The Zohar/Rav Brandwein Writings
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THE ADVANTAGES OF THE INNER
by: Rav Avraham Brandwein, Dean
What is the advantage of performing the Mitzvot in an inner way over performing them in an outer way? The learning of Torah and the performance of Mitzvot in an outer way doesn't guarantee any inner change for the individual. Man who has selfish impulses, from the very nature with which he is created, won't change just because of outward acts. To the contrary, such acts can even augment ego and pride especially when one places exclusive emphasis upon the Mitzvot between oneself and the L-rd. This is because everything must be symmetrical. For instance, when one fights with a rifle, one is opposed with a rifle and when one fights with a canon, the enemy goes against one with a canon. Ego and the negative properties of man are inner qualities of man's nature and thus acts that are exclusively outer won't suffice. One must add to them inner functions.
The inner force comes directly from the L-rd. That force contains, within it, the power of unity and influence, i.e., it gives the ability to see how all of Creation functions with one harmony since the inner soul is one and is divided only by the existence of many bodies. Thus the inner force has the power to influence. This is also so since this power comes from the L-rd Who has no egoism and all of Whose actions are derived from the force of pure altruism. Thus when we act according to inner impulse, it also changes our negative properties. In order to concretize the difference between the performance of a Mitzvah in an outer way and the performance of a Mitzvah in an inner way, we shall take as an example prayer as is written in the Torah "to worship Him with all your hearts." "What is the work of the heart? It is prayer." This is how Chazal explain it.
A person who learns to perform Mitzvot only externally and doesn't know the inner meanings of the Mitzvot, prays for himself or for his family and asks the L-rd to improve the material conditions of his existence. But for the true Kabbalist, prayer is for Clal Yisrael and thus for the sorrow of the exile of the Shechina and for lifting the honor of Israel and revealing the light of the L-rd in the world.
The Secret of Prayer
The wise men of Kabbalah divided up all of existence into four worlds called:
The Shacharit service is also divided into four parts. Birchot HaShachar (The Prayers of Dawn) and the Korbanot (The Sacrifices) correspond to the world of Assiyah. P'sukei D'Zimra (i.e., Mizmorei Tehilim) from Baruch She'amar until Yishtabach correspond to the world of Yetzirah. Birchat Yotzer Or and Kriyat Shmah correspond to Olam HaBriah. Tefilat Shmona Essrei corresponds to the world of Atzilut.
The world of Assiyah constitutes the practical world, i.e., all our acts including physical work. This finds expression in Birchot HaShachar where we give thanks for the return of the soul to our body after sleep. After that, comes the sacrifice of our mundane desires in order that they be strictly for the edification of the L-rd which is the meaning of Korban (Hakrava = to draw close). One draws close to the L-rd through self-sacrifice.
Among the sacrifices of the morning service is the sacrifice of incense. Here we include, in the eleven indications of the spices, the Chelvna that is a spice with a bad smell symbolizing the wicked and the evil in the world. Likewise, the Levona that has a good smell symbolizes the good. The sacrificing of all the spices together indicates that there is no completeness without evil and, ultimately, everything must be included in one harmony for a complete sacrifice. The world of Assiyah is the lowest world and in which evil is evident.
The second part of P'sukei D'Zimra (chapters from Tehilim) corresponds to the world of Yetzirah. In these, we praise the L-rd for the magnificent formation of the cosmos, for nature, for the mountains, the sky, the stars, the animals and the birds, etc., as these things find expression in these chapters.
The third part corresponds to the world of Briyah, i.e., the world of the angels and Seraphim and how they all praise and extol the L-rd and His Creation to one another along with the people of his world.
The fourth part is prayer that corresponds to the world of Atzilut that emanates light and that is only good and terminates with the "Sim Shalom" blessing where "Shalom" points to unification and complete merging with the divine where all contradictions are resolved in unity.
Accordingly, we learn that the worlds of Atzilut, Briyah, Yetzirah and Assiyah are not abstract worlds but rather that the Mekubal, who worships the L-rd, experiences all the lights that are found in each world. In the world of Assiyah, he must unite all of the mundane world with its evil and sacrifice his selfish desires to the L-rd. In the world of Yetzirah, he rises a step and sees, in spiritual experience, how the whole cosmos functions in marvelous harmony and its inhabitants sing songs about the wonders of the works that the Creator formed at the level of Yetzirah.
In the world of Briyah, they rise to a higher level, to a spiritual world beyond the universe that is visible to us, to the world of the angels and Seraphim who stand in terror and in awe to do the bidding of their Creator. From here, the Mekubal passes to the world of Atzilut that is called "the world that is all good." Thus in Kriyat Shmah, prior to passing to the world that is all good, he must devote all his heart, soul and means to the holiness of the L-rd. Only on this condition does one merit to reach the world of Atzilut the meaning of which is "Etzlo" (together with Him). That is to say, one becomes a part connected with divinity the way the hand of a human that was severed and is later reconnected by a surgeon is reconnected with the intentions that come from the head. Likewise, a person who rose to the world of Atzilut is worthy of feeling and experiencing divinity, permanently.
>From all this, we see that the Mitzvoth concern, principally, the inner
work that we are to accomplish and that Ta'amei HaMitzvot are really a way
of life that we must follow and that it requires concern for all. The meaning
of "Ta'am" (Ta'amei HaMitzvot) is not only intellectual and logical
but is like the taste of eating. One cannot get the taste of food with an intellectual
explanation but only with actual eating. Likewise, the hidden tastes can be
experienced only through the inner work of the