Preface and Chanoch's Introduction
I am using the book written by Sarah Yehudit Schneider titled "You are What You Hate" to teach the ideas taught by the Baal Shem Tov. i hope you find the material beneficial as i have in my own spiritual growth. I will identify any area where i disagree with the author and any area where i feel the idea needs clarification by calling that section. chanoch adds: or chanoch's Commentary.
You are who or what you hate is a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov known as the Besht. The Name Baal means Master or Head of the House. Shem Tov translates as “Good Name.” This man Israel is not the only Kabbalist to be called Baal Shem Tov. There have been many Torah students and scholars who have learned Torah and warranted to be called Baal Shem Tov – Master of the Good Name. Israel never taught anything new or different from what was taught by his teachers. None of his teachings are controversial. Yet his teachings as to the practice of these tools taught by his teachers are sometimes controversial. We will be teaching these practical applications which we call tools. We will be teaching his teachings in order that we will learn to use these teachings and tools in our own lives in a practical way.
The Baal Shem Tov lived during the 18th-century. He is considered the founder of the Hasidic movement. He is also considered a spiritual revolutionary. His students considered him the most enlightened person ever, second only to Moshe Rabeinu. The Besht called Besht since it is the initials of his name, was certainly a brilliant and original thinker but this was not his prime distinction. The Besht was able to translate the most exalted mystical ideas of the Kabbalah into a practical worldview and tools that could be followed by accomplished scholars and simple common folk alike.
On one hand, he said nothing new; he simply transmitted the same time-honored Jewish teachings that have passed through the generations from Mount Sinai. On the other hand, he transformed the observance of Judaism at its core. The Baal Shem Tov revealed implications and applications of these traditional ideas that, when taken to heart, alter the way we move through the world in a paradigm shifting manner.
One of the Besht's most radical doctrines concerns the phenomena of “enemies” and how to handle them in the most spiritually productive way possible. A truly enlightened strategy requires the exact right balance between self protection and generosity, protest and acceptance, savvy and idealism, zero-tolerance for evil and compassion.
Yet these critical assessments are not made in a vacuum. They depend upon how we can see the battleground. If the truest truth is a dualistic model (chanoch adds: There is a higher sense which we will also learn.) where the forces of light battle the forces of evil, then the goal is simple: crush and eliminate the enemy wherever he be found, no questions asked, no negotiations possible. However if we view the world in a more unified way, where light and dark are enmeshed in there are many shades of gray between them, and each side contains aspects of the other inside itself, then a very different strategy must emerge.
All of the world's problems, both old and new, group and personal, arises from how to deal with mixtures of good and evil, how to devise a cost-benefit analysis that can be identified when it pays to salvage the good that is trapped on the other side, and how to calculate when the costs of that effort outweigh its gains.
chanoch's CommentaryThe ARIzal taught and the Baal Shem Tov learned that each person has sparks that have fallen into the mud of this physical world that needs to be elevated. There is never a cost benefit analysis that says the cost is too great to elevate that particular spark. If the spark is not elevated this time it will be necessary for that soul to return in a reincarnated or ibur state (these terms will be explained further down in your reading to achieve that spark's elevation. All good will need to be elevated eventually. HaShem would not have put you into the situation unless it is possible for you to elevate that particular spark of Light even if it is surrounded by tons of mud and Klipot. It is up to you to elevate that spark or give the job to someone else, and if that happens you lose the benefit of that spark which may mean that your particular soul body combination will not resurrect. The body will but the soul within it will be the spark and soul which were elevated. This will be explained in our classes on reincarnation taught from the Sharai Gilgulim on Tuesday Evenings.
With all respect to Ms. Schneider writing in her preface, she is teaching us things that I disagree with. There is never a cost-benefit analysis that needs to be done with respect to good and evil there is no evil. One needs to rise to the level of consciousness where one perceives evil as what it is; a different perspective, a different messenger or a different message from the creator in order to raise your consciousness through cleansing. We live in a world that is a mixture of good and evil when you are on a lower level of consciousness. You can rise above this level of consciousness and reached the level where you can perceive what others perceive as evil as actually good. This is the goal of these classes.
The Besht looks to the Kabbalah, the mystical interpretation of Torah, for a map of the cosmic playing field. There is nothing original or controversial about this portion of his pieces. But then, he insists upon pulling those abstract teachings all the way down into this world, where he extracts practical instructions about how to solve the ancient and universal dilemma:
What is the most advantageous way to deal with enemies? How does one formulate a strategy that will maximize gain and minimize loss? (chanoch adds: How will one bring about unity within the diversity?
The enemy is the blockage. A blockage that is once removed through love will allow one to rise to a higher level of consciousness. Yes, we have to develop strategies to deal with enemies / blockages. That strategy is how to overcome a blockage. Every aspect of evil is an aspect that has a spark of light that you have the responsibility to elevate. If you choose to not address the blockage in this lifetime you will need to return to elevate the spark in another lifetime.
