The Underpinnings of Spiritual Intimacy

The following text by Reb Zalman is from this week’s Torah portion, Shabbos BaMidbar. (Click here for Hebrew/English version). [Notes by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor]:

(Numbers 4:2) Make a count of the sons of…, etc.

[NOTE:  The Hebrew used,  Naso et rosh / make a count has another meaning of “lift up the head.”]

Lifting up the head. 

In order for the intellect to become a garment for the soul, the intellect has to spread itself and make a lot of wide space as follows:

(Psalms 24:7) Se’u / Raise up she’arim rosheichem / your mind’s imagination–

(Proverbs 31:23), Her husband is known b’she’arim / in the gates–

Read she’arim / gates as ha-hash’arot / the imaginal expansions, (i.e., awakeness as a shafel).

[NOTE:  And read, “her husband” as referring to God.

Reb Zalman tells of a conversation with his daughter Shalvi as a young child:
“Abba, after you sleep, you wake up, right?”
“Yes” he replied.
“Abba, after you are already awake, can you wake up even more?”

I’ve heard Zalman often cite his late teacher, Reb Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch for cultivating the imaginal faculty in his hasidim.]

For, what the soul feels of divine light is transient; it very often passes by quickly even without giving the mind a chance to wrap the abundance that the soul received into an understanding.  The intellect needs it packaged in subtlety and wisdom, as mystery teachings,

[NOTE:  Kabbalah gives us language for the soul’s epiphanies, thereby making them more accessible to us and establishing the possibility for a social context for transpersonal experiences. ] 

so that the intellect will be able to contain the light that  was poured down into the soul.

The main point of the mystery teachings is not for giving someone a special reputation and pride, so they can brag, “I have a secret! I have a secret!” Rather, the point is to transform the holy flow into ideas with stretch

[NOTE:  Elastic enough to accomodate multi-faceted experiences.  What comes to mind is the Passover Seder:  There is something in the Seder for us at every age of our lives, at every stage of our development. ] 

 so the enlightenment coming into the soul can dress itself into garments of speech and words thereby making the connection to the root of the person’s soul.

[NOTE:  In “The Space Within,” Reb Zalman explains that the world of feelings is a murky realm without many words to describe it.  It thus often remains hidden, and soul experiences remain unshared.] 

And to this process, we must also add faith that the mystery teachings point to something that is real.  Through this faith, that imaginal expansion caused by the soul’s epiphany can come into the intellect’s grasp.

[NOTE:  I see this faith as belief in sovev kol almin or God transcendent.  Mimale kol almin or God immanent without connection to sovev gives skepticism a space, keeps us at a distance from the light.] 

That faith will be needed because, at times, the mystery teachings and the holy flow come from a source in conflict with popular beliefs.

Therefore, one who takes part in hir “tribe,” (a tribe in the sense that one’s soul root and their soul roots are one and the same, and in the sense that they all additionally believe that they share awareness of those elastic ideas), such a person will be able to also understand that lifting up one’s head, enabling comprehension, will bring the soul’s light also to feeling and to action. 

And this is the language that connects the Rebbes with their hasidim because the Rebbes lift the consciousness to a higher level.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
from Yishmiru Daat (2009 revision),
Parashat BaMidbar,” p. 34

Leave a Reply