The question remains: Why did HaShem set it up in such a way that enemies with their unjust accusations of faults and mistakes are an inescapable part of life? It must be that this tribulation serves an essential purpose in the larger scheme of life. It must be the most efficient and least painful route to redemption needs to pass through enemy territory. What why?
As we look about the world we find a tremendous amount of pain. How can this world be the least painful? How can we know this or prove this to ourselves? This is what Kabbalah teaches. As we go through the Epilogue, which will provide a review of the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov and the experience of Rabbi Safrin, keep in mind this question and look to provide a perception of truth for yourself – that this is actually a perfect world for the moment. Not essentially perfect and complete but perfect for the moment. Maybe you will see this and maybe you will find yourself caught in the illusion. Striving to break the illusion is helpful to create perfection.
One answer is that when the enemies interact, the heat of their encounter penetrates the surface and catalyzes changes within deep spiritual layers that are not generally touched by the usual trials of the daily life.
As below, so above. We see that many chemical reactions are ultimately a downhill process - energetically speaking - and should happen as naturally and easily as water flowing downhill. But chemical interactions don't. Instead, they require heat to get the atoms to begin moving and shaking; so is this true on the spiritual plane? Chanoch adds: or should this phrase be written as a statement and not a question.
The heat generated by the tension and frustration of grappling with an enemy activates the spiritual atoms - the soul sparks - and gives them the energy to go bustling and recombining. These strange slivers, knocked loose by the shocks and jolts, are free to be drawn back home to the higher levels or even the root level of the soul of the Tzadik.
This sorting out of soul material occurs, and depending upon the merit of the parties involved, the result might be win-win, or win-lose. It is possible that when a liberated spark returns to its root, it tugs the soul mass that had been its host upward toward the light, rousing and to engage in a Teshuvah process all its own. That is a win-win scenario. It is also possible that when the spark pries loose, it leaves its host behind for without coercion there is nothing to bind them in this new phase of relationship where continued connection now depends upon free will and shared affinity. This is a win-lose scenario for the host which is weakened and perhaps extinguished by the sparks being raised on high.
Another answer is that the ordeal of enemies is particularly suited to fulfilling at least one of the purposes of creation. One approach to answering the ultimately unanswerable question of why HaShem created the universe is to say, as does the Midrash, that the infinite one desired a dwelling place down here below in the finite material worlds.
This purpose is fulfilled on some level every time the soul infuses the physical body but especially when a person's flesh and blood consciously recognizes God, for in those moments the infinite light becomes visible on the outermost surface of the below. This explanation employs the literal definition of below, as referring to the physical plane. When a soul which is a sliver of divine infinity resides within a finite body, the infinite one dwells below, within finitude, within the lowly physical plane.
This paragraph is difficult to understand. It does not explain how the Light becomes visible in or on the external world. The Light is everywhere and thus for it not to be seen externally implies a covering of the light. The way to understand this concept is to visualize that when a good deed or Mitzvah is done in the physical world the covering over a specific spark of light is either removed completely or the covering is made thinner. We do not see this light since we do not have working receptors in our eyes designed to see this light. It is there, we have to
Another metaphor to help us understand the idea is the lamp that is covered by 1 million layers of gauze. No light will be seen from the outside yet the light is shining as normal below the inner layer of gauze. When we do a good deed we remove one layer of gauze. Since there are still 999, 999 layers left we still can not see light from the outside. Eventually we will remove a sufficient amount of gauze to be able to see the light. This is the meaning of the coming of Mashiach consciousness. This consciousness raises our level of certainty and our ability to discern the difference in the light shining through when only one layer of gauze is removed. There actually is more light being revealed but we do not have the capability to discern this difference yet.
Returning to the reading
Yet there is an even lower “below,” which includes the dark, evil pockets of the world where forces acting against HaShem's explicit directions and suggestions prosper and prevail – where cruel and brazen evildoers ignore the HaShem's word and tyrannize the faithful with impunity. These thugs exhibit themselves as living proof that there is no moral force ruling the world, there is no omnipotent HaShem directing history or, if there is, He is either on their side, or powerless to stop them – Chas V'Shalom. Amid the tangle of projections that surround the feud, where each claims to be the victim of injustice, most believe - at least for an instant - that their enemy is a - perhaps unwitting - pawn of this darkened defiant force.
