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Friday
Sep072012

UNDOING THE DISGUISE OF GALUS

Translated by Boruch Merkur

The disguise is so great that we don’t at all perceive that it is a concealment, to the extent that it can result in, G-d forbid, “They esteem darkness as light…” * Likkutei Sichos Vol. 9, pg. 193-195.

1. It is known that the Baal Shem Tov offers the following explanation of the verse, “I will surely have concealed My face on that day” (VaYeilech 31:18): The meaning of “I will surely have concealed (V’Anochi hasteir astir),” a double concealment, is that the concealment itself is hidden. That is, the disguise is so great that we don’t at all perceive that it is a concealment, to the extent that it can result in, G-d forbid, “They esteem darkness as light” (Yeshayahu 5:20. See Rambam Hilchos Deios, Ch. 2, beg.).

As it is explained in Likkutei Torah (B’Chukosai, beginning on 48a, end) regarding the matters stated in the Rebuke – that “in truth, they are actually blessings.” The fact that they are expressed in such a manner that they appear superficially as the opposite of a blessing is because these blessings come from an extremely lofty place, “from the [G-dly] aspect of concealment.” Accordingly it is understood with respect to the topic at hand – regarding, “I will surely have concealed My face on that day” – that “in truth” it is actually a sublime blessing.

Furthermore, from the very fact that superficially it appears as the ultimate expression of the opposite of a blessing, it is understood that the blessing is extremely great, for which reason it is manifest in an extremely concealed manner. (Indeed, when we are aware that it is a “concealment,” the tendency is to hope that we will discover advice on how to overcome it. However, when there is “hasteir astir” [i.e., a double concealment], to the extent that we perceive darkness as light, then we make do with the state we find ourselves in, which is indeed the ultimate opposite of a blessing.)

2. The above will be understood in light of a discussion of the teaching of the Alter Rebbe on the verse, “I am asleep, but my heart is awake” (Shir HaShirim 5:2): At the level of G-dliness described as Memalei Kol Almin (Filling All Worlds), which is called, “I,” it is possible that there should be “sleep,” whereas the level of Sovev Kol Almin (Transcending All Worlds), “my heart,” is always “awake.”

There the Alter Rebbe explains that when a Jew “attaches his thought to worldly desires…and he wishes to receive vitality from it – foregoing the vitality of ‘You enliven them all, which is [the manifestation of G-dliness described as] Filling all Worlds’” – he thereby is separated from the level of Memalei Kol Almin. However, “it is impossible to be separated in any manner” from the level of Sovev Kol Almin, for the “Desire of the Heart” that comes from the level of Sovev Kol Almin (“my heart”) “is present in every person.” And “even though it appears to him that he does not possess it, and he does not perceive it, this is certainly false, for ‘notwithstanding the fact that he does not see, his mazal (spirit) sees.’”

At first glance, this is not understood:

Since it is said of the level of Memalei Kol Almin that “You enliven them all,” the level of Memalei Kol Almin enlivens even one who “forgoes the vitality of ‘You enliven them all.’” Nevertheless, we say that since the person “runs after his livelihood” (Shabbos 32b, quoted in the Alter Rebbe’s maamer, ibid) and “he foregoes the vitality of ‘You enliven them all,’” (in terms of his perception) he is “separated from the level of Memalei Kol Almin.”  Why is it that we say with regard to Sovev Kol Almin that even if “it appears to him that he does not possess it, etc.,” “it is impossible to be separated in any manner”?

We must answer that since the Alter Rebbe says about the Desire of the Heart that it “is present in every person,” he means this not only with respect to “his mazal” but also with respect to the person himself (his perception and experience). But at first glance, since “he does not see,” the person himself is indeed separated!

