Monday, May 9, 2011

Heavenly Real Estate

In this week's Haftarah we find that Yirmiyahu was instructed by Hashem to purchase a field from his cousin, Chanamel. The symbolism that was being demonstrated was that just as Yirmiyahu was able to purchase this field in Eretz Yisrael, so too the nation of Yisrael would once again be able to purchase land in these precious borders in the future.

Interestingly, the purchase price for the property was seven shekel and ten pieces of silver. It is also interesting to note that Hashem is referred to as the God of Hosts (Hashem Tzevakos). The word "hosts" also refers to both the angelic beings and to the celestial objects that we see in the sky. The reason is that Hashem showers His will upon the world. As it descends from the metaphysical to the physical it goes through the angelic realm, through the celestial realm and finally into this world. (See Rambam Yesodai HaTorah 3 and his letter to Marseilles) Thus, since each realm mimics the one above it, it also displays similar characteristics and terminology (this concept can be found throughout Rabbeinu Bachye's writings).

It is of note that there are seven objects that Chazal refer to as planets: the sun, moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (these are the only objects in the sky visible to the naked eye other than the fixed stars). Each planet is described as having its own sphere/orbit and one is above the other as they get more and more distant from our planet. As such, these seven spheres are viewed as bridging this world into the higher realm above it. Rabbeinu Yosef Gikatilla mentions how the seven kabbalistic sephiros correspond to these seven spheres. In his Reishis Chachma, the Ibn Ezra shows how all of nature is symbolized in these seven spheres as they are the most physical of the celestial bodies. There is then one sphere positioned above these seven and that is perceived to contain all the regular stars. After that is the last physical sphere and that is perceived to give motion to those below it. Thus, there are a total of nine somewhat physical spheres, above that is considered the spiritual realm and sometimes referred to as the tenth sphere.

When discussing the God of Hosts power it is notable that Yirmiyahu seems to be referring to the hosts that are under His control. The seven primary spheres are perhaps referred to as the seven shekels in the sale. Only after mentioning this do we find reference to the ten pieces of silver which correspond to the structure as a whole and include all ten spheres. Hashem is moving and controlling all the forces of nature and throughout this process paving the way for Klal Yisrael to eventually return fully to her homeland and once again serve Hashem in the proper fashion.

No comments: