Given: May 26, 2022
Today is Thursday, and tonight and Friday, is the yahrzeit—anniversary of passing of Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, the RaMCHaL. Tonight’s sefira is yesod she’b’yesod—foundation of the foundation. I want to speak a bit about that, to dedicate this shiur to the memory of the RaMCHaL and talk a little about and him and one of the things that he was very occupied with. You get an appreciation of who he was.
I also want to mention that this shiur should go for aliyas neshama—ascension for the soul of Regina bas Yosef Reuven.
The Genius of the RaMCHaL
He was born in 1707 and passed in 1747. He lived in various places; he was born in Padua, Italy moving, eventually, to Amsterdam and then to Akko in Eretz Yisrael. He had a tremendous number of problems in his life.
He was a child prodigy; he knew the kisvei Ari—the writings of the Arizal when he was 14 years old. He produced a summary of the entire system of the Etz Chaim written in the style of the Mishnah. He wrote seforim--books when he was 16. It’s hard to believe, when you look at his writings like that of “Das Tevunot”—The Knowing Heart, a philosophical dialogue between the intellect and the soul, how he could have written what is probably one of the greatest hashkafa machshovos seforim—books on Jewish insight, philosophy when he was only 28 years old! It’s astounding! Most people of that age don’t even know what they’re doing with themselves.
We know he was highly unusual because he was called “chacham ha’kollel” meaning he wasn’t an expert is just one area; he had tremendous range. He had expertise in an extraordinary array of topics. Let me mention some of them: He has been one of the greatest kabbalists within the last three centuries. He had a profound understanding of “method”--how to learn, how to think--and was a genius in the subject of logic and ontology, the “science of being.” He wrote on the best way to learn, the methodology of learning, the best way to proceed. He’s famous for the “Mesilat Yeshurim”—Path of the Just which is one of the greatest books on mussah ever written and has become the standard classic of the mussah movement, a movement concerned with one’s personal growth in Divine service. He also wrote “Derech Ha’Shem”—Way of G-D, wrote plays based on kabbalah, wrote poetry. He wrote an entire tehillim, 150 chapters of tehillim, by himself. He wrote a second zohar; it’s astounding how somebody could do so much, with such depth, within a mere forty years of life.
He is buried in Tveria/Tiberias next to Rabbi Akiva which is interesting because RaMCHaL died at the age of 40 and Rabbi Akiva did teshuva, so to speak, at age 40 so they say that RaMCHaL was a gilgul--reincarnation of Rabbi Akiva. The forty years of the RaMCHaL’s life was a compensation for the forty years that Rabbi Akiva was not anywhere near to being the tannah—sage (of the Mishnaic period) that he became.
We’re talking about an incredible individual who had a hard life because he was pursued by many adversaries suspicious of his vast kabbalistic knowledge which had become tainted and stigmatized due to his becoming prominent soon after the debacle with Shabbtai Tzvi, a false messiah. This was in the 1680’s when anyone who was a kabbalist was suspect of being a follower of Shabbtai Tzvi. There were three great kabbalists who suffered on account on this: the Baal Shem Tov—founder of chassidus, Rav Yonatan Eibshitz, a genius famous for his writings on the “Shulchan Aruch,” and the third was, of course, RaMCHaL. They were all victims of public suspicion and great caution at that point. They were all pursued, persecuted, hounded.
What’s unusual about the RaMCHaL was that he had gilui Eliyahu. Elijah the prophet appeared to him and learned with him when he was only 20 years old. Astounding! Another amazing aspect of his life was his “Tikkunim Chadoshim” in which he brings down that he used to be visited by incredible neshamos: Moshe Rabbeinu, Eliyahu Ha’Navi (Elijah the prophet) and malachim—angels. We don’t have a clear understanding of who he was but, clearly, he was phenomenally great. He and the Vilna Gaon and the Rav Shalom Shelrabi contributed greatly to the Kabbalah after the Ari.
Not only did he write seforim on Kabbalah, he also wrote the nimshal—interpretation of the Kabbalah as brought down by the Ari. A fascinating story originates with the nephew of Rav Chaim Volozhin—the greatest student of the Vilna Gaon—who wrote his uncle telling him that he had just finished a sefer by the RaMCHal, the “Adir Bamarom” and that it was phenomenal. He wondered why he’d been persecuted and died so young, died at the age of 40 in a Cholera epidemic in Akko. Why did G-D take him away?
Reb Chaim Volozhin wrote his nephew back telling him that he didn’t know the answer but he imparted what his rebbe, the Vilna Gaon, said (the Vilna Gaon being among the greatest Jews of the last 500-600 years). Reb Chaim Volozhin writes back to his nephew the following based on what the Vilna Gaon shared with him (the following is a summary of what the Vilna Gaon told Reb Chaim Volozhin as written to Reb Chaim’s nephew):
When I learnt the books of Rav Chaim Vital (the major student of the Ari), I wasn’t sure if he understood the interpretation of the Kabbalah as brought down by the Ari. He brought it down but did he really know what the Ari was referring to? (since so many of the ideas were represented as code and so what of the interpretation of those ideas?) Did Rav Chaim Vital know them? I wasn’t sure. Then, I saw, in certain places, that Rav Chaim Vital does understand the nimshal--interpretation of the analogue of the Ari. Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato is “barur”—clear. He definitely understands the nimshal of the Kabbalah of the Ari. “Baruch Ha’Shem, gam ani”—thank G-D, I too understand,” the Vilna Gaon stated.
