Parshas Bereishis - The Joy of Completion
Updated: Jan 9, 2021
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וּלְאָדָ֣ם אָמַ֗ר כִּ֣י שָׁמַ֘עְתָּ֘ לְק֣וֹל אִשְׁתֶּ֒ךָ֒ וַתֹּ֨אכַל֙ מִן־הָעֵ֔ץ אֲשֶׁ֤ר צִוִּיתִ֨יךָ֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לֹ֥א תֹאכַ֖ל מִמֶּ֑נּוּ אֲרוּרָ֤ה הָֽאֲדָמָה֙ בַּֽעֲבוּרֶ֔ךָ בְּעִצָּבוֹן֙ תֹּֽאכֲלֶ֔נָּה כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֥י חַיֶּֽיךָ
“And to man He said, "Because you listened to your wife, and you ate from the tree from which I commanded you saying, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed be the ground for your sake; with toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life.” (Bereishis 3:17)
Adam HaRishon was commanded not to eat from the Eitz HaDaas, the Tree of Knowledge. It was the only instruction he was given but he did not fulfill the word of God. His punishment was that the ground was now cursed. Whereas until now he could have lived off of the land with no toil whatsoever, now Adam was destined to work the ground to provide for his sustenance. The word בְּעִצָּבוֹן֙ is translated as toil but it shares the same root as the word for sadness. What is the relationship here between toiling to work the ground and sadness? Is it sad to put in a hard day’s work? I think for most of us we feel accomplished after we invest our time and energy into a meaningful project.
Furthermore, when we look at God’s commandment to Adam that he not eat from the tree, it is worded in a very strange way.
וַיְצַו֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֔ים עַל־הָֽאָדָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר מִכֹּ֥ל עֵֽץ־הַגָּ֖ן אָכֹ֥ל תֹּאכֵֽל
“And the Lord God commanded man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat”
וּמֵעֵ֗ץ הַדַּ֨עַת֙ ט֣וֹב וָרָ֔ע לֹ֥א תֹאכַ֖ל מִמֶּ֑נּוּ כִּ֗י בְּי֛וֹם אֲכָלְךָ֥ מִמֶּ֖נּוּ מ֥וֹת תָּמֽוּת:
“But of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat of it, for on the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die.” (Bereishis 2:16,17)
Initially, Hashem tells Adam that he is permitted to eat from all the trees of Gan Eden. Only afterwards does God tell Adam that he may not eat from the Eitz HaDaas. Why doesn’t Hashem simply tell Adam that he may eat from any tree that isn’t the Eitz HaDaas? Why does God go out of his way to tell Adam that every tree is permitted and only afterwards tells him that one is forbidden.
Lastly, we begin reading Parshas Bereishis on Simchas Torah. Though we complete the laining on the subsequent Shabbos, there is clearly a connection between Bereishis and Simchas Torah. What is the inner connection between Simchas Torah and Bereishis?
The Importance of Simcha in Judaism
Anthropologist Franz Boas traveled through the icy wastes of Baffin Island in northern Canada during the 1880s, studying the life of the local Inuit people, joining their sleigh rides, trading caribou skins and learning their folklore. He was particularly intrigued by their language, noting the elaborate terms used to describe the frozen landscape: “aqilokoq” for “softly falling snow” and “piegnartoq” for “the snow [that is] good for driving sled,” to name just two. Unwittingly he sparked a major debate when he wrote in the introduction to his 1911 book “Handbook of American Indian Languages,” that Eskimos have dozens, or even hundreds, of words for snow. Even today it is not clear if Boas was correct, but the topic of Eskimo vocabulary is not our topic du jour. What is relevant is that Boas contended that the Eskimos developed so many different words for snow because they were sensitive to the varied types of snow that existed. As a society that was immersed in a snow culture the refinement of language was necessary to distinguish between the different varieties of now.
Languages develop for a reason. When a society places importance on something it cultivates language to speak to the nuances of that which it is trying to express. In Judaism we have at least ten different words for happiness. Simcha, Osher, Gila, Rina, Ditza etc… Each word means something slightly different though in a general sense they all mean happiness. There is a reason we have so many words for happiness. It is because happiness is at the center of Judaism.
Though most people see Judaism as a religion full of commandments and restrictions, in truth the Torah places a primacy on happioness. The Torah declares only one fast day and 16 days of joy. Though there are more Rabbinically ordained fasts, if we are counting Rabbinic Yomim Tovim we also must include Purim and Chanukah. It is an overwhelmingly joyous religion.
Consider the reason for the many horrific curses that will fall upon Klal Yisrael:
וּבָ֨אוּ עָלֶ֜יךָ כָּל־הַקְּלָל֣וֹת הָאֵ֗לֶּה וּרְדָפ֨וּךָ֙ וְהִשִּׂיג֔וּךָ עַ֖ד הִשָּֽׁמְדָ֑ךְ כִּי־לֹ֣א שָׁמַ֗עְתָּ בְּקוֹל֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ לִשְׁמֹ֛ר מִצְוֹתָ֥יו וְחֻקֹּתָ֖יו אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוָּֽךְ: וְהָי֣וּ בְךָ֔ לְא֖וֹת וּלְמוֹפֵ֑ת וּבְזַרְעֲךָ֖ עַד־עוֹלָֽם: תַּ֗חַת אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹֽא־עָבַ֨דְתָּ֙ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בְּשִׂמְחָ֖ה וּבְט֣וּב לֵבָ֑ב מֵרֹ֖ב כֹּֽל:
“All these curses will befall you, pursuing you and overtaking you to destroy you because you did not obey the Lord, your God, to observe His commandments and statutes which He commanded you. And they will be as a sign and a wonder, upon you and your offspring, forever, because you did not serve the Lord, your God, with happiness and with gladness of heart, when [you had an] abundance of everything.” (Devarim 28:45-47)
The worst imaginable punishments fall upon Klal Yisrael simply because we did not serve Hashem with joy.
Dovid HaMelech writes in Tehhilim (100:2), “Worship The Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful song.”
Consider the words of the Rambam in Hilchos Lulav (8:15):
השמחה שישמח אדם בעשיית המצוה ובאהבת האל שצוה בהן. עבודה גדולה היא. וכל המונע עצמו משמחה זו ראוי להפרע ממנו שנאמר תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה' אלהיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב.
“The happiness with which a person should rejoice in the fulfillment of the mitzvot and the love of God who commanded them is a great service. Whoever holds himself back from this rejoicing is worthy of retribution, as [Deuteronomy 28:47] states: "...because you did not serve God, your Lord, with happiness and a glad heart…"
The Rabbeinu Bechaya (Devarim 28:47) writes that is a Mitzvah to perform Mitzvos with joy!
The Gemara in Shabbos (30b) tells us that the Shechinah rests upon someone who serves Hashem with joy:
ושבחתי אני את השמחה שמחה של מצוה ולשמחה מה זה עושה זו שמחה שאינה של מצוה ללמדך שאין שכינה שורה לא מתוך עצבות ולא מתוך עצלות ולא מתוך שחוק ולא מתוך קלות ראש ולא מתוך שיחה ולא מתוך דברים בטלים אלא מתוך דבר שמחה של מצוה שנאמר ועתה קחו לי מנגן והיה כנגן המנגן ותהי עליו יד ה׳ אמר רב יהודה וכן לדבר הלכה אמר רבא וכן לחלום טוב
“So I commended mirth,” that is the joy of a mitzva. “And of mirth: What does it accomplish?” that is joy that is not the joy of a mitzva. The praise of joy mentioned here is to teach you that the Divine Presence rests upon an individual neither from an atmosphere of sadness, nor from an atmosphere of laziness, nor from an atmosphere of laughter, nor from an atmosphere of frivolity, nor from an atmosphere of idle conversation, nor from an atmosphere of idle chatter, but rather from an atmosphere imbued with the joy of a mitzva. As it was stated with regard to Elisha that after he became angry at the king of Israel, his prophetic spirit left him until he requested: “But now bring me a minstrel; and it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him” (II Kings 3:15). Rav Yehuda said: And, so too, one should be joyful before stating a matter of halakha. Rava said: And, so too, one should be joyful before going to sleep in order to have a good dream.”
