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Even the mundane actions of the righteous have cosmic repercussions.

Cobbler of the Cosmos

Cobbler of the Cosmos

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Cobbler of the Cosmos
Even the mundane actions of the righteous have cosmic repercussions.

"Enoch walked with G‑d, and he was no more, because G‑d had taken him." (Gen. 5:24)
Rashi comments: he was righteous, in contrast to the rest of humanity.

G‑d saw that although Enoch was righteous, he could easily veer from the path of holiness. So G‑d removed him from the world before his time, i.e. he did not die as did the rest of humanity, but was taken alive into the afterlife. The afterlife is not mentioned explicitly in the Torah, but this passage is one of the allusions to it.

…with every stitch he caused a further degree of harmony within the spiritual spheres.

The Midrash informs us that Enoch was a shoemaker. Because of his lofty level of holiness, his mundane stitching of leather did not distract him from his service of G‑d. On the contrary, with every stitch he caused a further degree of harmony within the spiritual spheres.

So it is with all righteous individuals: even their mundane actions have cosmic repercussions. We, too, on our own level, can emulate the righteous. Our earthly activities too can affect the heavens.

Enoch's lofty soul kept him righteous even in the midst of the most corrupt society in history. However, he lived before the giving of the Torah [and even more so, before the Flood], when spirituality and physicality were unable to affect or influence each other. In this mode of reality, there were almost no means by which an individual could sanctify his environment or himself; the most someone aspiring to spirituality could do was to remain open to Divine Inspiration. Thus, Enoch was able to withstand temptation only to a certain point, since his righteousness was not self-developed, but was "borrowed", so to speak, from on high. This would be analogous to a teacher who conveys a concept to a student but fails to teach the student to think on his own. Such a student will be lost without his teacher.

Enoch…was transformed into an angel whose purpose it is to unify various distinct spiritual energies….

So because of his righteous behavior up until that point, he was spared further temptation, which G‑d knew he did not have the capacity to withstand. [Thus, his removal from this world did not constitute a denial of free choice, since it was not in his capacity to overcome further temptation. This also explains why he was taken from the world while the rest of society was forced to stay: the rest of society did not merit this removal.]

When G‑d took Enoch, he was transformed into an angel whose purpose it is to unify various distinct spiritual energies by revealing in them their common essence within Divinity. (Zohar I:37b and 56b) Thus, in this capacity, he continues to "sew shoes together" - i.e. to do on a grander scale what he did in This World. The reason that even in his angelic state he is described as a shoemaker is to teach us that even a shoemaker's ultimate purpose in life is to reveal divinity in the world.

The pragmatic servant of G‑d in us must also yearn for transcendence….

Both Cain and Seth had descendants named Enoch. Cain and Seth represent paradoxical elements of our divine service: Cain embodies transcendence and rejection of the physical. He lived in the physical impermanence of the pre-Flood era; all but one of his descendents perished in the Flood. In contrast, Seth expresses the ideal of accepting the reality of the physical world - but as a conduit for expressing the Divine; of the three sons of Adam, it is Seth and his descendents that build the post-Flood world.

Yet both of them beget a descendent named Enoch who is their antithesis. Enoch, son of Cain, is a Seth-like person - a city is built in his name. Enoch, descendent of Seth, shuns the world and abandons it.

This teaches us that while both attitudes are necessary - a person must yearn inwardly to soar to spiritual heights, yet remain conscious of the fact that G‑d's purpose is served in expressing divinity in This World - each ideally must cross-fertilize the other. The ultimate concern of the mystic in us must be the practical application of Torah in This World. And the pragmatic servant of G‑d in us must also yearn for transcendence.

© 2001 CHABAD OF CALIFORNIA / www.lachumash.org
[Based on Hitva'aduyot 5749, vol. 1, p. 247, p.304; Likutei Sichot, vol. 15, p. 86; ibid., vol. 35, pp. 11-13; Igrot Kodesh, vol. 25, p. 42]

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (11 Nissan 1902–3 Tammuz 1994) became the seventh rebbe of the Chabad dynasty on 10 Shevat 1950. He is widely acknowledged as the greatest Jewish leader of the second half of the 20th century, a dominant scholar in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah, and fluent in many languages and on scientific subjects. The Rebbe is best known for his extraordinary love and concern for every Jew on the planet, having sent thousands of emissaries around the globe, dedicated to strengthening Judaism.

Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky is a scholar, author and anthologist, and is editor-in-chief at Chabad House Publications of California. He is the author and translator of Apples from the Orchard, gleanings from the writings of the Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria, 1534–1572) on the Torah, and is the author and editor-in-chief of the Kehot Chumash produced by Chabad House Publications, featuring an interpolated translation of the Torah with commentary adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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jim potts springdale, AR January 2, 2011

Cobbler of the Comos I heard this story many years ago; the way I heard it was that Enoch was in the "walking business" for G-d. Is that an accurate picture? Reply

Rabbi Yerachmiel Tilles via mychabad.org August 29, 2010

permission granted Reply

Freddie Harari West Long Branch, NJ August 26, 2010

Permission request I would like permission to reprint this article in my October Issue of The Jewish World of Wonders.It is mailed to the Sepahrdic communities of Brooklyn and NJ.
I will credit the author. Reply

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