Monday, January 20, 2014

Numbers 8: Sight and Insight

Pinhas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

God said to Moses, "Go up to this mountain of Avarim and see the Land that I have given to the Children of Israel.  You shall see it." (Numbers 27:12)
And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing. (Zekhariah 8:5)

God said to Abram, "Go for yourself from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father's house to the land that you will come to see." (Genesis 12:1)

Why is "see" repeated twice?  At first glance, Moses saw the Dead Sea and desert.  Then, he saw the future of his people in their land.
Rabbi Haim ben Attar explained that Moses gained a deeper vision and grasp of the inner spiritual essence of life in the Land of Israel. (Or Hahaim)

Moses could see children playing in the Land of Israel. 
We photographed our grandchildren and great-grandson realizing Zekhariah’s vision.

Rabbi Kook's metaphor for Israel's rebirth after its long exile is a child awakening from a coma asking to play with her doll.
The Jewish people's story begins by linking kinesthetic and visual senses. Abram sees the land in a new light by walking away from his past.

On receiving the Ten Commandments, the Torah tells of the Israelites' synesthetic experience:  All the people saw the sounds. (Exodus 20:15)
Passive hearing is transformed into internalized visions of the script for creating a better world.

The Torah formula for transforming sight into insight is:  May God expand Yefet, but he will dwell in the tents of Shem. (Genesis 9:27)
The name of Noah's son Yefet is related to visual beauty.  Yefet's son is Yavan (Greece).

Beauty in ancient Greece is seen in the elegance of outward form.  Israel descends from Shem, related to shemiyah (hearing).  
Torah beauty is tiferet the innermost emanation of divine light that integrates our intentions, thoughts and feelings through creative action.