The repair of the vessels from evil, albeit incomplete
When the Emanator, blessed be He, wanted to rectify these garments, He selected and cleansed their various levels, one by one, so that instead of being directed towards evil they would turn around to get away from it. Each level in turn then left the task of producing evil to the level below it. The upper level thus had a share in this, except that it was in the process of getting away and being cleansed of it, and it was then fit to receive light. The same happened on each successive level in relation to the level below it, until all the levels of Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah were cleansed, as they are now, and they then left the task of producing evil to the lowest of all levels, that of Malchut of Asiyah. They were then all ready to receive the light except for this last level, because the light can only spread in a vessel that is cleansed of evil.
All this is called only the repair of the garments of Nekudim. To the extent that the vessels were repaired, so the light would successively enter into them. The more remote the level of a given vessel from anything that has to do with evil, the greater the light it was fit to receive. However, the first Atzilut was not revealed again, for the repair of all these garments cannot be called complete as long as this lowest level is still directed to the production of evil and devoid of the light because of it.
When a person wants to attain a good understanding of a given subject, he should start by gaining a sufficient overall picture of the entire subject from beginning to end and then go into the details. The reason for this is simple: the end goal of the completed project is present in the mind from the very outset, and all the early stages in the execution of the project are carried out in accordance with the initial intention, which is directed to what is to come later. If so, it is impossible to understand those initial stages and their purpose except through knowing what comes after them, since their purpose is to lead to what follows after them. This applies to every stage until the execution of the project is complete, for everything is done for the sake of the end goal.
We thus see that the various actions performed are governed by what is intended through them. Yet what is intended through them is what comes after them: the final goal is the finished work that will come at the end of everything. If so, someone who wants to understand the purpose of the earlier actions must first understand the general direction until the end. Then afterwards he can go back to investigate the details. This way he will not have to remain in suspense until the end while seeking to understand the details of the early stages. When he already has a grasp of the overall direction, he will be able to understand each successive detail in its place.
Accordingly, having begun discussing the "garments" and how they were given independent control so as to bring out the evil from them in order that they would afterwards be fit for the light to join with them, we must first explain the overall direction until the end, when things will come to a state of repair. By explaining this first, all the details we will be discussing later in connection with the initial stages will be understandable in the light of the end goal.
The proposition consists of two parts: Part 1: When the Emanator, blessed be His Name, wanted... This explains the repair whereby the vessels could again receive their light. Part 2: And all this is called... This explains that all this is only the process of the rectification of the garments, but not the complete repair.
Part 1: When the Emanator, blessed be He, wanted to rectify these garments... For the primordial kings remained broken for just as long as it took to let the powers of evil be revealed from them. To explain this more fully: Israel went down into exile and must remain there for as long as it takes for all the levels that exist in the evil which rules over them to unfold (until the people of Israel are rectified through suffering or until they overcome all the tests to their faith, such as idolatry, philosophy, secularism, etc.). In a similar way, these kings remained in their state of destruction for just as long a time -- i.e. on just as many levels -- as were required to produce the different divisions of evil. Then afterwards, the Supreme Will will be revealed and will repair everything through the mystery of unity, as explained above. For we see that evil is getting stronger every day, but the Supreme Will will put a stop to it in the end.
Now the root of all this lies in the primordial kings, and this is why they went down and broke, remaining broken in proportion to the increasing power of evil on its various levels. However, when the Supreme Will so desired, He put an end to this and repaired them again. In the same way, the people of Israel remain in exile for a given length of time, which is followed by their redemption. This is because the evil only exists until the powers of the Sefirot -- the powers of the Likeness of Adam -- complete their mission. For the intention was as explained earlier: the Holy One, blessed be He, wanted to show that while the Other Side has the power to raise a challenge against the entire power of the Sefirot, it cannot stand for even a moment against the power of unity, which is in control, and this is the revelation of His unity, as explained above (see Opening 30, end).
And this is what was accomplished through these kings. For He allowed evil to hold sway against all the powers that depend on the Likeness of Man -- the number of levels of evil corresponds exactly to the number of these powers -- and accordingly He did not then reveal His unity. Things continued going the same way, and indeed the evil became ever stronger. But when these powers of the Sefirot were completed, He then revealed His will, wanting to rectify everything through the power of His rule.
