so what do “Hands” mean? The Mishna in Avos says (5:1) “with 10 utterances the world was created. What does this teach us? With one utterance it could have been created! Rather it is to punish the wicked that destroy the world that was created with 10 utterances and to give good reward to the Tzadikim who uphold the world that was created with 10 utterances.” What does this mean? How do 10 utterances instead of one cause reward and punishment? The Ramchal  in his sefer “Daas Tevunos” explains: If Hashem would have created reality  in “one magical moment” which would be, by our standards, infinite power it would be a world which we could neither understand nor influence! Rather, Hashem created reality with ten utterances in course of six days, with time and in units and pieces – which means with quantifiable finite power. Even though Hashem is of infinite power, He created the world with finite powers. This was for our benefit! Now we are able to appreciate reality, as we can see and measure the laws of nature and marvel at the Divine Intelligence in them. A world of units could be added to and detracted from, therefore, we can influence and affect the world! – That’s why the world can be destroyed by the wicked and thus be deserving of punishment and that is why Tzadikim can sustain and add to the world and thus be truly deserving of good reward!

“Hands”

Of course, Hashem himself has no “hands” in any way shape or form. “Hands” refer to the  distinct energies “measured out” to create the distinct creations that are to be produced by them. When Chazal say (both in the Gemara in Kesuvos and Rashi in our parsha) “everything in reality was created with just one ‘Hand’’ they mean to say: everything has its distinct cause that was measured out to create it.  That measured out energy is metaphorically referred to as “the Hand” that created whatever distinct products that are meant to come from it. Distinct causes have distinct effects.

“Right” & “Left”

The pasuk that was was brought by the Gemara and Rashi in our parsha refers to  “the right ‘Hand’ that propped up  the sky” which by contrast must mean  that “the ‘Hand’ that founded the Earth” must be the “left ‘Hand’”. This is all a metaphor for the following idea: Heaven and Earth are dissimilar. One is bright, lofty, and pure and the other one is dark, lowly, and profane. Since Hashem chose to create the world with distinct  powers for distinct creations, the causes have to be congruent to their effects. Heaven cannot come from the same “Hand” as Earth. Heaven that represents the spiritual is a greater creation and results from a  stronger cause – like the right-hand  is the stronger hand. Earth that is physical and lowly is a weaker substance and is created by a weaker cause- like the left hand is the weaker hand. The spiritual is created by the metaphoric “Right Hand” and the physical is created by the metaphoric “Left Hand”. Everything is either physical or spiritual –  but not both! That’s what it means everything is created with “One Hand” – the spiritual with the “Right” and the physical with the “Left”.

Use Both “Hands”!

Man has a Neshama from Heaven, created by the “Right Hand” and a body from Earth, created by the “Left Hand”. Chazal tell us that Tzadikim even when  dead are called “alive” and the wicked even when alive are called “dead”. The reason is because “human life”, as opposed to animal life,  is the wonderful bond of Neshama and body. The wicked ignore the Neshama and only live for the body and its base desires as if there is no Neshama and that’s why they’re “dead” i.e. lacking “human life” even in their lifetime. The Tzadikim endeavor to have the body in service of the Neshama and  that creates a permanent bond between them and even and death they don’t “part ways” as both body and Neshama await resurrection to be reunited. The Gemara was saying: Tzadikim who work with body and Neshama do things with “two hands” because everything that they do is with both of these separate and distinct forces – the body is their “Left Hand” and the Neshama is their “Right Hand”!

Beis HaMikdash – point of convergence

This unique action that only Tzadikim can do creates the cosmic unity between the separate and distinct forces of the Heavenly and the Earthly- they cause Hashem’s “Right” and “Left” to come together! Their “two hands” are “Hashem’s Two Hands – together” as they cause cosmic unity. This what the Gemara meant by saying “Hashem’s Hands” are the “handiwork of the Tzadikim”. That’s the secret behind the two examples the Gemara gives for what the Tzadikim create with “Two Hands”. The prime example is the Beis HaMikdash made with “two hands” because the Beis HaMikdash is where Heaven and Earth converge – the Heavenly “Shechina” resides there on Earth! The truth is that it is the ultimate cosmic convergence point because it is the Center of reality where all the different dimensions meet! That is the secret of the Chazal Rashi brings in  this week’s Parsha that the Beis HaMikdash above (=the Divine throne) is perfectly aligned with the Beis HaMikdash below – they are all superimposed one on the other at point center of all the different dimensions. That is where “Left”  meets “Right”.

