We Daven to Transform Evil

We Daven to Transform Evil

Likkutei Torah: Parshas Chukas

VaYa’as Moshe: Part 2

We Daven to Transform Evil. What Is Evil?

,וְהִנֵה מְבוּאָר בְּזֹהַר

The Zohar  tells us,

מַאן דְלֹא מְהַפֵּךְ מְרִירוּ לְמִתְקָא, לֵית לֵיהּ חוּלְקָא בְּהַאי עַלְמַא כְּלוּם (עַיֵין בְּזֹהַר בְּרֵאשִׁית דַף ד’ עָמוּד א׳ וּבְּפִּירוּשׁ הַרַמַ”ז שָׁם

“One who hasn’t transformed bitterness into sweetness has no portion in this world [the world to come].”

כְּי זֶה כָּל הָאָדָם לֹא נִבְרא אֶלָא בִּשְׁבִיל זֶה, שֶׁהַרֵי בְּבַּית רִאשׁוֹן לֹא הָיוּ מִתְפַּלְלִין כְּלַל גַּם בְּבַּית שֵׁנִי תִּקְנוּ אֲנְשֵׁי כְּנֶסֶת הַגְדוֹלָה תְּפִלָּה קְצָרָה. וְבְּוַדַאי כָּל הָעַבוֹדָה שֶׁלָהֶם לֹא הָיָה כִּי אִם עֲל דֶרֶךְ זֶה לַהֲפּוֹךְ מְרִירוּ לְמִתְקָא

The purpose of being in this world is to transform bitterness into sweetness which is accomplished through prayer. During the first Beis HaMikdosh, there was no (organized) prayer. Even during the second Beis HaMikdosh, the Men of the Great Assembly established a minimal amount of prayer. That being the case, we see that the Jews of that generation were able to accomplish the task of transforming bitterness into sweetness without prayer.

Existence is defined by its purpose, so if one is not even trying to fulfill his purpose, then why should he exist? The purpose of man kind is to transform this world into an oasis of G-dliness. It all starts with transforming one’s own human consciousness into an oasis for G-d through developing an intimate relationship with Him, via prayer.

וְהָעִנְיָן הוּא כִּי הַדִינִין נִמְתָּקִים בְּשָׁרְשָׁן. דְהִנֵה כָּל רָעוֹת וְדִינִים רַחֲמָנָא לִצְלַן שֶׁנִתְהַווּ בָּעוֹלָם בְּשָׁרְשָׁם וּמְקוֹרָם הַמְחַיֶה אוֹתָם הוּא טוֹב

Severe judgments are sweetened at their source. All evil and harsh judgements, may the Merciful One save us, which exist in this world are brought about by goodness. The source of evil is in goodness, because everything comes from G-d and G-d is the ultimate good.

Just because something is uncomfortable, doesn’t mean it’s bad, especially when it’s  coming from a good place. 

כְּמָשָׁל הַזוֹנָה עִם בֶּן הַמֶלֶךְ הַמְבוּאָר בְּזֹהַר (תְּרוּמָה דַף קסג׳ עָמוּד ג׳) שֶׁכָּל רְצוֹנָהּ וְחֶפְצָהּ שֶׁלֹא לְצַיֵית אוֹתהּ, וּבָּזֶה תִּתְעַנֵג יוֹתר שֶׁתְּהֵא אֲהוּבָה לְמֶלֶךְ, מַה שֶׁאֵין כֵּן כְּשֶׁמְפַתֶּה אוֹתוֹ וְתּוּכָל לוֹ, אֵין זֶה רְצוֹן הַמֶלֶךְ

This can be compared to the metaphor used in the Zohar about the harlot and the crown prince. The king hires the harlot to test the moral integrity of his son, the future king. The harlot’s only desire is to fail in her mission, and become more appreciated and loved by the king. The king wouldn’t appreciate her success in seducing the crown prince.

וְזֶהוּ מַאֲמָר רַבֹּתֵנו זִכְרֹנָם לִבְרָכָה שָׂטָן וּפְּנִינָה לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם נִתְכַּוְונוּ, וּבְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר (סוּכָּה נ״ב עָמוּד א׳) אָמְרוּ, ״נָתַן עֵינָיו בְּמִקְדָשׁ רִאשׁוֹן וְהִחְרִיבוֹ, מַשְׁמַע שֶׁנִקְנָא בּוֹ.

This is the meaning of what our Rabbis taught us, “The Accuser (the Soton) and Penina (Chana’s co-wife who teased her until she prayed to G-d for a son) intentions were for the sake of heaven,” and in other places, “He (Soton) placed his eyes on the Beis HaMikdosh and it was destroyed.”

