Wednesday, July 06, 2005

R' Ashlag Ch. 27

Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag's "Introduction to the Zohar"

-- as translated and commented on by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman


Ch. 27


"In fact, the resurrection of the dead can only take place close to the full rectification that’s to occur at the end of the second era. For we’d have merited abolishing our comprehensive ratzon l’kabel and received a willingness to only bestow (in its place by then), and merited (being endowed by) the prodigious qualities of the soul known as the nefesh, ruach, neshama, chaya, and yechida -- as a consequence of all our efforts to abolish our ratzon l’kabel. And we’d have entered into the (stage of) very, very great perfection."

-- This then is the chronology of the end: Moshiach will appear near the close of the present, second era. We'll then manage to transform our all-encompassing ratzon l’kabel to a full and comprehensive ratzon l’hashpia, and to then merit taking on all the recondite soul-levels one could, as a consequence of that. And then we'll experience the great rectification -- the time when *nearly* all connections between heaven and earth that had been stopped and clogged will be unstopped, so that G-dliness can begin to pass through; and when G-d will face us and we'll start to be ready to face Him, straight on. That will then usher in the resurrection, for ...

"(All) that would then enable the body with its comprehensive ratzon l’kabel to come back to life, and for us to no longer be harmed by it by being severed from our adhesion (unto G-d). (In fact,) on the contrary, we’ll have overcome the ratzon l’kabel (by then) and will have granted the body its tsurah of bestowal."


"Now, that’s actually what we should do with every bad trait we want to eliminate. We should first thoroughly remove it to the point where there’s nothing left (of it); and then we’re to reincorporate it and make use of it (only) moderately. But as long as we haven’t thoroughly removed it, it's utterly impossible to use it moderately, which is best."

-- This is a beguiling paragraph teeming with implication.
-- First off, it's important to know that it's rooted in Maimonides' idea (found in Sh'mone Perakim and Hilchot Deot) to the effect that extremes of behavior are always wrong and that the middle, moderate path is always best and healthiest. So, if for example you tend to get angry easily Maimonides would suggest that you not express any anger at all for a time, and that you're to continue acting that way until you'd have stifled your anger altogether (which is actually not a good thing, according to his way of thinking, since some anger is called for from time to time). Then he'd advise you to "return to the middle way" of equilibrium and to indeed express anger to an appropriate degree and when fitting, and to do that for the rest of your life. He'd also suggest that you follow that pattern in relation to your other extreme traits.
-- R' Ashlag reiterates that point here, but he goes far beyond Maimonides' conception and adapts it to our ratzon l’kabel which, if you'll recall, is our very essence in this world. Hence, R' Ashlag is saying that Maimonides' method is actually quite mystical, not merely ethical or psychological; and that it instructs us in how to get close to G-d (which is Maimonides' ideal, too, let's not forget). For while we'll indeed eventually get to the point where we undo our ratzon l’kabel altogether, that's nonetheless not the point. We're instead to once again allow our ratzon l’kabel in -- but only to a moderate degree. That's to say that we're develop a ratzon l’kabel al m’nat l’hashpia -- a willingness to take in, in order to bestow (see 11:2) and to utterly transform our beings in the process.

(c) 2005 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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