The sefer Chareidim writes that the Arizal told his student Rav Chaim Vital that the gates of wisdom and ruach hakodesh were opened to him as a reward for the tremendous joy with which he performed the Mitzvos.
Though there are many more proof texts but by now it ought to be clear that simcha plays a central role in serving Hashem.
Cultivating a Perspective of Happiness
If serving Hashem with joy is of critical importance, let us take a couple of moments to understand how we develop true simcha in our lives.
The Maharal in several places (Chiddushei Agados Yevamos 62b, Nesivos Olam chap. 18) gives us an amazing insight into the nature of Simcha. Joy is a function of completion. When we feel complete, happiness is the natural feeling that follows. If we chas vishalom lose a loved one the pain is so deep because we feel a loss of completion.
However, as we consider the idea of the Maharal, we encounter a major challenge. Is completion truly possible? What does it look like to be complete?
In order to understand this a brief definition of terms is necessary.
There is a difference between existence and life.
Existence is that which takes up space. It can be measured.
Life is what gives existence meaning.
For example, the existence of fire is measured by the amount of space it takes up. The life of a fire is the heat and light that it gives off.
As people we have both existence and life. The body is our existence while our soul is our life. We can choose to see the world either through the lens of the body (existence) or through the lens of the soul (life). If we choose to see the world through the lens of the body we will surely have an impoverished mentality. We will never have enough. In the physical world we can never be complete. No matter how much we have there is always more to be gotten. Because existence takes up space it is heavy. Without life to lift it up, existence weighs a person down causing depression.
Foolishly people believe that the solution to their problem is to amass more stuff when in reality this merely exacerbates the problem. More stuff equals more weight which weighs us down even more. This is the what the Mishna in Avos (2:7) means when it says increased possesions means increased worries. Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, wrote in Koheles (5:9) Oheiv kesef lo yisba kesef, one who loves money is never satisfied with money. The Medrash in Koheles Rabbah (3:10) teaches that someone who has one hundred wants two hundred and once they have two hundred they want four hundred. It is a vicious cycle. Completion is impossible from the perspective of the body.
Life, on the other hand, allows for the possibility of completion. In the world of the finite, nothing is truly one. Everything is made up of parts. Just because I am holding one part does not mean I am truly connected to another part. Imagine you picked up a chair by the legs. In theory one could believe that he is holding the entirety of the chair but if the chair is not sturdy the chair could crack in half, leaving you holding two legs of what was once a chair. Not so when it comes to the realm of the infinite. Infinite means truly one. One who is holding on to “part” of the infinite is intimately connected to its entirety. This is because the infinite does not have parts.
Thus, someone who sees the world through the lens of the soul (life) is not concerned with how much they take up in the world. Space is mostly irrelevant to them. To the soul powered person having a large house pales in comparison to what fills up that house. Is there a home a place of safety? Is it a place where people feel comfortable to be the most authentic version of themselves? Is there a home a place where God feels comfortable? The only reason a soul powered person would concern themselves with the existence of their home is to support the life of the home. Having a beautiful Shabbos table allows for us to serve God with beauty. Having money allows us to give tzedaka to those who are in need and to educate our children in the ways of God.
The primary feature of seeing the world through the prism of the soul is that you have enough. This is what the Mishna in Avos (4:1) means when it says, “Who is rich? One who is happy with what they have.” The soul powered person is grateful for whatever they are given because they connect to its essence, not only to its existence. Everything that they have is a gift from God meant to be used in His service. Because they are holding on to the infinite, they are complete and with completion comes joy.
This is what the Mittler Rebbe meant (Maamarei Admur Haemtzai Drushei Chasunah p. 417) when he said, “The primary element of joy is simply in the soul’s transcendence higher and higher beyond the entrapment of its limiting encasing.” The soul, because it is one with God, is complete and therefore joyful. The body limits our capacity to experience the joy of the soul. One who transcends the limiting consciousness of the body will be connected to the incredible joy of the transcendent soul.
Similarly, In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe describes the joy of the soul’s return Hashem from its bodily entrapment. The neshamah finds its completion (and thus its happiness) when it prays, studies Torah, and performs mitzvos to connect with its source in Elokus: "This, then, should be one’s lifelong [aim]—the joy of the soul upon leaving the body during one’s study of the Torah and prayer [so that the soul may] return to “her father’s house as in her youth”....[Surely,] there is no joy as great as that of being released from exile and captivity. It is comparable to the joy of a prince who was taken captive, turning the millstone in prison and becoming covered with filth, who then goes free to the house of his father, the king. True, the body remains [a source of limitation]...since the essential character of the animal soul has not been transformed to good. But His G-dly soul will become more precious to him than his body, so that he rejoices in the soul’s joy without letting the sadness on account of his body interfere with or disturb the joy of the soul."
The Ramchal in Daas Tevunos takes our theory one step further. He compares our soul to a princess who is married to a peasant (the body). The peasant, seeing that the princess is disappointed to be married to a simple peasant, attempts to appease the princess by offering her the base pleasures to which he is accustomed. This only increases the disappointment of the princess as she recalls the refinement of the palace and the nature of the pleasures she used to enjoy. Seeing her increased disappointment, the peasant continues to offer more and more of the delights of his world, but it is to no avail. Up until now we have been expressing that the heaviness of existence weighs us down and prevents us from experiencing the joy of the soul. In truth, it is even deeper than that. The soul, recalling its connection to God prior to its entrance into the body, yearns to be reconnected with its maker. Nothing in this world can compare to the refined pleasures the soul experienced when it resided in the King’s palace. The body senses the disappointment of the soul and attempts to comfort it by offering the lowly pleasures this world can offer but this disappoints the soul to an even greater degree. Our feelings of dissatisfaction with our lives cannot be rectified by bigger houses or fancier cars. This only increases the disappointment of the soul. For the soul to be satisfied it must lead a Godly life. Only then will it feel comfortable in this world.
The Tikkunei Zohar (22) notes that the word for joy in Hebrew is Simcha which is the same letters as Machsava, thoughts. Th Zohar is making exactly this point. Happiness is not a question of possessions but of mindset. The body will never be satisfied and is thus prone to depression. The soul knows that it has whatever it needs. It is grateful for everything it has and does not desire more simply for the sake of having more. It is joyful.
The choice of how to see the world is up to us.
Having it All
As we have shown, the path to of happiness lies in our abundance mentality which is the lens of the soul. The path towards depression lies in our impoverished mentality which is the lens of the body. Indeed, as will soon see, the choice between these two mentalities is the cornerstone of so many stories in Torah and throughout Jewish history.
Let us begin at the beginning.
Earlier we asked why it was that Adam HaRishon was told that he was permitted to eat from all the trees of Gan Eden and only afterwards he was told that he was not allowed to eat from the Eitz HaDaas. Rashi at the beginning of Vayikra (1:2) quotes the Medrash in Vayikrah Rabbah (2:7) to explains why the Torah uses the term “Adam” (as opposed to Ish”) with regards to bringing a korban. Chazal explained that Adam is an allusion to Adam HaRishon. Just as Adam, never offered sacrifices from stolen property, since everything was his, so too, you must not offer sacrifices from stolen property.
With this in mind we can suggest that when God tells Adam that of every tree in Gan Eden, he may freely eat it was because in principle the entire world, including the Eitz HaDaas belonged to Adam. Only after Adam’s ownership of the world has been established does God come along and forbid Adam from eating that particular tree.
