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Prisoners’ Solidarity

checkmate

Since the time of the kings of Edom until today, sovaldi sale the World of Chaos is in a state of instability and prefers to wallow eternally in the swamp of bachelorhood…

Kings without Queens

In any good story about a king, see one might suppose that there is also a queen. It just doesn’t seem fitting for a king to be single. But, there is at least one place in the Torah where kings did not follow this basic protocol.

“And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel.” Towards the end of the Torah portion of Vayishlach, the Torah enumerates the eight kings of Edom and describes how, one after the other, each of them rises to power at the other’s expense: “And there ruled in Edom Bela ben Be’or… and Bela died and after him ruled Yovav ben Zarach from Botzrah. And Yovav died and after him ruled Chusham from the land of the Teimani…” One after the next, the Torah describes how each king of Edom dies and the next one rules. Yet, of the eight kings, seven apparently had no queen by their side, and only with reference to the eighth and last king does it mention his wife’s name: “And after him ruled Hadar … and his wife’s name was Meheitavel.” This seems to imply that all the other kings were bachelors, or at least did not have a marriage worth mentioning.

In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to first understand why the Torah even mentions these kings. Taking a literal approach, the Ramban [Nachmanides] [1] interprets that from here we learn that Isaac’s blessing to Esau was realized, “Upon your sword shall you live.” [2] These kings of Edom were Esau’s descendants, and they conquered the kings of Seir who had ruled before them. But, beyond this literal interpretation, there are many more hidden facets to this episode, which can be accessed by studying the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut. There it becomes clear that this passage conceals some of the Torah’s deepest secrets.

Chaos Comes before Rectification

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes:

From a Kabbalistic perspective, “And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom” is a hidden reference to the world that the Almighty created with the measure of judgment before He created this world, and before He revealed His Majesty in this world… For He created worlds and destroyed them until He created [our world] and included…the attribute of compassion, and I cannot explain this because these are eminent, secret matters that are of utmost significance.

However, those ideas that were ambiguous and obscure in Rabbeinu Bechaye’s era, [3] were explained two centuries later by the Holy Arizal and continued to come to light in the Kabbalistic literature that followed, and later, in Chassidic literature.

In short, the kings of Edom are a reference to the World of Chaos that preceded the World of Rectification. In Kabbalah, the creation of the world is described as a spiritual process of God’s infinite light descending until it reaches the physical world as we know it. During this process, the World of Chaos was created, which did not endure for very long, but “broke and died.” This is the meaning of the sages’ saying that “God creates worlds and destroys them.” [4] The World of Rectification was created to replace the World of Chaos that broke.

The World of Chaos is described as points of light that emanated, one after the other from their supreme Divine source (referred to as “Primordial Man”), however each one of these lights broke and died as soon as it protruded, because the vessels were unable to contain the lights. This is the traumatic event referred to in Kabbalah as the “Breaking of the Vessels” (????????? ?????????). This is the secret of the recurring phrase “And he ruled… and he died,” which is stated with reference to the first kings of Edom. Each king represents a light that radiates out and immediately shatters. In contrast, we note that the Torah does not mention that the eighth king, Hadar (who again, is the one who is married) died. Kabbalah therefore explains that he represents the initiation of the World of Rectification.

To make these ideas somewhat easier to digest, we can explain that this does not only refer to primordial events from the distant past. God renews the act of creation every single day, so any description of what happened at creation is, to a certain extent, what is happening at the more profound levels of reality all the time. For instance, the service that we need to do in this world is to refine lost sparks. These lost sparks are the fragments that fell and scattered from the broken World of Chaos.

This means that in the same way that the spiritual world began with chaos, so too does every physical phenomenon also begin with a state of chaos before it reaches its ultimate rectification. This we can perceive from the very beginning of the Torah, first “And the earth was chaos” [5] and only afterwards, “and there was light.” [6] This order can be identified in many general ideas in the Torah, for example: darkness preceded light; animals preceded human beings; the six days of creation preceded the Holy Shabbat; Esau preceded Jacob; the kings of Edom “before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel”; the seventy nations of the world appeared on the stage of history before the Jewish people; and the dark reality of exile precedes the final redemption. The sages succinctly state the rule that, “First is darkness and light follows.” [7] To use another Kabbalistic phrase that describes this phenomenon, “The [inedible] husk precedes the [edible] fruit.” One of the reasons why things need to appear in this way is that the husk guards the fruit, allowing it to safely develop to maturity.

The Power of Chaos

What is it that caused the kings of chaos to break and die? In the language of Kabbalah, in the World of Chaos there were “many lights and few vessels.” This means that each light appeared at the peak of its power and aspired to overtake the whole stage, flooding it with its own hue. In the context of the kings, this phenomenon is described as each king saying, “I will rule.” Each king came with the full extent of his force and said, “I am here and only me!” Such a powerful chaotic force as this “breaks the vessels,” in both the literal and the esoteric sense of the phrase. The vessels are intended to contain the light?which is initially spiritual and elusive by nature?and bring it to effect as a tangible reality. But, when the light enters these vessels with great intensity, the vessels are unable to endure the pressure. Instead of containing the light, they burst and shatter.

For this very reason, the lights of the World of Chaos cannot live in peace with one another. One king can only appear after the death of his predecessor because, “No kingdom can touch another kingdom, even by a hair’s breadth,” [8] and “two kings cannot reign with one crown”[9]?especially not kings like these, whose inflated egos aim to conquer territory for their own purposes and extend beyond their own boundaries. When egoism is unbridled, just having someone else in the vicinity seems like a threat to the person’s existence.

By contrast, in the World of Rectification, “there are few lights and many vessels.” The lights appear in a smaller, more refined and more restrained version. Since the lights do not appear with such high intensity, they do not break the vessels with their force. The lights succeed in uniting with the vessels, reaching a state of stable existence that does not break. This is why in the World of Rectification all of the lights? despite their obvious dissimilarities?are present simultaneously, and there is no need for one to “die” before another appears. Peace reigns in the World of Rectification because these different lights do not appear as individual protrusions, but are relatively annulled to their source. This type of peace is referred to as “a vessel that holds blessing” and this is how all the lights combine into one harmonic system that becomes a complete “persona.”

From Bachelorhood to Married Life

Chassidut teaches us how the most profound secrets of Kabbalah are reflected in the human psyche, as the verse states, “From my flesh I will perceive God.” [10] With regards to the subject under discussion, being single is considered relatively “chaotic,” while married life is considered to be a World of Rectification.

This idea comes to the fore in the case of someone who remains single because they are psychologically trapped in a culture that does not encourage them to extricate themselves from singledom, and create a genuine, lasting marriage. Often, these are people who have a lot of “light,” they want to achieve many things, to advance, to get rich and conquer new horizons; they have big ideas and a great desire for self-actualization. However, their problem is that in their world there is only one person?them and themself alone. This is a typical “I will rule” phenomenon in which the person’s individuality does not allow them to let anyone else into their world, except as an object to be exploited for their own interests.

This is why the Torah does not mention that the first seven kings of Edom had wives. “Kings” of the World of Chaos are essentially unable to live their lives in a genuine marital relationship. The most that can be expected of them is to create a profitable business partnership. Only the eighth and final king, Hadar, who represents the beginning of the World of Rectification, was really married. Therefore, only Hadar did not die, because just as in a game of chess the King without the Queen is unable to run long distances, so too, without nurturing our partnership for life, “stale-mate” may be the most likely outcome, and “check-mate” is only a few moves away.

When someone is totally self-oriented, they live in a foreign, cold and distant world, unable to make true contact with their (potential) spouse. In order to improve this they must undergo a process of self-rectification, which begins by breaking all their present misconceptions. The first step to this process is to pay attention to the fact that somewhere deep inside, lurks the belief that “I am all and there is none besides me”?a thought that leaves no room for anyone else to step inside. This type of stubborn egotism believes that all other people were born to serve this individual’s ego. Once this facet of narcissism has been pinpointed, the individual will understand that they need to turn down their headlights, out of consideration for anyone approaching them, so as not to “dazzle” them with their own energies. Lowering the intensity of their ego allows the individual to listen to others’ voices. In other words, instead of expecting Prince, or Princess Charming, to capture their heart, it would be better to open their own heart by taking an attitude of selfless concern towards those they meet.

The process of developing from chaos to rectification is liable to be accompanied by a critical breakage point. This is experienced as a sense of surrendering one’s self-image, which may feel like psychological suicide to a certain extent. But, this predicament is worthwhile, because when we turn towards the other and begin to nurture a warm, loving relationship, together we construct a wide vessel that can contain the lights of both partners in the most harmonious combination. When two people build together such a loving, considerate relationship, their energies resonate with each other, and the integration of their lights comes to fruition as a complete “persona” in the form of a warm Jewish home and family.


[1] See Ramban’s commentary to Genesis 36:30.

[2] Genesis 27:40.

[3] Rabeinu Bechaye wrote his interpretation on the Torah in the mid 14th century.

[4] Kohelet Rabah 3:11.

[5] Genesis 1:2.

[6] Ibid 1:3.

[7] Shabbat 77b.

[8] Berachot 48b.

[9] Rashi, Genesis 1:16.

[10] Job 19:26.

checkmate

Since the time of the kings of Edom until today, sovaldi sale the World of Chaos is in a state of instability and prefers to wallow eternally in the swamp of bachelorhood…

Kings without Queens

In any good story about a king, see one might suppose that there is also a queen. It just doesn’t seem fitting for a king to be single. But, there is at least one place in the Torah where kings did not follow this basic protocol.

“And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel.” Towards the end of the Torah portion of Vayishlach, the Torah enumerates the eight kings of Edom and describes how, one after the other, each of them rises to power at the other’s expense: “And there ruled in Edom Bela ben Be’or… and Bela died and after him ruled Yovav ben Zarach from Botzrah. And Yovav died and after him ruled Chusham from the land of the Teimani…” One after the next, the Torah describes how each king of Edom dies and the next one rules. Yet, of the eight kings, seven apparently had no queen by their side, and only with reference to the eighth and last king does it mention his wife’s name: “And after him ruled Hadar … and his wife’s name was Meheitavel.” This seems to imply that all the other kings were bachelors, or at least did not have a marriage worth mentioning.

In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to first understand why the Torah even mentions these kings. Taking a literal approach, the Ramban [Nachmanides] [1] interprets that from here we learn that Isaac’s blessing to Esau was realized, “Upon your sword shall you live.” [2] These kings of Edom were Esau’s descendants, and they conquered the kings of Seir who had ruled before them. But, beyond this literal interpretation, there are many more hidden facets to this episode, which can be accessed by studying the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut. There it becomes clear that this passage conceals some of the Torah’s deepest secrets.

Chaos Comes before Rectification

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes:

From a Kabbalistic perspective, “And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom” is a hidden reference to the world that the Almighty created with the measure of judgment before He created this world, and before He revealed His Majesty in this world… For He created worlds and destroyed them until He created [our world] and included…the attribute of compassion, and I cannot explain this because these are eminent, secret matters that are of utmost significance.

However, those ideas that were ambiguous and obscure in Rabbeinu Bechaye’s era, [3] were explained two centuries later by the Holy Arizal and continued to come to light in the Kabbalistic literature that followed, and later, in Chassidic literature.

In short, the kings of Edom are a reference to the World of Chaos that preceded the World of Rectification. In Kabbalah, the creation of the world is described as a spiritual process of God’s infinite light descending until it reaches the physical world as we know it. During this process, the World of Chaos was created, which did not endure for very long, but “broke and died.” This is the meaning of the sages’ saying that “God creates worlds and destroys them.” [4] The World of Rectification was created to replace the World of Chaos that broke.

The World of Chaos is described as points of light that emanated, one after the other from their supreme Divine source (referred to as “Primordial Man”), however each one of these lights broke and died as soon as it protruded, because the vessels were unable to contain the lights. This is the traumatic event referred to in Kabbalah as the “Breaking of the Vessels” (????????? ?????????). This is the secret of the recurring phrase “And he ruled… and he died,” which is stated with reference to the first kings of Edom. Each king represents a light that radiates out and immediately shatters. In contrast, we note that the Torah does not mention that the eighth king, Hadar (who again, is the one who is married) died. Kabbalah therefore explains that he represents the initiation of the World of Rectification.

To make these ideas somewhat easier to digest, we can explain that this does not only refer to primordial events from the distant past. God renews the act of creation every single day, so any description of what happened at creation is, to a certain extent, what is happening at the more profound levels of reality all the time. For instance, the service that we need to do in this world is to refine lost sparks. These lost sparks are the fragments that fell and scattered from the broken World of Chaos.

This means that in the same way that the spiritual world began with chaos, so too does every physical phenomenon also begin with a state of chaos before it reaches its ultimate rectification. This we can perceive from the very beginning of the Torah, first “And the earth was chaos” [5] and only afterwards, “and there was light.” [6] This order can be identified in many general ideas in the Torah, for example: darkness preceded light; animals preceded human beings; the six days of creation preceded the Holy Shabbat; Esau preceded Jacob; the kings of Edom “before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel”; the seventy nations of the world appeared on the stage of history before the Jewish people; and the dark reality of exile precedes the final redemption. The sages succinctly state the rule that, “First is darkness and light follows.” [7] To use another Kabbalistic phrase that describes this phenomenon, “The [inedible] husk precedes the [edible] fruit.” One of the reasons why things need to appear in this way is that the husk guards the fruit, allowing it to safely develop to maturity.

The Power of Chaos

What is it that caused the kings of chaos to break and die? In the language of Kabbalah, in the World of Chaos there were “many lights and few vessels.” This means that each light appeared at the peak of its power and aspired to overtake the whole stage, flooding it with its own hue. In the context of the kings, this phenomenon is described as each king saying, “I will rule.” Each king came with the full extent of his force and said, “I am here and only me!” Such a powerful chaotic force as this “breaks the vessels,” in both the literal and the esoteric sense of the phrase. The vessels are intended to contain the light?which is initially spiritual and elusive by nature?and bring it to effect as a tangible reality. But, when the light enters these vessels with great intensity, the vessels are unable to endure the pressure. Instead of containing the light, they burst and shatter.

For this very reason, the lights of the World of Chaos cannot live in peace with one another. One king can only appear after the death of his predecessor because, “No kingdom can touch another kingdom, even by a hair’s breadth,” [8] and “two kings cannot reign with one crown”[9]?especially not kings like these, whose inflated egos aim to conquer territory for their own purposes and extend beyond their own boundaries. When egoism is unbridled, just having someone else in the vicinity seems like a threat to the person’s existence.

By contrast, in the World of Rectification, “there are few lights and many vessels.” The lights appear in a smaller, more refined and more restrained version. Since the lights do not appear with such high intensity, they do not break the vessels with their force. The lights succeed in uniting with the vessels, reaching a state of stable existence that does not break. This is why in the World of Rectification all of the lights? despite their obvious dissimilarities?are present simultaneously, and there is no need for one to “die” before another appears. Peace reigns in the World of Rectification because these different lights do not appear as individual protrusions, but are relatively annulled to their source. This type of peace is referred to as “a vessel that holds blessing” and this is how all the lights combine into one harmonic system that becomes a complete “persona.”

From Bachelorhood to Married Life

Chassidut teaches us how the most profound secrets of Kabbalah are reflected in the human psyche, as the verse states, “From my flesh I will perceive God.” [10] With regards to the subject under discussion, being single is considered relatively “chaotic,” while married life is considered to be a World of Rectification.

This idea comes to the fore in the case of someone who remains single because they are psychologically trapped in a culture that does not encourage them to extricate themselves from singledom, and create a genuine, lasting marriage. Often, these are people who have a lot of “light,” they want to achieve many things, to advance, to get rich and conquer new horizons; they have big ideas and a great desire for self-actualization. However, their problem is that in their world there is only one person?them and themself alone. This is a typical “I will rule” phenomenon in which the person’s individuality does not allow them to let anyone else into their world, except as an object to be exploited for their own interests.