These are the questions explored in these pages: Section 1 which is entitled the building blocks and the steppingstones; present some of the key concepts that will be referred to throughout the book.
The second section called 'Where do enemies come from?' presents a Kaballah perspective on the origin of adversaries.
Section 3, called “I” life centers presents a circle of varied ways to see the world. It introduces a model of truth that summons each of us to vigorously profess our unique perspectives on the world, while simultaneously allowing others to do the same, knowing that the composite of all these contradictory inputs (when properly weighted) is the most rectified picture available at the moment.
Section 4 titled Upside Down Soulmates, is the heart of this work. In represents the Besht's teachings on enemies as explicated by his disciple, Rabbi Yitzhak Isaac Yechia Yehuda Safran, known as the Komarna Rebbe.
These remedies that these Rabbis (Besht and Rabbi Safran) were speaking/teaching to colleagues and congregants, who share a common history, common wisdom, common literature, and a similar experience of enemies are extremely practical in our own lives today.
Their language and metaphors draw from the rich reservoir of their shared ethnic experience and their shared ethnic inheritance. And yet, their teachings and advice are profoundly universal. The aim of this work is to explore these life-changing ideas and translate them into a more colloquial and universally meaningful format. They have much to contribute to the world's urgent quest to solve the dilemma of enemies to find the most spiritually productive way to defuse conflict while ensuring protection from harm.
We will attempt to teach from the 4th section while bringing aspects and explanations from the other 3 sections to help explain and enhance the teachings. We will express these enhancements as to the source, either a section of Ms Schneider's book or chanoch's commentary.
The first teachings from chanoch is as follows:
In today's world there are many teachings being promoted as the answer to the world's problems. Many of these teachings are physical and scientific based. Many of these teachings are spiritual and it is difficult to reconcile the teaching as presented with the science of today. Even within the Hasidic Movement the teachings are presented as religious not scientific and then there are teachings being presented as both spiritual and scientific. All these teachings seem to add to the confusion.
All of these teachings have a purpose. There are many paths to the Creator. Let us follow a pattern of teaching from the Bible and then relate this teaching to science of today.
Originally, Adam was to assist the Creator by becoming a co creator in Creating Perfection. Then after the “sin,” or “metaphorical action,” “mistake,” there are 10 generations listed in the Bible/Torah.
Why? These 10 generations had the capability of becoming “an Adam” and achieving the same action that Adam was capable of doing. None of the people individually were able to do so. Then the world was “destroyed” (destruction in the Bible is a code word for a change in the Frame of Reference).
The next 10 generations had the capability of bringing the world to perfection by working together within one family. Again these generations did not succeed in that task of correction. Again the frame of reference was changed. In the Bible it is called different languages. In science it is called different genetic groups. There are 70 of these language groups called Nations in the Bible. The categorization of the genetic groups by science is not yet complete nor has it reached this idea as of yet. Once it becomes revealed specifically by a Kabbalists then science will reveal it in our generation.
Then there was a fourth frame of reference revealed in the Bible. This is the development of the Children of Israel into the 12 Tribes of Israel and the giving of the code / rule book called the Torah. These people referred to as the 12 Tribes were given the task of the first three frames of reference to achieve as a group. The other nations would be taught when these 12 Tribes achieved the completion expected of them.
There was a fifth frame of reference developed when the Temple was destroyed and the Children of Israel sent into exile. The purpose of the exile is to bring the teachings to the other nations even before the completion of the tikune of the Tribes of Israel.
Science will eventually see history and these frames of reference described above as accurate. I know this seems a cop out of the promise above so let's put it into a more specific analysis.
The Torah teaches reincarnation. The western world and science has not accepted that teaching as of yet. Yet there are over 30 colleges and universities doing scientific research through anecdotal story collection about life after death or Near Death Experiences. As of the year 2010, there are over 30,000 digital collections of these anecdotal stories.
One other commentary by chanoch I think is appropriate to relate at this point. Just as there are 12 Tribes of Israel and 70 Nations and Languages, there are many Rebbes who teach the Kabbalah. Many of them define their source/teacher as the Baal Shem Tov. Many define their source / teacher as the Talmud and Moshe Rabeinu. All are correct and truth. The reason why there are so many is that there are different root souls for humanity. All religions have a purpose within that root soul collection of humanity. Of course, many of these religions have become corrupted over the centuries. It is up to each individual in this generation to find the path that is appropriate for his / her root soul. It is incumbent on each person to determine what is corrupted and what is truth within the “religion” of their root soul. This responsibility for each person is part of the correction process. Just as the laws of reincarnation as revealed in the Torah teach that there are 2 deep Tikunim for each person, one for the root soul group and one for each individual soul, this search for the spiritual path to follow applies to both of these levels.