From that point on (after the emergence of the primordial kings) the powers of evil were instituted, having already been revealed. Against every power in the Sefirot, there emerged corresponding powers of evil. Then afterwards the will (of unity) becomes revealed. So it is now, inasmuch as the Other Side holds sway on all its levels, which correspond directly to the levels of the Sefirot. However, the will is already fixed to be revealed at the end of these levels, and this is the day of redemption.
...He selected and cleansed their various levels, one by one, so that instead of being directed towards evil... For initially included in the law of these levels was the production of evil, i.e. the measures of the creations when in a state of disrepair, for this is the state in which the creations later came forth down below too, as it is written: "And the earth was desolate and void" (Genesis 1:2). First it was created and afterwards destroyed. In other words, it was created full of evil, until the evil in it came forth and actually destroyed it by not allowing anything to exist. Afterwards -- "And God said, Let there be light" (ibid. 3). This was when the creations started being sifted and cleansed one by one.
Nevertheless, evil did not disappear from the world. However, each individual creation was not itself full of evil but rather, it was cleansed of the evil and was trying to get away and escape it, leaving evil subdued and humiliated. Yet since that creation was not completely repaired, the same evil could still come back and attack and destroy it. However, this was not inevitable in the way it had been at first. For at first the evil was ready and waiting to attack, whereas now it remains sunk down quietly in its place, except that it could still be aroused. More than that, the hardest part of the evil, which caused the initial attack, is no more. For initially, not only did all the creations contain great evil but also, the various parts were not arranged in a way that would allow order to come about in actuality, and this itself was a great evil.
Afterwards, however, things were made in a graded order, for things were arranged in a different way and a new, improved and better repaired mode of existence was given to the creations themselves. For while the first mode of existence (BaN) alone was the cause of this entire destruction, the second mode of existence (MaH) did not cause this. More than this, since the first mode of existence was also with it, this first mode itself became organized in an order which it did not have at first, so that instead of the evil parts waiting to come out, they remain sunk inactive in their place. Thus the hard part -- the lack of order -- was gone, because order was introduced (through the ordering of the Sefirot in balanced columns and the construction of the Partzufim). Evil no longer stood ready to attack with such great power. On the contrary, the deepest intention was directed to making the remaining parts turn to good in the end.
Now all of this manifests itself down below, but the root of it all lies above. For the measure of all that exists is the governmental order. Initially the Sefirot were laws of government which included in them the production of evil as an actual reality so that afterwards, through its repair, God's unity would be revealed. Accordingly the intention in each individual level at the time of the fall, when control was given over to the garments, was to produce evil. They therefore still lacked the complete perfection that nullifies evil, because the intention was precisely that they should produce evil. And after having produced it, the evil itself was causing their own destruction in the sense that the good powers within them existed only in the mode of negation, powerless to function, while it was the powers of destruction that held sway.
Afterwards the Supreme Mind calculated the measure of the creations as they are when they emerge from the state of ruin, this measure being the forces of creation (הויות, havayot) that emerge out of the destruction, and He gave them existence, each one by itself. The intention now was no longer to produce evil but quite the opposite, to depart from evil through the mystery of the Supreme Unity, whereby even though evil exists (since it serves to reveal the unity), the repair will come, this being the revelation of the unity that was concealed at first. However, not all the perfection was revealed at one time since this would have left no more evil in the world. Rather, the perfection was revealed little by litle. Thus the creations which evil had been destroying began to endure, and the evil no longer destroyed them as at first. However, their existence was not entirely fixed, because evil can still attack and damage them.
Understand the great difference between their initial state and this one. Initially, they were levels intended to produce evil, and it could be said that this purpose permeated every single part of them, because each part had to produce its corresponding evil. Now, however, as each level was repaired -- in the sense of emerging from this task of producing evil -- it stood to be rectified of the damage caused to it by the evil, except that evil did not disappear from the world, as stated above. If so, it means that evil remained able to damage that level since it was not yet fully and completely established so as to be able to rule and endure for ever. Nevertheless, we say that the evil was outside them in the sense of being outside of and separate from their mission. For now, the various levels that were sifted out and cleansed of the evil had a purpose opposite to that of evil, since now their mission was that of repair and not of destruction as it had been at first, when their function was rather to cause the destruction we spoke about above. However, since evil exists in the world -- which means they are not immune to destruction, which may come upon them from elsewhere, though not that they themselves cause it -- we may therefore say that evil is outside them.