Perhaps this is why the Arizal explains that Adam would have been able to eat from the Eitz HaDaas on Shabbos. Though the Torah does not seem to indicate that the Eitz HaDaas would have every been permitted to partake of, perhaps since in principle the Eitz HaDaas was also given over to Adam HaRishon, it is reasonable to assume that eventually he would have been permitted to eat of its fruits.
So, Adam had all of Gan Eden at his fingertips. Even the Eitz HaDaas belonged to him and would eventually become permitted. Why not enjoy all of the other trees that were in the garden? Why partake of the one thing you can’t have?
As we discussed above. all of us desire completion. From the perspective of the body if even one thing is missing, we are not complete. True Adam had an ownership stake in the entire world but once God told him not to eat from the Eitz HaDaas he was incomplete. Eating from the Eitz HaDaas was a necessity when seen from this perspective.
This lesson is embodied in the word כל, all. Adam HaRishon was gifted with מִכֹּ֥ל which indicated that he had everything he needed, only he couldn’t see it.
With this in mind, we can now understand the punishment of the Nachash who tricked Adam and Chava into eating from the Eitz HaDaas.
וַיֹּ֩אמֶר֩ יְהֹוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֥ים | אֶל־הַנָּחָשׁ֘ כִּ֣י עָשִׂ֣יתָ זֹּאת֒ אָר֤וּר אַתָּה֙ מִכָּל־הַבְּהֵמָ֔ה וּמִכֹּ֖ל חַיַּ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֑ה עַל־גְּחֹֽנְךָ֣ תֵלֵ֔ךְ וְעָפָ֥ר תֹּאכַ֖ל כָּל־יְמֵ֥י חַיֶּֽיךָ
“And the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed be you more than all the cattle and more than all the beasts of the field; you shall walk on your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.” (Bereishis 3:14)
The Nachash represents the voice of the body consciousness. To the Nachash, in order for one to be complete he needs to have everything. Thus, it is appropriate that his punishment be that he now spend the entirety of his life (כל) trying to eat from the dust of the earth. It as if God is saying, if it is everything that you want then it everything you shall have. This is an especially fitting punishment in light of the Sforno (3:14) who understands the punishment of the Nachash to mean that he will no longer derive pleasure from the earthly pleasures this world has to offer. When a person attempts to gratify themselves with the pleasures of this world it is never enough. As they amass greater wealth, they find that the pleasure they receive from that wealth diminishes. In an effort to overcome the loss of satisfaction they seek newer pleasures and more exotic toys but eventually these too will no longer be satisfying. Just like the Nachash who can eat from all of the dust of the earth, the entire world could be at their fingertips and yet it brings no satisfaction. Because they seek completion in the physical world, they will never be satisfied with what they have, always looking for the next pleasure.
Cain and Hevel – Existence vs Life
The story of Adam, Chava and the Nachash is followed by the story of Cain and Hevel. As we all know, both Cain and Hevel brought offerings to God. Cain brought the fruit of the soil while Hevel brought “of the firstborn of his flocks and of their fattest.” Hevels offering was accepted while Cains was not. As a result of his frustration Cain killed Hevel.
What made Cain bring such a meager offering? Why was Cain not happy for his brother whose sacrifice was accepted?
The Torah (Bereishis 4:2) describes Cain as an עֹבֵ֥ד אֲדָמָֽה, one who works the land. In other words, Cain is identified with existence. From the perspective of existence, we are here to gather as much as we can. Cain did feel the need to recognize God but for Cain giving up existence is painful. Naturally he gives the most meager of Korbanos. Hevel, on the other hand, represents the consciousness of life. The sole purpose of existence is to support the life that inheres within. Hevel does not see his sacrifice as a net loss but as the fulfillment of the purpose for which he and the animal are created. Naturally he brings from the choicest of his flock.
And of course, when Hevel’s korban is accepted and Cains is not Cain cannot be happy for his brother. Existence is never content with its lot. It always wants more. Rather than look within and discover the flaw in his mentality, Cain lashes out at his brother. It is the very same mistake that Adam made when he listened to the Nachash.
Avraham – Bakol
The Gemara in Baba Basra (17a) points out that all of the Avos are connected to the word kol and are thus given a taste of Olam Haba while still alive in this world. Regarding Avraham it says he was blessed bakol:
וְאַבְרָהָ֣ם זָקֵ֔ן בָּ֖א בַּיָּמִ֑ים וַֽיהֹוָ֛ה בֵּרַ֥ךְ אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֖ם בַּכֹּֽל
“And Abraham was old, advanced in days, and the Lord had blessed Abraham with everything.” (Bereishis 24:1)
Rashi explains that bakol is the gematria of 52 the same gematria of the word ben, son. Since Avraham had a son it was now time to find him a wife.
Avraham sets in motion the fundamental mission of Judaism, namely rectifying the sin of Adam HaRishon. If Adam saw the world through the prism of existence, Avraham sees it through the prism of life. Adam could not be satisfied with having everything, he needed immediate access in order to feel complete. To rectify the sin of Adam HaRishon at its source Avraham leads a life that centers around true completion.
What does that look like?
The Maharal (Netivos Olam, Netiv Gemilut Chasadim, Chapter 4) explains that the unity of a man and a woman involves the Divine bringing into being of a new existence in the world. When a man and woman marry the two letters of the Divine Name — the yud in the word “ish” and the hei in the word “isha” — come together. This is because their unity is a Divine one. By nature, the man and the woman are separate; their connection is possible because of their spiritual unity. When they come together, Divine perfection and completion is formed. When there is completion there is joy; and G-d forbid, when there is a lack there is mourning.
It is clear from the Maharal that simcha and completion go hand in hand and that marriage is the ultimate expression of completion and therefore of joy.
This can be clearly in the passuk that describes men who are exempt from going out to war:
כִּֽי־יִקַּ֥ח אִישׁ֙ אִשָּׁ֣ה חֲדָשָׁ֔ה לֹ֤א יֵצֵא֙ בַּצָּבָ֔א וְלֹא־יַֽעֲבֹ֥ר עָלָ֖יו לְכָל־דָּבָ֑ר נָקִ֞י יִֽהְיֶ֤ה לְבֵיתוֹ֙ שָׁנָ֣ה אֶחָ֔ת וְשִׂמַּ֖ח אֶת־אִשְׁתּ֥וֹ אֲשֶׁר־לָקָֽח
“When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out in the army, nor shall he be subjected to anything associated with it. He shall remain free for his home for one year and delight his wife, whom he has taken.” (Devarim 24: 5)
(Parenthetically, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l used to tell new chasanim: The army exemption lasts for a year, but the end of the passuk, “He should bring joy to his wife . . .” is an independent injunction and lasts for a lifetime.)
The Gemara in Yevamos (62a) makes it clear that the completion of marriage brings with it tremendous simcha as the Gemara explains, “any man who lives without a wife lives without joy.”
The sixth bracha of sheva brachos at a chasuna reads:
שַׂמַּח תְּשַׂמַּח רֵעִים הָאֲהוּבִים, כְּשַׂמֵּחֲךָ יְצִירְךָ בְּגַן עֵֽדֶן מִקֶּֽדֶם: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְ-יָ, מְשַׂמֵּֽחַ חָתָן וְכַלָּה
“Grant abundant joy to these loving friends, as You bestowed gladness upon Your created being in the Garden of Eden of old. Blessed are You L-rd, who gladdens the groom and bride.”
Mori ViRabi, Rav Yehuda Parnes shlit”a asked, why are we blessing the chasan and kallah to have abundant joy like Adam and Chava? They certainly did not seem to have the best marriage. Furthermore, what exactly is meant by Gan Eden mikedem, the Garden of Eden of old?
