Given: Aug 12, 2017
We are now in Perek Heh—Chapter 5 of RaMCHaL. Here, he talks about the components of the briyah--Creation. Until now, he’s been talking about Who G-D is, what the avodah—task of man is, what the purpose of Creation is, the whole setup in terms man, that he’s physical and also spiritual which is the neshama—soul. Now, he is talking about the Creation in general, what it’s really all about.
What is important to know is that there are certain essential concepts in this Creation, what the Ribono Shel Olam—Master of the Universe has created, which are major ideas, fundamental concepts of what this briyah really is.
The first concept which is very important to understand in terms of what’s going on in this physical universe, and even the spiritual, is the concept of “hester”—concealment. G-D has created a reality in which He actually conceals Who He is. There is a diminishment of His ha’orah—His being. Such never existed before. That is a created concept, that there can be a dimension in which He is concealed. That’s called “hester.” Therefore, the essential concept of the physical world is that it is a place that the presence of G-D can be concealed. That’s the first very fundamental idea of Creation.
Participant: ...the whole Creation or just Israel?
Rabbi Kessin: ...the whole of Creation. Even in the upper levels, He is concealed. The difference is the extent to which He is revealed, but there is always a measure of concealment; that’s essential.
The Power of the Jew
The second concept which is very important is that the ability to raise the levels of ha’orah, the presence of His being, and diminish the level of concealment, has been given to man, to the Jew. The incredible thing about a Jew is that he is actually in control. He can regulate the amount of hester and ha’orah, of His concealment or the illumination of His presence. The Jew influences the amount of concealment of the presence of G-D and the amount of illumination of that presence. Yes, every Jew has that power although he doesn’t realize that.
Every Jew, in terms of machshava--thought, dibbur—speech, ma’aseh--action, can control a certain aspect of Creation and he can regulate the amount of hester and ha’orah. That’s an incredible power. A Jew is the only one that has that power. No other human being has that power. Certainly, no other resident of the briyah, neither angels or anything else, has that power. That’s a unique power that has been given over to a Jew.
We see this in the Torah with G-D saying to Avraham Avinu, “V’nivrachu b’cha”—and you shall be a blessing. I shall bless those who bless you and whoever curses you will be cursed, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” This means that: you will be blessed because you are the one who is responsible for the absence and presence of the perception of G-D. The greater the presence, the greater the blessing. The greater the absence, the greater the curse. Avraham Avinu and the Jews who are, of course, his descendants, have that incredible power to increase or decrease the presence or absence. It’s not that G-D can be controlled; of course He can’t, but G-D voluntarily submits to the acts of the Jew. The Jew does the mitzvahs, the right things, and G-D will re-enter Creation. If the Jews does wrong things, in the sense of sins, averos--transgressions, then G-D removes His presence. So, the Jew therefore, has that awesome power.
The Ribono Shel Olam created a phenomenon in which He could be present or absent, His presence or absence being either diminished or promoted. That’s called “tzimtzum.” Itsimply means “to restrict” or “to contract.” He creates a phenomenon called “tzimtzum” in which the presence or the absence of G-D can either be diminished or promoted; that’s all it means. Itis nothing more than the operation itself. The consequence of that operation is the presence or absence of G-D. He gave the power of that tzimtzum, that regulatory action, to the Jew. That’s really what the essence of this world is.
So, the first essential concept of this world, the one upon which this world is predicated, is the concept called “presence or concealment of G-D.” This concept actually can exist. It’s very interesting that it can, that G-D has allowed Himself to be hidden or concealed.
The second thing is that He created this operation which regulates this ha’orah or hester, this presence or absence, this action called, tzimtzum—which is incredible.
The third thing is that He has given it to man, specifically to the Jewish people. They have the “dial,” that awesome power. Of course, if the Jews don’t do it, then G-D doesn’t “come in.” If they do it, then He does. It is up to the Jews, ultimately, to restore the original extent of presence of G-D in the world and that is called the “tikkun”—rectification. The universe will be rectified by the presence being completely revealed and everything restored to what it was, actually, right after the Creation and that’s really the purpose.
Another fundamental concept is the concept called “change.” There’s no such thing as permanence. Everything is variable. Therefore, what is deemed “variable” is that which can change the presence or absence of G-D.
To us, what’s the big deal? You don’t realize that “variability” is a fundamental operation that never existed before. “Change” is when something can vary. Therefore, not only can there be a presence or absence of G-D, there can be a change in that presence or absence. You can actually increase the “amount” of G-D.
So, you are looking at an array of very critical concepts, phenomena, that have been created in order to make this briyah “run.” These are the fundamental concepts of Creation that are so a part of its fabric that we don’t even notice it.
Another important concept of the briyah, besides presence or absence and change, is that of “pirud”—separation. G-D has introduced pirud because, really, everything is part of G-D. There is “ein od milvado”—besides G-D, there is nothing else which means that nothing is separate from G-D. That separation, which seems evident, is an illusion. We think we are separate from G-D but, no. At the level of true reality, whatever that is, we are part of G-D; we are not separate. The fact that we feel separated and we think we are separated is an illusion; it really is. It’s an illusion that we have been given.
Where do we see that? Chazal—sages say, “Chelek elokah mima’al,” that man, that a Jew, that the neshama, is really part of G-D. Everything is part of G-D. There is no individual separation. Man has no actual, individual “self.” The illusion is that we think we do.
