The Zohar/Rav Brandwein Writings
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Introduction to the Zohar, Lesson 5, Parshas Terumah, 5765, Feb. '05
By our Honorable and Holy Master, Teacher and Rebbi, Rabbi Avraham Brandwein, Of Yerushalayim, Israel, may he live long and happily, Amen.
We continue in the Introduction, Section 3:
The fourth inquiry: “Since the chariot (vehicle) of the Sitra Achora (Other Side, Evil) and the Kelipos (Shells, Evil) are distant from His Holiness, may He be blessed, from one extreme to the other, to the point that one cannot imagine such a distance, how is it possible that it should be drawn out and come into being from Holiness, may He be blessed, and even more so, that His Holiness, may He be blessed, should sustain it?”
First, we need to understand, what is the chariot of the Sitra Achora? Sitra Achora, in Aramaic, means “the Other Side”. It is written in Koheles (Ecclesiastes 7), “For also, Elokim (the Lord) made one corresponding the other.” There is an array of worlds of Holiness, and corresponding to the Holiness is the side of Impurity. This side is called Sitra Achora, not the second side, since just as from the back-side we cannot recognize any object, so too the Sitra Achora is the back-side, which darkens and conceals the light of Holiness.
Also, “The Sitra Achora is distant from His Holiness, may He be blessed, from one extreme to the other,” the side of Impurity is distant from Holiness. The concept of close or distant, in spiritual terms, is not measured like physical distance or closeness. Rather, the spiritual distance or closeness is measured according to the “Similarity of Form, or Difference of Form.” This means that if two people are of the same viewpoint and will, and they work with a joint desire towards one goal, it is considered that they are close to one another, even if there is a physical distance between them. For example, one lives in Israel and the other across the ocean. Nevertheless, they are considered close.
Correspondingly, two people, where each one has an opposing viewpoint to the other, even if they are sitting in the same room, they are considered to be distant, one from the other. This is how spiritual distance or closeness is measured.
According to this definition, we can understand why the Sitra Achora, which is Impurity, is distant from Holiness, from one extreme to the other, for the Essence of Holiness is entirely emanating and giving. However, the entire desire of the Sitra Achora is exclusively to receive for themselves. They are entirely opposite from Holiness. Therefore, they are considered distant from one another, like the distance of East from West. In the coming lessons, it will be further explained, G-d Willing.
“If so, the question of how is it possible for evil to be drawn out and brought into being from Holiness, may He be blessed,” is according to the above mentioned verse in Koheles, “For also, Elokim made one corresponding the other.” The foundation of Judaism is that there is only one Creator, and He created everything, as it also says in Yeshaya (Isaiah 45), “He makes peace and creates evil.” Elokim (the Lord), the Creator, may He be blessed, also created the Holiness, and from the Holiness was drawn out the Sitra Achora.
The question is, behold, every branch is similar to its root, like a son who is similar to his father. If so, how is it possible that from Holiness should be drawn out Impurity, which is the opposite from Holiness? This is the first part of the question.
The second part of the question is more difficult, since after there already is an existence of Impurity, the Holiness should be interested in nullifying the Impurity, or to weaken it and wage war against it. However, we learn that Holiness sustains it and gives it a vivifying power, as Chazal say on the verse in the Torah (Devarim 4), “For Havaya is Elokim, in the heavens above and on the earth below, there is no other.” “No other”, Rabbi Chanina says, not even sorcery. The sorcerers want to prove that they also have spiritual powers, like the sorcerers in Egypt, for every plague that Moshe did in his mission for Hakadosh Baruch Hu, the sorcerers wanted to prove that they also had spiritual powers, as it says, “And the sorcerers of Egypt also did so, in their sorcery.” This is what Chazal say that even sorcery, whose intent is against His Will, may He be blessed, even this power is from Hakadosh Baruch Hu. It is also written in the Zohar (Yisro, Paragraph 48), “In the Sitra Achora there is a thin light,” a thin light that descends to the place of death, and it gives life to the Sitra Achora.
“Life” means the power of movement, a power that comes from Holiness, since the Sitra Achora has no power. This is like the human body; without a soul to give it life, it is considered like a dead body. Likewise, a machine without electric current has no movement. Therefore, the Holiness is what gives the force of life. This is the question, why does Holiness give the sustaining power to the Sitra Achora?
In summation, the fourth inquiry is composed of one question, which is actually two. The first part is that there is a rule that you cannot have a Giver give something, if the Giver does not have that thing himself. In Holiness, there is not a vestige of Impurity. Consequently, how is it possible that Impurity is drawn out from Holiness? This is the first part of the question. The second part is more difficult. Not only that the Impurity is drawn out from Holiness, but the Holiness is interested in the maintenance of the Sitra Achora and supports it and sustains it. For what purpose and why?
Let us move on to the fifth inquiry, “The issue of Techiyas HaMeisim (Resurrection of the Dead): since the body is such a degraded thing, that immediately from the time of birth it is sentenced to death and burial. Furthermore, it says in the Zohar that before the body entirely disintegrates, the Neshama (Soul) cannot ascend to its place in Gan Eden, as long as there is a remnant of the body. If so, what is the obligation (the need) for the body to return and get up for Techiyas HaMeisim? Is Hakadosh Baruch Hu unable to provide pleasure to the souls without the body?”
