Wednesday, June 22, 2005

R' Ashlag Ch. 25

Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag's "Introduction to the Zohar"

-- as translated and commented on by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman



-- This is a rather complex chapter that draws upon a lot of what's been said before. We'll do what we can to encapsulate it at the end and point out where it's going to be taking us.

"We now have a solution to our fifth inquiry (see 3:2) in which we asked why the body will be resurrected, seeing how base it is and given that its (immortal) soul won't appear in it in all its purity until the body decomposes. And (we can also now offer a solution to) our sages’ statement that 'The dead will be brought back to life with all their defects (in place) so that they won't be mistaken for anyone else (and that all those defects will be cured afterwards)' (Zohar, Emor 17), based on the original intent behind creation in the first era."

"For as we'd said, G-d meant for His creations to derive pleasure (see 6:1), so He had to create a great and comprehensive enough willingness to take-in all the great bounty that lay at the intention of creation, since (the ability to take-in) a great deal of pleasure and (the need to have a correspondingly) comprehensive ratzon l’kabel go hand in hand (see 6:2-3). For as we said, this enormous ratzon l’kabel was the only thing created anew (see 7:1-2), since G-d didn't need to create anything else to carry out His intentions for creation and (also) because it's only natural that a perfect Producer wouldn't produce anything extraneous."

"Now, we've also said that this comprehensive ratzon l’kabel was withdrawn from the four worlds of holy-A.B.Y.A. and placed in the four worlds of defiled-A.B.Y.A. (see 10:2) which the bodies of this world devolved from and derived their sustenance and everything that comprises them. And we said that one only begins to attain a holy (immortal) soul when he reaches thirteen (or twelve, in the case of a woman) thanks to his involvement in Torah and Mitzvot (with the intention to please G-d), when he starts to be nourished by the four worlds of holy-A.B.Y.A. to a degree that corresponds to the size of the holy (immortal) soul he attained (see 11:2)."

"We likewise said that during the six thousand years that we've been granted to engage in Torah and Mitzvot that the body -- i.e., its comprehensive ratzon l’kabel -- wouldn't be rectified. All the rectifications that will come about would be due to our efforts alone, and would only touch upon the nefesh (i.e., the lowest degree of soul) from which those rectifications will ascend upward through the various degrees of holiness and purity in order to (eventually) enhance the ratzon l’hashpia that evolves along with the soul."

"Now all that helps to explain why the body is doomed to die, be buried, and decompose (as we'll see)."

"After all, the body wouldn’t been rectified in any way -- but it (simply) can't remain in that state (forever). And yet if the (body's) comprehensive ratzon l’kabel would be (prematurely) removed from the world, then G-d's intentions for creation -- that everyone would be granted all the great delights that He wanted them to -- wouldn't be carried out, G-d forbid. After all (as we alluded to above), a great ratzon l’kabel and (the ability to sustain) a great deal of pleasure go hand in hand, and one's ratzon l’kabel diminishes to the selfsame degree that his delight and pleasure upon receiving diminishes."

-- The following *begins* to explain why the body must die and decompose before it's to be resurrected. As we learned, G-d intended mankind to derive pleasure in this world (and the next, too). So He quite logically instilled a desire for pleasure in our beings; and He likewise quite reasonably provided us with as great a desire for pleasure as the pleasure itself would be. That's why G-d created our ratzon l’kabel.
-- But it's important to realize that it needs to be rectified. We'll get back to that.
-- We also learned that we only begin to develop an immortal soul once we start to fulfill G-d's mitzvot and study His Torah; and that the greater and purer our engagement in that, the greater and purer will our soul be.
-- Nonetheless, that process won't rectify our problematic ratzon l’kabel. All we'd have accomplished by engaging in Torah and mitzvot would be to have advanced our soul upward by degrees and eventually bolstered our ratzon l’hashpia -- which is no mean feet at all! But we will not have undone our ratzon l’kabel.
-- So how will our ratzon l’kabel be undone in the end (but not beforehand) as it must in order to accomplish G-d's plans? Why must we be resurrected? And why indeed did our sages say that the "dead will be brought back to life with all their defects (in place)" in order not to "be mistaken for anyone else" by that point? We'll come to all that in the next few chapters.

(c) 2005 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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