Additionally, what G-D created, and which is a fundamental idea, is called a “zuloso”—other. In the universe of G-D, there is no such thing as “other.” There is only G-D and that’s it. We are all a part of that without any consciousness of, without any feeling of, self. G-D invests, G-D creates the concept called “zuloso” enabling the perception that many beings exist, each thinking it is separate from G-D. This concept of “zuloso” brings in the concept of “pirud” so there is a perception of many created entities.
Olam Ha’Ba—Future World
At the level of Olam ha’Ba, these perceptions of “other” and “separate” don’t exist in the same way. It’s a “place” where you begin to experience a “non-zuloso.” You can actually feel yourself as part of G-D. It’s like looking at your arm, feeling your arm, perceiving it’s not something else. You could feel it as part of you. In Olam Ha’Ba, it’s the same concept, feeling part of G-D as if you are His arm, not that He is your arm. You sense that you have a separate existence but feel as if you also part of Him, like you are His arm. We don’t know what that means; it’s not comprehensible to us now. Olam Ha’Ba is the restoration of the original dimension of reality—or, I should say—the first dimension of reality. You actually can feel as if you are part of G-D and, therefore, He is part of you. That is called dveikus—attachment. That’s “where” it occurs. That, in many ways, is the whole tachlis—purpose of the Creation, to have cognition, to know conceptually, that we are really part of G-D. We’re not separate, you see.
Mitzvah as Testimonial
This is the integral concept of what a “mitzvah”--commandment is. A mitzvah is nothing more than a vehicle to express that you believe the truth of ein od milvado, that, besides G-D, there is nothing else. When you do a mitzvah, you’re testifying to that. It’s as if saying: I’m gonna do the mitzvah because His Will is the only thing that really exists because He is the only One that exists. His Will is the only thing that exists and, therefore, I have to do the mitzvah. It’s not about my will. If you do an avera—transgression, then what you’re really saying is: I exist independent of Him and, therefore, I have an independent will, so I will sin, or I will do whatever I want. The concept of performing a mitzvah is that of an opportunity, a vehicle, to express your belief that He is the only thing that truly exists and that you emanate from Him. It is that sense of emanation, that reality, that you experience in Olam Ha’Ba, in the Future World, and that is the greatest aspect of reality. That reality will be the greatest pleasure ever known, one incomprehensible to us now.
These are fundamental concepts: “ha’orah” and “hester,” change rather than stasis, “zuloso,” “tzimtzum”—that operation that creates presence or absence—and the fact that the control of its variability has been given to a Jew. Also fundamental is the essential, existential concept of this briyah—Creation—“pirud,” that illusion of separation which is our job to undo here, and which is what happens in Olam Ha’Ba. That’s a “snapshot” of the mechanisms at work in Creation.
Adam—Man as Divine Energies
All this is called one word, “adam’—man. We are “man” but the reason why we are called “man” is because there was an original “man,” the sefiros—Divine energies. The first set of sefiros which create realities is the concept called “Adam Kadmon”—primordial man. Everything that I just explained is invested in that reality. That’s the concept of “adam,” which we, ourselves, have. We vary, we feel we are apart, separated from Him, but we’re really part of G-D.
Participant: Say that again. R’Kessin: The first entry of the presence of G-d into the universe is the first reality, that which we call “Adam Kadmon—primordial man. Those are ten forces which are called “sefiros.” That’s the first reality that G-D creates, but reality is called “adam.” The reason why we are called “man” is because we resemble, are a copy of that, a replica of those ten sefiros called “adam.” The concept of “adam” is variation or change from diminishment to presence. We are nothing more than a reality to diminish the extent to which the presence of G-D is perceived.
These are the fundamental concepts of the briyah. G-D created the realities, each reality having less and less perception of being part of G-D until you get to the physical world where we don’t perceive Him. We know Who He is because, conceptually, we know Who He is, we know of Him, but the presence of G-D is vastly, vastly diminished. You see?—okay.
Participant: What about the sitra achra—other side (evil inclination)? R’Kessin: I didn’t mention that. That’s a level below. These are different levels of reality. Each one is characterized by the diminishment of His presence until you get to the physical world where His presence is, fundamentally, completely obscured. What’s interesting about this is that, even in this world, there’s always some type of presence of G-D. G-D has never abandoned the world but He’s completely concealed.
Participant: Even in sitra achra? R’Kessin: Sitra achra is where He’s not. There’s always makom shechina—place of the Divine Presence. There’s always a place that the Divine Presence is, even in this world. The place of the makom shechina is called the makom mikdash—residence of G-d. You have makom shechina, the place of the Divine Presence, right? Wherever He is, wherever His location is, is called a “mikdash,” a residence.
He has had many, many “residences.” What was the first residence of G-D? If you think about that, where He really resided we know to be the Beis ha’Mikdash—Holy Temple where there’s a halacha--law that the kohanim—priests, while serving, cannot wear shoes. They must go barefoot. In the winter, it’s freezing. The stones are freezing. The Beis ha’Mikdash is all stones and stones are freezing and they had to do the avodah with freezing feet. There’s a certain place, a chamber, where they could warm up. There’s a fire going all the time and they ran in there to warm up their feet.