Thus the process of selection and cleansing that took place was such that as each individual level would emerge from the destruction that had engulfed it, it became fixed as a law in the governmental order whose purpose was no longer to produce evil at all but on the contrary, to contribute to the repair now that evil and destruction already existed. And thus:
...they would turn around to get away from it. For even though it had been in their nature to produce it, they were now intent on being repaired through the path of unity and leaving the previous mission behind. And this is the revelation of the perfection that I mentioned above, which constitutes the entire repair of the Sefirot. For since it is revealed gradually, the repair of the Sefirot likewise proceeds gradually. This means that they now returned to the path of unity in order to be repaired, but evil was not nullified. And the truth is that the reason why evil was not entirely nullified is because not all the Sefirot were repaired completely in this way, for Malchut remained, as will be discussed below. Certainly, if all the Sefirot had been completely rectified, evil would have had no existence whatever.
You thus learn that the entire repair of the Sefirot is none other than the revelation of the perfection, when the levels change over to the path of unity, thereby departing from the mission of producing evil. Evil then exists only outside them, for it remains functional only on the level not yet repaired in this way, as the proposition goes on to state:
Each level in turn then left the task of producing evil to the level below it. Initially all the levels were intent on producing evil, and all of them were destroyed. We will now think of the entirety of all that was destroyed as one whole, with the levels coming forth out of this totality one by one. Now as each level emerged from the totality to be established as a law in the governmental order, its good purpose was fixed. However, the evil purpose that had left it was not now negated. This is because the revelation of the perfection had come only to fix one governmental law and allow it come forth from the evil, but not in order that evil should be nullified.
However, there is nothing that does not have a root, and if we are saying that evil was not nullified, where did it get the power to endure? The answer is that each level was initially engaged in the production of evil, and when the process of selection and cleansing took place, whatever departed from that purpose was picked out as a law in the governmental order. Even so, some root for evil remained because of that very level itself, for as yet the perfection was not completely revealed, except that this root was no longer considered to be at all related to the rectified level. For the latter is a single law established in the mode of repair, to which that part bears no relation, and therefore that root remains outside together with the rest of the overall totality which did not enter into the construction of the repaired level (i.e. the other levels, which had not as yet been cleansed. And since that root of evil remained, the evil -- albeit limited -- could, through sin, abecome mixed in with that level.)
Afterwards, another level emerged beneath it and was repaired in the same way, leaving in place its root for the existence of evil and likewise the root left by the previous level, together with the totality of all that remained. However, when the second level came to be cleansed and sifted out of the overall totality, this totality included not only what had not yet been cleansed, in which all the evil was waiting to be rejected, but also what had been rejected from the first level. For the overall totality was like one grainpile from which a little more is taken each time while the rest is thrown aside until at the very end everything is sorted out.
Thus when Keter, for example, was selected and cleansed, it left a certain aspect of itself behind, for it no longer sustained the evil that had come from it with the exception of some aspect that still remained inasmuch as the perfection was still not revealed completely. However, this is not considered an aspect of Keter but rather an aspect of Chochmah, which had not yet been cleansed, and which still contained something that produced evil. And this is where the root of evil that had been in Keter went. Thus even the evil rejected from Keter was now being sustained through Chochmah, which came after it. Chochmah was then similarly cleansed, and the evil was rejected from it, yet the evil was still sustained, except that sustaining it was now left to Binah, which came after Chochmah. This included sustaining the evil that came from Keter as well as the evil that came from Chochmah.
And so it went on from level to level, until in the end, all the evil was left to the last level of Malchut of Asiyah, which sustained all of the evil left by the higher Sefirot too. Malchut is itself a Sefirah which was also salvaged from the destruction, for if this were not so, Malchut would not exist. However, it was cleansed only a little, for on the contrary, it exists to maintain the Other Side for as long as necessary while still leaving it under the rule of holiness in accordance with the mystery contained in the verse, "And His kingship (Malchut) rules over all" (Psalms 103:19). However, since its task was still the maintenance of the Other Side, we say that it was not cleansed and purified like the others, as will be discussed further later on.
It could be objected that we have said two things that contradict each other. On the one hand we have made the comparison with a grainpile, from which a small portion is taken each time while the rest is thrown back. On the other hand, we have said that the maintenance of the evil of Keter is left to Chochmah and that of Chochmah to Binah, etc. But this is inconsistent with the metaphor of the grainpile, for the pile is an overall whole and cannot be considered as a series of levels. This, indeed, makes more sense -- for what connection does Chochmah have to the maintenance of the evil of Keter more than the others?