The agents of brazen injustice are the lowest point in the universe, for they actively deny the fact of the just Creator whose primal will to good rules the world and controls each instant of the creations unfolding – chanoch adds: both on a macro and a micro level. The message broadcast by the perpetrators triumph is that "there is no supreme moral code, and there is no judge to enforce it." This is the ultimate-and dirtiest-lie. And if HaShem has a distinguishing mark, it is truth. Thus whenever this lie rules, HaShem conceals Himself from the limelight and works undercover, hidden from you. Yet there are still those who see His working perfectly behind the scenes. He is visible to those with eyes to see the truth.
The challenge is to resist the undertow and to defy the enormous pressure to renounce - or even just forget - the higher vision that reveals HaShem. The enemy shamelessly seeks to replace HaShem as the reference point of our lives. His constant provocations demand constant reactions that consume his victims days and nights. When instead keeping the faith and clinging to the higher moral code, we bring God into revelation slowly below. And that is a radical act with repercussions that are impossible to fathom. If the purpose of creation is - as the Midrash states to create a dwelling place for divinity below, then that is exactly what happens here. There is no lower “below” than a place where evildoers prosper. When the people who are the targets of the wrath remain God referenced, strive for integrity, and seek the most spiritually productive response to their ordeal, they create a space for HaShem to dwell in this awful “below” where injustice prevails.
i am driven to clarify a number of points from the above few paragraphs:
Returning to the reading.
The most dramatic example was the Holocaust, where Jews dehumanized in every way, hold onto their dignity and continue to seek the Torah's ethical guidance for questions such as whether they could escape from the camp if it was sure to bring punishment on those left behind, or - if the opportunity arose - could they purchase a baptismal certificate that denied their Jewish identity. And even when marching to the gas chambers many were heard singing a song of higher vision - “I believe in perfect faith – Anee MaMami - that God is running the world - even in this black perverse death camp, which is an apparent victory for the evil ones. I believe in perfect faith, good and truth will prevail, that God will bring his messianic Redeemer who will usher the world - and all who are worthy of it - into the blessed era of peace and eternally deepening closeness to HaShem."
If the purpose of creation is to provide a dwelling place for divinity in the lower worlds, the net goal was accomplished there on a grand scale. There was no lower moment in human history than the Holocaust, but the glory of God was revealed even there where the face of the people and their steadfast integrity held true even in the face of such adversity.
In searching for an answer to our question - what is the most spiritually productive way to deal with the evil enemies - the temptation is to seek a formula that can be trusted is the right path in all circumstances.
The problem is that there is no such thing. Resources vary, lessons are learned, innocence is lost, enemies reconfigured, power shifts, values change, technology evolves, loopholes appear - all of which lead to one inescapable fact - each enemy is different, and each subsequent encounters with the same enemy require constant reassessment to determine what is now the most spiritually productive and God serving way to address the challenges at hand. What works for the Nazi enemy will not work in the present. Elements might transfer from that context to this, and certainly faith principles apply at all times, but the question remains - what is the proper response to this antagonist in this moment? Is it time for compromise or zeal, trust or suspicion, smart bombs or negotiations?
The Baal Shem Tov model suggests that every situation be treated as a hostage crisis with its two conflicting goals: the poignant desire to rescue the hostages - and in the meantime to avoid endangering them - versus the angry desire to vanquish the enemy to forcibly disarm, and perhaps even eradicate him.
Now with a little imagination, it becomes clear that the best case scenario would be for the enemy to see the light, voluntarily releasing the hostages, regret his misdeed, and become an ally. That prospect accomplishes both goals: the hostages safely returned and the enemy ceases to be a danger, permanently without need of a hyper-vigilant and massive army to suppress future invocations.
Obviously, that best case scenario is not always possible, at least as a present option. Yet it is always advisable - if not obligatory - to hold an expected vision of our first choice and end goal while engaged in the nitty-gritty of crisis control whose immediate urgency leaves little space for proactive visioning.
