Photo (c) Dovid SearsTranslation (bold) and Musings (tentative) by Dovid Sears
To read Part II, click here.
We left off with Rebbe Nachman’s statement that through truthfulness, we may draw God’s Providence upon ourselves, and attain the awareness, in the very midst of this apparently dualistic world, that all is one. Now the Rebbe returns to Rabbi Akiva’s warning to those who would venture into the prophetic mysteries (see Part I) and interprets Rabbi Akiva’s words according to the core ideas of this lesson.
This is [the meaning of] what Rabbi Akiva said: When you reach the stones of pure marble, don’t say, “Water! Water!” As it states, “One who speaks falsehood shall not endure before My eyes” (Psalms 101:7) (Chagigah 14b).
“Stones of pure (tahor) marble (shayish)”—this is the aspect of “after the Act”—i.e., after the act of creation—which is “yesh”—“somethingness,” a word-play on “shayish.”
In this context, “yesh” might also be rendered as “manifestation.” It is a fundamental belief of Judaism that God created the universe ex nihilo, “something (yesh) from nothing (ayin).” Another meaning of “yesh” is ego, which reflects an inner split—an issue to which this lesson alludes is the discussion of duality and non-duality. Rebbe Nachman discusses overcoming the ego through hisbodedus in Likutey Moharan I, 52, which is the very next lesson. Perhaps Reb Noson juxtaposed the two teachings for this reason.
Then it is appropriate to use the term “tahor” (pure), as we have said.
The next few lines make up one long, complex sentence, so hang on:
If you wish that it should be as before the Act [of creation], when it existed in potential, when “father and son were as one,” as indicated by [the phrase]:
“When you reach the stones (avney)”—this is the aspect of “father (av) and son (ben) as one,” which is the aspect of Before Creation, when it was in potential, when everything was one—
That is, the word avney (stones) may be homiletically understood as a combination of av (father) and ben (son), which the Rebbe previously related to Creator and creation…
“Shayish tahor” (“pure marble”) is the aspect of “after the Act,” which is the aspect of manifestation (yeshus) and purification (taharah)—if you wish to bring the “pure marble” (duality) to the “stones” (non-duality)…
“Do not say, ‘Water! Water!’ ” This is falsehood, as explained above. As it states: “One who speaks falsehood shall not endure before My eyes” (Psalms 101:7).
One must overcome the illusion of duality, which masks “True Reality,” which is the Divine Oneness. Then one may be said to “endure before My eyes.”
Through falsehood one deflects God’s Providence from himself, so that he is far from Oneness. However, through truthfulness, God’s Providence rests upon him; through Providence, all is one, as was the case before creation.
That is, through truthfulness one “lives with God,” Who is “One, True, Good, and Holy,” as the Rebbe stated at the beginning of the lesson.
Therefore, the reward of the World to Come “no eye has seen it—only [that of] God alone’ (Isaiah 64:3; Berakhos 34b). Since everything will be one, there will not be an eye to see—that is, there will not be a subject-object split—only “God alone.”
In the “World to Come,” which is also a way of describing the transcendental plane, Divine Oneness prevails.
In conclusion, Reb Noson adds a paragraph which integrates the key concepts of this lesson:
This is why falsehood damages the eyes. Through falsehood one removes the “eyes” of God and damages the eyes, which are the aspect of Providence, as explained above.
Thus, the removal of Divine Providence, or “God’s eyes,” goes hand-in-hand with damage to the eyes of the person—“both physically and spiritually,” as the Rebbe states in the beginning of this lesson.
For falsehood stems from an estrangement from Oneness; this is where impurity has its grasp—[impurity] which is evil and falsehood. And because of this itself,—i.e., the estrangement from Oneness—by means of falsehood one “damages” Providence and removes God’s watchfulness from himself.
Through Divine Providence, all is one, After Creation is like Before Creation; but through falsehood one “damages” Oneness, since falsehood is distant from Oneness.
That is, the manifestation of Divine Providence and the perception of Oneness are eclipsed.
Thus, one removes Providence through falsehood, and causes a division, God forbid, between After Creation and Before Creation, whence impurity primarily derives. However, through truth, which is the paradigm of “entirely one, entirely good”—as the Rebbe stated earlier (see Part II)—one elicits Divine Providence, and then all is one. For through Providence, After Creation becomes reincorporated in Before Creation.
This is the explanation of “Rabbi Akiva said…” And with this the discourse is integrated well, the beginning with the end, and the end with the beginning, and likewise the middle; understand this well.
The S’fas Emes (Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger), in his droshos on parshas Shoftim, observes that the word “emes (truth)” is made of the first (alef), middle (mem), and last (tav) letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Thus, the very word for truth embodies the principle that truth must be consistent—as Reb Noson suggests here, “the beginning with the end, and the end with the beginning, and likewise the middle.”
With these parting words, Reb Noson points out that like the word “emes,” Rebbe Nachman’s teaching on “emes” is internally consistent. Thus, it intrinsically exemplifies the subject it describes.