*** Disclaimer: 1) this is not a transcript; 2) R’ Mendel didn’t write this personally ***
The Ultimate Complexity Of One.
The only job and the only contribution of the Jewish people is representing, implementing, revealing the simple truth of all – God is one.
Is that it? Yet, that is it. But do we know what it means? Do we know what’s behind?
Physical and spiritual.
We live in the physical universe. The physical universe is the lowest plane of the created reality, the ground zero of the creation. There is the whole spectrum of the spiritual worlds “above” the physical. We know about them, we can intellectually comprehend them, but in our current state we are not given an ability to actually experience a spiritual world, even when it comes to the lowest spiritual planes.
However, we shouldn’t be misled by this limitation. It is our unfortunate limitation to perceive the spiritual on intellectual level only, it’s not the limitation of the spiritual per se. We perceive it as theory, it’s not tangible and lacking substance only in our eyes. But the truth is that the spiritual is not theoretical at all, it’s as real as it can get, and its substance is superior to the substance of the physical, and it’s much more tangible too.
Though we are lacking the “tools” to perceive the spiritual directly, we aren’t lacking curiosity. What would it be like to EXPERIENCE the spiritual? What’s up there, in the spiritual worlds? What’s the essential difference between the physical and the spiritual?
A spiritual world – on any level of the spiritual spectrum – reveals the presence of God. In contrast, the physical universe hides the presence of God.
A higher spiritual world reveals more God’s presence, while a lower spiritual world reveals less God’s presence. Consider a metaphor of a filter. A filter allows more or less of a substance to come through; the rest is blocked out and inaccessible.
As simple as it sounds, it’s not that simple at all. Let’s explain and clarify the meaning and the implications of God’s presence.
God’s presence implies certain attributes. The chief attribute of His presence is His Oneness. God is one, and there is no more. This Oneness is the simplest and the most foundational concept, and at the same time it presents an astounding complexity. The better we understand God’s Oneness, the better we can understand and imagine what it’s like up there, in the spiritual worlds.
Each of the following concepts reveals Oneness in a distinct light.
Oneness – beyond the obvious.
Cause. Oneness of causes. Each cause has a cause. A cause of a cause has a cause too. It goes on and on, until we reach the ultimate cause…
The ultimate cause is God. Spiritual worlds reveal in various degrees the Oneness of causes. Physical world conceals the ultimate cause, thus creating a convincing illusion of multiple independent causes.
The Error of the first man led to the reality of “By the sweat of your brow you will eat bread” – which means creation of an illusion that a man now becomes a cause of his own existence, and must extend efforts in order to live. Being at cause is not a punishment, rather the consequences of the Error – a man now has to break through a tougher illusion than the one he originally faced.
Force. Oneness of forces. All the forces stem and are fully controlled by God. Spiritual worlds reveal in various degrees the ultimate force behind the forces. Physical world conceals the ultimate force, thus creating a convincing illusion of multiple independent forces.
The Oneness of forces was demonstrated by God during the Exodus, when God openly revealed all the forces to be fully operational and controlled by Him directly (this also revealed how precious Jewish nation is in the eyes of God).
Energy. Oneness of energies. There are many types of energies in the creation. They are all powered by God, as there is only God’s energy in the creation. Spiritual worlds reveal in various degrees the ultimate energy powering all the other energies. Physical world conceals the ultimate energy, thus creating an illusion of various independent types and sources of energies.
Power. Oneness of powers. There are many sources of power in the creation. All the powers are fully and totally controlled by God, as there is no other power besides God. Spiritual worlds reveal in various degrees the ultimate power as the only power in existence. Physical world conceals the ultimate power, thus creating an illusion of independent interconnected powers.
Goal. Oneness of goals. Various phenomena and processes in the creation have various goals. Some goals are known to us, while others are not.