The Talmud makes this point in its typically teaching-tale fashion. It presents six questions that are asked of the soul when it enters the pearly gates. The short questionnaire determines what purifications of the soul must endure before obtaining its plot in the heavenly realms. One of those questions is: Did you look expectantly for redemption always? That is, did you carry a vision of redemption in your heart and wish for it to materialize at every moment? Similarly, the Jewish tradition directs its adherence to reaffirm their ever expecting and constant hope for redemption three times daily. Included in the Amidah, the central prayer of Jewish worship is a supplication for the messianic Redeemer. In that prayer appears the following line: "We hope for Your salvation all day long and look expectantly for Your redemption."
Maimonides summarizes the Jewish conception of messianic times in a concise paragraph:
In that era there will be no famine, no war, and, no strife. Prosperity will be plentiful, and all kinds of luxuries will be as common as dust. The universal preoccupation will be primarily to know HaShem.
Consequently, the people of Israel will be very wise. The things that are now vague and deeply hidden will be revealed to all. The world will attain a knowledge of their Creator to the utmost of human capacity, as Isaiah states: "The world will be full of the knowledge of HaShem as the sea fills the ocean bed." Isaiah 11:9.
Clearly the yearning that we are instructed to hold in our hearts at all times is a vision of genuine peace, where enemies lay down their arms, renounce their hostilities, release the prisoners, and work together to serve HaShem. This is also HaShem's goal, repeatedly conveyed through the prophets, and with a little foresight, we see that it is also the most self-serving goal as well, especially when hostages are involved.
Shortsighted action is where we focus solely on our immediate exploit. Our goal is to win this round at all costs. Our satisfaction comes from outmaneuvering our enemies and vanquishing them. This is a fallen pleasure that lacks messianic vision and is premised on duality - it only happens when there is one up and one down - when this one rises, the other falls and vice a versa. And since we don't see through the confrontation to the ultimate goal and promised ideal - where enemies renounce hostilities, “beat their swords into plowshares and... learn war no more” - we actually bolster the reality of conflict even while wringing our hands and despairing of it.
Concentration is not just a concept in which we transfer units of psychic energy to whatever we focus upon. That's why we often sense when someone is staring at us. If we only see to the conflict and not through it, if we only focus on defeating the enemy and not also on transcending him, then our psychic energy strengthens the wall of conflict when our real goal is to dissolve it.
This does not mean that we don't put our full might into winning the battle. It does not discredit the legitimate goal of subjugating the enemy. Every new Vista of consciousness incorporates all that preceded it. A vision of peace does not automatically reject the need for armed struggle in the present. But as the frame expands elements reorganize, priorities shift, and new options appear. As our horizons widen we begin to grasp how complicated war really is. The Baal Shem Tov's hostage model adds a whole new layer of complexity by introducing the fact that myriad slivers of soul are exiled among our enemies. This changes everything. It is possible to believe the war was won, when really it was lost. There is more at stake than land, property and citizens. Every conflict is also a spiritual campaign. The real booty is the soul stuff that is rescued and repatriated. Nuking the enemy might remove their present threat, but it could also prolong the road to redemption by requiring our estranged sparks to come back around into new incarnations and begin the lifetime labor of finding their way home.
It is also possible that a military strike really is the best option under the circumstances. The most efficient and least costly all around course of action might be to eliminate the enemy now.
The Talmud presents a principle that is relevant to decisions of this sort. The sages explain: "Something that is physically dangerous is graver than something that is spiritually hazardous." In other words, danger posed to the person's body takes priority over danger to the soul. This is not a self-evident truth, especially within a religious context. Since the soul is more important than the body, we would surely assume that physical death is preferable to spiritual death.
Nonetheless the sages maintain that, while we are alive, our physical survival is HaShem's overriding concern. Should there arise the necessity to choose between damaging the body and injuring the soul, the body's protection takes precedence. This is because the soul's whole purpose - where existing physically - is to serve HaShem in this world and therefore, the soul needs a body. Without a physical body the soul has no way of performing the physical actions called mitzvot which HaShem requests from us, and which comprise the bulk of our spiritual work and contribution to the world. While spiritual damage can usually be healed through actions of Teshuvah, physical damage may be irrepairable.
Consequently, if a thorough assessment of real and present danger concludes that our physical survival requires a remedy as drastic and costly in lives, property and hostage sparks as a declaration of all-out war, then, sadly, that is the action we are permitted and even required to take.
