Yoram Jacobson


The Hasidic thought of the Gur Bet Midrash (House of Learning), as expounded in the Sefer Emet of Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Leib, is largely concerned with the topics of exile and redemption.

A central philosophical assumption of the book is that of the encompassing unity underlying all of existence, whose source lies in the Divine immanence; God's spirit permeates everything, even that which seems to be hostile to holiness. The revelation and acknowledgement of the Kingdom of Heaven is to be entirely manifested in the future.

In this connection, they developed the concept of "teva", "nature", alluding to the external aspect of creation whose visible stratum manifests itself in material reality. It is this "nature" which conceals the Inner Light in which are expressed, concretely and psychologically, that which is concealed in the "Tzimzum" (reduction), and its outer coverings. The danger of severance from the Godly source is present in shutting oneself up in nature. The primary mission of the Jew is to free himself of the enslavement to "nature", thus allowing for the renewed flow of the spiritual bounty to the "lower world".

This mission of the Jews was understood as being an indubitably messianic one whose formulation was in dialectic form. The Almighty had secreted the light of the Godly Kingdom within the darkness of "nature" and exile. It was Israel's task to eventually reveal this light in the process of its redemption. Thus, the galut (exile) might be perceived of as Israelis sojourn through "nature" for the ultimate purpose of "nature's" amendation and uplifting.

Israel was destined to be both part of the hidden unity con cealed within "nature", and the faithful witness of the Divine Kingdom hidden therein. In order to fulfill this holy mission, it was imperative that Israel descend from its spiritual heights into the exile through "nature", through cosmic history. One: may thus affirm that it is due to the galut that the glory of God shall even tually manifest itself in the world. The redemption, appearing to be in diametric opposition to exile, is only so in external appearance; for redemption is the final goal of the galut. Thus, revelation requires prior concealment, ascent requires descent, and redemption — the preceding process of exile. The land of Israel was, in this system, conceived of as the location for the unique revelation of the Divine Spirit in the world.

The unique soul (Israel), the unique time (the Sabbath), and the unique place (Israel) were perceived of as possible entrance points of Divine enlightenment, points of contact between "nature" and the higher spiritual forces. It is these three passages which serve as witnesses to God's concealed presence in this world.

However, Jewish religious worship is requisite for Divine manifestation. That holiness forcibly hidden within the land of; Israel can only be disclosed as a result of Jewish action. The Jews are privileged to the land of Israel only to the extent of the perfection of their worship in the galut! The law of galut is inextricably bound with the historical and meta-historical fate of the Jewish people. It becomes clear that the Jews do not seek a land for the mere erection of brick and clay as do the nations of the world; rather, they wander in the "house of slavery" of the "natural" world, anticipating the revelation of the supernatural from within: the heart of "nature".

Répertoire bibliographique / Bibliographic Repertory