In truth there is one and only Goal in the whole creation. The Goal is created by God. This ultimate goal is projected unto all the phenomena, unto all the aspects, beings, and parts of the creation, thus setting respective sub-goals for phenomena, aspects, beings, and parts.
The spiritual worlds in various degrees reveal the ultimate Goal and a sub-goals of all the phenomena, aspects, beings, and parts. The physical world conceals the ultimate goal and its sub-goals in the creation, and we are left to guesswork to figure out what the goals are. Our guesswork leaves us without realization of the ultimate Goal assigned to the creation as a whole, and only gives us a few distorted contradictory concepts which don’t even loosely resemble the true sub-goals, let alone the ultimate Goal of the creation.
The revelation of truth would be astounding: everything in existence is directed towards to ultimate Goal, with no exception, with no deviation.
Definition of a rich man as a one who is happy with his lot by a large extent refers to the Oneness of goals: each human being is given precisely all the means necessary to actualize his potential, i.e. to reach his goal which is a sub-goal of the ultimate Goal. Worth repeating: each human being is given EVERYTHING which is needed in order to succeed. What is everything? ALL the resources, ALL the opportunities, ALL the means. What is success? The perfection associated with ultimate correction of a soul, the ultimate correction of the creation, bringing the creation closer to the world to come, preparing the place in the world to come. Nobody lacks anything – in the deepest, ultimate, true sense.
Source. Oneness of sources. The spiritual worlds in various degrees reveal that everything in existence emanates from God, there is no an independent source of anything. Physical universe conceals the Source of existence and we are facing multitudes of sources, or a lack of any sources – depending on a point of view.
Control. Oneness of control. Spiritual worlds in various degrees reveal that God has full and total control over literally everything. Nothing can be controlled by any means. Physical world conceals the true control, thus creating a convincing illusion of an ability to control things. We find ways to control the various phenomena, and it seems to us that we have control in our hands, indeed. What a mistake!
Harmony. There is nothing extra in the creation, and there is nothing lacking. There are no contradictions. There is a perfect harmony among ALL the phenomena, aspects, beings, and parts, on all the levels. Spiritual worlds in various degrees reveal an astounding harmony in the creation, while the physical world conceals it by a large degree. Though science discovers more and more harmony in the physical universe, it’s still too far from the real harmony, and we still observe fierce competition between wills and forces.
Outcome. Oneness of outcomes. All the roads lead to the predetermined destination. Yes, we have absolute freedom of choice. Yes, each of us can end up at a different destination, depending on our we exercise our free will. However, God puts all the pieces of the puzzle together in a way that all the creation comes to the destination He prepared. In a similar fashion, due to free will there is no a predetermined destination for each individual Jew, but the nation of Israel as a whole will surely complete the job of taking the creation to the next world, to the prepared destination, even though there are 600,000 souls, and each one is exercising its own free will!
Events and history. We may observe some trends in history of the humankind, in the history of a nation, in the history of a human being, but overall a history on any level is full of random, independent, contradictory fragments. Nothing makes much sense.
Spiritual worlds to various degrees reveal that the history is one powerful flow of interconnected events and processes, leading from the origins to the prepared pre-designed pre-determined destination, with no event, small or big, on any scale, which deviates or misdirects the flow. It’s AWESOME view – yet, we are temporarily blocked from accessing it.
“Nachamu Nachamu Ami” is usually translated as “Comfort and be consoled, my people” – however, this translation is not precise. The correct translation should be “Comfort comfort my people”, or “Be consoled be consoled my people”. The words come from one of the greatest prophets, and the meaning is as follows.
At the end of the history we arrive to the great and happy destination. We can relax and enjoy. However, what about all the history that led to this point? All the untold suffering, pain, struggle, nonsense?! What was all THAT?!
Hence double consolation: from the destination we will not only look forward, we will also look back. And we will clearly see how each event, each detail, each pain, everything, literally everything was essential and absolutely necessary to bring out the result, to arrive to the amazing, dazzling, happy destination – even a small deviation would take the world off the path.
