"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Monday, May 27, 2013

Programmed Purity Vs. Frail Freedom

Programmed Purity
Vs. Frail Freedom

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver

(This post is a continuation of this earlier post: Of Angels and Men)

Hashem’s creation is awesomely vast. It encompasses not only our world, but also the entire Seder Hishtalshelus, the awesomely vast system of higher spiritual worlds that ends with our physical universe (see here).

Yet all the beings that Hashem created possess a fundamental limitation: Each one is endowed with a very small repertoire of qualities and character traits. With these few traits each creature is equipped to carry out its individual role, but is unable to perform any other role.

In the animal kingdom we find that each species exhibits a distinct emotional tendency. For instance, the raven is cruel, while the eagle is compassionate, and so on.

So is it in higher spheres: The angels, which are compared to animals,[1] are also limited to the distinctive traits with which they were created. Gavriel, the angel of fire and strictness, is unable to deviate from its nature and be kind, while Micha’el, the angel of water and kindness, is unable to be harsh. Thus, of the supernal angels it is written that Hashem “established them forever and ever; He has established a decree that shall not be transgressed,”[2] for they are unable to change.

This is also the reason that “one angel cannot perform two missions”:[3] since its character is fixed, it is incapable of expressing itself in any other way.

In contrast, Hashem fashioned mankind as a microcosm of the Seder Hishtalshelus, and so his inner self encompasses all levels in miniature. Thus, he is endowed with the entire spectrum of character traits, ranging from the highest to the lowest and from one extreme to another.

We can observe this is in the classic episode of the binding of Yitzchak. Hashem asked Avraham, who personified kindness,[4] to deviate from his nature and act with such harshness as to kill another person—and not just anyone, but his only son. Yes, Avraham was ready to obey because Hashem requested it of him. But how could he have obeyed, if his defining attribute was kindness? The answer is that no matter how much a person excels in a particular trait, he always retains the ability to act differently. Thus, although Avraham excelled in kindness, he could still be cruel.

Conversely, even the criminal guilty of the most dastardly crimes, the sort whom all will agree belongs in an electric chair, is capable of being kind and loving.

This is the reason that when the Torah describes the creation of all the other creatures, Hashem is referred to in the singular—“And Hashem made the firmament”;[5] “And Hashem made the animals of the earth”;[6] and so on. Only in connection with mankind do we find the plural form—“Let us make man.”[7] This alludes to the unique multiplicity that Hashem implanted within the mankind such that his spiritual makeup parallels all the higher heavenly spheres, and thus runs the entire gamut of qualities.

Based on the Rebbe Rashab’s Sefer HaMaamarim 5660, p. 10.

(To be continued, G-d willing.)

[1] Sifri, end of Bahaaloscha; Bamidbar Rabba, end of Naso.
[2] Tehillim 148:6.
[3] Bereshis Rabbah 3:2.
[4] Avraham is associated with love and kindness, as it is written, “Avraham, who loves Me” (Yeshayah 41:9). Moreover, “The divine attribute of kindness said before the Holy One: ‘Master of the Universe, since the days of Avraham, I have not have to perform my job, for Avraham serves in my stead’” (Sefer HaBahir 191, cited in Pardes 22:4).
[5] Bereshis 1:7.
[6] Ibid. 1:25.
[7] Ibid. 1:26.

Sponsored by Pinchas and Feygl Cylich (Pinchos Boruch ben Yeshaya Yaakov and Feiga Matl bas Freidl) in honor of their parents, aleihem ha'sholom: Yaakov ben Boruch, Rayzl bas Pinchos, Yaakov Yisroel ben Shamai, and Freydl bas Mendl.

Dedicated in the merit of a speedy release for the captives Yonasan ben Malka (Jonathan Pollard), Alan Gross (Aba Chonah ben Hava Chana), Sholom Mordechai Halevi ben Rivka (Sholom Rubashkin), and Zeva Rochel bas Chaya (Wendy Weiner Runge).

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