Those who are shortsighted undertake this mission with glee. They see to the conflict but not through it. The immediate gratification of vanquishing the enemy hogs their visual field. Concealing the real price tag, they have no idea how costly this operation really is.
Those who are farsighted take the action with conviction yet are pained by its necessity. They are not ambivalent. The deed must be done, but for them it is an amputation. Like severing a diseased appendage to save a life. The decision is always reluctant, for the costs are obviously great.
At present our strategy to eliminate evil is as primitive as chemotherapy whose noxious poisons harm healthy cells along with those that are the target. Cancer treatments are not sufficiently discriminating. They cannot pinpoint the viral and culprits, which means they produce a massive amount of collateral damage that harms the patient nearly as much is the malignancy that is its target. Sometimes they cause more effort and expended energy towards the true goal – the spiritual effect.
Those who are farsighted know that this metaphor applies precisely to all conflicts, be they global, national, interpersonal, or internal. The more club like the solution, the more collateral damage it produces, and the more they themselves suffer even when they prevail.
This is true when countries maneuver into global associations. Wars become global through these alliances that would have much less conflicts if we understood the goals to be spiritual. There is no need for war to elevate the spiritual hostage of a country against another country. We do not need to worry about atomic bombs from Iran if we trust HaShem that His words are true and not conditional since we are meeting these conditions. That is where the teachings of Kabbalah enter the picture. We will eventually realize that the different desires will be fulfilled through the appreciating of the diversity of creation and not the effort to coerce the other side into our limited and narrow values. This will be when we realize that the goals of the individual Moslem is just as true as our goals and just as necessary for him to succeed as our goals. We all have a saying we have heard repeated many times. HaShem will provide. Why do we not yet know that this is true. HaShem will provide fulfillment of all true human desires without exception and HaShem through His agents, the Watchers, will remove all foreign – non terrestrial thoughts and desires from our world. These thoughts and desires will find their way home to their rightful place in the universes of HaShem's creations.
The healthy cells entwined with our enemies are estranged pieces of our soul. And it is not so simple to distinguish them from real foes. They often suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition where abducted hostages come to identify with their hostage takers and demonstrate real loyalty to them. The victims become emotionally attached to their persecutors and continued to defend their captors even after being freed from their ordeal.
These lost souls posing as the enemy having absorbed the hostile opinions of the enemy are bone of our bones, flesh of our flesh, literally. This is the unavoidable implication of our Kabbalistic model which states unequivocally that there is only one Adam in the universe. This cosmic Adam spans from the heavens to the earth and from one end of the world to the other. From our I-Center the inner soul core of this universe encompassing Adam is its Children of Israel layer. All other people and creatures comprise the body of this item which makes them literally bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh. Every redeemable spark in the universe has a place in this cosmic Adam no matter where it is presently found-weathering Jew or non-Jew, plant or mineral, and it will eventually find its way home. The process of repatriating sparks is win-win. On a personal scale the deepest soul pleasure is to become more whole, to become more fully oneself, and this is equally true for the collective Adam. Every time a strange sparks springs free and returns to its native soil - that place in the cosmic body of creation - Adam becomes more whole. In this is a pure and abiding joy that permeates through every limb including the cells of each one of us. In this scenario when an enemy repents and reconciles with its root everyone wins for we are all one.
In section 4, Rabbi Safran quoted the Zohar but did not mention its larger context. He focused on the Zohar's conclusion not the process by which it got there. This passage still has online treasures that are relevant to the mystery of enemies, in our quest to find the most spiritually productive way to deal with them.
The Zohar is examining the story of Job and attempting to reconcile the apparent injustice of his ordeal with the absolute fairness of God's providence.
The book of Job begins by recounting his holy and God-fearing ways:
".. And Job was blameless and upright, and one who feared God, and turned away from evil. -Job 1:1
It then introduces his family, and his wealth, and his overall greatness:
And Job had seven sons and three daughters. His possessions were 7000 sheep, and 3000 camels, and 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 and female asses, and a very great household, so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the East. -Job 1:2 – 3
As a student of Kabbalah do you recognize the coded numbers in the verse above? 7 lower Sefirot and 3 higher Sefirot. Do you know the meaning of the number 500? It is a common item used in the older Kabbalistic writings. The inner earths are separated by 500 parasangs of distance according to the midrash dealing with the inner earth descriptions in the Zohar. Always look for the meaning in the codes; numbers are the most coded and that is why the Hebrew letters have a level of perception connecting to their numbers.
