Traveler's Prayer, Part Two: A True Torah Scholar

In the previous article, we outlined a number of layers to the Traveler's Prayer, which is said by Jews to God when on a journey. In this article, we will explore a layer deeper.

Time, Space, and Being
According to Kabbalah, there are three dimensions: Time, Space, and Being. These dimensions parallel one another. That is to say, given that the spiritual is at the root of everything physical, these dimensions are three practical applications of the spiritual concept at their root.

As we mentioned in the previous article, when it comes to us imperfect human beings, there is undeveloped character on the plane of Being and unsettled areas on the plane of Space—both of which are "fixed" through Torah learning. So too, there is an unelevated month on the plane of Time which will also be fixed through Torah learning.

This is the Hebrew month of Marcheshvan. Marcheshvan is presently considered a bitter month since it is the only month that does not contain any holidays in it whatsoever. However, the month of Marcheshvan is going to make a comeback. According to Kabbalah, it is in the month of Marcheshvan that the inauguration of the Third Temple will take place.

This is hinted to in the verse "You [God] will arouse your strength and go out to save us in front of Ephraim, Binyamin, and Menasheh" (Ps. 80:3) The deeper Jewish sources explain that the Twelve Tribes of Israel parallel the twelve Hebrew months of the year, each carrying their own particular energy and focus. Since Rachel (Yaakov's wife) helped Leah (Yaakov's other wife) to marry Yaakov, she is considered the person upon which Yaakov's entire house is built. It is because of this, says the Oral Torah, that the Temples are inaugurated in the months corresponding to the three tribes who come from Rachel—Ephraim, Binyamin, and Menasheh—in accordance with the order that the tribes encamped while traveling in the desert. In that order, Ephraim is seventh, Binyamin is ninth, and Menashe is eighth. Therefore, Tishrei, the seventh month, corresponds to Ephraim; Kislev, the ninth month, corresponds to Binyamin; and Marcheshvan, the eighth month corresponds to Menashe.

Melachim I (1 Kings) 8:2 relates that the First Temple was inaugurated in the Hebrew month of Tishrei, corresponding to the tribe of Ephraim. The Second Temple was inaugurated in the month of Kislev during the time of the Maccabees, corresponding to the tribe of Binyamin. (The inauguration of the Second Temple that took place in the time of the Men Of The Great Assembly is not considered a complete inauguration since the Jews of that time were still living under the foreign rule of the Greek-Median empire.) And the Third Temple will be inaugurated in the month Marcheshvan corresponding to the tribe of MeNaSheH, the Hebrew letters of whose name also can spell the word for "soul," NeShaMaH, hinting to the fact that the Third Temple will last forever just as the soul is eternal.

It is Torah learning that will serve as the catalyst for the fixing of the perceived deficiency of Marcheshvan (as well as the catalyst resulting in the repairing of undeveloped character and protection for the traveler in unsettled areas). Since, as mentioned in previous articles, the higher nature of Torah is that it is the vehicle and blueprint by which God brings all of creation into existence, the Torah itself is, in a sense, the spiritual source of all that is physical.

That is to say, the deeper spiritual reality of attaching to Torah is that an attachment to Torah means an attachment to all. So, it is no wonder that Torah study itself is so prominent among those committed to Judaism. To delve into Torah is to take my multiplicity-oriented self and jump into my greater universal self. Thus, the Torah is our vehicle toward achieving growth and actualization. It is not simply about getting the instructions to be a better person. It is about being more than just myself.

Individualistic Torah and Universalistic Torah
In a sense, there are two approaches to Torah, both of which are necessary: Individualistic Torah and Universalistic Torah. Individualistic Torah is to access Torah as the vehicle by which I grow into the best me I can be, whereas Universalistic Torah is about fusing my individual self with a greater all-encompassing self—i.e., with the Jewish people, with humanity, with all of creation, with God.

By being involved in perfecting myself as an individual through Individualistic Torah, I elevate myself and become identified as a part of the whole of Torah. This is Universal Torah, when an individual personifies his unique role in a way in which Torah is manifest through him. So, in a sense, Individualistic Torah is focused on the climb toward self-actualization, whereas Universalistic Torah is the state of self-actualization beyond the climb.

6/29/2011 4:00:00 AM
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  • Eliyahu Yaakov
    About Eliyahu Yaakov
    Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov is a sought after international speaker on Kabbalah, relationships, parenting, and life. His newly released book, Jewish By Choice: A Kabbalistic Take on Life & Judaism, recently hit #1 on Amazon's Best Seller list.