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Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Beloved Princess

A story inspired by the tales of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and the teachings of Ramchal as well as several other sources:

There once was a kingdom in which lived a beautiful princess. She had a smile and a laugh that could melt the heart of anyone and she was very beloved by the people of her country. Everywhere she went she brought success and happiness to the people and she was the main source of blessing for the country. There was also a prince in the country, and the prince and the princess where very much in love with each other. It was assumed that when they became of age, they would eventually marry each other and rule over the nation as king and queen.

It happened that the prince started to become enticed and seduced by foreign princesses from other lands and began to chase after them. He neglected his own princess and abused her. Eventually it reached the point where she had to leave the palace. She decided to go into hiding, disguise herself, and blend in with the common people. After their beloved princess had left the palace the people of the country became very angry with the prince for being the cause of her leaving. They rose up against him, threw him out of the palace and forced him into exile.

After the prince and the princess had both left the palace great darkness and despair came upon the land. Gangs of wild man started invading and took over all the areas of the land. These men were very dangerous and not only robbed and murdered the people but often fought each other. Life became very difficult for the people of the land and especially for the princess. Used to a life of having catered food, the finest clothes and jewelry, and her every need met, she now had to become accustomed to not knowing where her next meal was coming from and if there would be a roof over her head or not. She never know if she could trust somebody who claimed they were trying to help her of if they may just be trying to take advantage of her and she had to be on the look out for the gangs of wild men.

Things went on like this for many years until eventually the princess grew up into a woman, and the prince grew up to become a man. The prince decided the time had come for him to retake his place at the head of the nation so he mustered his strength and gathered his friends to him and started a war campaign against the wild men to take back his land. Though he and his allies were few and their enemies great, they fought bravely and great miracles occurred for them and they obtained many victories. Soon the prince had reconquered many of his cities and much of his land.

As the prince was walking through one of the reclaimed cities he chanced upon a woman in the shuk. She was very filthy, dressed in rags with natty hair and a face covered with dirt. This woman was his princess from years ago and when she saw him she turned away in shame so that she wouldn't be recognized, but he stopped her, lifted her face and looked deep into her eyes. Though he could barely recognize her, there was something vague yet deep within him that told him this could be her. He told her, “I'm reclaiming my land, I invite you to be first among my wives and sit as queen to the country next to me on the throne.” She replied, “Do you expect me to accept such an offer? You cannot begin to comprehend the pain and suffering you have caused me for all these years. I've spent a lifetime banished from my home in the palace and trying to survive in hiding. How I've yearned to return to my rightful place and now you offer me a show marriage as just another wife in order to advance your cause? I refuse.”

The prince left her and continued his campaign. He and his allies fought a great battle against the wild men and benefited from more great miracles resulting in them capturing the capital city. The prince returned to the palace and sat on the throne to reign as king but the people wouldn't rally behind him. They claimed, “Where is our beloved princess that you caused to leave? Without her as queen we cannot accept you as our king.” The prince was in a dangerous situation as, though he had had great victories, there were still many enemies in the land and without the support of the people it would only be a matter of time before he would be defeated. He was very worried as he knew, this time he would not only once again lose his kingdom, but also his life itself. The prince finally realized that he must be back together with his princess for without her he would never be able to fulfill his destiny properly. He sent for her to be brought to the palace and cleaned off in the royal baths. She was then dressed with fine garments and expensive jewelry, as well as being covered with beautiful perfumes. As soon as the dirt was cleaned off of the princess, suddenly her original beauty came back and radiated from her as before. The prince renounced all the other princess he had sought after and proclaimed his undivided love only for her. He spent countless nights wooing her with poetry and love songs, and profusely apologizing for having ever caused her harm. After much sincere and hard work, the princess's heart began to turn and as she rediscovered her love for the prince, eventually forgiving him for what he had done.

It happened that once the prince had won back his princess's heart, they became married to each other. The people rallied behind them and they took their place on the thrown as united king and queen. They drove all the enemies from the land and ruled in peace and prosperity all their days.

So just who is this princess? She is the shechinah, often understood as Hashem's divine presence in the world. On a deeper level, the Shechinah corresponds in the sefirot to the lowest sefirah of Malchut. Malchut is a feminine sefirah as it is a kli which gathers Hashem's divine light from all the other sefirot and manifests it into this world. That is the relationship between the masculine and the feminine- the masculine gives potential and the feminine gathers the potential and actualizes it into a reality, as with a man who can give seed to a woman with DNA in it that maps out the possibility of an entire human being, and then the woman's body takes that potential seed and forms it into an actual person. Just as Malchut takes all the power of Hashem's divine light and pours it forth into the world as actual blessing, so too the princess was the source of blessing for the whole country.

The prince of the story is the Jewish people. Am Yisrael and the Shechinah are husband and wife and that is why the prince and the princess were destined to be joined together. Just as the prince chased after foreign princesses and ended up driving his own princess away, the Jews used to be united in Eretz Yisrael with the Shechinah but chose to chase after idolatry driving the Shechinah away (as we continue to do with our varied sins today). The people of the country represent Eretz Yisrael, and just like they couldn't accept the prince without the princess and drove him out as well, once the Jewish people rejected the Shechinah the land spewed them out, and it's taught that when the Jewish people went into exile, the Shechinah went as well. When all this happened the land went into darkness and was taken over by gangs of wild men. In the land of Israel, various nations have spent the last several thousand years conquering it, losing it, and sometimes reconquering it. The last group of “wild men” to now be in the land are currently the muslims, descendants of Ishmael. In Sefer Bereshit Hashem refers to Ishmael saying he will be a wild man in constant conflict with others.

