Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Of Nuclear Power, Babylonian gods and Shmiras Habris...

by GYE (See all authors)

Today is Rosh Chodesh Tamuz; a day of renewal, as well as the Yartzeit of Yosef Hatzadik's birth and passing.

In Babylonian tradition, Tamuz was a god that came to symbolize the death of nature in the heat of summer, and they named the month of "Tamuz" after this god. Saddam Hussein YM'Sh named his Osirak nuclear reactor "Tamuz" after this god as well.

The Zohar (in Chelek Beis, pg 78b) writes that Yakov Avinu took the months of Nissan and Iyar for himself (hence Yetziyas Mitzrayim, Kabbalas Hatorah), and Eisav took the months of Tamuz and Av for himself (and hence, the 17th of Tamuz and Tisha Be'av).

It occurred to me that Tamuz is the epitome of Kedusha vs. Tumah; as it says "Zeh Le'umas Zeh bara Elokim - Hashem created this one opposite the other". On the one hand, Eisav chose this month for himself and the Babylonians also chose it as a symbol of "death". But on the other hand, Hashem prepared the "refuah" (healing) before the "makah" (disease) and Yosef Hatzadik was born in the very beginning of Eisav's two month reign. The Pasuk says that when Moshiach comes "the house of Yosef will be a flame and the house of Eisav will be like straw". Yosef's flame of Kedusha will devour and eradicate the power of Eisav from the world.

How can we understand these two opposing forces in the month of Tamuz?

The "death" in the heat of summer is really a preparation for the renewal that comes in the rainy season. While everything in Israel (and Babylonia) becomes dry and withered in Tamuz, Yosef Hatzadik symbolizes bounty and plenty. According to Kabbalah, Yosef is the Middah of Yesod, which passes on all the heavenly light to "Malchus" (our world), as it says "ve'Yosef Hu Hamashbir lechol am ha'aretz - and Yosef was the provider for all the people of the land".

While Eisav dwells in the death itself, a Jew uses the death for renewal, turning it into endless divine bounty. A Jew is able to take his past falls and uses them as a spring-board for growth. Like a seed that needs to rot in the ground before it can sprout into a fruitful tree, Hashem wants us to use the times of darkness to appreciate the light that will inevitably follow.



We have the ability to turn the falls of our past into a foundation for our closeness to Hashem now. As we all said in Hallel today: "Yaser Yasrani Kah etc... Hashem has brought me great suffering, but to death he did not hand me over... Odecha Ki Anisani etc... I thank thee for the suffering, and it was for me a salvation". Through our past falls, we learn how to overcome the darkness and follow the light, and we use our past experience to help others towards the light as well.

Yosef symbolizes Shmiras Ha'Bris, and perhaps the biggest lesson that we can learn from him was that it was only through the merit of his "withholding" that he merited that so much bounty and goodness should flow forth through him. And this is the secret of the divine channel of Yesod. When we close all the holes in our divine "pipes" (and we are willing to go through the dryness of "Tamuz" first), Hashem's blessing and bounty is able to flow through us properly.

The Koach of the Bris is somewhat like a nuclear reaction. Our job is to take this "nuclear power" and harness it for constructive purposes; to bring forth life, not death. How is this done in a reactor? By inserting fuel rods into the reactor's core to absorb and "hold back" the nuclear chain-reactions from continuing. By doing this, we are able to harness the tremendous energy, and we are able to light up entire cities with electricity! Our enemies on the other hand, want to harness nuclear power for destructive purposes. This happens in atomic weapons, where their is no "containment" of the nuclear reactions. The Jewish people succeeded in destroying the nuclear reactor "Tamuz" of Saddam, on erev Shavuos, the 5th of Sivan, 1981, in the month of Yakov Avinu. Shavuos is the time of kabbalas Hatorah, and the Torah is like the "fuel rods" that teach us how to harness the power of the Yesod properly through the Mitzvos. The Mitzvos of the Torah, such as "Pru u'revu - be fruitful and multiply" on the one hand, and "lo sikrivu legalos erva - do not come close to revealing nakedness" on the other, teach us how to channel Hashem's bracha in the right ways and harness the tremendous energy of Yesod for the good.

The Yetzer Hara wants us to use the potent power of the Bris for destructive purposes. But through the power of Shmiras Habris, by withholding this potent energy and harnessing it for constructive purposes only, we become vessels for divine bounty, and we succeed in "containing" the designs of our enemies, who once again desire to use nuclear power to destroy us...

And that is the beauty of the seeming contradiction of Tamuz. And that is perhaps the reason why Yosef was born on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz. Let us harness the tremendous power of Yosef on his Yartzeit today, by properly "containing" the power of Yesod and thereby harnessing it for LIFE and endless divine blessing.

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