Essay by Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag
"And among these nations you shall have no repose."
"And that which comes into your mind shall not be at all; in that you say we will be as the nations, as the families of the countries."
The Creator will evidently show us that Israel cannot exist in exile, and will find no rest as the rest of the nations that mingled among the nations and found rest, and assimilated in them, until no trace was left of them. Not so is the house of Israel. This nation will find no rest among the nations until it realizes the verse, “And from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find Him for you will demand Him with all your heart and all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).
The modern state of Israel was established on two paradoxical goals. To be a Nation for Jews and to be just another nation like all the others. Why are these two goals paradoxical? They can not both be true. A Jewish state can not be just another nation due to the human trait of anti-antisemitism.
This can be examined by studying Providence and the verse which states about us, “The Torah is true and all its words are true, and woe to us as long as we doubt its truthfulness.” And we say about all the rebuke that is happening to us that it is chance and blind fate. This has but one cure—to bring the troubles back on us to such an extent that we will see that they are not coincidental but steadfast Providence, intended for us in the Holy Torah.
And we should clarify this matter by the law of development itself: the nature of the steadfast Guidance that we have attained through the Holy Torah, as in the path of Torah in Providence (see “Two Ways”), a far more rapid development than the other nations has come to us. And because the members of the nation developed so, there was always the necessity to go forward and be extremely meticulous with all the Mitzvot of the Torah. And because they would not do it, but wished to include their narrow selfishness, meaning the Lo Lishma, this developed the ruin of the First Temple, since they wished to extol wealth and power above justice, like other nations.
But because the Torah prohibits it, they denied the Torah and the prophecy and adopted the manners of the neighbors so they could enjoy life as much as selfishness demanded of them. And because they did that, the powers of the nation disintegrated: some followed the kings and the selfish officers, and some followed the prophets. And that separation continued until the ruin.
A Torah government follows a three part government. There is a King - ultimately the King Mashiach. There is a High Priest - a descendant of Aaron HaKohen. There is a Sanhedrin - the judges. these three split the responsibility of government into courts - judges; Spiritual rituals; and the Executive function. Until we recognize the superiority of this style of government we will always be at the attack of the other nations. So says the Torah.
In the Second Temple, it was even more conspicuous, since the beginning of the separation was publicly displayed by unvirtuous disciples, headed by Tzadok and Bytos. Their mutiny against our sages revolved primarily around the obligation of Lishma, as our sages said, “Wise men, be careful with your words.” Because they did not want to retire from selfishness, they created communities of this corrupt kind and became a great sect called “Tzdokim,” who were the rich and the officers, pursuing selfish desires unlike the path of Torah. And they fought the Prushim and brought the Roman kingdom’s rule over Israel. They are the ones who would not make peace with the imperious, as our sages advised by the Torah, until the house was ruined and the glory of Israel was exiled.
In the western world these terms Tzokim - Prushim - Bytos are called Sadducees - Essenes - and Temple Priests. Actually these were like the three parts of government mentioned above and act like political parties. One believed, after the first Temple destruction that HaShem would send the Mashiach to rebuild the Temple, One believed that People needed to make that happen, and the third wanted to retreat to the desert and commune with HaShem. Over these many years of the second Temple one political party actually invited Rome - the secular power in the world into the Land to help them to govern and they eventually took over by the force of arms.
A secular ideal stems from humanness and hence cannot raise itself above humanness. But a religious idea, which stems from the Creator, can raise itself above humanity. This is because the basis for a secular ideal is in comparing and the price of glorifying man, and he acts to boast in the eyes of people. And although one is sometimes disgraced in the eyes of one’s contemporaries, one still relies on other generations and it is still a precious thing for him, like a gem that fuels its owner although no one knows of it or cherishes it.
A religious idea, however, is based on glory in the eyes of God. Hence, he who follows a religious idea can raise himself above humanness.
In my opinion, one of the tasks of humankind is to raise ourselves above being human - to rise to the level of Divine.
And so it is among the nations of our exile. As long as we followed the path of Torah, we remained safe, for it is known to all the nations that we are a highly developed nation and they wanted our cooperation. They exploit us, each according to their own selfish desires. Yet we still had great power among the nations, for after all the exploitation, there still remained a handsome portion left for us, greater than for the civilians of the land.
This is a physical way of describing that HaShem gives additional resources to the Angelic Ministers of the Nations with instructions as how to distribute these resources to the Children of Israel living among His other charges in his land.
But because people rebelled against the Torah in their aspiration to execute their selfish ploys, they lost life’s purpose, meaning the work of God. And because the sublime goal was swapped for selfish goals of life’s pleasures, anyone who attained fortune raised his own goal with glory and beauty. And where the religious man scattered his monetary surplus on charity, good deeds, building seminaries, and other such collective needs, the selfish ones scattered their surplus on the joys of life: food and drink, clothing and jewels, and equalized with the prominent in every nation.
By these words, I only mean to show that the Torah and the natural law of development go hand in hand in wondrous unity even with blind faith. Thus, the bad incidences in the exile, which we have much to tell of from the days of our exile, were all because we embezzled the Torah. And if we kept the commandments of the Torah, no harm would come to us.
Hence, I hereby propose to the House of Israel to say to our troubles, “Enough!” and at the very least, make a human calculation regarding these adventures that they have inflicted us time and time again, and here in our country, as well. We wish to start our own policy, as we have no hope of clutching at the ground as a nation as long as we do not accept our holy Torah without any extenuations, to the last condition of the work Lishma, and not for oneself, with any residue of selfishness, as I have proven in the article “Matan Torah.”
If we do not establish ourselves accordingly, then there are classes among us, and we will undoubtedly be pushed right and left as all nations are, and much more. This is because the nature of the developed is that they cannot be restrained, for any important notion that comes from an opinionated person will not bow its head before anything and knows no compromise. This is why our sages said, “Israel is the fiercest of the nations,” as one whose mind is broader is most obstinate.
This is a psychological law. And if you do not understand me, go and study this lesson among the contemporary members of the nation: While we have only begun to build, time has already disclosed our fierceness and assertiveness of the mind, and that which one builds, the other ruins.
Remember: Rabbi Ashlag immigrated to Israel before the establishment of the modern state from the Land of Poland. This essay was written after the war of independence and the revelation of the Zohar translation to Hebrew.
…This is known to all, but there is only one innovation in my words: They believe that in the end, the other side will understand the danger and will bow his head and accept their opinion. But I know that even if we tie them together in one basket, one will not surrender to the other even a little, and no danger will interrupt anyone from carrying out his ambition.
In a word: As long as we do not raise our goal above the corporeal life, we will have no corporeal revival because the spiritual and the corporeal in us cannot dwell in one basket, for we are the children of the idea. And even if we are immersed in forty-nine gates of materialism, we will still not give up the idea. Hence, it is the holy purpose of for His name that we need.
Rabbi Ashlag's words are clear. We can only bring the redemption through our own spiritual work which is when we look at ourselves honestly and start to change ourselves.
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