10 Kislev 5781 / Thursday, November 26, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
 
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HomeTorah PortionRabbi Winston's WindowNasso: Light of the Fingertips
 
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Nasso: Light of the Fingertips    

Nasso: Light of the Fingertips



When one learns Kabbalah before he is on the appropriate level of spiritual purity, he is sharing the light he is drawing down with the Forces of Impurity…

 



Parshat Nasso
 
They will put My Name upon the Children of Israel, and I will bless them.(Bamidbar 6:27)
 
Unlike the body, light can exit the system in ways that blood cannot leave the body without doing real harm. For example, if blood were to break forth from the ends of the ten fingers of a person he could bleed to death if the deluge is not halted quickly.
 
This is not the case when it comes to the light leaving the 'fingertips' of the spiritual system and our bodies. For the blood of the hands to reach the legs, it must do so internally. However, when it comes to the spiritual light that flows through us - and it really does- it can 'leap' from one part of the body to another part of the body without using the internal system of transfer and delivery.
 
For example, though the spiritual light usually travels from an upper section of our bodies to a lower section of our bodies, the light also has the capacity to move from the hands to the legs via the fingertips. This means without going through the body proper, as is usually the case.
 
There is a Kabbalistic reason for this, which has to do with maintaining the forces of evil so long as free-will remains necessary in creation. Since evil and impurity have no intrinsic life source of their own, they live off of the holiness that they can latch onto within creation. This is another way of saying that, even though evil seems to work against G-d, in the end it is G-d Himself who maintains them as part of the ultimate plan for mankind.
 
Thus, one such place in the body where the light is said to 'break forth' and therefore act as a conduit for the 'Kochos Hatuma' (Impure Forces), is the fingertips. Therefore, the finger tips are a place around which the Impure Forces 'circle,' waiting for their due like hungry dogs, so-to-speak, which is why we are so strict about washing 'Negel Vasser' (literally, 'Night Waters') upon waking, and other types of washing when emerging from a spiritual impure place (such as a bathroom) or before eating bread.
 
This is also the reason why we are strict about not growing fingernails past the flesh, at least those who are aware of such a tradition. Keeping the fingernails short has the same effect as washing the hands, that being to limit the amount of light that the Impure Forces are allowed to derive from us. For, when the fingernails extend past the flesh, the Arizal teaches, this increases the flow of holy light to the Impure Forces, strengthening them against us, and the world in general. This is also one of the reasons why we look at our fingernails during Havdalah on Motzei Shabbos.
 
Now you can appreciate why, when washing the hands before eating bread, upon saying G-d's Name in the blessing over the washing ('al netilas yadayim'), we raise our hands upwards to the level of the shoulders. In fact, this is one of the unique properties of the hands more than any other limb of the body: they can ascend and descend.
 
When we recite blessings, and particularly upon mentioning G-d's Name, we become conduits for His light to enter the world. We draw holy light down from the holy Upper World into the unholy Lower World in which we live. The positive aspect is that the light brings rectification to the world. The negative part is that, if we're not careful, that same light can end up falling into the hands of the 'enemy' and strengthen him against us.
 
Without going into detail here, this is the inherent problem with people learning Kabbalah before they are holding on the appropriate level of spiritual purity, which can only be achieved through the proper Torah channels and after much time and effort. Many may find it enjoyable unaware of the fact that, since they are very much a part of the world of impurity, they are simply sharing the light they are drawing down with the Forces of Impurity, contributing to the overall chaos of creation. It's that serious.
 
However, just as the Impure Forces are limited as to how far they can ascend in the spiritual world and 'suckle' light within the overall system of light and filters (called, in more Kabbalistic terms, 'Sefiros'), so too are they limited with respect to a human being regarding how high they can ascend to draw light. By shoulder height the 'K'lipos,' as they are also called, are left far behind and behind the spiritual boundaries that G-d has established for them, to make sure they can never come too close to the side of holiness.
 
Thus, we can now appreciate the need for the kohanim to keep their arms and hands at shoulder height while blessing the Jewish people. Birchas Kohanim has a special ability to draw down tremendous light into the world and to direct it towards those who are intending to be blessed. That is why one is supposed to stand free of any obstacles between them and the kohanim during the blessing, and to have intention to be blessed while focusing on the words of the kohanim.
 
To protect this light from the would-be impure 'sucklers,' the light is kept beyond their borders and thus remains in the realm of holiness.
 
 

***
Pinchas Winston is the author of over 95 books on various topics that deal with current issues from a traditional Jewish perspective. He has also written on the weekly Torah reading since 1993, called Perceptions”, as well as on current topics and trends affecting Jewish history, past and present. One of his missions is to make the depth and beauty of the more mystical teachings of Torah understandable and accessible to those who can really benefit from them. Visit his website at thirtysix.org.


 





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