The Three Weeks and The Shattered Messiah: Picking Up the Pieces
Joel David Bakst © 2000
This essay, although not written specifically for the Three Weeks and Tisha B’Av, it goes to the spiritual root of this period of time in the Jewish calendar. This is especially true when we apply the Sefirotic template. Notice that the 9th of Av is an iteration of the 9th Sefirah – yesod – the aspect associated with MbY and the 10th of Av is iterating the 10th Sefirah – malchut – the aspect associated with MbD. Although not widely known, Tisha B’Av is not completely over until noon of the 10th of Av. The Temple was set afire by the invaders on the 9th but it continued to burn to the ground until the 10th.
“The shattering of the vessels is their purification.”
The redemption of the world is ushered in with the arrival of Mashiach (Messiah) – the final revelation of universal God consciousness, as the verse states, “And all flesh will behold…”. The Era of Mashiach ben David is the release of the soul of the world from its state of bondage. This is the true world, the Land of the Living, the soul’s eternal essence, the “portion of God from on high”. In this state of absolute awareness we will all shine forth as the Crown of Creation anointed with the oil of knowledge that flows down upon the Godhead in rivers of light. We are the m’sheechut/the messiahship of Machiach ben David – the nectar of the Anointed of the Holy One. It is one small spark of the rapture that lies buried in the treasure of our most inner being. Regarding the ultimate bliss, however, it is written, “No eye has beheld it [yet] save You God alone”. Yet we know that before the Messianic Era of ben David can arrive, the path will be paved by Mashiach ben Yosef. This other half of the messianic process concentrates on the redemption of the physical world. It is the Josephic power that purifies the flesh of worldly space, redeems the body of time and releases the ego from its materialism. The path of Mashiach ben Yosef, however, is a slow and turbulent one. It evolves through humanity’s trials and tribulations, sufferings and tragedies and, eventually for all, physical death. Even the earthly vessels of the righteous tzaddikim – the bodies they occupied while in the world – often suffer, and certainly they all are shattered with physical death. “The shattering of the vessels is their [only manner of] purification”, states the Talmud. This is the paradoxical halachic procedure in order to kasher ceramic or earthenware vessels. If a container or vessel has become ritually impure, unlike metal or glass, it cannot be kashered. It must be broken in order to remove its status as a vessel and consequently the spirit of impurity that had attached itself to it now dissipates. It is now useless, but it has the potential to be pulverized, reconstituted with water and resurrected into a whole new vessel. Following the collapse of the higher Adamic reality into lower dimensions, this paradoxical process is also the path of humanity in general and in particular. Our pain is the amplified din of the shattered vessels. The vortex of that pain is the heart of the Messiah from the House of Joseph. More than the unheard cries and untold pain of multi-billion souls throughout the history of the world, is the hidden pain of the Collective Soul of Mashiach ben Yosef. “I (Mashiach ben Yosef) am with him (humanity) in suffering… and (at the end of time) I (Mashiach) will show him My salvation” (Tehilim – Psalms 91).
“Who would have believed our report? And to whom is the arm of God revealed? He was despised and rejected of men; a man of pains yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded because of our transgressions, bruised because of our inequities: his sufferings were that we might have peace, and by his injury we are healed. …For he was cut off from the land of the living.. Surely I will give him a portion with the great,… because he has poured out his soul to death, but he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah end of 52 and 53.)
The Torah teaches us that the individual is an olam katan — a miniature of the entire cosmos. Every individual recapitulates the drama of the entirety of the world’s existence. This occurs to different individuals at different stages and can be stretched out across many lifetimes. As a microcosm of creation, every individual has not only one Redeemer, one’s individualized Mashiach, but everyone has two Messiahs — a personal Mashiach ben David and a personal Mashiach ben Yosef. One’s spiritual redemption comes through his or her Mashiach ben David and one’s physical redemption comes through his or her Mashiach ben Yosef. United they form the “Tzadik, yesod olam” — the Foundation Channel of the World that bridges the infinite space-time continuum between God and creation. The Crown is David’s, but the Kingdom belongs to Yosef. Everyone’s intimate sufferings and eventual death within the Kingdom of the Body is the mission and tikun of Mashiach ben Yosef. He touches us in the deepest recesses of our pain and our fear, our scars and our unfulfilled desires. Yet more than the untold pain of the individual is the untouched pangs of one’s own personal Mashiach. These are one’s own chevley mashiach — the birthing pangs of Mashiach ben Yosef. “I (Mashiach ben Yosef) am with them in suffering… and (as each wave of pain subsides) I (Mashiach) will show them My Own salvation”. To allow one’s private suffering to be touched by the sufferings of Mashiach is to touch the deepest place of one’s own pain and, behold it is reborn into the mystery of God’s eternal love. These are the Shalhuveen DiR’cheemu — the Infinite Flames of Divine Love — and it is here where the bitter tears of exile end and their transformation into the joyous tears of redemption begin. The shattering of our vessels has left the pieces of our lives scattered upon the mural of time, but only for a cosmic moment. This is our purification and our resurrection. Not purification by fire, but the purification and resurrection of our soul vessels to contain the fire, the secret of the flames of the Shalhuveen DeR’cheemu.