Are there any questions before we begin the essential teachings of the Baal Shem Tov “You are Who You Hate”?
Discussion of the text and context. Also included is information about the Komarna Rebbe himself.
The teachings and following are written in the early 19th century by the Hasidic master, Rebbe Itzhak Isaac Yechiel Yehudah Saffron, known as the Komarna Rebbe. It is clear that they are the fruit of his personal struggle to find the most spiritually productive attitude towards his own detractors. Though intellectually rigorous, these are teachings from the heart rather than from the head. They offer a rare glimpse into the process by which a true master reaches into the depths of the Torah and extracts living insights to guide his way through a real and present ordeal. The question explored is:
What is the most good serving, God serving, and truly self-serving response to the test of enemies and how can I use their vexation for positive change?
“from these narrow straits (harassed by hostile enemies) I call out to HaShem, and He answers by (opening my eyes in teaching me to access the) spiritual expanse (that is always available on the inner planes)."
The constricting pressure of enemies squeezes consciousness upward into new and more spacious frontiers. Without its provocation there is rarely enough energy to impel this vertical climb. The search for relief from tormentors is an exceptionally powerful drive.
Rabbi Saffron's teachings are a magnificent example of living Torah, and as such they possess both body and soul. They contain ideas and practical instructions, yet as holy texts they link the reader straight to the heart of the one who wrote them, and from there to the heart of the one who revealed them (in seed form) at Sinai. This encounter of souls employs the Hebrew letters as its interface.
For this reason the teachings are presented here in their original form. They follow Rabbi Saffron's stream of consciousness as he elaborates on the Baal Shem Tov's brief but radical guidelines for dealing with enemies. They are both linear and non-linear. They follow a line of thought but also develop side points along the way.
The choice was made to stay close to the original text and draw insights directly from it. This keeps the teachings fresh. As long as ideas stay rooted in their source texts they remain living teachings-they can still grow and be propagated to other gardens. Conversely a teachings severed from its roots is like a plucked flower, beautiful but fleeting. The students can be dazzled, but can't own it, replant it, or make it his own.
From the Baal Shem Tov to the Komarna Rebbe – Lineage
From The Besht to the Komarna Rebbe, the lineage is six generations long. It starts with the Baal Shem Tov, who died in the year 1760. He is followed by his student the Magid De Mezeritch who died in 1772. The Magid is followed by his student Elimelech of Lizhenztch who died in 1786. The Seer of Lublin, who died in 1815 follows Elimelech of Lizhentch. The Seer of Lublin is followed by Tzivi Hirsch of Ziditchov who died in 1831. The Komarna, Rabbi Saffron, followed Rabbi Tziv Hirsch and died in 1874.
The biography of the Komarna Rebbe
The Komarna is called by this name after the town in the Ukraine where he lived. His brilliant writings display an unparalleled knowledge and familiarity with the full range of scholarly sources from Bible to Talmud, Midrash to Law. Woven through his erudite commentaries are passages of a more personal nature that disclose how he applied these doctrines to the trials of his own life.
As a child Rabbi Saffron aptly displayed the prophetic intuition that illuminates his works. From age 3 to 5 people and even rabbis consulted him as a kind of Child Oracle. (Chanoch adds: The Torah teaches that after the age of prophecy, prophecy was given to children and idiots although I'd prefer to use another expression.) When Rabbi Saffron turned six his uncle blessed him to lose the gift of prophetic intuition, for it would interfere with his psychospiritual development. (chanoch adds: The Hasidic development led the development of the psychological sciences. Most of these sources like Freud and others all studied under Hasidic Rabbis at one time or another in their development of their teachings.) Until 30 said his uncle, the Kamarna lost this ability at His Uncle's Blessing. His Uncle is quoted as saying “a person needs to serve HaShem with simplicity and toil."
Immediately, at age 6 there welled up inside the child prodigy an insatiable thirst for Torah, including all aspects from Bible to Law including the Kabbalah. From that point on, Rabbi Saffron spent his life immersed in study, prayer, and deep conversation with his Creator. He married at age 16 and both he and his wife experienced deep deprivations to support his scholarship. The standards of moral purity that he applied to his life are awe-inspiring and nearly superhuman. When engaged in writing mystical commentary he would fast all day and eat only at night before retiring. He would pray five hours a day and avoid all casual conversation and mundane activity. Rabbi Saffron realized that the deep mystical secrets he was revealing required an immaculate channel to prevent its corruption by the other side (although most notably, he meant “the ego,” with its penchant for pride).
