Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More on access to secrets

The Rebbe Rashab writes in the famous “Hemshech Samech Vov”:

In (Zohar,) Raya Mehemna, Behar 111b it is written, “When a person knows G–d in a general manner, then he is called a slave. When he knows G–d in a specific manner, then he is called a son, His beloved one, like a son who (has permission) to search in all the hidden things and in all the secrets of the house.” In Ohr HaChamah of the Ramak (it is explained that) it is the one who has a Neshama of Atzilus who knows all the hidden things and all the secrets of the house. ... However, if he only possesses a Neshama of B’ya (Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah), meaning that he knows G–dliness only according to intellect, then he only knows G–d in a general manner, and he does not have the permission to seek in all the hidden things.

Sefer HaMa’amarim 5766, p. 157.

As explained here, the difference between Atzilus and B’ya is that in Atzilus there is open revelation of pure G–dliness (this is also known as Hasogas HaMehus—“grasping the essence”), whereas in B’ya, although G–dliness is recognized as the true reality, it is not apprehended tangibly (this is known as Yedias Ha’metzius—“knowing the existence”). All Neshomos stem from Atzilus, and ultimately from the highest level in Atzilus, that of Chochmah.[1] If so, why are some Neshomos called Neshomos of B’ya, and others called Neshomos of Atzilus?

The answer, as explained in numerous places in Chassidus, is that all Neshomos descend from Atzilus through B’ya, and down into our lowly world. The difference between a Neshama of Atzilus and of B’ya is that the former is not affected by this descent, and thus senses and in a way reveals the pure revelation of G–dliness that occurs in Atzilus even while he is in this world. The latter, in contrast, is affected by the descent through B’ya, and is thus associated with the worlds of B’ya.

How does this fit with the topic of Tzaddikim?[2]

Here[3] the Rebbe discusses these two levels of Neshomos.[4] In this connection, the Rebbe quotes the Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, who writes in a gloss on a discourse of the Alter Rebbe[5] that the Baal Shem Tov was a Neshama of the former type, one that is not affected by descending into this world. A little further down, the Rebbe explains that this level (known as “the fish of the sea”; G–d willing I will explain this in a future post) is also the level of the Neshama of Atzilus.

The Rebbe then states, “Since he writes so concerning the Neshama of the Baal Shem Tov, it is understood that the same is true of all his successors.” The Rebbe then quotes the similar statement of the Rebbe Rashab, who said concerning the Alter Rebbe that he was a Neshama of Atzilus.[6]

All this would appear to shed further light on the topic of the Tzaddik’s full access to secrets (whether intimate familiarity with divine greatness, as discussed in the Zohar, or with future events, as discussed in the story of the Maggid), and thus follows nicely on from the previous posts. Thus, G–d’s statement concerning Moshe Rabeinu, “In all My house, he is trusted” apparently means that he has access to know all the secrets, but he doesn’t reveal. The reason that he has this access, says the Ramak, is that he is a Neshama of Atzilus, and thus apprehends G–dliness in a detailed and real way.

This also ties in with the earlier posts concerning infallibility, which revolve around the theme that the Tzaddik is not merely someone greatly more pious and refined than the average person, but a fundamentally different Neshama, one with access to a perception of divine reality that all the rest of us, mere Neshomos of B’ya, can never attain (at least, not until Moshiach redeems us). In other words, it’s not only a difference in degree, but in kind.

[1] See Tanya Kaddisha ch. 2.

[2] There may be lower levels of Tzaddikim than the ones described here, but this post will focus specifically on the level of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezeritch, and the Rebbes of Chabad, who are considered in Chabad teaching to be the main successors of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid.

[3] Sefer HaMa’amarim 5712, p. 210.

[4] Now is not the occasion to elaborate upon the details of this discourse; I will quote briefly certain points for the purposes of this post, and post further explanations in later posts, G–d willing.

[5] Likkutei Torah, Hosafos 18b.

[6] See Sefer HaSichos 5691, p. 175.


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