And then it continues with an anecdote that demonstrates the initial assertion of Job's upright God-fearing ways.
And his sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day; and they use to send and call for their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast would come to their end, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all, for Job said, "It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed HaShem in their hearts." Thus did Job continually. -Job 1:4-5.
Do you recognize the three sisters' code? There are three Sefirot connected to the Left Column. They are Binah, Gevurah, and Hod. Or conversely they are Gevurah, Hod, and Malchut.
And then began Job's downfall, through a seemingly fickle twist of fate.
The sons of Elohim presented themselves before HaShem and Satan - the angelic adversary of mankind to them also among the. . . And God said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God, and turns away from evil?" Then Satan answered the Lord, "Does Job fear God for nothing?” . . . You have blessed the work of his Hands, and his possessions are increased in the land. But if You send Your hand against him and touch all that he possesses, then he will curse You to Your face." And HaShem said to Satan, "Behold all that Job possesses is in your power; only a part of his person do not put forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of God."
Job was subsequently stricken with colossal hardship: his wealth is lost, his children died, his body drips with impossible boils. Despite all this he never curses HaShem, though he does persist in his claim of innocence - which, from the reader's perspective, appears to be true. In the end, HaShem reproves Job for presuming to fathom the logic of his ways. HaShem conveys through 50 riddles that the mystery of apparently innocent suffering is the deepest secret of the universe, whose roots lie in the chaos and void that even preceded Genesis. Job realizes that the justice of suffering might have nothing to do with innocence in the human sense of that term. HaShem restores Job to his previous greatness: and restored the fortunes of Job, when he prayed for his friends – even while their judgment disguised as comfort had tortured him throughout his ordeal. . . HaShem gave Job twice as much as he had before. . . The Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning. . .
As a student of Kabbalah do you recognize this deepest suffering being related to reincarnation and actions from a previous lifetime? Do you understand that you were in the world of Chaos and Void called Tohu and Bohu that preceded Creation of our world and that is the beginning of the reincarnation tool?
The Zohar asked the perennial question: How is this fair? How does this story make sense? Job is an innocent servant of HaShem and it appears that HaShem betrays him. Without apparent provocation, HaShem releases the cosmic enemy - the heavenly adversary also known as Satan upon Job, His loyal and unsuspecting servant.
Does HaShem have a right to act capriciously in this world? He created natural laws in this world. We know He has the power to overcome these laws yet the questions remain Does He have the right to do so?
The question must be asked, "Why did God allow Job to suffer as he did - given that Job was a God-fearing man who, by the Bible's own testimony, was innocent of sin and spiritual debt? The answer is most perplexing in light of these facts and suppositions: Had Job given the cosmic adversary Satan his due, the unholy side would have separated from the holy and allowed the ladder to ascend undisturbed into the highest Heavens. But since in his righteousness Job gave nothing to the other side, the Holy One let justice be executed on him. Mark this! As Job kept evil separate from good and failed to fuse them, he was judged accordingly: First experience good, then he was plagued with evil, and then again good. For man must experience both good and evil, and turn evil itself into good. This is a deep secret of faith.
chanoch's CommentaryThe Zohar gives two explanations relating to this idea that Job did not tithe to the negative system. One that He never gave the negative system what is its share like our minhag to give the first piece of the Challah to the Satan on the Shabbat. The other idea is that Job acted as a sacrificial ram to Satan so that Satan would busy himself with Job and allow HaShem and the children of Israel would be connected on Shemini Atzeret without needing to be disturbed by the negative system. The Zohar also brings a third explanation of Midda Keneged Middah as to why HaShem gave Job to Satan. It relates to advice Job gave to Pharoah about the children of Israel... to wit make them slaves and work them with hard bondage. So Satan did to Job what Job's words had caused others to experience. Without the Zohar generations of Rabbi's have not been able to fathom the message in Job. With the Zohar we learn much and conceal twice as much.
Through these words the Zohar conveys a profound secret about why enemies and hate filled adversaries enter our lives, and what we can do to infuse them or even, hopefully avoid them.
