Parshas Tzav-Likkutei Torah-The mystical meaning of the meal of the Levyason and Shur Habor

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Parshas Tzav

Veachaltem Achol Vesavoa

[Likkutei Torah p. 13]

Many of the rituals of our Torah involve eating foods. For example, one of the main commandments involved in the offering of a sacrifice is the eating of the meat by the Kohanim. In Parshas Tzav, the eating of the Karbanos by the Kohanim is dealt with at length. This eating was one of the preparatory stages for the final inauguration of the Mishkan. The Gemara[1] explains that when a person brings a Karban for atonement, the atonement is incomplete until the Kohanim eat from the meat of the Karban. What is the meaning of this eating by the Kohanim that is held in such great esteem? Regarding the times of Moshiach, the Sages extol this period in saying that there will be a meal of the Levyatan and Shur Habor. What is the significance of this meal? Why is it necessary for the Redemption to be celebrated with a nice course of fish and meat, which is something that we can do even today (albeit with a different species than that of the Levyatan)? Furthermore, at that time we will be on such high spiritual levels that eating food will have no meaning for us, so why is this meal given such emphasis? To understand this matter, the Alter Rebbe delves into the elevations that occur through eating food. Chassidus elaborates on the concept of the elevation of sparks through eating, although in truth there is another type of elevation that occurs-an elevation of souls. This Mamar differentiates between the different forms of eating and their accomplishments and how they in turn elevate the souls.


Explorations of the Mamar:

1.      Why did the Kohanim need to eat the meat of the Karbanos for them to complete the process of atonement?

2.      Why did Aharon need to bring Karbanos if he himself elevated all the other Karbanos through eating them?

3.      What is the significance of the future meal of the Levyatan and Shur Habor?

4.      What are the new souls that will be created in the times of Moshiach?


The Question:

The verse [Yoel 2] states: Veachaltem Achol Vesavoa Vehilaltem Es Shem Hashem Elokeichem Asher Asa Imachem Lihafli, Velo Yeivoshu Ami Leolam, “And you shall eat that which is eaten and be satisfied and praise Hashem Who made wonders for you, and you will no longer be ashamed.” The Midrash states based on this verse, that when Hashem blesses the Tzaddikim, He gives them a double blessing: 1) that they should eat and be satiated, 2) that they will not be ashamed. This requires an understanding of the greatness of the blessing of eating and its significance. Also, why does the verse state, “And you shall eat that which is eaten,” rather than simply stating, “and you shall eat”? Why is it considered a blessing to eat pre-eaten foods?


The food of angels:

There are angels and souls that exist in every world and on every level. There are angels of the world of Beriyah, angels of the world of Yetzira, and angels of the world of Assiyah. Just as all creatures below in this world require food for their energy, so too do the angels above. What is the food of the angels? The food of the angels is the spiritual revelation of G-dliness that nurtures them with the strength to comprehend Hashem and serve Him daily.


Our physical food:

It is the above revelation of G-dliness received by the angels that eventually descends and takes on the form of physical food in this world. The angels are the medium through which the spiritual energy of our food makes its way into this world, as the Sages[2] state: “There isn’t a blade of grass below that does not have a Mazal above that hits it and tells it to grow.” This Mazal is the spiritual energy of the food that is rooted above, within the supernal angels of the Merkava, or Chariot. The souls of all the animals and birds we consume originate from these angels.


The purpose of our eating:

The souls of the Jewish people are naturally higher than the souls of the angels. When a Jew eats food and uses that received energy to serve Hashem, the spiritual energy of that food becomes elevated to the level of man. The purpose of the aforementioned descent of the food is for it to be elevated by Jews back to its source within Tohu. This is similar to the elevation of the angels, which are considered “spiritual animals” (as they are the beasts that carry the Chariot) by the level of Man that sits on the Chariot.


The souls of the future:

In the future, in the days of Moshiach, a new form of souls that are greatly superior to the souls of today will exist. The souls of the future will make the souls of today seem similar in comparison to the animal souls. This means that in relation to the souls of the future, the souls of today will appear like souls of animals. The spiritual difference between the souls of today and the souls of the future is based on their root in G-dliness. The souls of today come from the level of G-dliness called Mimalei Kol Almin, a level of limited and finite revelation. The souls of the future, however, will come from the spiritual level of Soveiv Kol Almin, an infinite and boundless revelation of G-dliness.


