Sunday, January 04, 2015

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The Edge of Doing

by HaMashpia Reb Yoel Kahn, shlita

The bracha (blessing) Asher (son of the biblical patriarch Jacob) received from Yaakov in last week's parsha is that his 'bread be plump' with oil. Rashi notes that the bracha Moshe gave the tribe of Asher in parshas V'zos Ha'bracha is similarly that they 'dip their foot in oil' due to its abundance.

Aside from the literal meaning of these blessings, Chassidus explains that oil represents tremendous wisdom, an association which is sourced in the Gemara, yet we're told that Asher's 'feet,' the lowest and lowliest part of the body, far beneath the mind and heart and only capable of action, are to be serviced with oil. Asher's 'feet' must therefore have been of such a lofty stature to be worthy of such treatment. Furthermore, Moshiach's legs are described as 'standing atop the mount of olives,' the mountain being the source of the olives which are in turn the source of oil. How can the otherwise deficient feet be considered superior to oil?

At the Back

The tribe of Asher belonged to Dan's camp, along with Naftali, last among the Jews in the desert, yet the camp of Dan is described as collecting and returning the lost objects of the Jews in front of them, resulting in everyone ultimately depending on them.

Likewise, when serving Hashem, one can either do so as a 'head,' using one's mind to comprehend G-dliness, as a 'heart,' experiencing love or fear of Hashem, or as a 'foot,' simply following orders out of kabalas ol (simply following the command because it was commanded by G-d). But while the latter sounds like a drawback, a hollow existence lacking insight or emotion, a heart- or mind-based avoda (divine service) can result in a fatal loss of bittul (self nulification) due to one's occupation with oneself. Retrieving what might otherwise be lost occurs through serving Hashem selflessly, and is what Dan's camp represents. And among the tribes comprising the camp of Dan, Asher is at the center, the focal point, and therefore the greatest personification of kabalas ol.

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