The answer is that it is true that the maintenance of evil does indeed involve gradation -- in the sense that evil itself initially had a great root, having also been rooted in Keter, but afterwards it descended one level, and was rooted only from Chochmah and below. Then afterwards it descended even further and was rooted only from Binah and below. This shows how the world is on the way to repair, since evil has some affinity only with the lower levels but not with the higher ones. Thus although in one aspect it appears as if the waste was "thrown back into the pile", the truth is that the maintenance of evil passed immediately to Chochmah and all the more so to the levels below it. (I.e. the task of maintaining evil fell to all that remained unpurified -- in terms of the metaphor, it fell into the grainpile as a whole -- except that it still relates to Chochmah and even more so to the levels below it.) However, when Chochmah was purified, it reached only Binah, and so it was in all cases until it remained on that bottom level which I mentioned.
The upper level thus had a share in this... for the Other Side certainly must contain levels corresponding to all the holy Sefirot. This parallelism came about through the fact that the evil corresponding to the good on each level was rejected to the outside, thereby bringing one level of the Other Side into being. If so, it must be that all the Sefirot have a share in it (in order that the Other Side will have the ability to rise up against all the Sefirot).
...except that it was in the process of getting away and being cleansed of it... For this is the repair -- to escape the evil that was emerging from it. ...and it was then fit to receive light. For as explained above, first the vessels must be purified from their involvement in the production of evil, and then they can receive the light. Accordingly, as each level was sifted out and cleansed, so the light entered into it.
The same happened on each successive level in relation to the level below it, until all the levels of Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah were cleansed, as they are now... i.e. after Beriyah-Yetzirah-Asiyah turned into Atzilut-Beriyah-Yetzirah-Asiyah, as will be discussed below.
...and they then left the task of producing evil to the lowest of all levels, that of Malchut of Asiyah. They were then all ready to receive the light except for this last level... For the inner light is found in all the others, but not in this one. This was the intention of the ARI in writing that Malchut is called "robbed" or "despoiled" and must be rescued from the hands of the oppressor. (This means that the rejected waste of all the other levels remains in the Sefirah of Malchut, which has to maintain the Other Side, and in this sense the latter "oppresses" Malchut.) ...because the light can only spread in a vessel that is cleansed of evil. This is the underlying reason for this entire process of cleansing, as explained above.
Part 2: All this is called only the repair of the garments of Nekudim. Even though we now have Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah (and it might appear that the garments are subsidiary to Atzilut), the truth is that all this is only Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah of Nekudim, and thus we speak in terms of the garments ruling until they were repaired. Their rule has still not come to an end, for their work will only be complete when all the processes of sifting and cleansing are complete.
To the extent that the vessels were repaired, so the light would successively enter into them. For the entire process of making Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah was a matter of cleansing the vessels. Whatever is cleaned more fully becomes more elevated and receives a greater light. However, the complete great light has still not come as yet, this being the Atzliut that was concealed. For the garments themselves have not yet completed their repair, as it goes on to say afterwards.
The more remote the level of a given vessel from anything that has to do with evil, the greater the light it was fit to receive. The gradation found in the respective distance from evil of the various different levels derives from their gradation in terms of the maintenance of evil. (The ability of any given Sefirah to receive the light depends on its distance from the level of the lowest Sefirah, which is the one that maintains the evil.) For it is the lowest level of all that maintains evil. The level immediately above it, although not responsible for maintaining that evil, is nevertheless not too far from it, while the next level above is still further away. The greatness of the lights in the vessels corresponds to the degree to which they have been cleansed.
However, the first Atzilut was not revealed again... It should be clear from everything I have written above that as long as the garments ruled in order to complete their construction, Atzilut had no affinity with this. ...for the repair of all these garments cannot be called complete as long as this lowest level is still directed to the production of evil... Overall, the garments are still not rectified as long as one part continues to maintain the evil. Moreover, this causa deficiency in all the other levels, because even the fact that the vessels remain distant from evil indicates that they still have some connection with it. (The vessels have a residual connection with evil in the sense that they may be nearer to or further away from it.) For this reason no part at all of (the first) Atzilut is now revealed, because the garment is not complete.
...and devoid of the light because of it. This is the proof that this repair is not yet complete, for things are still the opposite of the ultimate intention. For we see that there is one level that is void of light, and it is surely necessary for all the levels to contain the light, for this is their perfection. This is the proof that so far things are still not complete.
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138 OPENINGS OF WISDOM INDEX PAGE
by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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