Thursday, August 14, 2008

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Sinat Chinam and the Sages’ Intent (Part 2)

by Reb Moshe Newman at Mystical Paths

In part one of this article, we discussed that, according to proper grammar, the phrase, sinat chinam should be translated as “the hatred of their chen.” Why, then, have our sages promulgated a tradition to translate it as “causeless hatred”? And how does this relate to the destruction and rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash?

In our article, “Baruch P’tarani”(see below), we discussed the idea that the most expanded consciousness is to know that everything is ultimately Hashem and His orchestration. Remembering that every event occurs within the paradox of Free Choice/Multiplicity vs. Divine Providence/Unity, let us focus on the Divine Providence aspect of the destruction of the Holy Temple.

If Hashem controls everything, why would Hashem orchestrate the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash? Why would He orchestrate events such that His Holy Nation would sink to the level of hatred in the first place? Sharpening our question, let us consider that, according to our Tradition, Hashem’s Desire is that His Holy Nation should keep Torah. So, if from the perspective of Divine Providence, we are merely puppets of His Will, why would Hashem cause history to unfold such that, over the past 150 years, the Jewish People has shifted from about ninety per cent keeping Torah to about ten per cent?

Intensifying our question even further, according to Tradition, the reason Hashem created the world was in order to bestow Goodness. If Goodness is Hashem’s goal, why is the world so full of pain and evil—the antithesis of goodness? If Hashem is Good and controls everything, why is human history so replete with horrors of barbaric cruelty, natural disasters, etc.

The ToKoGaE--Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: The 'Temporary' Mitzvah

To resolve this, we go back to Adam and Chava who, at first, lived with only one experience—Goodness manifested as bliss in the heart and a clear knowledge of Hashem’s Unity. However, Adam and Chava experienced, but did not appreciate Hashem’s Goodness. The only way we can truly appreciate Light is to know darkness. Hashem wanted his prize creation to fully appreciate His Goodness. So Hashem created darkness/evil, embodied it in the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (ToKoGaE ) and placed the tree in the Garden of Eden.

Many Jews who have grown up in a Western society are surprised to discover that Torah Tradition teaches that the mitzvah prohibiting the fruit of the ToKoGaE was temporary. Hashem’s “plan A”, as it were, was that they would eat the fruit just as Shabbat was beginning. One of the main consequences of eating from the fruit of the ToKoGaE was, as its name connotes, the knowledge of good and evil. The main knowledge is experiential. Before eating from the tree, Adam and Chava experienced Good. So the main new awareness activated by the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was Evil. The human experience of evil is physical and/or emotional pain and/or confusion.

Hashem created humans that, when we experience sudden, intense pain, the instinctive reaction is to scream and go into a defense/survival state. This includes a certain decrease in the function of the frontal lobe of the brain—the part of the brain active in higher consciousness and awareness of emotions of bliss, love, etc. We become constricted in consciousness, focused externally on survival. We remain in this state as long as we perceive threat.

If They Would Have Eaten from the ToKoGaE with the Onset of Shabbat

Shabbat has the power to illuminate Truth. The Truth was that Hashem created Evil—the feeling of pain—in order to allow Adam to fully appreciate the Good. Eating the fruit at the onset of Shabbat would have illuminated that truth, and thus, Adam’s experience of evil would have been as just one more amazing creation of the Creator. His response would have been an initial instinctive scream from the darkness of the pain followed by the illumination: “OOWWW!!! Wow, Hashem, You created this too!?!? What an amazing, intense experience! You are an amazing Creator!! Now, if you don’t mind, I prefer the experience of bliss. This infinite pain is just too much! Please take away this experience of evil!” And Hashem would have complied—Adam and Chava, having made the tikun by acknowledging Hashem as the Creator of the experience of evil, would have come into Shabbat with a true and complete appreciation of Hashem’s Goodness. That tikun being made, Shabbat would have been eternal.

Plan B is Really Hashem's Plan A

However, plan B was Hashem’s true Desire. How do we know? Because, that’s what happened. The perspective of Divine Providence mandates that everything that unfolds is a perfect manifestation of Hashem’s Will. Plan B was that Adam would not withstand the test. He would eat from the Tree before Shabbat. Now, without the illumination of Shabbat, Adam’s experience of sudden pain caused the natural human defense state to kick in. One of the strongest instincts in a defense state is to explain the threatening circumstances. Adam’s reaction to the sudden, “Infinite Pain” was to interpret it as punishment for disobeying Hashem. And from the perspective of Free Choice/Multiplicity, this is true, but from Divine Providence/Unity, there is no such thing as punishment (as discussed in “Baruch P’tarani).

Hashem orchestrated Adam’s “fall” for a Reason.

