Robin Diamond
Robin Diamond

Light of Redemption Through History: Rabbi Mendel Kessin, PART 2

Part 2

The Year 1740: Effect of the Divine Light
Torah as “Trigger:” In the year 1740, the equivalent to 5500, which is equivalent to the dawn of the Shabbat, Erev Shabbos, it is 6:00 a.m. on the Cosmic Clock. More light descends on both science and Torah. It is important to appreciate that science is G-d’s work, just as much as Torah, except that there is no command that the Jews study science; that’s left to the non-Jewish nations. Jews, however, were specifically commanded to study Torah. There is a reason why Torah is infinitely greater than science. Torah is not just chochma, a repository of knowledge or wisdom. Torah is a trigger. That means, on a spiritual level, when a Jew performs a mitzvah–commandment, he releases Divine Light which contributes to the perfection of the world, changing the universe back into its original, holy form, thus “allowing” G-d to reveal Himself. Science does not do that. Science is the study of chochma, Divine wisdom manifest as the physical laws of the world that science discerns.

The Secular World
A new celebrity appears, again in the secular world, namely, Sir Isaac Newton. Newton changed science with his “Principium Mathematica,” his universal law of gravitation and his three laws of motion. He is considered the father of modern science but he was also a very religious man. In fact, most people don’t know that Newton wrote more about religion than he did about science. Here’s an incredible fact; Newton studied the Talmud and was influenced by its writings. I think he even wrote books on Torah. There’s an article I read about a box that was discovered filled with his documents whose contents nobody wanted to reveal. Why? Because these documents were all about Torah.

The RaMChal
Who lived at the same time as Newton? The RaMChal (an acronym), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, the prominent Italian rabbi, kabbalist, and philosopher upon whose writings much of my classes are based. He was alive at the same time as Newton though I doubt they ever saw each other. RaMChal not only organized Kabbalah, but also clarified the codes of the Kabbalah in his book “Derech Hashem”— The Way of G-d. He thus “opened up” the Kabbalah in the sense that he derived an interpretation of the code of metaphors of the Kabbalah of the Arizal {Isaac [ben Solomom] Luria Ashkenazi, 1534-1572). This work of the RaMChal was, and still is, one of the main contributions to the overall study of Jewish philosophy.

“Derech Hashem” is the analogue of this chomer as the nature of a curriculum; it is about content, what a devoted Jew is supposed to study–not how. If a person really wants to serve G-d, what chochmah, what body of knowledge, should he study? RaMCHal prioritizes it as follows: one should acquire knowledge of G-d via knowledge of the commandments (religious duties), study the Talmud in its entirety and, only then, study Kabbalah for the rest of one’s days because Kabbalah is the greatest aspect of Torah, unleashing the largest amount of Divine energy.

But the RaMChal also emphasized method—one of the three integral aspects of the ohr rishon. How does one discover ideas, analyze and synthesize those ideas, unless methodology teaches you how to think? Clearly, RaMChal was part of the transmission process of the ohr rishon. The rabbi actually wrote three volumes all about method. One is the “Introduction to Derech Hashem” (a section distinct from the actual book) which is about the method of the RaMChal (contrary to what most people think). The second book he wrote was “Book of Logic,” which is about how to think correctly. The third book is called “Derech Tevunos” which instructs how to learn Talmud.

The objective is to unlock the knowledge which is held back by the force of tumah–impurity and which manifests as fragmentation. Clearly, once you release the ohr rishon, the enlightenment becomes de-fragmented. And, following the RaMChal, the method that enables one to see tiferes—beauty, the holistic aspect of beauty, is termed “derech ha’yichud “way of unity (in thinking). One must have a method of logical thinking that informs and supports the material study.

