Accessing the Keter Atonement

Following the tragic passing of Aharon’s two sons, Hashem instructs Moshe to teach Aharon the laws of Yom Kippur and entering the Holy of Holies. As Rashi points out, Aharon must heed these instructions to avoid meeting the fate of his sons, who perished for offering unauthorized fire before Hashem.

The Torah emphasizes Aharon’s meticulous observance of the procedures for entering the Holy of Holies, highlighting the contrast between his actions and the misdeeds of Nadav and Avihu.

Nadav and Avihu’s failure to marry is emphasized as a significant flaw. According to Reb Noson, their unmarried status was a primary reason for their punishment, as highlighted in the Gemara. In contrast, the laws of Yom Kippur stress the necessity for the High Priest to be married. Reb Noson delves into the symbolic significance of marriage, likening it to the sanctity of entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur.

There are ten levels of holiness that descend upon the world. Specifically, in Eretz Yisrael, all ten levels are present, particularly within the Holy of Holies in the Beit HaMikdash. This sacred space encompasses the full spectrum of these ten levels. From there, the degrees of holiness descend through Yerushalayim, into the Azara, and further down. Even a typical city in Eretz Yisrael holds a certain level of holiness, albeit lower.

On the tenth day of Tishrei, the Kohen Gadol enters the Holy of Holies, emphasizing the significance of the number ten. This numerical motif recurs throughout various contexts: the ten utterances of creation, the ten sefirot in Kabbalistic tradition, the Ten Commandments, and the ten plagues, among others. This repetition begs the question: why this emphasis on the number ten?

Reb Noson explores this extensively, highlighting the tenth level of holiness as the Keter, the crown. The Keter represents the highest level of holiness, beyond our comprehension.

The nine levels leading up to the Keter are accessible to us, representing our potential to achieve righteousness and holiness. Yet, the Keter remains beyond our reach. Beyond the Keter lies the Infinite Light of Hashem, the most elevated state beyond existence.

On Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol seeks atonement and forgiveness by accessing this highest realm of holiness. The Kohen Gadol, entering the Holy of Holies, taps into the level of the Keter once a year, activating profound healing and compassion from this superlative source.

By waiting, a person develops the ability to safely receive the Divine Light

Let’s delve deeper into the requirement for the Kohen Gadol to be married. Nadav and Avihu, by contrast, were not married. So, what’s the significance of marriage? Reb Noson sheds light on the role of a righteous woman, drawing from a verse in Proverbs: “Eshet Chayil Ateret Ba’ala” – “The woman of valor is the crown of her husband.” Here, “Ateret” and “Keter” share the meaning of a crown, symbolizing the woman’s elevated status.

On one hand, a wife acts as an “Ezer,” an assistant to her husband, aiding him in his devotion to Hashem. She has her own mitzvot, but her primary role, as the Torah states, is to assist the man. Reb Noson explains that although she assists, she is rooted in the Keter, above the man’s level.

Rebbe Nachman further elaborates on this concept in Lesson 24 of Likutey Moharan, linking “Keter” to the Aramaic word “Katar,” meaning “to wait.” Just as Elihu said to Job, “Katar li ze’er v’achaveka” – “Wait for me a little, and I will show you” (Job 36:2), accessing the Keter requires a waiting process. This waiting, akin to setbacks, signifies spiritual advancement, preparing one to receive the Infinite Light safely.

By enduring the waiting process, a person develops the vessels necessary to receive the higher spiritual levels. Attempting to access these levels prematurely can result in spiritual peril. Thus, the waiting period serves as a crucial step in building the capacity to safely receive the Divine Light.

The role of a woman as “Ateret Ba’ala,” the crown of her husband, is pivotal. She maintains a delicate balance for the man, ensuring he progresses at a suitable pace. While men often strive forward in holiness, women serve as a grounding force, nudging them back when necessary. Reb Noson explains this dynamic, highlighting how women, intuitively sensing a man’s readiness to ascend spiritually, impose delays to facilitate proper preparation.

For the Kohen Gadol to access the tenth level of holiness within the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, he requires access to the Keter, symbolized by his wife. Reb Noson emphasizes that the woman plays a crucial role in regulating the man’s spiritual journey, ensuring he doesn’t rush ahead prematurely. This waiting period is essential for him to properly receive the light of the Keter.

The significance of marriage is evident in the tragedy of Nadav and Avihu. They entered the Holy of Holies without permission, driven by impatience and lacking the stabilizing influence of marriage. Had they been married, they would have understood the necessity of patience and proper timing.

Hashem instructs Aharon on the meticulous preparations required for entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, emphasizing the importance of waiting and being married. Only after this waiting process, coupled with the stability provided by marriage, can one enter the Holy of Holies. “Bezot Yavo Aharon” – “With this shall Aharon come,” highlighting the culmination of the waiting process and the adherence to marital sanctity before entering.

The Zohar delves deeply into the phrase “Bezot Yavo Aharon,” translating to “With this shall Aharon come,” or more precisely, “With these things.” According to Kabbalistic teachings, “Bezot” refers to the lowest sefirah, Malkhut. Essentially, it suggests that Aharon’s entry into the Holy of Holies is contingent upon the elevation of Malkhut.

But what does “Zot” signify? Rebbe Nachman elucidates that our earthly task is to elevate Hashem’s kingship, representing His Divine Presence, from the depths of exile’s filth and darkness into holiness. This elevation is achieved through joy and the joyful performance of mitzvot. Thus, “Bezot Yavo Aharon” implies that Aharon’s entry into the Holy of Holies hinges upon elevating Malkhut from its current state of impurity and sadness through joyous observance of mitzvot.

In the Beit HaMikdash, joy was a prerequisite for service. The Zohar even suggests that a sad Kohen was unfit for Temple service. The Levites played music to maintain a joyous atmosphere, enhancing the Kohanim’s performance. Joy is essential for mitzvah observance, and transforming sadness into joy is integral to this process.

Marriage plays a crucial role in this dynamic. The wife, as the crown and rooted in the Keter, often pulls the man down, presenting challenges that can evoke sadness. However, the man’s task is to transform these challenges into joy. Though challenging, this transformation elevates Malkhut into holiness, as it symbolizes the proper reception and integration of the Divine Light.

The Torah’s message in “Bezot Yavor Aharon” encapsulates the pivotal difference between Aharon and his sons in their marital status. The unmarried sons, though righteous, lacked the grounding influence of marriage, leading to their untimely demise. They rushed into holiness without the necessary boundaries.

In contrast, Aharon’s marriage symbolized his ability to transform challenges into joy, crucial for accessing the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. This underscores the significance of marriage in spiritual elevation. The Mishnah in Yoma further emphasizes this by mandating that if a Kohen Gadol loses his wife, he must remarry before performing the Yom Kippur service.

Shabbat Shalom
Meir Elkabas

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