R’ Ashlag’s “Introduction To The Zohar”: Ch. 43

It’s important to review some things at this point in order to recoup our perspective.

Recall that this whole section is in response to Ashlag’s sixth inquiry as to how it could be that all the upper worlds as well as this corporeal one were created exclusively for the sake of humankind — who by all appearances is, “so insignificant, and hasn’t a hair’s-breadth of worth in comparison to all we see before us in this world — to say nothing of the upper worlds” as he put it in Ch. 33. Thus, “why would man need (for there to be) such august and hallowed worlds?” as he asked there. But as he said at the end of that chapter, it would be proven to be “worth God’s while to have created all the worlds, higher and lower alike, for the sake of the satisfaction and delight He’ll derive” from those of us who reach our full potential.

Ashlag then went on to explain that “since God wanted to prepare His created beings for the aforementioned exalted levels, He wished there to be four grades (of them) to unfold out of each other” (Ch. 34), so that we might ease into revelation. The four grades are “known as the ‘mineral’, ‘vegetable’, ‘animal’, and ‘verbal’ (beings)”. And as he then said, which we’ll begin to see later on in this chapter, “those beings correspond to the four degrees of the ratzon l’kabel which the upper worlds are differentiated by.

As we then summed up in Ch. 39, it all has to do with the following: (1) with the fact that the only reason God created the world in the first place was to grant pleasure to His creations; (2) with the idea that the mechanism He created for us to enjoy that great pleasure is our ratzon l’kabel; (3) with the fact that while “some entities … can’t sense God’s presence or great largesse at all … ; others only sense it to a limited extent … ; and others (yet) … sense it fairly much … “; and it touches upon the idea that (4) in the end, it’s we humans alone who can fully sense God’s presence and benevolence.

What will prove to qualify us to sense God’s presence and benevolence will be our adherence to the mitzvah-system, which is unsurpassed in its capacity to refine our ratzon l’kabel and to help us develop the sort of full-spectrum soul that will enable us to gain an essential affinity with God which is the greatest pleasure of all, and to thus satisfy God’s full intention for creation.

Ashlag will now go on to discuss our souls and their component parts; to examine how they relate to the mineral, vegetable, animal, and verbal realms; to indicate how all that ties-in with the sephirot and the various supernal worlds; and to explain what all that has to do with the mitzvah-system after all.

The discussion itself will get rather complex and convoluted at times, but we’ll do what we can to resolve it and enunciate its overarching points.

1.

            We each receive a holy soul (nephesh) as soon as we’re born. But it’s not a nephesh per se that we receive so much as the hindmost part of one, which is the soul’s last rung, and it’s termed a “point” because it’s (so relatively) small. 

While holy, the soul we’re each born with isn’t a whole and utterly pure one so much as the augur of one in the form of its posterior, faintest tiny sheen.

            And it’s engarbed in our heart, which is to say, in our ratzon l’kabel, which manifests itself in our heart for the most part.

We’d been told earlier on about this hindmost part of our soul that’s termed our “point in the heart” and is engarbed in our ratzon l’kabel. And we learned that it’s only operative from age 13 onward, when we’re liable for mitzvah observance (see 30:1 and our remarks there). So we now start to see the connection between the elements enunciated to the mitzvah-system.

2.

            Now, note this principle: Everything found in existence in general can also be found in each and every world, as well as in each and every one of each world’s tiniest fragments.

Like a colossal clan-family and regardless of whether its members are in close proximity or not, everything is in everything else by degrees; a small or large part of this is found in that, and some of that is in this. As such, each world contains facets and parts of each other one, and each facet and part contains the lot of them to degrees.

            As such, just as there are five worlds overall which are the five aforementioned (cluster) sephirot of Keter, Chochma, Binah, Tipheret, and Malchut, there are likewise five (cluster) sephirot of Keter, Chochma, Binah, Tipheret, and Malchut in each and every world, as well as five (cluster) sephirot in the smallest fragment of each world (ad infinitum).

3.

            Recall that as we indicated, this world incorporates the four elements of mineral, vegetable, animal, and verbal which correspond to the four (cluster) sephirot of Keter, Chochma, Binah, Tipheret, and Malchut. (Know that) mineral corresponds to Malchut, vegetable corresponds to Tipheret, animal corresponds to Binah, verbal corresponds to Chochma, and their all-inclusive root corresponds to Keter.

Minerals, the entities that can’t sense God’s presence or great largesse at all, correspond to Malchut, the least Godly of worlds; and in ascending order, vegetable corresponds to Tipheret, animal corresponds to Binah, and verbal (or, human) corresponds to Chochma.

Their all-inclusive, unfathomable root, which transcends all adroitness including the very-human abilities to verbalize as well as think, make choices, and even to worship, corresponds to unfathomable, impenetrable Keter.

            Now as we indicated, (given that everything is in everything else by degrees, it follows that) even the smallest fragment of each grade of mineral, vegetable, animal, and verbal contains four (sub-) grades of mineral-ness, vegetable-ness, animal-ness, and verbal-ness in its being.

            Even a single component of the verbal grade, which is to say, even a single person, likewise contains mineral-ness, vegetable-ness, animal-ness, and verbal-ness, which are the four grades of his ratzon l’kabel and is where the “point” of his nephesh is engarbed.

The statement that “mineral-ness, vegetable-ness, animal-ness, and verbal-ness … are the four grades of (man’s) ratzon l’kabel” alludes to things said in earlier chapters. We learned that the mineral stage’s ratzon l’kabel only holds sway over the entity itself and not over its details (Ch. 35); the vegetable stage’s ratzon l’kabel prevails over each and every one of its details, but the details don’t exhibit a sense of self-will (Ch. 36); the animal stage’s ratzon l’kabel is very potent, and each and every one of its details has a sense of self-will (Ch. 37); and the human (i.e., “verbal”) stage’s ratzon l’kabel is fully active and aware of others (Ch. 38).

Thus the larger point is that each one of us has four degrees of a ratzon l’kabel, from an inert and self-contained one to a dynamic, far-reaching one.

(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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