Why the Extremes? A Torah Thought for Parashat Ki Tisah by Moshe Feiglin
It is hard to think of a Torah portion more frenetic than our current portion, Ki Tisah. From the loftiest heights to the deepest low. From the Holy Temple and its holy vessels – the purpose of creation; from the secret of the incense to the secret of Shabbat – the sign of the covenant between G-d and His Chosen People; From these sublime heights to the Sin of the Golden Calf. Could there be a greater collapse?
What is going on here? Why the extremes?
First of all, the closer we come to our goal, the more stretched and sensitive everything becomes. It is like an army that marches forth and conquers, whose supply lines become increasingly longer and more vulnerable. It is specifically the increased proximity to the goal that is fraught with the dangers of a greater and deeper fall.
This equation is distinctly relevant in our generation of rebirth. We have never been closer to our Land, to Jerusalem, to the Holy Temple. But in certain ways, we have never been farther. When in exile, we collectively dreamed of the Holy Temple. Here, very few dare to dream.
On a deeper level, this muddling of extremes is not a mistake. It is the ideal situation. The very essence of this world, the essence of life – is the connection between body and soul. The message of the Torah and the Holy Temple is all about the point of connection between the physical and the metaphysical. It is not the Islamic flight to the body or the Christian flight to the spirit. It is the proper and exact connection between the two.
This message evolves through the Nation of Israel and the Land of Israel to all of humanity. The pendulum swings from one side to the other and does not find its place. All around us, the Arab world oscillates between liberalism and Islam. Nobody knows exactly what will be the outcome, but one thing is clear: They are not headed for calm – most likely just the opposite.
Not only will the Arab world not achieve balance, but concentric circles of humanity are likely to be sucked into the chaos.
The secret of life, the proper connection between the physical and metaphysical; between body and soul, is here, in Jerusalem: In the physical place chosen by the Creator, Who has no physicality or image – for His Holy Presence to dwell.
Illustration courtesy of the Temple Institute