3. The explanation is as follows:

The level of Memalei Kol Almin, since it “fills and enlivens all the worlds, etc.,” is characterized by its influence being grasped by [the inhabitants of] the worlds. Thus, when one does not grasp that his vitality is from G-dliness (“he forgoes”), the G-dly light is manifest in him in a manner of concealment and transcendence (sovev). Of consequence, one who forgoes the G-dly vitality is, therefore, separated from Memalei Kol Almin. (However, with regard to Jews, since their vitality (and likewise with regard to the provision of their livelihood and etc.) is revealed G-dliness, therefore, it is not possible for them to be completely separated. Thus, also with regard to the level of Memalei, the level of “I,” it is said “I am asleep” (only the aspect of sleeping, not departure, G-d forbid).)

This is not so, however, with regard to Sovev Kol Almin, “which transcends all the worlds.” The fact that it is present in the worlds is (not because they have a connection to it, but) of its own account (i.e., being that it is boundless, it is omnipresent). Similarly with regard to the Desire of the Heart, which is derived from the aspect of Sovev of the soul––

––it is not possible that the lack of its being grasped should effect a change in the aspect of Sovev or in the Desire of the Heart; they are present – in their revealed state – even where they are not perceived.

Thus, it states in the maamer, “even though it appears to him that he does not possess it, and he does not perceive it, this is certainly false” (i.e., the notion that “it appears to him that he does not possess it, and he does not perceive it” is certainly false), for the Desire of the Heart of every Jew – being that it is said of every Jew, “his mazal sees” – is found even in his revealed faculties, in the place where “it appears to him that…he does not perceive it.”

4. This, however, requires further analysis: The fact that the Desire of the Heart is present even in one of whom it is said, “it appears to him that he does not possess it, and he does not perceive it” – this is with respect to the level of “his mazal” and Sovev, for at that level, it is inconsequential that it appears to the person that he does not possess the Desire of the Heart, and he does not perceive it. But with respect to “it appears to him” – that which he sees and that which he perceives – at that level “it appears to him that he does not possess it, and he does not perceive it.” Why then do we say that this notion that “it appears to him that he does not possess it, and he does not perceive it – this is certainly false”?

The answer to this question follows the reasoning of the explanation that the contraction of G-dly light or revelation has an advantage over light itself, enabling it to contract the light: The very notion that “it appears to him that he does not possess it, etc.” derives from a level that is even higher than the level of “present in every person” [illustrated by the fact that it empowers him to deny that level, the reality of the omnipresence of Sovev, just as the power to diminish light illustrates supremacy over the light itself]. It comes out that at the level of “it appears to him that he does not possess it, etc.” we see the revelation of a level that is even higher than Sovev – not one instance of concealment and hiding, but two.

Therefore, at the same time as “it appears to him, etc.” causes the person to be an agent of concealment, he thereby denies also the cause and the strength of the “it appears to him, etc.” itself; he perceives the opposite of how it is unto itself [i.e., sublime G-dliness]. Thus, the Alter Rebbe says that the notion that “it appears to him that he does not possess it, etc.” – this is certainly false.

5. And this is also the explanation of the greatness of the blessing of “I will surely have concealed (V’Anochi hasteir astir) My face on that day”: Even the “concealment” (hasteir astir) comes from “I” (Anochi). Since this is so, not only does it not conceal G-dliness – on the contrary – at the moment that one contemplates the concept as it truly is, he thereby fully reveals a much higher concept than through the path of revelation.

6. This is also the connection of the verse (and concept), “I will surely have concealed My face, etc.” (of the Torah portion VaYeilech) to the Ten Days of Repentance, as VaYeilech is always read close to Rosh HaShana, (which is also) the first day of the Ten Days of Repentance:

This very concept – that “I will surely have concealed” does not oppose holiness, but on the contrary, specifically in it we see, through it we connect with the G-dly “I” (Anochi) – is revealed specifically through the service of repentance, for repentance causes intentional sins to be transformed into acts of merit (Yuma 86b).

(From the address of Shabbos Parshas VaYeilech (Shabbos T’shuva), 6 Tishrei 5725, the day of the passing of the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Chana of blessed memory)

 

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