Friday, October 15, 2004

R' Ashlag Ch. 11 (sect. 1)

Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag's "Introduction to the Zohar"

-- as translated and commented on by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman


Ch. 11 (sect. 1)

"The (supernal) worlds devolved downward (in intensity) to this physical world, which is the environment for both body and soul, and the period of (both) ruin and repair. The individual (literally, 'body'), who is the ratzon l’kabel (incarnate), is drawn down from his root in the thought of creation (in much the same way,) and passes through the defiled-worlds system, which is depicted as 'man (being) born a wild donkey' (Job 11:12). He remains subservient to that system for his first thirteen years old, which is the period of ruin (rather than repair)."

-- R’ Ashlag promised to explain what “defilement and the husks (were) all about” last time so as to spell out how they “could ... ever have been culled from and created by (G-d)”. That now continues.
-- We're taught here that the supernatural worlds “devolved downward”. Understand that the supernatural worlds are utterly unearthly, thus the phrase “devolve downward” is likely to confuse us. But we've always been granted to draw analogies between the upper realms and our own one, so we'll do that now.
-- The idea of the supernatural worlds devolving downward is analogous to what we experience when our plans become less and less abstract and more and more concrete the closer they get to fruition. Let's take the example of committees set up to accomplish a certain project. As most know, members of those sorts of committees enter the first meeting with a lot of ideas and expectations but precious little sum and substance. The further along the process goes, though, the more concrete the details become, until the original committee itself ceases to function and the project-come-alive is taken over by functionaries with all their gear and fittings.
-- As R’ Ashlag puts it, this world is where “the individual ... devolves downward from his root in the thought of creation and passes through the defiled worlds system” to dwell in the material world in much the same way. And he then depicts the material world as being “the period of (both) ruin and repair”. What he means to say is that what the physical world is at bottom is the stage upon which freewill plays itself out, which then allows for either spiritual ruin and debasement or repair and elevation (as we'll see).
-- We're then told that the individual then remains tied to unholiness for his first thirteen years” -- before his yetzer hatov appears; and that those thirteen years constitute “the period of ruin” because the individual has no hope yet for elevation since he hasn't yet been introduced to the mitzvah system that will provide him the means to elevate himself (as we'll see).

(c) 2004 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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