Now that we know that, we can begin to fully and clearly explain our second inquiry.
That is, now we can finally understand what it is that wasn’t found in God originally but was created by Him out of sheer nothingness.
For we’d determined that there’s in fact a phenomenon that’s clearly not a part of God’s essence which can thus be said to have been created utterly anew rather than out of anything else.
That’s to say that since God doesn’t need anything it follows that the need to derive pleasure is clearly something extrinsic to Him and is thus utterly original. So it must play a unique and purposeful role in the cosmos. And besides ….
Now that we know for certain that God’s intention when He created the world was to bestow pleasure upon His creatures, it’s clear that He necessarily had to have created a willingness to accept all the pleasure and goodness He’d planned for them. Thus it’s the willingness to accept (anything) that wasn’t a part of God’s essence. After all, from whom could He receive, and what could He be lacking? So He did indeed create something anew that wasn’t part of His Being.
… which thus answers our second inquiry.
In light of His intent when He created the world we can now understand that there was no need to create anything other than the willingness to accept (things). For it’s all He needed to (create in order to) fulfill His intent to create the world, which was to bestow us with favors.
We’ve only alluded to it till this point but we’ll now expand upon our willingness to accept things which is a major theme in Ashlag’s system. It’s termed the ratzon l’kabel in Hebrew and it can be translated as our willingness, wish, or intent to only accept, receive, or take things (see Ashlag’s P’ticha l’Chochmat HaKabbalah 4, and Mattan Torah 12). At bottom it comes down to our tendency to catch rather than throw, eat rather than cook.
It is what defines us and sets us apart from all else. And it’s thus central to our being.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s fully and exclusively a symptom of our spoiled or self-centered nature, for it goes far deeper. In fact, sometimes it’s a rather healthy need at that.
Consider inhalation and exhalation. I just naturally will, wish, and intend to accept, receive, or take in oxygen all the time; and I only “give it back” when I exhale in order to be able to inhale again — or so it seems. But as every schoolchild knows, when I exhale I proffer carbon dioxide into the air which in fact feeds things. And besides, if I didn’t inhale, I’d die. I likewise ingest food for seemingly selfish reasons, but I’d also die if I didn’t (and it’s also important to point out that we also produce waste matter by eating, which is useful too, of course). The list goes on and on.
Still and all, though, our wish to take-in rather than give-out is selfish and self-serving for the most part. For as we all know, immaturity and crudeness are marked by selfishness (by an utter exploitation of the ratzon l’kabel), while maturity and refinement are marked by selflessness. And thus we’re called upon to transcend the ratzon l’kabel in ways we’ll discuss later on.
In fact, it’s the ratzon l’kabel that sets us apart from God, who needs nothing and grants everything (as we pointed out), and thus it’s surely a detriment to our spiritual growth. That having been said, though, it’s still true that God purposefully created the ratzon l’kabel, so it must fulfill a role in His plans. And in fact it does, and a supremely high one at that as we learned: it serves as the medium through which God’s intention to bestow us with favors plays itself out. After all, if I didn’t want to take, then my Benefactor couldn’t effectively give (see 6:2).
Nonetheless, the fulfillment of His intentions for the world to grant us all the good He had in mind for us, originated in His essence; so He didn’t need to create it.
That is, you might think that something else was created out of sheer nothingness: our actually getting all the good that God had in mind for us. But that’s not so. Since that had sat idle in God’s Being from the first, waiting to come to fruition, and in fact …
It comes to fruition from the willingness to take-in that’s within us.
So it isn’t original.
Ashlag’s point here is that since all we tend to do (with exception) is take-in, and all God does indeed is give-out, it necessarily follows that our urge to take-in is the only thing God created outright, out of the blue, which is apart from Himself. Everything else comes directly from Him and is a manifestation of His will to give-out.
Thus it becomes absolutely clear that all of creation, from start to finish, is nothing other than (the creation of) the ratzon l’kabel.
It follows then that the creation of the ratzon l’kabel was the establishment of The Other: of the not-God, the mundane. For up to then only God existed, and the not-God had to be tugged out of a realm exterior to and wholly other than His Being. And with it came reality as we know it, which is hence characterized as the realm of only being willing to take-in.
The idea of the Other will come up again with Ashlag’s explanation of how wrong and injustice came about with the creation of The Other Side (see Ch. 12).
(c) 2010 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).