So,the ohr rishon in science is akin to Newton. The ohr rishon in Torah is the Kabbalah and all the hashkafah–the study of G-d’s plan for the world as seen through the teachings of Torah and Kabbalah, particularly that of the RaMChal who lived during the same era as Newton. And let me stress that, from the perspective of hashkafah, there is no such thing as science without the ohr rishon. Some think of science as the wisdom of the Creation. But no! Science, from this perspective, is the ohr rishon that is given to gentiles which manifests itself in science because that is what they want to study.

Surge of the Ohr Rishon as the Flood
The next surge in Divine Light comes on sunrise Friday on the Cosmic Clock. That is equivalent to 1840, which is a very interesting year. The Zohar adduces that the great Flood that destroyed the world occurred in the 600th year of the life of Noah when “the windows of heaven were opened.” The great earthy abyss also opened and water poured forth. What is this “water”?

The RaMChal explains that the “water” was really the ohr rishon, or should have been. Noah was the tenth generation after Adam ha’Rishon – primordial man. G-d wanted, within those ten generations, that mankind rectify the damage that had been done to the ten sefiros–Divine emanations that interface with our material world when Adam and Eve rebelled against G-d. When generation after generation failed to repair that damage by failing to adhere to the Noahide Laws as G-d commanded, the ohr rishon which should have better poured forth flooding the planet with messianic Light instead was transformed from its spiritual analogue—Light-into rain. What should have been a tremendous flood of wisdom became, instead, a deluge of watery death. It is written in the Zohar that something of this order of powerful wisdom will appear again in the 600th year of the 6th millennium, which is 5600, which is the Gregorian Calendar year 1840.

This time, however, it was not to be a destructive flood of water; on the contrary, the event would mark an incredible explosion of knowledge and wisdom—the ohr rishon again. Notably, the Maggid of Kaznitz observed that if the Jews are deserving, they would be the recipients of this Messianic Light manifest as an explosion of Torah wisdom. If they are not deserving, the ohr descends, instead, upon the secular world in the form of the secular wisdom of science.

Light Upon the Secular World
The Industrial Revolution began around the year 1840. Technology changed the world introducing machinery, factories, and many strides in the advance of science. Michael Faraday and Ian Clerk Maxwell and the revolutionary understandings of electromagnetism and energy that they fostered, as well as Einstein’s contributions to quantum physics, and Bacheral’s discovery of radioactivity are some of these advances.

Ohr Rishon Upon The Jews
What did the Jews receive at this time through this later “flood” of wisdom? What the Jews received was a different, if not novel, way of studying Torah—a new analytical way of thinking. They benefited, as before, from a change in the tzurah–the form and less so in the chomer–the content. What was that tzurah? I tend to think it was Reb Chaim Brisker’s revolution of the Jewish world. We are talking about the distinguished Rabbi Chaim (Halevi) Soloveitchik (1853 –1918), the erudite Talmudic scholar credited as the founder of the popular “Brisker approach” to Talmudic study. It is a method of highly exacting and analytical talmudic study that focuses on precise definitions and categorizations of Jewish law as commanded in the Torah, with particular emphasis on the legal writings of Maimonides. It was a new way of thinking, an analytical method akin to the “scientific method.”

In essence, this “Brisker” manner of the study of the finer points of Jewish law is an analytical method that recognizes, for instance, that many ideas and phenomena appear one way but that, actually, have many categorical conceptions and distinctions that alter how we can regard them. A point of Jewish law itself can have many different distinctions and, thereby, “answer” many halachic questions, questions as to how to interpret Jewish law. The rabbis employing this methodology break down any given idea into many different conceptual distinctions, categories, or attributes that result in many questions being answered. The method corresponds to the ability to be sensitive to distinctions. That’s “Brisker” and it’s really science. The student thus looks at a phenomenon and asks, “What exactly is it? What attributes has it? What are the properties of a given halacha? For instance: What is a table? What are its properties? Okay, it has substance, weight, shape, and function; it has many different properties. Thus “Brisk” looks at the many different havchanos—conceptual distinctions regarding different aspects of any given halacha as opposed to seeing it as a single unit and, in so doing, is able to generate an enormous number of understandings of this halacha. The problem with “Brisker method” of study, however, is that it limits itself to analysis based on the examination of fragments, looking into many, many different separate aspects without ever synthesizing the parts into a beautiful picture. That is because the methodology is only partially informed by the ohr rishon.