Why were they having to be barefoot?—because the shechina would be in that place, in the ground. It would emerge and come up from the ground so they had to maintain contact with the ground. It wasn’t in the airspace, in a certain sense. There was airspace but the real space is the ground. That was the makom mikdash. They had to go barefoot so they could be connected to the makom, the place, the “residence,” where G-D’s shekinah resided. It’s interesting to realize this first real reference to the Beis Ha’Mikdash.
The first real reference to the Beis Ha’Mikdash, in a certain sense, was by Moshe Rabbeinu, when he went to the sneh—burning bush. Suddenly, G-D says to him: “Take your shoes off.” It’s interesting. Isn’t that what the kohanim did in the Beis Ha’Mikdash? Yeah! So, it came out that the place of the shechina, the place wherein it resided, was the sneh--bush. The sneh was the Beis Ha’Mikdash, first. Therefore, it’s as if G-D said: The place upon which you stand is the place of the shechina.
Participant: He didn’t make a connection to the burning bush?
R'Kessin: No, but it was the whole place, the whole area, so you had to take off your shoes. So, the sneh was the Beis Ha’Mikdash, the first one. The Ribono Shel Olam was “in” the bush which, of course, was not consumed, meaning that the presence of G-D, which is also klal Israel—community of Israel is never consumed. That’s why it never burned. No matter how much fire burned that bush, G-D and the Jewish people can never be eradicated. They can never be consumed. That sneh is the equivalent of the Kadosh Kadoshim—Holy of Holies. Therefore, Moshe Rabbeinu had to take off his shoes. Later on, the next analog was the mishkan—tabernacle. The shechina rested on the mishkan which is the Kadosh Kadoshim.
What’s interesting, and which people don’t realize, is that there should not have been a mishkan, really. Why not?—because there is a famous pasuk—verse that says, “V’asu l’mikdash”—and they will make Me a mikdash, “v’shochanti b’socham”—and I will dwell in them. This is at the beginning of the parshas—Torah portion “Terumah.”
“Make for Me a mikdash,” means: make me a residence where I can reside. It should have said, “I will dwell in it” but it doesn’t say that. It says, “I will dwell in them.” That’s a very important concept because the mikdash, the makom shechina, the place in which the shechina resides, is a makom mikdash which is the place of the mikdash, right?
Where does G-d truly reside? He resides in the neshama. What G-d initially wanted was not a mishkan. He could say: I don’t need that because My entry point into the briyah, into the Creation, the place where a Jew can experience Me, is through his own neshama. You don’t need an outside place to go to feel me. He says, “V’shochanti b’socham”—I dwell within you, within them.
What G-d originally intended was that His entry point be the neshama. The place wherein He resides is the neshama. A Jew can experience Him within himself; he need not go to the Beis Ha’Mikdash. The reason we had a mishkan was because of the cheit ha’egel—Sin of the Golden Calf. From that sin, G-D told us: you have to build Me a mishkan because, even though I reside in you—because the neshama is the replica of the shechina that resides within us—you will not experience Me in you; you now have to go to a place to experience Me.
That, in many ways, was an onesh--punishment because we shouldn’t have needed a Beis Ha’Mikdash. Why do we have to go to a place—I ask you! If we’re part of G-D, why do we have to go to a place? In the beginning, we didn’t. It was within man. The neshama itself is the mikdash, the Beis Ha’Mikdash. We don’t realize that man is the Beis Ha’Mikdash. The Jew is the Beis Ha’Mikdash. His neshama is the Beis Ha’Mikdash. It was only because of the sin that a person has to leave his place and go to another place to experience G-D. We think the Beis Ha’Mikdash is “outside,” is where G-D is. No! G-D is still within you, except you cannot experience Me in a place unless you go outside yourself. I’m still within you, G-D could say. It’s just that, to experience Me, you have to go to Yerushalayim--Jerusalem, to the Beis Ha’Mikdash.
Audience: The mikdash is the catalyst to...
R'Kessin: ...well, to experience “self.” That’s the mistake people make, thinking they go to the Beis Ha’Mikdash to experience something outside of themselves. They think G-D is in the Beis Ha’Mikdash. We’re walking around and we’re really the Beis Ha’Mikdash.
Audience: ...what about “separation”?
R'Kessin: Yes. The Jews introduced pirud, separation, which means: you can no longer experience Me inside of you; you can only experience Me outside of you because of your sin. That’s what a sin does. Do you remember what a sin, ostensibly, says? When you sin, it’s as if you’re saying: yesh od milvado—besides G-D there’s something else, right? They denied G-D, in a certain way, by accepting the golden calf as a god, right? They externalized G-D. They said: besides G-D there’s something else.
G-D’s reaction was: okay, you believed that, besides Me, G-D, there’s also you, right? That means you have made me a zuloso, an “other,” outside of you. Fine, okay. Now you gotta go outside to experience Me. It’s the consequence of the cheit ha’egel but, really, the original structure never changed; it’s still within you. That’s what G-D is saying. It’s a very important chiddush—novel understanding.
The mishkan is the result of the sin, but, really, the original Beis Ha’Mikdash is man, is a Jew, but he continues you have to go “outside” to experience G-D’s presence. So that’s what the mishkan is, the first external Beis Ha’Mikdash.
