Monday, February 21, 2005

R' Ashlag Ch. 17

Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag's "Introduction to the Zohar"

-- as translated and commented on by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman


Ch. 17


“With all this in mind we can now respond to our third inquiry".

-- See 1:4.

“For we’d raised the point (there) that when we consider ourselves closely we find ourselves to be as tainted and lowly as can be. Yet (conversely) when we consider our Creator, we (surmise that we) should actually be of the highest order, as only befits (creations of) such a Creator whom no one is more exalted than. After all, it’s only natural (to assume) that a perfect Being (like Himself) would (only) produce perfect beings”.

-- So, why aren’t we perfect?

“But now we can understand why.”

-- For the truth of the matter is ...

“Our body (i.e., our person), with all its meaningless exigencies and trappings, isn’t our real body (person)! (After all, how could it be, since) our real, eternal, and perfect body (person) has already existed in the Infinite’s Being in the first era, where it (has already) assumed the perfect tsurah of bestowance (due it) in the destined third era, where it’s (already) in essential affinity with the Infinite One.”

-- That is, the people we are today, with all our foibles and missteps, woes and pratfalls, are not who we are at bottom. For our real selves are *already* subsumed in the Infinite’s Being and is already without its uniquely human ratzon l’kabel, know it or not. Of course, R’ Ashlag’s aim is to indeed *have us* know that, and to thus embrace the inevitable on our own by assuming a life of Torah and mitzvah observance.

-- But wouldn’t it be reasonable to argue that we really shouldn’t be made to endure the second era after all, in light of the acridness of the struggle and the agony of the obstacles? No, we’re told; for ...


“Our situation in the first era (when we’re already subsumed in the Infinite’s Being) requires us to be conferred in the second era with our husk of a body (person) with its corrupt and flawed selfish ratzon l’kabel which separates us from G-d *so as to rectify it* and to (thus) genuinely experience our eternal body (person) in the third era (on our own)".

"So we really shouldn’t object. Since (we *have* to experience the second era, because) we can only serve G-d in a mortal body (which we only have then), as one can’t repair something he doesn’t already have (see 15:4)”.

-- As such, there’s really no good reason to dismiss the second era, since it’s the only context in which we can purposefully and willfully serve G-d of our own volition, and undo our own very human blemishes when we have them to undo. For we haven’t any in the first era and won’t have them any longer in the third, so “if not now, then when?”.

-- Despite that, the fact remains that ...

“We’re indeed *already* in the (sort of) perfected state that’s appropriate for (entities created by) the perfect Creator; and yet G-d has (indeed) also placed us in our situation in the second era (despite that, for the reasons we indicated)”.

“So, our (present) body (person) doesn’t (actually) blemish us whatsoever, since it’s doomed to die and be undone, and it’s (in fact) only with us for the time it takes to be undone and to assume its eternal (perfect) state.”

(c) 2005 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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