This is why the Torah does not mention that the first seven kings of Edom had wives. “Kings” of the World of Chaos are essentially unable to live their lives in a genuine marital relationship. The most that can be expected of them is to create a profitable business partnership. Only the eighth and final king, Hadar, who represents the beginning of the World of Rectification, was really married. Therefore, only Hadar did not die, because just as in a game of chess the King without the Queen is unable to run long distances, so too, without nurturing our partnership for life, “stale-mate” may be the most likely outcome, and “check-mate” is only a few moves away.

When someone is totally self-oriented, they live in a foreign, cold and distant world, unable to make true contact with their (potential) spouse. In order to improve this they must undergo a process of self-rectification, which begins by breaking all their present misconceptions. The first step to this process is to pay attention to the fact that somewhere deep inside, lurks the belief that “I am all and there is none besides me”?a thought that leaves no room for anyone else to step inside. This type of stubborn egotism believes that all other people were born to serve this individual’s ego. Once this facet of narcissism has been pinpointed, the individual will understand that they need to turn down their headlights, out of consideration for anyone approaching them, so as not to “dazzle” them with their own energies. Lowering the intensity of their ego allows the individual to listen to others’ voices. In other words, instead of expecting Prince, or Princess Charming, to capture their heart, it would be better to open their own heart by taking an attitude of selfless concern towards those they meet.

The process of developing from chaos to rectification is liable to be accompanied by a critical breakage point. This is experienced as a sense of surrendering one’s self-image, which may feel like psychological suicide to a certain extent. But, this predicament is worthwhile, because when we turn towards the other and begin to nurture a warm, loving relationship, together we construct a wide vessel that can contain the lights of both partners in the most harmonious combination. When two people build together such a loving, considerate relationship, their energies resonate with each other, and the integration of their lights comes to fruition as a complete “persona” in the form of a warm Jewish home and family.


[1] See Ramban’s commentary to Genesis 36:30.

[2] Genesis 27:40.

[3] Rabeinu Bechaye wrote his interpretation on the Torah in the mid 14th century.

[4] Kohelet Rabah 3:11.

[5] Genesis 1:2.

[6] Ibid 1:3.

[7] Shabbat 77b.

[8] Berachot 48b.

[9] Rashi, Genesis 1:16.

[10] Job 19:26.

checkmate

Since the time of the kings of Edom until today, troche the World of Chaos is in a state of instability and prefers to wallow eternally in the swamp of bachelorhood…

Kings without Queens

In any good story about a king, sale one might suppose that there is also a queen. It just doesn’t seem fitting for a king to be single. But, there is at least one place in the Torah where kings did not follow this basic protocol.

“And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel.” Towards the end of the Torah portion of Vayishlach, the Torah enumerates the eight kings of Edom and describes how, one after the other, each of them rises to power at the other’s expense: “And there ruled in Edom Bela ben Be’or… and Bela died and after him ruled Yovav ben Zarach from Botzrah. And Yovav died and after him ruled Chusham from the land of the Teimani…” One after the next, the Torah describes how each king of Edom dies and the next one rules. Yet, of the eight kings, seven apparently had no queen by their side, and only with reference to the eighth and last king does it mention his wife’s name: “And after him ruled Hadar … and his wife’s name was Meheitavel.” This seems to imply that all the other kings were bachelors, or at least did not have a marriage worth mentioning.

In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to first understand why the Torah even mentions these kings. Taking a literal approach, the Ramban [Nachmanides] [1] interprets that from here we learn that Isaac’s blessing to Esau was realized, “Upon your sword shall you live.” [2] These kings of Edom were Esau’s descendants, and they conquered the kings of Seir who had ruled before them. But, beyond this literal interpretation, there are many more hidden facets to this episode, which can be accessed by studying the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut. There it becomes clear that this passage conceals some of the Torah’s deepest secrets.

Chaos Comes before Rectification

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes:

From a Kabbalistic perspective, “And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom” is a hidden reference to the world that the Almighty created with the measure of judgment before He created this world, and before He revealed His Majesty in this world… For He created worlds and destroyed them until He created [our world] and included…the attribute of compassion, and I cannot explain this because these are eminent, secret matters that are of utmost significance.

However, those ideas that were ambiguous and obscure in Rabbeinu Bechaye’s era, [3] were explained two centuries later by the Holy Arizal and continued to come to light in the Kabbalistic literature that followed, and later, in Chassidic literature.

In short, the kings of Edom are a reference to the World of Chaos that preceded the World of Rectification. In Kabbalah, the creation of the world is described as a spiritual process of God’s infinite light descending until it reaches the physical world as we know it. During this process, the World of Chaos was created, which did not endure for very long, but “broke and died.” This is the meaning of the sages’ saying that “God creates worlds and destroys them.” [4] The World of Rectification was created to replace the World of Chaos that broke.

The World of Chaos is described as points of light that emanated, one after the other from their supreme Divine source (referred to as “Primordial Man”), however each one of these lights broke and died as soon as it protruded, because the vessels were unable to contain the lights. This is the traumatic event referred to in Kabbalah as the “Breaking of the Vessels” (????????? ?????????). This is the secret of the recurring phrase “And he ruled… and he died,” which is stated with reference to the first kings of Edom. Each king represents a light that radiates out and immediately shatters. In contrast, we note that the Torah does not mention that the eighth king, Hadar (who again, is the one who is married) died. Kabbalah therefore explains that he represents the initiation of the World of Rectification.

To make these ideas somewhat easier to digest, we can explain that this does not only refer to primordial events from the distant past. God renews the act of creation every single day, so any description of what happened at creation is, to a certain extent, what is happening at the more profound levels of reality all the time. For instance, the service that we need to do in this world is to refine lost sparks. These lost sparks are the fragments that fell and scattered from the broken World of Chaos.

This means that in the same way that the spiritual world began with chaos, so too does every physical phenomenon also begin with a state of chaos before it reaches its ultimate rectification. This we can perceive from the very beginning of the Torah, first “And the earth was chaos” [5] and only afterwards, “and there was light.” [6] This order can be identified in many general ideas in the Torah, for example: darkness preceded light; animals preceded human beings; the six days of creation preceded the Holy Shabbat; Esau preceded Jacob; the kings of Edom “before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel”; the seventy nations of the world appeared on the stage of history before the Jewish people; and the dark reality of exile precedes the final redemption. The sages succinctly state the rule that, “First is darkness and light follows.” [7] To use another Kabbalistic phrase that describes this phenomenon, “The [inedible] husk precedes the [edible] fruit.” One of the reasons why things need to appear in this way is that the husk guards the fruit, allowing it to safely develop to maturity.

The Power of Chaos

What is it that caused the kings of chaos to break and die? In the language of Kabbalah, in the World of Chaos there were “many lights and few vessels.” This means that each light appeared at the peak of its power and aspired to overtake the whole stage, flooding it with its own hue. In the context of the kings, this phenomenon is described as each king saying, “I will rule.” Each king came with the full extent of his force and said, “I am here and only me!” Such a powerful chaotic force as this “breaks the vessels,” in both the literal and the esoteric sense of the phrase. The vessels are intended to contain the light?which is initially spiritual and elusive by nature?and bring it to effect as a tangible reality. But, when the light enters these vessels with great intensity, the vessels are unable to endure the pressure. Instead of containing the light, they burst and shatter.

For this very reason, the lights of the World of Chaos cannot live in peace with one another. One king can only appear after the death of his predecessor because, “No kingdom can touch another kingdom, even by a hair’s breadth,” [8] and “two kings cannot reign with one crown”[9]?especially not kings like these, whose inflated egos aim to conquer territory for their own purposes and extend beyond their own boundaries. When egoism is unbridled, just having someone else in the vicinity seems like a threat to the person’s existence.

By contrast, in the World of Rectification, “there are few lights and many vessels.” The lights appear in a smaller, more refined and more restrained version. Since the lights do not appear with such high intensity, they do not break the vessels with their force. The lights succeed in uniting with the vessels, reaching a state of stable existence that does not break. This is why in the World of Rectification all of the lights? despite their obvious dissimilarities?are present simultaneously, and there is no need for one to “die” before another appears. Peace reigns in the World of Rectification because these different lights do not appear as individual protrusions, but are relatively annulled to their source. This type of peace is referred to as “a vessel that holds blessing” and this is how all the lights combine into one harmonic system that becomes a complete “persona.”

From Bachelorhood to Married Life

Chassidut teaches us how the most profound secrets of Kabbalah are reflected in the human psyche, as the verse states, “From my flesh I will perceive God.” [10] With regards to the subject under discussion, being single is considered relatively “chaotic,” while married life is considered to be a World of Rectification.

This idea comes to the fore in the case of someone who remains single because they are psychologically trapped in a culture that does not encourage them to extricate themselves from singledom, and create a genuine, lasting marriage. Often, these are people who have a lot of “light,” they want to achieve many things, to advance, to get rich and conquer new horizons; they have big ideas and a great desire for self-actualization. However, their problem is that in their world there is only one person?them and themself alone. This is a typical “I will rule” phenomenon in which the person’s individuality does not allow them to let anyone else into their world, except as an object to be exploited for their own interests.

This is why the Torah does not mention that the first seven kings of Edom had wives. “Kings” of the World of Chaos are essentially unable to live their lives in a genuine marital relationship. The most that can be expected of them is to create a profitable business partnership. Only the eighth and final king, Hadar, who represents the beginning of the World of Rectification, was really married. Therefore, only Hadar did not die, because just as in a game of chess the King without the Queen is unable to run long distances, so too, without nurturing our partnership for life, “stale-mate” may be the most likely outcome, and “check-mate” is only a few moves away.

When someone is totally self-oriented, they live in a foreign, cold and distant world, unable to make true contact with their (potential) spouse. In order to improve this they must undergo a process of self-rectification, which begins by breaking all their present misconceptions. The first step to this process is to pay attention to the fact that somewhere deep inside, lurks the belief that “I am all and there is none besides me”?a thought that leaves no room for anyone else to step inside. This type of stubborn egotism believes that all other people were born to serve this individual’s ego. Once this facet of narcissism has been pinpointed, the individual will understand that they need to turn down their headlights, out of consideration for anyone approaching them, so as not to “dazzle” them with their own energies. Lowering the intensity of their ego allows the individual to listen to others’ voices. In other words, instead of expecting Prince, or Princess Charming, to capture their heart, it would be better to open their own heart by taking an attitude of selfless concern towards those they meet.

The process of developing from chaos to rectification is liable to be accompanied by a critical breakage point. This is experienced as a sense of surrendering one’s self-image, which may feel like psychological suicide to a certain extent. But, this predicament is worthwhile, because when we turn towards the other and begin to nurture a warm, loving relationship, together we construct a wide vessel that can contain the lights of both partners in the most harmonious combination. When two people build together such a loving, considerate relationship, their energies resonate with each other, and the integration of their lights comes to fruition as a complete “persona” in the form of a warm Jewish home and family.


[1] See Ramban’s commentary to Genesis 36:30.

[2] Genesis 27:40.

[3] Rabeinu Bechaye wrote his interpretation on the Torah in the mid 14th century.

[4] Kohelet Rabah 3:11.

[5] Genesis 1:2.

[6] Ibid 1:3.

[7] Shabbat 77b.

[8] Berachot 48b.

[9] Rashi, Genesis 1:16.

[10] Job 19:26.

checkmate

Since the time of the kings of Edom until today, sovaldi sale the World of Chaos is in a state of instability and prefers to wallow eternally in the swamp of bachelorhood…

Kings without Queens

In any good story about a king, see one might suppose that there is also a queen. It just doesn’t seem fitting for a king to be single. But, there is at least one place in the Torah where kings did not follow this basic protocol.

“And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel.” Towards the end of the Torah portion of Vayishlach, the Torah enumerates the eight kings of Edom and describes how, one after the other, each of them rises to power at the other’s expense: “And there ruled in Edom Bela ben Be’or… and Bela died and after him ruled Yovav ben Zarach from Botzrah. And Yovav died and after him ruled Chusham from the land of the Teimani…” One after the next, the Torah describes how each king of Edom dies and the next one rules. Yet, of the eight kings, seven apparently had no queen by their side, and only with reference to the eighth and last king does it mention his wife’s name: “And after him ruled Hadar … and his wife’s name was Meheitavel.” This seems to imply that all the other kings were bachelors, or at least did not have a marriage worth mentioning.

In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to first understand why the Torah even mentions these kings. Taking a literal approach, the Ramban [Nachmanides] [1] interprets that from here we learn that Isaac’s blessing to Esau was realized, “Upon your sword shall you live.” [2] These kings of Edom were Esau’s descendants, and they conquered the kings of Seir who had ruled before them. But, beyond this literal interpretation, there are many more hidden facets to this episode, which can be accessed by studying the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut. There it becomes clear that this passage conceals some of the Torah’s deepest secrets.

Chaos Comes before Rectification

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes:

From a Kabbalistic perspective, “And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom” is a hidden reference to the world that the Almighty created with the measure of judgment before He created this world, and before He revealed His Majesty in this world… For He created worlds and destroyed them until He created [our world] and included…the attribute of compassion, and I cannot explain this because these are eminent, secret matters that are of utmost significance.

However, those ideas that were ambiguous and obscure in Rabbeinu Bechaye’s era, [3] were explained two centuries later by the Holy Arizal and continued to come to light in the Kabbalistic literature that followed, and later, in Chassidic literature.

In short, the kings of Edom are a reference to the World of Chaos that preceded the World of Rectification. In Kabbalah, the creation of the world is described as a spiritual process of God’s infinite light descending until it reaches the physical world as we know it. During this process, the World of Chaos was created, which did not endure for very long, but “broke and died.” This is the meaning of the sages’ saying that “God creates worlds and destroys them.” [4] The World of Rectification was created to replace the World of Chaos that broke.

The World of Chaos is described as points of light that emanated, one after the other from their supreme Divine source (referred to as “Primordial Man”), however each one of these lights broke and died as soon as it protruded, because the vessels were unable to contain the lights. This is the traumatic event referred to in Kabbalah as the “Breaking of the Vessels” (????????? ?????????). This is the secret of the recurring phrase “And he ruled… and he died,” which is stated with reference to the first kings of Edom. Each king represents a light that radiates out and immediately shatters. In contrast, we note that the Torah does not mention that the eighth king, Hadar (who again, is the one who is married) died. Kabbalah therefore explains that he represents the initiation of the World of Rectification.

To make these ideas somewhat easier to digest, we can explain that this does not only refer to primordial events from the distant past. God renews the act of creation every single day, so any description of what happened at creation is, to a certain extent, what is happening at the more profound levels of reality all the time. For instance, the service that we need to do in this world is to refine lost sparks. These lost sparks are the fragments that fell and scattered from the broken World of Chaos.

This means that in the same way that the spiritual world began with chaos, so too does every physical phenomenon also begin with a state of chaos before it reaches its ultimate rectification. This we can perceive from the very beginning of the Torah, first “And the earth was chaos” [5] and only afterwards, “and there was light.” [6] This order can be identified in many general ideas in the Torah, for example: darkness preceded light; animals preceded human beings; the six days of creation preceded the Holy Shabbat; Esau preceded Jacob; the kings of Edom “before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel”; the seventy nations of the world appeared on the stage of history before the Jewish people; and the dark reality of exile precedes the final redemption. The sages succinctly state the rule that, “First is darkness and light follows.” [7] To use another Kabbalistic phrase that describes this phenomenon, “The [inedible] husk precedes the [edible] fruit.” One of the reasons why things need to appear in this way is that the husk guards the fruit, allowing it to safely develop to maturity.

The Power of Chaos

What is it that caused the kings of chaos to break and die? In the language of Kabbalah, in the World of Chaos there were “many lights and few vessels.” This means that each light appeared at the peak of its power and aspired to overtake the whole stage, flooding it with its own hue. In the context of the kings, this phenomenon is described as each king saying, “I will rule.” Each king came with the full extent of his force and said, “I am here and only me!” Such a powerful chaotic force as this “breaks the vessels,” in both the literal and the esoteric sense of the phrase. The vessels are intended to contain the light?which is initially spiritual and elusive by nature?and bring it to effect as a tangible reality. But, when the light enters these vessels with great intensity, the vessels are unable to endure the pressure. Instead of containing the light, they burst and shatter.

