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The Evolution of Where

There are three ways to deal with enemies: surrender, information pills fight, or make peace by neutralizing the root of their animosity.

The Ba'al Shem Tov told it as a story. Once a king called one of his officers and sent him on a secret mission, saying: I desire to test the loyalty of my subjects. Dress yourself as a king and go from state to state throughout my dominion; try your hardest to persuade and win over the people to rebel against me and accept you as king.

The officer followed the king's orders to the best of his ability. The various states in the dominion of the king reacted in different ways. Some were persuaded that it is for their benefit to rebel against their king and to accept the new figure as king. Some fought the new figure, in loyalty to their king. But there was one state of wise men who possessed the insight to realize that it is all a hoax, and that this new "king" is no more than a servant of the true king, who was sent by him to test their loyalty. They revealed to the officer his true motivation and intentions, which he immediately acknowledged, thus neutralizing his apparent antagonism to the king and making peace with him.

Thus we learn that there are two levels of loyalty to the king, portrayed in this story by the two types of negative reaction to the officer. One is referred to by the prophet as "I [God, the King] love the youth [the youthful spirit] of Israel" ("??? ????? ??????"). The youth of Israel fight back against the temptation of evil (the deceptive king) to rebel against God, putting themselves in danger, ready to die for God, their King. The second is loyalty together with a deep, mature sense of wisdom, the insight necessary to reveal the hoax at the root of the plot and end the story in peace with a joyous lechai'im!

In our day there are some who confuse peace with surrender, who call surrender together with a "peace accord" making peace. Not only has the antagonism of the enemy not been neutralized but it even becomes enhanced in this false version of "peace" (which is no more than submission to evil out of lack of faith in God and the eternal truth of His Word, the Torah).

Israel needs a strong youth (a strong, courageous heart) directed by a mature, adult leadership (a wise, insightful head). The leadership that we are lacking is one that believes in God (and His Torah) and recognizes that all is from God, often intended to test us and thereby strengthen us, for our ultimate good and for the good of all mankind.
Never give up. It's never too late. Apparent irreversible damage is also reversible. Even when it's all over it's not over. Life goes on.

Maybe it will be through messianic genetic engineering. But however it be, more about we believe that the dead will come back to life.

Regarding our present world order, this Rebbe Nachman said that if you believe that you can damage yourself (spiritually, through sin) then believe that you can rectify yourself (through teshuvah, return to God). It's all a function of faith. The original, relatively superficial faith in our ability to cause spiritual damage (to ourselves and others influenced by us) is balanced and overridden by the more profound faith that it is always possible to rectify. In the words of the previous Rebbe of Chabad, "it's never a lost case."

The original faith in our ability to damage derives from the sefirah of hod (acknowledgment), represented in the body by the left kidney and left leg. Our greater faith in our ability to rectify, no matter what, derives from the sefirah of netzach (victory and eternity), represented by the right kidney and right leg. These two sefirot always operate as a pair, and are symbolized in Kabbalah as the two palms of a scale.

If consciousness begins from the left palm of the scale, the faith in our ability to damage, then first we must balance it with the faith in our ability to rectify, and continue to deepen our consciousness of this faith until it weighs down the scale to the right, to our eternal merit, overriding (being victorious over) the initial left.

In this world it's all a challenge of faith. But in the messianic era the faith becomes knowledge; it becomes tangible. In this world, if the damage is physical and irreversible, like loosing a limb of one's body, God forbid, then at best one must accept it as a heavenly decree (a tikun, rectification, on the spiritual plane) and learn how to live and serve God best with it. But perhaps soon with advances in stem cell research it will be able to replace a lost limb (indeed, it's already beginning).
There are three levels of life: Living a healthy life in this world; life after spiritual death (sin); life after physical death.

To live a healthy life in this world means to consciously pursue a good life on both the physical and spiritual planes.

rasha (evil person) is considered dead in this world. The spiritual senses to perceive Divinity with which he was gifted from birth have become dumb, more about silent and inanimate. His heart has become a "heart of stone." But by teshuvah (return to God) he can revive himself. He can experience the word of God speaking to him, erectile "I forgive you, capsule " and thus return to life.