In section 4, Rabbi Safran addressed the question: What does the Zohar intend by this strange admonition that a person must "know both good and evil"? Generally, we spend our days trying to steer clear of evil, to avoid its inner and outer expressions as much as possible. Generally we consider a person who is successful in this regard to display the mark of a master. Rabbi Safran explains:
"To know evil" is to experience the bitterness, oppression, and hurtful effect of evil enemies.
Life is filled with challenges and ordeals, jabs and jostles that cause shallow-or even mid-level-discomfort. There are very few travails that poke all the way through and rile up our core the test of being harassed by those who are dedicated to causing us harm as a core level discomfort. And since knowing refers to integrated awareness that touches our core, enemies are uniquely suited to fulfill the mandate of not just observing evil, but of knowing it. Rabbi Saffron continues:
"To know both good and evil as the Zohar stipulates" is to realize that these malicious adversaries are actually sparks of our very own soul.
Remember the first kabbalah class teaching – knowledge is experience. In our generation many people experience evil through the mechanism of programs such as “Criminal Minds” where the experience is real but similar to a dream less painful than experiencing it directly in the physical world like what was experienced during the camps of the Holocaust.
This awareness incorporates the complexity of things. It turns a black-and-white situation into a continuum of graves. A part of me - the good and innocent one - is contributing to the delinquent behavior of these thoughts. This means that I am not as purely good as I imagine and there's still some Teshuvah that must be done. And likewise, if a part of my goodly soul is joined with these odious enemies, they are not as bad as I thought - that they have redeeming qualities, most notably, the part of me inside the wretched soul of the other - which means there is hope that with proper Teshuvah they can also be redeemed.
The Zohar faults Job on two counts: One for keeping good and evil separate, and two for not giving evil its due.
As Rabbi Safran interprets this passage, we repeat Job's offense when we fail to admit the deep soul bond that unites us, and actually identifies us with our enemies - which forces us to concede that a part of their problem is actually due to us and our lack of fully integrated Teshuvah. If, instead we view the clashes through black-and-white lens, with them as demons and ourselves as Angels, then we repeat Job's mistake: we "keep evil separate from good and fail to infuse them with Light."
This mistaken perspective lead straight to the Zohar second and most mysterious point - that Job did not give evil its proper do. If we see the world in black and white, then it is proper to withhold all nurture from the other side. It deserves nothing, and the world would be a better place if it would dwindle to nonexistence from lack of provisions.
This certainly makes sense and there is more than a sliver of truth to its logic. Yet this is how Job viewed the world, and it did not serve him well. The Zohar seems to suggest that with all Job's righteous devotion, this black-and-white attitude toward evil still drew the cosmic adversary, the archetypal enemy, the fierce and fearsome Satan into his life. The Job strategy backfired:
"That which I feared most is come upon me."-Job 3:25
And this heavenly assault was enacted with God's approval just moments after you praise Job as a blameless and upright man who fears HaShem and turns from evil."
What exactly did Job do wrong? What does it mean to "give evil its due"? Rabbi Safran's advice could not be clearer:
The rule is that when we suffer from enemies that hate us and speak libel against us we need to raise those adversaries and rectify them through prayer. The Prayer is that they should turn their lives to HaShem and truth and good that they should repent in Teshuvah. And if a person doesn't pray in this way for his enemies, and instead pushes them away in anger and invokes punishment upon them, his adversaries will become more vicious and hate him still more.
These prayers of the innocent for their enemies Teshuvah are what the Zohar considers to be evil's do. They are a natural outcome of the earlier realization that me and my enemy are spiritually entwined. We are upside down soulmates whose fates are linked.
When we pray "for our enemies to see the light"-which is one definition of teshuvah - we extend a hand to our enemies soul, empower the good that is there, and boost them upwards towards that light. The Zohar claims that this is the right thing to do. Our enemy is as evil as they may be, can rightfully expect this from their innocent prey.
And when we stand beside the King in any sense of the word - grasp the mysterious truth that there are sparks of our own holy soul inside our vicious foes and pray for their redemption, they accelerate the release of all the parties involved, as the Zohar clearly asserts:
When a person "gives the devil his due," the "unholy side" separates from the holy and allows the ladder to ascend undisturbed into the highest spheres.