Participant: How can we get in touch with ourselves, the part which is the shechina, like going to that makom? By going to that makom, what are the mechanics for experiencing it within yourself?
Another participant: It’s like a WiFi hotspot.
R'Kessin: You mean the Beis Hamikdash? What are the mechanics? You have to know one thing; G-D isn’t localized; He’s all over. G-d exists everywhere. “Moleh aretz kvodo”—the earth is filled with His honor, His presence. If you go to a place where He’s “at,” the shechina within you and the shechina outside are really one and the same. Somehow, by going to that place and experiencing G-D, you experience Him and yourself because G-D within you and the G-D “out there” are really one. The key point to remember is that the entry point into the briyah is you, not the outside. What you’re really experiencing is you. Experientially, it’s not like G-D is there and you’re here—no! G-D is here and G-D is in you. You have to go to an outside place where He “is” and, instantaneously, it’s like a continuous ripple within you that you feel, but the entry point is within you. That’s really what nevuah—prophetic experience is.
Nevuah—the Prophetic Experience
What is nevuah? Nevuah, prophecy, is the ability to experience G-D, right? When a navi, a prophet, went into what’s called the “prophetic trance,” he didn’t have to go to the Beis Ha’Mikdash. How did he do it? How was he connecting with G-D, prophetically, within himself? And the answer is that the shechina enters through you. He is really tapping into the shechina within his neshama because the neshama is connected to G-D. He didn’t have to go to the Beis Ha’Mikdash. If the shechina were only in the Beis Ha’Mikdash, he would have to go there and sit down and go into a prophetic trance if that’s where G-D would be, but it didn’t have to be that way. So, it’s possible, which is interesting, that, through prophecy, a person was able to experience G-D within himself. He didn’t have to go out but such ability requires a tremendous amount of training and you have to mechaven sheimos—meditate on Divine names, which is ein od milvado. So, it is possible to, sort of, undo the Beis Ha’Mikdash. You didn’t have to go to the Beis Ha’Mikdash. You can actually experience yourself as a Beis Hamikdash if you went through a certain process.
A prophecy is almost a recap of the original Beis Ha’Mikdash that’s you! We didn’t have to go to the Beis Ha’Mikdash at all. You can just sit down and do it, if you knew the processes taught at schools of prophecy. Those Divine names are nothing more than, really, expressions of ein od milvado. With certain techniques, you could undo the requirement of going “outside.” You could “reawaken” the prophecy, the attachment, that you had to G-D within you which is the original “v’shochanti b’socham.” That’s really what prophecy is. Unfortunately, we don’t have it so we still have to go outside.
The Current Mikdash
Like I say, the first Beis Ha’Mikdash, in many ways, is the burning bush, the sneh. After that was the mishkan which, itself, should not have been. Then we had the next mishkan that traveled all over Israel. If you remember that, for 350-something years, that was the tabernacle until Shlomo Ha’Melech—King Solomon built the first temple.
The mishkan became the first temple, right? Then the first temple became the second temple. Where is G-D today? Where’s the third temple or, I should say, the “two-and-a-half”? Remember, the Ribono Shel Olam never leaves the physical world—never. So, He’s somewhere. Where is He? That “somewhere” still means that, unless you’re a navi, to can tap into your own Beis Hamikdash, you still have to go where He is. Where is He today?
Participants: The Kosel, shuls, mikdash mount (Temple Mount), not sure, either one....
R'Kessin: Today, it’s the Kosel—Western Wall. People do not realize this. The Kosel is the Beis Ha’Mikdash. What happened is that the Ribono Shel Olam went into golus—exile, so to speak, right? This means that He does not allow Himself to be Who He can be. This exile is a restriction, a voluntary restriction, on completely exposing: Who I Am. That’s really what golus is to G-D. To us, it’s persecution and all the other stuff. To G-D, it means that He voluntarily restricts His power and His presence which He doesn’t wanna do. G-D feels terrible about what He did—I wanna tell you now—but He did it. The Kosel Ma’aravi, the Wailing Wall, the Western Wall, is the Beis Ha’Mikdash today. It’s the classic shechina that went into exile. He moved from the Kadosh Kadoshim to the outer wall, the retaining wall, and that’s where He is. That’s why, when you go to the Kosel, you are going to the Beis Ha’Mikdash—interesting. That’s why, if you are zoche—deserving, you can feel a presence because He’s, in a manner of speaking, “there.”
G-D is in golus. Ultimately, of course, when there will be the third Beis Ha’Mikdash, G-D will return to Har Moriah—Mount Moriah, which is the rock. Ultimately speaking, really, it’s always the Beis Ha’Mikdash within us; that’s really what we experience.
Participant: You said that, in the time of mashiach, if I remember correctly, you just close your eyes and you can experience nevuah if we have that level, that we will be higher than the prophets were, that we can have nevuah instantly instead of having to do sheimos. It will be quicker and easier so why do we need the third Beis Ha’Mikdash?
R'Kessin: If we have nevuah, why would anybody go to Jerusalem? I could stay in Lakewood, shut my eyes, do what I have to do and....it says that, when mashiach comes, you could tap into nevuah and it would be incredibly easy. The old-time nevi’im had to struggle but the time of Mashiach will be the time when, as it says, the presence of G-D will saturate the whole planet. So, the question is: why bother going to a Beis Ha’Mikdash? That’s really what you’re asking.