As we said, the instinctive human response to pain is constricted consciousness/defense state. For the sake of survival, we become much more aware of our physicality. Thus, the constriction of Adam’s consciousness resulted in a profound change in his body—he went from having a “light-body”, to a body of flesh. A body of flesh seems more separate from the Supreme Unity. So, in his state of separation, Adam could not relate to the pain as coming from Hashem. In his interpretation of the pain as punishment for his failure, he felt shame, and realizing his nakedness, covered it. Next, out of fear and a further sense of separation, he hid. Thus we see that, in his constricted state, he reacted as if there could be such a thing as hiding from Hashem. Finally, so removed from the truth that everything he was experiencing was perfect from Hashem, and in a desire to get as far away from the unpleasant experience as possible, he blamed his wife. [ : ) And ever since, men have been blaming their mistakes on their wives ( : ] From that time on, the human condition became a “permanent” state of discomfort and feeling unsafe.

The True Partnership with Hashem

If Adam would have maintained higher consciousness, acknowledging Hashem as the Creator of the Infinite Pain of Infinite Evil, he would have totally rectified the Evil. Since he didn’t, that short period of time became a process of 6000 years which, through the unique existences of trillions of people, would enable every possible mixture of good and evil to make its appearance in the world. Hashem thus orchestrated it that, by Adam eating the fruit, a “worm” of constricted consciousness began infecting the “computer” which runs all of humanity. This worm was destined to replicate until it took over the entire “hard drive”. Mankind would be pulled into ever greater darkness, the nadir of which would be a state where humans would come to not believe in Hashem at all, r”l. This was necessary for the expression of Hashem’s Ultimate Will—that mankind would eventually reveal Hashem as the Creator of the very darkness into which it had fallen. Humanity would come to reveal that the Darkness is, in truth, only Hashem’s “hiding place”. That revelation rectifies and transforms the Evil. Thus mankind truly becomes a partner with Hashem in the Creation.

Hating the Chen

In part one, we said that chen is the glow of G-dLight emanating from something. Now we can more completely understand why the hatred of the chen would cause the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash. When we hate the chen in something—whenever we say, “G-d is not there,” we strengthen the state of constricted consciousness in humanity. Whenever we acknowledge Hashem as the Only One, especially in the unpleasant or horrible experiences, we contribute to the final redemption. This is called eating from the Tree of Life.

This is not to say that we are permitted to do evil things, G-d forbid. For Hashem’s Will is that we “turn away from evil and do good.” The above explanation does not permit sinning, G-d forbid. Rather it gives us a way to relate to everything that has happened throughout human history and the history of each of our lives, including all the falls into sin, r”l, from a place of greater peace, love, joy and gratitude. Living with a paradox perception enables us to have disagreements and still love each other. That is ahavat chinam—love of the glow of G-dLight in the things in the world with which we take exception.

Please G-d, in part three, look at the difference between the translation of sinat chinam as “causeless hatred” versus “the hatred of their chen” and come to a deeper appreciation of the role of our Tzaddikim—our sages, in this process.

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4 comments:

moshe said...

Wow, these are amazing insights. Are they your own you learned them somewhere?

joshwaxman said...

"In part one of this article, we discussed that, according to proper grammar, the phrase, sinat chinam should be translated as “the hatred of their chen.” Why, then, have our sages promulgated a tradition to translate it as “causeless hatred”?"

This is part of a trend of extremely modern drasha that asks grammatical questions and answers them incorrectly, and then uses it as a basis for further drash. And most people do not recognize it for the bad dikduk that it is, because they themselves are not trained grammarians.

If you want to understand this construction, ask baalei dikduk.

The fact is, sinat chinam DOES mean "baseless hatred." There may be a question how this construction works, and how come there is not gender agreement between the noun and the adjective. But there must be some answer.

We see e.g. Shomrei Chinam in the gemara, and there is no number agreement. Yet it is OK.

And we see in Avodah Zarah 20a an alternation, where first we have Matnat *Shel* Chinam, which them becomes Matnat Chinam, without the "shel." (Also in 62b.) And it means an undeserved gift. And according to you, there should be gender agreement. Rather, it is of a kind with the construction Bechiyah shel Chinam (baseless crying), which could be written in short as Bechiyat Chinam.

We also have in Mishlei the phrase קִלְלַת חִנָּם, "a causeless curse," which is the same construction. Targum on that is levata demagan, a curse for nothing.

Nightghost said...

Very cool! This is so neat. I had never heard these things before anywhere. Other than those strange experiences. Thank you, Reb Moshe Newman. Love this blog that Reb Nati and Reb Akiva made. I don't really know any Jewish people near me or a synagogue that is close by, but I love hearing this. Really cool stuff.
Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this excellent contribution.
I am grateful for Reb Moshe's message of consciousness of Hashem’s unity--recognition that only Hashem orchestrates the events of the creation. I look forward to part 3 and further insight from Reb Moshe.

May we continue to merit such messengers in this time of obscurity.

HaSefaradi

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