For this very reason, the lights of the World of Chaos cannot live in peace with one another. One king can only appear after the death of his predecessor because, “No kingdom can touch another kingdom, even by a hair’s breadth,” [8] and “two kings cannot reign with one crown”[9]?especially not kings like these, whose inflated egos aim to conquer territory for their own purposes and extend beyond their own boundaries. When egoism is unbridled, just having someone else in the vicinity seems like a threat to the person’s existence.

By contrast, in the World of Rectification, “there are few lights and many vessels.” The lights appear in a smaller, more refined and more restrained version. Since the lights do not appear with such high intensity, they do not break the vessels with their force. The lights succeed in uniting with the vessels, reaching a state of stable existence that does not break. This is why in the World of Rectification all of the lights? despite their obvious dissimilarities?are present simultaneously, and there is no need for one to “die” before another appears. Peace reigns in the World of Rectification because these different lights do not appear as individual protrusions, but are relatively annulled to their source. This type of peace is referred to as “a vessel that holds blessing” and this is how all the lights combine into one harmonic system that becomes a complete “persona.”

From Bachelorhood to Married Life

Chassidut teaches us how the most profound secrets of Kabbalah are reflected in the human psyche, as the verse states, “From my flesh I will perceive God.” [10] With regards to the subject under discussion, being single is considered relatively “chaotic,” while married life is considered to be a World of Rectification.

This idea comes to the fore in the case of someone who remains single because they are psychologically trapped in a culture that does not encourage them to extricate themselves from singledom, and create a genuine, lasting marriage. Often, these are people who have a lot of “light,” they want to achieve many things, to advance, to get rich and conquer new horizons; they have big ideas and a great desire for self-actualization. However, their problem is that in their world there is only one person?them and themself alone. This is a typical “I will rule” phenomenon in which the person’s individuality does not allow them to let anyone else into their world, except as an object to be exploited for their own interests.

This is why the Torah does not mention that the first seven kings of Edom had wives. “Kings” of the World of Chaos are essentially unable to live their lives in a genuine marital relationship. The most that can be expected of them is to create a profitable business partnership. Only the eighth and final king, Hadar, who represents the beginning of the World of Rectification, was really married. Therefore, only Hadar did not die, because just as in a game of chess the King without the Queen is unable to run long distances, so too, without nurturing our partnership for life, “stale-mate” may be the most likely outcome, and “check-mate” is only a few moves away.

When someone is totally self-oriented, they live in a foreign, cold and distant world, unable to make true contact with their (potential) spouse. In order to improve this they must undergo a process of self-rectification, which begins by breaking all their present misconceptions. The first step to this process is to pay attention to the fact that somewhere deep inside, lurks the belief that “I am all and there is none besides me”?a thought that leaves no room for anyone else to step inside. This type of stubborn egotism believes that all other people were born to serve this individual’s ego. Once this facet of narcissism has been pinpointed, the individual will understand that they need to turn down their headlights, out of consideration for anyone approaching them, so as not to “dazzle” them with their own energies. Lowering the intensity of their ego allows the individual to listen to others’ voices. In other words, instead of expecting Prince, or Princess Charming, to capture their heart, it would be better to open their own heart by taking an attitude of selfless concern towards those they meet.

The process of developing from chaos to rectification is liable to be accompanied by a critical breakage point. This is experienced as a sense of surrendering one’s self-image, which may feel like psychological suicide to a certain extent. But, this predicament is worthwhile, because when we turn towards the other and begin to nurture a warm, loving relationship, together we construct a wide vessel that can contain the lights of both partners in the most harmonious combination. When two people build together such a loving, considerate relationship, their energies resonate with each other, and the integration of their lights comes to fruition as a complete “persona” in the form of a warm Jewish home and family.


[1] See Ramban’s commentary to Genesis 36:30.

[2] Genesis 27:40.

[3] Rabeinu Bechaye wrote his interpretation on the Torah in the mid 14th century.

[4] Kohelet Rabah 3:11.

[5] Genesis 1:2.

[6] Ibid 1:3.

[7] Shabbat 77b.

[8] Berachot 48b.

[9] Rashi, Genesis 1:16.

[10] Job 19:26.

checkmate

Since the time of the kings of Edom until today, troche the World of Chaos is in a state of instability and prefers to wallow eternally in the swamp of bachelorhood…

Kings without Queens

In any good story about a king, sale one might suppose that there is also a queen. It just doesn’t seem fitting for a king to be single. But, there is at least one place in the Torah where kings did not follow this basic protocol.

“And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel.” Towards the end of the Torah portion of Vayishlach, the Torah enumerates the eight kings of Edom and describes how, one after the other, each of them rises to power at the other’s expense: “And there ruled in Edom Bela ben Be’or… and Bela died and after him ruled Yovav ben Zarach from Botzrah. And Yovav died and after him ruled Chusham from the land of the Teimani…” One after the next, the Torah describes how each king of Edom dies and the next one rules. Yet, of the eight kings, seven apparently had no queen by their side, and only with reference to the eighth and last king does it mention his wife’s name: “And after him ruled Hadar … and his wife’s name was Meheitavel.” This seems to imply that all the other kings were bachelors, or at least did not have a marriage worth mentioning.

In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to first understand why the Torah even mentions these kings. Taking a literal approach, the Ramban [Nachmanides] [1] interprets that from here we learn that Isaac’s blessing to Esau was realized, “Upon your sword shall you live.” [2] These kings of Edom were Esau’s descendants, and they conquered the kings of Seir who had ruled before them. But, beyond this literal interpretation, there are many more hidden facets to this episode, which can be accessed by studying the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut. There it becomes clear that this passage conceals some of the Torah’s deepest secrets.

Chaos Comes before Rectification

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes:

From a Kabbalistic perspective, “And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom” is a hidden reference to the world that the Almighty created with the measure of judgment before He created this world, and before He revealed His Majesty in this world… For He created worlds and destroyed them until He created [our world] and included…the attribute of compassion, and I cannot explain this because these are eminent, secret matters that are of utmost significance.

However, those ideas that were ambiguous and obscure in Rabbeinu Bechaye’s era, [3] were explained two centuries later by the Holy Arizal and continued to come to light in the Kabbalistic literature that followed, and later, in Chassidic literature.

In short, the kings of Edom are a reference to the World of Chaos that preceded the World of Rectification. In Kabbalah, the creation of the world is described as a spiritual process of God’s infinite light descending until it reaches the physical world as we know it. During this process, the World of Chaos was created, which did not endure for very long, but “broke and died.” This is the meaning of the sages’ saying that “God creates worlds and destroys them.” [4] The World of Rectification was created to replace the World of Chaos that broke.

The World of Chaos is described as points of light that emanated, one after the other from their supreme Divine source (referred to as “Primordial Man”), however each one of these lights broke and died as soon as it protruded, because the vessels were unable to contain the lights. This is the traumatic event referred to in Kabbalah as the “Breaking of the Vessels” (????????? ?????????). This is the secret of the recurring phrase “And he ruled… and he died,” which is stated with reference to the first kings of Edom. Each king represents a light that radiates out and immediately shatters. In contrast, we note that the Torah does not mention that the eighth king, Hadar (who again, is the one who is married) died. Kabbalah therefore explains that he represents the initiation of the World of Rectification.

To make these ideas somewhat easier to digest, we can explain that this does not only refer to primordial events from the distant past. God renews the act of creation every single day, so any description of what happened at creation is, to a certain extent, what is happening at the more profound levels of reality all the time. For instance, the service that we need to do in this world is to refine lost sparks. These lost sparks are the fragments that fell and scattered from the broken World of Chaos.

This means that in the same way that the spiritual world began with chaos, so too does every physical phenomenon also begin with a state of chaos before it reaches its ultimate rectification. This we can perceive from the very beginning of the Torah, first “And the earth was chaos” [5] and only afterwards, “and there was light.” [6] This order can be identified in many general ideas in the Torah, for example: darkness preceded light; animals preceded human beings; the six days of creation preceded the Holy Shabbat; Esau preceded Jacob; the kings of Edom “before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel”; the seventy nations of the world appeared on the stage of history before the Jewish people; and the dark reality of exile precedes the final redemption. The sages succinctly state the rule that, “First is darkness and light follows.” [7] To use another Kabbalistic phrase that describes this phenomenon, “The [inedible] husk precedes the [edible] fruit.” One of the reasons why things need to appear in this way is that the husk guards the fruit, allowing it to safely develop to maturity.

The Power of Chaos

What is it that caused the kings of chaos to break and die? In the language of Kabbalah, in the World of Chaos there were “many lights and few vessels.” This means that each light appeared at the peak of its power and aspired to overtake the whole stage, flooding it with its own hue. In the context of the kings, this phenomenon is described as each king saying, “I will rule.” Each king came with the full extent of his force and said, “I am here and only me!” Such a powerful chaotic force as this “breaks the vessels,” in both the literal and the esoteric sense of the phrase. The vessels are intended to contain the light?which is initially spiritual and elusive by nature?and bring it to effect as a tangible reality. But, when the light enters these vessels with great intensity, the vessels are unable to endure the pressure. Instead of containing the light, they burst and shatter.

For this very reason, the lights of the World of Chaos cannot live in peace with one another. One king can only appear after the death of his predecessor because, “No kingdom can touch another kingdom, even by a hair’s breadth,” [8] and “two kings cannot reign with one crown”[9]?especially not kings like these, whose inflated egos aim to conquer territory for their own purposes and extend beyond their own boundaries. When egoism is unbridled, just having someone else in the vicinity seems like a threat to the person’s existence.

By contrast, in the World of Rectification, “there are few lights and many vessels.” The lights appear in a smaller, more refined and more restrained version. Since the lights do not appear with such high intensity, they do not break the vessels with their force. The lights succeed in uniting with the vessels, reaching a state of stable existence that does not break. This is why in the World of Rectification all of the lights? despite their obvious dissimilarities?are present simultaneously, and there is no need for one to “die” before another appears. Peace reigns in the World of Rectification because these different lights do not appear as individual protrusions, but are relatively annulled to their source. This type of peace is referred to as “a vessel that holds blessing” and this is how all the lights combine into one harmonic system that becomes a complete “persona.”

From Bachelorhood to Married Life

Chassidut teaches us how the most profound secrets of Kabbalah are reflected in the human psyche, as the verse states, “From my flesh I will perceive God.” [10] With regards to the subject under discussion, being single is considered relatively “chaotic,” while married life is considered to be a World of Rectification.

This idea comes to the fore in the case of someone who remains single because they are psychologically trapped in a culture that does not encourage them to extricate themselves from singledom, and create a genuine, lasting marriage. Often, these are people who have a lot of “light,” they want to achieve many things, to advance, to get rich and conquer new horizons; they have big ideas and a great desire for self-actualization. However, their problem is that in their world there is only one person?them and themself alone. This is a typical “I will rule” phenomenon in which the person’s individuality does not allow them to let anyone else into their world, except as an object to be exploited for their own interests.

This is why the Torah does not mention that the first seven kings of Edom had wives. “Kings” of the World of Chaos are essentially unable to live their lives in a genuine marital relationship. The most that can be expected of them is to create a profitable business partnership. Only the eighth and final king, Hadar, who represents the beginning of the World of Rectification, was really married. Therefore, only Hadar did not die, because just as in a game of chess the King without the Queen is unable to run long distances, so too, without nurturing our partnership for life, “stale-mate” may be the most likely outcome, and “check-mate” is only a few moves away.

When someone is totally self-oriented, they live in a foreign, cold and distant world, unable to make true contact with their (potential) spouse. In order to improve this they must undergo a process of self-rectification, which begins by breaking all their present misconceptions. The first step to this process is to pay attention to the fact that somewhere deep inside, lurks the belief that “I am all and there is none besides me”?a thought that leaves no room for anyone else to step inside. This type of stubborn egotism believes that all other people were born to serve this individual’s ego. Once this facet of narcissism has been pinpointed, the individual will understand that they need to turn down their headlights, out of consideration for anyone approaching them, so as not to “dazzle” them with their own energies. Lowering the intensity of their ego allows the individual to listen to others’ voices. In other words, instead of expecting Prince, or Princess Charming, to capture their heart, it would be better to open their own heart by taking an attitude of selfless concern towards those they meet.

The process of developing from chaos to rectification is liable to be accompanied by a critical breakage point. This is experienced as a sense of surrendering one’s self-image, which may feel like psychological suicide to a certain extent. But, this predicament is worthwhile, because when we turn towards the other and begin to nurture a warm, loving relationship, together we construct a wide vessel that can contain the lights of both partners in the most harmonious combination. When two people build together such a loving, considerate relationship, their energies resonate with each other, and the integration of their lights comes to fruition as a complete “persona” in the form of a warm Jewish home and family.


[1] See Ramban’s commentary to Genesis 36:30.

[2] Genesis 27:40.

[3] Rabeinu Bechaye wrote his interpretation on the Torah in the mid 14th century.

[4] Kohelet Rabah 3:11.

[5] Genesis 1:2.

[6] Ibid 1:3.

[7] Shabbat 77b.

[8] Berachot 48b.

[9] Rashi, Genesis 1:16.

[10] Job 19:26.

checkmate

Since the time of the kings of Edom until today, buy the World of Chaos is in a state of instability and prefers to wallow eternally in the swamp of bachelorhood…

Kings without Queens

In any good story about a king, one might suppose that there is also a queen. It just doesn’t seem fitting for a king to be single. But, there is at least one place in the Torah where kings did not follow this basic protocol.

“And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel.” Towards the end of the Torah portion of Vayishlach, the Torah enumerates the eight kings of Edom and describes how, one after the other, each of them rises to power at the other’s expense: “And there ruled in Edom Bela ben Be’or… and Bela died and after him ruled Yovav ben Zarach from Botzrah. And Yovav died and after him ruled Chusham from the land of the Teimani…” One after the next, the Torah describes how each king of Edom dies and the next one rules. Yet, of the eight kings, seven apparently had no queen by their side, and only with reference to the eighth and last king does it mention his wife’s name: “And after him ruled Hadar … and his wife’s name was Meheitavel.” This seems to imply that all the other kings were bachelors, or at least did not have a marriage worth mentioning.

In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to first understand why the Torah even mentions these kings. Taking a literal approach, the Ramban [Nachmanides] [1] interprets that from here we learn that Isaac’s blessing to Esau was realized, “Upon your sword shall you live.” [2] These kings of Edom were Esau’s descendants, and they conquered the kings of Seir who had ruled before them. But, beyond this literal interpretation, there are many more hidden facets to this episode, which can be accessed by studying the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut. There it becomes clear that this passage conceals some of the Torah’s deepest secrets.

Chaos Comes before Rectification

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes:

From a Kabbalistic perspective, “And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom” is a hidden reference to the world that the Almighty created with the measure of judgment before He created this world, and before He revealed His Majesty in this world… For He created worlds and destroyed them until He created [our world] and included…the attribute of compassion, and I cannot explain this because these are eminent, secret matters that are of utmost significance.

However, those ideas that were ambiguous and obscure in Rabbeinu Bechaye’s era, [3] were explained two centuries later by the Holy Arizal and continued to come to light in the Kabbalistic literature that followed, and later, in Chassidic literature.

In short, the kings of Edom are a reference to the World of Chaos that preceded the World of Rectification. In Kabbalah, the creation of the world is described as a spiritual process of God’s infinite light descending until it reaches the physical world as we know it. During this process, the World of Chaos was created, which did not endure for very long, but “broke and died.” This is the meaning of the sages’ saying that “God creates worlds and destroys them.” [4] The World of Rectification was created to replace the World of Chaos that broke.

The World of Chaos is described as points of light that emanated, one after the other from their supreme Divine source (referred to as “Primordial Man”), however each one of these lights broke and died as soon as it protruded, because the vessels were unable to contain the lights. This is the traumatic event referred to in Kabbalah as the “Breaking of the Vessels” (????????? ?????????). This is the secret of the recurring phrase “And he ruled… and he died,” which is stated with reference to the first kings of Edom. Each king represents a light that radiates out and immediately shatters. In contrast, we note that the Torah does not mention that the eighth king, Hadar (who again, is the one who is married) died. Kabbalah therefore explains that he represents the initiation of the World of Rectification.