It’s like somebody released from the prison after 20 years being there. Yes, I am free, thank you very much, but why was I jailed for 20 years for the crime I never committed?! And I am shown the deeper truth, seeing so clearly as day why I ended up in prison, and how each second in prison contributed to the final release and happiness.
It’s almost impossible to believe now, but this revelation is true on the level of the history of the humankind as a whole, and it’s also true on the level of each Jew, each human being, each and every being! We will really see it all – very soon. It will be The Movie of the movies, but it will be much more than a movie – we will EXPERIENCE it all, beyond time…
When Yakov and Yosef met – Yosef cries, while Yakov says krias shema. Why krias shema?
It was the moment of truth for Yakov. He suddenly see that retroactively the whole life combines into one magnificent picture – everything, all the suffering, losses, failures – ALL suddenly makes so much sense…
A game of an individual fragment differs, but all the fragments are combined in a magnificent picture, and the whole picture is astounding, and it was designed by God a while ago, in fact it was designed beyond time, and the whole picture will be presented to us by the end of the history, when the physical world will be transformed, and we will be shocked by what we observe and experience then, and it will be presented to us on many levels – on a level of the whole world, on the level of a nation, on the level of every human being…
Being. We observe multitudes of beings. In fact, even spiritual universes contain multitudes of beings. However, the spiritual universes in various degrees reveal the ultimate truth: there is nothing and nobody besides God; God is the only being; nothing and nobody else exists.
Physical universe conceals this fact, and beings are perceived as independent. Independence is an attribute of the physical universe.
Spiritual worlds reveal in various degrees the existential Oneness in such a way that it’s clear as day that each being exists in relative terms, in its own frame of reference, yet it doesn’t exist in a true sense of existence per se.
However, only the highest spiritual world reveals the existential Oneness fully, and thus in that world nothing exists at all – only dazzling light of God’s presence. Nobody can “touch” this world – by definition, as you would immediately cease to exist.
All the worlds below the highest world present the duality of being. Existence and non-existence are miraculously merged together; a relative being and an absolute being co-exist. Each created entity manifests two aspects of being – non-existence and existence. Non-existence refers to a non-existent self and thus hints on the only existent being – God; thus any other “independent” being doesn’t really exist, impressing on an entity an aspect of non-existence.
Physical world shuts this perception off, blocking the perception of true absolute being effectively, and we observe many things, we mistakenly perceive beings to exist independently, on their own.
The giving Torah on Sinai effectively demonstrated to us the Oneness of being – we all actually experienced it on the level of greatest prophets!
Self. Spiritual worlds in various degrees reveal that each “I” has two aspects to it: “I”, and “non-I”. I sense my own self in certain degree, and at the same time I sense that I don’t exist, that it’s God Who brings my non-existent self into relative being, by creating a frame of reference for my self to be. Thus I do exist and I don’t exist at the same time.
I exist in the Oneness of God; I exist in a certain sense, but the highest truth is that I don’t exist, that only God exists, and my “I” is not real on the ultimate scale. But it’s only at the highest spiritual plane my “I” would cease to exist altogether – while on the lower levels it does and does not exist at the same time.
“I” am in the context of God, in the context of His Oneness. The physical world conceals the ultimate context of God’s Oneness. Here I exist independently and can only comprehend the context of God’s Oneness intellectually, in theory. It’s hidden from my experiential insight, from my direct perception.
I am temporarily cutoff from the higher levels of my soul which do have access to the truth inaccessible to me in my current state of being. So “self” is present in the spiritual worlds too, but is experienced VERY differently. We can understand and we can explain this “difference”, but we can’t imagine and can’t experience it – it’s that different.
EXPERIENCING self and EXPERIENCING God at the same time, or – in other words – experiencing self in the strong context of God and His Oneness – is exactly what awaits us at the end of our journey (or rather in the begging of our Journey).
