Robin Diamond
Robin Diamond

Sefira and redemption, part 2: Rabbi Mendel Kessin

This lecture is part 2 of “Sefira and the Redemption, Part 1”

Brief Recap: Part 1 began a lecture about the stages of Redemption. G-d says: even if you are outcasts, even in the farthest regions, at the “ends of heaven,” I will “gather” you (y’kabetzcah/kibbutz) and “take” (yekachecha/kicha) you.  Those are two very important terms indicating two stages of the messianic Redemption process: “gathering and “taking.”

Background: Dimensions of Reality:

  • G-d
  • His Creations: souls, termed “zuloso” — other
  • ruchniut — spirituality: angels acting as intermediaries to carry out particular tasks so that G-d avoids detection, an entire realm of agents, emissaries to do His Wil, of a completely different nature than we.
  • geshem — materiality: the physical world of things, the whole universe, all species, etc.
  • Satanic, sitra achra — other side

It Is important to note that G-d combined the zuloso, the transcendent reality of the soul by attaching it to the physical. That’s what a man is, a Divine soul in a physical body. The purpose of this construct is to disguise the essential spiritual nature of man that he might discover it for himself. That is the test. The physical serves to “cloak or conceal the real reality of the spiritual” that man may discover it, may see through the illusion of a physical reality. “This is the way it was supposed to be.” This was Adam’s task.

But instead of uncovering the truth,  Adam and Chava ate from the tree of knowing good and evil. This introduced a 5th reality, that of the Satan, also known as the sitra ochra–the other side.  At the beginning of Creation, the reality of the Satan was a potential, rather than an actual, reality. It took this sin of Adam to change the nature of man’s task due to the Satan having become actualized.

The task of man (Adam Kadmon — primordial Adam) was to draw down the tremendous flow of Divine energy that would have upgraded that higher-dimensional physical reality we know as the Garden of Eden. It would have re-transformed it into an even higher reality the one that G-d Initially created, that of olam ha’ba — Future World. This was Creation’s “initial mode.” But Adam’s sin “lowered the energy of that system” which, kabbalistically, is termed “primordial man” and it became essentially physical.

The Five “Worlds”

  • Adam Kadmon — Primordial Man: Adam as manifestation of the Divine forces, an emanation from G-d yet still united with G-d.
  • Atziluth — World of Emanation: highest of the realities, nearest G-d,  also referred to as the “World of Emanation” because Divinity radiated, in form of the sefiros, yet still united with its Source.
  • Beriah — World of Creation: creations without shape or form but sense their existence.
  • Yetzirah — World of Formation: realm of angels, also referred to as “Lower Garden of Eden” having shape and form.
  • Asiyah — World of Action: completed, differentiated, particular

Whereas primordial Adam was of a far higher spiritual nature, his failure to observe the singular mitzvah he was given made all of Creation tremendously physical. As a result, “man is now governed not just by an inferior physical reality, but also by a satanic one. That is the world of the sitra achra—other side.”

Tikkun: Rectification, the Task of Man, The Messianic Era

Whereas man’s task, Adam’s task, was to elevate the Creation even higher, now he must deal with the reality that he created, must eradicate the satanic reality. Only then can the original objective be accomplished, to transform the physical into the spiritual.

The world of the mashiach, the Messianic age is, ultimately, one in which there is no more sitra achra, no evil impulses. The zoama — evil force introduced by Adam’s lapse, that which is responsible for all decay and negativity, is annihilated, removed. That is the era of the Davidic messiah.

This reality is one of pure geshem — physicality. There is “not even a trace” of the Creator. The messianic era restores the Edenic reality of heightened spirituality. Its end in the Gregorian year 2240, corresponding to the Hebrew year 6000 introduces the infusion of Divine energies that begin to change the predominantly physical universe into one of a predominantly spiritual nature. What was top-down from azilut to asiyah, reverses.

