Saturday, October 31, 2015
Rabbi Mendel Kessin
Synopsis is not necesarrily in Rabbi Kessin's own words
- 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.