Monday, April 28, 2014

The Light That Shines in a Thousand Worlds

Engraving by Gustave Dore

Sichos HaRan 93
Translated and annotated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom (Breslov Research Institute), pp. 215-219 (with minor modifications)

One of the underlying concepts of this at times cryptic teaching is that the sefirah of Gevurah (Might) is both the source of division and anger in creation – and the necessary factor in “bringing down the light” so that it will not harm the beholder. This is the principle that Rebbe Nachman identifies with “the sage who is vindictive and vengeful as a snake.”

As mentioned by the RaMCHaL and also several early Chassidic masters, the word “Nachash (snake)” has the same gematria as “Mashiach (Messiah)”—358. This suggests that the Messiah will tranform the negative energy personified as the biblical snake by using it to bring down the loftiest light to the lowest levels. This transformation of the negative to the positive is also related to the future resurrection of the dead.

There is a light that shines in a thousand worlds.[1]

This light is so intense that the average person cannot accept it.

It can only be accepted by a great sage who can divide the thousands into hundreds.

Such a sage can divide this great light into smaller portions that can be grasped by those below him. They can then receive it a little at a time.

A lesson may be so complex that it is incomprehensible. However, if it is broken into many simpler concepts, each one can be understood by itself. The entire lesson in this way becomes clear.

The same is true of the light that shines in a thousand worlds.

It is one simple light that cannot be perceived in part. A single concept, it can only be taken as a whole.

There is a scholar who is vengeful and vindictive like a snake. He can divide the thousands into hundreds. Such a sage can divide this great light into portions that can be comprehended and accepted.

It is written (Proverbs 17:9), “ He who harps on something separates a prince.”

Rashi writes that “he who harps,” is one who is vengeful and vindictive, harping on what another does to him. Through this, he “separates a prince” — he separates himself from G-d, who is the L-rd and Prince of the universe.

This refers to an ordinary individual. A sage, however, has a duty to be vengeful and vindictive. The Talmud teaches us, “Every sage who is not vengeful and vindictive like a snake, is no scholar.”[2]

This verse also speaks of the vengeful and vindictive sage who can divide the thousands into hundreds.

“He who harps on something” and is vengeful and vindictive, “separates the Prince.”

A prince is an ALuF [the root letters of which are “alef-lamed-pey”], a leader of thousands.
AeLeF [“alef-lamed-pey] is a thousand.

“He who harps on something” — the vengeful and vindictive sage — “separates the thousands” — and divides the thousands into hundreds.

The Talmud teaches us, “If you see a sage who is vengeful and vindictive like a snake, bind him around your waist.”[3] Rashi explains that “you will eventually derive benefit from his scholarship.”

Such a vindictive sage can divide the great light into portions, separating the thousands into hundreds.

Therefore, “you will eventually benefit from his scholarship.” For without him, the light is so great that you will not be able to grasp it .

There is a logical reason why only a vengeful sage can divide thousands into hundreds, but it is very deep indeed.

One who understands it can bring the dead back to life. He is the one spoken of when the Talmud teaches us, “a time will come when Tzadikim will resurrect the dead.”[4]

One who understands this, truly understands death.

When one divides the thousands into hundreds, he brings the thousand into the hundred and makes death into hundreds.

Thousand is AeLeF — the letter Aleph.

Death is MaVeS — Mem Vav Tav.

Bring the thousands into death — bring the Aleph into MaVeS, and you have Mem Aleph Vav Tav — which spells “MAyOS,” the hundreds.

Bring the thousands into death and you have the hundreds.

One who does not understand this concept does not know why he is now happy.

He does not understand how we speak of G-d’s unity in the second line of the Sh’ma, “Blessed is the name of the glory of His kingdom for ever and ever.”[5]

It is customary to say this line quietly. The Talmud explains the reason with a parable. A princess smells a pudding called Tzikey Kederah, a savory pudding made by the lower classes. If she asks for it, she is disgraced, if she does not, she is discomforted. Her servants therefore bring it to her quietly.[6]

He who does not understand the reason for a vindictive sage, does not understand the significance of the Tsikey Kederah.

