Wednesday, October 8, 2008

On Incarnation, The Garments of a King

In the fourth chapter of his most famous work, The Baal Tanya, Rav Shneur Zalman, ZT"L, discusses the relationship between the blessed En Sof and our holy Torah. His words are profound and relevant in describing the relationship between HaShem and His Mashiach.

The fourth besorah (gospel) opens by describing the creation of the universe through the Torah, an idea repeated later in the Zohar's commentary on Bereshit. Our Sheliach uses the term "word" to describe the preexistent Torah which has been explained as one continuous string of letters without separation. (Ramban's Peirush al Ha-Torah) Yochanan relates that the Torah was both with God and simulataneously one and the same with the creator. (Yo. 1:1) The Baal Tanya elaborates on this kind of idea in some depth:
The Torah has been compared to water, for just as water descends from a higher to a lower level, so has the Torah descended from its place of glory, which is His blessed will and wisdom; [for] the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one and the same and no thought can apprehend Him at all. Thence [the Torah] has progressively descended through hidden stages, stage after stage, with the descent of the worlds, until it clothed itself in corporeal substances... (Tanya Ch. 4)
In this passage the Baal Tanya explains that a compression of the heavenly Torah, which is one and the same with the creator, was necessary that the unknowable En Sof might be made accessible to humanity. Rav Zalman explains that the creator, who is beyond investigation, must be "clothed" and presented in a form which might be understood through human faculty. The blessed En Sof is first clothed in the form of what is called Torah which is subsequently clothed in physical substances, namely parchment and ink.

Expanding on this idea our tradition describes Mashiach as that very Torah further clothed in the flesh and blood of humanity, the body and physical form of Yeshua Tzidkenu, as its written [HaShem desired]
that the whole of the divine perfections should dwell in Him. (Col. 1:19 Weymouth New Testament) It was through his embodiment of the Torah itself that Mashiach proclaimed I and the Father are one. (Yo. 10:30) The creator robed in a garment of Torah, the Torah further robed within the person of Yeshua, this is the teaching put forth in the B"CH. The Baal Tanya gives a relevant illustration of one whom is embraced by a king. He writes:
There is no difference, in regard to the degree of closeness and attachment to the king, whether while embracing the king, the latter is then wearing one robe or several robes, so long as the royal person is in them. (Tanya Ch. 4)
The creator has robed Himself in the Torah, that humanity might embrace His wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. He has further clothed the Torah within the person of Yeshua, the True Tzadik and Mashiach of all generations, in order that He might embrace humanity.

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