Rabbi Yeheskel Lebovic


Why Distinguish Between Heaven and Earth?


In this week’s parsha of Voeschanan we read: "And you shall know today and you shall return (and set) unto your heart that G-d is the G-d in the heavens above and upon the earth from below, (to the point that ) there is nothing else" (Deut. 4:39) Earlier (4:35) another

verse states: "you have been shown to know that G-d is the G-d, there is nothing else besides Him".  We note several differences between these two verses:


  1. the earlier verse does not end with the addition of "in the heavens from above and upon the earth etc...,  while the later verse does.
  2. the earlier verse is a narrative of what spiritual vision the Jewish people was able to perceive at Sinai, while the later verse is an actual commandment enjoining us to develop this type of knowledge about G-d's Unity.  However, why would we be inclined to differentiate between heaven and earth?


The Principle of Tzimtzum/Contraction


We just recently commemorated (Menachem Av 5) the yahrzeit of the great Kabbalist the Arizal who introduced the principle of Divine contraction. Why is it altogether necessary in the kabalistic view of G-d to say that G-d contracted his Infinite light Or Ein Sof to make room for a finite world?!  Isn’t He All Able without having to resort to contraction? The answer is given by Rabbi Shalom Dovber, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe  (Hemshech 5672 chap.95) i.e. that G-d created man with the faculty of intellect, and as such, He wanted man to be able to grasp and perceive things in a way which does not transcend intellect but rather sits well within the parameters of intellect.  Would there have not been any contraction of the Infinite En Sof , His ability to nonetheless connect intimately with finite creatures would have been too baffling and confusing for limited human intellect to relate to.  In His Kindness, He willed this process of contraction, which makes more sense to our intellect. It is because of this principle that it's not only a general, overall G-dly force that has to sustain this whole universe, but that it comes down in a contracted form down to the level of each individual created entity. Because of this, it is possible to entertain some distinction:  perhaps the process of G-dly contraction and subsequent investment within the parameters of the created entity applies only to lofty heavenly entities, but not to earthly ones. Perhaps the earthly can't possibly become adequate vehicles for this G-dly flow and perhaps they are governed only in terms of  dependence on G-d but not necessarily in terms of total inclusion ?  Therefore, to offset what seems to be a reasonable distinction, the verse has to state clearly and unequivocally that this principle applies across the board to every single aspect of Creation; the G-dly contracted force pervades and infuses every particle, giving and sustaining its existential state and, simultaneously and paradoxically, absorbing it within the G-dly Unity.


The Solution to all of World's Ills


It is well-known that the reason why the 2nd Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was destroyed is because of the sin of Sinas Chinam, usually translated as "causeless hatred". The truth is that every hatred must have some cause.  Chinam  means "free, for nothing". Whatever cause there is for disliking a fellow Jew is chinam "over nothing worth making a big deal about". This explains why this Galus has extended for so long: people, basing themselves on the "causes" which they view as valid causes for hatred, tend to justify to themselves this kind of hatred ("he is a jerk; she does not deserve any sympathy; he deserves to be hated") and consequently do not make adequate teshuva to rectify the situation (Likutey Torah Matos 86a).  The underlying reason why there is hatred and division in the world is because of the erroneous notion that what is mine is mine, that I have a turf to protect, that I have interests to look after, that I am an existential entity with my clearly defined parameters that should not be encroached upon by others, and that if they do, I will relate to them with an enmity that they deserve. In these days of Covid-19 we all sit separately on our own separate turf. Is it because up till now we indeed have viewed our turf and interests in the manner described?  But if the world view changes and people start to recognize (a) their thorough dependence on G-d and His benevolence, and (b) their state of nullification to the Creator of all, constantly contracting His Infinity for our benefit of intellectual perception of truth-- then everything, my turf and its parameters, pale into insignificance, so why generate division and contention over something which is "chinam".  In the future days, everyone will contently sit under "his vineyard and fig tree," without engaging in the do-like-the-jones jealous pursuits.  From Shabbos Chazon we realize the utter misery and destruction that wrong attitudes generate, to the detriment of the whole world, and from this coming Shabbos,  Shabbos Nachamu we learn the true and proper attitudes Jews must espouse, and enjoin the whole world to copy them.  As a result, the whole world can indeed be "turned around" and realize its long-standing stupidity of erroneous divisive ideas—and pave the way for the new mode of relating to existence, within the reality of G-dly Unity.


based on Likutey Sichos vol. 29 pp.26-32


In honor of the Bar Mitzvah of Akiva Yisroel ben Chana on Menachem Av 7