We continue with the second to last installment of Rav Daniel Krentzman’s sefer.
Aseh V’Hatzliach – Success through Doing Actively
Another essential factor in the mission of Mashiach ben Yosef is that the goals and efforts towards Tikkun Olam be achieved through “Asiyah,” that is, physical human effort and involvement in the physical world. Since Tikkun Olam is about rectifying the spiritual damage that occurred to the physical world, man’s once ideal environment for self-perfection and drawing near to G-d, the initial part of man’s mission is to engage the physical world, extract and utilize the holiness therein and remove the strength of impurity that has taken hold as a result of Adam’s sin and diminished G-d’s light. In doing so, man rectifies and cleanses the world of the evil counter-force to G-d’s revelation, enabling the world to once again be used as the perfect environment for spiritual self-perfection and knowing G-d. This was Adam’s principle occupation before the sin, with the physical world no longer serving as a barrier or hindrance, but as a means of elevation. Because of this, Mashiach ben Yosef builds the physical infrastructure, working within the realm of Asiyah. This will serve as the vessel for the spiritual revelation of G-d, through guiding humanity toward spiritual perfection and knowing G-d, which Mashiach ben David is ultimately responsible for.
This aspect of Yosef is hinted at in the Torah where it relates: “Vayar adonav ki Hashem ito v’kol asher hu oseh Hashem matzliach biyadoh” “And his master perceived that Hashem was with him, and whatever he did (oseh-Asiyah) Hashem made succeed in his hand (Matzliach biyado)” (Bereishit 39:3) (see Kol HaTor chapter 2:7.)
In the desert, Moshe is the main spiritual leader of the Jewish people. In many ways Moshe resembles an angel more than a man: He ascends Har Sinai, amidst fire and smoke, unharmed; remains there for 40 days and nights without food or water; receives the entire Torah from G-d; envisions G-d’s Glory with the greatest clarity of any man; and his face even shines like the brilliance of the sun to the point that people can’t look directly at his face; the power of his prayer and ability to be answered immediately from G-d are unsurpassed; and he spends all his time in constant state of spiritual readiness to receive the direct word of G-d. If anyone could be considered a transcendent and spiritual being, it would be Moshe. On the other hand, there is Yehoshua, who, although spiritually great in his own right, is less associated with the spiritual, transcendent, characteristics of Moshe and more with the quality of “Asiyah”, doing actively and physically, for the Am.
When we look at the episode of the battle with Amalek (Shemot 17) this distinction becomes apparent. Moshe tells Yehoshua to go out and lead the physical battle with Amalek, while he remains on a hilltop over-looking the battle and prays fervently for the success of the nation. Moshe is engaging in the spiritual battle with Amalek above as Yehoshua engages in the physical one below, weakening Amalek with his prayer, while Yehoshua weakens them with his sword.
The mann, a spiritual-like food, which fed the nation in the desert, fell from heaven in the merit of Moshe (Taanit 9a.) Upon Yehoshua leading the people into Eretz Yisrael, the mann ceased and the nation entered the more physical, active and natural state of receiving their sustenance from the land, no longer from the heavens (see Yehoshua 5:12)
This distinction becomes particularly apparent in the episode of the initial failed battle of Ai (Yehoshua 7): After Yehoshua dedicates all the spoils of the conquered city of Yericho to the Mikdash and service of Hashem, Achan ben Karmi misappropriates some of the spoil and takes it for himself. As a result of this, G-d’s anger is kindled against the nation and when the Jews attack the city of Ai, they fail in their assault and suffer casualties. When Yehoshua hears about what has happened, it says (ibid. 6): “Vaykra Yehoshua et simlotuv vayipol al panav artzah lifney aron Hashem …” “And Yehoshua tore his garment and he fell on his face on the ground before the aron of Hashem…” Yehoshua then supplicates in prayer to Hashem over the loss and defeat of the nation. However, Hashem responds sharply (ibid. 10): “Vayomer Hashem el Yehoshua Kume Lach lamah zeh atah nofel al panecha, chatah Yisrael vigam avru et briti asher tzivity otum vigam lakchu min hecherem…” “And Hashem said to Yehoshua: Get yourself up, why do you fall on your face!? Yisrael has transgressed my covenant that I have commanded them and they have also taken from the consecrated spoil…” G-d goes on to instruct Yehoshua to gather the people and conduct a ceremony by which G-d will indicate who the perpetrator is and single him out from the rest of the people and to have him killed and his belongings destroyed. Upon taking a more active, actionable role in dealing with the problem at hand, G-d’s anger is abated. In this exchange, G-d rejects Yehoshua’s utilization of prayer and supplication in the situation at hand and instead strongly encourages him to be active in bringing the offender to justice, through “Asiyah.”
To be continued…