Shabbos Chol HaMo'ed Pesach - Thou Shalt Not Be a Donkey

03/29/13 10:06:39

Mar29

R Pesach Siegel

Thou Shalt Not Be a Donkey

Pesach – Shabbos Chol HaMo’ed 5773

Based on the words of Mori VeRabi Harav Mordechai Gifter, z”l

The mishnah says, “All the scriptures are kodesh - sacred. Shir HaShirim is kodesh kodashim[1] – sacred of the sacred.

Shir HaShirim is afforded a special stature among the other megillos. Although it is expressed in the form of a song extolling the physical love between a man and a woman, it is holy. Not only is it holy, it is holiest of the holies.

Our sages tell us that the physical forms mentioned in the megillah are metaphors for the holiest of concepts. They represent the bond forged between Klal Yisroel and Hakadosh Baruch Hu at Har Sinai.

Why was this message given to us in this seemingly mundane manner?

Why not express these holy concepts as they are?

Why can’t they be expressed in the form of a spiritual bond between G-d and His people?

Rav Moshe Chaim Luzatto, in his sefer Derech Hashem, expounds on the ultimate purpose of creation. The Creator formed the world in order to be mashpia tov – to be an overflowing source of goodness. The Creator wishes to bestow tov in its most perfect form. The Creator Himself is tov incarnate. There is no perfect tov other than the Creator.[2]

Thus, one can only fulfill the purpose of creation by d’veikus with HaKadosh Baruch Hu – bonding in perfect unity with the Creator. This is the ultimate reward. This is the only flawless reward.

Man is comprised of two parts, the physical and the metaphysical. In order to facilitate total d’veikus, both parts must participate. Thus we find that all spiritual experiences are accompanied by matching physical ones.

When Yitzchok Avenu sought to bless Eisav, he commanded him to prepare tasty dishes for him.[3] The pleasure of partaking from these delicacies would allow Yitzchok to rise to the spiritual level necessary to bless his son.

Similarly, we find that when the heavens opened up at the time of the giving of the Torah, the posuk says, Vayechezu hane’arim es haElokim vayochlu vayishtu.”[4] – The young lads gazed at Elokim, and they ate and drank. Rashi comments, they satiated themselves from the shining light of the Shechinah as if they ate and drank.

And it is due to this that although there is a difference of opinion whether one may refrain from eating on the holidays of the year, all are in agreement that on Shavuos one must indulge in satisfying the needs of the physical.[5]

We see that it is impossible for a man of flesh and blood to undergo a spiritual experience without the participation of the human senses.

The Rambam says in Hilchos Teshuvah;

“What love which is the fitting love that one should love G-d? It is a great love, a love above other loves, an intensely powerful one, until one’s soul is bound up with the love of G-d, and there is no respite from this love, as one who is lovesick, his mind never wanders from the thought of a beloved woman, and his thoughts are filled with her when he arises and when he lays down to sleep, when he eats and when he drinks, even more so must the love of G-d be in the hearts of His beloved ones, etc. As King Shlomo says in Shir HaShirim, “Ki cholas ahavah ani” – I am sick with love. The entire Shir HaShirim is a parable for this relationship.”[6]

The Torah tells us, “Lo tov heyos haAdam levado[7] – It is not tov for man to exist alone. In order for man to attain what is tov, he cannot do so alone. The gemara says, “A man who is without a woman is one who is bereft of tov.”[8]

In order for one to attain d’veikus with G-d, he must be made aware of what d’veikus is on all levels. This includes the physical one. A man is incapable of doing so without the existence of a physical entity to bond with.

This entity is woman.

The strong attraction between man and woman is deeply rooted. The entire purpose of creation is dependent upon two physical entities joining together as one with body and with soul. A man without a woman, a woman without a man is purposeless. There is a strong need within the person to exist with a purpose, to avoid irrelevancy.

The sage Rabi Yitzchok from the city of Acco is quoted as saying, “One who has no desire for a woman is likened to a donkey. He is actually on a lower level than a donkey.”[9]

It is only fitting that the d’veikus between Klal Yisroel and the Creator is expressed in the form of a physical bond between a man and a woman. The relationship between man and woman is the facilitator of the bond with Hashem.

The purpose of all the scriptures is to bring us closer to our Creator. Thus, they are kodesh. Ensconced within the pages of Shir HaShirim is the purpose of creation in totality.

It is kodesh kodashim.



[1] Meseches Yadayim, perek 3, mishnah 5

[2] Chelek 1, perek 2

[3] Breishis, perek 27, posuk 4

[4] Shmos, perek 24, posuk 11

[5] Meseches Pesachim, daf 68b

[6] Perek 10, halacha 3

[7] Breishis, perek 2, posuk 18

[8] Meseches Yevamos, daf 62b

[9] Sefer Reishis Chochmah, Sha’ar Ha’Ahavah, perek 4

Thu, September 21 2017 1 Tishrei 5778