Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Softening Up the World for Redemption

Good shoes in olden days, like those of today, were leather-made. But quality leather requires tanning, a process by which to soften it to become pliable; Otherwise the leather is too hard on the feet.

The root word for tanning, in Biblical Hebrew, is עבד, as in עיבוד עורות, the tanning of leather.

The term "to worship God", "עובד אלהים", like the work to soften leather, shares the same root word.

What has worshipping have to do with tanning? As it is in physicality, so it is in spirituality.
עובד הטבע = עובד אלהים

Chassidus states that אלהים has the gematria of הטבע. As we "work" the world (during worship) by learning Torah and doing God's commandments, we draw into the world a spiritual effect that incrementally accumulates collectively. As man refines his soul, not only his soul changes, but Nature - of the entire world - also benefits directly from this worship. The world at large changes as a result of a private Jew's worship. These incremental progressions bring the world closer to the Era of Redemption. The world is being "tanned" in preparation for the Final Era.

Meanwhile, as the world progresses closer to its Redemptive state, the individual worshipper retains the value of his input, for the reward reaped in the world to come, the light one merits to draw upon himself during Redemption, corresponds to the work he did BEFORE the Redemption. The ultimate future reward corresponds to the effort individually made BEFORE the Final Era, when the reward will be directly proportional to the work he or she expended during the days in diaspora.

This is what is meant by Isaiah (11:15) "והדריך בנעלים"
"... and Moshiach will lead [the Jews across dry passageways formed when the river splits] IN SANDALS".

Just as leather must be softened by tanning, the diaspora period too must be "softened", as Man works the world as he overhauls his own animal soul, striving to thrash his bovine lusts and turn ignorance of Torah into enlightenment. Each individual will thereby achieve a personal Redemption commensurate with the effort he put into his work during the exile period.
(Culled from the Rebbe's Ma-amar [Sefer Hama-amarim, Melukat vol. 4, "כימי צאתך מארץ מצרים"]. )

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