The implication is that evil is an agent of G-d, not an independent entity.

וְהָעִנְיָן הוּא שֶׁשֹׁרֶשׁ הָרַע הַמְחַיַיְהוּ הוּא טוֹב כְּמְבוּאָר בְּזֹהַר שָׁם, וְכִּי יֵשׁ עַבְדָא דְמָרִיד בְּמַארֵיהּ? הַגַם שֶׁיֵשׁ כַּמָּה עַבָדִים הַמִתְפְּרַצִים מֵאֵת אֲדוֹנֵיהֶם, אָמְנָם, הֵם בָּשָׂר וָדָם וְחַיוּתָם נִפְרָדִים זֶה מִזֶה. אַבָל עַבְדֵי ה׳ שֶׁמְקַבְּלִים חַיוּתָם מִמֶּנוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ וְהוּא הַמְחַיֶה אֶת הַכֹּל, אֵיךְ יֵשׁ חַיוּת לְדָבָר שֶׁכְּנֶגְדוֹ וּמְשֵׁנִי שֶׁהוּא עֲל דֶרֶךְ מָשָׁל הַזוֹנָה עִם בֶּן הַמֶלֶךְ.

The source of evil and what causes it to live is good. It’s explained in the Zohar (there), “Is there a servant who rebels against his master?” Even though there are many servants who do in fact rebel against their masters, this is only servants of flesh and blood. Beings of flesh and blood experience life as separate entities from each other. This is not the case of servants of G-d, who receive their life-force from Him; He causes the life of everything.

How could there be G-dly life-force given to something which opposes Him? In truth, evil is an agent, similar to the analogy of the harlot and the crown prince.

וְזֶהוּ דָבָר הַמְחֲיֶה אֶת כָּל הָרָעוֹת, וְשָׁרְשָׁם לְמַעֲלָה הוּא טוֹב, וְכְּשֶׁיוֹרֵד לְמַטָה עֲל דֶרֶךְ הִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת נַעֲשֶׂה בֱּאֱמֶת רַע גָמוּר וְדִינִים גְמוּרִים, הֵן בְּמִילִי דְעַלְמַא, וְהֵן דְשְׁמַיָא.

G-d’s goodness gives life-force to evil and is their source on High. It’s just, when the life-force trickles down through enough hishtalshelus, it becomes real evil, both in physicality and in spirituality.

Everything, even evil, is an expression of G-D Himself. Therefore it’s intrinsically good even though it’s not experienced that way.

וְהִנֵה כְּשֶׁבָּא לְאָדָם אֵיזֶה יְסוּרִים רַחֲמָנָא לִצְלַן, יִחֲשׁוֹב כִּי לֹא לְמַרְאֶה עֵינָיו יִשׁפוֹט שֶׁרַע הוּא, אֶלָא בֱּאֱמֶת שָׁרְשׁוֹ הוּא טוֹב, כִּי מִמֶּנוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ לֹא תֵּצֵא הָרָעוֹת, כְּי אִם רַק טוֹב גָמוּר, רַק שֶׁהוּא אֵינוֹ מוּשָׂג בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁלֹא יוּכָל לֵירֵד לְעוֹלָם הַשָׁפָל וְנִשְׁאָר לְמַעֲלָה (עֲיֵין בְּסֵפֶר שֶׁל בֵּינוֹנִים, פֶּרֶק כ”ו וּבְּאִגֶרֶת הַקֹדֶשׁ דִבּוּר הַמַתְחִיל ״לְהַשְׂכִּילְךָ בִּינָה״). וְזֶהוּ נִקְרָא מִיכְלָא דָקִיק שֶׁהוּא בֱּאֱמֶת חֲיוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ (עֲיֵין בְּזֹהַר בְּרֵאשִׁית דַף ח׳ עָמוּד ב׳, כְּחוֹטֶא דָקִיק כוּלְהוּ).

Whenever we encounter pain and hardship in our lives, may the Merciful One save us, we have to think: evil doesn’t have its own plan. The truth is, the source of evil is actually goodness, because G-d doesn’t produce evil, only pure goodness. It’s only that this type of G-dly expression is beyond our comprehension. Such a lofty G-dly expression wouldn’t be able to descend so low and remain good; because it’s so lofty, it takes on more layers of concealment. This is similar to wasted food: since there is too much of goodness, now we have waste (not good).

