Monday, July 18, 2016

Divine Wisdom: Rabbi Gedaliah Kenig on the Wisdom G-d Grants to the Preeminent Tzaddikim

Painting by Helen Frankenthaler

In honor of Rabbi Gedaliah Kenig's yahrteit, 23 Tammuz.

Excerpted from “Chayei Nefesh: An Exploration of the Role of the Tzaddik,” translated by Dovid Zeitlin and Dovid Sears (still unpublished)


Section 21.  
   

Our Sages state in
Sanhedrin 38b that the Holy One, blessed be He, showed Adam all future generations and their Torah exegetes, as well as all future generations and their wise men. Know and believe that implicit within this statement is that God actually showed Adam all things great and small which ever existed or ever will exist [within the categories] of World, Year and Soul, [1] corresponding to Space, Time and Man
- in general, in particular, and down to the smallest detail, as related to every individual in every generation until the last, as long as the worlds exist. This is an idea that the mouth cannot express, nor the heart conceive.

Adam decreed upon every detail of every created thing that it should be what it should be, as stated in Genesis 2:19: "And the Lord God formed all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the sky from the earth and brought [each one] to Adam to know what to call it; and whatever Adam called it, according to the living spirit within it, that was its name"; study Ramban's explanation of this passage,
ad loc.          

Moreover, it states in
Bereishis Rabbah 17:5: 

The Holy One, blessed be He, told the ministering angels that [Adam's] wisdom was superior to their own. He brought [each of] the domestic animals, wild beasts, and birds before them and asked "What is its name?" But they did not know. He caused them to pass before the man and asked, "This one, what is its name?" [Adam] answered, "This is an ox, this is an ass, this is a horse, this is a camel..." [Then God asked] "And you, what is your name?" He replied, "It is right that I should be called 'Adam,' because I was created from the '
adamah (ground).’ " [Then God asked], "And as for Me, what is My name?" He answered, "It is proper that you be called A-D-N-Y, since you are the Adone (Master) over all of Your creation."  Rabbi Acha said interpretively, "I am A-D-N-Y, that is My name, for it is the name that Adam called Me."

In addition, see what the Midrash says on the Scriptural phrase, "And this one he called 'Woman' " (Genesis
2:23).

The Rabbis expound in
Berakhos 31a and Sota 46b:  "[It is written,] 'In a land which a man never traversed, nor did a man dwell' (Jeremiah 2:6). This teaches us that every land upon which Adam decreed habitation became inhabited, and every land upon which Adam did not decree habitation remained uninhabited."

With this, one may understand the words of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin as they were transmitted by his close disciple, the great scholar and
tzaddik, Rabbi Yosef Zundel of Salant. In the biography, "Ha-Tzaddik Rabbi Yosef Zundel mi-Salant vi-Rabosav," Rabbi Eliezer Rivlin cites the first letter that Rabbi Yosef Zundel wrote to his son, Rabbi Aryeh Leib: 

Rabbi Zvi Yanniver told me that he once traveled to Vilna with our master, the illustrious Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, and his son-in-law, Rabbi Moses Mordechai.  At noontime they stopped to rest briefly at an inn. The Rav [Rabbi Chaim] said to his companions: "Let it be known to you that Adam decreed that at this moment we all should be at this inn." He spoke further about the subject, and those present were astounded, not by [the concept of] Divine Providence, but by the fact Adam had decreed this. However, when he observed their amazement, he desisted from speaking.


It would seem that he wished to reveal more, but their amazement prompted him to leave off in the middle. However, with trepidation, I would venture to reveal some of this secret, since among us [i.e. Chassidim], thank God, these matters are not surprising at all. On the contrary, they are rooted in our very lifeblood; in fact, they are foundations of our holy faith. Therefore, I will take the liberty to tell you what seems to be the continuation of the discussion, according to my humble understanding. Based on the explanations of our Sages, it is proper to believe that many other
tzaddikim, the exceptional ones of all time, knew all this. It is explained in the Targum Yonasan ben Uziel on the weekly Torah portion Vayechi, as well as in Rashi's commentary, ad loc., and in the Midrash Rabbah; seek there, and you shall find. 

In
Exodus Rabbah 32:7, it states:

The Holy One, blessed be He, showed Jacob the presiding angels over each and every kingdom . . . He showed him how many kings, territorial rulers, and local overlords would arise from every nation.  And just as He showed them to Jacob during their ascent, so did He show them to Jacob during their decline.


The same text also states (ibid. 40:2):


The Holy One, blessed be He, called him.  "Moses," He said to him . . .  And what did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He brought him the Book of Adam and showed him all the generations that would arise from the beginning [of creation] until the Resurrection of the Dead, each generation and its kings, each generation and its leaders, each generation and its prophets.


Vayikra Rabbah
26:7 [also addresses this theme]:

Rabbi Joshua of Sichnin said in the name of Rabbi Levi: [The Scriptural phrase, "Say unto the Priests..." (Leviticus 21:1)] comes to teach us that the Holy One, blessed be He, showed Moses each generation and its judges, each generation and its kings, each generation and its sages, each generation and its leaders, each generation and its viceroys, each generation and its constables, each generation and its benefactors, each generation and its thieves, each generation and its robbers, each generation and its prophets; and He showed him Saul and his sons…


Bamidbar Rabbah
23:4 teaches:

The Holy One, blessed be He, showed Moses all that ever existed and [all that] would come to pass. He showed him that Samson would arise from [the tribe of] Dan and Barak ben Avinoam from [the tribe of] Naftali; and likewise, every generation and its interpreters [of Torah], every generation and its judges, every generation and its rulers, every generation and its transgressors, every generation and its righteous ones...  It teaches that He showed him
Gehinnom...