But the princess never actually left, she just went into hiding. So too the Shechinah never actually left the world but just became very hidden. She may have been covered in dirt and rags, yet underneath all that, her true beauty was present all along, and as soon as it was able to be revealed it shone forth. Ramchal teaches of this with the Shechinah in his sefer Mishkney Elyon. All things that exist in the lower world have a corresponding counterpart in the upper spiritual realms. Jacob was called Jacob, but had a higher spiritual reality to him known is Israel. In this world we have Jerusalem, and in the upper realms there is Tzion. The Ramchal teaches this is also true of the temple, in which there is a physical temple on earth and a corresponding one in the heavens. When the first temple stood, the corresponding upper temple lined up in design with it perfectly and that's why the Shechinah could dwell there, as opposed to the second temple in which it did not rest. Why is this? Because once the first temple was destroyed the heavenly one was as well, and immediately a new one was built. However the design of this one didn't match up with the physical design of the second in this world and therefore it was destined to not stand forever. So what does this upper temple correspond to in design? Ramchal teaches it is to be the third temple, and that when the proper tikkun olam is performed and the upper worlds become unified with the lower worlds it will come down through the worlds to manifest itself here in this world. At that point we will simply build a corresponding physical building around it.

With this we can now better understand the hidden but always present beauty of the princess which once it was revealed shone forth as before and prepared her to bring the blessings to her people again. The third temple, which will be the source of Malchut/Shechinah to bring blessing into this world is already here, just hidden in the upper worlds, but once it becomes revealed in this world will radiate G-dliness to everything in existence.

The prince's coming of age and conquest of the country represents the Jewish people's return to the land of Israel and founding of the modern state with it's courages battles and many miraculous victories. Though the prince wasn't looking for his princess and his main goal was to rally the people behind him and reign as king (as secular Zionism wasn't concerned with a return to Torah but simply to create a modern Jewish state within the land), once he had started his quest he chanced upon the princess. He could barely recognize her for she was still very hidden but something deep within him remembered her. As we have come back to this land G-d's presence has been calling us and almost every Jew who visits or lives in the land now can feel at least a hint of these stirrings in their heart.

Why did the prince and princess need to be united in marriage as king and queen before their destiny could be fulfilled? Within a person, there is both male and female aspects. In a proper relationship, the man will bring the femininity out of a woman and the woman will bring the masculinity out of a man. When they are together properly each one brings out the essence of the other. Furthermore, animals have relations with the female's back facing the male while human beings have relations face to face. The ten sefirot are within a person's body and like in the sefirot, the left side of a person is gevura while the right side is chesed. When a man and a woman come face to face with each other, their bodies are reversed (meaning one's left side is facing the other's right and their right is facing the other's left). Thus, the man's chesed attaches to the woman's gevura and his gevura to her chesed, and they create an all around tiferet – the beautiful balance.

Yet at first the prince wasn't interested in winning back the heart of the princess. It was only after he couldn't gain complete success in rallying the people and realized that without her in his life he would soon lose his kingdom and his life to his enemies that he figured out that his destiny was interwoven with hers. We may have made very big strides in Israel today, yet for all we've accomplished we still can not stamp out the threat of our enemies and over time the threat they pose to us just gets bigger and bigger until now we have those sworn to kill us surrounding us on all sides, some of them even pursuing nuclear weapons which will only take a mater of time to obtain. As the prince realized he needed the princess, we need to realize we will never make it on our own in this country without G-d's help and the Shechinah in our presence no matter what kind of allies or military strength we may think we possess.

When the prince first asked the princess to marry him he hadn't renounced the other princesses he had sought after and was only interested in the union in as much as it helped him. He was looking for a union akin the animal level where the female may be turned away but the male does not care because he is simply seeking his pleasure, rather than a human union of facing each other in which both mutually want to draw the other into themselves and then may line up correctly spiritually as well as physically. The princess refused because he hadn't worked to fix the damage to her he had caused and show her he really loved her. Therefore, to reveal the Shechinah in this world and bring about the ultimate union between G-d's presence and the Jewish people, we will need to put in much hard work, and with the threats we are faced with we do not have any other options. The time has come for us to let our own princess know how sorry we are for what we have done by doing t'shuva (repentence) for the sins we have committed and denouncing the “foreign princesses” of westernism, secularism, assimilation, and any other mentality or school of thought we have latched onto which is not rooted in Torah (and on a more simple level our desires for sins). As the prince had to woo his princess back to earn her love, we need to commit ourselves to Hashem and make His presence revealed in the world by trying our best to love Him and never leave Him again. May we have success in doing this and realizing our national destiny soon and in our times.

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  • At 6:48 PM , Anonymous Bituin said...

    This is beautiful. I pray that indeed G-d will help the children of Israel to rise up to the high calling which He gave them: to be a light to the whole world. Not by might nor power, but by His Spirit. G-d be with you!

  • At 9:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Tity, this is wonderful but its wayyy too long


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