All humans are mortal. They live and they die. But death is not the end. Indeed, it is the beginning of a new, purely spiritual life, the life of the soul in paradise. Ultimately, the soul will return to reunite with the body. The body will resurrect and together with the soul that rectified it in this world experience eternal life in a physical world, whose nature we cannot at present fathom.

These three levels of life correspond to three levels of consciousness: the natural consciousness of the tzadik (righteous person) in this world, the rectified self-consciousness of the rasha who has succeeded in refocusing his consciousness on the Divine, and the natural consciousness of the future (the natural consciousness of the soul in a resurrected body, following the purely Divine consciousness of the soul in paradise).

Three times "life" (68, ????), equals tzadik (204, ????). The complete life cycle of the tzadik includes the intermediate stage of the rasha who has returned to God, "For man cannot be a tzadik on earth who does good and never sins."

The gematria of "life after death" (???? ??? ???? ,728) equals 28 times 26, i.e. "long live" (???) times God ('???)! This surprising gematria teaches us that the phenomenon of life after death reflects the truth that God lives forever, for the Divine soul is "an actual part of God above." "Actual" in relation to the soul means that it is simultaneously a real part of God above and also that it possesses the power to actualize itself by entering and living in a physical body.
There are six things that one must clarify: Who am I? Where am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Who put me here? Why?

The six letters of the first word of the Torah, "In the beginning" (??????), purchase divide into two three-letter words which read, "He created six" (???, created, ???, six [in Aramaic]). The root "to create" in Hebrew (???) means also "to clarify." Thus, the Torah's first word, its first instruction to man (Torah means instruction, each of its words is an instruction to man), can be read, "Clarify six" (the first three-letter word can be read either "He clarified" in the past tense or simply "Clarify" in the imperative). This is the "In the beginning" of our Divine service. The first thing we must do, to best serve our Creator and be productive in life, is to clarify the six fundamental queries stated above.

The complete clarification process takes a whole lifetime, but the kernel ideas, the answers to the six queries, can be stated in short:

Who am I? If you are Jewish, the answer is "I am a Jew." A Jew is one of God's chosen people, chosen to bring light to the world. If you are not Jewish, the answer is "I am an intelligent human being." All humans are created and given the intelligence necessary to do their part in the rectification of reality. In defining the function of a Jew and a non-Jew in the world order we already begin to touch on the last query, why? Cleary, the answer given here is generic. What takes a lifetime is to answer the query for the individual (and so for the following queries).

Where am I? In the lowest of created worlds, the world referred to as "a world of deceit," a world blind to Divine reality, full of sin and corruption, estranged from God.

Where did I come from? From nothing (the primordial nothing, before creation).

Where am I going? To everything (the World to Come).

Who put me here? The Creator, the one and only God.

Why? In order that I know and unite with Him, by fulfilling His will, in this lowest of worlds. Thus I create a dwelling place for Him below. But why does He need me to know Him and why does He need a dwelling place below? Only God knows.

The astute student of Kabbalah will note that each of these six queries and answers addresses, in particular, one of the supernal sefirot: Who am I? – foundation (????). Where am I? – kingdom (?????). Where did I come from? – wisdom (????). Where am I going? – understanding (????). Who put me here? – crown (???). Why? – knowledge (???).
King David asked the question "Who am I?" The Bible describes him as "reddish with beautiful eyes and goodly appearance."

Each of us has a soul-root. Ultimately, we all descend from Adam, and as such we each are rooted in one of his (spiritual) limbs. The soul of Adam is the origin of the middle line of the Tree of Life. His first two sons, Cain and Abel, represent the two primary branches of his soul, the left branch and the right branch, respectively. Later in history, the two twins, Esau (from the root of Cain) and Jacob (from the root of Abel), correspond to the archetypal souls of the left and the right.

