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Friday, May 25, 2007

Nasso, Bamidbar 6:5. Nezirus and the Path to Enlightenment

The Netziv here in his Haamek Davar explains that there are two different types of nezirus. There is a a nezirus which is intended to raise the level of kedusha; this Nezirus requires avoidance of a meis because ruach hakodesh is not shoreh in sadness, but only during simcha shel mitzvah. But there is another type of Nezirus, which is intended to help a person vanquish his Yetzer Hora. As Rashi says, a person that is exposed to wicked people should temporarily avoid worldly pleasures in order to overcome that negative influence. Why would such a Nazir have to avoid a meis? The Netziv answers that he, too, is trying to become a kodosh, and so he must also avoid things that interfere with ruach hakodesh. As Reb Yaakov Kaminecki writes in his Emes Le’Yakov in the beginning of Parshas Kedoshim, there was a time, long ago, that certain individuals accepted what was called "Chavrus," which entailed the avoidance of all types of Tumah, although there is no such requirement for a non-Cohen, and there is no evidence in the Torah that there is any benefit in doing so. He explains that for people who are on a certain level of kedusha, avoiding tumah is a part of the mitzvah of Kedoshim Tihyu.)

Evidently, the common man’s path to simple avoidance of the Yetzer Hara parallels the path to prophecy. Why is this so?

All men are capable of knowing truth, but very few consciously realize that truth. This is not merely because their yetzer hara pushes them into denial, but because their conscious mind simply cannot see it. This honest awareness is called an aspaklaria ha’me’ira. Aspaklaria is related to the Latin word Speculum, which means a mirror. This derives from Specere, which is "to see." Thus, Aspaklaria is the equivalent of a seeing glass, or a observation point. In the context of Ruach Hakodesh, the similarity between a window and a mirror is very important. A window, although transparent, can sometimes obscure the view and reflect the observer. This phenomenon is used in what we call "one way mirrors," usually very thin sheets of mylar. The person on the dark side can see the light side, while the person on the light side only sees his reflection. This is because these reflect half of the light and let half the light through. So the people on each side will see half the light from their side reflected, and half the light from the other side transmitted. Assigning numbers to the brightness, let us say that the bright light is 10 and the dim, 5. The person on the 5 side will see 2.5 reflected and 5 transmitted from the bright side. The 5 will obscure the 2.5, and he will see the transmitted image. The person on the 10 side will see 5 reflected and 2.5 transmitted, so he will only see his own reflection, the 2.5 being obscured by the 5.

An Aspaklaria is a glass and a mirror. If you see yourself, if you are a baal gaavah, if you believe that light and truth emanate from your own ideas and preconceptions, then you will not be able to see the light that is coming through. An anav, who does not focus on his own reflection, will see the image that is transmitted from the other side. This is the idea of nevua as seeing through an aspaklaria--if you are seeing yourself, you cannot benefit from the supernal light that reveals the truth. A clear view through the mirrored aspaklaria is the same as the clear vision of the nevi’im. See Rambam Hakdama to Pirkei Avos-Shemona Perakim- Perek 7, about the mechitza that iterferes with nevu’a. The effort and skill needed to attain it is the same, and the rarity of attaining that great goal is the same. Rational people, who realize that they can never see the future, delude themselves into thinking that they know what they really are. In fact, though, their preconception of what and who they are, their self-important belief that only what is empirically evident to their senses and mind is reliable, obscures the truth from them.

Sometimes, thanks to a good liberal education, a person does acquire some insight, and finds an interior so desolate and ugly, and the prospect for improvement so small, that the self-hate that arises expresses itself as hatred for others.

Thus, for a person to become a ben aliya, to change and do teshuva, he must be able to see inside himself with a true vision. This vision can only be attained through an effort that parallels that of a person who seeks ruach hakodesh. In both cases, they need to come to a point where, as Reb Meir Simcha says in Bamidbor 11:17, they have to come "ahd she’hachomer lo hoyo chotzeitz."

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