R’ Ashlag’s “Introduction To The Zohar”: Ch. 10


Now we can begin to understand (the dynamic behind) our fourth inquiry, as to how it was possible for the chariot of defilement and husks, which is so utterly and completely apart from Him, to emerge from God; and how it could be that He supports and sustains it. But we’d first have to understand what defilement and the husks are all about.

See our opening remarks about all this in 3:1.

Just know that our vast ratzon l’kabel — the essence of our souls, the reason for their being created, and the means by which we’re prepared to accept everything incorporated in the thought of creation — won’t be with us forever. Because if it were, we would be separated from God forever, inasmuch as such a discrepancy of tsurot would (inevitably) separate us from Him forever.

Rabbi Ashlag’s vital point here is that while our ratzon l’kabel is eminently purposeful and of ultimate importance for our functions in this universe, it’s still-and-all temporary, and it will become unfixed — when the universe is undone in The End of Days, as it must be.

This is a rather shocking idea to those of us who can’t quite understand how anything as fundamental to the human situation as the ratzon l’kabel is said to be could ever be undone. For it’s commonly held that while any and all worldly circumstances can change, human nature is immutable. After all, they reason, doesn’t world literature prove that! Aren’t we the same piteous fools and venerable sages the Phoneticians and early Chinese were? Won’t we always be?

But human nature will indeed change we’re told, forever and radically so. And, ironically, while at present human deeds and moods vary all the time with changes of circumstance while basic human nature doesn’t, when the greatest change of circumstance possible occurs, human deeds and moods will slowly become undone, and human nature will be utterly refashioned.

What makes this point so consequential is that we’d learned that our ratzon l’kabel — our God-given ability to take in all that God, the Ultimate Benefactor, has provided us with — was granted us purposefully. For were we not willing to accept what God offers us, then His plans for the cosmos would seemingly be thwarted on some level.

Nonetheless the point is that since our taking-in does undo our relationship to God, which is the only thing that will endure in the end, bar none, our ratzon l’kabel will and must terminate in the end. But that’s for a vital and Godly reason, as we’ll see.


So in order to repair this division that had been implanted in our soul’s vessel, i.e., our ratzon l’kabel, after creating the various worlds, God then divided them into two systems, in keeping with (the mystical import of) the statement that “God made the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

This verse is cited because it implies that everything but God Himself has its equal and opposite counterpart in the universe; its doppelganger.

The two systems comprise the four worlds of holy-A.B.Y.A., and their counterpart, the four worlds of defiled-A.B.Y.A.

A.B.Y.A. is an acronym for A-tzilut, B-eria, Y-etzirah, and A-siyah, the four Kabbalistic supernal worlds or planes of existence (to be explained later), in descending order of significance and potency. Holy-A.B.Y.A. and defiled-A.B.Y.A. are thus two utterly antithetical parallel universes, with one (holy-A.B.Y.A.) being rooted in the willingness to bestow, and the other (defiled-A.B.Y.A.) in the willingness to accept. The two divisions are significant because…

God implanted the ratzon l’hashpia (the willingness to bestow) within the worlds of holy-A.B.Y.A., and withdrew the ratzon l’kabel from them. And He placed the ratzon l’kabel into the defiled-A.B.Y.A., which explains why they’re separate from God and all the holy realms.

The willingness to bestow is all-good and Godly, since God is all-good and benevolent (1:5), and because His sole intention upon creating the cosmos was to bestow pleasure upon His creatures (7:1). It’s thus the antithesis of the ratzon l’kabel. It is extraordinarily significant, mostly because our aim is to aspire to bestowance and to undo the ratzon l’kabel in the process, as we’ll learn later on.


That’s why the husks are referred to as “the dead” and why wrongdoers are attracted to them, as our sages indicated when they said that wrongdoers are termed dead even in their lifetimes (Berachot 18B).

That means to say that the husks are as dead (i.e., as severed from God’s presence) as their offshoot, wrongdoing, since they dwell in an un-Godly universe.

Because the ratzon l’kabel that has been implanted in them is diametrically opposite in tsurah to God, which thus separates them from the “the Life of all Lives” (i.e., God) and utterly severs them from Him. For He wants only to bestow rather than to accept, while the husks want only to accept for their own sake rather than to bestow, and there’s no greater disparity than that. For as you already know, “distance” in the spiritual sense starts with some sort of disparity of tsurah and culminates in an utter disparity, which is the ultimate degree of “distance” (i.e., estrangement).

The only response Ashlag has to offer to the quandary of how defilement and the husks could emerge from God is that they comprise an utterly and radically separate system of reality created by God for His own purposes. And so it comes out that reality is comprised of not just matter and antimatter as we’ve come to learn, but Holiness and anti-Holiness.

We’ll delve into just how (and) why He supports and sustains that system.

(c) 2010 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org


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