The word "reddish" (??????) appears only twice in the Bible, first describing Esau at birth ("The first one came out reddish"; he was later named Edom, "red one") and thereafter describing David, when he first appears in the Biblical narration of his anointment by the prophet Samuel.

The sages relate that when Samuel first saw the reddish youth brought before him, he was taken aback in fear lest he resemble Esau, a shedder of blood. But God told him, albeit he is reddish he will only shed blood in war to protect the Jewish People and sanctify the Name of God – indeed he is reddish (for a king must possess an affinity to red, the color of might, embodied in the blood) but with (not and, as the normal syntax of the phrase would suggest) beautiful eyes, i.e., with a beautiful, Torah-correct sense of judgment (based upon the teachings of the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of Israel, the "eyes" of the congregation).

The gematria of "reddish" (??????) is equal to that of the question "Who am I" (?? ???, 111). Also, the first three letters of the word (its grammatical root) spell Adam, ???, the first man and all-inclusive soul-root of mankind. In Kabbalah, the three letters of Adam stand for Adam David Moshiach.

David knew that he was reddish and asked himself the question "Who am I?" Am I (from) Esau, God forbid?! The story of his life is the answer to his question. God sent you to the world in order to rectify and elevate the Divine sparks trapped in the soul-root of Esau. But from the outset there is a great, essential difference between him and you. He "lives by the sword." He enjoys killing. But not you! You use your innate attribute of might (your innate reddishness) only to do justice and bring peace. You long for the day that the swords will be beaten into plowshares. You are the perfect blend (the middle – "… and goodly appearance") of left ("reddish") and right ("… with beautiful eyes"). That's who you are.
The description of David, information pills "reddish with beautiful eyes" ("?????????? ??? ????? ????????") equals "kingdom" (malchut, information pills ?????, pill 496). That's what it takes to be a king and rule over a kingdom.

The entire verse, "And he sent and brought him, and he was reddish with beautiful eyes and goodly appearance, and God said, Arise anoint him for this is he" ("??????????? ???????????? ?????? ?????????? ??? ????? ???????? ?????? ????? ????????? ?-??? ???? ?????????? ???? ??? ????") equals 4 times kingdom, 4 times "reddish with beautiful eyes" (corresponding, in Kabbalah, to the manifestation of the sefirah of kingdom in each of the four worlds, Emanation, Creation, Formation, Action).

Another indication that the phrase "reddish with beautiful eyes" is the kernel essence of the entire verse is that the verse comprises 16 words while the phrase "reddish with beautiful eyes" comprises 16 letters. 16 = 42. The phrase "reddish with beautiful eyes" comprises 4 words (22, the root of 16). These are striking examples of self-reference.

The "seal" of the verse is "for this is he!" (?? ?? ???). This (??) = he (???). The commentaries explain this to mean that David's revealed appearance, his manifestation in This World ("this") exactly reflects his hidden essence, his manifestation in the World to Come ("he"). Indeed, "this is he" (?? ???) equals "David" as his name appears often in the Bible: ????. David's reddishness derives from his "this" while his beautiful eyes derive from his "he." First Samuel only saw his "this" but not the inner-inclusion of his "he" with his "this."

Previously God had chastised Samuel, who mistakenly thought that David's older brother was the one to be anointed, saying "look not at his countenance… for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart" ("??? ??????? ??? ?????????... ???? ??????? ??????? ?????????? ???' ??????? ????????").

But Samuel was unable to fully internalize God's chastisement (thus demonstrating God's very assessment of the difference between Him and man). Once again his initial impression of David was mistaken; he saw only his "this" but not his "he."

"Reddish with beautiful eyes [= kingdom] and goodly appearance" (?????? ?? ??? ????? ???? ???, 730) together with "this is he" (24) = 754 = 13 times 58. 13 = "one" (???) and 58 = "grace" (??), symmetric beauty. In small numbering, "grace" itself equals "one." "But God looks at the heart" (???-??? ??????? ????????) equals 312 = 13 (one) times 24. 24 = "this is he" (?? ???) or David (????).

