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Seeing on the Surface: Kabbalah and the Deeper Sight

Additionally, with clothes we give off a certain impression. Clothes are our expression of identity and statement to the outside world. In the deeper sources the concept of clothing is always bound up with the concept kavod, meaning honor, glory, and dignity. The numerical value of the Hebrew word for clothed, levusha, is the same as the numerical value of kavod ha'eesha, meaning a woman's honor. (The correlation between a woman's honor and clothing is a lengthy and fundamental discussion for another time.)

Delusive Date
We use this twofold role of enclothing in life all the time.

Think about the last time you went out on a date. You put on your best outfit, wore makeup, were extra careful about what you said and what you did not say—in essence, you put on an act! And what was the purpose of this performance? So that your date will like you and want to get to know you better. So for the purpose of getting the significant other to know who you are, you hide who you truly are on the date!? This is the essence of enclothing.

Now, as I write this I must admit I have difficulty relating to it. When I was dating I used to intentionally put on a less than flattering shirt for the occasion and make sure to leave my car in the same mess it was always in (unless garbage was overflowing in the passenger seat; then I'd at least clean it out enough that she could get into the car) because I didn't want to give a wrong impression; I wanted the girl to know exactly what she was in for long term. Anyway, none of them married me.

The point here is that enclothing means to conceal certain things for the purpose of preserving those things for the time when it would be more appropriate and receivable. When we look at something, all we see is that outer appearance. And similarly when we see what's going on in the world and what's happening with the Jewish People, we only see the clothes—the outer appearance.

Conceptual Hearing
Again, hearing means to get beyond the surface and understand something for its inner depth. So, hearing God means to get beyond the outer appearance of the state of the world, and delve into what is happening from a deeper perspective, to understand the ultimate goal.

Now, as opposed to seeing, which is an instant, a first impression, hearing what a person has to say takes longer. To hear what a person has to say you have to sit through every syllable and use your brain to put them all together until the end when message becomes clear. It's only at that point that you understand the intentions of the original syllables as they relate to the message as a whole. So, the concept of hearing is to truly receive the message in its essence. This means that it is only through the whole of the message that we can understand the true intent of each detail.

This leads us to a question: Once you have the whole message why study the details?

If it is the message you have been after and you have just grasped it, is there a point to the individual syllable on its own? Now that you have the deeper meaning and purpose, what could be the use of the seemingly trivial outer enclothment?

God willing, we will pick up with this question in next week's article and, by understanding the relevance of the method by which the message is conveyed, we will be equipped to access a deeper layer of the message that would have otherwise been left concealed

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8/3/2011 4:00:00 AM