Our Rebbe explained that in truth before Adam and Chava sinned they had a beautiful marriage filled with joy. True completion brings great simcha. When they sinned, it brought disharmony to the marriage and their simcha was no longer. Our bracha to the chasan and kallah is that they should have a marriage of true completion as Adam and Chava did in the original Gan Eden, before it was sullied with sin.
This fits in beautifully with the seventh bracha which reads:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְ-יָ אֱלֹהֵ-ינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה, חָתָן וְכַלָּה, גִּילָה רִנָּה דִּיצָה וְחֶדְוָה, אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה שָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת, מְהֵרָה יְ-יָ אֱלֹהֵ-ינוּ יִשָּׁמַע בְּעָרֵי יְהוּדָה וּבְחוּצוֹת יְרוּשָׁלָיִם, קוֹל שָׂשׂוֹן וְקוֹל שִׂמְחָה, קוֹל חָתָן וְקוֹל כַּלָּה, קוֹל מִצְהֲלוֹת חֲתָנִים מֵחֻפָּתָם, וּנְעָרִים מִמִּשְׁתֵּה נְגִינָתָם: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְ-יָ, מְשַׂמֵּחַ חָתָן עִם הַכַּלָּה.
“Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who created joy and happiness, groom and bride, gladness, jubilation, cheer and delight, love, friendship, harmony and fellowship. L-rd our G‑d, let there speedily be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the sound of joy and the sound of happiness, the sound of a groom and the sound of a bride, the sound of exultation of grooms from under their chupah, and youths from their joyous banquets. Blessed are You L-rd, who gladdens the groom with the bride.”
When a chasan and kallah experience true completion they merit all of the various descriptions of simcha that we find above.
In fact, the Gemara in Brachos (6b) says, “One who brings joy to the bride and groom is as one who rebuilt the ruins of Yerushalayim.” Currently Yerushalayim, the place of ultimate completion, stands broken. Those who brings simcha to the chasan and kallah, who help them achieve the ultimate simcha, take part in a larger sense in the ultimate rebuilding of completion and simcha, namely Yerushalayim.
With this in mind we can readily understand why Avraham Avinu who is blessed with bakol, a sense of completion in his life, understood that he had an obligation to marry off his son, enabling Yitzchak to achieve the ultimate completion.
This stands in contrast to Yishmael about whom the passuk says:
וְה֤וּא יִֽהְיֶה֙ פֶּ֣רֶא אָדָ֔ם יָד֣וֹ בַכֹּ֔ל וְיַ֥ד כֹּ֖ל בּ֑וֹ וְעַל־פְּנֵ֥י כָל־אֶחָ֖יו יִשְׁכֹּֽן
“And he will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be upon all, and everyone's hand upon him, and before all his brothers he will dwell.” (Bereishis 16:12)
To give some context, an angel was delivering a message to Hagar (Avraham’s second wife) that Yishmael would be born. But what does it mean that “his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand will be against him.”?
The Yalkut HaDrush explains Yishmael’s descendants will try to remain the spiritual heirs of Avraham Avinu. This is what it means when the passuk describes Yishmael as “yado bakol” his hands will hold on to the kol, as it says that Avraham Avinu was blessed bakol. However, ultimately it is Yitzchak and Yaakov who will be the true spiritual heirs of Avraham Avinu (as we will see later on both Yitzchak and Yaakov are connected to the concept of kol) and this is what the passuk means when it says, “viyad kol bo” everyone’s hands will be upon him.
Yitzchak - Mikol
Yitzchak was tricked by Yaakov into giving him the brachos. When Eisav came for his bracha the passuk says:
וַיֶּֽחֱרַ֨ד יִצְחָ֣ק חֲרָדָה֘ גְּדֹלָ֣ה עַד־מְאֹד֒ וַיֹּ֡אמֶר מִֽי־אֵפ֡וֹא ה֣וּא הַצָּֽד־צַ֩יִד֩ וַיָּ֨בֵא לִ֜י וָֽאֹכַ֥ל מִכֹּ֛ל בְּטֶ֥רֶם תָּב֖וֹא וָֽאֲבָֽרֲכֵ֑הוּ גַּם־בָּר֖וּךְ יִֽהְיֶֽה
“And Isaac shuddered a great shudder, and he said, "Who then is the one who hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate of everything (מכל) while you had not yet come, and I blessed him? He, too, shall be blessed." (Bereishis 27:33)
Just as Avraham rectifies the sin of Adam HaRishon by experiencing the true simcha of completion the same will be true of Yitzchak Avinu. Yitzchak, though he had a difficult life, thrives on all of the blessings that Hashem sends him in his life.
Interestingly, the kol of Yitzchak is related to the physical food that he ate. Given that in the world of “existence” it is impossible to find true completion, how does Yitzchak experience shleimus in the physical world?
In truth, Yitzchak was totally divorced from the realm of existence.
The passuk tells us:
וַיֵּרָ֤א אֵלָיו֙ יְהֹוָ֔ה וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אַל־תֵּרֵ֣ד מִצְרָ֑יְמָה שְׁכֹ֣ן בָּאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֖ר אֹמַ֥ר אֵלֶֽיךָ
“And the Lord appeared to him, and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land that I will tell you.” (Bereishis 26:2)
Why is Yitzchak told that he should not go to Egypt (as Avraham did)? Rashi, based on the Medrash in Bereishis Rabbah (64:3) explains:
שהיה דעתו לרדת מצרימה כמו שירד אביו בימי הרעב, אמר לו אל תרד מצרימה שאתה עולה תמימה, ואין חוצה לארץ כדאי לך
“For he had in mind to go down to Egypt as his father had gone down in the days of the famine. He [God] said to him, “Do not go down to Egypt.” You are [as] a perfect burnt offering, and being outside the Holy Land is not fitting for you.”
Yitzchak is an olah temimah, a perfect offering. This means that Yitzchak had achieved total shleimus and therefore was intimately connected to Eretz Yisrael which is the ultimate place of shleimus.
Where do we see that Eretz Yisrael is the ultimate place of shleimus?
As we explained wherever there is joy there is true completion.
The passuk says:
וְהָיָה֙ כִּֽי־תָב֣וֹא אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לְךָ֖ נַֽחֲלָ֑ה וִֽירִשְׁתָּ֖הּ וְיָשַׁ֥בְתָּ בָּֽהּ
“And it will be, when you come into the land which the Lord, your God, gives you for an inheritance, and you possess it and settle in it” (Devarim 26:1)
Chazal explain that any time the Torah uses the “Viahaya” and it will be, it is an expression of simcha. In other words, coming to the land of Israel is a joyous occasion and therefore represents true completion.
Regarding Yerushalayim, the capitol city of Israel, the Medrash (Shemot Rabba, end of Shemot) tells us that no sadness entered Yerushalayim. There was a special place right outside Yerushalayim called the “Dome of Calculations” where people would go to make calculations — so that they should not come to sadness in Jerusalem, “the joy of the earth,” (Tehillim 48) and harm its lofty level.
Regarding the Beis HaMikdash, the most essential point of Yerushalayim (and by extension all of Eretz Yisroel), Chazal teach that from the Beis HaMikdash joy spreads to the entire world ( Pesikta Rabbasi 41) The Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 36:1, Vayikra Rabbah 1:2) anyone who entered into the Beis HaMikdash left a state of simcha.
As an Olah Temimah, a complete and perfect offering, Yitzchak had no connection to the physical world outside of Eretz Yisrael. This is why even the name of Yitzchak denotes joy. Because Yitzcahk is true joy his name actually points to future laughter.
