Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Drop by Drop – Another Look at 1A7B and the Yom Kippur Connection

When I first opened this blog, I wrote a post to explain the connection of the concept of One Above and Seven Below – אחת למעלה ושבע למטה – that we have in the avoda of Yom Kippur to the theme of my book, which is the single level of Im Bechukosai Telechu – One Above (אחת למעלה) versus the seven levels of V’Im Bechukosai Tim’asu – Seven Below (שבע למטה).

In short, the seven lower drops represent the seven levels of sin in the tochacha in Parshas Bechukosai. I credited this connection to the Chizkuni in Vayikra 16:14.

I have just found another connection.

Last Motzaei Shabbos before selichos at Kehillat Bnei Torah, Rav Yitzchok Rubin, Shlita, gave his regular pre-selichos schmooze and he brought down the words of the Rem”a in Toras HaOlah 59. The Rem”a says that the One Above drop represents the Neshama and the Seven Below drops represent the seven names that the Yetzer Hara is referred by as stated in Sukka 52a: Rah, Arel, Tamei, Sonei, Michshol, Ehven, and Tzefoni.

He says that each of these names represents seven steps (levels) of the Yetzer Hara one above (below?) the other and they bring the person down. Each level is stronger than the previous.

On the “other side” the Neshama drop stands alone and it is the intellect and the Yetzer Tov. This is “One Above” and it does not fall below this number (I think he means that it is not subject to a quantity more than One). And this drop can overpower any of the seven names (levels) of the Yetzer Hara.

This is as much as the Rem”a says explicitly. He does not explain exactly how the Neshama can overpower the seven levels – or names – of the Yetzer Hara. But other scholars such as Ben Yehoyada, not to mention Harav Rubin, fill in the blanks. The gemara in Kiddushin 30b tells us: I (HKBH) created the Yetzer Hara and I created the Torah as its antidote.  Further it says: If this vile one (the Yetzer Hara) meets up with you, pull him into the Beis Midrash.

The Rem”a says that the Neshama is the intellect. The Malbim in Mishlei (20:27) tells us that the Human was given this intellect for one purpose: to study and master the word of G-d. This is why we begin the central part of the standard shmona esrei with “Attah chonen l’adam daas…” Without this daas, we will fall prey to our Yetzer Hara and fall into the Tahom Rabbah.

This drop is the “ameilus b’Torah” that is required to achieve Im Bechukosai Telechu. The One Above – Achas L”Maala. The Seven Below is ushered in by neglecting to use one’s intellect for Torah study. The first level of the Seven Below – the first drop – is for one who neglects to study Torah (lo lammad – Rashi) even though he is meticulous in performing mitzvos!

This is because, even though he does mitzvos, he has no defense against the Yetzer Hara. In fact, the first thing that the Yetzer Hara will do “for him” is to let him convince himself that he is a gold standard Jew by virtue of the fact that he keeps mitzvos.

The next step is to let him convince himself that certain altruistic activities - that aren’t truly mitzvos – are the greatest of mitzvos. And then he will let the person convince himself that his concept of mitzvos is more accurate than those who do indeed study the Law. He knows better than the Rabbi or the Shulchan Aruch (which he barely knows at all).

And after this, the Yetzer Hara lets him convince himself that he doesn’t really have to do mitzvos at all. After all, he is a “Human Being” a mentsch, and this is all that HKBH really wants. The only purpose of doing mitzvos is to help one become a mentsch, but for people like him who are already a mentsch, there is no need. It is better to be a “Human Being” than a “Rabbi”.

So, now, he has descended to level 2 and, before he knows it, he is at levels 3-4-5-6…of the slippery slope. Way down under.

Drop by drop.

TeshuvaTefillah – and Tzedaka will save us, but the Tefillah and Tzedaka will only buy us time. It will not take us to where we need to be. Only the Teshuva, which corresponds to Torah, can enable us to beat the Yetzer Hara and bring ourselves into the One Above camp. This is where the Neshama is.

כי נר ה' נשמת אדם

HKBH is waiting there – and He’s keeping the light on for us.

Gmar Chasima Tova

Bonus post: Click HERE to see what we need to atone for most of all - the most terrible crime that a Human being can commit!


Anonymous said...

"the teshuva, which is represented by Torah in every machzor"

How so? The superscript over teshuva in every machzor I've ever seen is tzom, not Torah.

Yechezkel said...


Do you mean to tell me that there are people who actually read my posts?

I usually double check things I quote to avoid embarrassing mistakes like this. You caught me napping. I shot from the hip.

Anyway, I edited the post.

Thank you very much for reading the whole post and for waking me up.

Gmar Chasima Tova.