Sunday, August 29, 2004

R' Ashlag Ch. 10

Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag's "Introduction to the Zohar"

-- as translated and commented on by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman


Ch. 10


"Now we can begin to understand (the dynamic behind) our fourth inquiry as to how it was possible for the chariot of defilement and husks, which is so utterly and completely apart from Him, to emerge from G-d’s Holiness; and how it could be that He supports and sustains it. But we'd first have to understand what defilement and the husks are all about."

-- See our opening remarks about all this in 3:1.

"Just know that our ratzon l’kabel -- which is the essence of our souls, the reason we indicated for their being created, and the means by which they're prepared to accept everything incorporated in the thought of creation -- won't remain in the soul in that form forever. Because if it did, our souls would be separated from G-d forevermore, inasmuch as such a discrepancy of tsurot (unavoidably) separates them from Him."

-- R' Ashlag's vital point here is that while our ratzon l’kabel is eminently purposeful and of *ultimate importance* for our functions in this universe, it's still-and-all "temporary" and will become unfixed when the universe is undone in The End of Days, as it must be.

-- This is a rather shocking idea to those of us who can't quite understand how anything as fundamental to the human situation as the ratzon l’kabel is said to be could *ever* be undone. For it's commonly held that while any and all worldly circumstances can change, human nature is immutable (as if it were G-d's own). After all, they reason, doesn't world literature prove that! Aren't we the same piteous fools and venerable sages the Phoneticians and early Chinese were? Won't we always be? But human nature will indeed change -- forever and radically so. And, ironically, while *at present* human deeds and moods vary all the time with changes of circumstance while basic human nature doesn't, when the greatest change of circumstance possible occurs, human deeds and moods will slowly become undone and human nature will be utterly refashioned.

-- What makes this point so consequential is that our ratzon l’kabel -- our G-d-given ability to take in all that G-d, the Ultimate Benefactor, has provided us with -- was granted us purposefully. For were we not willing to accept what G-d offers us, then His plans for the cosmos would be thwarted on some level. Nonetheless, since our taking-in does undo our relationship to G-d -- which is the *only* thing that will endure in the end, bar none -- our ratzon l’kabel will and must terminate in the end. But for a vital and G-dly reason, as we'll see.


"So in order to repair this division implanted in our soul's vessel -- i.e., our ratzon l’kabel -- after G-d created the worlds He separated them into two systems, in keeping with the mystical import of the statement that “G-d made the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14)."

-- This verse implies that everything but G-d Himself has its equal and opposite counterpart in the universe; its "doubleganger".

"The two systems comprise the four worlds of holy-A.B.Y.A., and their counterpart, the four worlds of defiled-A.B.Y.A."

-- A.B.Y.A. is an acronym for A-tzilut, B-eria, Y-etzirah, and A-siyah, the four Kabbalistic supernal "worlds" or planes of existence, in descending order of significance and potency. Holy- and defiled-A.B.Y.A. are thus two utterly antithetical parallel universes, with one (holy-A.B.Y.A.) being rooted in the willingness to bestow and the other (defiled-A.B.Y.A.) in the willingness to accept. The two divisions are significant because ...

"G-d instilled the ratzon l’hashpia (the willingness to bestow) into the worlds of holy-A.B.Y.A. and withdrew the ratzon l’kabel from them, and placed it into the defiled-A.B.Y.A., which explains why we've become separated from G-d and all the holy realms."

-- The "willingness to bestow" is all-good and G-dly, since "G-d is all-good and benevolent" (1:5) and His sole "intention when He created the world was to bestow pleasure upon His creatures" (7:1). And it's thus the antithesis of the ratzon l’kabel. Our aim is to aspire to bestowance and to undo the ratzon l’kabel in the process, as we'll learn later on.


"That's why the husks are referred to as 'the dead' and why wrongdoers are attracted to them. For our sages indicated that all wrongdoers are termed 'dead' even in their lifetimes (Berachot 18B)."

-- That means to say that the husks are as "dead" (i.e., severed from G-d's presence) as their offshoot, wrong, since they dwell in an unG-dly universe.

"Because the ratzon l’kabel that has been implanted in them is diametrically opposite in tsurah to G-d's Holiness, which thus separates them from the “the Life of all Lives” (G-d) and utterly severs them from Him. For He wants only to bestow rather than to accept while the husks want only to accept for their own sake rather than bestow, and there's no greater disparity than that. For as you already know, 'distance' in the spiritual sense starts with some sort of disparity of tsurah and culminates in an utter disparity, which is the ultimate degree of 'distance' (i.e., estrangement)."

(c) 2004 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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