This is what the Gemara in Brachos (31a) means when it says:
אמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יוחאי אסור לאדם שימלא שחוק פיו בעולם הזה שנאמר אז ימלא שחוק פינו ולשוננו רנה אימתי בזמן שיאמרו בגוים הגדיל ה׳ לעשות עם אלה אמרו עליו על ריש לקיש שמימיו לא מלא שחוק פיו בעולם הזה מכי שמעה מרבי יוחנן רביה
Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: One is forbidden to fill his mouth with mirth in this world, as long as we are in exile (ge’onim), as it is stated: “When the Lord returns the captivity of Zion we will be as dreamers” (Psalms 126:1). Only “then will our mouths fill with laughter and our lips with song” (Psalms 126:2). When will that joyous era arrive? When “they will say among nations, the Lord has done great things with these” (Psalms 126:2). They said about Reish Lakish that throughout his life he did not fill his mouth with laughter in this world once he heard this statement from his teacher, Rabbi Yoḥanan.
In this world of galus (the consciousness of existence) true joy is impossible. Only in the future, when the world is redeemed and we see the world through the consciousness of the soul, is completion and therefore joy, a real possibility.
Yitzchak, as an Olah Temima, even in our world, lives in the dimension of the future. He is able to extract the blessings “mikol” from everything that he experiences even in this physical world because in truth he is divorced from this world, intimately connected to the world of the future.
Yaakov - Kol
The next time Kol is mentioned is when Yaakov meets Esav and offers him many gifts in order to appease him. Esav refuses the gift, but Yaakov insists that he take it. The passuk tells us:
קַח־נָ֤א אֶת־בִּרְכָתִי֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֻבָ֣את לָ֔ךְ כִּֽי־חַנַּ֥נִי אֱלֹהִ֖ים וְכִ֣י יֶשׁ־לִי־כֹ֑ל וַיִּפְצַר־בּ֖וֹ וַיִּקָּֽח
“Now take my gift, which has been brought to you, for God has favored me [with it], and [because] I have everything." He prevailed upon him, and he took [it]” (Bereishis 33:11)
Yaakov asks Eisav to take his gift because he has everything (כל). This stands in sharp contrast to Eisav who just two pesukim earlier said:
וַיֹּ֥אמֶר עֵשָׂ֖ו יֶשׁ־לִ֣י רָ֑ב אָחִ֕י יְהִ֥י לְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁר־לָֽךְ
“But Esau said, "I have plenty, my brother; let what you have remain yours.” (Bereishis 33:9)
Rashi (33:11) based on the Medrash Tanchuma (Vayishlach 3) explains:
יש לי כל: כל ספוקי, ועשו דבר בלשון גאוה (פסוק ט) יש לי רב, יותר ויותר מכדי צרכי:
“I have everything: All my necessities. Esau, however, spoke haughtily, “I have plenty,” [meaning] much more than I need.”
Yaakov, as the paradigmatic “ish tam”, complete person, (Bereishis 25:27) sees the world through the consciousness of the soul is complete. He has everything he needs. That is not to say that he has as much as Eisav but he experiences shleimus in whatever he has.
This is reminiscent of the Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta Viyovel 13:3) who writes:
ולא שבט לוי בלבד אלא כל איש ואיש מכל באי העולם אשר נדבה רוחו אותו והבינו מדעו להבדל לעמוד לפני יי לשרתו ולעובדו לדעה את יי והלך ישר כמו שעשהו האלהים ופרק מעל צוארו עול החשבונות הרבים אשר בקשו בני האדם הרי זה נתקדש קדש קדשים ויהיה י"י חלקו ונחלתו לעולם ולעולמי עולמים ויזכה לו בעה"ז דבר המספיק לו כמו שזכה לכהנים ללוים הרי דוד ע"ה אומר י"י מנת חלקי וכוסי אתה תומיך גורלי
Not only the tribe of Levi, but any one of the inhabitants of the world whose spirit generously motivates him and he understands with his wisdom to set himself aside and stand before God to serve Him and minister to Him and to know God, proceeding justly as God made him, removing from his neck the yoke of the many reckonings which people seek, he is sanctified as holy of holies. God will be His portion and heritage forever and will provide what is sufficient for him in this world like He provides for the priests and the Levites. And thus David declared [Psalms 16:5]: "God is the lot of my portion; You are my cup, You support my lot."
The Rambam does not tell someone who is learning all day that they will be wealthy. He says that God will provide for them what is necessary in this world. To a person who has totally dedicated themselves to Hashem, amassing large quantities of possessions holds no interest to them. They feel complete when they have what they need.
Eisav who sees the world through the consciousness of existence has massive amounts of stuff but cannot be said to be complete. He has a lot, but he does not have everything.
This is why Yaakov Avinu says to Eisav:
וַיְצַ֤ו אֹתָם֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר כֹּ֣ה תֹֽאמְר֔וּן לַֽאדֹנִ֖י לְעֵשָׂ֑ו כֹּ֤ה אָמַר֙ עַבְדְּךָ֣ יַֽעֲקֹ֔ב עִם־לָבָ֣ן גַּ֔רְתִּי וָֽאֵחַ֖ר עַד־עָֽתָּה
“And he commanded them, saying, "So shall you say to my master to Esau, 'Thus said your servant Jacob, "I have sojourned with Laban, and I have tarried until now.” (Bereishis 32:5)
Rashi (ibid) explains:
דבר אחר גרתי בגימטריא תרי"ג, כלומר עם לבן הרשע גרתי ותרי"ג מצות שמרתי ולא למדתי ממעשיו הרעים
“Another explanation: גַּרְתִּי has the numerical value of 613. That is to say: I lived with the wicked Laban, but I kept the 613 commandments, and I did not learn from his evil deeds.”
Yaakov is telling Eisav that while he has spent much time living with Lavan (who saw the world through the lens of existence) he was not impacted by Lavan’s worldview. While it is true that Yaakov was working for Lavan in the realm of existence he was always connected to Torah and Mitzvos, the source of all life.
Perhaps this explains why Yaakov asks God “for bread to eat and clothes to wear.” (Bereishis 28:20) Yaakov, deeply connected to life itself, is only interested in existence in so far as it supports life. He is not interested in excess materialism.
Eisav, as the spiritual heir of the Nachash (he even had a tattoo of the Nachash on his thigh) sees existence as finite. Therefore Eisav says about himself:
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר עֵשָׂ֔ו הִנֵּ֛ה אָֽנֹכִ֥י הוֹלֵ֖ךְ לָמ֑וּת וְלָֽמָּה־זֶּ֥ה לִ֖י בְּכֹרָֽה
“Esau replied, "Behold, I am going to die; so why do I need this birthright?"” (Bereishis 25:32)
When all there is existence, death is the only possibility.
Yaakov, who truly lives life, never dies. (Taanis 5b)
This is what the Gemara in Baba Metzia (84a) means when it says that Yaakov had the same appearance as Adam HaRishon. Adam who was not satisfied with everything that he had is rectified by Yaakov Avinu who experiences true completion.
We can now understand why the passuk (Bereishis 33:18) says that Yaakov returned to Israel complete.
וַיָּבֹא֩ יַֽעֲקֹ֨ב שָׁלֵ֜ם עִ֣יר שְׁכֶ֗ם אֲשֶׁר֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן בְּבֹא֖וֹ מִפַּדַּ֣ן אֲרָ֑ם וַיִּ֖חַן אֶת־פְּנֵ֥י הָעִֽיר
“And Jacob came completely (safely) [to] the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan aram, and he encamped before the city.”