And the contrary also applies: if we persist in our black-and-white assessment - ignore the captive sparks that are hostage there and curse our enemies, instead of praying for their teshuvah - we prolong the conflict and lengthen the road to redemption. As Job kept evil separate from good---he was judged accordingly: first experience good, then he was playing with evil, and then again good.
Do you recognize the cycle of life that most people consider normal? First off the cycle of life is up down up just as described above. This is not normal. Life is meant to be only up. The down comes as the effects of mistakes called sins. Following this teaching of the Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Saffron will stop any aspect of the down cycle – even if you are not yet a Tzadik this teaching still applies to any blockage in your life. Pray for their Teshuvah or their change of heart.
And so the story of Job concludes with exactly this message. What is the proof of Job's transformation of self? What has changed that bell that makes him worthy of prosperity and immune to the adversaries evil Intent?
What has changed so that the Job merits restored fortunes? When he prayed for his friends – who had judged his conduct even while not realizing that their words of mental comfort tortured him throughout his ordeal.
The term "Job's comforters" refers to people who think they are comforting but who are actually causing the stress. Job's friends who attacked his character and function are more his enemies than his friends.
Please learn that the ways of the Heavens are so very different than the logic and methods perceived by the physical world. This is another indication that there is no ethics and morality taught in the Torah. Also, look to your own actions. Are you being used by HaShem as a tool to cause someone elses pain and discomfort by telling them the truth of your perceptions that make you feel good without realizing the pain you cause your friend?
The Bible brings a single proof of Job's self-transformation, and that is the fact that he prayed for those very ones who judged him most harshly and caused emotional anguish throughout his travail. The midrash states that Job suffered more from the insensitivity of his so-called friends than he did from his physical afflictions.
The answer to this last and most practical question - what is the most spiritually productive way to deal with evil enemies? - Is not a sentence, it's a journey, a multi-path millennial track that is guided by practical considerations, ethical imperatives, and spiritual principles. These inputs may appear to conflict in the physical world, yet as our knowledge expands, we will see that they reconcile and are not in conflict.
The answer to our question is not yet in the universe. It is waiting to be pulled down. Just as on the physical plane we say that nature abhors a vacuum so is this also a Kabbalistic truth in the secret of success and goal-directed action. The one grasps locations and becomes a master of prayer. This is because will is actually a vacuum of sorts - it is a state of black and has a longing to be filled. A precisely articulated will exerts a powerful suction that pulls down the lights that are perfectly configured to fill its particular lack. The collective force of longing to solve this question is incalculable and chanoch adds: ultimately overwhelming and will be satiated.
It is shocking to estimate the quantity of resources - time, space, money, thought, emotions, entire lives - that have been spent reacting to, anticipating, deflecting preventing, dodging, bearing, avenging, eliminating, forgiving, defusing, reenacting and healing from evil enemies. Certainly, the lion share of Israel's resources - if spreading power, finances, scientific research, psychologists, news reports, prayers, political campaigns, and even dinner conversations - revolve around this threat. The chain of expulsions, crusades, pogroms, holocausts, and man's inhumanity to man remain unbroken until this very day:
When the solution comes through, it is going to be as radical and paradigm shifting as Einstein's discovery of the formula E equals MC squared. Before Einstein's breakthrough it was inconceivable. The only hint that there was a higher unity waiting to reveal itself was the painful contradiction between theory and experiment in regards to the speed of light. After he figured it out, the solution seemed obvious and civilization was forever transformed. This exactly, will be the impact of "solving the question of evil enemies." It will be a paradigm shift that will change the world in simple yet unimaginable ways.
Many strides have been taken and no doubt there are many to go. With each step the horizon broadens and new information appears. Slowly but surely our strategy sharpen, and losses decrease as precision improves. At some point the scale will tip and a quantum shift will occur, but in the meantime we pray for guidance and take each step as it appears.
Rabbi Safran - building upon the Baal Shem Tov's teaching, who builds upon the Zohar, which builds upon the book of Job - suggests a no risk practice that is easy to incorporate into any action plan: in addition to praying for ourselves and praying for the planet and praying for the messianic Golden age, we must also pray for our enemies spiritual redemption-their teshuvah - that they should right their ways and see the light - which is exactly what we see for ourselves.
