Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Raising the Roof

In Pesachim 85 we find that the Jewish people used to eat the korban Pesach in large groups, such that each person was only left with a k’zayis of meat. As they ate from the korban, they would joyously sing the Hallel loud enough to “raise the roof.” As Rashi explains, the thunderous singing made it seem as though the roof was actually going to break apart! This is the joy we are meant to feel on seder night—but to feel that level of happiness, we need to first have a sensitivity to the kedushah of the festival.

The Baal Shem Tov HaKadosh zt”l would explain this idea through a parable.

“A musician was playing his instrument with such skill and sweetness, everyone who heard him was swept away by the sound. His tune was so powerful that his audience couldn’t hold themselves back; they started to dance with more and more energy and joy, until they were leaping nearly to the ceiling!

“The closer one got to the music the more intense was the sound, and the pleasure and joy of the dancers grew and grew. Whoever was closer was more enrapt, and danced with all the more fervor. At the height of the dancing, a deaf man entered the room. All he could see were wild people, leaping and whirling like marionettes, as if they were under some sort of spell. Because he was cut off from the music, the scene looked to him like something only a madman would dream of, and all the people seemed foolish, or insane.

He said to himself, “Is this what they call happiness?” The Baal Shem Tov would then conclude: “If only the deaf man could sense that the source of all this rejoicing is the sweetest of music, he too would dance with all his might!”a



A Simple Jew said...

Very nice! The source of the story from the Baal Shem Tov is Degel Machaneh Ephraim, Parshas Yisro.


Micha Golshevsky said...

Thank you!
Of course you are correct. Almost put it in but thought it would be too stilted: "The Degel Machaneh Ephraim brings his grandfather the Ba'al Shem Tov who explains this idea through a parable." Whew!

Spiritual Dan said...

Might we also say that the deaf man tapped into a universe that the festive folks were 'deaf' to? He may not have heard what they heard, but he also saw what they did not see - the glaring energy of sweet music.

Micha Golshevsky said...

Thank you for the comment!
Maybe you are right, but he seems to sorely lack the joy of really connection, the unfortunate isn't even aware that sometimes people celebrate weddings with music! Apparently he has never heard or seen this type of joy before.
I really love this mashal because it illustrates the point that one who doesn't want to see the beauty of holiness is like the deaf man in the story. He is missing out on the entire thing. Rebbe Nachamn sums it up so well when he says: Someone without Emunah has not life.
My mother actually once told a so called eithiest, "I can't explain the joys of spirituality to you, just like you can't explain colors to a person who is color blind. The world is filled with colors but he can't see them through no fault of his own. You are worse because you make yourself blind to the vibrant colors of the world for one who keep Shabbos and has emunah!"

Spiritual Dan said...

I find this lesson at odds with the Prince Under the Table story of Rabbeinu. AS you know the Prince was crazy (thought he was a chicken) and refused to get up from under the table. In a way he was deaf and blind to the spirituality of the world. But the Rabbi was still able to restore "sight" to the prince, because he taught him according to his way.

Micha Golshevsky said...

Why does the deaf man think they are crazy? Has he then stumbled onto a mad asylum? Why are the people so genuinely happy?
Maybe if a lively wedding had been performed in the presence of the Turkey Prince, he would have been swept out of his nonsense at least for the duration of the festivities. Even if not, I doubt he would have thought everyone else rejoiced because they were mad. Sadly, he may have felt a turkey has no need to rejoice...
Tzadidim point out the word Vayakhel which means to congregate or gather together has the same numerical value as the word mikvah. Just as a Mikvah purifies, so does gathering together with other especially for a joyous occasion.
Even Rav Nosson of Breslov, once went to the wedding of a very distant cousin to soak up some of hte genuine joy.
someone in a situation where many are rejoicing for a good reason,is naturally released from the bondage of self absorption. The atheist, overcomes such natural feeling by choice. He scorns the spiritual for reasons of his own, never realizing that by denying Emunah he is in an aspect of a wicked person regarding which Chazal say "The wicked are as dead even in their lifetime."
If I may quote the main point of the words of Rebbe Nachman at the end of "Sichas Haran" once again, "Someone without faith has no life..."
Besides, Faith is a part of human nature just as say laughter or any other human emotion. This is clearl from the Yerushalmi quoted and expanded upon by Rav Nosson in Likutei Halachos. It is also (much later) discussed in Michtav Me'eliyahu.
The atheist is like someone who shuts down laughter claiming not to ever experience emotion. Obviously this person has no life at all. Just as you can only try and avoid feeling emotion but never really succeed, you can try and deny the natural emunah within but will never succeed.
The turkey prince may not have lost faith at all. The issue of Emunah in Hashem doesn't come up in the story. Unfortunately one can be very religious and still be a turkey prince.
The turkey princes actions are those of a person completely consumed with material pursuits.
Sadly, he is in spiritual Egypt and his understanding doesn't translate into how he acts. If he is religious, religion to him is done by rote with virtually no inner connection. He needs the tzaddik to help him find his way out and realize that he is really a prince and all the crumbs of the material world are as nothing compared to his true status as a child of Hashem.
Perhaps the story works well with the words of Rav Aharon Hagadol of Karlin, "The main objective of the evil inclination is to make one forget he is a son of the King!"
Hashem should protect us from such spiritual pitfalls and help us begin to believe in the importance of every good action!

Spiritual Dan said...

Master, you have silenced me. (well, except for this post acknowledging being silenced). I will have to think about these awesome ideas.