Rashi explains the meaning of the word shaleim:
שלם: שלם בגופו, שנתרפא מצליעתו. שלם בממונו, שלא חסר כלום מכל אותו דורון. שלם בתורתו, שלא שכח תלמודו בבית לבן:
And Jacob came safely: Heb. שָׁלֵם, lit., whole, unimpaired in his body, for he was cured of his limp and whole with his money. He did not lose anything because of that entire gift that he had given Esau. [He was also] whole with his Torah, for he had not forgotten [any of] his studies in Laban’s house. — [from Gen. Rabbah 79:5, Shab. 33b]
Yaakov, as the ultimate man of completion, returns to Israel, the land of completion, just as he was when he was left. He was in no way impacted by the deviant outlook of Lavan.
After having examined Avraham (bakol), Yitzchak (Mikol) and Yaakov (kol) we can understand why in benching we say, “Bakol Mikol Kol.” As we complete our meal, we attempt to see the world as our forefathers did, appreciating the bounty that Hashem has gifted us. Our entire existence is seen through the prism of the soul just as Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov taught us to see the world.
Yosef – All of Egypt
Yosef HaTzaddik also adopted an abundance mentality as Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov did.
When famine strikes in Mitzrayim (impoverished mentality) it is Yosef who is identified with kol.
וַיְלַקֵּ֣ט יוֹסֵ֗ף אֶת־כָּל־הַכֶּ֨סֶף֙ הַנִּמְצָ֤א בְאֶֽרֶץ־מִצְרַ֨יִם֙ וּבְאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן בַּשֶּׁ֖בֶר אֲשֶׁר־הֵ֣ם שֹֽׁבְרִ֑ים וַיָּבֵ֥א יוֹסֵ֛ף אֶת־הַכֶּ֖סֶף בֵּ֥יתָה פַרְעֹֽה
“And Joseph collected all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan with the grain that they were buying, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house.” (Bereishis 47:14)
As we mentioned above with regards to Yaakov and Eisav, those have an existence mentality live with the consciousness of death while those who have a soul oriented worldview live with the consciousness of life.
It comes as no surprise that the Egyptians who had an existence orientation said:
וַיִּתֹּ֣ם הַכֶּ֗סֶף מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֘יִם֘ וּמֵאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֒עַן֒ וַיָּבֹ֩אוּ֩ כָל־מִצְרַ֨יִם אֶל־יוֹסֵ֤ף לֵאמֹר֙ הָֽבָה־לָּ֣נוּ לֶ֔חֶם וְלָ֥מָּה נָמ֖וּת נֶגְדֶּ֑ךָ כִּ֥י אָפֵ֖ס כָּֽסֶף
“Now the money was depleted from the land of Egypt and from the land of Canaan, and all the Egyptians came to Joseph, saying, "Give us food; why should we die in your presence, since the money has been used up?"” (Bereishis 47:15)
לָ֧מָּה נָמ֣וּת לְעֵינֶ֗יךָ גַּם־אֲנַ֨חְנוּ֙ גַּם־אַדְמָתֵ֔נוּ קְנֵֽה־אֹתָ֥נוּ וְאֶת־אַדְמָתֵ֖נוּ בַּלָּ֑חֶם וְנִֽהְיֶ֞ה אֲנַ֤חְנוּ וְאַדְמָתֵ֨נוּ֙ עֲבָדִ֣ים לְפַרְעֹ֔ה וְתֶן־זֶ֗רַע וְנִֽחְיֶה֙ וְלֹ֣א נָמ֔וּת וְהָֽאֲדָמָ֖ה לֹ֥א תֵשָֽׁם:
“Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our farmland? Buy us and our farmland for food, so that we and our farmland will be slaves to Pharaoh, and give [us] seed, so that we live and not die, and the soil will not lie fallow." (Bereishis 47:19)
When you live with the worldview of existence, death is constantly a dreaded fear. Yosef, who lives with an abundance mentality can provide for all of the Egyptians. The “kol” no longer belongs to them but to Yosef.
וַיָּבִ֣יאוּ אֶת־מִקְנֵיהֶם֘ אֶל־יוֹסֵף֒ וַיִּתֵּ֣ן לָהֶם֩ יוֹסֵ֨ף לֶ֜חֶם בַּסּוּסִ֗ים וּבְמִקְנֵ֥ה הַצֹּ֛אן וּבְמִקְנֵ֥ה הַבָּקָ֖ר וּבַֽחֲמֹרִ֑ים וַיְנַֽהֲלֵ֤ם בַּלֶּ֨חֶם֙ בְּכָל־מִקְנֵהֶ֔ם בַּשָּׁנָ֖ה הַהִֽוא
“So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food [in return] for the horses and for the livestock in flocks and in cattle and in donkeys, and he provided them with food [in return] for all their livestock in that year.” (Bereishis 47:17)
וַיִּ֨קֶן יוֹסֵ֜ף אֶת־כָּל־אַדְמַ֤ת מִצְרַ֨יִם֙ לְפַרְעֹ֔ה כִּי־מָֽכְר֤וּ מִצְרַ֨יִם֙ אִ֣ישׁ שָׂדֵ֔הוּ כִּֽי־חָזַ֥ק עֲלֵהֶ֖ם הָרָעָ֑ב וַתְּהִ֥י הָאָ֖רֶץ לְפַרְעֹֽה:
“So Joseph bought all the farmland of the Egyptians for Pharaoh, for the Egyptians sold, each one his field, for the famine had become too strong for them, and the land became Pharaoh's.” (Bereishis 47:20)
Seeing as how the abundance mentality of “kol” is a primary feature of all of the Avos in rectifying the sin of Adam HaRishon, it comes as no surprise to us that Yosef HaTzaddik was deeply connected to Adam HaRishon.
The Medrash in Bereishis Rabbah (87:5) records the following conversation between Yosef HaTzaddik and Eishes Potiphar as he explains to her why he cannot engage with her in inappropriate sexual relations:
דָּבָר אַחֵר, הֵן אֲדֹנִי, אָמַר לָהּ מִתְיָרֵא אֲנִי, וּמָה אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן עַל מִצְוָה קַלָּה נִצְטַוָּה וְעָבַר וְנִטְרַד מִגַּן עֵדֶן, זוֹ שֶׁהִיא עֲבֵרָה חֲמוּרָה, גִּלּוּי עֲרָיוֹת, עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה
“I am afraid. Adam HaRishon was kicked out of Gan Eden as a result of only a minor sin, inappropriate sexual misconduct, which is a grave offense will certainly come with a harsh punishment.”
Why does Yosef require a kal vichomer? Why not simply explain that gilui arayos is a serious aveira and one that he did not feel comfortable violating?
In light of what we have said, we can conclude that Yosef is not simply making a logical deduction from Adam HaRishon but is speaking about his general mission of rectifying the sin of Adam HaRishon. Our goal is to return the world to the state that existed before Adam’s sin. To return us to Gan Eden if you will. If Adam was kicked out for a minor offense, how can I Yosef, commit a major sin that would certainly keep us out of Gan Eden.
Living with the consciousness of rectifying the sin of Adam HaRishon is what gave Yosef the capacity to extricate himself from Eishes Potiphar as he was about to commit the gilui arayos with her. Chazal teach us (Bereishis Rabbah 87:6, Sotah 36b) that Yosef saw the image of Yaakov Avinu in the window and this gave him the strength to run away from her. As we said above, Yaakov Avinu had the same face as Adam HaRishon. Seeing Yaakov reminded Yosef of the fundamental mission for which he was put on this earth, namely rectifying the sin of Adam HaRishon.
Purim – The Complete Story
The Gemara in Chullin 139b says:
המן מן התורה מנין (בראשית ג, יא) המן העץ
From where in the Torah can one find an allusion to the hanging of Haman? He replied: The verse states after Adam ate from the tree of knowledge: “Have you eaten of [hamin] the tree, about which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Genesis 3:11). Hamin is spelled in the same manner as Haman: Heh, mem, nun.