Rain

What is the significance behind rainfall? Hashem  talks to us through the weather. The most direct outcome of our good and bad deeds  is whether there’s plenty of rainfall or not. What happens in rainfall?  Heaven supports earthjust like the Neshama sustains the body! The Mitzvah and Tefillos of Tzadikim which are done by their Neshama in concert with their body causes the unity of Heaven supporting earth with rainfall from heaven to earth.

Shabbos – Time of Convergence

Shabbos is also a point of convergence between all the forces of creation. It is the “seventh day”. We live in a world of three dimensions, three dimensions have six edges. The 7th represents the center which itself is on no side (“Kodesh”) and unites all sides (“Bracha”). At the end of the Genesis(2:1)  it says: “Vayichulu” – thus was finished – which could also mean “all included together” was Heaven and Earth and all their multitudes. As the pesukim continue, that’s why Shabbos is both “the source of blessing” and “Holy”  because we can import power (blessing) from higher (Holy)  dimensions because it’s a day of convergence and we have contact with the dimensions beyond. Shabbos is in time what the Beis HaMikdash is in space. That’s why they are always mentioned  together in the Torah and we learn out what is prohibited to do on Shabbos from the construction of the Mishkan.  Shabbos is indeed “Hashem’s Two Hands together” and Hashem Himself makes Shabbos but it’s not an entity – it’s a time! The Gemara was looking for entities created with “two hands” and only found the Beis HaMikdash and rainfall. Shabbos is indeed “both hands” of the physical and the spiritual together but  it’s not an entity, it is a Time.

Why Didn’t it Last?

What’s lacking in man’s great accomplishment of making the Beis HaMikdash is that the Beis HaMikdash did not last! Where is the glory in something that just lasts a little bit over 400 years which is just a “drop in the bucket” of history and Destiny? Why didn’t the Beis HaMikdash last? Because we can’t fully cause the convergence of these two cosmic “hands” because even our own body and soul aren’t perfectly United – the Yetzer Hara gets in between them. The same Yetzer Hara that prevents the Neshama from fully integrating in the body in this lifetime and forces man to have to die in order to be resurrected clean without any vices and bad passions inside of him  also gets in the way of anything that we try to build with this integration. That same blockage causes the Beis HaMikdash to be susceptible to destruction and it indeed was destroyed by our sins….

Bar Kapparah & the Rambam

I would suggest that perhaps Bar Kapparah was speaking regarding the third Beis HaMikdash that will last forever because all evil, including the Yetzer Hara,  will be vanquished and that will be the  true ultimate achievement of a “two-handed creation”. If so,  Rashi and the Gemara are not arguing about the “two hands” referring to the third Beis HaMikdash when “Hashem will reign forever”. If so, Bar Kapparah and the Gemara in Kesuvos that is his exponent are of the opinion reflected in some sources in Chazal that the Jewish people and/or Moshiach  will build the third Beis HaMikdash which is the opinion of the Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 11:1 & 11:4)

Rashi “L’Shitaso”

However, Rashi in Maseches Succah (41a D”H E’ Nami) after laying out some issues concludes that the third Beis HaMikdash will come down fully built from Heaven and he brings the pasuk from our Parsha , “the Mikdash, Hashem, is constructed by Your (Hashem’s) ‘Hands’”. Rashi was explaining the pesukim according to his own opinion that the third Beis Hamikdash that represents the lasting cosmic unity of the physical and the spiritual  is the product of Hashem Himself, when He will vanquish all evil and reign forever, Bimheiroh Byomeinu, Amen!