"Reddish with beautiful eyes and goodly appearance" together with "for this is he" (?? ?? ???) equals 784 = 282 (28 = 2 times 14, David, ???).

Skipping every other letter in the phrase "reddish with beautiful eyes" divides kingdom, 496, into 196, 142 (David squared) and 300, the triangle of 24 (= "this is he")! The full value, 496, is itself the triangle of 31 (God's Name El, ?-?). Thus, we arrive at the mathematical expression: 142 plus triangle 24 = triangle 31, which generalizes to:

(4n plus 2)2 plus triangle (7n plus 3) = triangle (9n plus 4)

This, then, is a kingly mathematical expression!
After his sin God asked Adam, ambulance "Where are you?" Do you know to what depth you have fallen?

Adam ate the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. He pursued knowledge (God wants us to be knowledgeable, doesn't He?). And he got it – the knowledge of the depth to which he had fallen by disobeying the word of God.

The answer to the query "Where am I" has both an objective and a subjective side to it. Objectively, I'm here in this lowest of worlds, a world of deceit, etc. Subjectively, I myself am responsible for having entered this psychological state of being.

"Where am I?" is the second of our six existential queries. The second last is "Who put me here?", and the answer we presented above was – God!

So on the one hand (the right hand, so to speak) God put me here, but on the other hand (the left hand) I'm responsible for getting myself here. From the objective point of view God put me here (no other has the power to put me anywhere), but from the subjective point of view I sinned and so fell into this estranged psychological state.

As stated, the question "Where am I?" and its answer "In this lowest of worlds" is the question of kingdom (malchut), the lowest of the Divine sefirot, of which is said, "Her feet descend into death." In Hebrew, "feet" means "habits." Sin is no more than getting into bad habits. And look where it takes us (with its/our feet)!

"Who put me here?" is the question of crown (keter), the highest of the Divine sefirot, the super-conscious origin of faith, pleasure, and will. "The end is wedged into the beginning and the beginning into the end." If you fall, the higher you were the lower you fall.

God asked Adam "Where are you?" (????). Squaring each of the four letters of this word (12+102+202+52) gives 526 = ??????, "consciousness." That's what Adam wanted, and that's what he got. The product of the four letters (1×10×20×5) is 1000, alluding to the 1000 lights that were given to Moses at Sinai – perfect, rectified Divine consciousness. The rectification of Adam's sin is by acquiring Torah knowledge, which itself is inherent in the sin, the quest for knowledge.
After killing Abel God asked Cain, information pills "Where is Abel your brother?" He answered, "I know not, am I my brother's keeper?"

God responded: "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries to Me from the ground…."

The first question God posed Cain after his sin was "where…?" – the same question He posed Adam after his sin. The second question He posed was "what…?"

To know what you have done is a consequence, a derivative, of knowing where you and your brother are.

The truth is that each of us is intended to be our brother's keeper. We are responsible for one another, for we are part of one another – our souls are connected. Just like one must ask himself the question "Where am I?" so must he ask the question "Where is my brother?"

To sin is to displace reality, to displace souls. And so, after man sins God asks him "where?" The sages say, "Who is wise? He who recognizes his place." The wise man recognizes his place and stays in his proper place, the place that God intended for him in creation.

The Ba'al Shem Tov did not like to move things for no good reason. The sages say, "There is no thing that has no place." Everything, not just everyone, in creation has its proper place.

To stay in your place is not to be static. Just the opposite: only when you recognize and stay in your place can you become dynamic, always on the move. First you have to be grounded, you have to identify your base, remain rooted in your place, and then no matter how high you ascend you remain connected to your place.

This appears to be a paradox. To understand it let's return to Genesis. In the beginning (of time, the very first creation) God created two places, a higher, spiritual place and a lower, physical place – heavens and earth. Man's soul is from heaven and his body is from earth. His soul descends from on high to enter his earthly body. But his soul's root remains above and remains connected to the soul in the body.

