Refining the Sparks through
the Suffering of Exile
the Suffering of Exile
Rabbi Y. OliverWe have spoken about how when the Jewish people use objects in the world to serve Hashem, they refine the sparks of holiness in those objects.
Another significant way in which the Jewish people refine the sparks of holiness in exile relates to their suffering in their alien environment. Over the course of Jewish history, the Jewish people have been “hosted” by various nations because those nations held sparks of holiness that the Jewish people were expected to refine. When the Jewish people are oppressed by their host nations in various ways, and yet remain firm in their observance of Torah and Mitzvos, they pull out the sparks of holiness in the nations and in their countries.
When the Jewish people have completed their task of refining the sparks within a specific nation, they are released from it, and that nation is left lowly and disgraced, for it has been deprived of its extra life-force—the sparks of holiness that lay within it.
When Adam HaRishon sinned, he caused the sparks of holiness to fall into the forces of Kelipah (see here), and the Jewish people refine these sparks through their suffering in exile. This is the meaning of “All who cause the Jewish people to suffer become the ‘head’ [i.e., the leading nation].” When the gentile nations oppress the Jewish people, we take their “head.” The head, which is above the rest of the body, represents a high level—the lofty sparks of holiness that lie within the nations, that are the true source of their prosperity.
This is the deeper meaning of the verse, “One man dominates over another man, to his detriment,” for the detriment of “the evil man,” i.e., the spiritual forces of Kelipah, which give sustenance to the nations who oppress us. When they dominate over us and oppress us, it is in fact to their detriment, for in this way the sparks of holiness are refined from their midst, and then they lose the blessings that those sparks brought them.
To explain further, each nation draws its sustenance from a particular force of Kelipah. Thus, there are seventy nations, corresponding to the “seventy ministers of Nogah”—the seventy spiritual forces of Kelipas Nogah (the level of Kelipah that sustains the physical world in general, but not things that are forbidden for a Jew), from which each of the seventy gentile nations draws its sustenance, respectively.
As long as the Jewish people are being hosted by a particular country in order to refine the sparks of holiness trapped there, the “minister,” the angel from which that country derives its sustenance, benefits greatly, causing that angel’s nation to be blessed with material prosperity.
However, once the Jewish people have finished refining all the sparks there, then, of course, no sparks are left, and so the individual Kelipah from which that nation had drawn its sustenance becomes greatly weakened, causing the nation to which it gives sustenance to lose, or at least experience a significant decline, in its prosperity and prominent position on the world stage.
The Jewish people are then relocated to another country, in order to refine the sparks of holiness that await them there. Once they have refined all the sparks of holiness in all the lands of exile, Moshiach will come and redeem them, bringing them to Eretz Yisrael forever.
 Igra DeKallah, Bereshis, p. 496.
 Likkutei Torah lehoArizal, Tetzei.
 Gittin 56b.
 Koheles 8:9.
 Cf. Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh ch. 25.
 Cf. Toras Sholom p. 204.
This post was dedicated by Reb Kasriel ben Yehudis and Chana Feige bas Reizl (my parents, tzu langeh, gezunteh, zisseh yoren) in honor of their 36th wedding anniversary. This post was also dedicated by Reb Menachem Kovacs, who requested that this message be attached:
"Zachor: to mark the 6th anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron; we continue to pray and work for their restoration and for the Ge'ula Shlayma. Thank you."
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