Parshas Sh’lach 5780

This was originally written in three separate parts, it has been reproduced here in its original form.

A gitten erev Shabbos! This week’s parsha is Sh’lach. We have the episode of the M’raglim (spies), as well as various mitzvos in the parsha. The most frequently performed mitzvah of the parsha is that of tzitzis, and for some of us, the mitzvah of t’cheiles.

There are various reasons we wear t’cheiles in tzitzis. It says in the gemoro in Maseches Menochos that it’s similar to the sea, which is similar to the sky, which is similar to the Kisei HaKovod (Hashem’s Throne of Glory). Through this sort of mnemonic we are able to remember the mitzvos. There are other aspects to this mitzvah, with various details that would make this post far too long, such as how many strings must be dyed, and how the tying should be done, etc.

In the Zohar HaKodosh on this parsha, the last section speaks of the mitzvah of t’cheiles. It describes there how the color of t’cheiles itself is associated with Din (Judgement), and the white with Rachamim (Mercy). When they are brought together through being tied to the corner of the tallis, they create the pairing that leads to the state of Sefiras Tiferes. It further states that tallis shel mitzvah, referring to a tallis with tzitzis, alludes to the illumination of Malchus, which is the lower manifestation of the Shechinah, hence when wrapped in this in a sense the one wrapped in a tallis is surrounded with the light of the Shechinah. In the Kisvei HaAri this is explained in far more depth.

Practically speaking, we can see from this mitzvah the importance of attaching Tiferes, which is often translated as beauty, to Malchus, our manifest world. Without the balance of both Din and Rachamim, there is no beauty. Part of our work in Emunah is recognizing the handiwork of Hashem, because we could say the words אמונה (faith) and אמנות (expertise, quite specifically in regards to the trades) are related because they share many of the same letters. Without seeing this beauty, as we have to see our tzitzis, Emunah is very difficult if not impossible. When faced with true beauty, we must remember Hashem and His Torah that He gave us, just as we are reminded of the mitzvos through looking at our tzitzis. The complete way to understand this is through wearing kosher t’cheiles, at least on the tallis koton if not on the tallis godol also.

We should all merit to fulfilling all the mitzvos of the Torah with as much perfection as possible, also those of us who have the obligation should merit to having t’cheiles, and in the merit of learning Torah and fulfilling mitzvos with simcha we should see the Geulah Shleimah swiftly in our days.

When it comes to the M’raglim (Spies) in this parsha, they mention specifically that Amalek was dwelling in Eretz Yisroel. They mention the Yebusim, Emorim, Chitim, and Kanaanim lived there also. The mention of Amalek is particularly interesting, particularly if you look at this through the lens of chassidus.

We know that Amalek is the power of doubt, that force that cools a person down in avodas Hashem. According to Rebbe Nachman, Eretz Yisroel is the aspect of Emunah Shleimah, complete faith. Rather than viewing the M’raglim as wicked people, chas v’sholom, we need to see them as merely over-cautious. We can see often times in life, as we grow in avodas Hashem, there will always be people who come and give warnings “Oh don’t go too fast, don’t do x avodah yet, you could fall down! It could lead you to chas v’sholom leaving behind everything!” While Amalek is destructive doubt that leads to cooling down in avodas Hashem, the actions of the M’raglim and those who behave in this way now, per example through discouraging people from taking on new services in avodas Hashem, has the destructive aspect of preventing people from reaching their full growth. Eretz Yisroel is the land of perfection, and we can say on a personal level that it represents the perfection of the individual person. When somebody tells a M’vakesh Hashem (seeker of Hashem) that they should slow down and fear higher forms of avodas Hashem, they are performing the same action of the M’Raglim. The best thing to do is to simply learn with the individual and help keep them grounded, rather than actively discouraging them. I’m sure everyone has seen people who completely dropped the entire Torah after being discouraged, and gone back to Mitzrayim, to coarse physicality and tumah, simply from being told constantly that they’re reaching too high in avodas Hashem.

In relation to t’cheiles, the Ramban says that the whole purpose of tzitzis is the t’cheiles. Where it says וראיתם אותו וזכרתם את כל מצוות ה’ ועשיתם אותם, “and you shall see it and you will remember all the mitzvos of Hashem and you will do them,” Ramban maintains this refers to the t’cheiles itself. He brings out that the word תכלת is related to the word תכלית, meaning purpose, essentially. What we can see from this is that the ultimate purpose of everything is to fulfill the mitzvos of the Torah and serve Hashem. So when we look at t’cheiles, we should have the intention to remember that specifically, that the entire purpose of all Hashem’s Creation is only for fulfillment of the Torah and mitzvos. Following what I wrote about yesterday, this shows that the true beauty of the world is only realized through being involved with Torah and mitzvos.

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