In this world there are phenomena which reinforce the independent self tremendously – pleasure, achievement / productivity, possessions, wealth / money.
God is one. God is One. God is The One. God is The Only One. There is nothing and nobody besides God. This is the simplest and most foundational truth. But we are in physical universe, and in the physical universe the simplest and the easiest truth miraculously becomes the most revolutionary and the most complex and the most unbelievable concept of all…
*** Disclaimer: 1) this is not a transcript; 2) R’ Mendel didn’t write this personally ***
Torah Is Not For Angels.
- What is stronger in a combination of a body and a soul?
By the very nature of things a soul is much more powerful that a body, and normally it should subdue a body, transform it, so that a body would become transparent.
- Why doesn’t it happen?
God’s will prevents this from happening for the time being (yes, for the time being only – temporarily, until The Work is completed).
- What’s God’s will?
It’s not just will in a way we experience our will. God’s will determines reality, it IS reality – it is creative energy which gives existence to all the beings, maintains their existence afterward, and sets up rules and boundaries.
A body and a soul – the struggle.
- What does it mean that because of a special will of God a body wins over a soul?
It doesn’t imply any fight between two opposite elements. It rather means that our “I” experiences the reality via the body, and “doesn’t notice” the reality through a soul, even though a soul is right there, available for us to see the reality through it. Our “I” is temporarily blocked from accessing experiencing the reality via the soul. Metaphorically, we can view is like this: a body is telling us loud and clear “Look through me!”, while a soul is whispering to us gently, almost unnoticeably “Look through me, please…” It’s like a violin playing from afar while we are in the epicenter of a thunderstorm.
When Moshe Rabeinu went up to receive Torah – his physicality, i.e. his physical body, was “suspended”. There was still a body, but it gave no urges.
What does it mean? He no longer used the body to experience the reality, while still having the body intact and fully connected to it.
Angels or humans?
Angels interjected and attempted to claim The Torah for themselves instead. They didn’t like the fact that Torah was given over to a physical being. “Give The Torah to us! Why to give Torah to the humans?” Moshe Rabeinu answered: there are commandments in Torah to perform only in physicality, so Torah should indeed be given to a physical being, and not to angels.
What did angels ask? What did Moshe Rabeinu answer? Moshe Rabeinu said something obvious. Didn’t angels know that already?
What is Torah?
Ramban: Torah is a collection of Divine Names. This requires clarification.
There are 10 fundamental forces (or energies) in the creation. These forces are called sefiros. They emanate from God and are combined in multitudes of ways to created the reality.
A Divine Name corresponds to a specific combination, or rather a configuration of sefiros, and thus corresponds to a distinct act of God. Torah is a collection of ALL acts of God in the coded form. The totality of all the acts of God is the reality. A Divine Name is a label assigned to a specific configuration of sefiros, corresponding to a specific act of God, responsible for certain phenomenon in the creation. Let’s emphasize: Torah contains ALL the acts of God – including the past, the present, the future, and those beyond time. Every act God has done, is doing, will have done – ever, in this world and the world to come – is contained in Torah.
Learning Torah in its deepest sense means dealing with the sefiros EXPERIENTIALLY, “touching” their configurations, “calling” the names assigned to the configurations, recognition the configurations of sefiros in various areas and phenomena of life, in various parts and aspects of the reality. This is the Torah angels wanted, which is indeed Torah in its true, most fundamental form.
Accessing A Name, one of the Divine Names, in a certain way, puts us in touch with the reality in the deepest, most fundamental sense – experientially, i.e. not through information or knowledge ABOUT it. As a side effect, it gives us an ability to alter the reality – i.e. to alter the phenomenon, the facet, the area of reality which corresponds to the configuration of sefiros denoted by The Name.
At the same time, The Torah may be projected down to the physical world. This is where we are. How does Torah look and feel in our world?