To make these ideas somewhat easier to digest, we can explain that this does not only refer to primordial events from the distant past. God renews the act of creation every single day, so any description of what happened at creation is, to a certain extent, what is happening at the more profound levels of reality all the time. For instance, the service that we need to do in this world is to refine lost sparks. These lost sparks are the fragments that fell and scattered from the broken World of Chaos.

This means that in the same way that the spiritual world began with chaos, so too does every physical phenomenon also begin with a state of chaos before it reaches its ultimate rectification. This we can perceive from the very beginning of the Torah, first “And the earth was chaos” [5] and only afterwards, “and there was light.” [6] This order can be identified in many general ideas in the Torah, for example: darkness preceded light; animals preceded human beings; the six days of creation preceded the Holy Shabbat; Esau preceded Jacob; the kings of Edom “before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel”; the seventy nations of the world appeared on the stage of history before the Jewish people; and the dark reality of exile precedes the final redemption. The sages succinctly state the rule that, “First is darkness and light follows.” [7] To use another Kabbalistic phrase that describes this phenomenon, “The [inedible] husk precedes the [edible] fruit.” One of the reasons why things need to appear in this way is that the husk guards the fruit, allowing it to safely develop to maturity.

The Power of Chaos

What is it that caused the kings of chaos to break and die? In the language of Kabbalah, in the World of Chaos there were “many lights and few vessels.” This means that each light appeared at the peak of its power and aspired to overtake the whole stage, flooding it with its own hue. In the context of the kings, this phenomenon is described as each king saying, “I will rule.” Each king came with the full extent of his force and said, “I am here and only me!” Such a powerful chaotic force as this “breaks the vessels,” in both the literal and the esoteric sense of the phrase. The vessels are intended to contain the light?which is initially spiritual and elusive by nature?and bring it to effect as a tangible reality. But, when the light enters these vessels with great intensity, the vessels are unable to endure the pressure. Instead of containing the light, they burst and shatter.

For this very reason, the lights of the World of Chaos cannot live in peace with one another. One king can only appear after the death of his predecessor because, “No kingdom can touch another kingdom, even by a hair’s breadth,” [8] and “two kings cannot reign with one crown”[9]?especially not kings like these, whose inflated egos aim to conquer territory for their own purposes and extend beyond their own boundaries. When egoism is unbridled, just having someone else in the vicinity seems like a threat to the person’s existence.

By contrast, in the World of Rectification, “there are few lights and many vessels.” The lights appear in a smaller, more refined and more restrained version. Since the lights do not appear with such high intensity, they do not break the vessels with their force. The lights succeed in uniting with the vessels, reaching a state of stable existence that does not break. This is why in the World of Rectification all of the lights? despite their obvious dissimilarities?are present simultaneously, and there is no need for one to “die” before another appears. Peace reigns in the World of Rectification because these different lights do not appear as individual protrusions, but are relatively annulled to their source. This type of peace is referred to as “a vessel that holds blessing” and this is how all the lights combine into one harmonic system that becomes a complete “persona.”

From Bachelorhood to Married Life

Chassidut teaches us how the most profound secrets of Kabbalah are reflected in the human psyche, as the verse states, “From my flesh I will perceive God.” [10] With regards to the subject under discussion, being single is considered relatively “chaotic,” while married life is considered to be a World of Rectification.

This idea comes to the fore in the case of someone who remains single because they are psychologically trapped in a culture that does not encourage them to extricate themselves from singledom, and create a genuine, lasting marriage. Often, these are people who have a lot of “light,” they want to achieve many things, to advance, to get rich and conquer new horizons; they have big ideas and a great desire for self-actualization. However, their problem is that in their world there is only one person?them and themself alone. This is a typical “I will rule” phenomenon in which the person’s individuality does not allow them to let anyone else into their world, except as an object to be exploited for their own interests.

This is why the Torah does not mention that the first seven kings of Edom had wives. “Kings” of the World of Chaos are essentially unable to live their lives in a genuine marital relationship. The most that can be expected of them is to create a profitable business partnership. Only the eighth and final king, Hadar, who represents the beginning of the World of Rectification, was really married. Therefore, only Hadar did not die, because just as in a game of chess the King without the Queen is unable to run long distances, so too, without nurturing our partnership for life, “stale-mate” may be the most likely outcome, and “check-mate” is only a few moves away.

When someone is totally self-oriented, they live in a foreign, cold and distant world, unable to make true contact with their (potential) spouse. In order to improve this they must undergo a process of self-rectification, which begins by breaking all their present misconceptions. The first step to this process is to pay attention to the fact that somewhere deep inside, lurks the belief that “I am all and there is none besides me”?a thought that leaves no room for anyone else to step inside. This type of stubborn egotism believes that all other people were born to serve this individual’s ego. Once this facet of narcissism has been pinpointed, the individual will understand that they need to turn down their headlights, out of consideration for anyone approaching them, so as not to “dazzle” them with their own energies. Lowering the intensity of their ego allows the individual to listen to others’ voices. In other words, instead of expecting Prince, or Princess Charming, to capture their heart, it would be better to open their own heart by taking an attitude of selfless concern towards those they meet.

The process of developing from chaos to rectification is liable to be accompanied by a critical breakage point. This is experienced as a sense of surrendering one’s self-image, which may feel like psychological suicide to a certain extent. But, this predicament is worthwhile, because when we turn towards the other and begin to nurture a warm, loving relationship, together we construct a wide vessel that can contain the lights of both partners in the most harmonious combination. When two people build together such a loving, considerate relationship, their energies resonate with each other, and the integration of their lights comes to fruition as a complete “persona” in the form of a warm Jewish home and family.


[1] See Ramban’s commentary to Genesis 36:30.

[2] Genesis 27:40.

[3] Rabeinu Bechaye wrote his interpretation on the Torah in the mid 14th century.

[4] Kohelet Rabah 3:11.

[5] Genesis 1:2.

[6] Ibid 1:3.

[7] Shabbat 77b.

[8] Berachot 48b.

[9] Rashi, Genesis 1:16.

[10] Job 19:26.

checkmate

Since the time of the kings of Edom until today, sovaldi sale the World of Chaos is in a state of instability and prefers to wallow eternally in the swamp of bachelorhood…

Kings without Queens

In any good story about a king, see one might suppose that there is also a queen. It just doesn’t seem fitting for a king to be single. But, there is at least one place in the Torah where kings did not follow this basic protocol.

“And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel.” Towards the end of the Torah portion of Vayishlach, the Torah enumerates the eight kings of Edom and describes how, one after the other, each of them rises to power at the other’s expense: “And there ruled in Edom Bela ben Be’or… and Bela died and after him ruled Yovav ben Zarach from Botzrah. And Yovav died and after him ruled Chusham from the land of the Teimani…” One after the next, the Torah describes how each king of Edom dies and the next one rules. Yet, of the eight kings, seven apparently had no queen by their side, and only with reference to the eighth and last king does it mention his wife’s name: “And after him ruled Hadar … and his wife’s name was Meheitavel.” This seems to imply that all the other kings were bachelors, or at least did not have a marriage worth mentioning.

In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to first understand why the Torah even mentions these kings. Taking a literal approach, the Ramban [Nachmanides] [1] interprets that from here we learn that Isaac’s blessing to Esau was realized, “Upon your sword shall you live.” [2] These kings of Edom were Esau’s descendants, and they conquered the kings of Seir who had ruled before them. But, beyond this literal interpretation, there are many more hidden facets to this episode, which can be accessed by studying the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut. There it becomes clear that this passage conceals some of the Torah’s deepest secrets.

Chaos Comes before Rectification

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes:

From a Kabbalistic perspective, “And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom” is a hidden reference to the world that the Almighty created with the measure of judgment before He created this world, and before He revealed His Majesty in this world… For He created worlds and destroyed them until He created [our world] and included…the attribute of compassion, and I cannot explain this because these are eminent, secret matters that are of utmost significance.

However, those ideas that were ambiguous and obscure in Rabbeinu Bechaye’s era, [3] were explained two centuries later by the Holy Arizal and continued to come to light in the Kabbalistic literature that followed, and later, in Chassidic literature.

In short, the kings of Edom are a reference to the World of Chaos that preceded the World of Rectification. In Kabbalah, the creation of the world is described as a spiritual process of God’s infinite light descending until it reaches the physical world as we know it. During this process, the World of Chaos was created, which did not endure for very long, but “broke and died.” This is the meaning of the sages’ saying that “God creates worlds and destroys them.” [4] The World of Rectification was created to replace the World of Chaos that broke.

The World of Chaos is described as points of light that emanated, one after the other from their supreme Divine source (referred to as “Primordial Man”), however each one of these lights broke and died as soon as it protruded, because the vessels were unable to contain the lights. This is the traumatic event referred to in Kabbalah as the “Breaking of the Vessels” (????????? ?????????). This is the secret of the recurring phrase “And he ruled… and he died,” which is stated with reference to the first kings of Edom. Each king represents a light that radiates out and immediately shatters. In contrast, we note that the Torah does not mention that the eighth king, Hadar (who again, is the one who is married) died. Kabbalah therefore explains that he represents the initiation of the World of Rectification.

To make these ideas somewhat easier to digest, we can explain that this does not only refer to primordial events from the distant past. God renews the act of creation every single day, so any description of what happened at creation is, to a certain extent, what is happening at the more profound levels of reality all the time. For instance, the service that we need to do in this world is to refine lost sparks. These lost sparks are the fragments that fell and scattered from the broken World of Chaos.

This means that in the same way that the spiritual world began with chaos, so too does every physical phenomenon also begin with a state of chaos before it reaches its ultimate rectification. This we can perceive from the very beginning of the Torah, first “And the earth was chaos” [5] and only afterwards, “and there was light.” [6] This order can be identified in many general ideas in the Torah, for example: darkness preceded light; animals preceded human beings; the six days of creation preceded the Holy Shabbat; Esau preceded Jacob; the kings of Edom “before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel”; the seventy nations of the world appeared on the stage of history before the Jewish people; and the dark reality of exile precedes the final redemption. The sages succinctly state the rule that, “First is darkness and light follows.” [7] To use another Kabbalistic phrase that describes this phenomenon, “The [inedible] husk precedes the [edible] fruit.” One of the reasons why things need to appear in this way is that the husk guards the fruit, allowing it to safely develop to maturity.

The Power of Chaos

What is it that caused the kings of chaos to break and die? In the language of Kabbalah, in the World of Chaos there were “many lights and few vessels.” This means that each light appeared at the peak of its power and aspired to overtake the whole stage, flooding it with its own hue. In the context of the kings, this phenomenon is described as each king saying, “I will rule.” Each king came with the full extent of his force and said, “I am here and only me!” Such a powerful chaotic force as this “breaks the vessels,” in both the literal and the esoteric sense of the phrase. The vessels are intended to contain the light?which is initially spiritual and elusive by nature?and bring it to effect as a tangible reality. But, when the light enters these vessels with great intensity, the vessels are unable to endure the pressure. Instead of containing the light, they burst and shatter.

For this very reason, the lights of the World of Chaos cannot live in peace with one another. One king can only appear after the death of his predecessor because, “No kingdom can touch another kingdom, even by a hair’s breadth,” [8] and “two kings cannot reign with one crown”[9]?especially not kings like these, whose inflated egos aim to conquer territory for their own purposes and extend beyond their own boundaries. When egoism is unbridled, just having someone else in the vicinity seems like a threat to the person’s existence.

By contrast, in the World of Rectification, “there are few lights and many vessels.” The lights appear in a smaller, more refined and more restrained version. Since the lights do not appear with such high intensity, they do not break the vessels with their force. The lights succeed in uniting with the vessels, reaching a state of stable existence that does not break. This is why in the World of Rectification all of the lights? despite their obvious dissimilarities?are present simultaneously, and there is no need for one to “die” before another appears. Peace reigns in the World of Rectification because these different lights do not appear as individual protrusions, but are relatively annulled to their source. This type of peace is referred to as “a vessel that holds blessing” and this is how all the lights combine into one harmonic system that becomes a complete “persona.”

From Bachelorhood to Married Life

Chassidut teaches us how the most profound secrets of Kabbalah are reflected in the human psyche, as the verse states, “From my flesh I will perceive God.” [10] With regards to the subject under discussion, being single is considered relatively “chaotic,” while married life is considered to be a World of Rectification.

This idea comes to the fore in the case of someone who remains single because they are psychologically trapped in a culture that does not encourage them to extricate themselves from singledom, and create a genuine, lasting marriage. Often, these are people who have a lot of “light,” they want to achieve many things, to advance, to get rich and conquer new horizons; they have big ideas and a great desire for self-actualization. However, their problem is that in their world there is only one person?them and themself alone. This is a typical “I will rule” phenomenon in which the person’s individuality does not allow them to let anyone else into their world, except as an object to be exploited for their own interests.

This is why the Torah does not mention that the first seven kings of Edom had wives. “Kings” of the World of Chaos are essentially unable to live their lives in a genuine marital relationship. The most that can be expected of them is to create a profitable business partnership. Only the eighth and final king, Hadar, who represents the beginning of the World of Rectification, was really married. Therefore, only Hadar did not die, because just as in a game of chess the King without the Queen is unable to run long distances, so too, without nurturing our partnership for life, “stale-mate” may be the most likely outcome, and “check-mate” is only a few moves away.

When someone is totally self-oriented, they live in a foreign, cold and distant world, unable to make true contact with their (potential) spouse. In order to improve this they must undergo a process of self-rectification, which begins by breaking all their present misconceptions. The first step to this process is to pay attention to the fact that somewhere deep inside, lurks the belief that “I am all and there is none besides me”?a thought that leaves no room for anyone else to step inside. This type of stubborn egotism believes that all other people were born to serve this individual’s ego. Once this facet of narcissism has been pinpointed, the individual will understand that they need to turn down their headlights, out of consideration for anyone approaching them, so as not to “dazzle” them with their own energies. Lowering the intensity of their ego allows the individual to listen to others’ voices. In other words, instead of expecting Prince, or Princess Charming, to capture their heart, it would be better to open their own heart by taking an attitude of selfless concern towards those they meet.

The process of developing from chaos to rectification is liable to be accompanied by a critical breakage point. This is experienced as a sense of surrendering one’s self-image, which may feel like psychological suicide to a certain extent. But, this predicament is worthwhile, because when we turn towards the other and begin to nurture a warm, loving relationship, together we construct a wide vessel that can contain the lights of both partners in the most harmonious combination. When two people build together such a loving, considerate relationship, their energies resonate with each other, and the integration of their lights comes to fruition as a complete “persona” in the form of a warm Jewish home and family.


[1] See Ramban’s commentary to Genesis 36:30.

[2] Genesis 27:40.

[3] Rabeinu Bechaye wrote his interpretation on the Torah in the mid 14th century.

[4] Kohelet Rabah 3:11.

[5] Genesis 1:2.

[6] Ibid 1:3.

[7] Shabbat 77b.

[8] Berachot 48b.

[9] Rashi, Genesis 1:16.

[10] Job 19:26.

checkmate

Since the time of the kings of Edom until today, troche the World of Chaos is in a state of instability and prefers to wallow eternally in the swamp of bachelorhood…

Kings without Queens

In any good story about a king, sale one might suppose that there is also a queen. It just doesn’t seem fitting for a king to be single. But, there is at least one place in the Torah where kings did not follow this basic protocol.

“And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel.” Towards the end of the Torah portion of Vayishlach, the Torah enumerates the eight kings of Edom and describes how, one after the other, each of them rises to power at the other’s expense: “And there ruled in Edom Bela ben Be’or… and Bela died and after him ruled Yovav ben Zarach from Botzrah. And Yovav died and after him ruled Chusham from the land of the Teimani…” One after the next, the Torah describes how each king of Edom dies and the next one rules. Yet, of the eight kings, seven apparently had no queen by their side, and only with reference to the eighth and last king does it mention his wife’s name: “And after him ruled Hadar … and his wife’s name was Meheitavel.” This seems to imply that all the other kings were bachelors, or at least did not have a marriage worth mentioning.

In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to first understand why the Torah even mentions these kings. Taking a literal approach, the Ramban [Nachmanides] [1] interprets that from here we learn that Isaac’s blessing to Esau was realized, “Upon your sword shall you live.” [2] These kings of Edom were Esau’s descendants, and they conquered the kings of Seir who had ruled before them. But, beyond this literal interpretation, there are many more hidden facets to this episode, which can be accessed by studying the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut. There it becomes clear that this passage conceals some of the Torah’s deepest secrets.