The souls of the future will consume the souls of today:

Now, just as today we must elevate the souls of animals, similarly in the future the souls of today will need to be elevated. Furthermore, just as the souls of the animals are elevated through us eating them, so too will the souls of today receive elevation in the future by being eaten. This consumption will be done by the Tzaddikim, who contain the souls of the future. This will not be, G-d forbid, accomplished through an act of cannibalism, but rather through the souls of today being incarnated into the foods eaten by the future Tzaddikim. As the Levyatan and Shur Habor feast will contain these souls of today, the eating of this meal will contain much more than a rare physical delicacy-it will accomplish the elevation of the souls of today into the future souls. However, the soul of today will not need to entirely descend into the Levyatan and Shur Habor, but rather only a mere spark of the soul will descend. [Thus, even the current souls will enjoy existence in the future, prior to the Levyatan meal, as only a mere ray of their soul is invested within the food.] When the Tzaddik will consume this spark of the soul, it will cause an elevation in all the souls. This is similar to the Karbanos, as through eating one Karban of a species, that entire species became elevated. Based on this, we can now understand the meaning of the verse, Veachaltem Achol, “You shall eat what is eaten”, as the verse is stating that in the future the Tzaddikim [who contain a soul of the future] will consume food that is already eaten. “Eaten” in this sense refers to refined, and it hence refers to today’s souls, which are considered refined in comparison to the souls of the animals, and therefore the current human soul has the ability to refine the animal souls. Thus the souls of the animals are elevated by the souls of today, and the souls of today will be elevated by the souls of the future. 


The Karbanos of Aharon:

Based on all the above, we can now understand the meaning of a peculiar Midrash that requires deciphering. On the verse that states, “This is the Karban of Aharon,” the Midrash notes, “This is the meaning of the verse regarding Shimshon in Shoftim [14] that, ‘from those that eat food comes out food.’” Shimshon was puzzled when he saw honey coming from the insides of a lion, stating that the lion eats all the other animals, so how can he himself become food? The Midrash thus states that just like from the lion came out honey, similarly from Aharon, who eats all the Karbanos, came out a Karban. At first glance it is not understood what is so puzzling about Aharon bringing a Karban. This can be clarified after first introducing the significance of Aharon eating Karbanos and what it accomplished.


Eating the Karbanos brought atonement to the owner:

The eating of the Karbanos was not just a present given to the Kohanim for their work in the Temple; it was actually part of the atonement process required of the person who needed to bring the Karban. The Sages[3] state that when a person brings a Karban for atonement, the atonement is incomplete until the Kohanim eat from the meat of the Karban. Both the eating of the meat on the Mizbeiach and by the Kohanim brought about the elevation of the animal soul of the Karban. This is the meaning of the double statement of eating stated in the verse, Veim Heachel Yeiachel, as one consumption takes place on the Mizbeiach, while the second is performed by the Kohen.


Does Aharon himself require elevation?

It is explained elsewhere that any level that has the ability to refine another level is already refined. If one is not yet refined, then he cannot refine others. It is for this reason that it is forbidden for one to eat before Shacharis, as how can one elevate food if he himself requires elevation? Therefore, only after he has prayed and refined his soul can he then eat and refine the food. Thus, the mere fact that Aharon’s eating helped refine and elevate the animal soul is a sign that Aharon himself has already been refined and elevated. It is this matter that the above Midrash found puzzling, for if Aharon is already refined, why is he bringing a Karban? Just like the eating of the Karban by the Kohen was not a mere gift but a process of the atonement, similarly the giving of a Karban by an individual is not a mere gift but actually elevates and refines the person himself. When one would bring a Karban, it would physically affect him to the point of refinement and elevation of his spiritual standing. Thus if Aharon was already refined, why did he need to be elevated by bringing a Karban? Based on the above, however, this is all understood, as even the souls of today, which refine the animals through eating them, will require a further elevation in the future through being consumed by the future souls that come from an infinitely higher level. Thus, although Aharon was already refined in respect to the souls of the animals, nevertheless he still requires the higher elevation, similar to the elevation that will be brought about by the new souls of the future. Thereby, the refiner himself becomes refined to a higher level of nullification and closeness to Hashem.  



Lessons of the Mamar:

·         There are many levels of refinement and elevation of spirituality. Even the Tzaddikim of today will need to be elevated and refined by the new souls of the future. Every Jew is to serve Hashem to the best of his ability and Hashem will complete the refinement when Moshiach comes.

·         The purpose of eating physical food is not just to give us energy, as this energy could be received from the spiritual energy that Hashem reveals to the world. Rather, its purpose is to help refine the world and lead us to the time of the meal of the Levyatan and Shur Habor, when we ourselves will receive an elevation just as we elevated the world.



[1] Pesachim 59b

[2] Bereishis Rabba 10

[3] Pesachim 59b

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