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Only Rabbi Akiva came out of  paradise in peace… But why not just enter paradise and stay there? Why must we leave? The Zohar says if you know only to enter but not to leave better not to enter.

God created us down here on earth for a good reason. We have a mission to perform. Our mission is to make this lowest realm of existence a “dwelling place” for God.

God wants to reveal Himself to us as He really is! He can’t do it in the higher spiritual worlds. In paradise He can reveal some of His light but not His very essence.

To be yourself, this site your true self, without inhibition, you have to be in that place that you really like to be, the place that you most connect to. For God that is the physical world below, not the spiritual worlds above.

God wants to be where He was initially most concealed. He wants to reveal His true Self from within a context of total spiritual darkness. For some mysterious reason that we cannot fathom He most identifies with darkness (before creation He was in a state of absolute darkness), and that's where He wants to be – not swallowed up in the darkness but revealed in the darkness!

Our ascent to paradise is in order to bring down to earth a bit of paradise-consciousness – inspired awareness of God and His will – each time we enter and leave in peace. We need that bit of light to illuminate our purpose in life, our Divine mission on earth. That bit of paradise-consciousness is intended to teach us not to long for paradise but to long for God, for the revelation of His essence.

God doesn't want us to remain in paradise, He doesn't need us there, He needs us down here.
Elisha Acher came out of paradise a heretic. What went wrong? A worm had been eating away at him all the time. The worm's name: skepticism.

When Elisha Acher entered paradise he saw the archangel Metatron sitting down. But he had learned that angels are not permitted to sit in paradise, pill but only stand in awe of the Almighty. Conclusion 1: The sages are not always correct in their assertions. Conclusion 2: Metatron is not subordinate to the Almighty, but a god himself.

What Elisha didn't know is that there is an exception to the rule. Indeed angels are not permitted to sit in paradise, and that includes Metatron. But one of his divinely ordained tasks is to inscribe in the book of records the merits of Israel, and to do that he is allowed to sit. And that's what Metatron was doing when Elisha entered the gates of paradise.

[Later Metatron was punished for not having realized that Elisha would misinterpret his sitting. He should have immediately stood up, caring for Elisha's fate.]

Had Elisha not have been a skeptic as to the truth of the Oral Torah he would not have erred. But in secret – perhaps even from himself – he had been a skeptic all the time. Nonetheless, only after his mystical experience was he able to justify his skepticism and come to his conclusions.

Before he went sour Elisha had a great disciple, Rabbi Meir. Even after Elisha parted ways from the rabbinic community Rabbi Meir kept in contact with him. Although unable to rectify his mentor in that lifetime, Rabbi Meir did his best to rectify Elisha's soul after his death.

The sages say that only Rabbi Meir is qualified to undertake the task of rectifying heretics, especially such great heretics as Elisha Acher. Of all of the sages of the Mishnah, Rabbi Meir is the most messianic. We must learn to take his lead. The subconscious is full of worms and wormholes. But there are ways to displace them.
Elisha Ben Avuya was dubbed Acher, adiposity "other," because he left the side of Torah (the side of faith) and went to the "other side" (the side of heresy).

In sleep one turns from side to side. The more uncomfortable one is the more one turns sides, seeking rest on the other side. As things become more and more intolerable, the sick man, half awake half asleep, begins to see things upside down, to turn around reality.

Isaiah describes this sad state in the following words: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter."

You don't have to know that you're sick to be sick (in truth, knowledge of one's illness is half its cure). So was the case of Elisha Acher.

Let's do some numerical surgery on Elisha (first putting him to sleep on the operation table). His name, Elisha (which literally reads ??? ??, "My God turn [to me]"!) equals 411, the value of the 10th word of the Torah - ???, "chaos" ("And the earth was chaos…"). In Kabbalah, the primordial World of Chaos is an unstable spiritual state, a world of great lights with small, immature vessels, unable to contain the lights. The intensity of the lights breaks the vessels. In this world, a soul from the World of Chaos never finds rest; he is constantly turning over from side to (other) side.

In terms of the ten sefirot, the Divine emanations that serve as channels of creation, chaos is identified with the highest of the sefirot, the super-rational crown (keter). The numerical value of Elisha Acher, 620, is equal to that of ???, "crown."

From this we may infer that to rectify Elisha's soul the lights of the supernal crown, the unconscious mind, must be drawn into the realm of consciousness, become rational and capable of distinguishing between good and evil, light and darkness, sweet and bitter.
The Ba'al Shem Tov taught that Amalek (????, decease 240), Israel's archenemy, is equal to "doubt" (???). No doubt that he is the original skeptic.

Amalek = doubt = "bitter" (??). As we saw previously, a sick soul "puts bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." For Amalek, there's nothing sweeter than to doubt.

Some people live on faith (as it says, "the tzadik [righteous one] lives by his faith"), some live on love (as the bride and groom of the Song of Songs), but others (and we mean 'other's) live on doubts. Those that live on doubts not only doubt the faith of the tzadik (that in which the tzadik believes) but doubt the very concept tzadik. They don't believe there's such a thing as a tzadik.

The Zohar states that a true tzadik is one who is able to convert "darkness to light and bitter to sweet" (the latter conversion being infinitely more difficult than the former). The tzadik calculates, so to speak, the value of the phrase "bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter" ("?? ????? ????? ???") and finds it equal to 3 times "sweet", ???? (meaning that the words "bitter for [sweet] and [sweet] for bitter", ?? ?[????] ?[????] ??? = sweet, ????)! It's all sweet. Bitter-sweet is the sweetest.

"Sweet" = 546 = 21 times 26, the product of God's two essential Names, Havayah (???'?, 26), meaning "was, is, will be" and Ekyeh (????, 21), meaning "I shall be." Sweet is the product of eternal, unchanging being and ever new manifestation.

The tzadik, in his consummate righteousness, reflects God's eternal, unchanging being. The skeptic, like Elisha Acher, who is destined (in our generation) to turn over once again and return to God and His Torah, reflects God's essential quality of never appearing the same, always manifesting anew. So new that you can't recognize Him.

One Response to “Bittersweet is the Sweetest”

  1. anonymous says:

    Obviously, you don’t have to be a tzadik to turn sweetness (of faith) into bitterness (of doubt) – that’s Amalek’s speciality – so why is the whole phrase calculated and not just “from bitter to sweet [and darkness to light]”? What is the sweetness that the tzadik turns to bitterness?! Must be recognizing the sugar-sweet promises of this world for the bitter effect they truly have on body and soul; the neon lights of fame for the darkness they tuly embody.