A true Kabbalists is able to perceive the effect of His teachings from the moment they leave his mouth or are written down until the last student and student of student will add or adjust the teachings. This is the only way that the other side - the negative system can have its connection to the Kabbalah limited.
To describe the Komarna's teachings and writings as a genius is actually an insult, for he is so much more than that. He is a luminary of stunning integrity, who transcended human limitations and made heavenly lights available to the mundane world. Over 100 years after his death, his visionary works are still considered before his and his readers' time.
One final discussion point before we begin.
It is difficult to know the difference between Chassidut and Kabbalah. Both Kabbalah and Chassidut were revealed to Moshe at Mount Sinai. In General, while both teach about the Tree of Life one starts with the premise of the 10 Sefirot begins with Keter. This is Kabbalah. Chassidut starts with the Tree of Life beginning with Chochmah and includes Daat. Since both of these are dealing with mental attributes sometimes it is quite difficult to understand the differences. I am not a teacher of Chassidut. I have not studied Chassidut other than to read certain commentaries written by students of Chassidut. In our classes we will intermix the two terms as if they are the same. There is a difference but in our generation in our level of consciousness this difference is quite minuscule.
The first teaching is "Upside Down Soulmates the ins and outs of friends and enemies"
We are reading a Hebrew verse and we will translate this verse. We probably will not include the verse in our handouts in Hebrew but we will include the transliteration. This will allow you to say the Verse in the Hebrew Language and thus you will be able to connect to the energy of the verse from its original Hebrew.
The world is a network of intersecting soul threads
Hebrew Verse Transliteration
Shamati MiMori Ki NeRaN (The initials of Nefesh Ruach Neshamah) Shel Adam Natigilgal BaZion Sefirot, HaNefesh Natafshit Ohro Basod Avdiv MeShirotav UvHaymotav...Weharot ( Baishto Yedidotav WeShonaeim Shelo) WeHaNeshama (BeToldotav).
I heard from my teacher that the Nefesh,Ruach, and Neshamah of a person incarnate into the seven lower Sefirot from Chesed to Malchut… The Nefesh extends its light in the mystery of his servants, employees, animals and physical possessions… His Ruach extends itself into his spouse and friends and enemies… His Neshama extends itself into his progeny
In his book Sharai HaGilgulim - the Gate of Reincarnation, Rabbi Isaac Luria paraphrased by Rabbi Chaim Vital presents the spiritual laws that govern the journey of souls as they incarnate through lifetimes and fragment into smaller units that may be simultaneously embodied by different people or creatures at one time. The oversoul which is the gestalt of all its myriad manifestations remains coherent through an interconnecting network of threads that join all of its parts and layers together as a single although diffuse unit that spans both space and time.. The Hebrew term for reincarnation is Gilgulim or Gilgul Neshama. The translation might be wheels or revolutions of the soul.
Rabbi Luria identifies several distinct forms of Gilgul, for each enables souls to accomplish a different type of Tikune or Correction. One very common option is called the Ibur which translates from the Hebrew as impregnation. In this case, a soul from the inner planes, which has completed its specific task, attaches itself to a soul that is presently incarnate, and supplies that living person with energy, insight and guidance to accomplish more than might be possible without this added input of heavenly assistance. Because some part of the disincarnate actually enters the incarnate soul, it is called Ibur or impregnation.
Sometimes the incarnate soul allows the disincarnate soul to borrow its body in order to complete some action that is necessary for that soul to complete without necessitating a complete and whole incarnation. This is also called an Ibur.
Rabbi Luria explains the need for an Ibur to also regularly occurs between individuals and creatures that are alive at the same time. We are all carrying slivers of each other souls. When the higher reality shattered after eating from the tree of knowledge our souls became entangled in this way. On one hand the Ibur relationship is symmetrical, and on the other hand there is a hierarchy of influence. When two people or creatures, are both currently alive they can be connected anywhere. It is generally true that each contains a piece of the other soul. And yet, the most spiritually elevated of these partners exerts more influence on its Soul-buddy than is true in the other direction.
This network concern of soul connections is dynamic and shifting. Some links are only temporary. As soon as a transfer of energy occurs, the bond dissolves and the souls part from each other. Other links are more enduring, even permanent, and there is a constant exchange of influence across their circuits. One party is usually more dominant in this regard. People connected in this way may never meet, or they may be intimately related. chanoch adds: These shifting links may also travel across lifetimes as well.
Everyone is a hub that extends and receives influence in many directions. People are generally more aware of the light they send, than what they receive, even though both may be outside the visual fields. The image of a nerve net with its filaments entwined is a perfect metaphor to describe this complex network of spiritual influence. Each cell is touched by the tentacles of other cells that may be very distant but are specifically directed to it, and not to its neighbor. An axon winds its way through the tangle of neural tissue until it finds its target-the cell that must receive its message – for they share a common mission. This precisely parallels the interconnecting network of soul threads that spans continents, linking creatures according to their common soul roots.