Chaos Comes before Rectification

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes:

From a Kabbalistic perspective, “And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom” is a hidden reference to the world that the Almighty created with the measure of judgment before He created this world, and before He revealed His Majesty in this world… For He created worlds and destroyed them until He created [our world] and included…the attribute of compassion, and I cannot explain this because these are eminent, secret matters that are of utmost significance.

However, those ideas that were ambiguous and obscure in Rabbeinu Bechaye’s era, [3] were explained two centuries later by the Holy Arizal and continued to come to light in the Kabbalistic literature that followed, and later, in Chassidic literature.

In short, the kings of Edom are a reference to the World of Chaos that preceded the World of Rectification. In Kabbalah, the creation of the world is described as a spiritual process of God’s infinite light descending until it reaches the physical world as we know it. During this process, the World of Chaos was created, which did not endure for very long, but “broke and died.” This is the meaning of the sages’ saying that “God creates worlds and destroys them.” [4] The World of Rectification was created to replace the World of Chaos that broke.

The World of Chaos is described as points of light that emanated, one after the other from their supreme Divine source (referred to as “Primordial Man”), however each one of these lights broke and died as soon as it protruded, because the vessels were unable to contain the lights. This is the traumatic event referred to in Kabbalah as the “Breaking of the Vessels” (????????? ?????????). This is the secret of the recurring phrase “And he ruled… and he died,” which is stated with reference to the first kings of Edom. Each king represents a light that radiates out and immediately shatters. In contrast, we note that the Torah does not mention that the eighth king, Hadar (who again, is the one who is married) died. Kabbalah therefore explains that he represents the initiation of the World of Rectification.

To make these ideas somewhat easier to digest, we can explain that this does not only refer to primordial events from the distant past. God renews the act of creation every single day, so any description of what happened at creation is, to a certain extent, what is happening at the more profound levels of reality all the time. For instance, the service that we need to do in this world is to refine lost sparks. These lost sparks are the fragments that fell and scattered from the broken World of Chaos.

This means that in the same way that the spiritual world began with chaos, so too does every physical phenomenon also begin with a state of chaos before it reaches its ultimate rectification. This we can perceive from the very beginning of the Torah, first “And the earth was chaos” [5] and only afterwards, “and there was light.” [6] This order can be identified in many general ideas in the Torah, for example: darkness preceded light; animals preceded human beings; the six days of creation preceded the Holy Shabbat; Esau preceded Jacob; the kings of Edom “before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel”; the seventy nations of the world appeared on the stage of history before the Jewish people; and the dark reality of exile precedes the final redemption. The sages succinctly state the rule that, “First is darkness and light follows.” [7] To use another Kabbalistic phrase that describes this phenomenon, “The [inedible] husk precedes the [edible] fruit.” One of the reasons why things need to appear in this way is that the husk guards the fruit, allowing it to safely develop to maturity.

The Power of Chaos

What is it that caused the kings of chaos to break and die? In the language of Kabbalah, in the World of Chaos there were “many lights and few vessels.” This means that each light appeared at the peak of its power and aspired to overtake the whole stage, flooding it with its own hue. In the context of the kings, this phenomenon is described as each king saying, “I will rule.” Each king came with the full extent of his force and said, “I am here and only me!” Such a powerful chaotic force as this “breaks the vessels,” in both the literal and the esoteric sense of the phrase. The vessels are intended to contain the light?which is initially spiritual and elusive by nature?and bring it to effect as a tangible reality. But, when the light enters these vessels with great intensity, the vessels are unable to endure the pressure. Instead of containing the light, they burst and shatter.

For this very reason, the lights of the World of Chaos cannot live in peace with one another. One king can only appear after the death of his predecessor because, “No kingdom can touch another kingdom, even by a hair’s breadth,” [8] and “two kings cannot reign with one crown”[9]?especially not kings like these, whose inflated egos aim to conquer territory for their own purposes and extend beyond their own boundaries. When egoism is unbridled, just having someone else in the vicinity seems like a threat to the person’s existence.

By contrast, in the World of Rectification, “there are few lights and many vessels.” The lights appear in a smaller, more refined and more restrained version. Since the lights do not appear with such high intensity, they do not break the vessels with their force. The lights succeed in uniting with the vessels, reaching a state of stable existence that does not break. This is why in the World of Rectification all of the lights? despite their obvious dissimilarities?are present simultaneously, and there is no need for one to “die” before another appears. Peace reigns in the World of Rectification because these different lights do not appear as individual protrusions, but are relatively annulled to their source. This type of peace is referred to as “a vessel that holds blessing” and this is how all the lights combine into one harmonic system that becomes a complete “persona.”

From Bachelorhood to Married Life

Chassidut teaches us how the most profound secrets of Kabbalah are reflected in the human psyche, as the verse states, “From my flesh I will perceive God.” [10] With regards to the subject under discussion, being single is considered relatively “chaotic,” while married life is considered to be a World of Rectification.

This idea comes to the fore in the case of someone who remains single because they are psychologically trapped in a culture that does not encourage them to extricate themselves from singledom, and create a genuine, lasting marriage. Often, these are people who have a lot of “light,” they want to achieve many things, to advance, to get rich and conquer new horizons; they have big ideas and a great desire for self-actualization. However, their problem is that in their world there is only one person?them and themself alone. This is a typical “I will rule” phenomenon in which the person’s individuality does not allow them to let anyone else into their world, except as an object to be exploited for their own interests.

This is why the Torah does not mention that the first seven kings of Edom had wives. “Kings” of the World of Chaos are essentially unable to live their lives in a genuine marital relationship. The most that can be expected of them is to create a profitable business partnership. Only the eighth and final king, Hadar, who represents the beginning of the World of Rectification, was really married. Therefore, only Hadar did not die, because just as in a game of chess the King without the Queen is unable to run long distances, so too, without nurturing our partnership for life, “stale-mate” may be the most likely outcome, and “check-mate” is only a few moves away.

When someone is totally self-oriented, they live in a foreign, cold and distant world, unable to make true contact with their (potential) spouse. In order to improve this they must undergo a process of self-rectification, which begins by breaking all their present misconceptions. The first step to this process is to pay attention to the fact that somewhere deep inside, lurks the belief that “I am all and there is none besides me”?a thought that leaves no room for anyone else to step inside. This type of stubborn egotism believes that all other people were born to serve this individual’s ego. Once this facet of narcissism has been pinpointed, the individual will understand that they need to turn down their headlights, out of consideration for anyone approaching them, so as not to “dazzle” them with their own energies. Lowering the intensity of their ego allows the individual to listen to others’ voices. In other words, instead of expecting Prince, or Princess Charming, to capture their heart, it would be better to open their own heart by taking an attitude of selfless concern towards those they meet.

The process of developing from chaos to rectification is liable to be accompanied by a critical breakage point. This is experienced as a sense of surrendering one’s self-image, which may feel like psychological suicide to a certain extent. But, this predicament is worthwhile, because when we turn towards the other and begin to nurture a warm, loving relationship, together we construct a wide vessel that can contain the lights of both partners in the most harmonious combination. When two people build together such a loving, considerate relationship, their energies resonate with each other, and the integration of their lights comes to fruition as a complete “persona” in the form of a warm Jewish home and family.


[1] See Ramban’s commentary to Genesis 36:30.

[2] Genesis 27:40.

[3] Rabeinu Bechaye wrote his interpretation on the Torah in the mid 14th century.

[4] Kohelet Rabah 3:11.

[5] Genesis 1:2.

[6] Ibid 1:3.

[7] Shabbat 77b.

[8] Berachot 48b.

[9] Rashi, Genesis 1:16.

[10] Job 19:26.

checkmate

Since the time of the kings of Edom until today, buy the World of Chaos is in a state of instability and prefers to wallow eternally in the swamp of bachelorhood…

Kings without Queens

In any good story about a king, one might suppose that there is also a queen. It just doesn’t seem fitting for a king to be single. But, there is at least one place in the Torah where kings did not follow this basic protocol.

“And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel.” Towards the end of the Torah portion of Vayishlach, the Torah enumerates the eight kings of Edom and describes how, one after the other, each of them rises to power at the other’s expense: “And there ruled in Edom Bela ben Be’or… and Bela died and after him ruled Yovav ben Zarach from Botzrah. And Yovav died and after him ruled Chusham from the land of the Teimani…” One after the next, the Torah describes how each king of Edom dies and the next one rules. Yet, of the eight kings, seven apparently had no queen by their side, and only with reference to the eighth and last king does it mention his wife’s name: “And after him ruled Hadar … and his wife’s name was Meheitavel.” This seems to imply that all the other kings were bachelors, or at least did not have a marriage worth mentioning.

In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to first understand why the Torah even mentions these kings. Taking a literal approach, the Ramban [Nachmanides] [1] interprets that from here we learn that Isaac’s blessing to Esau was realized, “Upon your sword shall you live.” [2] These kings of Edom were Esau’s descendants, and they conquered the kings of Seir who had ruled before them. But, beyond this literal interpretation, there are many more hidden facets to this episode, which can be accessed by studying the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut. There it becomes clear that this passage conceals some of the Torah’s deepest secrets.

Chaos Comes before Rectification

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes:

From a Kabbalistic perspective, “And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom” is a hidden reference to the world that the Almighty created with the measure of judgment before He created this world, and before He revealed His Majesty in this world… For He created worlds and destroyed them until He created [our world] and included…the attribute of compassion, and I cannot explain this because these are eminent, secret matters that are of utmost significance.

However, those ideas that were ambiguous and obscure in Rabbeinu Bechaye’s era, [3] were explained two centuries later by the Holy Arizal and continued to come to light in the Kabbalistic literature that followed, and later, in Chassidic literature.

In short, the kings of Edom are a reference to the World of Chaos that preceded the World of Rectification. In Kabbalah, the creation of the world is described as a spiritual process of God’s infinite light descending until it reaches the physical world as we know it. During this process, the World of Chaos was created, which did not endure for very long, but “broke and died.” This is the meaning of the sages’ saying that “God creates worlds and destroys them.” [4] The World of Rectification was created to replace the World of Chaos that broke.

The World of Chaos is described as points of light that emanated, one after the other from their supreme Divine source (referred to as “Primordial Man”), however each one of these lights broke and died as soon as it protruded, because the vessels were unable to contain the lights. This is the traumatic event referred to in Kabbalah as the “Breaking of the Vessels” (????????? ?????????). This is the secret of the recurring phrase “And he ruled… and he died,” which is stated with reference to the first kings of Edom. Each king represents a light that radiates out and immediately shatters. In contrast, we note that the Torah does not mention that the eighth king, Hadar (who again, is the one who is married) died. Kabbalah therefore explains that he represents the initiation of the World of Rectification.

To make these ideas somewhat easier to digest, we can explain that this does not only refer to primordial events from the distant past. God renews the act of creation every single day, so any description of what happened at creation is, to a certain extent, what is happening at the more profound levels of reality all the time. For instance, the service that we need to do in this world is to refine lost sparks. These lost sparks are the fragments that fell and scattered from the broken World of Chaos.

This means that in the same way that the spiritual world began with chaos, so too does every physical phenomenon also begin with a state of chaos before it reaches its ultimate rectification. This we can perceive from the very beginning of the Torah, first “And the earth was chaos” [5] and only afterwards, “and there was light.” [6] This order can be identified in many general ideas in the Torah, for example: darkness preceded light; animals preceded human beings; the six days of creation preceded the Holy Shabbat; Esau preceded Jacob; the kings of Edom “before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel”; the seventy nations of the world appeared on the stage of history before the Jewish people; and the dark reality of exile precedes the final redemption. The sages succinctly state the rule that, “First is darkness and light follows.” [7] To use another Kabbalistic phrase that describes this phenomenon, “The [inedible] husk precedes the [edible] fruit.” One of the reasons why things need to appear in this way is that the husk guards the fruit, allowing it to safely develop to maturity.

The Power of Chaos

What is it that caused the kings of chaos to break and die? In the language of Kabbalah, in the World of Chaos there were “many lights and few vessels.” This means that each light appeared at the peak of its power and aspired to overtake the whole stage, flooding it with its own hue. In the context of the kings, this phenomenon is described as each king saying, “I will rule.” Each king came with the full extent of his force and said, “I am here and only me!” Such a powerful chaotic force as this “breaks the vessels,” in both the literal and the esoteric sense of the phrase. The vessels are intended to contain the light?which is initially spiritual and elusive by nature?and bring it to effect as a tangible reality. But, when the light enters these vessels with great intensity, the vessels are unable to endure the pressure. Instead of containing the light, they burst and shatter.

For this very reason, the lights of the World of Chaos cannot live in peace with one another. One king can only appear after the death of his predecessor because, “No kingdom can touch another kingdom, even by a hair’s breadth,” [8] and “two kings cannot reign with one crown”[9]?especially not kings like these, whose inflated egos aim to conquer territory for their own purposes and extend beyond their own boundaries. When egoism is unbridled, just having someone else in the vicinity seems like a threat to the person’s existence.

By contrast, in the World of Rectification, “there are few lights and many vessels.” The lights appear in a smaller, more refined and more restrained version. Since the lights do not appear with such high intensity, they do not break the vessels with their force. The lights succeed in uniting with the vessels, reaching a state of stable existence that does not break. This is why in the World of Rectification all of the lights? despite their obvious dissimilarities?are present simultaneously, and there is no need for one to “die” before another appears. Peace reigns in the World of Rectification because these different lights do not appear as individual protrusions, but are relatively annulled to their source. This type of peace is referred to as “a vessel that holds blessing” and this is how all the lights combine into one harmonic system that becomes a complete “persona.”

From Bachelorhood to Married Life

Chassidut teaches us how the most profound secrets of Kabbalah are reflected in the human psyche, as the verse states, “From my flesh I will perceive God.” [10] With regards to the subject under discussion, being single is considered relatively “chaotic,” while married life is considered to be a World of Rectification.

This idea comes to the fore in the case of someone who remains single because they are psychologically trapped in a culture that does not encourage them to extricate themselves from singledom, and create a genuine, lasting marriage. Often, these are people who have a lot of “light,” they want to achieve many things, to advance, to get rich and conquer new horizons; they have big ideas and a great desire for self-actualization. However, their problem is that in their world there is only one person?them and themself alone. This is a typical “I will rule” phenomenon in which the person’s individuality does not allow them to let anyone else into their world, except as an object to be exploited for their own interests.

This is why the Torah does not mention that the first seven kings of Edom had wives. “Kings” of the World of Chaos are essentially unable to live their lives in a genuine marital relationship. The most that can be expected of them is to create a profitable business partnership. Only the eighth and final king, Hadar, who represents the beginning of the World of Rectification, was really married. Therefore, only Hadar did not die, because just as in a game of chess the King without the Queen is unable to run long distances, so too, without nurturing our partnership for life, “stale-mate” may be the most likely outcome, and “check-mate” is only a few moves away.

When someone is totally self-oriented, they live in a foreign, cold and distant world, unable to make true contact with their (potential) spouse. In order to improve this they must undergo a process of self-rectification, which begins by breaking all their present misconceptions. The first step to this process is to pay attention to the fact that somewhere deep inside, lurks the belief that “I am all and there is none besides me”?a thought that leaves no room for anyone else to step inside. This type of stubborn egotism believes that all other people were born to serve this individual’s ego. Once this facet of narcissism has been pinpointed, the individual will understand that they need to turn down their headlights, out of consideration for anyone approaching them, so as not to “dazzle” them with their own energies. Lowering the intensity of their ego allows the individual to listen to others’ voices. In other words, instead of expecting Prince, or Princess Charming, to capture their heart, it would be better to open their own heart by taking an attitude of selfless concern towards those they meet.

The process of developing from chaos to rectification is liable to be accompanied by a critical breakage point. This is experienced as a sense of surrendering one’s self-image, which may feel like psychological suicide to a certain extent. But, this predicament is worthwhile, because when we turn towards the other and begin to nurture a warm, loving relationship, together we construct a wide vessel that can contain the lights of both partners in the most harmonious combination. When two people build together such a loving, considerate relationship, their energies resonate with each other, and the integration of their lights comes to fruition as a complete “persona” in the form of a warm Jewish home and family.


