Emor: Understanding “Above Intellect”

The sages tell us that there is no joy like the joy of resolving a doubt (Zevachim 90a).  Simply put: we don’t enjoy the state of uncertainty, of not understanding.  There is one level of inability to understand that comes from us: we are capable of understanding the matter in question, but we haven’t yet implemented our intellect sufficiently and haven’t understood the matter properly.  By putting in the requisite effort, we will understand.

Additionally, there are things which we don’t understand because these things are simply not comprehensible.  This is called, in the language of Chassidus, “above the intellect”.  This is the level of Kesser, the crown which is above the brain (the place of the intellect) which is in the head.  This is also the level of “peleh” (פלא), which means “wonder” — something beyond understanding, which we can only gaze at with wonder.  Clearly, the level of Kesser, the crown, is connected with Moshiach (the King) and Geuloh (“I will show you wonders”).

In English, the word “wonder” carries a totally positive connotation, as in “wonderful”.  We find that the word “peleh” in loshon hakodesh relates to the fact that the matter is incomprehensible, regardless if we find it to be “wonderful” or not.  The dimension of “peleh” (the 3rd aspect of the letter “alef” which the Rebbe tells us we must insert into Gola to make Geuloh) refers to those things which are not understood, but in the Geuloh we will say about them “thank You Hashem because You were angry with me”.  How do reach the level where the “peleh“, which appeared to us as Hashem’s anger, is revealed as something that we are actually thankful for?!  Explains the Rebbe: this is accomplished through learning Chassidus, Pnimiyus Hatorah (the inner dimension of Torah):

It is not enough to reveal in “Gola” the aspect of “the Master of the World” [the recognition that all is from Hashem]…we need to also reveal the aspect of “learning” via learning Torah, and even further — the aspect of “peleh“, via learning Pnimiyus Hatorah (the wonders that are in Torah)…

Through revealing the “peleh” in Torah by learning the inner dimension of Torah, we reveal to ourselves that those experiences in our lives that were incomprehensibly difficult (to the point that a sensitive person would think that Hashem is angry with him) were (and are) actually the highest level of G-dly revelation.  Higher than the G-dliness revealed in Creation, higher even than the G-dliness revealed in (the revealed dimension of) Torah!

In other words: it is during these difficult challenges and sufferings, may Hashem protect us, that we draw down from the level of Kesser, higher even that the G-dliness that is in (the revealed dimension of) Torah.  What we have to do next is to reveal these lofty levels.  We accomplish this by learning Pnimiyus Hatorah, which explains why the coming of Moshiach is dependent on spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus.  (This also explains what the Rebbe says in several sichos (such as 28 Sivan): that the Geuloh is already here and our job now is simply to reveal it!)

The Rebbe explains in our sicha that not only is there no Geuloh without first descending into a Golus that contains painful experiences (“You were angry with me”), but that the Geuloh itself comes when we reveal that these experiences are in truth the loftiest revelations (beyond our capacity to grasp, and thus painful).  Our “thanks” goes on these incomprehensible “wonders” which (at the time of golus) were so painful:

Specifically via the descent into Golus in a way of “You were angry with me” comes the ascent of the Geuloh, until even its loftiest matters — the revelation of the aspect of alef which are the letters of “peleh“: that when we reveal in “Gola” the alef (of “peleh“)  — [meaning] the inner intent in [the golus] — then the “thank You Hashem” is revealed in the “You were angry with me”, the aspect of thanks (hoda’a) specifically on the thing which is a wonder, above intellect and wisdom (of the human).   

Additionally, the Rebbe in this sicha provides us the way to understand what was said in the dramatic sicha of 28 Nissan.   In that address, the Rebbe expressed wonder at the fact that the Jewish people are still in Golus, calling it “absolutely the most incomprehensible thing” (“הדבר הכי אינו מובן כלל וכלל“).  The Rebbe explains the matter as follows:

Similarly the verse “I will give thanks to Your Name because you performed wonder” (“אודה שמך כי עשית פלא”, Yeshayahu 25:1), which refers to the length of the Golus which is a matter of wonder (דבר פלא), “and it is not comprehensible to the intellect at all…” and this itself is drawn down afterwards in a revealed way… in intellect and wisdom.

The extraordinary length of this golus is a matter of wonder (דבר פלא), meaning something that cannot be understood by human intellect.  The paradoxical challenge is that this lengthy golus, a matter of wonder which is incomprehensible to human intellect, should in fact be understood by our same human intellect — to the point that we will appreciate why we had to go through it and we will actually thank Hashem for it!  How can something that is incomprehensible to human intellect be made understandable?!  This the Rebbe already answered: by learning Pnimiyus Hatorah.

After we read these words we can understand the challenge of the sicha of 28 Nissan in entirely different way (and also the challenges of Chof-Zayin Adar and Gimmel Tammuz): the fact that we cannot understand why we are still in Golus is not something frightening and worrisome, and to the contrary: only now that we find ourselves “inexplicably” in Golus (not for understandable reasons such as to pay off our sins, or to perform avoidas habirurim), only then can we properly bring the Geuloh — by learning Pnimiyus Hatorah to the extent that our human intellect can understand the true inner intent of Golus, of the suffering, and we will truly say “Thank You Hashem” for all of this*, and this itself will be the Geuloh that brings an end to all suffering!**

* The emotional sicha of Hoshanna Rabba 5744 (can be viewed here) is seemingly in contradiction to our sicha.  One possible answer is that reaching the understanding of the “peleh” that brings us to thank Hashem for Golus is itself the very moment of Geuloh.  Or, perhaps there is room to say that in our sicha the Rebbe is revealing a new avoidah that was not relevant in 5744 before avoidas habirurim was finished.  The matter demands further contemplation.

** We can note that the verse in question states that “I” will thank Hashem because He was angry “with me“, in the singular — that our task is to come to understand that these experiences which were painful for me were actually lofty things, etc.  But we are not tasked with understanding the reason for the pain of our fellow Jew.  True, he also needs to come to his own understanding and reach the point of “I will thank You, etc.”.  However, when we see the suffering of our fellow Jew our response should be to beseech Hashem, as Moshe Rabbeinu pleaded to Hashem on behalf of the Bnei Yisroel: “Why have You harmed this nation?!”

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