Domination of the Satan

Adam’s task was to fulfill one mitzvah, to enact a rectification that would have taken an already-spiritual Garden to the level it was meant to inhabit, creating the ultimate reality in which G-d is truly known. His failure introduced a new force, that of the zoamo, that energy that the Satan uses to pollute reality and enact evil. To get rid of it, “you have to contend with the Satan.” The challenge lies in the fact that what energizes the Satan is the same that energizes mankind, specifically the Jewish people. When a Jew does a mitzvah, he “brings down” Divine energy which enhances Creation for the good, for the “side of the Jews” where goodness triumphs for all. When the Jew doesn’t perform the task of rectification through serving G-d and observing the commandments, the holiness that was meant for him goes, instead, to the Satan, to the Other Side, nourishing, energizing it. He, and not the Jewish nation, become greater — in what sense?

He now has what’s called shlita — dominion over the Jew, over mankind, resulting in terrible consequences. The job of the Jew is to take back whatever energy he’s garnered as a result the sins of the Jews, to return it to the side of holiness, to empty, so to speak, Satan’s store. Once done, the zoamah disintegrates and the Satan is annihilated. That is the turning point at which Creation is retransformed into that which it was meant to be, a higher dimensional reality where G-d is no longer concealed. Holiness is in its “right place.”  Creation, ironically, retrogresses back to that Future World which G-d meant it to be had Adam successfully fulfilled the first task of man. The Garden is the coordinate where the task was to have been carried out to elevate, via man’s service, what was already Edenic to something sublime beyond imagining.

We are involved in that task. There are really seven stages involved in Satan’s annihilation, a process known as “collecting, or retrieving, the holy sparks.”

Stage 1: Consolidation: Consolidate spirituality, strengthening of resolve for “the future test.”

Stage 2: The Test/Resistance: Entrance into an environment fraught with temptation to sin and yet remain unassimilated

Stage 3: Suffering/Atonement: If/when assimilation occurs, this stage has two phases: domination (also known as “exile”) by the prevailing culture, and yessurim — suffering. The anguish caused by domination, or even persecution, has the effect of taking back the Satan’s power, the result of which is geula — Redemption. You will have “emptied the coffers of the Satan,” annihilating him.

Stage 4: Kibbutz — gather: With previous stages having been successfully enacted, the Jews are to be separated and extracted from the nations wherein they reside and gathered together. “The chief method of doing this is Jews being elevated in terms of the Torah.”

Stage 5: Yikachecha—take you, Teshuvarepentance /elevation “making their way back to holiness, back to G-d — “tremendous infusion of holiness.”

Stage 6: Shekhina — Divine Presence: experience the Divine Presence

Stage 7: Geula — Redemption

This avoda — service are phases in the destruction of the Satan, to remove the zoama, to restore the original task to transform this physical world back into that higher-dimensional, spiritual Garden.  Human history has been, essentially, a battle between the Jew and the Satan.

We are acquainted with this via the secret meaning of a conversation between G-d and Avraham. In the “Covenant Between the Pieces,” Avraham’s descendants would “take over the tikkun” to destroy the Satan and then change the world from physical to spiritual. The verse says, “su m’ra — turn away from evil, and “ase tov—do good.” Avraham is told that his descendants will be gerim — strangers in a land they don’t know. That is precisely the second stage, being “thrust into a culture” full of temptation — in this case, Egypt. He is told also that they would be avadim—slaves, dominated by a culture they couldn’t resist. If their degeneration into sin continues, they will be persecuted or killed.

With this covenant between G-d and Avraham, the journey of the Jewish people is imparted:

  • Consolidation: The G-d-Abrahamic covenant from which the generations through the twelve tribes girded themselves for the Egyptian experience.
  • Test/Resistance: to remain righteous in the Egypt’s debauched environment,

failure initiating domination and persecution (suffering really began when Miriam was born, hence her name which comes from the word, mar — bitter)

  • Suffering: atonement achieved, separation and gathering by Moses for exodus
    • Elevation and Revelation: pre-Torah makot — plagues were revelation of the ten Divine forces, the sefirot—ten sefirot, ten plagues.