1990 Onward: Acceleration of Messianic Events
The next period is that from 1990. It is approaching midday Friday; the sun will soon set, never to rise again. That’s incredible! Jews will begin to think about Erev Shabbos, the time immediately preceding the commencement of the Sabbath. We are now in that pre-messianic period and this has enormous manifestations and ramifications.

September 1989, rosh ha’shanah,– Jewish New Year was the time of day known as “chatzos” —midday, 12 o’clock noon on Friday. “Bingo!” The whole world turned topsy-turvy with an acceleration of messianic events. The Berlin Wall collapsed and the Soviet Union collapsed a year later. Then the World Trade Center was brought down. It’s astounding.

Civilization has changed radically. It’s Friday midday and the amount and intensity of ohr coming down is formidable, being so close to Shabbos. Everyday, yesterday’s scientific information becomes outdated, certainly much more quickly than in the past. Where are the frontiers of information accessible? — journal articles. A journal article reveals information that’s deemed “cutting edge.” In fact, everyday, 7500 articles are published around the world in science, in that form of chochmah. At that rate, the sum total of human knowledge doubles every 5.6 years. The rate was much slower in the 1980’s.

Imagine looking at the contents of the Library of Congress and then again half a decade later. There’s a building standing there but, five and a half years later, there’s another building there, millions and millions of volumes in the Library of Congress and much of it is quite dated. I’ve been saying this since 1990. Just think; today, 2016, nine out of every ten scientists who ever lived, live today. They live today because most of civilization’s innovations are recent. Put that way, there wasn’t much of a difference between someone who lived in 1840 C.E. and a guy who lived in 1840 B.C.E. We might spot different clothing and a different lifestyle but, if you compare a guy who lived in 1840 to a guy who lives in 2016— forget about it! There is no way to compare them. If you ever took a guy who lived in 1840 and brought him into today’s time, he’d have a heart attack. He could never assimilate what’s going on. So what you see is the acceleration of human knowledge. This great acceleration and proliferation of information never happened before in all of human history. Why? It is referred to as a “doubling of knowledge.”

As we get closer to the Cosmic Sabbath, closer to the mashiach, the ohr rishon comes down in greater intensity and this is what you’re looking at, the intensity of the ohr rishon manifest in secular knowledge, in science, in everything. That’s why you have this concept of the “doubling of knowledge.” This makes the most marked difference between somebody who lived in 1840 and somebody who lives now. You walk into a tech or electronic store today and, returning the next year, you discover half the items are different, more advanced. You don’t know what half the items are, the different electronic gadgets. The learning curve on each of these things is remarkable, beyond belief. You remember the old cassettes—what do you call them—“8-tracks”? Remember the reel-to-reel tape recorders? You don’t even have CDs anymore; it’s all flash drives. You can’t keep up, and that’s just in electronics.

In medicine, there’s the MRI,  there are cameras that can be inserted into the body sending images back about your internal system. Stem cell therapeutics regenerate tissue. We live in a world of what used to be science fiction, one in which reality resembles what sci-fi conjured decades ago. It’s the ohr rishon coming down in unbelievable intensity because we are close to the messianic era.

Past Chatzot: Time of Messianic Themes
Right now in 2016, we are already beyond chatzot—midday (on the Cosmic Clock). It is 6.5 hours past sunrise. We are at approximately 12:39 p.m. – so close to mashiach. Where do we see this? There’s a verse in Prophets, in Zechariah 14:7: “At the time of evening there will be light.” That’s the Messianic Light. When does this “evening” start? It started at 12:30 p.m. on the Cosmic Clock.

