Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Jewish Heritage
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Vayairah) Transparent Vision

G-d instructed our forefather Avraham to offer his son as a sacrifice. He traveled with his two sons, Yitzchok and Yishmael, and his servant Eliezer. After a three day journey, Avraham caught a glimpse of the intended place for the sacrifice. He turned to those accompanying him, asking them, what they saw. Yishmael and Eliezer said they saw nothing unusual, however, Yitzchok said he saw a cloud hovering over the mountain.

Since he perceived the spiritual cloud present, while the others did not, Avraham realized that it was indeed Yitzchok who was the son intended for the offering. Spiritual clouds were nothing unusual to our forefathers. The Medrash tells us that there was a spiritual cloud that hovered over our Matriarchís tents.

Historically, spiritual clouds are linked with the Jewish people. During the forty years the Jews were traveling from Egypt to the Land of Israel in the desert, they were continually protected by Clouds of Glory. Also, when Moshe dedicated the Temple in the desert, the Torah relates that a special spiritual cloud appeared.

At the inauguration of the first Temple in Jerusalem by King Solomon, a spiritual cloud descended, indicating G-dís readiness to envelope His presence within the Temple

I wonder if all people were able to see these clouds, or only those who were on the proper spiritual level were able to see the clouds, similar to Avraham and Yitzchok who saw the cloud hovering over Mount Moriah where the Binding of Yitzchok was to take place.

A support to the notion that only those at a heightened spiritual level were conscious of spiritual transcendence, the Torah relates that through G-d's advice, Avraham expelled his maidservant Hagar and their son Yishmael from his home. As they were traveling in a desert, Yishmael became ill and burning up with fever he quickly consumed the supply of water.

The Torah tells us that G-d opened Hagarís eyes and she saw a well of water in the desert, from where she drew water and saved her son.

Our Sages tell us that the well of water did not miraculously emerge; rather, the well was there the entire time. However, Hagar did not perceive it until G-d gave her the correct spiritual vision to see it. The Medrash draws a parallel of Hagarís inability to perceive that which was actually in front of her to people in general who are blind to that which is obvious and right in front of them.

The Torah relates that when Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, their eyes opened up and they realized they were naked and immediately covered themselves up.

The revelation that they were naked was not only on a physical level, it was on an intellectual level as well; they were in a new state of existence and consciousness that warranted them to cover themselves up.

We see that there are various levels of perceiving what may be staring one straight in the face.

Three cases in point:

1) It has been over 3300 years since we began our existence as a nation; we have been envied, hated and despised - with numerous wars, attacks, exiles, persecutions, pogroms, crusades, dispersions and a holocaust , yet we miraculously still exist, survive and thrive. We see it, we know it and we believe it Ė yet we wonder if others see it and recognize it as well.

2) The Land of Israel, which was promised to our forefathers, conquered by Joshua and inhabited by the nation of Israel through its periods of judges, kings, prophets, Temples etc. The artifacts, remnants, and historical trail through the Books of our Prophets clearly support and ascertain our claim to the land. We know, see and believe it, and with the struggles, tension and terror that we regularly experience with our hateful neighbors, it is quite clear that they donít see the obvious.

3) Many wonder how is it possible to be observant; the expense, the sacrifice, the refraining, the regulations, the many restrictions, lack of freedom, the enormity of knowledge and information to grasp and contain, the three daily prayers, what you can and you canít eat, etc.

A unique way to explain it is that indeed, living an observant lifestyle defies all logical analysis. However, accompanied with each Mitzvah that we perform and commit ourselves to, is a G-dly endowed sublime spiritual elevation which launches each Jew to an uplifted realm and atmosphere that allows him to see, experience, feel, persist and perceive the goals and objectives of serving the Almighty!

Wishing you a restful, peaceful and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks