Rabbi Isaac Luria proposed a radically different view of evil that rapidly became the dominant view within Kabbalistic thought. In our post holocaust world it has even spread beyond Kabbalistic circles. Luria saw evil as an inevitable flaw within the creative process itself. According to Lurianic Kabbalah when God created the universe, the infinite Divine energies overwhelmed the finite “vessels” of time, space, matter and energy.
These vessels shattered and thus became flawed. The Divine sparks became imbedded in the fragments of the vessels in the same way that kernels of grain are embedded in their husks. God knew that this must happen but there was no other way for the Infinite One to create a complex finite universe.
However, God also knew that such a universe could produce, and it was the Divine intention that it should produce, creatures created in the Divine image, who would be able to mend the fractures and flaws of worldly existence. The fractures in the structure of reality, and the husks that encapsulate the sparks explain much of the evil and suffering humans are subject to.
In modern terms the fractures explain why there often are unintended negative consequences from programs and activities that only seek to help people; or why good intentions do not always bring about good results. The fractures are why one sibling suffers from a genetically influenced mental or physical disease while another sibling does not.
The fractures are why some people have the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The fractures are why we often can see only in retrospect why we made the wrong decision for the right reason.
People attribute responsibility for events leading to and resulting from situations such as those referred to above as due totally to conscious moral choice when much of what people do in these circumstances is really the result of fractures beyond human control.
Of course, most choices for most people most of the time are under our control so that most evils are the result of human decisions. But the big natural evils like earthquakes or covid-19, and the outrageous human evils like the Spanish inquisition, or burning witches, and the pious religious ones like the Hindu cast system and Female Genital Mutilation can now be accounted for.
They are not simply the result of conscious human choice. Cosmic factors beyond our understanding are also at work.
At the same time Luria’s system also provides for a way to improve things. In modern terms, humans can use their God given intelligence to understand genetic diseases and devise cures, or to learn from history and experience how to reduce unintended negative consequences by changing things slowly and non-dogmatically.
In traditional terms, Luria’s system provided a way to mend and repair fractures in the universe. Each time one did a Mitsvah (one of God’s commandments/a good deed/a Jewish obligation) it now also became a Tikun-an activity that repairs a fracture in existence.
Thus a Mitsvah was not only a way to make yourself or others into better people. Each Mitsvah that was done repaired a tiny crack somewhere in the cosmos. For example, a blessing recited over bread or wine not only elevated the awareness of the person reciting the blessing; it also mended a fractured Divine spark within the bread or wine, and thus elevated its purpose of providing nourishment.
Thus each Mitsvah performed repaired a crack, not necessarily for oneself or for the Jewish community or even for the whole of humanity, but the Tikun could affect the natural world we live in, or even the heavenly worlds beyond us.
In the modern world Tikun is primarily thought of as either an act of personal self improvement (elevating ones moral and spiritual character) or an act which helps to improve society (politically, economically or environmentally). In the pre-modern undemocratic world social/political Tikun was impossible.
The one attempt to use Lurianic Kabbalah and Tikun to change the world was a movement led by Rabbi Shabbetai Zevi (1626-1676) and Rabbi Nathan of Gaza (1643-1680) which generated widespread Messianic anticipation, and produced a spiritual disaster when Shabbetai Zevi converted to Islam in order to save his life.
In the aftermath of this debacle Kabbalistic thinking was discredited and was confined to small closed circles until the middle of the 20th century. Then in the aftermath of the Holocaust, Luria’s ideas are once again gaining popularity.
Most Jews know that according to Talmudic Jewish tradition sexual activities between a husband and wife are a Mitsvah (a spiritual exercise and a religious commitment). Many Jews even know that lovemaking on Shabbat is a double Mitsvah.
Some Jews know that the Kabbalah (the Jewish mystical tradition) teaches that the Shekinah (the feminine presence of God) rests on a Jewish man when he makes love to his Jewish wife on Shabbat. Non Orthodox Rabbis have expanded all these principles to apply to any loving couple, Jewish or Non-Jewish, Gay or Straight.
