Monday, March 7, 2011

Tanya on Fear/Embarrassment - "And They Saw 'Ki Boshesh Moshe'"

In Rav Weinberger's Tanya shiur this morning, we were learning the section in the 4th perek where the Alter Rebbe discusses the higher level of Yiras Hashem called "yiras boshes," the fear relating to embarrassment or shame. This is in contrast to the lower level of fear (though halevai we should attain it) called yiras ha'onesh, fear of punishment.

Yiras Boshes is the contemplation and recognition of Hashem's greatness and the concomitant feeling of smallness and nothingness, along with a feeling of embarrassment and shame because of a person's actions which have concealed that greatness and strengthened the forces if impurity in the world.

When healthy, this feeling will lead to a desire to come back to Hashem, and not to hide away and stay distant because of the shame. This is why, Rav Weinberger explained, the word "busha," embarrassment, has the same letters as ther word "shuva," to return.

I asked him after the shiur if this aspect of busha is related to the pasuk in Ki Sisa that the Jews saw "ki boshesh Moshe," that Moshe was delayed. The word for delayed there has the same shoresh as the word for embarrassment. He explained that the underlying shoresh means "distance." So distance in time is "delay" and distance in relationships is "shame."

I was thinking that perhaps the Torah uses the word "boshesh" rather than any other word for delay to illustrate the bad side of busha, shame. The Jews at that time went after the wrong side of busha. That feeling of shame/distance can lead to two opposite reactions. It can make a person want to come back closer, or it can make the person run away further. The Jews, by the chet ha'egel, the sin of the golden calf, reacted to the feeling of distance personified by Moshe's perceived delay in coming down from Har Sinai by running away from Hashem and building the egel. The Torah, therefore, used the word "boshesh" here, instead of "hismame'ah" or something else, to teach "how not" to react to the feeling of busha.

IY"H, may we all be zoche to attain an awareness of Hashem such that we will feel busha and return to Hashem before we even think of doing anything against His will.

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5 comments:

Menachem Mendel said...

The Aish Kodesh makes a similar distinction in Chovos HaTalmidim. He speaks about the difference between daygah and aztvus. Daygah is worrying that leads you to action. Aztvus is a worrying that leads you to despair and to passivity.

He brings downs a mashal. There is a treasure buried deep underground. Atzvus will make you say "Wow, look how deep that treasure is. I will never be able to dig it up. It will take too much time and effort. I might as well just forget about it." But daygah will make you say "Wow, that treasure is buried deep underground. It's time to get to work and start digging!" (That is a paraphrase of course)

It's a very similar, if not the same, midah. But as you said, it's all about how you channel it.

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver said...

WADR to this Rabbi, whom I do not know, as a student of Chabad Chassidus for many years, this explanation is not correct. The lower level of yirah discussed in Tanya ch. 4 and throughout Chassidus (in particular, the beg. of Tanya ch. 41, and the rest of that chapter and the following one), is yirah tata'ah, which is, as the Alter Rebbe says right there, a fear of rebelling against Hashem. One fears not because of something that will happen to oneself, but simply because one fears rebelling against the King: והיראה היא שרש לשס"ה לא תעשה כי ירא למרוד במלך מלכי המלכים .הקב"ה Yiras ha'onesh is rarely discussed in Chassidus Chabad; it's certainly not discussed in Tanya, as far as I can recall.

Yirah tata'ah comes from Kedusha; yiras ha'onesh comes from Kelipah.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Thank you for commenting!

I re-read because I was confused by the fact that you are criticizing something I did not say that Rav Weinberger or the Tanya said. It appears that you did not read what I wrote that Rav Weinberger said before commenting.

To clarify, Rav Weinberger did not say ch. 4 was discussing yiras Ha'onesh, which it sounds like is the main subject of your disagreement. As I wrote, he said that ch. 4 discussed yiras boshes, *and not* yiras ha'onesh.

He had explained yiras boshes and I was offering an idea to connect the word "boshes" to the pasuk "ki boshesh Moshe."

HOpe that helps. Kol tuv!

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver said...

I did read what you wrote, but I'm glad I misunderstood. Now, ch. 4 mentions two levels of yirah. One is yiras boshes. You mention this, then write: "This is in contrast to the lower level of fear (though halevai we should attain it) called yiras ha'onesh, fear of punishment." If Rabbi W. didn't say that, I'm glad to hear it. That is not the contrast drawn in ch. 4 there. There yiras boshes is contrasted with yirah tata'ah.

But aside from that technical point, I do agree with you--halevai we would have yiras ho'onesh!

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

He explained to us that the yiras boshes itself is to be extinguished from yiras ha'onesh. He was not saying that the Tanya compared the two.