Why has this been happening since 1240? G-d prepares the world for this ohr. And interestingly, He’s preparing the gentiles first: From Aristotle until 1240, the growth of knowledge increased in arithmetic progression. From 1240 until Newton, however, it’s no longer arithmetic but geometric. It’s not 5+5; it is 5×5. From Newton on, and certainly in our time, this growth has been exponential. That’s 5[to the 5th power]. The ohr is coming down faster and faster with greater intensity. But the main concept to consider is that G-d has to prepare the world for an onslaught of chochmah that is simply beyond current comprehension.

The ohr has been coming down gradually, preparing the world for the coming incredible revelation. In the 60’s, suddenly, the world had an idea called “New Age,” with its “Age of Aquarius” and its interest in crystals, chanting, and meditation. There emerged spiritual themes in Hollywood, in movie-making, that were messianic in nature. When the messiah does arrive, a guy can say, “Oh I remember that movie!” For example, in the movie Star Wars there’s a concept of “The Force” and it can be either positive or negative. Doesn’t that sound somewhat like the Judaic concepts of kedusha—holiness versus tumah–impurity? That is really a kabbalistic concept! Indeed, movies today are replete with messianic themes such as “good versus evil,” in which evil tries to destroy the whole world until, all of a sudden, the hero emerges and saves it. That’s messianic. That’s redemptive.

Before someone questions this relationship between Hollywood and messianic times, consider how many people now refer to all these kabbalistic concepts thanks to Hollywood. Why Hollywood? Hollywood movies have global reach. You don’t realize everything that G-d is doing. Just think of it this way; G-d is using secular entertainment to promote kabbalistic, messianic ideas.

This what it means when, in the Book of Job, it’s written: “Who is he that can take out tahara–purity from tumah–impurity?” The tumah is all the stuff many Hollywood movies are depicting. The tahara aspect is people’s ingestion of kabbalistic ideas about redemption: a messiah, evil versus good, and the End of Time. People can begin to anticipate a time when there will be an End, that there will be ohr. It sounds like a fantasy-action-thriller movie. It is as if, quite suddenly, G-d informs the Satan, “It’s time for the ohr rishon to come down.”

Satan’s Reaction
The Satan reacts, “S’cuse me, but the Jews are not worthy of this Redemption. They sin too much and need to continue to suffer the rightful consequences. G-d agrees, but there is the issue of G-d’s timetable, that Cosmic Clock. Jews are busy suffering, toiling, sacrificing, but the Redemption has to happen now. The impediment is that G-d’s system of justice can’t justifiably deny the Satan, G-d’s chief prosecuting “attorney,” his due.

So what does G-d do? He permits the tumah to take hold of the Zohar, Kabbalah, first. How? Hollywood stars, i.e. Madonna get into this stuff, into the tumah of the Zohar and the Kabbalah. This distorts and misrepresents it. The Satan is satisfied and so is justice.

Satan responds, ”Okay, as long as it goes to my guys first, I’m good because what I’m hoping is that the religious Jews will be so disgusted by distorted versions of Kabbalah, they’ll reject it. They’ll not even bother studying it.” So the Satan is placated. Remember, G-d created the Satan to do what? —defend justice.

This is in keeping with the concept of tumah. When tumah takes over kedusha, it rips it to shreds. But at least many now know about Kabbalah. All of a sudden everybody knows the Zohar because they heard about it on TV or saw books about it on “alternative” bookstore shelves. Perhaps they’ve read an article about Zohar online. Ultimately, when the tumah is removed, they will have had a bedrock exposure to hashkafah, kabbalistic concepts. That’s what will remain. That’s really the secret of that question which asks: who takes out taharah from the tumah? In other words, who extracts the purity from the defilement? That’s the concept of the “red heifer,” the totally red cow mentioned in the Torah, the ashes of which purify the erring individual but which, in turn, cause the one who sprinkles the ashes to become impure.

About the Author
Robin is a retired Language Arts high school teacher who taught in the Los Angeles Unified District for 25 years. After retiring in 2010, she hurriedly made aliyah in 2011.
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