|Sefer Baal Shem Tov-Devarim|
|Written by Bentzion of Medziboz|
Behold, you are this day as the stars of heaven, many. (Deuteronomy 1:10) Were they like the stars on that day, why were they only numbered six-hundred thousand? Rather, what is the meaning of "Behold, you are this day"? Behold, you are likened to the day, that is, you will always exist, like the sun and the moon and the stars. (Rashi)
It is written: "The path of the righteous is as the gleam of sunlight that shines ever brighter until the height of the day" (Proverbs 4:18). That is, the sun in itself shines in its place equally, both at the onset of the day and in the middle. The only thing that obstructs it is the earth, which stands between us and the sun. Therefore, its light does not shine so brightly at dawn until it spreads across the earth.
The same holds true of the Tzaddik. In himself, he is always shining: the blockage is only on the part of the receivers. This too is due to the obstruction of the earth - that is, this world. For people are sunk in this world, and are unable to receive the light of the Tzaddik. This is as the Talmud said on the verse: "I lifted my eyes, and beheld a folded scroll" (Zechariah 5:1): "When you unfold it. . . . .When you peel it. . . . ."1 It comes out that the entire world is 1/3,200 the size of the Torah, which is exceedingly great and "broader than the ocean."2 It is difficult to understand how such a small thing as the world can block such a great thing as the Torah, which is thousands of times its size, for the entire world is minute in comparison.
However, this is like the oft-quoted analogy, that a small coin held up to your eyes will block out a great mountain, even though the latter is thousands of times larger. Since the coin is in front of your eyes, it obstructs your vision, until you cannot see something much larger. Likewise, when a person comes into this world, and becomes lost in its frivolities, so that it seems to him that there is nothing better, then this tiny little world keeps him from seeing the great and exalted light of the Torah, which is thousands of times the size. This is the example of the sun, that the earth prevents us from seeing its great light, though the sun is many times larger.
And this is the meaning of: "The path of the righteous is as the gleam of sunlight." It is exactly like the gleam of sunlight! For just as the sun shines constantly, with only the earth (though it is much smaller) creating a barrier; so too, Tzaddikim constantly shine. It is only the earth - that is, [the attractions of] this world - that prevents us from seeing their great light. Even though this world is so very small and insignificant in comparison, it still obstructs and prevents us from seeing the gleam of sunlight, like the example of the coin.
All this is because the world stands before a person's eyes and obstructs them, until he cannot see the light of the Torah and the Tzaddikim, which is thousands of times greater. However, if he removes that small obstruction from his eyes: that is, he turns his eyes away from this world and does not look at it, but only lifts his head and raises his eyes to gaze above this occluding world, then he will merit to see the great and exalted light of the Torah and the Tzaddikim. Because really, their light is infinitely greater than this entire world and its attractions. It is only that this world blocks his eyes and does not let him turn them away at all, to gaze above on the light of the Torah and the Tzaddikim.
This is exactly like the example of the small coin that stands before the eyes and obstructs them from seeing the great mountain. However, it is very easy to remove the coin from before one's eyes. Then, one will immediately see the great mountain. So it is with the world and the Torah. For with a small swipe, one can remove the world from before one's eyes. Then, one merits seeing the great light of the Torah and the Tzaddikim, which shines in all the worlds with a very great light.
Likewise, I heard in the name of the Baal Shem Tov, who said, "Woe, woe! The whole world is filled with awesome and wondrous lights and secrets, yet a small hand stands before the eyes and prevents us from seeing the great light."
Likutey Moharan I:133
1 Eiruvin 21a. The Talmud juxtaposes two verses from the Books of the Prophets. In Zechariah 5, the prophet sees a rolled up scroll of phenomenal size: "Then again I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and behold: a rolled up scroll. And he (an angel) said to me: 'What do you see?' And I answered: 'I see a rolled up scroll; the length of it is twenty cubits, and its breadth ten cubits." According to the Talmud, these measurements are not based upon human dimensions, but Divine ones: Ten of G•d's cubits (as it were). The second verse is from Ezekiel (2:9-10): "And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me; and lo, a scroll of a book was in it. And He spread it before me, and it was written on the back and the front." The Talmud considers these two scrolls as one, and tries to determine its full size. First, the scroll must be unrolled and then peeled, so that both sides face front and can be measured together. The conclusion is that the scroll is 20 x 40 of G•d's cubits. The Talmud then cites Isaiah 40:12 to determine the size of the universe: "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?" According to Biblical measurements, a "span" (zeres) is half the length of a cubit (amah), and one square span is a quarter of a square cubit. It comes out that 800 square cubits contain 3,200 square spans. Thus, the scroll of the Torah is 3,200 times the size of the universe.
2Based upon Job 11:9.
Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Shore and reprinted with the kind permission of the Baal Shem Tov Foundation. Visit www.baalshemtov.com
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