He also does not understand the meaning of the first two letters Ches Shin of Chashmal — the electrum seen in Ezekiel’s vision.[7]

He also does not know the meaning of Nogah, the brightness in Ezekiel’s vision, mentioned in the verse (Ezekiel 1:4), “A brightness round about it.”[8]

He also does not know the workings of the Merkavah, the divine Chariot.[9]

He does not understand the concept of the covenant, nor why people dispute him.

The Messiah understands this concept perfectly. Tzaddikim, however, cannot comprehend it unless they themselves can divide the thousands into hundreds. These are the Tzaddikim who are vengeful and vindictive.

These Tzaddikim are the Messiah’s belt.

The Talmud teaches us, “If you see a sage who is vengeful and vindictive like a snake, bind him around your waist.” This is the Messiah’s belt.

Regarding the Messiah it is written (Isaiah 11:5), “the belt around his loins shall be righteousness.” The Targum renders this, “ And Tzaddikim shall be all around him .”

This is the concept of “Matun Matun” — waiting waiting [10] — the aspect of hundreds. [11]

The Tzaddikim who can divide thousands into hundreds will be the belt of the Messiah.

These resurrect the lesser Tzaddikim.

[1] This was said before Chanukah 5567 (1806), during the week of the circumcision of the Rebbe’s son Yaakov; Chayay Moharan 15b. It was said on the “watch night,” the night before his son’s circumcision; Avanehah Barzel p. 32 ($41). The child was born on a Sabbath, and this lesson was delivered when Reb L. Dayin brought the Rebbe fish for the circumcision feast; Yemey Moharnat 14a. For a detailed explanation of this lesson, see Lekutey Halakhos (Choshen Mishpat) Edus 4, Pesach 9, Kiddushin 3:16; Zimras Ha’aretz, 105b.
[2] Yoma 22b.
[3] Shabbos 63a. 
[4] Pesachim 68a; Zohar 1:114b, 135a.
[5] The Sh’ma itself is taken from the Torah, Deut. 6:4-9. This second line, however, is not in the Torah, but is mentioned in the Targum Jonathan on Deut. 6:4. The first line, “Hear O Israel,” is called the “upper unification,’’ while this second line is called the “lower unification”; Zohar 1:18b. See Lekutey Halakhos (Choshen Mishpat) Edus 4:15.
[6]Pesachim 56a; Lekutey Halakhos loc. cit 4:16. Tzikey Kederah is a pudding made of minced meat cooked with wine and spices. Cf. HaMetargem, ad Ioc.; Yoma 75a, Bava Metzia 77b, Chullin 77b, Kesubos 65a.
[7] These two letters spell Chash—quietness. See Chagigah 13b, where the word Chashmal is broken into two words, Chash Mal—quietness speaking. In the Kabbalah, the Chashmal is the force protecting the Holy from the unholy, and the Chash is the part closest to the Klipas Nogah. Etz Chaim, Shaar Klipas Nogah 2, Mavoh Sha’arim 3:2:14; Lekutey Moharan I, 19:3, 41, 82, 127.
[8] This refers to the Klipas Nogah, the “bright husk”—intermediate between the realm of the holy and the evil. Through this Klipah, the husks of absolute evil are nourished, and it is man’s task to turn it all into good. Etz Chaim, loc. cit. 4, Shaar HaKlipos 3; Lekutey Moharan I, 19:5.
[9] Cf. Chagigah 2:1.
[10] Berakhos 20a, “waiting waiting is worth 400 zuzim (coins).” See Rashi ad loc.
[11] MaTuN is related to the word MaTNav—loins. With the inclusion of the letter Alef, as above, it also becomes MAyOT—hundreds.

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