[1] See Ramban’s commentary to Genesis 36:30.

[2] Genesis 27:40.

[3] Rabeinu Bechaye wrote his interpretation on the Torah in the mid 14th century.

[4] Kohelet Rabah 3:11.

[5] Genesis 1:2.

[6] Ibid 1:3.

[7] Shabbat 77b.

[8] Berachot 48b.

[9] Rashi, Genesis 1:16.

[10] Job 19:26.

checkmate

Since the time of the kings of Edom until today, patient
the World of Chaos is in a state of instability and prefers to wallow eternally in the swamp of bachelorhood…

Kings without Queens

In any good story about a king, one might suppose that there is also a queen. It just doesn’t seem fitting for a king to be single. But, there is at least one place in the Torah where kings did not follow this basic protocol.

“And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel.” Towards the end of the Torah portion of Vayishlach, the Torah enumerates the eight kings of Edom and describes how, one after the other, each of them rises to power at the other’s expense: “And there ruled in Edom Bela ben Be’or… and Bela died and after him ruled Yovav ben Zarach from Botzrah. And Yovav died and after him ruled Chusham from the land of the Teimani…” One after the next, the Torah describes how each king of Edom dies and the next one rules. Yet, of the eight kings, seven apparently had no queen by their side, and only with reference to the eighth and last king does it mention his wife’s name: “And after him ruled Hadar … and his wife’s name was Meheitavel.” This seems to imply that all the other kings were bachelors, or at least did not have a marriage worth mentioning.

In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to first understand why the Torah even mentions these kings. Taking a literal approach, the Ramban [Nachmanides] [1] interprets that from here we learn that Isaac’s blessing to Esau was realized, “Upon your sword shall you live.” [2] These kings of Edom were Esau’s descendants, and they conquered the kings of Seir who had ruled before them. But, beyond this literal interpretation, there are many more hidden facets to this episode, which can be accessed by studying the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut. There it becomes clear that this passage conceals some of the Torah’s deepest secrets.

Chaos Comes before Rectification

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes:

From a Kabbalistic perspective, “And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom” is a hidden reference to the world that the Almighty created with the measure of judgment before He created this world, and before He revealed His Majesty in this world… For He created worlds and destroyed them until He created [our world] and included…the attribute of compassion, and I cannot explain this because these are eminent, secret matters that are of utmost significance.

However, those ideas that were ambiguous and obscure in Rabbeinu Bechaye’s era, [3] were explained two centuries later by the Holy Arizal and continued to come to light in the Kabbalistic literature that followed, and later, in Chassidic literature.

In short, the kings of Edom are a reference to the World of Chaos that preceded the World of Rectification. In Kabbalah, the creation of the world is described as a spiritual process of God’s infinite light descending until it reaches the physical world as we know it. During this process, the World of Chaos was created, which did not endure for very long, but “broke and died.” This is the meaning of the sages’ saying that “God creates worlds and destroys them.” [4] The World of Rectification was created to replace the World of Chaos that broke.

The World of Chaos is described as points of light that emanated, one after the other from their supreme Divine source (referred to as “Primordial Man”), however each one of these lights broke and died as soon as it protruded, because the vessels were unable to contain the lights. This is the traumatic event referred to in Kabbalah as the “Breaking of the Vessels” (????????? ?????????). This is the secret of the recurring phrase “And he ruled… and he died,” which is stated with reference to the first kings of Edom. Each king represents a light that radiates out and immediately shatters. In contrast, we note that the Torah does not mention that the eighth king, Hadar (who again, is the one who is married) died. Kabbalah therefore explains that he represents the initiation of the World of Rectification.

To make these ideas somewhat easier to digest, we can explain that this does not only refer to primordial events from the distant past. God renews the act of creation every single day, so any description of what happened at creation is, to a certain extent, what is happening at the more profound levels of reality all the time. For instance, the service that we need to do in this world is to refine lost sparks. These lost sparks are the fragments that fell and scattered from the broken World of Chaos.

This means that in the same way that the spiritual world began with chaos, so too does every physical phenomenon also begin with a state of chaos before it reaches its ultimate rectification. This we can perceive from the very beginning of the Torah, first “And the earth was chaos” [5] and only afterwards, “and there was light.” [6] This order can be identified in many general ideas in the Torah, for example: darkness preceded light; animals preceded human beings; the six days of creation preceded the Holy Shabbat; Esau preceded Jacob; the kings of Edom “before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel”; the seventy nations of the world appeared on the stage of history before the Jewish people; and the dark reality of exile precedes the final redemption. The sages succinctly state the rule that, “First is darkness and light follows.” [7] To use another Kabbalistic phrase that describes this phenomenon, “The [inedible] husk precedes the [edible] fruit.” One of the reasons why things need to appear in this way is that the husk guards the fruit, allowing it to safely develop to maturity.

The Power of Chaos

What is it that caused the kings of chaos to break and die? In the language of Kabbalah, in the World of Chaos there were “many lights and few vessels.” This means that each light appeared at the peak of its power and aspired to overtake the whole stage, flooding it with its own hue. In the context of the kings, this phenomenon is described as each king saying, “I will rule.” Each king came with the full extent of his force and said, “I am here and only me!” Such a powerful chaotic force as this “breaks the vessels,” in both the literal and the esoteric sense of the phrase. The vessels are intended to contain the light?which is initially spiritual and elusive by nature?and bring it to effect as a tangible reality. But, when the light enters these vessels with great intensity, the vessels are unable to endure the pressure. Instead of containing the light, they burst and shatter.

For this very reason, the lights of the World of Chaos cannot live in peace with one another. One king can only appear after the death of his predecessor because, “No kingdom can touch another kingdom, even by a hair’s breadth,” [8] and “two kings cannot reign with one crown”[9]?especially not kings like these, whose inflated egos aim to conquer territory for their own purposes and extend beyond their own boundaries. When egoism is unbridled, just having someone else in the vicinity seems like a threat to the person’s existence.

By contrast, in the World of Rectification, “there are few lights and many vessels.” The lights appear in a smaller, more refined and more restrained version. Since the lights do not appear with such high intensity, they do not break the vessels with their force. The lights succeed in uniting with the vessels, reaching a state of stable existence that does not break. This is why in the World of Rectification all of the lights? despite their obvious dissimilarities?are present simultaneously, and there is no need for one to “die” before another appears. Peace reigns in the World of Rectification because these different lights do not appear as individual protrusions, but are relatively annulled to their source. This type of peace is referred to as “a vessel that holds blessing” and this is how all the lights combine into one harmonic system that becomes a complete “persona.”

From Bachelorhood to Married Life

Chassidut teaches us how the most profound secrets of Kabbalah are reflected in the human psyche, as the verse states, “From my flesh I will perceive God.” [10] With regards to the subject under discussion, being single is considered relatively “chaotic,” while married life is considered to be a World of Rectification.

This idea comes to the fore in the case of someone who remains single because they are psychologically trapped in a culture that does not encourage them to extricate themselves from singledom, and create a genuine, lasting marriage. Often, these are people who have a lot of “light,” they want to achieve many things, to advance, to get rich and conquer new horizons; they have big ideas and a great desire for self-actualization. However, their problem is that in their world there is only one person?them and themself alone. This is a typical “I will rule” phenomenon in which the person’s individuality does not allow them to let anyone else into their world, except as an object to be exploited for their own interests.

This is why the Torah does not mention that the first seven kings of Edom had wives. “Kings” of the World of Chaos are essentially unable to live their lives in a genuine marital relationship. The most that can be expected of them is to create a profitable business partnership. Only the eighth and final king, Hadar, who represents the beginning of the World of Rectification, was really married. Therefore, only Hadar did not die, because just as in a game of chess the King without the Queen is unable to run long distances, so too, without nurturing our partnership for life, “stale-mate” may be the most likely outcome, and “check-mate” is only a few moves away.

When someone is totally self-oriented, they live in a foreign, cold and distant world, unable to make true contact with their (potential) spouse. In order to improve this they must undergo a process of self-rectification, which begins by breaking all their present misconceptions. The first step to this process is to pay attention to the fact that somewhere deep inside, lurks the belief that “I am all and there is none besides me”?a thought that leaves no room for anyone else to step inside. This type of stubborn egotism believes that all other people were born to serve this individual’s ego. Once this facet of narcissism has been pinpointed, the individual will understand that they need to turn down their headlights, out of consideration for anyone approaching them, so as not to “dazzle” them with their own energies. Lowering the intensity of their ego allows the individual to listen to others’ voices. In other words, instead of expecting Prince, or Princess Charming, to capture their heart, it would be better to open their own heart by taking an attitude of selfless concern towards those they meet.

The process of developing from chaos to rectification is liable to be accompanied by a critical breakage point. This is experienced as a sense of surrendering one’s self-image, which may feel like psychological suicide to a certain extent. But, this predicament is worthwhile, because when we turn towards the other and begin to nurture a warm, loving relationship, together we construct a wide vessel that can contain the lights of both partners in the most harmonious combination. When two people build together such a loving, considerate relationship, their energies resonate with each other, and the integration of their lights comes to fruition as a complete “persona” in the form of a warm Jewish home and family.

For further reading see our book in Hebrew, Ahavah (Love), in the chapter on late bachelorhood. 


[1] See Ramban’s commentary to Genesis 36:30.

[2] Genesis 27:40.

[3] Rabeinu Bechaye wrote his interpretation on the Torah in the mid 14th century.

[4] Kohelet Rabah 3:11.

[5] Genesis 1:2.

[6] Ibid 1:3.

[7] Shabbat 77b.

[8] Berachot 48b.

[9] Rashi, Genesis 1:16.

[10] Job 19:26.

Anyone who is released from prison must thank God. But, salve only under very special circumstances does such an event become a festive day that is noted for generations on the calendars of hundreds of thousands of people. However, tadalafil this is the case with 19th of Kislev, the day on which the founder of Chabad Chassidut, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was released from prison more than two centuries ago. This date was not only instituted by Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s devoted followers, but Rabbi Shneur Zalman himself even saw the episode of his captivity and subsequent redemption as an event of national importance.

The Generation of Pioneers

Historically speaking, the generation that preceded Rabbi Shneur Zalman marked the appearance of Rabbi Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov, who illuminated the skies of Judaism with the new-old light of faith in God and universal love. In a letter to his brother-in-law, Rabbi Gershon Mikitov, the Ba’al Shem Tov wrote about a wondrous vision he experienced, in which he saw himself wandering through the upper realms (in a “soul elevation”) until he reached the Hall of Mashiach. The Ba’al Shem Tov asked the Mashiach, “When will my master come?” and Mashiach answered, “When your wellsprings will disseminate outwards.” This is why?openly and unabashedly?Chassidut is a “messianic” movement. The very fact that it has already spread and disseminated is a significant step towards the ultimate redemption. But the goal of “Your wellsprings will send out rivulets of water in the streets”[1] did not happen overnight. Although the Ba’al Shem Tov had a group of students, and his influence reached crowds of simple Jewish folk, nonetheless, during his era there was not yet a movement of any significance that would ensure its dissemination.

The next stage of Chassidut can be compared to focusing sunrays onto a powerful lens. Like a mighty magnet, the Ba’al Shem Tov’s greatest student, Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritch, attracted a group of unsurpassed spiritual giants. It is enough to mention names such as Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk, Rebbe Zusha of Anipoli, Rebbe Mendel of Vitebsk, Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, Rabbi Nachum of Tchernobel, Rebbe Shmelke of Nikolsberg, Rebbe Pinchas, author of Sefer Hafla’ah, the Great Rebbe Aharon of Karlin, Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin and Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi, in order to prove how Rabbi Dov Ber’s meager study hall was actually one of the “lions’ dens and the mountains of leopards.”[2] Rebbe Dov Ber himself sat hidden at home?even physically, because of his difficulty to get around due to his crippled legs?and taught profound Torah teachings which at first were comprehensible only to the choice few who surrounded him. But, it was clear to all his wondrous group of students that this needed to be expounded, in order to fulfill the vision of “Your wellsprings will disseminate outwards;” i.e., to conquer more regions in the Jewish world and bring them the light of Chassidut. Then came the next stage, which clearly saw a growing movement that swept many into its wake by a surge of activity. But, as the movement grew, its opponents began to rear their heads. Some of the opposition developed because of an innocent hesitation towards encouraging any new sects in general. However, some of the opposition was an ugly attempt to undermine the movement’s development, initiated by provocative warmongers.

Two Lights

But before the opposition began, let’s take note of the figure of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the youngest of the Magid’s students, but one of the most prominent. Just as his name, Shneur (??????????) suggests in Hebrew, he had two lights (?????? ????). On the one hand, he stands at the top echelon of Talmudic giants and scholars of Jewish law throughout the ages, as one can see from his version of The Code of Jewish Law, which he rewrote, and is named after him “The Rabbi’s Code of Jewish Law” (Shulchan Aruch Harav). This was the light of the revealed level of the Torah, “Torah is light.”[3] On the other hand, without any contradiction at all to his genius in the classical Torah subjects, he was also well-versed in the light of the Torah’s inner dimension, its secrets and its mysteries.[4] In an abundance of Chassidic discourses, he elucidated the hidden wisdom of the Torah and explained it in clear language. Without altering the original language used in Kabbalah, he added to it a Chassidic clothing that relates to the human soul and to God’s service, making the Torah’s secrets accessible to every one of us. Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s crowning glory in the inner dimension of the Torah is the Tanya. This is how Rabbi Shneur Zalman “stitched” these two lights together, and joined the two occupations that had previously been considered completely separate into one.

The significant advancement Rabbi Shneur Zalman made in disseminating the wellsprings of Chassidut, especially with the publication of his seminal work, the Tanya, aroused opposition. As a result of false charges and libel by other Jews, Rabbi Shneur Zalman was accused of conspiring against the Russian Czar, and sent to prison.

Now that we have mentioned the charges made against Rabbi Shneur Zalman, we see that they were not against him as an individual, but against the entire movement he represented, beginning with the Ba’al Shem Tov.[5] But, devoted to the Ba’al Shem Tov’s approach of seeing how every event that transpires is rooted in Divine providence, Rabbi Shneur Zalman interpreted the case on a universal level. He understood his physical imprisonment in this world as a reflection of a spiritual confrontation, “a prosecution from the Heavenly Court.” He saw that the Chassidic Movement was being put to the test to see whether or not the time had truly come to disseminate the wellsprings to the world at large; and whether the Jewish nation was ready to be aroused to step out of the coma of exile and greet Mashiach.

From here we see that the good tidings regarding Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s release were not just a verdict that had been passed by the Czar’s officers who cleared him of treason. As the Talmud states, “The kingdom of earth is an illustration of the kingdom of the Heavens,”[6] meaning that in the Heavenly court Rabbi Shneur Zalman was also acquitted, as if to say, “Continue your endeavors to spread Chassidut!” Indeed, the greatest lesson that Rabbi Shneur Zalman took from the episode was to disseminate Chassidut even more than before. The Chassidic tradition even relates that while he was imprisoned, the souls of the Ba’al Shem Tov and Rabbi Dov Ber appeared to him. Rabbi Shneur Zalman asked them whether he should continue disseminating Chassidut or to adopt a “lower profile.” Their reply was that he should continue to teach, and at an even greater pace! The hidden spring of the Torah’s inner dimension began to trickle out, but encountered a daunting dam and its ability to continue its flow was shaded in doubt. But as soon as the barrier was removed, water could gush out with even greater force, and Chassidut could succeed in reaching more areas.

Exactly twenty-six years before Rabbi Shneur Zalman was released from prison, he had stood beside the bed of his great Rabbi on the last day of his life in this world. Rabbi Dov Ber suddenly turned to his favorite student and said, “Zalman’ev, today is a festive day (???? ????) for us.”[7] On the day when a tzadik passes away, all his days on earth gather together and become a huge pillar of light that continues to illuminate the coming generations (even more than during his life, while his soul was still connected to the limitations of his physical body). This is why the 19th of Kislev is a festive day for Rabbi Dov Ber; it was his own “day of celebration.” Yet, by the same token, it is also his student’s, Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s festive day. Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s release from prison is not only a tiding of redemption for his Rabbi and the student together, but also for every Jew, wherever he happens to be, because these figures are “universal souls” who influence all of us, even if we are not aware of it.



