Now we can settle the fifth question as well.
For, we asked how finite, mortal, and ephemeral creatures (like us) could ever derive from an Infinite Being. But it now becomes clear (given) that we have already derived from Him, and are thus indeed (creations) of the caliber of (i.e., that one would expect to have emanated from) His infinite Being, since we’re (already) eternal, perfect beings (in essence).
And (we can now understand as well that) it’s our eternal nature that (actually) made it necessary for the husk that is our body (i.e., our self), which was granted us to serve (God), to be mortal and ephemeral. For had it remained in a state of eternity — God forbid! — we would have been separated from the Eternal forever!
Now, the notion that we’d have been separated from the Eternal forever had our essences remained in its primal state in the first era for eternity seems odd. After all, wouldn’t we have just remained conjoined with Him there and then? But as we learned in Ch. 15, all three eras are interdependent; so, again, era one needed era two in order to eventually bring about era three.
For as we said in Ch. 13, the tsurah of our body (i.e., our self) which is (at bottom) the willingness to accept things for our own purposes (as opposed to our essence), wasn’t part of the (ultimate) intentions for eternity. And we were already in the state (there, in the first era) that we’ll be in, in the third era.
(Understand, though, that) we needn’t raise questions about the place of other (animate or inanimate) beings in the world. For humankind is the focal point of creation, whereas other beings have no intrinsic worth. In fact they’re only of consequence when they (can) help humankind achieve perfection, and they only ascend and descend in relation to humankind and (thus) haven’t any personal standing.
Ashlag now addresses a very serious objection some might have. That’s all very good as far as humankind is concerned, since it’s subsumed in God’s Presence in the first and third eras, and it need only endure the second so as to get from one to the other. But what of entities, phenomena, beings, etc, that will never be subsumed in His Presence and thus don’t seem to matter at all?
He indicates though that that’s a moot point, since nothing but humankind matters at bottom in the great rush and struggle to adhere unto God’s Presence that is corporeal existence, other than as a subsidiary help or deterrent. (See 3:4 as well.)
(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).