Since physicality doesn’t contain God’s presence (if we may say so) – by the very definition – the greatest mystery of the creation – so the material world is totally disconnected from God experientially – God is still accessible here, but not through experience, rather through information ABOUT HIM. Thus Torah comes down here as INFORMATION – and here we are, this is exactly the book of Torah we are so familiar with – with parshiyos, beautiful stories, and precious commandments.
Torah of angels VS Torah of men.
What’s the difference between Torah given on a higher level of angels and Torah given on a level of physical universe, down below?
The difference is crucial.
Giving Torah on a certain level means that God is revealing Himself on that very level, or, more precisely, gives us an ability to reveal Him on that level – through us accessing the Divine Names, thus coming in touch with the given configuration of sefiros, as Torah by its very nature is a potentiality of the revelation, which relies on created beings to “activate” this revelation by accessing its elements in a certain well defined manner.
This means that on that specific level we – i.e. beings who live on that level – can trace every point, every “place”, all the phenomena – to its source, i.e. “back” to Him, by recognizing the act of God which created (and has maintained) the place and the phenomena. Technically speaking, this means the revelation of a configuration of sefiros, fundamental spiritual energies of the creation, the very configuration which bring the phenomenon under consideration into being. Essentially speaking, this means a revelation of God and His Oneness in this very point of the reality.
The problem is that if the Torah is given on a higher level, then the higher level reveals Oneness of God, i.e. every point of the higher level reality is traced to God, to his action, to one of His names corresponding to this very point, to a configuration of sefiros which has been creating and maintaining the existence and the being in this point, while the lower levels of the reality still don’t reveal God. Lower levels remain disconnected from God.
This is not God’s ultimate plan. His Master Plan includes Revelation of God on the lower levels of the creation, including the lowest – material world – and thus implies giving Torah on that lowest level, the level of physicality, to a physical being, i.e. to a being who is the least possible candidate to receive Torah, as this is the being the most removed from God, and that was why the angels wanted to intercept Torah.
- But wait, didn’t angels understand that?
They surely did. However, they also understood that assigning the job to a physical being is mission impossible. They wouldn’t entrust the creation to a player who had no chance to succeed. Would you gamble on your life and the life of your loved ones? So too angels, they didn’t want to gamble. Given fallibility of men, angels preferred the lesser revelation of the Divine that they would achieve with certainty, to the utmost revelation of the Divine that had no chances of success in the hands of men.
- So at the end of a day how can we succeed?
Indeed, this is the greatest mystery of the creation. We will succeed. God guarantees our success, though the nature and the history of this guarantee is a subject on its own. At the same time He does not interfere with our freedom of choice. We will succeed against all odds. We don’t know how. Angels don’t know how. No created being knows how. But it has been happening.
On a side note, worth to mention that we will succeed as a whole; there is no personal guarantee, so in spite of the guarantee, it’s too early to relax.
“Touching” Torah VS doing Torah VS learning Torah.
How do we “touch” the configuration of sefiros and thus bring down the messianic light to the physical world? By DOING.
Doing commandments. Because acting, doing is the currency of our material world. In this context, thinking and learning is also classified as doing, in fact it’s the greatest doing – as the greatest commandment is learning Torah. However, in spite of all its greatness, it’s not EXPERIENCING The Oneness of God – it’s rather thinking and learning ABOUT it, on the level of information. Of course, we feel it too – we emote ABOUT it, but feelings and emotions are low level experiences, in a sense that it’s not the experience of The Divine which will become available to us when the time comes.
Future – the world to come or… utopia?
Future is usually viewed as utopia: improved, glorified, idealized world, but essentially the same world we know these days. Only better and happier. We picture unlimited personal freedom and give no place for suffering in the world of beauty and harmony.
However, this is a mistake. The future world is very far from a better version of our world. It’s a fundamentally different reality. It’s so radically different that the wildest imagination can’t fathom it. This refers even to the later messianic times, not even to mention the world to come.