[1] Proverbs 5:16.

[2] Song of Songs 4:8.

[3] Proverbs 6:23.

[4] “Mystery” (???) has the same numerical value as “light” (????).

[5] Who Rabbi Shneur Zalman referred to as his spiritual “grandfather.”

[6] Berachot 58a.

[7] There is a fascinating source for the Magid’s words: One of the Tosfot wrote an outstanding book that is called “Questions and Answers from Heaven.” This book is a collection of questions that he asked, with replies that were transmitted to him in a Heavenly vision. One of the questions there (siman 5) relates to the date of the 19th of Kislev, and in the reply he was told, “Today is a day of good tidings” (without any additional explanation). The essence of this day of good tidings only became known a few centuries later (see also Rabbi Margaliot’s note there, cited in the name of the Mishmeret Shalom).

Anyone who is released from prison must thank God. But, sickness only under very special circumstances does such an event become a festive day that is noted for generations on the calendars of hundreds of thousands of people. However, this is the case with 19th of Kislev, visit web the day on which the founder of Chabad Chassidut, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was released from prison more than two centuries ago. This date was not only instituted by Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s devoted followers, but Rabbi Shneur Zalman himself even saw the episode of his captivity and subsequent redemption as an event of national importance.

The Generation of Pioneers

Historically speaking, the generation that preceded Rabbi Shneur Zalman marked the appearance of Rabbi Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov, who illuminated the skies of Judaism with the new-old light of faith in God and universal love. In a letter to his brother-in-law, Rabbi Gershon Mikitov, the Ba'al Shem Tov wrote about a wondrous vision he experienced, in which he saw himself wandering through the upper realms (in a “soul elevation”) until he reached the Hall of Mashiach. The Ba'al Shem Tov asked the Mashiach, “When will my master come?” and Mashiach answered, “When your wellsprings will disseminate outwards.” This is why?openly and unabashedly?Chassidut is a “messianic” movement. The very fact that it has already spread and disseminated is a significant step towards the ultimate redemption. But the goal of “Your wellsprings will send out rivulets of water in the streets”[1] did not happen overnight. Although the Ba'al Shem Tov had a group of students, and his influence reached crowds of simple Jewish folk, nonetheless, during his era there was not yet a movement of any significance that would ensure its dissemination.

The next stage of Chassidut can be compared to focusing sunrays onto a powerful lens. Like a mighty magnet, the Ba'al Shem Tov’s greatest student, Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritch, attracted a group of unsurpassed spiritual giants. It is enough to mention names such as Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk, Rebbe Zusha of Anipoli, Rebbe Mendel of Vitebsk, Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, Rabbi Nachum of Tchernobel, Rebbe Shmelke of Nikolsberg, Rebbe Pinchas, author of Sefer Hafla’ah, the Great Rebbe Aharon of Karlin, Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin and Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi, in order to prove how Rabbi Dov Ber’s meager study hall was actually one of the “lions’ dens and the mountains of leopards.”[2] Rebbe Dov Ber himself sat hidden at home?even physically, because of his difficulty to get around due to his crippled legs?and taught profound Torah teachings which at first were comprehensible only to the choice few who surrounded him. But, it was clear to all his wondrous group of students that this needed to be expounded, in order to fulfill the vision of “Your wellsprings will disseminate outwards;” i.e., to conquer more regions in the Jewish world and bring them the light of Chassidut. Then came the next stage, which clearly saw a growing movement that swept many into its wake by a surge of activity. But, as the movement grew, its opponents began to rear their heads. Some of the opposition developed because of an innocent hesitation towards encouraging any new sects in general. However, some of the opposition was an ugly attempt to undermine the movement’s development, initiated by provocative warmongers.

Two Lights

But before the opposition began, let’s take note of the figure of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the youngest of the Magid’s students, but one of the most prominent. Just as his name, Shneur (??????????) suggests in Hebrew, he had two lights (?????? ????). On the one hand, he stands at the top echelon of Talmudic giants and scholars of Jewish law throughout the ages, as one can see from his version of The Code of Jewish Law, which he rewrote, and is named after him “The Rabbi’s Code of Jewish Law” (Shulchan Aruch Harav). This was the light of the revealed level of the Torah, “Torah is light.”[3] On the other hand, without any contradiction at all to his genius in the classical Torah subjects, he was also well-versed in the light of the Torah’s inner dimension, its secrets and its mysteries.[4] In an abundance of Chassidic discourses, he elucidated the hidden wisdom of the Torah and explained it in clear language. Without altering the original language used in Kabbalah, he added to it a Chassidic clothing that relates to the human soul and to God’s service, making the Torah’s secrets accessible to every one of us. Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s crowning glory in the inner dimension of the Torah is the Tanya. This is how Rabbi Shneur Zalman “stitched” these two lights together, and joined the two occupations that had previously been considered completely separate into one.

The significant advancement Rabbi Shneur Zalman made in disseminating the wellsprings of Chassidut, especially with the publication of his seminal work, the Tanya, aroused opposition. As a result of false charges and libel by other Jews, Rabbi Shneur Zalman was accused of conspiring against the Russian Czar, and sent to prison.

Now that we have mentioned the charges made against Rabbi Shneur Zalman, we see that they were not against him as an individual, but against the entire movement he represented, beginning with the Ba’al Shem Tov.[5] But, devoted to the Ba'al Shem Tov’s approach of seeing how every event that transpires is rooted in Divine providence, Rabbi Shneur Zalman interpreted the case on a universal level. He understood his physical imprisonment in this world as a reflection of a spiritual confrontation, “a prosecution from the Heavenly Court.” He saw that the Chassidic Movement was being put to the test to see whether or not the time had truly come to disseminate the wellsprings to the world at large; and whether the Jewish nation was ready to be aroused to step out of the coma of exile and greet Mashiach.

From here we see that the good tidings regarding Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s release were not just a verdict that had been passed by the Czar’s officers who cleared him of treason. As the Talmud states, “The kingdom of earth is an illustration of the kingdom of the Heavens,”[6] meaning that in the Heavenly court Rabbi Shneur Zalman was also acquitted, as if to say, “Continue your endeavors to spread Chassidut!” Indeed, the greatest lesson that Rabbi Shneur Zalman took from the episode was to disseminate Chassidut even more than before. The Chassidic tradition even relates that while he was imprisoned, the souls of the Ba'al Shem Tov and Rabbi Dov Ber appeared to him. Rabbi Shneur Zalman asked them whether he should continue disseminating Chassidut or to adopt a “lower profile.” Their reply was that he should continue to teach, and at an even greater pace! The hidden spring of the Torah’s inner dimension began to trickle out, but encountered a daunting dam and its ability to continue its flow was shaded in doubt. But as soon as the barrier was removed, water could gush out with even greater force, and Chassidut could succeed in reaching more areas.

Exactly twenty-six years before Rabbi Shneur Zalman was released from prison, he had stood beside the bed of his great Rabbi on the last day of his life in this world. Rabbi Dov Ber suddenly turned to his favorite student and said, “Zalman’ev, today is a festive day (???? ????) for us.”[7] On the day when a tzadik passes away, all his days on earth gather together and become a huge pillar of light that continues to illuminate the coming generations (even more than during his life, while his soul was still connected to the limitations of his physical body). This is why the 19th of Kislev is a festive day for Rabbi Dov Ber; it was his own “day of celebration.” Yet, by the same token, it is also his student’s, Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s festive day. Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s release from prison is not only a tiding of redemption for his Rabbi and the student together, but also for every Jew, wherever he happens to be, because these figures are “universal souls” who influence all of us, even if we are not aware of it.



[1] Proverbs 5:16.

[2] Song of Songs 4:8.

[3] Proverbs 6:23.

[4] “Mystery” (???) has the same numerical value as “light” (????).

[5] Who Rabbi Shneur Zalman referred to as his spiritual “grandfather.”

[6] Berachot 58a.

[7] There is a fascinating source for the Magid’s words: One of the Tosfot wrote an outstanding book that is called “Questions and Answers from Heaven.” This book is a collection of questions that he asked, with replies that were transmitted to him in a Heavenly vision. One of the questions there (siman 5) relates to the date of the 19th of Kislev, and in the reply he was told, “Today is a day of good tidings” (without any additional explanation). The essence of this day of good tidings only became known a few centuries later (see also Rabbi Margaliot’s note there, cited in the name of the Mishmeret Shalom).

Anyone who is released from prison must thank God. But, only under very special circumstances does such an event become a festive day that is noted for generations on the calendars of hundreds of thousands of people. However, dosage this is the case with 19th of Kislev, seek the day on which the founder of Chabad Chassidut, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was released from prison more than two centuries ago. This date was not only instituted by Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s devoted followers, but Rabbi Shneur Zalman himself even saw the episode of his captivity and subsequent redemption as an event of national importance.

The Generation of Pioneers

Historically speaking, the generation that preceded Rabbi Shneur Zalman marked the appearance of Rabbi Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov, who illuminated the skies of Judaism with the new-old light of faith in God and universal love. In a letter to his brother-in-law, Rabbi Gershon Mikitov, the Ba'al Shem Tov wrote about a wondrous vision he experienced, in which he saw himself wandering through the upper realms (in a “soul elevation”) until he reached the Hall of Mashiach. The Ba'al Shem Tov asked the Mashiach, “When will my master come?” and Mashiach answered, “When your wellsprings will disseminate outwards.” This is why?openly and unabashedly?Chassidut is a “messianic” movement. The very fact that it has already spread and disseminated is a significant step towards the ultimate redemption. But the goal of “Your wellsprings will send out rivulets of water in the streets”[1] did not happen overnight. Although the Ba'al Shem Tov had a group of students, and his influence reached crowds of simple Jewish folk, nonetheless, during his era there was not yet a movement of any significance that would ensure its dissemination.

The next stage of Chassidut can be compared to focusing sunrays onto a powerful lens. Like a mighty magnet, the Ba'al Shem Tov’s greatest student, Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritch, attracted a group of unsurpassed spiritual giants. It is enough to mention names such as Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk, Rebbe Zusha of Anipoli, Rebbe Mendel of Vitebsk, Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, Rabbi Nachum of Tchernobel, Rebbe Shmelke of Nikolsberg, Rebbe Pinchas, author of Sefer Hafla’ah, the Great Rebbe Aharon of Karlin, Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin and Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi, in order to prove how Rabbi Dov Ber’s meager study hall was actually one of the “lions’ dens and the mountains of leopards.”[2] Rebbe Dov Ber himself sat hidden at home?even physically, because of his difficulty to get around due to his crippled legs?and taught profound Torah teachings which at first were comprehensible only to the choice few who surrounded him. But, it was clear to all his wondrous group of students that this needed to be expounded, in order to fulfill the vision of “Your wellsprings will disseminate outwards;” i.e., to conquer more regions in the Jewish world and bring them the light of Chassidut. Then came the next stage, which clearly saw a growing movement that swept many into its wake by a surge of activity. But, as the movement grew, its opponents began to rear their heads. Some of the opposition developed because of an innocent hesitation towards encouraging any new sects in general. However, some of the opposition was an ugly attempt to undermine the movement’s development, initiated by provocative warmongers.

Two Lights

But before the opposition began, let’s take note of the figure of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the youngest of the Magid’s students, but one of the most prominent. Just as his name, Shneur (??????????) suggests in Hebrew, he had two lights (?????? ????). On the one hand, he stands at the top echelon of Talmudic giants and scholars of Jewish law throughout the ages, as one can see from his version of The Code of Jewish Law, which he rewrote, and is named after him “The Rabbi’s Code of Jewish Law” (Shulchan Aruch Harav). This was the light of the revealed level of the Torah, “Torah is light.”[3] On the other hand, without any contradiction at all to his genius in the classical Torah subjects, he was also well-versed in the light of the Torah’s inner dimension, its secrets and its mysteries.[4] In an abundance of Chassidic discourses, he elucidated the hidden wisdom of the Torah and explained it in clear language. Without altering the original language used in Kabbalah, he added to it a Chassidic clothing that relates to the human soul and to God’s service, making the Torah’s secrets accessible to every one of us. Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s crowning glory in the inner dimension of the Torah is the Tanya. This is how Rabbi Shneur Zalman “stitched” these two lights together, and joined the two occupations that had previously been considered completely separate into one.

The significant advancement Rabbi Shneur Zalman made in disseminating the wellsprings of Chassidut, especially with the publication of his seminal work, the Tanya, aroused opposition. As a result of false charges and libel by other Jews, Rabbi Shneur Zalman was accused of conspiring against the Russian Czar, and sent to prison.

Now that we have mentioned the charges made against Rabbi Shneur Zalman, we see that they were not against him as an individual, but against the entire movement he represented, beginning with the Ba’al Shem Tov.[5] But, devoted to the Ba'al Shem Tov’s approach of seeing how every event that transpires is rooted in Divine providence, Rabbi Shneur Zalman interpreted the case on a universal level. He understood his physical imprisonment in this world as a reflection of a spiritual confrontation, “a prosecution from the Heavenly Court.” He saw that the Chassidic Movement was being put to the test to see whether or not the time had truly come to disseminate the wellsprings to the world at large; and whether the Jewish nation was ready to be aroused to step out of the coma of exile and greet Mashiach.

From here we see that the good tidings regarding Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s release were not just a verdict that had been passed by the Czar’s officers who cleared him of treason. As the Talmud states, “The kingdom of earth is an illustration of the kingdom of the Heavens,”[6] meaning that in the Heavenly court Rabbi Shneur Zalman was also acquitted, as if to say, “Continue your endeavors to spread Chassidut!” Indeed, the greatest lesson that Rabbi Shneur Zalman took from the episode was to disseminate Chassidut even more than before. The Chassidic tradition even relates that while he was imprisoned, the souls of the Ba'al Shem Tov and Rabbi Dov Ber appeared to him. Rabbi Shneur Zalman asked them whether he should continue disseminating Chassidut or to adopt a “lower profile.” Their reply was that he should continue to teach, and at an even greater pace! The hidden spring of the Torah’s inner dimension began to trickle out, but encountered a daunting dam and its ability to continue its flow was shaded in doubt. But as soon as the barrier was removed, water could gush out with even greater force, and Chassidut could succeed in reaching more areas.

Exactly twenty-six years before Rabbi Shneur Zalman was released from prison, he had stood beside the bed of his great Rabbi on the last day of his life in this world. Rabbi Dov Ber suddenly turned to his favorite student and said, “Zalman’ev, today is a festive day (???? ????) for us.”[7] On the day when a tzadik passes away, all his days on earth gather together and become a huge pillar of light that continues to illuminate the coming generations (even more than during his life, while his soul was still connected to the limitations of his physical body). This is why the 19th of Kislev is a festive day for Rabbi Dov Ber; it was his own “day of celebration.” Yet, by the same token, it is also his student’s, Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s festive day. Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s release from prison is not only a tiding of redemption for his Rabbi and the student together, but also for every Jew, wherever he happens to be, because these figures are “universal souls” who influence all of us, even if we are not aware of it.



[1] Proverbs 5:16.

[2] Song of Songs 4:8.

[3] Proverbs 6:23.

[4] “Mystery” (???) has the same numerical value as “light” (????).

[5] Who Rabbi Shneur Zalman referred to as his spiritual “grandfather.”

[6] Berachot 58a.

[7] There is a fascinating source for the Magid’s words: One of the Tosfot wrote an outstanding book that is called “Questions and Answers from Heaven.” This book is a collection of questions that he asked, with replies that were transmitted to him in a Heavenly vision. One of the questions there (siman 5) relates to the date of the 19th of Kislev, and in the reply he was told, “Today is a day of good tidings” (without any additional explanation). The essence of this day of good tidings only became known a few centuries later (see also Rabbi Margaliot’s note there, cited in the name of the Mishmeret Shalom).