Rabbi Luria identifies three levels of soul, each with its own name, that comprise a human personality, each one contributing a different capacity for consciousness. Two of the soul levels are shared with lower life forms, (chanoch adds: not actually shared just uses the same Name and we know that a Name in the Hebrew Language is more than just a Name.) while one is uniquely human. (Rabbi Luria mentions two additional layers of soul that exert a more surrounding influence on the individual. Since these are not mentioned in the text that are translated here, they are not discussed in this commentary.)
The Nefesh is the vital soul keeps the cells dividing, blood circulating, Lungs expanding, etc. it also manifests on the more subtle level as the force that keeps electrons spinning, light traveling, etc. This level of soul is shared by all kingdoms: Minerals, Plant, Animal, and Human. Its base of operations in the human body is the blood and the liver.
Ruach is the emotional soul. Animals also possess a ruach of sorts, for they are expressing instinctive emotions, such as fear and anger. The base of operations is the heart.
Neshama is the intellectual soul expressed by a capacity for abstract language. It is uniquely human. It space of operations is the brain.
Our Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshama extend beyond the obvious boundaries of our body, spinning out several threads that permeate the people and things around us (for example, the seven Sefirot that comprise our multilayered reality). Slivers of our soul may sometimes even reside in creatures or objects that dwell in distant lands. This is a specific kind of incarnation called Ibor and so teaches Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen:
Everything that a person acquires: spouse, children, servants, livestock, shelter, silver and gold, money in the bank, and possessions of every sort… They are also derived from the same root that is the very source of his own soul. Everything in the three kingdoms - mineral, vegetable, and animal-they all connect up to at least one human being, who is the wellspring of their spiritual life force. The exchange of goods and property is the outer expression of the shifting soul bonds that always exist between a person and his possessions, for every object is sustained by the person or people that are its soul root.
The nefesh layer of our soul is metaphorically described as the garment for the more inner layer called ruach. The ruach is also described as the garment for the Neshama level which is even more deeply embedded in the body. The body is described as a garment metaphorically for the Nefesh. The two higher levels are described as being more inner than the Neshama and yet are spoken of as being outside the body and to some extent outside the physical levels of the world completely. All of these levels move up and down each other like pipes and sleeves.
The Nefesh layer of soul permeates our possessions. The concept of possessions in the spiritual world is similar and different than the concept of possessions in the physical world. An example of possessions that are different is an employee. Our Nefesh may permeate the Nefesh of the human being who has accepted our offer of employment. In ancient days a bond servant or slave would have this idea of a Nefesh of his owner permeating his own Nefesh and taking away his free will. This idea is also real when it comes to things like stocks and corporations. All of the stockholders Nefeshot permeate all of the machines that produce the wealth of the corporation where ever in the world it might be.
The Ruach manifests through our emotions and feelings. It also may be permeating through our possessions depending on our feeling toward our things. This is how someone has some basic fears of dying since the soul knows that it is going to have great difficulty leaving those physical things it has allowed itself to learn to love.
The Neshama is called the speaking soul. It is both an intellectual aspect and an emotional aspect. The animals have an instinct that comes from their Ruach. People also have instincts that come from the Ruach as well as instincts and creative aspects that come from their Neshama. The Neshama is what makes someone a human being. Without a Neshama a person may speak but that speaking is coming through its human Ruach and its human Nefesh. Any creative aspect of ours comes from the Neshama. This might be children or it might be a new patent or it might be a new Torah insight. If it is creativity in process it is Neshama in action.
Section 2 -- Definition of the Shechinah
Hebrew Verse Transliterated
Ki BeSameck toldot yaakov yosef, Pey Lech Lecha WeZal: Shemati Mamori “Vayera HaShem Ki Sar Leriot”, Ki hashiki nah Collot cak haolamot domem Tzomoach chai midbar, Wecal hanbaram Shebaolam hen tovim hen raOham.
In the book “Toldot Yaacov Yosef,” in the Parasha of Lech Lecha, the following teaching appears. “I, Rabbi Yaacov Yosef of Polonoye, heard from my teacher the Baal Shem Tov, the following commentary on the verse, “And HaShem saw that Moshe turned aside to see...”. The Shechinah or the indwelling presence of HaShem, includes all the worlds. This includes inanimate, plant, animal, and human (actually verbal). All created things in the world, both good and evil.
Rabbi Saffron now quotes a passage by Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polonoye which presents certain key ideas that he learned from the Baal Shem that does have a direct bearing on the mystery of enemies. Much of what we know about the Baal Shem Tov including his life and teachings originates with Rabbi Yaakov Yosef's writings.