We can’t imagine it, yet we still can describe it conceptually. It’s the world of the experiencing Divine, being in a presence of God.
What does this mean, practically speaking, if we may ask so?
This means that we experience all the beauty and infinite variety of the reality, including our own enhanced being – ALL permeated and saturated with the Oneness of God, the totality of the reality perceived in the context of God’s Oneness, or, metaphorically speaking, in the light of His Presence.
The messianic light.
The sages describe this light of the world to come, but the metaphors often emphasize the light itself, given an impression that there is only light and nothing else. This may be confusing to us if we forget the basic fact that – to reiterate – The Light of His Oneness saturates and permeates the reality – the reality is still here, in its full, ultimately upgraded and enhanced state – in the context of His Oneness EXPERIENTIALLY, and not as just information, no matter how dazzling and brilliant information is by itself.
*** Disclaimer: 1) this is not a transcript; 2) R’ Mendel didn’t write this personally ***
Why Physical Universe?
- The essence and juxtaposition of physical and spiritual.
- Physical choice VS Spiritual choice.
- Dilemma of a spiritual being.
- Uniqueness of a human being.
- The essence and the mechanism of Avodah.
- Tikun hamidos as prerequisite to Avodah.
- Why did God create the physical universe?
There are 3 realms in existence:
- The realm of God.
Let’s focus on physical and spiritual. Why do we need both? It takes an introduction to fully understand and appreciate this question.
The essence and juxtaposition of physical and spiritual.
The Work (Avodah) has to be done in the physical universe. This is where the main action occurs.
- The essence of physicality is total concealment of God.
- The essence of spirituality is perceiving and experiencing the presence of God.
When we talk about God and His presence we primarily mean the revelation of His Oneness, which means that there is nothing and nobody in existence besides Him, including my own self, the very self that right now I experience as absolute, independent, standalone.
To contrast the physical and the spiritual better let’s shift the emphasis by changing the wording:
- The essence of physicality it total concealment of God (and His Oneness).
- The essence of spirituality is partial concealment of God (and His Oneness).
Choice VS Choice.
– What’s The Ultimate Choice in the physical world?
God and His Oneness VS godless universe.
– What’s The Ultimate Choice in the spiritual world?
Greater clarity of His Oneness VS lesser clarity of His Oneness.
Just like Avodah is possible in the physical world by offering its inhabitants a choice between God and godless, so too Avodah would be possible in the spiritual world by offering its inhabitants a choice between greater clarity and lesser clarity of His Oneness.
And if you ask, why would a created spiritual being prefer lesser clarity, the answer is simple: for the same reason a physical being prefers godless when God is “available”, and the reason is – a created being mistakenly perceives that “more” God diminishes its (being’s) existence, while “less” God gives more space to the being and thus leads to grandeur and greatness, which of course is arrogance and false pride, but unfortunately is not perceived as such by created beings on the primary experiential level. So just like a physical being is tempted to deny God by sensing its own greatness in such a denial, so too a spiritual being can be tempted to opt for less clarity of God’s Oneness by falsely sensing its own more enhanced state of being in such an option.
In reality, as it were, spiritual beings don’t have such a temptation, as it wasn’t given to them. Which is not the case for the physical beings – us – who were indeed given such a temptation, commonly called evil inclination.
Now the stage is setup for the main question.
Why to create physical universe to begin with, with all its pain and suffering, why not to have the spiritual realm only, and to have Avodah based on the spectrum of levels in spirituality?
Appreciating A Human Being.
A man is a very unusual, bizarre creature. Why?
There are two components to a man: physical and spiritual. There is no any other being in the creation consisting of these two components. All the other beings are EITHER physical, OR spiritual – NEVER both.
The combination of physical and spiritual is explosive. Physical and spiritual are not just DIFFERENT, they are OPPOSITE, their co-existence in one being is contradictory and impossible. The opposition is as follows.
