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Friday, 20 January 2017

Become half-man, half-angel!

Daf Yomi Bava Metzia 116

Moshe goes up to Heaven to take the Torah down to Earth, and is challenged by the locals. 
The holy angels turn to Hashem and cry, “What is a mortal man doing up here?”
The Almighty, so to speak, nods and says, “Nu, Moshe, answer them!”
Turning to the angels, Moshe replies, “Let’s see, the Torah says: You shall have no other gods.  Are there are any other gods around here that you angels might be tempted to serve?  No, I didn’t think so.  How about this one?  The Torah say: Honour thy father and mother.  Do you folks have parents?”
“Gut gezogt (well said)!” declares the Holy One blessed be He as He hands over the holy Tablets.
What a wonderful tale!  But at the end of the day, if Moshe was a mere mortal, how did he enter Heaven?  And he wasn’t the only one.  As everyone knows, Eliyahu Hanavi entered Heaven in a fiery chariot, very much alive!  How can physical human beings enter the spiritual realm?

Mishnah: A house with an upper story, if the upstairs was ruined and the owner (living downstairs) does not want to repair it, the upstairs tenant may go and live downstairs.
Gemara: How much of it was ruined?
Rav says: Most of it.  But if it was only an area of four handbreadths, the person lives half of himself below and half of himself above.
Rashi explains: It means that some of his tasks he performs below and some of his tasks he performs above.  Let’s say he kept a box in the ruined area, he moves it downstairs and when he wants to use it, he may do so.

Our Sages explain that Moshe Rabbeinu was half of himself and below, man, and half of himself and above, divine (Devarim Rabbah 11:4).  That doesn’t mean he was some kind of centaur.  No, he was the fulfilment of the original declaration, “Let us make man!”  According to Ramban (Nahmanides), that statement was a call to Heaven and Earth to join forces in the creation of a being that would be the embodiment of the physical and spiritual realms.  Prior to the advent of humankind, creations were either physical, such as plants and beasts, or spiritual, such as angels and celestial bodies.  Human beings are the unification of above and below.

But not everyone reaches their incredible potential.  Moshe Rabbeinu did.  Eliyahu Hanavi did.  Being half mortal, half divine means looking and acting like a human being on the outside, but being utterly spiritual on the inside.  How do you do that?

The key is to constantly remember that you are in this world, but not of this world.  You are a child of the Almighty.  He has placed you here on Earth as His ambassador to make this world a Heavenly place.  You may appear to be mortal, but you aren’t.  You are divine!

It’s not easy to keep that at the forefront of your mind and behaviour.  That’s why not everyone reaches the level of Moshe or Eliyahu.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t get part of the way.  You might never reach their level of ‘half below, half above.’  But even forty percent spiritual and sixty percent physical, or even ten percent spiritual and ninety percent physical, is awesome!

The secret to success is, never stop asking yourself: why am I here?  Every action you take, every word you utter, every thought you ponder, just keep asking the big question.  The more you remind yourself of your divine mission, the more your spirituality will shine forth.  And it will become abundantly clear to you and everyone around you that you are a cut above this world.  That you are more angel than human.  That the power of Heaven is shining through your flesh and blood body!


It’s time to start living with your head in the clouds!  Your Father in Heaven sent you to this planet as His special envoy; never forget that your embassy – your physical body – still belongs to home territory up above.  May you live life on Earth as the divine being you were created to be!