What is the connection between the hanging of Haman and the Eitz HaDaas? There are other times in the Torah that we find the letters Heh, Mem and Nun together. The man that Klal Yisrael ate in the Midbar is just one example. Why is Haman identified with the Eitz HaDaas?
Megillas Esther (5:9) records the feelings of Haman as he left the seuda of Esther and his subsequent feelings as he encountered Mordechai.
וַיֵּצֵ֤א הָמָן֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא שָׂמֵ֖חַ וְט֣וֹב לֵ֑ב וְכִרְאוֹת֩ הָמָ֨ן אֶֽת־מָרְדֳּכַ֜י בְּשַׁ֣עַר הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ וְלֹא־קָם֙ וְלֹא־זָ֣ע מִמֶּ֔נּוּ וַיִּמָּלֵ֥א הָמָ֛ן עַֽל־מָרְדֳּכַ֖י חֵמָֽה
“And Haman went out on that day, happy and with a cheerful heart, but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, and he neither rose nor stirred because of him, Haman was filled with wrath against Mordecai.”
Hamans emotions are so extreme from one moment to the next. One minute he is happy with a cheerful heart and the next moment he is filled with wrath.
Consider what Haman says just a couple of pesukim later as he returns to his wife and friends (5:11-13):
וַיְסַפֵּ֨ר לָהֶ֥ם הָמָ֛ן אֶת־כְּב֥וֹד עָשְׁר֖וֹ וְרֹ֣ב בָּנָ֑יו וְאֵת֩ כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֨ר גִּדְּל֤וֹ הַמֶּ֨לֶךְ֙ וְאֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁ֣ר נְִשּא֔וֹ עַל־הַשָרִ֖ים וְעַבְדֵ֥י הַמֶּֽלֶךְ: וַיֹּ֘אמֶר֘ הָמָן֒ אַ֣ף לֹֽא־הֵבִ֩יאָה֩ אֶסְתֵּ֨ר הַמַּלְכָּ֧ה עִם־הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ אֶל־הַמִּשְׁתֶּ֥ה אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֖תָה כִּ֣י אִם־אוֹתִ֑י וְגַם־לְמָחָ֛ר אֲנִ֥י קָֽרוּא־לָ֖הּ עִם־הַמֶּֽלֶךְ: וְכָל־זֶ֕ה אֵינֶ֥נּוּ שֹׁוֶ֖ה לִ֑י בְּכָל־עֵ֗ת אֲשֶׁ֨ר אֲנִ֤י רֹאֶה֙ אֶת־מָרְדֳּכַ֣י הַיְּהוּדִ֔י יוֹשֵׁ֖ב בְּשַׁ֥עַר הַמֶּֽלֶךְ:
“And Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches and the multitude of his sons, and all [the ways] that the king had promoted him and that he had exalted him over the princes and the king's servants. And Haman said, "Esther did not even bring [anyone] to the party that she made, except me, and tomorrow, too, I am invited to her with the king. But all this is worth nothing to me, every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting in the king's gate."
Haman, as the spiritual heir of Eisav and the Nachash, lives with the consciousness of existence. He can never be complete until he has everything. Upon being invited to the seuda of Esther he believes he has finally achieved completion. He is exuberant! His royal position is assured. His wealth is enormous. His family is strong. He has it all! Except Mordechai. A different person would have been satisfied with the massive amount of riches they have been given. One old Jew would not have made a difference to them. But when you look for completion in the physical world you are not complete until you have everything. Even if one Jew does not bow down to Haman, completion has not been realized. Immediately he is angered. Completion has not been achieved.
This is the connection between Haman and the Eitz HaDaas. Just as Adam HaRishon was not satisfied with having every other tree in Gan Eden because without the Eitz HaDaas he could not be considered complete, so too Haman could not experience the joy of completion as long as Mordechai refused to bow down to him. At this point Zeresh points out to Haman that while he cannot force Mordechai to bow down to him, he does have the ability to kill him. Only then can completion be realized.
וַתֹּ֣אמֶר לוֹ֩ זֶ֨רֶשׁ אִשְׁתּ֜וֹ וְכָל־אֹֽהֲבָ֗יו יַֽעֲשׂוּ־עֵץ֘ גָּבֹ֣הַּ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים אַמָּה֒ וּבַבֹּ֣קֶר | אֱמֹ֣ר לַמֶּ֗לֶךְ וְיִתְל֤וּ אֶֽת־מָרְדֳּכַי֙ עָלָ֔יו וּבֹ֧א־עִם־הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ אֶל־הַמִּשְׁתֶּ֖ה שָׂמֵ֑חַ וַיִּיטַ֧ב הַדָּבָ֛ר לִפְנֵ֥י הָמָ֖ן וַיַּ֥עַשׂ הָעֵֽץ
“And Zeresh his wife and all his friends said, "Let them make a gallows fifty cubits high, and in the morning say to the king that they should hang Mordecai on it, and go to the king to the banquet joyfully." The matter pleased Haman, and he made the gallows.” (Esther 5:14)
Notice that Zeresh and Haman’s friends emphasize the fact that Haman will go to the seuda joyfully if he will kill Mordechai. Completion will have been achieved.
But why such a strange method of killing Mordechai? Why not just assassinate him? And why does the eitz need to be fifty cubits high? It seems like a fairly random height.
The gematria of the word kol is fifty. Fifty represents completion. The complete level of wisdom is the fiftieth level of binah. Yovel is celebrated in the fiftieth year. Zeresh and co suggest hanging Mordechai on a tree because as the heir of the Nachash what greater symbolism could there be then hanging Mordechai on a tree that represents the eitz hadaas. At fifty cubits high, the Nachash will have finally achieved completion. (Though we don’t have space to elaborate on this concept now, the Nachash is also looking for completion. This is why he craves intimacy with Chava. See Rashi Bereishis 3:15 who explains that the Nachash wanted Adam to die so he could marry Chava.)
Only in the end it doesn’t work out the way Haman hoped it would.
וְהַמֶּ֜לֶךְ קָ֤ם בַּֽחֲמָתוֹ֙ מִמִּשְׁתֵּ֣ה הַיַּ֔יִן אֶל־גִּנַּ֖ת הַבִּיתָ֑ן וְהָמָ֣ן עָמַ֗ד לְבַקֵּ֤שׁ עַל־נַפְשׁוֹ֙ מֵֽאֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֔ה כִּ֣י רָאָ֔ה כִּי־כָֽלְתָ֥ה אֵלָ֛יו הָֽרָעָ֖ה מֵאֵ֥ת הַמֶּֽלֶךְ: וְהַמֶּ֡לֶךְ שָׁב֩ מִגִּנַּ֨ת הַבִּיתָ֜ן אֶל־בֵּ֣ית | מִשְׁתֵּ֣ה הַיַּ֗יִן וְהָמָן֙ נֹפֵ֗ל עַל־הַמִּטָּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶסְתֵּ֣ר עָלֶ֔יהָ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ הֲ֠גַ֠ם לִכְבּ֧וֹשׁ אֶת־הַמַּלְכָּ֛ה עִמִּ֖י בַּבָּ֑יִת הַדָּבָ֗ר יָצָא֙ מִפִּ֣י הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וּפְנֵ֥י הָמָ֖ן חָפֽוּ: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר חַ֠רְבוֹנָ֠ה אֶחָ֨ד מִן־הַסָּֽרִיסִ֜ים לִפְנֵ֣י הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ גַּ֣ם הִנֵּֽה־הָעֵ֣ץ אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֪ה הָמָן לְֽמָרְדֳּכַ֞י אֲשֶׁ֧ר דִּבֶּר־ט֣וֹב עַל־הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ עֹמֵד֙ בְּבֵ֣ית הָמָ֔ן גָּבֹ֖הַּ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים אַמָּ֑ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ תְּלֻ֥הוּ עָלָֽיו: וַיִּתְלוּ֙ אֶת־הָמָ֔ן עַל־הָעֵ֖ץ אֲשֶׁר־הֵכִ֣ין לְמָרְדֳּכָ֑י וַֽחֲמַ֥ת הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ שָׁכָֽכָה
“And the king arose in his fury from the wine feast to the orchard garden, and Haman stood to beg for his life of Queen Esther, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king. Then the king returned from the orchard garden to the house of the wine feast, and Haman was falling on the couch upon which Esther was, and the king said, "Will you even force the queen with me in the house?" The word came out of the king's mouth, and they covered Haman's face. Then said Harbonah, one of the chamberlains before the king, "Also, behold the gallows that Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke well for the king, standing in Haman's house, fifty cubits high!" And the king said, "Hang him on it!" And they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king's anger abated.” (Esther 7:7-10)
As we have pointed out, the story of Haman is a retelling of the story of the Nachash and Adam HaRishon.It therefore comes as no surprise to us that when the King (in the Megillah that is always a reference to Hashem) is confronted with the truth of Haman’s plan he goes for a walk in the Gan, a reference to Gan Eden. When he returns, he finds Haman on top of Esther and accuses him of trying to sleep with the queen. Just as the Nachash sought completion in his attempt to be intimate with Chava, it appears that Haman is seeking intimacy (completion) with Esther. Ultimately, the tree (eitz hadaas) of fifty cubits (completion) that Haman meant to hang Mordechai on becomes his own undoing just as it was with the Nachash in Gan Eden.