The beauty of this advice is that everyone can pray. It is always appropriate to pray. Not everyone can sit on the Security Council and design strategy. Not everyone can join the army to defend their countrymen from the enemy's threat. Not everyone can be a peace activist - in whatever form that may take. But everyone, no matter who they are, no matter what they feel, can always pray.
Hasidic Rabbis with large followings often have a learning center on their premises. And so this was the case in this Hasidic tale. Two of the Rebbe's young disciples had the custom of meeting before evening prayers to share a cigarette. Most of their fellow students have given up the vice, but these two young men still found the act - and they would say spiritual satisfaction in these moments of puffing and watching the smoke rise. It became a daily meditation and they felt it was actually good for their souls and even a form of prayer.
They discussed it among themselves and wondered what the Rebbe would say if they asked him a question about prayer and smoking.
So the next day one of the students approached the Rebbe with his query: "Rebbe, I have noticed that as I smoke my daily cigarette, my mind clears and my concentration deepens; I was thinking that this will be a perfect way to prayer. Rebbe, would it be permitted for me to smoke while I pray?"
Much to the young man's chagrin the Rebbe was outraged by the request and considered it a gross disrespect to the sanctity of prayer. He reproached the young man for even considering such a thing.
The student, sadly, reported his failed assignment and the Rebbe's rebuke. His friend, however was not discouraged. "You asked the wrong question," he smiled. "Watch me."
The second student approached the Rebbe with a similar query yet differently phrased: "Rebbe, I was wondering: One of my favorite times of day is my evening cigarette. When I sit on the bench behind the study hall, look out into the world, and watch the smoke of my cigarette rise heavenward, I feel very close to God. Rebbe, I was wondering, would it be proper for me to pray while I smoke?"
"By all means," replied the Rebbe. "Whatever you are doing, it is always right to pray, for so the Talmud teaches in Rabbi Yochanan's name: "Would that a person would pray all day long."
All of these many pages of teachings actually reduce to a single message: Pray for your enemies and especially the most odious of them to do Teshuvah and find their way back to the light which is exactly what you pray for yourself. This is a quadruple win; its successful outcome is good for you, for your enemy, good for the universe, and good for God. It is a practice that applies on all levels - individual and communal.
This is a genuine contribution to national security that can be made by simple civilians looking for a way to assist the war effort - or the peace effort - as it might equally be called. Soldiers are conflict oriented, and rightly so. Their job - and location on the front lines - may not be able to afford the luxury to consider this more entirely inclusive perspective, and it might even be counter advised. Yet just as the body's cells and organs are specialized to make unique contributions to the larger system, so is this true for the soul cells that comprise the women's and organs of our collective Adam. Soldiers are specialized for physical defense - and we all benefit from their sacrifice. . . Civilians - with their prayers for Teshuvah and visions of global unity - are especially suited to shore up our spiritual shields - which benefits the soldiers as well.
A war cry and peace prayer from a Jewish I Center - to be recited with its parenthetical phrases is especially good to add to your spiritual practice:
HaShem, let it be that all souls of the Children of Israel, no matter where they stand, no matter what they face, let them see the light - your truth.
And let them integrate that life so deeply into their being - into their heart, bones, cells and spaces, thought, speech - that they - and we all together - should through this massive Teshuvah - become the light. In this way we will see the light and become the light unto the nations that is our truth and our destiny.
And let this light shine out into the world with a strength and a radiance and of glory that all the nations of the world, including our enemies among them, will see the light – what HaShem is like as this light shines through the Jewish people - their heart should open, their lives should turn, and they should repent and be redeemed. Chanoch adds: Let us all say Amen.
Every I Center - be it a person, nation, religion-could and should adapt this prayer to its own needs by tinkering with the focus and substituting its own name wherever appropriate. Keep editing until the prayer expresses the deepest aspirations of your I Center - what a different world this could be if we would all pray for our enemies in this way. This prayer is a revolutionary act that will change the world for for the good. And who knows, perhaps widely practiced will tip the scales and bring redemption now, chanoch adds: or at least within the hour.
chanoch's CommentaryLets put some practical application to this teaching of the Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Saffron.
Who is now considered the enemies of the United States? Israel? Terrorists? Palestine? Christians? Muslims? Ourselves? Pray for the Teshuvah of all groups and all people. Include yourself in this call for Teshuvah, as well.
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