This prepared them for the exodus, having been raised from the 49th level of tumah — defilement (below which Redemption is impossible) to purification in 49 days. This is the “ascent to G-d.”

  • Shechina “unite with G-d, in that embrace” at Sinai

Since Sinai

Today, unification between G-d and the Jewish people is to be during the messianic era, presided over by Mashiach ben David.  Mashiach ben Yosef is involved in stages 4 and 5. The unification stage proceeds to the final stage — the purification of the world and retransformation to spiritual existence.

This is what the counting of the sefirot is really about–the unification.

Redemption was to have occurred at Sinai but “something went awry:” the chait ha’egel — sin of the Golden Calf and the sin of the meraglim — spies. Though the power of the Satan was “stopped” at Sinai,  his demise soon to follow, these two sins restored the kedusha, re-energizing him. Moses was to have been the mashiach had this first attempt to destroy the Satan succeeded.

“So, G-d has to start all over again.”

Consolidation began again in the days of Joshua: the shoftim — judges of Israel, Shmuel the prophet, King David and his son, King Solomon, strengthening themselves in the Land of Israel. Unfortunately, the reign of King Rehaboam caused strife and division leading to a rebellion led by Yeraboam ben Nevat, splitting the kingdom. RaMChal says that Yeraboam ben Nevat was so great as to have almost become the Mashiach ben Yosef.  He was capable of receiving the yechida, that singular aspect of the messianic neshama — soul.  But it seems that arrogance overtook him and “he wanted to be the main guy.” He split the kingdom, left it, constructed idols. This would seem to indicate that Mashiach ben Yosef himself had become “contaminated.”

In their own country, Jews were to have resisted idolatry and contaminating influences as per stage 2. They did not prevail in this second-stage attempt to resist  so the northern kingdom was destroyed and exile resulted. Babylon became the domineering host and still the Jews sinned. Stage 3 — persecution and threat of annihilation — followed under Persia and the king’s viceroy, Haman. We know that the Jews did not resist the urge to assimilate in Persia because, as the story goes, the Jews were only too happy to join the king’s feast.

They repented, however. As it is written, they accepted, with love, as they had before, the Oral Law. They were then released from their suffering under Persian rule.  Who would start a stage 4 — the gathering? — Ezra and Nechemia. King Cyrus, thought to be the son of Persia’s King Achashvarosh and Esther, gave the Jews permission to return to Eretz Yisrael led by Ezra.

Who was Ezra? It is said that, had the Torah not been given by Moses, Ezra could have been its deliverer.  Ezra was Mashiach ben Yosef. He brought the Jews back, teaching Torah, elevating them, building the Second Temple — which is the beginning of stage 5! Again, a problem. A small percentage of the Jews, only 70,000, chose to accompany Ezra back. Another plan to take back all the sparks was “foiled.” The majority stayed behind and continued to sin.

And yet again comes a regression to stage 2 to lay waste the Satan. Again, the many who stayed behind in Babylon, Persia and, later Greece, had to resist the temptations of the exile. Hellenism, and the adaptation it, to Greek culture, was hard to resist. Eventually, Matisyahu led a revolt and restored righteousness but many Jews were lost to Hellenism.  So, the Satan still “holds on to his kedusha.”

Onward to stage 3 again: wars, strife by Herod until the progression to “stage 3B” which is Rome. G-d can be thought to have been, in anthropomorphic terms, “fed up,” and so began the protracted, 2000-year-long exile under Rome/Edom to destroy the Satan.

The Present

We are nearing the end of stage 3. The suffering is ending, and the gathering (stage 4) must begin. The concept of “kibbutz” is very important because he has to separate the nation from the klippa — barrier which is Western Civilization. That has to come through a reawakening of consciousness that brings the Jews to G-d. There is a midrash that promises that the miracles we saw in Egypt and at the Reed Sea will pale in comparison to the miracles that lie ahead during stage 4. Just like Moses gathered us, and we experienced the revelations of the “plagues” and the parting of the sea, so will Mashiach ben Yosef gather us for to experience miracles, but even greater ones. With this comes our return to G-d, the kichah, and the descent of the Heavenly Third Temple into a cleansed physicality, accompanied by the Divine Presence.