To know our place in creation (to be wise) is to know that we are in two places simultaneously. Although our bodies are below, our souls are from heaven and that's where all souls unite. To know this is to know that (here, on earth) I am my brother's keeper. To assume responsibility for my brother, in his place below ("Where is Abel your brother?"), gives me the power to move freely in all directions, up (to heaven) and down (to earth) and to all four earthly directions.
There are three forms of the question "where?" in Biblical Hebrew. They first appear in the Torah in evolving order, buy more about both grammatically and numerically.

The first form, purchase ey (??), order comprises only two letters (perhaps the simplest syllable in the Hebrew language) and first appears in the question we contemplated above, "Where is Abel your brother" (?? ??? ????). Previously God had asked Adam, "Where are you?" (????), a word that unites "where?" (??) with "[are] you" (??).

The second form, ayeh (???), comprises three letters (the original two letters and an additional hei) and first appears in the question the angels (who appeared as guests) asked Abraham (before blessing him to bear a son), "Where is Sarah your wife?" (??? ??? ????).

The third form, eyfoh (???? [note that the variant form ???? does not mean "where?" in the normal sense of the word, see commentaries]) comprises four letters (adding a pei before the last letter of the previous form and literally reading "where-here?" [note that in English here is part of where]) and first appears in the question that Joseph asked the man (who really was an angel, according to the sages), "[I am seeking my brothers, tell me please] where are they feeding their flocks?" (???? ?? ????).

The logic behind the conceptual evolution of these three forms of the question "where?" is that as the forms progress the place asked for becomes more and more tangible, definite and identifiable (the three forms relate to the concept "place" from the perspective of the three descending worlds of Creation, Formation, Action).

  • When God asked Adam "Where are you?" He was alluding primarily to Adam's spiritual condition, not to his physical location. Similarly, when God asked Cain "Where is Abel your brother" He meant in what world is he, is he alive or dead? This is a "quantum" question, like the puzzle of Schrödinger's cat (a question pertaining to the World of Creation, as explained elsewhere).
  • The angels knew that Sarah was "in the tent," and their question was simply to arouse Abraham's love for his modest and righteous wife, as explained by the sages (a question pertaining to the World of Formation, the world of emotion).
  • Joseph was sent by his father Jacob to physically locate his brothers and bring back news of their wellbeing (his question pertained to the World of Action).

Ironically, Joseph was seeking his brothers' love while they were planning to kill him, as Cain had killed his brother Abel. After the perpetration of his sin God asked Cain "Where is Abel your brother?" Here, Joseph intended to prevent (on a spiritual plane, by means of telepathy, as it were) his brothers from killing him (in the World of Action) by first asking, out of love (the primary emotion of the World of Formation), "I am seeking my brothers, where are they feeding their flocks?" (a shepherd feeds his flocks out of love for his flocks, and so Joseph imagined that his brothers were in a mood of love which would reflect itself towards him).

The sum of the numerical values of the three forms of "where?" (11, 16, and 96, respectively) equals 123, the value of the first two questions posed by God to mankind: "Where are you?" (36) and "Where is Abel your brother?" (87). The three values also begin a quadratic series whose base is 75 = "why?" (???). All three forms derive from the first (??) whose two letters together with the three letter of "why?" (???) permute to spell God's Name Elokim (?????), the Name with which God created the world. He asks the world "where?" and the world asks Him "why?"

4 Responses to “The Evolution of Where”

  1. Geert van den Bos says:

    Might “koh” (“there” – Genesis 22: 5) be the final “where”?

  2. R. G. says:

    How does this all fit in with the teaching of the Besht that a person is where his thoughts are? How can we make the place of our thoughts into our physical place?
    For example, a person’s thoughts might be in Jerusalem, while physically he is situated elsewhere – how can he bring his thoughts into action?

  3. Silvana Origlia says:

    Generally spoken I would like to thank HaRav Ginsburgh for his outstanding, wonderful knowledge of Truth and for his art of sympathically teaching it. I wish that he’ll be soon recovered perfectly: Rafua Sheloma. Shabat Shalom.