"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On the Greeks' demand that the Jews write heresy

(See my article concerning Hei Teves here.)

(This post comes in continuation to the posts here and here.)

This also sheds light on the Greeks’ demand of the Jewish people: “Write for yourselves on the horn of an ox that you have no portion in the G–d of Israel.”[1] Here, too, in the case of the Greeks’ agenda to force the Jewish people to write words of heresy, we see how their oppression of the Jewish people was primarily spiritual.

But what is the significance of “the horn of an ox,” and what led the Greeks, who were highly intelligent, to think that this act of coercion would somehow influence the Jews to give up their connection with the holiness of Torah and Mitzvos, G–d forbid?

The answer is related to the different supernal origins of the Jewish people and the nations.[2] There are four “faces” in the supernal divine chariot,[3] and the souls of the gentile nations stem from the level known as “the face of an ox.” More precisely, their souls are derived from the “horn” of this supernal ox. Just as a horn is considered secondary to the animal itself,[4] so does the horn represent the lower, external level of G–dliness from which the souls of the gentile nations (and the entire natural order, for that matter) are derived, which is related to the divine name of Elokim, which represents nature.[5]

In contrast, the souls of the Jewish people are derived from a transcendent or “internal” level of G–dliness, the name of Havayeh, as it is written, “For his nation remained the portion of Havayeh.”[6] This is alluded to in the verse, “And He [Hashem] blew into his [Adam’s] nose a soul of life.”[7] Vigorous blowing represents expending one’s inner strength.[8]

This is why the Greeks specifically wanted the Jewish people to write this statement on the horn of an ox. They wanted the Jews to degrade themselves to receive their sustenance from the same external[9] level of G–dliness from which the gentile nations derive their sustenance, the Name of Elokim, and in so doing they would forfeit their special bond with Hashem and his Torah and Mitzvos, which would lead them to assimilate with the non-Jews, G–d forbid.

Based on Sefer HaMa’amarim 5729, p. 86 ff. To be continued...

[1] Bereshis Rabba 2:9.
[2] Torah Ohr, Vayeshev 30a. Ohr HaTorah, Chanukah 300a ff.
[3] Discussed in Yechezkel 1:1-3:27. Obviously, there is no physical chariot or ox in the higher spiritual realms, and these are anthropomorphisms, as is common in the Kabbalistic teachings.
[4] Chullin 117b.
[5] Cf. Tanya, Igeres HaTeshuvah ch. 4.
[6] Devarim 32:9.
[7] Bereshis 2:7. Since, as Kabbalah teaches, Adam possessed a Jewish soul, this verse sheds light on the nature of the Jew’s special soul.
[8] Tanya, beg. ch. 2.
[9] Likewise, the Greeks sought to influence the Jews to engage in secular studies, known as “chochmos chitzoniyus,” lit., “external wisdoms.”

This post was dedicated by Yerachmiel “Mitch” Belzer and family, as a merit for Malkah bas Neyereh. Also dedicated by Rabbi Shmuli Markel and family (Shmuel Leib ben Esther and Sara Rochel bas Chayah Nechomoh).

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