17 Sivan 5779 / Thursday, June 20, 2019 | Torah Reading: Shelach Lecho
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The Ten Journeys of the Shechinah    

The Ten Journeys of the Shechinah

Translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody - The ramification of the Shechinah's disappearance is the loss of emuna, as we see in the Arizal's explanation of the Holy Temple's...


The Ten Journeys of the Shechinah (Divine Presence)
The concept of emuna disappearing because of Hashem's anger is a recurring theme in the world, on both a general and a specific scale. In general, each time a generation's sins weigh heavier, emuna disappears even more. The Gemara in tractate Rosh Hashanah  (page 31a) describes how the Shechinah left the Holy of Holies prior to the destruction of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem and says, "Rav Yehuda bar Idi says in the name of Rebbe Yochanan: The Shechinah traveled ten journeys - from the Ark of the Covenant to the cherub; from cherub to cherub; from cherub to the doorway; from the doorway to the courtyard; from the courtyard to the altar; from the altar to the roof; from the roof to the wall; from the wall to the city; from the city to the mountain; from the mountain to the desert; and from the desert, she ascended to sit in her place, for it is said, 'I shall return to My place (Hosea, ch. 5)'."
The meaning of this passage is that the more the Children of Israel sinned, the more the Divine Presence left them – step by step – until it disappeared totally and the Holy Temple was subsequently destroyed.
The Inner Wisdom of Prayer
The ramification of the Shechinah's disappearance is the loss of emuna, as we see in the Arizal's explanation of the Holy Temple's destruction. Are we merely lamenting the destruction of wood and stones? Certainly not; the principle destruction is the destruction of emuna. The burning of the Holy Temple signifies the burning of prayer's inner wisdom, to the extent that man no longer feels the need to pray for his needs. The Holy Temple is called a "House of prayer for all nations," (see Isaiah, ch. 56).
The burning of the Holy Temple and the exile of the Shechinah mean that man lost the wisdom of emuna. We see this clearly, especially when a person has a problem or some type of trouble, and he or she thinks of every trick in the book or of every possible person that might offer advice or a solution rather than simply appealing to Hashem for help. The prayer that comes from true emuna has disappeared in exile because of our sins – this is the tragedy of the Holy Temple's destruction. Why? The emuna that leads to true and earnest prayer is the only true advice that one can depend on in any situation. Without it, a person is alone and helpless.
On an individual level, each time Hashem becomes angry, He hides Himself from a person. When Hashem hides His countenance from someone, emuna doesn't illuminate that person's soul and he or she finds praying difficult. Hashem is in effect saying: "Your life could be so pleasant with Me and you could have easily connected to Me. But because of your current unfortunate actions, your tikkun will be even more difficult, for you'll have to search for Me within the concealment that you caused. Now that you've sinned, you have to work much harder to find emuna." In reality, the only difficulty in the world is when emuna conceals itself from a person and darkness subsequently overcomes that person's soul.
From all this, one can now understand what happens when a person transgresses. The dark cloud of concealment that overcomes a person is the root of all troubles. The worst sins are those connected to lewdness, especially in light of Rebbe Nachman's teachings (see Likutei Moharan I:31) that the preservation of emuna depends on "guarding the covenant", simply speaking, personal holiness. Hashem conceals Himself from those who commit forbidden sexual acts, resulting in the transgressors' loss of emuna. Lost emuna is extremely difficult to restore.
We can now understand that the entire purpose of Torah and mitzvot are to find and restore our lost emuna. Moreover, if a person fails to learn Torah with the intent of attaining emuna and getting to know Hashem, then the Torah and mitzvot won't bring him closer to Hashem at all.
To be continued.

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