Thursday, November 15, 2007
Uplifting Fallen Ahava/Love - Meor Einayim on Toldos
The Meor Einayim, Rav Nachum from Chernobyl, has a beautiful pshat which sheds a light on the deeper meaning of the pasuk at the beginning of Parshas Toldos, "וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת יִצְחָק, בֶּן-אַבְרָהָם: אַבְרָהָם, הוֹלִיד אֶת-יִצְחָק." (Breishis 25:19) He says that the gemara says that whenever the pasuk says "אֵלֶּה," it is separating that pasuk from the ones before, and whenever it says "וְאֵלֶּה," it is embrassing what came before and adding something new (Quoted by Rashi at the beginning of Parshas Mishpatim).
On this, he asks: It should have said "אֵלֶּה!" The psukim before were about the progeny of Yishmael. Rather than embrassing and adding onto that idea by saying "וְאֵלֶּה," the Torah should have said "אֵלֶּה," to separate the Avos from Yishmael!
But he goes on to explain that Yishmael is "Ahava Nafula," "fallen/misdirected love." Avraham was the pinnacle of the mida of Ahava, love, and Chesed, kindness. He had two children. Yitzchak was the good side, and Yishmael was the bad side/misdirected application of Avrhaham's mida of love and chesed. He was the "psoles," undesirable byproduct, of Avraham's trait of lovingkindness.
In what way does Ahava nafula (fallen/misdirected love) manifest its self? The Gemara says that when Hashem offered the Torah to the nation of Yishmael, they asked what was in it. When Hashem told them that it contained the prohibition against adultery (i.e. the general concept of sexual morality), they said that they could just not handle that. This seems strange in our eyes. We see the people of Yishmael as more focused on killing people and covering up their wives to sublimate any sense of sexual immorality. So how can the Gemara say that their whole livlihood is sexual immorality? Well why do they keep all of their Sharia laws and engage in mass-murder in the name of Jihad? It's all so they can indulge in their basest desires with their 72 virgins after 120. Sexual immorality is their desire behind everything. And this type of immorality is the expression of fallen Chesed/Ahava (kindness/love).
This is seen from the fact that the Torah says about one of the kinds of forbidden sexual relationships, "Chesed hu." This demonstrates that sexual immorality is the expresssion of misplaced chesed/love/kindness.
Rashi brings down on the pasuk quoted above that the scoffers of the generation were saying "Me'AviMelech Nisabra Sara," (that Sara was made pregnant by AviMelech during her "stay" with the Plishtim, and therefore, to prove them wrong, Hashem made Yitzchak look just like Avraham.
The Meor Einayim says an amazing thing: The deeper meaning of the Midrash Rashi quoted was to say that the people were saying that it was Hashem (Avi Melech = My Father [the] King) who planted the Ahava Nafula, the misplaced/fallen love, into the human body (Sara = the Guf- Zohar Chadash). Therefore, they said, "What can we do? Hashem placed these all-too-human desires into the human body, and therefore, how can we fight it? There's nothing we can do!"
The Meor Einayim says that in order to counteract that spurious claim of the scoffers, the Midrash means that Hashem made Yitzchak, the real progeny of Sara and Avraham, look just like Avraham. This means that indeed we are infused with combinations of the true Ahava, Ahavas Hashem, and fallen Ahava, the desire for sexual immorality. We are not supposed to just accept and follow the Ahava nafula within us. Rather, Hashem made Yitzchak, the child of Avraham, look just like him to teach that the things that we love should be made to look like their true source above, Ahavas Hashem (like Avraham, in the mashal). We must elevate our natural loves, not only the obviously good kinds, but also the destructive, negative kinds and direct those desires towards Ahavas Hashem, the true object of our love, before the mida was perverted and misdirected to other places.
This is why the pasuk says "וְאֵלֶּה," rather than "אֵלֶּה." We are not supposed to dismiss the progeny of Yishmael, the Ahava nafula. Rather, we are supposed to build upon it and correct it by directing our Ahava toward Hashem, and not let the Ahava Nafula placed within our bodies misdirect the Ahava within us toward bad places.
May Hashem help us embrace the midos and Ahava and Chesed within ourselves and direct them toward their true source, Hashem Himself.
(Picture courtesy of Gordaen's Blog)
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