He then offers this fascinating, fully-packed, and very Ramchal-like statement in Adir Bamarom (pp. 195-197) that illustrates among other things the process of the formation of rah, defines the “otherness” of the Other Side (sitra achra), and more — and all without mention of the Ari’s symbols or system per se. Let’s see.
The Other Side, he says, “derives from a holy source” indeed which nonetheless went through the following process. “One level after the other (of light) descended downward, each one then became more and more thick (i.e., became less and less light-like) and it continued to descend down to the lowest level that lights could reach…. Ultimately (it reached a stage where) the Tzimtzum (effect) became so strong … that an exceedingly hard (i.e., un-light-like) subdivision was produced which is the sitra achra”.
That is, the sitra achra is the final product of the downward and more and more attenuating movement of the light away from its highest source. Notice that there’s no mention of the first three lights, or Sephirot, versus the remaining seven, of kings or worlds being destroyed in the process, etc. There’s simply a broad laying out of a process of attenuation and descent to its end.
What is the “side” that the sitra achra is “other” than? As he goes on to say, this subdivision does something completely different from what the holiness it derives from does: “while holiness wants to be beneficent, this subdivision was specifically created to withhold”. So if holiness is on one side of the scale of generosity and selflessness, the sitra achra is the other side of that scale and expresses meanness and selfishness.
(c) 2012 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).