Because the mashiach is coming and we have descended into a very low spiritually-degraded state, din-justice must be satisfied. That prerequisite is expressed as the Darkness we are currently witnessing. “Civilization is breaking down.”

The following Q&A is a closely-paraphrased redraft of the actual discussion:

Participant: How long does it take for the process from physical to spiritual?

Rabbi: When mashiach ends his reign in 2240/6000, the purification begins and the total transformation takes 3000 years: 1000 years to the world of yetzira, 1000 to beriah, 1000 to atzilut. The Future World begins in the year 9001. Now, our concern is mainly with the kibbutz because that ends it all.  The key concept is the destruction of evil. We won’t even remember what it was: sickness, death, poverty, mental illness — all these will be gone. The Future World is even beyond spirituality. Even the angels cannot conceive what it is, a reality that no one has ever experienced.

Participant: You think the kibbutz will happen soon?

Rabbi: Yes, I think so.  As the Gemara says, before mashiach comes, civilization will break down, describing the features of such a civilization. We are in this mode, this Darkness that precedes the mashiach. It isn’t even part of civilization.

Participant: What is “close”?

Rabbi: Possibly within a year. How long can these conditions continue? What can G-d do, wait 10 years, 20 years?  There won’t be any Jews left. The Jews are disappearing en masse. Seventy percent intermarry in America. In Israeli public schools, the current curriculum teaches “pluralism,” that Judaism has many streams and that’s ok. The Hartman Institute’s curriculum is wholly devoted to pluralism, liberality — Judaism as a culture rather than a covenant.

Participant: What can we do to prepare for Shavuot, to do, focus on….?

Rabbi:  Focus on the reception of the Torah in terms of “na’ase v’nishma” — we will do and we will understand. That is what is called “commitment.” That is the key, to accept G-d’s Kingdom on earth, which is the Torah.

Participant: With this idea that Ishmael is doing teshuva, how can we explain what they are doing in Israel, burning Har ha’Bayit–Temple Mount etc.?

Rabbi: From a political perspective, the Biden administration is destroying the Abrahamic Accords and the Arabs now see that America is siding with them so they think they can get away with it. This is part of the Darkness. From a hashkofa — eschatological perspective, the Satan knows that once the kibbutz starts, he’s finished so his best hope is to agitate Edom/America, Europe, against the Jews. Also, justice demands suffering because the Jews continue to spurn G-d. They don’t learn, don’t do mitzvot — commandments. They copy the Gentiles. This neglect and/or ignorance is why suffering is what it takes to get rid of the Satan,  this War of Gog U’Magog, the overthrow of civilization. G-d must do something to bring the Jews to do teshuva — repent.

Israel made terrible mistakes: Netanyahu is a fool; he could have annexed everything during the Trump presidency. Instead, he folded to those who proposed compromises. He wasted the opportunity presented by Trump’s love of the Jewish people. We look at these politicians as though they are larger than life but most are morons. They don’t think in terms of what is good for the Jewish people. They care only for their honor, prestige. Biden is both senile and evil and, just like most politicians, cares only for a legacy of grandiose liberality. This administration also enables Iran. Israel is in a dangerous situation. But this Darkness must precede mashiach.

Someday (soon), G-d will say, “Enough is enough” and the Great Judgement will begin. These evil people have no idea what will happen to them when they stand before G-d’s Judgement. Every iota of evil they’ve done will come back to them because they don’t fear retribution, don’t fear G-d. We will see utter and terrible destruction of nations and evil-doers.

Imagine you are a wild game hunter for profit.  You go to India where there are tigers for the taking. You see a bunch of cubs, proceed to take them–kidnap them. Having placed them in a pouch for transport, you retrace your steps to your vehicle but note a pair of eyes following you. She begins to growl. You realize that you are about to become her dinner. So it will be with the Gentile nations. The Jews are the cubs of G-d, and G-d doesn’t need witnesses.

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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