Anyone who is released from prison must thank God. But, pharm only under very special circumstances does such an event become a festive day that is noted for generations on the calendars of hundreds of thousands of people. However, this is the case with 19th of Kislev, the day on which the founder of Chabad Chassidut, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was released from prison more than two centuries ago. This date was not only instituted by Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s devoted followers, but Rabbi Shneur Zalman himself even saw the episode of his captivity and subsequent redemption as an event of national importance.

The Generation of Pioneers

Historically speaking, the generation that preceded Rabbi Shneur Zalman marked the appearance of Rabbi Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov, who illuminated the skies of Judaism with the new-old light of faith in God and universal love. In a letter to his brother-in-law, Rabbi Gershon Mikitov, the Ba'al Shem Tov wrote about a wondrous vision he experienced, in which he saw himself wandering through the upper realms (in a “soul elevation”) until he reached the Hall of Mashiach. The Ba'al Shem Tov asked the Mashiach, “When will my master come?” and Mashiach answered, “When your wellsprings will disseminate outwards.” This is why?openly and unabashedly?Chassidut is a “messianic” movement. The very fact that it has already spread and disseminated is a significant step towards the ultimate redemption. But the goal of “Your wellsprings will send out rivulets of water in the streets”[1] did not happen overnight. Although the Ba'al Shem Tov had a group of students, and his influence reached crowds of simple Jewish folk, nonetheless, during his era there was not yet a movement of any significance that would ensure its dissemination.

The next stage of Chassidut can be compared to focusing sunrays onto a powerful lens. Like a mighty magnet, the Ba'al Shem Tov’s greatest student, Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritch, attracted a group of unsurpassed spiritual giants. It is enough to mention names such as Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk, Rebbe Zusha of Anipoli, Rebbe Mendel of Vitebsk, Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, Rabbi Nachum of Tchernobel, Rebbe Shmelke of Nikolsberg, Rebbe Pinchas, author of Sefer Hafla’ah, the Great Rebbe Aharon of Karlin, Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin and Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi, in order to prove how Rabbi Dov Ber’s meager study hall was actually one of the “lions’ dens and the mountains of leopards.”[2] Rebbe Dov Ber himself sat hidden at home?even physically, because of his difficulty to get around due to his crippled legs?and taught profound Torah teachings which at first were comprehensible only to the choice few who surrounded him. But, it was clear to all his wondrous group of students that this needed to be expounded, in order to fulfill the vision of “Your wellsprings will disseminate outwards;” i.e., to conquer more regions in the Jewish world and bring them the light of Chassidut. Then came the next stage, which clearly saw a growing movement that swept many into its wake by a surge of activity. But, as the movement grew, its opponents began to rear their heads. Some of the opposition developed because of an innocent hesitation towards encouraging any new sects in general. However, some of the opposition was an ugly attempt to undermine the movement’s development, initiated by provocative warmongers.

Two Lights

But before the opposition began, let’s take note of the figure of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the youngest of the Magid’s students, but one of the most prominent. Just as his name, Shneur (??????????) suggests in Hebrew, he had two lights (?????? ????). On the one hand, he stands at the top echelon of Talmudic giants and scholars of Jewish law throughout the ages, as one can see from his version of The Code of Jewish Law, which he rewrote, and is named after him “The Rabbi’s Code of Jewish Law” (Shulchan Aruch Harav). This was the light of the revealed level of the Torah, “Torah is light.”[3] On the other hand, without any contradiction at all to his genius in the classical Torah subjects, he was also well-versed in the light of the Torah’s inner dimension, its secrets and its mysteries.[4] In an abundance of Chassidic discourses, he elucidated the hidden wisdom of the Torah and explained it in clear language. Without altering the original language used in Kabbalah, he added to it a Chassidic clothing that relates to the human soul and to God’s service, making the Torah’s secrets accessible to every one of us. Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s crowning glory in the inner dimension of the Torah is the Tanya. This is how Rabbi Shneur Zalman “stitched” these two lights together, and joined the two occupations that had previously been considered completely separate into one.

The significant advancement Rabbi Shneur Zalman made in disseminating the wellsprings of Chassidut, especially with the publication of his seminal work, the Tanya, aroused opposition. As a result of false charges and libel by other Jews, Rabbi Shneur Zalman was accused of conspiring against the Russian Czar, and sent to prison.

Now that we have mentioned the charges made against Rabbi Shneur Zalman, we see that they were not against him as an individual, but against the entire movement he represented, beginning with the Ba’al Shem Tov.[5] But, devoted to the Ba'al Shem Tov’s approach of seeing how every event that transpires is rooted in Divine providence, Rabbi Shneur Zalman interpreted the case on a universal level. He understood his physical imprisonment in this world as a reflection of a spiritual confrontation, “a prosecution from the Heavenly Court.” He saw that the Chassidic Movement was being put to the test to see whether or not the time had truly come to disseminate the wellsprings to the world at large; and whether the Jewish nation was ready to be aroused to step out of the coma of exile and greet Mashiach.

From here we see that the good tidings regarding Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s release were not just a verdict that had been passed by the Czar’s officers who cleared him of treason. As the Talmud states, “The kingdom of earth is an illustration of the kingdom of the Heavens,”[6] meaning that in the Heavenly court Rabbi Shneur Zalman was also acquitted, as if to say, “Continue your endeavors to spread Chassidut!” Indeed, the greatest lesson that Rabbi Shneur Zalman took from the episode was to disseminate Chassidut even more than before. The Chassidic tradition even relates that while he was imprisoned, the souls of the Ba'al Shem Tov and Rabbi Dov Ber appeared to him. Rabbi Shneur Zalman asked them whether he should continue disseminating Chassidut or to adopt a “lower profile.” Their reply was that he should continue to teach, and at an even greater pace! The hidden spring of the Torah’s inner dimension began to trickle out, but encountered a daunting dam and its ability to continue its flow was shaded in doubt. But as soon as the barrier was removed, water could gush out with even greater force, and Chassidut could succeed in reaching more areas.

Exactly twenty-six years before Rabbi Shneur Zalman was released from prison, he had stood beside the bed of his great Rabbi on the last day of his life in this world. Rabbi Dov Ber suddenly turned to his favorite student and said, “Zalman’ev, today is a festive day (???? ????) for us.”[7] On the day when a tzadik passes away, all his days on earth gather together and become a huge pillar of light that continues to illuminate the coming generations (even more than during his life, while his soul was still connected to the limitations of his physical body). This is why the 19th of Kislev is a festive day for Rabbi Dov Ber; it was his own “day of celebration.” Yet, by the same token, it is also his student’s, Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s festive day. Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s release from prison is not only a tiding of redemption for his Rabbi and the student together, but also for every Jew, wherever he happens to be, because these figures are “universal souls” who influence all of us, even if we are not aware of it.



[1] Proverbs 5:16.

[2] Song of Songs 4:8.

[3] Proverbs 6:23.

[4] “Mystery” (???) has the same numerical value as “light” (????).

[5] Who Rabbi Shneur Zalman referred to as his spiritual “grandfather.”

[6] Berachot 58a.

[7] There is a fascinating source for the Magid’s words: One of the Tosfot wrote an outstanding book that is called “Questions and Answers from Heaven.” This book is a collection of questions that he asked, with replies that were transmitted to him in a Heavenly vision. One of the questions there (siman 5) relates to the date of the 19th of Kislev, and in the reply he was told, “Today is a day of good tidings” (without any additional explanation). The essence of this day of good tidings only became known a few centuries later (see also Rabbi Margaliot’s note there, cited in the name of the Mishmeret Shalom).

Rabbi Shneur Zalman coined the phrase, viagra sale “living with the times” which means to live life in the light of the weekly Torah portion; and to see it as an indicator for all that happens to us throughout the week—both on a personal and national level.

Indeed, the date when Rabbi Shneur Zalman was released from prison usually falls during the week of the Torah portion of Vayeshev, which relates how Joseph was imprisoned in the Egyptian jail. Joseph is the most prominent righteous Biblical figure who was sent to jail. Since Joseph and until today, there is a long list of exemplary Jewish figures who have undergone similar experiences, and Rabbi Shneur Zalman is the most prominent of them all.

As explained in Part 1 of this article, Rabbi Shneur Zalman did not satisfy himself with quietly returning home after he left the prison. Just like the righteous Joseph who removed his prisoners’ clothing and instantly donned the royal robes as Pharaoh’s second-in-command, Rabbi Shneur Zalman turned the entire episode of his imprisonment into a springboard to increase his efforts to spread the wellsprings of Chassidut.

It is not difficult to identify another similarity between the two figures. Apart from the title “Righteous” that Joseph deserved and received, Joseph was also a remarkably wise man whose Divine wisdom astonished even non-Jews. So too, Rabbi Shneur Zalman was a righteous and wise figure who impressed even the Russian interrogators with his wisdom.

Fleeing Outside

Let’s now continue to “live with the times,” and join up with the righteous Joseph as his righteousness came to the fore. The climax of the description of Joseph’s righteousness comes after Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce him, in the verse, “And he left his garment in her hands and he fled and he exited outside.” [1] Running away and leaving the house was the hardest part of withstanding the test, and once he was outside, the worst was already behind him.

We might say that Joseph succeeded in fleeing outside of this world. Potiphar’s wife was the crème de la crème of Egyptian culture, and high society at its best. For Joseph, she represented all the irresistible temptations that the world has to offer. “The eye perceives and the heart desires”? usually the eyes are captured by all the delicacies of the world and the heart is gradually tempted towards them. But, Joseph succeeded in being faithful to his father’s home and ignored the demands of the physical world by simply leaving it for another world.

How did Joseph do this? To be sure, he must have had a great deal of will-power. But, behind the scenes lies a profound wisdom, a complete world view, which both knows how to laugh at the world and simultaneously flee from it. It is Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezeritch [2] who reveals this secret to us, quoting the sages’ words (also mentioned by Rashi), stating that Joseph almost failed the test, had it not been for the appearance of his father’s image before him at the very last minute. [3] Rabbi Dov Ber explains that a truly righteous individual, a tzadik, knows that every phenomenon in the world is rooted in holiness. Even those absolutely evil phenomena that we are commanded to flee from like we flee from fire, have in them a “spark” of holiness that has fallen from upon high and has descended to be cloaked in this evil garb. Joseph saw before him a temptress, who attempted to wile him away from sanctity by the power of her beauty. But, Joseph knew that this was impure beauty with evil intentions, and he reminded himself that this false beauty covered a fallen spark of sanctity, and was nothing more than a false replica of true and holy beauty. He knew that true beauty and harmony of the correct blend of pure and holy attributes are those represented by his father Jacob.

This is how Rabbi Dov Ber interprets the midrash that Jacob’s image appeared to Joseph and saved him from being lured into Potiphar’s wife’s net. Joseph succeeded in “elevating the attribute to its source,” and instead of looking at the woman’s external beauty, he clung to the inner dimension of beauty that lies beyond the world we live in—a material world that threatens to dazzle us with superficial beauty. In other words, by disassembling the situation into its primary components, Joseph succeeded in annulling these temptations, and redirected them to the path of holiness.

Out of this World

The word “outside” (????????) is familiar to us from another Biblical context. If we go back, we find that the original appearance of this word is with reference to Abraham, as the verse states: “And God took him outside and said: Please gaze at the sky and count the stars, can you count them? And He said to him: This is how your offspring will be.” [4]

Where did God take Abraham “outside” to? Rashi states:

Literally this means that He took him out of his tent to see the stars. But, the homiletic explanation [i.e., the Midrash] is that He said to him, “Go out of your astrology where you saw in the stars that you will never have a child. Abram does not have a child, but Abraham will have a child… Another explanation is that He took him out of this world and elevated him above the stars, and this is the meaning of the verb “to gaze” (????????)?[to look] down from above.

The first homiletic interpretation is that, in his great wisdom, Abraham reached the clear conclusion that he and Sarah would never have children. But, God took him outside of this world view. In modern vernacular, the implication of the second interpretation, “out of this world” is “out of the cosmos,” which resembles infinity; but in truth is finite and also follows the limitations of the laws of nature. Abraham’s initial faith in God could not completely ignore those limitations, because, after all, he realized that God created a finite, limited system with its own set of laws. However, God showed Abraham that he can leave this world completely, and rise beyond any limitations, in order to create the world anew (as it were). Abraham’s reaction to this revelation is “And he believed in God,”[5] this was the birth of pure Jewish faith which believes in the ability to defy the laws of nature.

So, both Abraham and Joseph went “outside,” and their exits complement one another. Abraham confronted idolatry, and he brought the world the light of belief in one God which provides us with a precedent that teaches us how to leave this world and redesign it. Joseph was confronted by adultery, and instructed us how to discover our inner power to overcome the evil inclination and leave this world of temptations. Both of these aspects are explicitly stated by the sages in the verse, “Do not follow your hearts and your eyes…”[6] “‘After your heart,’ refers to heresy and ‘After your eyes’ refers to contemplating sin [i.e., promiscuity].” [7]

A Leverage Point

What happens once we have succeeded in going outside, beyond our regular worldview, and accepted the fact that the Almighty’s omnipotence goes far beyond the laws of nature that He Himself set? The answer relates to the ability to overturn our perspective of the world in order to achieve the outcome that God desires.

Abraham began within this world. He recognized his Creator and progressed further and further in his faith, until he reached the summit of leaving this world. Similarly, the righteous Joseph was immersed in Potiphar’s home and was almost completely swallowed up by it, until when put to the test he succeeded in fleeing and stepping outside, beyond his limits. But, as we realign our perspective of Abraham and Joseph with the same implausible viewpoint that is “out of this world,” we suddenly discover that that same viewpoint is actually hidden deep within this world. From this perspective, the entire world is nothing but an exterior shell that hides the awareness of Godliness.

For a Jew with a focused perspective, the inner dimension is the world we know, and everything beyond it is on the outside. This includes the world of faith and Torah, the World to Come and many other possible worlds. But, the truth is that a Jew can also look at this world as an “external” entity that his soul has been sent to. This idea is expressed in the sages’ statement, “This world is like a corridor that leads to the World to Come.” [8] Indeed, there are those who truly feel that they are just momentary visitors in this world, or, more precisely, they are just emissaries whose task it is to disseminate the Torah’s secrets out here, in this world.

Archimedes said that if he had a leverage point beyond the planet earth, he would be able to move it away from its orbit. Abraham’s and Joseph’s escape from this world teach us that every Jew has a leverage point such as this, not just beyond the planet, but beyond the cosmos as well. He can therefore be “released” from the world, leave it, and then return to it from a completely new perspective. So, we can perceive the world either as “inside” or “outside,” like a piece of clothing that can be turned inside-out, as Joseph apparently left his own garment in Potiphar’s wife’s hands.

Returning to the account mentioned in Part 1, Mashiach told the Ba'al Shem Tov that he will come “when your wellsprings disseminate outwards,” and the most literal explanation of these words is that the wellsprings—of faith and the inner dimension of the Torah—will burst outside from inside each of us. The world outside is like a field of action that we must go outside of ourselves in order to reach. This power to go outside stems from Abraham’s and Joseph’s power to go outside, beyond the limitations of this world. At first, they exited the world, dissipating its material lure, and loudly proclaimed, “There is none else besides God!” Once they stepped out of this world, they realized that their true place is beyond the world; the same place where every Jewish soul is carved from. From  outside the world, we then turn to face the world, in order to join the outside to its inner source .

On the one hand, our pillar of faith has the ability to annul all of reality, to elevate everything to its source and root by closing our eyes and loudly proclaiming, “Hear o’ Israel… God is one.” The second pillar of Torah and Chassidut is the realization that we have control over the leverage point beyond the world that Archimedes coveted, and we can “overturn the world” by disseminating the innermost wellsprings into the outermost places. This is the ability to bring about the genuine and complete redemption that we yearn for, together with the arrival of Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, speedily and in our days.

From 19th Kislev farbrengen, Joseph’s Tomb, 5751


[1] Genesis 39:12.

[2] Magid Devarav Leyaakov, 18 (and elsewhere).

[3] Sotah 36b.

[4] Genesis 15:8.

[5] Ibid 15:6.

[6] Numbers 15:39.

[7] Berachot 12b.

[8] Avot 4:16.

One Response to “Prisoners’ Solidarity”

  1. benjamin michael says:

    Thank you teacher, as one whose been in actual prison, yet another living metaphor…