Wednesday, May 11, 2005

R' Ashlag Ch. 21 (sect. 2)

Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag's "Introduction to the Zohar"

-- as translated and commented on by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman


Ch. 21


"Indeed, the only thing that distinguishes one being (i.e., person or thing) from another is its ratzon (l’kabel). For each being's ratzon determines what it needs, which then elicits the sort of thoughts and plans it would need to have and make in order to fulfill the needs its ratzon l’kabel demands (in the first place). For just as we each have different wills (i.e., each one of us has a distinctive ratzon l’kabel), we likewise have different needs, thoughts, and plans."

-- There are a number of points to be made at this important juncture. First, that not only do their wills differentiate beings but their *type* of wills do, too. For while human beings have free wills, other beings have fixed wills. (Human free will is the ideal in fact, it's relative to person and circumstance, and it's actually quite rare; but it's nonetheless assured of to all fully functioning people. It's rare because few of us act out on it, as most are so overwhelmed by influences that they couldn't truly be called free so much as free-enough to *choose* to be free. But that's all beside the point.) In any event, what sets one free-willed human being apart from the others and fixed-willed being apart from others is what he, she, or it wills.

-- But whatever your will, it's *always* a will for things that will serve your own purposes, a ratzon l’kabel.

-- When humans will something, they set out to fulfill it (either consciously, or by dint of influence, pressure, etc.) by first considering what they'd need in order to do that, by then planning and setting out to get those things (or have them gotten for them), and by acting upon those things so as to have their will fulfilled. When non-humans will (or better yet, are programmed to have) something they likewise plan and set out to get those things (or have them gotten for them), and they also act upon them. But the variances are boundless, needless to say.

-- As we'll see in the next section, though, free-willed human beings invariably want things of different *caliber*, which them sets them apart on whole other levels.

-- One other detail. This statement is actually a plain-worded delineation of the Kabbalistic system, in that one's will corresponds to the highest, most sublime sephira of Keter; the thinking and planning one does to fulfill that will correspond to the "superior" (rosh, in Hebrew) sefirot of Chochma and Binah; and the acting out on all that correspond to the "interior" (toch) sefirot that follow them (Chessed, Gevurah, etc.). And it's all in keeping with the statement in the Zohar that "everything in the world depends on will" (2:162b).

(c) 2005 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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