To understand the deeper meaning of Moshe's ambivalence with his vision, teaches the Baal Shem Tov, one must KNOW that the Shechinah is the indwelling presence of HaShem. This means the Shechinah is that aspect of divinity that infuses and actually comprises the created world.
All of reality is nothing but divinity in a state of concealment and contraction. “There is nothing but God." There is congealed divinity which permeates the created world, and this is what we mean by the term, The Shechinah. And there is divinity unconcealed and uncontracted which we call the NoThing, the infinite one, or also, sometimes, the infinite light. The Shechinah is imminent, the NoThing transcendent.
This relationship applies on all scales. On one hand the light that invigorates an individual cell is the Shechinah. It is divine light that has congealed and constricted itself to become the life force of that cell. The light on the next scale up, which surrounds and transcends that cell, appears to it as infinitely radiant and is rightly labeled as NoThing from its perspective. Yet that very same light is the indwelling Shechinah presence relative to the larger organism which hosts the cell. From the organism's perspective one must look to the heavenly realms that surround our world to catch a glimpse of NoThing. Yet from a cosmic perspective even that lofty light, is the Shechinah presence. Anything that dwells inside the boundaries of the great constriction, the cosmic womb of creation, is an expression of the Shechinah that resides at its core. NoThing is that which surrounds the void.
The terms being used are not well known to my Kabbalah Students. Light is the term used by the early and later Kabbalists to describe the extension of the Creator. We use it to mean fulfillment of the vessels desire. The term “great constriction” is the translation of the term we are used to calling Tzimsum. Fulfillment can be indwelling and the life force of something created. Fulfillment can also be something external to the created being and represent the concept of surrounding light. As always everything is relative and that is what is being presented here in the paragraph above. The word Shechinah is used by the Kabbalists yet since it is relative it is hard to define. That is what is going on here.
It is a basic principle of faith that “the whole world was filled with God's glory" and "there is no place void of divinity." The light, love, oneness, and goodness of God is ever present – that is what it means that God is one. HaShem is equally present in a newspaper as in a Torah scroll in a murderer as in a saint, in an outhouse as in a holy site, yet this is not how things appear. We experience a hierarchy of presence. We make pilgrimage to sacred sites and observe holy days because God feels more accessible there. The explanation is this: though divinity is equally present in every point of time and space, it is not equally revealed through them. When the light, love, oneness, and goodness of God is perceptible in a place, we say that the Shechinah dwells there, and the place or moment becomes a tabernacle in time or space that holds the manifest glory of God. When the light, love, oneness, and goodness of God is concealed in a place, we say the Shechinah is in exile meaning that she is present, but hidden.
The Shechinah permeates not just the physical layer of creation for the emotional, mental, and spiritual planes as well. The entire spectrum of soul light enclothed within the space of creation is the Shechinah, in the largest sense of that term. The mineral, plant, animal, and human kingdoms are concentric layers of her universe encompassing presence. Nothing exists apart from her. And though she is divine, she infuses both the holy and the profane, the virtuous and the wicked.
The Shechinah is a word that does not get used in the Tanach. It is used extensively in the Talmud and other Kabbalistic Writings. The Shechinah is a construct that changes based on human activity. HaShem does not change but the Shechinah does change. That is the basic difference and since it is always relative to the situation it is very hard to quantify and define.
Cosmic residue plus cosmic ray is equal to the Shechinah
It was explained in Chapter 5 that before creation God's infinite light was equally present at every point of time and space. Time and Space are themselves creations, and did not actually exist before creation except in potential. The cosmos could not appear for there was no room for worlds to emerge. Every cranny was already filled with the presence of HaShem.
HaShem's first step was to conceal his light from a circumscribed place, creating a spherical void now free to be filled by something else. This vacated space became the primordial womb for creations unfolding. Into its hollow gaps HaShem emanated a single beam of light which is called the cosmic ray, the unfolding of which is the history and evolution of creation as we know it.
Yet there is one important detail that was not mentioned in chapter 5-the mystery of the cosmic residue. It is a principle of Kabbalah that wherever light sojourns it always leaves a trace of itself, a flickering trail, as it moves along its way. And so it was for the infinite light. (chanoch adds: This is the source of the spiritual law that there is no disappearance in spirituality.)
When it concealed itself to create the great constriction, a smattering of illumination remained behind, the coarser components of the infinite light. And now separated from its limitless source, this lingering residue thickened still more.
When the cosmic ray entered the void it encountered this residue, organized it into worlds and creatures and then en-clothed itself within them as a soul infuses the body.
This cosmic residue, the holy dregs of the infinite light is the root of all the myriad vessels-physical, astral, angelic and even thought forms-that fill creation.
At first only a small part of the cosmic ray could fit into the few and primitive vessels of our early universe. But as creatures multiplied as consciousness expanded, and as civilization unfolded, more and more of the cosmic ray filled these new containers whether mineral, plant, animal, human, mechanical, digital, or even virtual. (chanoch adds: This is a description of evolution on a cosmic scale.)
