He opened with "Your neck is like the Tower of David built with turrets, on which there hang a thousand shields, all armor of the mighty men." (Songs 4:4) "Like the Tower of David"? What is the Tower of David? It is certainly the Tower of David that was erected by David and is standing inside Jerusalem.

Yet "like the Tower of David" is the celestial Jerusalem [malchut] about which is written, "The ‘Name’ [malchut] of the L-rd G‑d is a strong tower: the righteous [yesod of Zeir Anpin] run into it, and it is set up on high." (Prov. 18:10) Who is "set up on high"? The tower (i.e. malchut) is, for into it the righteous runs [at the time malchut unites with yesod of Zeir Anpin].

"Your neck"; this is the Temple Below, because it is beautifully built, like the neck of the body. As the neck symbolizes the beauty of the whole body, so the Temple symbolizes the beauty of the whole world.

The phrase, "built with turrets (in Hebrew, 'talpiot')" means a tel/hill on which all the peoples of the world look [to praise it and pray]. It has been explained that the word 'talpiot' (consists of) Tel-Piot ('a mound of mouths'). It is a mound towards which all the mouths of the world praise and pray.

The phrase, "on which there hang a thousand shields", refers to the thousand rectifications fixed upon it1; "all shields of mighty men" are called thus because they come from the side of harsh judgment.

As all a woman's improvements (i.e. adornments) hang round her neck, so do all rectifications/improvements of the world hang about and dwell within the Temple.2

It has already been explained that the verse, "We are pursued to our necks" (Lamentations 5:5) alludes to the Temple, which is the neck and beauty of the world. "We are pursued to our necks, and we toiled" to build it twice [the First and Second Temples] "and it does not remain with us," for they didn't permit us - the Temples were destroyed and not rebuilt.

When the neck is destroyed, the whole body perishes; so too, when the Temple was destroyed and darkened, the whole world became dark too. The sun did not shine, nor the heavens, earth, and stars [in the fullness of their holy potential].

For that reason Joseph cried [over the travesty of the future destruction of the two Temples3]. After he wept for this, he wept for the tribes that were to go into exile. For shortly after the Temple was destroyed, all the tribes were sent into exile and dispersed among the nations, as it is written, "And he kissed all his brethren, and wept on them," (Gen. 45:15) certainly "about them" [meaning, on account of their exile].

He wept for everything - for the Temple that was twice destroyed and for his brothers, the ten tribes, who went into exile and were scattered among the nations. "...and after that his brethren talked with him," but it isn't written that they wept. He wept because the Divine Spirit came upon him [and he saw all that would befall them in the future] but they did not weep, because the Divine Spirit did not dwell upon them.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida include this section? What do they want us to learn?

The neck is the place the links the head/mentalities, and the heart/emotions. Through the neck flow blood and electrical impulses to and from the brain, air to and from the lungs, and food to the stomach. So, if the neck is destroyed, the body perishes.

One of the things that we need to fix during these 3 Weeks of Mourning over the Holy Temples is the sin of having been stiff-necked. We should be as supple and flexible as a reed when it comes to interpersonal relations, not stiff as a cedar. In a strong storm, the former will survive, while the latter will be uprooted. We need to take care of the inner Pharoah inside us, that voice that says "Mine is my river, and I have made myself [powerful (Rashi)]!"

To rebuild the Temple—which stands for Da'at/consciousness—we need to first fix our own necks. A first step is to only say constructive good things about one's fellow. Today is the day to start.

What does this mean to you, and why is it revealed to you now?

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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