Objectively speaking, evil doesn’t really exist, there’s only good. Sometimes goodness is just “too good” for us to appreciate it subjectively.

This can be understood with an analogy of a teacher/student relationship: in order for a student to appreciate his teacher’s knowledge, the teacher must “water it down” to the students level. If the teacher simply relays the information to the student as is without adapting it to the students level, the student may walk away rather confused. However, he can still objectively appreciate the teacher’s depth and broad knowledge and feel honored to have such a teacher. So to, when one experiences discomfort, G-D forbid, although subjectively it’s perceived as bad, one can still conceptually accept that it comes from G-D and therefore must be good.

Evil is just too much energy.

וְזֶהוּ ״בְּכָל מְאֹדֶךָ״ כְּמַאֲמָר, ״טוֹב מְאֹד, ׳טוֹב׳ זֶה מַלְאֲךְ הַחַיִים ׳מְאֹד,׳ זֶה מַלְאֲךְ הַמָוֶת,״ שֶׁהוּא ״טוֹב מְאֹד״ בְּלִי שִׁיעוּר וּגְבוּל, אֶלָא שֶׁעַדַיִין לֹא בָּא לִידֵי גִילוּי וְאֵינוֹ מוּשָׂג (וְעֲיֵין בְּזֹהַר רֵישׁ פַּרְשַׁת יִתְרוֹ דַף ס”ח עָמוּד ב’, וּבְּהַרַמַ”ז שָׁם וְעַיֵין מַה שֶׁכָּתַב עֲל פָּסוּק ״אֵלֶה מַסְעֵי).

This is the idea of “with all of your might,” (serving G-d with so much energy that the soul either leaves the body or is on the brink). This is similar to the saying of our Rabbis, “‘Very good’. “Good” is the Angel of Life; “very good” is the Angel of Death.” “Very good” is too much good, without limits and boundaries, which hasn’t arrived at the stage of revelation and is beyond grasp. Since proper revelation means that the recipient “gets” what’s going on, this revelation which is beyond comprehension is not real revelation.

וְזֶהוּ ״יַסֹר יִסְרַנִי יָ”הּ,״ שֶׁהוּא בְּתְּחִלַת הַשֵׁם, תְּחִלַת הִתְגַלוּתוֹ, שֶׁעַדַיִין לֹא בָּא לִידֵי גִילוּי וְאֵינוֹ מוּשָׂג, שֶׁעַדַיִין לֹא נִתְגַלֶה הַכֹּל.

This is also the meaning behind the possuk, “And Yud-Kay has caused me severe hardship.” When the first two letters of G-d’s (Yud-Kay-Vov-Kay) name are revealed, it is beyond our grasp. The first two letters of G-d’s name are beyond grasp (Hidden Worlds) and the last two letters are more accessible (Revealed Worlds).

וְזֶהוּ עִנְיָן נָחוּם אִישׁ-גַּם-זוּ שֶׁהָיָה אוֹמֵר, ״גַּם זוּ לְטוֹבָה״ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיָה מִתְבּוֹנֵן בֱּאֱמֶת שֶׁשֹׁרֶש הָרַע הוּא הַטוֹב, וְהֶבִיאוֹ לְמַעֲלָה אֶל שָׁרְשׁוֹ לִמְקוֹם אַיִן, וְשָׁם הָיָה יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת הִשְׁתַּנוּת כְּמַאֲמָר רַבִּי חַנִינָא בֶּן דוֹסָא, ״מִי שֶׁאָמַר לְשֶׁמֶן וַיַדְלִיק כוּלהוּ (ועמ”ש סד”ה זאת חקת התורה בענין מי יתן טהור מטמא).

This explains why Nochum Ish Gam Zu would say, “Gam zu l’tova (this too is for the good [even in seemingly negative situations]).” He was able to say so because he contemplated the true source of evil which is actually good. This contemplation brought him to a state of being in ayin (lit. nothingness) where goodness and evil aren’t different—they’re just good. There he was able to change the state of his situation here below; as Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa said, “He who told oil to kindle, [can make vinegar do the same].”

 Nachum Ish Gam Zu was able to honestly accept every situation as good because he was able to develop an intimate relationship with G-d. This helped him gain an objective/G-dly perspective on life and was thus so convinced that his “negative” life experiences where good, that he merited to see that they were actually good.

Ayin (lit. “nothingness”); in Chassidus, (a) a state of non-being that serves as a contrast to true existence; (b) the void that precedes any act of creation; (c) in the mortal realm, ayin describes a person who transcends his innate egocentricity and commits himself to the service of G-d. (Chabad.org

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