And the holy
Zohar (Shelach 157a) states:

"And God showed him all the land"  (Deuteronomy 34:1).  Not this alone, but all those who are destined to arise in every generation, all of them did He show to Moses.

See further in the
Amaros Tehoros II, 5, of our master, Rabbi Menachem Azariah of Fano, where he writes in the discourse "Eim Kol Chai (Mother of All Life)":

And this shows the great perfection of Moses: His mind could traverse the future without influencing the course of events, as we have explained elsewhere concerning the knowledge of the Creator Himself. [Moses] saw what would be chosen in the future, not prefaced by any prophetic message whatsoever; rather, "he looked upon the form of God"
- that is, he shared in the perception of the Holy One, blessed be He, of all that exists aside from Himself, including matters of the future before they have come into being.  [All this] was Moses worthy to clearly apprehend...

The same text continues (ibid. II, 3):


In truth, all prophecies preexisted within [the revelation at]
Mount Sinai. Thus the Sages declared, "Prophecy does not rest upon anyone but one who is wise, strong and wealthy," and some add "tall in stature" [qualities that applied to Moses]. In addition to the above-mentioned qualities, [those later prophecies] must all come from Moses. In other words, if they were originally given over to Moses at Mount Sinai and subsequently to the later prophets, they are acceptable; but if not [they are not acceptable], because it is forbidden for any prophet to innovate...

[Rabbi Menachem Azariah of Fano] also states: "Divine speech does not rest upon any other prophets except by means of the channel of prophecy, the source of which is Moses"  (ibid. II, 4).


Certainly, each of the chosen
tzaddikim, the unique ones throughout the generations since Moses, peace be upon him, also knew and apprehended all this -- such as the Godly Tanna, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai; and after him, our master, [Rabbi Isaac Luria,] the holy ARI; and after him, our master, Rabbi Israel, the Baal Shem Tov; and after him, the "tzaddik who is the foundation of the universe," the “flowing brook, source of wisdom," our master, Rabbi Nachman, the “light of lights,” may their merits shield us. [2]

To some extent this is explained in Alim Le-trufah, [
"Collected Letters"] of our teacher, Rabbi Nosson, [foremost disciple of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev]. In Letter 350, he writes to his holy disciples:

[Rabbi Nachman of Breslev] was given over entirely to the most wondrous and awesome newness and vitality, which enabled him to uplift and to renew souls that had descended and fallen for thousands of years, enduring many incarnations. I know and truly believe that our master and teacher [Rabbi Nachman] thoroughly knows, in general and detail, whatever happens to all souls throughout the generations, from the day that the Lord created man upon the earth, down to the present, and until the ultimate end of days. He knows all the ways to rectify each one; and all of these understandings are a small matter to him, for he apprehended divine perceptions that are utterly impossible to grasp intellectually, as it is written, "No thought can grasp You at all"
(Tikkunei Zohar, Second Introduction).
Indeed, all of the holy true
tzaddikim, particularly these unique ones of all generations, the select of the tzaddikim, who personify the innermost point of truth among the tzaddikim, exerted themselves all the days of their holy lives with profound and amazing self-sacrifice to rectify all worlds and all souls, both of the living and of the dead, in general and in particular, down to the most infinitesimal detail, as is known and explained in our sacred literature. And our righteous Messiah, may he come speedily in our days, will bring all these rectifications to their final and perfect conclusion, for he will be the complete embodiment of all the true tzaddikim and all the exceptional tzaddikim throughout the generations, as all of our holy books concur. This is specifically clarified in the words of our Rebbe in Likkutei Moharan I, Lesson 58, "T’las Nafkin mi-Chad," section 2; and in Likkutei Moharan II, Lesson 83, "Al Yedei Tikkun ha-Bris."   

[The Messiah] knows all that can be known; nothing is concealed from him, and nothing is hidden from his sight, as is explained in
Sichos ha-RaN, 93.  It also states in the awesome holy book, Sippurei Ma'asiyos, [3] in the remarks [the Rebbe] made after the story The Burgher and the Pauper, that the Messiah will tell the Jewish people the meaning of everything they went through each and every day, and which each individual Jew experienced in particular. Therefore, it will be within his ability and he will be fully empowered to rectify the entire universe, as it is written, "All nations shall flow toward [the Messiah]" [4] (Isaiah 2:2). All the world's inhabitants, and all who dwell upon the earth, will call upon the name of the Lord; and all the earth shall know God, and “the glory of God shall fill the world,” amen.



[1] Sefer Yetzirah, chapter 3, et passim.

[2] These five tzaddikim are designated as such in Chayei Moharan 279; cf. below, Chayei Nefesh 34.

[3] Rabbi Nachman of Breslev's thirteen mystical stories, which he told during the last years of his life.

[4] In its literal sense, the verse refers to the Holy Temple. However, in this context the author relates the   verse to the Messiah, as indicated by Likkutei Moharan I, 16.