The most common use of the term Shechinah, refers to that portion of the cosmic ray that has integrated into creation and serves as a solo material that enlivens all things.
And yet, on the largest scale the Shechinah also includes all lights that have endured the requisite constrictions in order to enter the cosmic womb without drowning it out of existence with the tidal wave of infinite light. From this perspective, in addition to her indwelling soul presence, the Shechinah also includes: one the cosmic residue that is the inner essence of the lowest layer of reality called the physical plane and to the most transcendent lights of the cosmic ray that are so high they have nothing in common with the vessels currently available on in our imperfect world.
Section 3 -- How can absolute Good also include Bad?
Hebrew Verse Transliteration
Wehayah Moshe Matamah, ki HaShechinah Hu HaYachid HaEmeti, WaAYach Kolel Shenai Hafkim, Tov VeRav , Wehaim Shenai Hafkim Wehu HaYachid.
The quotation from Rabbi Yaakov Yosef continues: “Moshe was shocked by this. If the Shechinah embodies the true oneness of HaShem, how can She include these two opposite states of good and evil, for they are irreconcilable opposites, and She is One.
What confused Moshe, however, is that if everything in the world is the Shechinah, then She must also include both good and evil, holy and profane. The absolute oneness of HaShem applies on all levels and the Shechinah embodies this oneness in the created realms. Yet if HaShem is loving, perfect and absolute good, how can Divinity be one with evil, cruelty, darkness and bad. How can two irreconcilable opposites – Good and Evil – both express HaShem Who is One?
What is the Shechinah? It is not a word from the Tanach. It is a word used extensively in and by the Talmud. The academic translation is the female aspect of God. What does that mean?
Let us begin to understand this as it will become necessary to know why this term is used. In the Prophets HaShem tells us "He does not change." In the Talmud it tells us that our actions cause changes in HaShem. If we do good we strengthen HaShem; if we do evil we weaken HaShem. This is of course in comparison to the opponent called Satan or sometimes the Angel of Death.
Learn this well.
The Shechina is a construct just as Satan is a construct. A construct is our mental image of something. The Shechina is a construct that is God but a God that changes. The change comes about through human activity, and only human activity.
Hebrew Verse Transliterated
WeCane Shemo Shel Moshe WeChol HaTzadikim, Colel HaChol, Tov WeRah, "Moshe Ravchem KovivSatos" Kenodah, Weaich NaAsah HaYaChod All Yedo, WeChain Lechol Tzadik SeCholel Tov WeRah, "Lamindah Tov Welamindah Rah", Merorot Wetzarot Urot MerasAyam Shebedoroh, Wehaim Atzamim Nitzotztot Shelo Wechalki Nishmato, :Ulmachadar Germiyah" All Yadam "Letov" Amiti,
The quotation from Rabbi Yaakov Yosef continues: “But what we have said about the Shechinah is also seen in Moses' Name, and it actually applies to all Tzadikim. They also include both good and evil. Proof is the Talmudic report that even Moses, our teacher, was accused of swindling, as is known. (See the link below to understand this statement). So how can Moses serve as a unifying force when he himself is split (meaning composed of Good and Evil)? The question extends to every Tzadik who also include both good and evil. (Here ends the quoted passage from Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, and begins the commentary of Rabbi Saffron).
The Zohar answers this question, "it is necessary for the Tzadik to know good and to know evil...". This is experienced as the bitterness, oppression, and hurtfullness of his odious and difficult contemporaries. The secret is that they (evildoers) are actually, themselves, sparks of the Tzadik's soul. This illusion of conflict also allows for “afterwards, with effort, the Tzadik to turn both of them, the good and evil," to true good, the good that is even higher than the original good.”
This issue is not abstract. It plays out on every level including the individual. It is true for the Shechinah but it is also true for the Tzadikim and even Moses himself, the most enlightened of all prophets. Everyone and everything contains both darkness and light. Since Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, even the purest good contains at least a trace of evil, and vice a versa.
If the above paragraph is true and it is true, what does it mean to purify the physical world? We can not eliminate evil and bad so why should we try? One answer comes from the study of reincarnation. In our advanced reincarnation class we learned that if one does not change and purify to the extent possible then the body -- that particular body will be resurrected with some other soul that is not us. That is quite a motivation to purify and do spiritual work. So why is this not taught and made more widely known? It needs to be and that is actually part of the spiritual work of every human being. This is part of the Tikune for each one of us.
