Thursday, October 05, 2006

R' Ashlag Ch. 69 (Part 1)

Chapter Sixty-Nine:

Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag's "Introduction to the Zohar"

-- as translated and commented on by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman




"(In fact,) it’s said in the Tikkunei Zohar, 'Rise up and rouse yourself before the Holy Shechina (Divine Presence), for your heart is empty and without the knowledge (you’d need) to know and apprehend it even though it’s (right) in your midst'.”
-- The Tikkunei Zohar indicates that for some reason or another we haven’t the wherewithal to draw close to the Divine Presence.

“'The secret import of this is (contained in the verse,) "A voice says, Cry out!" (Isaiah 40:6) -- which is analogous to (the verse,) "Call now, but is there any who will answer you?" (Job 5:1). And she (i.e., the Shechina) said, "What should I cry out? All flesh is but grass" (meaning,) all (people) are like grass-eating animals, "and all its kindness is like the flower of the field!" (Isaiah 40:6) (meaning that) all the acts of kindness they proffer are for their own benefit' (Tikkun 40)."
-- What holds us back from drawing close to the Divine Presence in fact, and from hoisting it out of the pit it’s in, in our state of exile, is our selfishness and egotism, we’re told. Rabbi Ashlag will now expand upon that.

"The mystical meaning of that is as follows (Rabbi Ashlag offers). 'A voice says, Cry out!' (indicates that) a voice beats within each and every Jew’s heart to call out and pray for the ascent of the Holy Shechina, which encompasses all Jewish souls. And the Tikkunei Zohar refers to the verse, 'Call now, but is there any who will answer you?' (Job 5:1), to indicate that 'call' implies 'pray out to (in both instances)."

"But the Shechina replies, 'What should I cry out?, as if to say, I haven’t the strength to lift myself out of the dust (in which I lie, in exile), for 'all flesh is but grass', which is to say that 'they’re all like grass-eating animals', meaning that they all fulfill mitzvot mindlessly like animals, 'and all its kindness is like the flower of the field', which is to say that 'all the acts of kindness they proffer are for their own benefit', meaning that whenever they fulfill mitzvot they only do so to please themselves rather than their Creator."

"In fact, (that could) even (be said of) those who toil in Torah, for 'all the acts of kindness (that) *they* proffer are for their own benefit” (just as well, for indeed,) even the best of them, those who spend all their time studying Torah only, only do so for their own benefit, without meaning to please their Creator as they should."
-- Rabbi Ashlag had already expressed how deeply saddened he was by the fact that even the greatest Torah scholars of our generation don’t study Kabbalah, and of the spiritual “aridity and darkness we find ourselves to be in our generation” that has resulted (Ch. 57).
-- The greatest tragedy to come of that, though (aside from the Holocaust, alluded to at the end of the last chapter), is our aforementioned selfishness and egotism. His point is that the only way we can outgrow that is by honing all five aspects of our soul which we only manage to do when we delve into Kabbalah (Ch. 56).

(c) 2006 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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