Participant: There was an episode in the desert when Joshua went to Moshe and said that there are people prophesying and Moshe’s reaction was that it was good and he hoped everyone would be able to.
Another participant: So why will we need a Beis Ha’Mikdash?
R'Kessin: I think the answer is that, even when the mashiach comes, there are variabilities. You have to understand exactly what the Beis Hamikdash is. What is a person? What is the Beis Hamikdash?
It starts with the ten sefiros—Divine energies. They, collectively, are called the “partzuf”—configuration. As I said, the ten is “adam.” A partzuf refers to a complete face which is a complete configuration. Those ten sefiros are sub-divided to 613 parts. Those sefiros create a neshamah that also has 613 parts. That neshamah resides in a guf--body that also has 613 parts.
Therefore, a person in a guf, a body, has to do 613 mitzvahs, one mitzvah k’neged—in relation to each part. You see the parallels here? It’s such a replica. Every time you do a commandment, you “open up” one part of the body, open one part of the neshamah to receive the “Light” of the sefiros for that particular part.
Man, physically, is a replica of the sefiros with his neshamah as a replica of the ten sefiros. The Beis Ha’Mikdash is also a replica and, therefore, has 613 parts; yeah, it does. The “Malbim”, in the beginning of “Vayikra” actually describes, shows, how the Beis Ha’Mikdash is really an adam. The name of that configuration is called “adam,” an “adamic structure.”
R'Kessin: The commentary of “Malbim”, in the beginning of parshas—Torah portion “Vayikra.” It’s a whole Kabbalistic explanation. The Beis Ha’Mikdash is really an adam but it’s an adam of the physical universe. It’s one replica after another, parallels.
Ultimately, when there’s a third Beis Ha’Mikdash, that will be a replica of the world in its tikkun phase. That’s why the third Beis Ha’Mikdash will be different than the second. It has different dimensions. Why?—because it’s really a replica of the entire world outside of man. Therefore, the Beis Ha’Mikdash Ha’Shlishi (third) that Yechezkel—Ezekiel talks about will replicate the exact status of the physical universe as reflected in the Beis Ha’Mikdash.
There are different stages of mashiach. There’s a Mashiach Ben Yosef. Then there’s the era of Mashiach Ben David which is the “real” messianic era. As the era goes on, things change. It’s possible that the Beis Ha’Mikdash Ha’Shlishi will serve as an external mikdash for a certain duration of time but afterward, maybe, won’t be needed. Things will revert to the original 613 parts so there will no longer be a need for an “outside” Beis Ha’Mikdash.
Participant: So, you think that there will be a time when we’re able to experience nevuah like that at the time of the Beis Ha’Mikdash?
R’Kessin: Yeah. There could be differences in ability to access the shechina as you get more and more into the messianic era.
Participant: It’s not just like—boom! it’s a gradual growth and there can be a time when the greatest people won’t need a Beis Ha’Mikdash but others will.
R’Kessin: Yes, but remember that there are several ideas in the Beis Ha’Mikdash. The first idea is that it’s the residence of G-D. But remember also that the Beis Ha’Mikdash is a place that you offer sacrifices, korbanos. In the time of the mashiach, there will be korbanos. There won’t be chatas—sin-offerings—no need for that—or an asham—guilt-offering but there will be shlamim—peace offerings. You’ll be able to connect with the Beis Ha’Mikdash by offering korbanos so you’ll still need a Beis Ha’Mikdash for that. Perhaps that’s to be its primary purpose. There won’t be chatas, sin offerings, because nobody is sinning, right? There won’t be asham, guilt offerings, because nobody’s guilty. That’s because, basically, bechira--free will, is gone. I’m not sure if there will be an olah—burnt offering which is a minor sin offering but, certainly, there will be peace offerings that you will be able to bring to the Beis Ha’Mikdash.
As to whether you need to go to the Beis Ha’Mikdash to experience G-D, it seems that you won’t. You will experience everything that you need within the self because the critical concept is man, or the Jew, is the Beis Ha’Mikdash. We don’t realize how central we are to the Creation. Were it not for the cheit ha’egel, there would be no Beis Ha’Mikdash, no mishkan, no bayis rishon—First Temple, no bayis sheini—Second Temple and, therefore, no bayis shlishi—Third Temple—none of them.
It’s amazing if you think about that, and it makes sense because the neshamah is a direct output of the ten sefiros that lead to the body. G-D just infuses man’s neshamah and we experience Him. The neshamah, which we all have, negates the need for any externals. This is an understanding of the Creation, of the connection that we have in terms of the Beis Ha’Mikdash, the other residences, and what the fundamental fabric of the briyah is, the concepts of “hester” and “ha’orah,” concealment and presence. The Beis Ha’Mikdash reflects our journey in terms of the tikkun--rectification progression.
Participant: There would be no korbanos then?
R’Kessin: There will be korbanos.
Participant: I’m saying that, if there were no cheit ha’egel, there wouldn’t have been any korbanos, at least not in the Beis Ha’Mikdash.