- Spiritual: there is nothing and nobody besides God; in His absolute total Oneness you don’t really exist, and even though you feel very much alive in your own frame of reference, God created and controls this frame of reference fully and unconditionally always, under any circumstances, even if you seemingly rebel against Him, even if you deny His very existence.
- Physical: you exist as absolutely independent and standalone being, you are in total control, at least in your own space, your perceived frame of reference is the only real one.
A human being is always torn between the poles: I exist VS I don’t exist, God exists VS God doesn’t exist, I am in control VS God is in control. There is no escape, the opposites are built in our very nature, and it’s one of the greatest miracles in the creation.
The essence and the mechanism of Avodah.
The Avodah is the work of comprehension. A human being is to comprehend God and His Oneness. In the world to come this comprehension will become fully experiential. In this world it can be only partly experiential, and even that only on very special occasions.
In this world our primary level experience is determined by our senses. Our physiology and emotions are FELT as real. Our intellect enables us to go beyond the primary level experience in a way that we can think ABOUT the primary experience, i.e. about our body-emotion state. Intellect doesn’t stop there, as it gives us ability to also think ABOUT our thinking. Reflective and self-reflective ability of our intellect is the key to understanding a human being. Reflecting on our primary level experience, and then reflecting on reflections, we build the whole universe of meaning in our minds. In a sense, we create our whole subjective world, which as we hope maps more or less correctly the objective world which is totally beyond us, and only available to our perception through our physical senses, and even that is not direct experiencing of the world – it’s rather how our brain captures and reinterprets trillions bits of information coming through our senses.
These higher level of consciousness are where we can comprehend God and His Oneness. We don’t have to (i.e. we are not compelled by our nature to do so) – unless we want to – as building the higher levels of consciousness takes a decision and an effort. Only there, all the way “up” in our minds, we can detect God’s presence, God’s existence, God’s design. In this sense, in our frame of reference, God is subjective, and as such His recognition, acceptance, and our compliance are given over to our freedom of choice. In fact, this is where our freedom of choice resides. To simplify, We have to think ABOUT life in order to notice patterns and to come to conclusions. If we refuse to think ABOUT life – we won’t notice anything, and we can claim that there is nothing out there beyond what we directly feel. Because it’s all “hidden” in that “aboutness” which is not a part of objective universe in our frame of reference by our very nature.
So is it only God and His Oneness not detectable till we raise to higher levels of the mind?
By no means. Consider friendship, love, courage, resilience, even gravity and electricity, and thousands of other concepts and phenomena – they are unquestionably real, but in order to understand, comprehend, and detect them we have to raise our consciousness above and beyond the sensual universe, to enter the world of meaning, to reflect on the phenomena and to reflect of reflections.
In the physical world God concealed Himself fully, but He gave us clues, many clues about Him and His Oneness. It’s up to us – to our freedom of choice – what to do with the clues. We can ignore them. Or we can carefully collect them, and put them together by recreating the true reality of God in our minds, mapping out the world in a brilliantly new, dazzling ways.
When the time comes, we are granted to actually experience it – the ultimate pleasure and the ultimate joy – on a primary level of experience, and not just to think ABOUT it. This experience won’t come through our physical senses, we will transcend the senses, will go far and beyond them.
- Kidush Hashem (sanctification of God’s name) results from Avodah, and is enhancing of the perception of God’s being and His attributes in our minds (in a mind of one sanctifying, and in the minds of others).
- Chillul Hashem (desecration of God’s name) results from self-deception and distorted view on reality, and is diminishing of the perception of God’s being in our minds (in a mind of one desecrating, and in the minds of others).
Prerequisite To Avodah.
One area of Avodah is crucial for success, and is rather a prerequisite to the other areas of Avodah. It’s Tikun Hamidos (refinement of character). Why?
