Monday, June 3, 2013

Kabbalah of Time, Class 9: The Bear (Part I)

There was a lot in this lesson, so here it is from the book itself:

This week marks Rosh Chodesh Tammuz as well as Gimmel Tammuz, the date of the Rebbe’s passing and also the beginning of the liberation of the Sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe. Tammuz is represented by the tribe of Reuven, Jacob’s firstborn.

The name Reuven comes from the word reiyiah, sight, and the month of Tammuz is related to the tikkun, the fixing, of our sense of sight. Reuven is also connected to teshuvah in general. The Midrash states about Reuven that he was the first to repent out of love, without first being chastised by Hashem.[1]

This month is also connected to the tikkun for the sin of the spies. Moshe sent spies that journeyed throughout the Land of Israel during the entire month of Tammuz and, except for Joshua and Caleb, they viewed the Land of Israel in a negative light.

Tammuz also is connected to several tragedies that occurred on the 17th day of this month. Among these tragedies is the destruction of the first Tablets containing the Ten Commandments, as well as the breach of the walls of Jerusalem. However, Tammuz is also connected with the final redemption. In the future, when we ultimately repent and are redeemed, the 17th of Tammuz will no longer be a day of fasting and mourning, but rather a day of celebration.

The transformation and teshuvah of Tammuz parallels that of Reuven. Jacob took away Reuven’s firstborn rights after a severe mistake he made involving one of his father’s concubines. Reuven spent his entire life doing teshuvah for his sin. The Torah recognizes his repentance, still referring to Reuven as the firstborn son of Jacob long after the unfortunate event took place.

On the thirty-ninth week, the bear sings in Perek Shirah, asking all to raise their voice: the desert and the cities, the villages, and the wilderness of Kedar; everyone is to chant melodies and cry with joy: those that dwell among the rocks and on the top of the mountains as well as those in the islands. (Isaiah 42: 11-12)

The song of the bear alludes to the concept of looking at the world with good eyes, in a positive light. The bear sees that the deserts, the cities, the villages, the mountains and the islands, all have the great potential of praising God. This is how we should all see the world – everyone has this potential. We just need to open our eyes to see it.

One of the main accomplishments of the Seventh Rebbe, which actually began with the Sixth Rebbe, was to always see in each follower and in every Jew their enormous potential for good. That is how the Rebbe was able to form so many leaders and inspire so many people. The Rebbe was able to spread the light of Judaism and of Chassidism to the far corners of the world: cities as well as spiritual deserts, mountains and isolated islands.

Eliyahu HaNavi, who will announce the coming of Mashiach, is also associated with the bear. As explained in week 12, the Tanach states that before Elijah ascended to heaven, Elisha asked him for a double portion of Elijah’s own strength.[2] Soon afterwards, when Elisha purified the waters of a particular city, he was insulted by a few young men who would make their money transporting clean water from another location. Elisha’s miracle had rendered their services useless. The youngsters starting instigating Elisha, calling him bald, which was meant to strike a contrast between him and Elijah, who had a head full of hair. After the insult, Elisha cursed these youngsters, and two bears (an apparent reference to the double portion he had received from Elijah) came out of the wilderness and killed them.[3]

It is interesting to note that just as the bear’s song makes explicit references to Arabia (Kedar), the Talmud contains various stories of how Elijah would disguise himself as an Arab when he would appear before tzadikim.

[2] 2 Kings 2:9
[3] 2 Kings 2:23-25

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