The awareness of God’s Shekinah can also be found in Hindu texts like the Devi Mahatmya which express the Holy nature of all human females: “Wherever there is a woman, there the Great Goddess Devi is.”
I will continue to use the traditional gender terms so that the radical teachings in the Jewish mystical tradition about sexuality remain evident.
Actually the Shekenah can rest on a man whenever he makes love to his wife with a sense of reverence, tenderness, adoration and love. The Shabbat adds holiness and chosenness to their feelings. The key attitude is the sense that his wife is God’s gift, the source of his blessings, and the most wonderful manifestation of God’s presence.
But very few Jews know that if in addition to this attitude, he also makes love to his wife intentionally desiring to imagine a spiritual unification within the heavenly realm as he unifies the earthly one, he and his wife enact a great Tikun- a spiritual mending or up-lifting.
This Tikun is woven together with similar Tikunim from other married couples into a crown for the Divine One who also unites with His Shekenah every Shabbat. Just as the prayers proclaimed in each Synagogue are all woven together into a crown for the Holy One of Israel, so too are the holy unifications of each couple married under a Hupah (marriage canopy) woven into a crown.
In the past the esoteric details of how to elevate their lovemaking into a Tikun were transmitted orally, and very discretely, from mother to daughter. These details were based on the seventh chapter of the Song of Songs, a Biblical book that Rabbi Akiba proclaimed the holiest song in the entire Scriptures.
A wife who desires to enable her husband to fulfill the Mitsvah of Tikun coupling should direct him to begin by kissing and creaming her feet (Song of Songs 7:2). Then she should direct him to slowly and reverently work his way up to her crowning flowing hair that entangles a King/God, (7:6) thus allowing him to climb the palm tree (7:9) and perform the unification below which is woven into the unification above.
Over the years the spiritual uplift of this Tikun becomes greater and greater.
Even fewer Jews know that Rabbi Isaac Luria, developed several Tikunim to enable spiritually aware Jewish couples to repair fractured hopes and intentions in those around them, to elevate broken spirits both near and far, and to re-energize efforts to make life holy. All of this through a couple’s own lovemaking at night.
These Tikunim are among those referred to as Tikunay Hatzot-mid night spiritual exercises. Every wife partakes of some aspects of Leah and some aspects of Rachel (the two wives of Jacob/Israel).
Like Leah, every woman is potentially very fruitful, both emotionally and physically. Like Rachel, every woman is potentially spellbinding and enthralling.
When her husband regards his wife as a gift from God and loves her totally, faithfully and submissively, his lovemaking and partnership being more to give her pleasure than for his own pleasure, he realizes and actualizes her blessings and God’s blessings.
This is especially important when duress makes her weep openly or inside, All forms of Tikun Hatzot stress this.
Nighttime sexual activity prior to midnight increases the aspect of Leah. Nighttime sexual activity after midnight, and in the pre-dawn or early morning hours increases the aspect of Rachel. Sexual intercourse with Leah, better known in Lurianic Kabbalah as the face of Imma, helps to reduce negative actions and situations in family and personal affairs; and even in today’s world weakens bad political leadership.
Sexual intercourse during the second part of the night is with Rachel who ascends in the morning as Matronita, the ruling presence of Shekinah. Elevating Matronita helps avoid the worst case public scenarios we fear, and helps increases the number of small but important contributions to the improvement of Jewish and world society. One who regards his wife as a gift from God will pray in her intimate presence.
These Tikunim should be done every Shabbat and if desired once or twice during weekdays. They are not magic, nor are they imaginary, but faithfully imagined they always have a positive impact over time.
A Hassidic mystic, Rabbi Nathan Hanover, adds, “After you perform Tikun Hatzot, prepare yourself and unify the Holy One with Shekinah by making your body, each and every limb, a chariot for Shekinah.”-Thus sexual activity should end with the wife above, feeling she is Shekinah-the ruling Matronita blessing her husband by raising to heaven, with her husband below feeling that he serves as a mystical Merkavah-chariot elevating his Shekinah wife to the very heavens.