R’Kessin: Very possible, yeah. If there were no cheit ha’egel, Moshe Rabbeinu would have been Mashiach Ben Yosef. That’s who he really was. He was almost Mashiach Ben Yosef and, had there been no cheit h’aegel, Moshe Rabbeinu would have been the Mashiach Ben Yosef and that would have initiated the messianic era. Maybe there would be a Beis Ha’Mikdash to bring a shelamim. But yeah, it’s right that, without cheit ha’egel, there would be no need for a Beis Ha’Mikdash or a mishkan. You are the Beis Ha’Mikdash.
Participant: Where do the shuls fit in the picture?
R’Kessin: Where do the shuls fit in?
Participant: Yeah, mikdash me’at—mini temple. There are a lot of people that don’t feel the need to go.
R’Kessin: Ahh! That’s why they don’t go to shul: ‘cause I am the Beis Ha’Mikdash. So, what they do is to get up very early in the morning and they tell themselves: I don’t have to go to shul but they all daven at the Kosel, right? They bend over and pray against the wall next to the bed; that’s the Kosel.
There’s an interesting chazal—commentary of the sages. They’re always saying that prayer is kneged, in place of, the korbanos. Shacharis—morning prayer is the tamid—daily offering. Tefillah, davening, is akin to the korbanos. Why?--because the Beis Ha’Mikdash is a very interesting place. You go to G-D’s residence, His house, and connect with Him through korbanos.
There are only three things that you could talk to G-D about. In a dialogue with G-D through the Beis Hamikdash, there are only three statements that you can make. The first is, “Forgive me. I have sinned so forgive me,” right? The second is “Thank you for what you’ve given me.” The third is “I recognize that You are supreme.”
“Forgive me” is the chatas and the asham. They’re the ”I have sinned.” The “thank you” is the shelamim. The burnt-offering, the korbon tamid, and the olah represent the pronouncements about recognizing His supreme being. Those are the only three statements you can make in terms of a korban. Therefore, when you go to the Beis Ha’Mikdash, you’re at a place where you can enter His house and speak to Him and develop a relationship with Him through a korban by making the statements: forgive me, thank you, and I recognize you as the supreme being.
Therefore, chazal say that you need to do the same thing, say: forgive me, thank you, and I recognize you. What does this sound like?--davening.
Participant: No space for asking (making requests)?
R’Kessin: Once you recognize His absolute supremacy then, of course, you throw in all the other ideas. That’s why, a shul, a beis knesses, is the parallel of Beis Ha’Mikdash.
Where is the residence of G-D in a shul?—by the oren, where the Torah is. The sefer Torah is the makom ha’shekhina—residence of the Divine Presence. We come into shul as if walking into a Beis Ha’Mikdash and we do the same thing but, instead of offering food, we offer prayer which is the parallel to the food. Either we thank G-D, we ask for forgiveness, or we express: I recognize You. We really do the same thing except the Beis Ha’Mikdash has been replaced by a shul, the oren replaces the Kadosh Ha’Kadoshim, our tefillos--prayer is the korban, all making the same statements. That’s why a shul is a mikdash ma’at. Prayer really parallels the sacrifices done in the Beis Ha’Mikdash. That’s why it’s called the mikdash ma’at.
That’s why it’s terrible when people talk in shul. There’s a widespread effort to try to stop talking in shul. If it were realized that the shul is the mikdash ma’at, is the equivalent of the Beis Ha’Mikdash, why would anybody talk in the presence of G-D?
Can you imagine visiting a king and, while you’re in his presence, while you’re dialoguing with him, you’re busy schmoozing with the other guy? That’s like a slap in the face of the king. It’s a complete denigration of the value, of the importance, of that king. The problem is that they don’t look at shul as a makom mikdash; it’s like a social event. It’s an opportunity to schmooze with the guys. The real concept of a shul is its equivalence of a Beis Ha’Mikdash except that, instead of the Kadosh ha’Kadoshim, there’s the oren, the sefer Torah representing G-D. Instead of the korbanos, we offer prayers, tefillos. It’s the same messages: forgive me, thank you or I recognize You and therefore you can make a various requests. Would anybody schmooze with a guy if he were in the presence of a king?—of course not.
Participant: Even in a press conference with Trump, nobody would even... like they got a phone call…
R’Kessin: It’s an incredible measure of disrespect. To the presence of the King, G-D, that happens.
The only food equivalent—‘cause if you bring certain korbanos in the Beis Ha’Mikdash, you can actually eat it—is the shelamim. Those, you can eat. Chatas, the kohanim eat, and so on, but shelamim, the one who brings it can eat it. Maybe that’s why there’s a kiddush. The kiddush is the shelamim that we could all partake of.
Participant: When you pray, does having tefillin on make the prayer more powerful? Is that what it’s doing?
R’Kessin: Yes, because tefillin is a conduit; it’s shemos. You don’t realize that. Tefillin is shemos; it’s Divine names and all of that and, therefore, it’s a conduit of what’s called “Divine energy.” It brings you closer to G-D. When you pray, it actually enhances His presence and your closeness to Him. Yeah, it’s a vehicle.
Participant: So, we do have shekhina in shul as well but the main makom is Beis Ha’Mikdash.
R’Kessin: Yeah, but the mikdash ma’at serves locally ‘cause we can’t go to Eretz Yisrael therefore a shul is an opportunity to have a Beis Ha’Mikdash brought to us with equivalent avodas, operations. That’s really what it is. It’s like a mobile Beis Ha’Mikdash, if you think about it. But important to remember is that, what we do in a shul, is exactly what is done in the Beis Ha’Mikdash except, instead of offering an animal, we offer a tefillah—same thing—and we say the same thing. So, they did it with animals, we do it with statements, davening, tefillah. It's a mobile Beis Ha’Mikdash. People don’t realize that.