And so we find that Moses was so filled with light he had to wear a veil when talking with others so as not to overwhelm them. His enlightened awareness was so integrated that it shone through the skin of his face. The midrash describes Moses as nearly transcending his human condition and achieving an angelic status poetically described as half man and half God. Yet this very Moses was accused of swindling and adultery. Of course these accusations were false, but the fact that they occurred proves there must be some shadow (chanoch adds: of truth) to sustain them.
Tradition teaches that the name of a person in the letters comprising it expresses the essence of the soul and its mission in the world. Moses' name identifies him with the Shechinah. Just as she extends from heaven to earth and includes all created beings, good and bad alike, so is this true for Moses.
chanoch adds: There is more to the idea of a Name being the metaphor for the soul than just the letters. It also includes all the words that come from each letter of that name. It is highly recommended that each person delve into their Name as they will learn about themselves and their Tikunes.
The Mem of his name corresponds to the lowest Sefirah, Malchut, the layer of reality that shattered, fell, thickened, and darkened after Adam's eating from the tree of knowledge. The Shin of his name is the letter associated with the element of fire which connects it to the Torah and to the emotional plane and the layer of soul called ruach. The Hey of his name corresponds to the first Hey of God's four letter ineffable name HaShem which associates with the higher level of soul called Neshamah.
Moses is an archetype as well as a man, and his name reveals that he, like the Shechinah, bridges from the highest and holy tip of creation to its lowest and polluted depths. As we shall see, Moses is the inner core of light and consciousness within the larger totality called the Shechinah.
Moses united heaven and earth when he pulled / brought the Torah down. The question becomes: how could he have accomplished this feat when he himself was split, when he himself was not completely unified with good, when he himself possesses even a shadow of a non rectified soul? The question applies to all Tzadikim. Their mission and passion is to unify HaShem by revealing His light and goodness throughout creation. Yet they themselves are always split for by definition they contain some trace of evil, as King Solomon boldly declared: there is no human being that always does good and never sins (chanoch adds: makes spiritual mistakes).
The Zohar provides a clue with some unusual advice: “A person should know both good and evil, and then turn evil itself into good.” This is a deep tenet of faith. The Hebrew term for Know – דעת describes a deeply internalized understanding of the matter at hand. It is impossible to fulfill the Zohar's advice to know evil except by direct encounter. And in reference to Moses and the Tzadikim, “to know evil means to suffer bitterly from the heinous deeds of one's odious contemporaries and yet to know that these evildoers are none other than sparks of one's very own soul.” The Zohar continues its advice: “and then the work of the Tzadik is to turn that evil itself into true and absolute good.”
There was a king in the ancient Middle East; he had heard wondrous tales about a man of God, who had brought down the mightiest dictator on earth, the Pharaoh of Egypt to his knees, using signs and wonders. The King was a master of reading people and discerning character from the lines and shapes on their faces. So the King longed to see the face of this man told about in the stories he had heard. Since this was before the invention of photography, the king sent his Royal artist to the Sinai desert to locate the wandering Israelite tribe paint an exact duplicate of Moshe's Face.
The artist accomplished his mission and returned with his painting in hand but as soon as the king beheld the picture He thought that something was wrong. This is not a portrait of the holy Prophet. He could not possibly the man of God. This is the same type of person as anyone else. This is actually the face of a corrupt sinner, with murder and adultery engraved on his face. The king's wrath turned on the artist. The King said this man did not go on his mission, and brazenly lied about it. Off with his head - execute this incompetent swindler. Either he probably can not see or that he lied about tracking the Israelites in the desert. The artist was executed for bungling his Imperial Mission.
The King hired a new artist and sent him on the same Royal errand. Yet when the artist arrived at the Camp of Moses, he realizes the first portrait was exactly correct. Not knowing what to do, he decided to ask Moshe. He told Moshe, “If I painted the same face which was the real face, I will surely be executed. It is suicide to return with an image identical to the first artist, even though it was an accurate portrayal of the face of Moses.” The Artist asked Moshe “perhaps if I could bring the king an explanation of why your facial features contradict the fact of your piety and godliness, perhaps then the King will accept my painting and spare my life. Your face Moshe is like no other face I have ever seen and my specialty is portraits which means I have looked closely at many faces. Moses replied: you are a human being formed of clay and dust, with eyes that are dull by the plaster and dust of this earth. Such is the human condition, that you are hardest hit from this physical illusion in your mind. The good that you and your king called good, when the face proves that the soul is good.... There is no brightness and that good, or the person is simply doing what he was gifted to, what his nature compels him. There is nothing to his credit there. The merit, in that case, goes to the one who bestowed him his soul. True and Real good is when a person's nature and face contain all the impurities imaginable, and against all odds and with great my person chooses good, and excels in good, and translate that into good. That is true good, when the person himself actually created the good by struggle, sacrifice, and difficult choices. This is a much greater good than that which is inherited as an unearned gift.
Thus we learn what is TRUE GOOD.
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