A soul comes down to this earth, not only to make the body a Divine dwelling place, but the entire world. The Avner Institute presents two letters where the Rebbe compares the Jewish man or woman to an “Aron-Kodesh,” Holy Ark, stressing the heart and mind with which to engage in Torah observance; and the power of the soul, released after physical death, to reach even greater spiritual heights and influence others below.
In Loving memory of Hadassah bas Schneur Zalman
“Of all that is spiritual and sacred”
By the Grace of G-d
12 Nissan 5734
To All Participants
in the Presentation of the Aron-Kodesh
on the Occasion of 11 Nissan 5734
Greeting and Blessing:
The Presentation of such a sacred and meaningful object, as well as the time and place of the event, call for a special reflection. All the more so in light of the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov to the effect that everything that happens in life can, and therefore should, serve as a practical lesson to the thinking person in his daily life and conduct. The basis for this is the fact that everything that happens comes to pass, of course, by Hashgocho Protis—Divine Providence in every detail.
Thus, the said Presentation provides a great deal of food for thought, some of which I wish to share with you in this letter.
A human being is called a “world in miniature” (microcosm). Our Sages point out that this is not merely a phrase, but that the analogy corresponds in many details, even minute details.
The idea behind this analogy is that man and the world in which he lives are intimately bound up and mutually affect one another.
The idea of an Aron-Kodesh (Holy Ark) is that it is a physical thing, made of wood, or metal, or other material, and is consecrated to house a Sefer Torah, which is also made of material things (parchment inscribed by quill and ink), but is holy because the writing is the word of G-d, the ultimate of all that is spiritual and sacred. Because the Aron-Kodesh is such a holy thing by reason of its housing the holiest of all sacred objects, the Sefer Torah, it is customary to make it beautiful—as is, indeed, the case with the one which has been presented. Even when an Aron-Kodesh has lower compartments, these are used exclusively for keeping other sacred objects.
A human being is like an Aron-Kodesh. The body, consisting of tissue, bone, etc., is physical, but it houses the soul, which is spiritual, sacred and pure. Consequently, the body, too, must be kept holy, as an Ark housing a Sefer Torah.
Indeed, the analogy may be extended to the whole world at large, wherein G-d commanded to construct a Mikdash, a Sanctuary, from which G-d’s light and holiness should spread to, and permeate, the whole world.
In like manner, an individual must endeavor to make his heart and brain (mind)—though they are made of physical substances—“sanctuaries,” that is, sacred depositories for even more sacred contents and qualities, attuned to the supreme holiness and perfection which G-d revealed in His Torah and mitzvoth. So much so, that even the “lower compartments,” i.e., when the mind and heart are applied on a lower level, namely, to such material things as business or job, these are not to be an end in themselves, but a means to a better and high spiritual level, thereby giving the mundane occupation a different complexion, a higher meaning and value.
This would then correspond to the Sanctuary which G-d commanded to be erected in this material world, the Sanctuary to which the Jewish people contributed such material things as gold, silver, and brass, whereby they elevated to sanctity not only the contributions themselves, but also the effort that went into the acquisition of all their material things, including the major share that is used for personal and family needs.
Both sanctuaries—the “sanctuary” that is within every Jew, man and woman, and the Sanctuary which G-d commanded to be built as a dwelling place for Him on earth, are mentioned in one and the same sentence in the Torah: “They shall make Me a Sanctuary, that I may dwell within them”—“within each and everyone of them,” as our Sages interpret this verse. In other words, the ultimate purpose of the Sanctuary built for G-d is to make every Jewish heart and mind a fitting abode for G-d to dwell in.
The immediate inference from the above is that although, at this time, the Sanctuary, the Bet Hamikdash, is not in existence, and will be rebuilt when Moshiach will come, the Sanctuary which is within the Jew, man or woman, is always there, and it is very much up to himself and herself to cultivate and make it effective in sanctifying the whole daily life.
In light of the above, together with my heartfelt appreciation of the sentiment that accompanied the Presentation, I wish to express my prayerful hope that it will stimulate all participants to strengthen the determination to make an “Aron-Kodesh” of his and her personal life, an “Aron-Kodesh” of the family, to the extent of permeating also the children with the same spirit and dedication. With such resolve, Divine assistance is assured, and may G-d grant that it should be accomplished in the spirit of these days, when the Presentation was made, namely in the spirit of true freedom from all distractions, material and spiritual.
Moreover, the place of the Presentation is likewise auspicious, for it has been here that my saintly father-in-law made his “Sanctuary”—a sacred House of Prayer and of Study—during the past decade of his life on earth, a Sanctuary which is continued in the same spirit.
Wishing you and all yours a Kosher and inspiring Pesach,
16 Iyar 5711
Miss Deoreen Saltzman
c/o Talmud Torah Rabbi M.J. Mendelowitz
1006 Greene Ave.
Brooklyn 21, NY
Blessing and Greetings:
I have received your letter through Rabbi Mendelowitz. I am glad to know that you are his pupil, and I trust that you are studying with the proper diligence and eagerness.
You write that your father died a year ago, and that you are troubled by the question why G-d took him away.
Rabbi Mendelowitz did give you the right answer: we must not question G-d’s ways. I can quite understand that you feel the loss of your father very much, but you can be quite sure that G-d will compensate you for it in some other way, although at this time you cannot see yet how it will come about.
Although we must not question G-d’s ways, but feel sure that everything is for the best, I want to give you one possible explanation which I hope will ease your mind.
As you know, and can well imagine, your father’s greatest happiness was when he could provide the most for your dear mother, for you, your sister and brother. You can well understand that when your father was alive here on earth, his possibilities to help you all were limited, for no human being has unlimited possibilities.
But now your father can watch over you all the time, for he is no longer limited by a physical body. He also can do more for you and for your mother, sister, and brother than before. From your letter I can see that he was ever devoted to you, so he will surely continue to do his best for you, even more than before.
So, you see, that although you and your family miss your father very much, a great deal of good will come out of it for you which could not have come before. You should remember, however, that in order to be able to receive all the good which he wants to bestow upon you, and in order to make it easier for him to obtain for you all this good, you must lead your life in such a way that would please him.
One of the most important things, as far as you personally are concerned, is to study with eagerness and diligence, and be full of the spirit of Yiddishkeit. You may ask yourself, would Father be pleased if I do this or that, or would he not be pleased?
If you will remember that your father is always over you and your family and praying for you before G-d, you will not feel so lonesome for him. By trying to please him who is Above, and being also a source of nachas [joy] for your mother, may G-d give her long life on this earth, a source of Yiddish nachas, you will soon find that all the questions and problems now troubling you will disappear, and you will be happy, and make others happy.
Blessing you and yours, and wishing you success and happiness,
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