That’s why chazal—sages enacted that shacharis is against (likened to) this, and mincha is against that, and so on. Why bother? What does shacharis have to do with korban tamid? Ever wonder? And the answer is that each is the equivalent to the other. It’s a mobile Beis Ha’Mikdash therefore, what they had to do was give you the same kind of service as you’d have gotten in the Beis Ha’Mikdash. They’re not gonna tell you bring the animals into the shul, but they will tell you to daven shacharis and that’s the equivalent of offering a korban.
That’s why we say korbanos in the morning. Why do we say korbanos in the morning, for those who say it? Some people say it’s to learn mishnayos and, therefore, these are mishnayos. But, if you really think about now, we say korbanos in the morning because that’s the Beis Ha’Mikdash and from “baruch she’amar” it’s now our equivalent. It’s setting us up. In other words, what we’re really doing is the same as what was done in the Beis Ha’Mikdash except that it’s local and mobile so now we start with “baruch she’amar” but that’s why korbanos are in the morning before the tefillah.
Hopefully, I’ve given you an entirely different perspective of the Beis Ha’Mikdash and what the briyah is really all about.
Participant: (partially audible, alludes to service in the Temple being representative, having representatives, so why do we each have to daven.)
R’Kessin: There were representatives because you can’t have all the Jewish people walking to the Beis Ha’Mikdash, physically. Except by the moadim, they went to an oleh regel, but that wasn’t practical. Here, we can all pray by ourselves. There’s no more tzibbur—communial offerings. You cannot have the entire klal Israel, every day, bringing its own korbanos, so you have representation. Since it’s local, we can do it ourselves. That’s the concept of “communal.”
Participant: Was that the first mishkan?
R’Kessin: Well, if it was really the first mishkan, then they have to take their shoes off.
Audience: Yaakov Avinu....
R’Kessin: You see, it’s a presence but it’s not a presence which is called a “mikdash.” A mikdash is a much more intense presence. That’s why by the sneh you have to take your shoes off. It was the equivalent of the Beit Ha’Mikdash, but G-D can linger in your house. There was a greater intensity in terms of the feeling but it’s not a residence of G-D the way a mikdash is. There are levels of intensity.
Audience: What about Yaakov Avinu in the dream; he was in the same place.
R’Kessin: You mean Har Moriah?
Participant: He had to remove his shoes so was the shekhina there?
R’Kessin: Well, he was sleeping.
Participant: Meaning, the shekhina wasn’t there yet in the full sense?
Participant: So, what exactly happened? Moshe Rabbeinu comes down from Har Sinai with the whole Torah. Meanwhile, there’s the klal Israel with the cheit ha’egel. How, chronologically, did that work? He destroyed the Torah, the luchos so, like twenty percent of the Torah went now missing.
R’Kessin: No… No, no....
Participant: What I mean to say is that, if they hadn’t done the cheit, we would have had the luchos, would have been in the messianic era, not the mishkan.
R’Kessin: No, you don’t need it.
Participant: You won’t need it. So, we won’t have any need of korbanos, wouldn’t have the asham, so then twenty percent of the Torah we have today wouldn’t have been in existence. Wasn’t the Torah written thousands of years before the world was created?
R’Kessin: The Torah changes based on the sins of the Jews.
Participant: Torah is evolving?
R’Kessin: There’s a certain number of osios--letters in the Torah that represent all the possibilities of human events. If the human events happen this way, so the Torah conforms itself to that, to those events.
Participant: Seems that the Torah has something to say about any possibility, and when the possibility changes, this is what the Torah says about this.
R’Kessin: Yeah, somehow the Torah can be composed in many different ways…
Audience: It’s like a bowl of letters and, suddenly, it’s scrambled onto…
R’Kessin: It’s a “bowl of letters,” so to speak, and it took its form based on the free-will of man. That’s really what they’re doing; they’re all configured according to free-will. When the Jews decided to do cheit ha’egel, the bowl of letters composed… We don’t understand how such a bowl could be created but, somewhere, the letters reconfigured themselves to describe that event, but that event is up to the bechira—free-will of man. A simple answer would be that G-D knew the future so there’s already a bowl of exactly what would be; it’s not a matter of guessing. G-D knows exactly what’s gonna happen so He had, in that bowl of all letters, all that was needed to prepare ‘cause He knew they would choose this, so you don’t even have to reconfigure it. It has to do with what G-D knows; that would be a simple answer.
Participant: Then there would be no bechira.
R’Kessin: No, there would be bechira. The question is always asked: If G-d knows what you’re gonna do, how do we have free-will? That’s an old question. Obviously, we do have free-will. As it says, “ubecharta l’chaim”—you will choose life. So, forget about the age-old question as to how free will exists if G-D knows what you’re gonna do. That’s a separate question. G-D certainly can take advantage of His foreknowledge by arranging the whole thing based on what He knows man is gonna choose. He's not cheating. He knows what’s gonna be.
Participant: Each Hebrew letter is like an energy unit; it’s a code.