On of the thirteen principles of the Jewish faith is to believe in Techiyas HaMeisim. It is written in many places in the prophets, e.g. in Yeshaya (Isaiah 26), “Awaken and sing, those who dwell in the dust,” in Yechezkel (Ezekiel 37), “So says Hashem, ‘Behold I will open your graves and I will bring you up from your graves, My nation, and I will bring you to the Land of Israel… and I will place My Spirit in you and you will be alive,’” in Daniel (12), “And many of those who dwell in the dust will awaken…” Chazal (our Sages of blessed memory) bring proofs that even in the Torah (Chumash) there are hints to Techiyas HaMeisim. For example, “Then Moshe and the Bnei Yisroel will sing.” It says, “Will sing”, in future tense; from here is a hint to Techiyas HaMeisim.
Here the question is asked, “If the body is such a degraded thing,” this means that it is not eternal and in the end it will disintegrate, as it is written in Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers), “Know from where you have come, from a stinking drop, and to where you are going, to a place of dirt, worms and maggots.” This means that already in the seminal drop, which is the seed of man, there is a certain stinking force, which is not eternal, for physicality is temporal, and spirituality is eternal and within spirituality there is no foul odor. We also find in the language of Chazal that they term sin as stench. Therefore, each body, from its birth, is already sentenced to death, from a stinking drop to a place of dirt, worms and maggots. This is as it is written in the Zohar (Vayera Paragraph 408), “Hakadosh Baruch Hu places the body under the ground until it entirely disintegrates, and all evil filth comes out from it.”
In the future time to come, evil will be destroyed from the world, as it is written in Yeshaya, “Death will be swallowed up forever.” Furthermore, Hakadosh Baruch Hu will slaughter the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination). If so, why is it necessary to bring the body back to life?
What is enigmatic is that it is written that in order to provide pleasure to the Neshama, it is necessary that the Neshama specifically receive the delight and pleasure, only when the Neshama is combined with the body, and therefore the body returns to be resurrected. Behold, the body draws us to materialism, and it is our Avodah (work) to spiritually develop, which is the Neshama, yet in the end, it is necessary to bring the body back to life!
Also we need to understand what Chazal say that the dead will come back to life with their blemishes. The Zohar says (Emor paragraph 51), “Come and see; when the bodies will awaken from the ground, just as they entered the ground so they will get up, if they were crippled or blind. The crippled and blind will enter, they will get up in the same garment, in order so that no one will say it was another person who arose, and afterwards Hakadosh Baruch Hu will heal them and they will be found complete before Him.” We need to understand, why does Hakadosh Baruch Hu care if they will say that it is another person? Rather, certainly these matters are not literal. This is the fifth inquiry.
The sixth inquiry is the last inquiry. “With regards to what Chazal say that man is the center of all existence, that all of the upper worlds and this physical world and all of its inhabitants were only created for man.” Everything was created just for man. “They obligated man to believe that for him the world was created. Seemingly it is hard to understand that for this small man, who doesn’t hold the value of a hair relative to the existence of this world, and certainly relative to the upper worlds, which they and their loftiness have no end, Hakadosh Baruch Hu took the effort to create all of these for man? Also, why does man need all this?”
It is written in the Act of Creation that all of the universe, the heavens, seas, land, luminaries, stars, plants and the animals, were created first. Only man was created last, on the sixth day, since the entire world and its inhabitants are not the goal of creation, but all of them were created to serve man. Therefore, man was created at the end. It is written, “And Elokim said ‘Let us make man… and he will rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, and over all of the animals of the land.’” The Zohar says (Tazriya paragraph 113), “Come and see; all that there is in the world, was only created for man, and everything is maintained because of him.”
Man is called the “crown (lord) of the creation”. This means that the most developed being, out of all of the created beings in the creation, is man. Man has the ability of thinking about the past and the future. Man has spiritual characteristics that he is able to grasp concepts in the spiritual worlds. This is not the case with animals. They are limited to just sensing the present. They do not have the ability to contemplate and investigate reality, which cannot be seen. Therefore, they also do not have the possibility of developing nature; and certainly the inanimate or vegetative creations do not have such an ability.The inanimate, e.g. the ground serves the plants which grows on the ground. What grows from it feeds the animals. An ox is nourished from plants, “The form of an ox, which eats vegetation.” It eats the vegetation, and the vegetation came from the ground. Next, man is nourished from the animals and the plants. In his eating, he elevates the inanimate, the vegetative and the animal. All of them were made to serve man, to help in sustaining him. However, it is the responsibility of man to serve and worship Hakadosh Baruch Hu. This is what Rabbi Shimon Ben Elazar says (Kiddushin 82b), “All of them were created to serve me, and I was created to serve my Creator.” The question is, behold, man, relative to the world and relative to the entire universe, and certainly relative to the spiritual worlds that have no end, is like the value of one hair. How can we understand that all of this was created for man? Also, what benefit does he derive from them? With this, we have concluded the six inquiries.