This is why the Gemara in Megilla (11a) compares Achashveirosh and Persians to a bear:
דוב שוקק זה אחשורוש דכתיב ביה (דניאל ז, ה) וארו חיוה אחרי תניינה דמיה לדוב ותני רב יוסף אלו פרסיים שאוכלין ושותין כדוב ומסורבלין בשר כדוב ומגדלין שער כדוב ואין להם מנוחה כדוב
“A hungry bear”; this is Ahasuerus, as it is written about him: “And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear” (Daniel 7:5). And Rav Yosef taught that these who are referred to as a bear in the verse are the Persians. They are compared to a bear, as they eat and drink in large quantities like a bear; and they are coated with flesh like a bear; and they grow their hair long like a bear; and they never rest like a bear, whose manner it is to move about from place to place.
When a person sees the world through the consciousness of existence, they consume massive quantities of existence. It is not merely gluttony but a perverse attempt to be complete.
Ultimately, it is the consciousness of life that truly leads to completion. This is why the Medrash (Mishlei 9) teaches that the Yom Tov of Purim will exist forever as the passuk says, (Esther 9:28) “The memory of Purim will never cease from among their descendants.” Life cannot die any more than salt can go bad. If it dies, then it isn’t life. Those who lives with the consciousness of life do not truly die. This is how we explained the Gemara in Taanis (5b) that Yaakov Avinu never died. And just as Yaakov Avinu cannot be said to be dead because he led a soul powered life, so too the Yom Tov of Purim will never be batal. It is the story of a life oriented worldview. How could a Yom Tov like that ever cease to exist?
Succos – The Yom Tov of Completion
The Tur (OC 417) writes that each one of the shalosh regalim relates to one of our Avos. Yaakov is related to Succos because as soon as Yaakov arts with Eisav in peace, he “journeyed to Succos and built himself a house, and for his livestock he made shelters/succos; he therefore called the name of the place Succos.”
What is the inner nature of the relationship between Yaakov Avinu and Succos?
Succos is called Zman Simchaseinu in our liturgy. Chazal teach us that anyone who did not witness the Simchas Beis HaShoeva in their lives never experienced true simcha. The Simcha of Succos is a function of the completion we sense. It is the completion of Elul, Rosh Hashana, Aseres Yemei Teshuva and Yom Kippur. It is the completion of being completely enveloped in the Ananei HaKavod. The Succah is likened to a wedding canopy where we come into a state of complete intimacy with Hashem. It is the sense of completion we feel when all parts of ourselves as represented in the daled minim are gathered together and used in the service of Hashem. When all four types of Jews, as are also represented in the daled minim gather together in a state of completion under one unified Succah.
In such a state of completion, our existence only serves to support our life. This explains why on Succos we live in a temporary state of existence. The consciousness of life must be primary. After we have gathered in all of our grain, we use that existence to support our lives. In this way we elevate our existence and it becomes part of our Simcha.
This is similar to the idea of Bikkurim about which the Torah says:
וְשָֽׂמַחְתָּ֣ בְכָל־הַטּ֗וֹב אֲשֶׁ֧ר נָֽתַן־לְךָ֛ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ וּלְבֵיתֶ֑ךָ אַתָּה֙ וְהַלֵּוִ֔י וְהַגֵּ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּקִרְבֶּֽךָ
“Then, you shall rejoice with all the good that the Lord, your God, has granted you and your household you, the Levite, and the stranger who is among you.” (Devarim 26:11)
When a person recognizes the kol that Hashem has given him then they can truly experience joy.
The Vilna Gaon drew a comparison between the consciousness of kol and the Mitzvah of sitting in a Succah. The Gr’a points out that “bakol” (as we mentioned above Avraham was blessed with bakol) is actually Roshei Teivos for the three pesukim that relate to the Mitzvah of Succah.
בַּסֻּכֹּ֥ת תֵּֽשְׁב֖וּ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֑ים
“For a seven day period you shall live in booths.” (Vayikra 23:42)
כָּל־הָֽאֶזְרָח֙ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל יֵֽשְׁב֖וּ בַּסֻּכֹּֽת:
“Every resident among the Israelites shall live in booths.” (Vayikra 23:42)
לְמַ֘עַן֘ יֵֽדְע֣וּ דֹרֹֽתֵיכֶם֒ כִּ֣י בַסֻּכּ֗וֹת הוֹשַׁ֨בְתִּי֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בְּהֽוֹצִיאִ֥י אוֹתָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶֽם
“in order that your [ensuing] generations should know that I had the children of Israel live in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God.” (Vayikra 23:43)
When a person lives with the consciousness of “kol”, the abundance mentality of the soul, they experience completion and consequently joy.
This is the inner connection between Yaakov and Succos. When Yaakov leaves Eisav (existence) in peace he can truly experience completion. No wonder that at his very first stop he builds a home for himself and a temporary dwelling for his livestock. It is an expression of the role that existence plays in supporting life. For our lives we build a home. For our existence we only need a temporary dwelling place.
With this in mind, we are now ready to answer the questions we asked at the very outset.
Adam HaRishon is not merely being punished with toiling in this world. Because of his attachment to existence he will be connected to the world of depression. His existence will weigh him down. Our mission is to see our existence through the lens of the “kol” that the soul knows we have been given. This consciousness brings joy and rectifies the sin of Adam HaRishon.
We can now understand the inner connection between Parshas Bereishis and Simchas Torah. Succos is the Yom Tov of completion. It is a Yom Tov that takes place in the seventh month and consists of seven days. Seven is natural completion but there is an even higher level of completion. Just as we can only attain 49 (7 times 7) levels of wisdom and it is God who grants us the fiftieth level, so too Simchas Torah, as the eight day, represents the fiftieth level (Gematria of kol). It is the highest level of completion.
The circles we dance in represent the completion we have achieved over these Yamim Noraim. As we complete the Torah, we return to Parshas Bereishis. For the Torah to be a true circle it must never end. At the end we begin again for there is no ending. Only in the realm of existence can something end. From the perspective of the soul, all is one. And as the Alter Rebbe said in Tanya (Chapter 33) “one may attain joy by thinking deeply and picturing in one's mind the subject of the unity of God.” When we experience oneness, unity, we experience completion, and this is the true joy of our world.