We are given a force which tempts us to ignore the clues, stops us from thinking about clues, ourselves, our destiny, prevents us from searching for the truth. This force is called an yetzer harah – evil inclination, but there is a simpler term for it – self-interest. It seems beneficial to us to hide from God. It seems more enjoyable if He wouldn’t be around, if we could do anything we want, if only we would be in control. Denying God (on whatever level we are at, i.e. denying Him completely, or denying some of His attributes, or limiting His control in some areas) seems to be enhancing to our state of being.
To remove self-interest is crucial before we can even begin to recognize the truth, before we can start thinking about clues, about ourselves, about life. If self-interest is there, we will use our intellect to distort the picture. Our intellect is powerful, and it’s an easy job to do. With self-interest in place we are blind – we will see anything we want to see, nothing is going to be convincing, compelling, attractive besides our own sense of well-being; even though our perceived self-interest and well-being are illusory, they seem so real to us that we can’t even begin to question them.
Tikun Hamidos is designed to achieve just that – to remove self-interest, to annihilate arrogance, to develop an attitude of honesty regardless the perceived consequences. Humility is worth gold. Only true humility enables us to recognize the truth.
However, even then the truth doesn’t come automatically with humility. It’s a necessary beginning, prerequisite, the only tool which enables us to overcome self-deception, so that noticing the clues and putting them together into a dazzling picture can take place.
Why physical universe?
Back to the question asked in the beginning: why to create physical universe to begin with, why not to have the spiritual realm only, and to have Avodah based on more clarity VS less clarity, instead of God VS godless?
There are two sides to the answer.
First, the challenge of the physical universe is a greater challenge than the challenge of the spiritual universe. Greater challenge leads to a greater accomplishment. Greater accomplishment leads to a greater reward. Greater reward means more enhanced being, more pleasure, more joy at the destination.
Second, let’s consider God’s perspective, if we may. He wills to reveal His Oneness. As much as possible, to the utmost degree possible (the only limitation is that a created being shouldn’t be annihilated by overwhelming Oneness). Oneness can be revealed only in multiplicity. Thus, multiplicity must be created. The greater multiplicity the greater revealed Oneness at the end. Ultimate multiplicity denotes the reality where God and His Oneness are concealed totally and undetectably, with clues spread and given over to the free choice of a prime being assigned to do the job. Hence physical universe serves the purpose. Ultimate Oneness is revealed in ultimate multiplicity – and only limited Oneness would be revealed in partial multiplicity. Avodah done in spiritual universe would result in LIMITED Oneness at the end, and only Avodah in physical universe brings Oneness to the utmost degree possible, as intended by God.
A reminder about God.
Strictly saying, this is off the subject. However, it seems appropriate to conclude with a mini-attempt to correct the vision, to enhance God’s being in our minds directly, right now.
Can anything co-exist with God? This question really means: is there anything that doesn’t have to be created by God, that pre-existed, co-existed with Him?
No. Nothing co-exists and nothing can co-exist with Him. Everything has to be created in order to exist.
What does “everything” refer to? Well, everything refers to everything, however don’t be misled by simplicity of such a statement. Because the concept of reality was created. The concept of existence was created. The concept of a concept was created. Let’s emphasize and imagine the consequences:
- Reality is a created concept.
- Existence is a created concept.
- Any concept is created.
God is beyond reality, beyond existence, beyond any concept, beyond a concept of a concept – beyond any comprehension in principle.
So what do we understand about Him? What do we know about Him?
He created a concept of understanding, and He created His understanding – for us to understand, and He created His knowledge – for us to know. This –
and only this – is what we understand about Him, what we know about Him.
When we said in the beginning that when we talk about God and His presence we primarily mean the revelation of His Oneness – how do we know this? We know this from Him, He told us so, in fact once he told us directly, and later our prophets revealed it to us again and again, and our sages explained it to us, and our teachers clarified it for us, and now we know.
He also created a concept of creation, a concept and an ability to create. It’s ultimate creativity – to create creativity as it were – isn’t it?