October 17, 2015
by Rabbi Mendel Kessin
The video for this shiur/class has been split into 2 parts:
Synopsis is not necesarrily in Rabbi Kessin's own words
- Ultimate problem.
- Ultimate purpose.
- Ultimate instruments.
- Ultimate job.
What’s the ultimate problem in the creation?
Concealment. Whose concealment? Concealment of God.
What about God that is concealed?
His Oneness, which means – there is nobody and nothing in existence besides Him. He exists – we don’t. Nothing else does. He is the ONLY being.
What does this mean? Is it figuratively speaking?
No, it’s literally true! However, the greatest miracle of the creation is that we perceive ourselves as existent, and in this sense we do exist on our terms, in our frame of reference, though we can’t even remotely comprehend the meaning and the mechanism of our non-existing “existence”, as the ultimate truth and reality is The Absolute Oneness of God – there is nothing and nobody in existence besides Him.
How did God accomplish it?
First of all, before anything else can be said, He created the concept of Oneness and a being which expresses absolute Oneness. What is this being? It’s Ein Sof (or Infinite, or Infinity). Ein Sof is a created being (shocking?), yet it’s designed to represent Him for us. However, even though Ein Sof is created, we can’t touch Ein Sof – by definition. Because ultimate Oneness means exactly that – any “self” which perceives Oneness experientially must cease to exist.
Ein Sof is the greatest created being. It’s representing God, though we can’t “touch” it directly, let alone perceiving His essence. This is our ultimate limitation. However, just like I can talk to another human being – we can communicate and “feel” each other’s existence, and be sure that we do exist – still I don’t and I can’t touch another human being’s essence directly. The essence is a soul. Anybody’s seen a soul? Anybody’s touched it? Not only I haven’t seen your soul, have I ever seen my own soul? No! Yet, it’s not a problem in terms of us getting to know ourselves and each other, being sure in our own existence, being confident in ourselves and the world around us.
In order to create the world in Oneness – which is mission impossible as far as we are concerned – God created “tzimtzum” (contraction). It’s a process of contracting His Ein Sof light so that a conceptual place and seemingly independent realms could exist (consider “could exist” VS “seem to exist” – wonderful, miraculous, incomprehensible frame of reference which “contains” independent existence and – ultimately – free will.)
– The purpose of the creation?
The reversal of tzimtzum. To bring Ein Sof back into our reality.
These days we live in the end of the processes of reversal – the history is about to end very soon – and this world will be gradually transformed in the world to come. Ein Sof will be back. But not in a way that everything will cease to exist. Rather in a way that the creation will EXPERIENCE God and His Oneness – Ein Sof – to the utmost degree, without loss of self-identity. Experiencing Ein Sof to the utmost degree is the greatest pleasure, the greatest state of being. Eternal incomprehensible bliss – with our “I” still intact, though in a different form, not in a form we experience “I” in this world.
On The Job.
Who drives the process of reversal? Who draws The World To Come closer and closer?
The greatest being in the creation has been assigned this noble task to transform the creation, to take it to its ultimate state, to the world to come. Introducing the ultimate being, the one who must actually do the job. It’s a human being on the dawn of the history, and a Jew our days. Non-Jews are still connected with the job, and can still do it, but more indirectly than Jews.
How does a Jew do it?
A Jew must do the work – Avodah. Avodah consists of the following “departments”:
- Mitzvos (commandments)
- Tefilah (prayer)
- Torah (learning Torah)
- Tikun HaMidos (refinement of a character)
- Yichudim (high level, high impact meditation)
- Nevua (prophecy)
Each category of Avodah is a tremendous area on its own. Measured by impact, the greatest category is Torah.
Mitzvos And The Light.
These are the 6 categories of the instruments that “bring” the shechina (Divine Presence, or Ein Sof) back into the world. Of course, God brings it back Himself, but He does it according to our efforts in Avodah, so in this sense we are the ones who bring it back, transform the creation, take it to its ultimate state.
Each mitzva is an instrument which brings so to say some specific Divine Light into the creation. In other words, mitzva is a trigger. The light which is triggered by a mitzva – a corresponding light – is the same very mitzva on God’s side, so to say. Having in mind this correspondence, God does mitzvos too. Not in literal sense, of course, but God reveals His light which corresponds to the mitzvos we perform.
What is this light? The light of spirituality, the light of His Presence, the light of His Oneness.