Participant: If mashiach does come which is an outright tikkun on everything, a mesaken--rectification on the cheit ha’egel and everything else, why do we need the third Beit Ha’Mikdash at all? It brings us back to pre-cheit ha’egel, brings us back to what it was before. Now, when the mashiach is here, why do we need the Beis Ha’Mikdash. It’s a very similar question to what this gentleman was asking.
R’Kessin: First of all, the third Beis Ha’Mikdash is the entire universe in that state of tikkun so that’s what it reflects. It’s the structure of the entire briyah--Creation after the tikkun. The second thing is that allows us to intervene and to do the avodah, to bring korbanos—sacrifices.
Participant: So, ultimately, the first Beis Ha’Mikdash which would have been the first and last Beis Ha’Mikdash would have been configured in a different way. Let’s say the yidden—Jews didn’t do the cheit ha’egel.
R’Kessin: There would have been no Beis Ha’Mikdash.
Audience: At all?
R’Kessin: That’s a good question. You mean in order to do the avodah, to interact?—maybe. What I would say is that the bayis shlishi—Third ‘House’ would have been built then. But you would not need a chatas in the messianic era, no chatas or asham. A tremendous amount is because of chatas, asham, and the olah. So, it could be that there would have been bayis shlishi so that we can interact with that. That’s very possible, yeah.
Participant: One last question: is the sefer Torah gonna “re-change” after the mashiach comes? Will it be different in any way?
R’Kessin: Will the sefer Torah change?
Audience: If we don’t have chatos and asham, will we have to learn about those?
R’Kessin: I imagine that the Torah will change to reconfigure itself based on the reality of tikkun, yeah. That’s called the ohr rishon—messianic Light, by the way. Mashiach reveals the Light which is unheard of today. The luchos rishonos—first tablets were the messianic Light. That was shattered to reveals the Torah that is now necessary to do the tikkun. So, when the tikkun has been done, the Torah will, probably, reveal itself in a different way to reflect all the meoros—illumination, all the sefiros—Divine energies that will have been rectified. Yeah, the Torah would probably change not that it will change to become a new Torah. The roots of what the Torah really is, designed to take shape any which way, will just revert to what it was in terms of its root form.
There is a midrash—exegetical commentary in which the malachim--angels ask Moshe, “Why give the Torah to Jewish people; we want it.” What do they mean by “we want it”?
Moshe told them that they don’t have fathers and mothers, therefore there’s no need for the mitzvah of kibud av v’eim—honoring fathers and mothers, so what in the world are they talking about? The Torah, at the level of its greatest manifestation, is generic. There’s some type of a spiritual reality that conforms to kibud av v’eim; we don’t know what that is. So, they wanted to study the Torah at its original level of spirituality which is not kibud av v’eim. If that sefira becomes configured in a physical way, lo and behold, there comes a mitzvah called “kibud av v’eim,” but if you go back to its (generic) spiritual shape or identity, it’s not kibud av v’eim and that’s what they wanted to study.
Participant: We do know some certain mitzvahs that came down before the yidden did the cheit ha’egel, for example what was written on the luchos, so why would Ha’Shem tell us, “Don’t serve other gods” when there’s no yetzer ha’ra with which to serve other gods because we would be in the messianic era?
R’Kessin: No, it could have been (the messianic era). Moshe Rabbeinu could have been the Mashiach Ben Yosef; he wasn’t.
Participant: We were leading into it.
R’Kessin: Yeah but so what? We’ve been leading into it many times. Moshe Rabbeinu was a candidate for Mashiach Ben Yosef, but he wasn’t the Mashiach Ben Yosef ‘cause it never came to fruition.
Participant: What was missing?
R’Kessin: The cheit ha’egel.
Participant: What was missing between the Torah, after the Torah was given, and what should have happened? What steps were missing for Moshe to become mashiach?
R’Kessin: ...that they should pass the nisoyin—test of cheit ha’egel. That was missing. That was the last test.
Participant: I’m saying that, had they passed that test, we would not have had “don’t serve other gods”?
R’Kessin: No. So then, “don’t serve other gods” would’ve been its spiritual root.
Participant: What change would that do then?
R’Kessin: Well, like I said, the luchos were given before, or “re-conformed.” The luchos were given before the cheit ha’egel, right? Moshe Rabbeinu went up and, on the fortieth day, when he was supposed to come down, he came down late.
Participant: We’d still have Shabbos, right? Shabbos is....
R’Kessin: It would have been the spiritual form of Shabbos.
Participant: So, we would have a different type of Shabbos than we have today?
R’Kessin: There would be a different spiritual form of Shabbos.
Participant: Therefore, there would be no such thing as being mechalel Shabbos—violating Shabbos or, by mistake, being mechalel Shabbos.
R’Kessin: Yeah, but we don’t know what that form is. The malachim knew; they wanted to study it. They wanted to study Torah to level of the sefiros, not the level of mitzvahs because, behind each mitzvah is a sefira. It’s a whole configuration of sefiros. We don’t know what that is. They wanted to study because the malachim are not here. They wanna study the Torah at the level of sefiros. Do you know I’m saying?
Participant: We affect those higher levels. We don’t know what we’re doing.
R’Kessin: We affect them, correct. We have to undo the damage that was done to those high levels, sure.
Participant: Thank you very much.