This is what he wrote to his nephew. Can you imagine the Vilna Gaon saying something like this, that he wasn’t sure whether or not Rav Chaim Vital understood but that the RaMCHal definitely understood, and that the Vilna Gaon, one of the greatest scholars in the last 5-6-700 years, compares RaMCHaL to “Rishonim”—the earliest generation of sages. This goes to show you who the RaMCHaL was.
When somebody brought the Vilna Gaon the manuscript of the “Adir Ma’amorim,” he told the person to wait, went inside to put on his bigdei Shabbos—Shabbos clothes and then went out to accept the sefer. That’s how great the sefer was, great enough to change his garments!
It’s also well-known what the Vilna Gaon said (the Vilna Gaon was born in 1720 and the RaMCHaL was niftar –passed away not long after in 1747): that if the RaMCHaL were alive today, I (the Vilna Gaon) would walk from Vilna (in Lithuania) to Padua (in Italy) by foot to learn at the feet of the RaMCHaL.
There’s also a statement by the Vilna Gaon about the sefer “Mesilat Yesharim,” that there’s not one extra word in all the first eleven chapters!
This gives you some idea of who the RaMChaL was. We’re dealing with an extraordinary person. One of the things that I mentioned about him was that he was a genius in terms of logic, the organization of Torah. This, therefore, is a small sample of who he was and tonight’s shiur takes place on his yahrzeit for his honor.
He was a profound, prolific author and I always find it ironic that the people who persecuted him, whoever they were, are those persons who nobody has ever really heard of. Some are known in terms of what they wrote but most are unknown. One was Moshe Chagiz. He, like others, were afraid of RaMCHaL, being that he was young and spouting ideas of Kabbalah that nobody had ever heard of, but who has heard of Moshe Chagiz?
RaMCHaL is known in three segments of the Jewish population. He’s considered a father who brought back the learning of Hebrew. He wrote all his books in a beautiful Hebrew. He’s considered the father of modern Hebrew by such people as Bialik and other well-known secular Jews. He’s considered a formidable figure by the Litvische segment, and the Chassidim. RaMCHaL is world-known even though, during his lifetime, he was thought to be a follower of Shabbtai Tzvi, which is completely false. In fact, he authored “Kinos Ha’Shem Tzevokos,” a work against Shabbtai Tzvi, showing his mistakes and how he deceived millions of Jews.
This is some of the biographical information to support an appreciation of who the RaMCHaL was.
I’ll continue with this shiur based on what I often base my shiurim on: the plan, the ideas, the structure of the RaMCHaL.
What G-D Wanted, Two Attempts
I mentioned last time, but its worthy of repeating, some ideas that afford us an understanding of something unique about G-D’s plan. The Ribono Shel Olam—Master of the Universe wanted, at matan Torah—the giving of the Torah, that each Jew should be a personification, a residence, of the shechina—Divine Presence. Every Jew is meant to be a Beis Ha’Mikdash—Holy Temple within which the shechina can reside. We know this because it says, “v’shochanti besocham”—I will dwell in their midst. This tells us that the entry point into Creation of G-D’s Divine Presence is really the neshama of the Jew. That’s the entry point of the shechina into Creation. Originally, that was G-D’s plan.
Ultimately what happened is that, because the Jews sinned at the Golden Calf, the Ribono Shel Olam decided: even though I intended the neshama as the portal of My entry into Creation, they introduced the zohama into Creation. Because of this, if they want to experience Me, they can’t do it internally; they have to do it externally. They have to go to a building, the Beis Ha’Mikdash.
That’s the first dramatic change in our relationship to G-D.
The second change is G-D’s giving the Torah through Moshe, an intermediary. He wanted to give the Torah to us directly, not through Moshe. The proof is his having given the first two commandments—“I am the Lord Your G-D Who took you out of Egypt” and “you shall have no other gods before me”— to the Jews directly. That’s why the gematria of “Torah” is 611.
This has several profound implications; the first is that, in order for the Jews to have gotten it directly—imagine each Jew received the Torah directly, the first two mitzvos!—each Jew’s level of prophecy would have to have been equal to Moshe Rabbeinu’s because only that level of prophecy can serve as a conduit for the shechina in order to give the Torah to that person. That’s why Moshe was the greatest navi—prophet. Only the highest level of prophetic power can have that clarity sufficient for Torah to be given through him. Each Jew was equal to Moshe for the first two mitzvos. Can you imagine having such a level? But that is how it was. Why?
That’s what the Ribono Shel Olam wanted, that each Jew receive the Torah personally, not through an intermediary. This tells you that the level of neshama--soul of each Jew is awesome if he, potentially, can be a conduit to receive the Torah. It is beyond comprehension. The problem was that they sinned and so it became impossible. Historically, they all died because they could not receive that level of prophecy. Then, as I discussed in a prior shiur, Moshe wondered aloud if he is to give the Torah to dead people so G-D resurrects them. Then they come running to Moshe saying that they cannot tolerate such a great level of holiness, saying: you be the intermediary! But, as I said, the interesting idea is that G-D’s intent was for each Jew to be the conduit. That’s the greatness of the Jewish person’s neshama.
Did G-D give up?—no. There was a second attempt. The Jews left Egypt, a place of mind-boggling tumah—impurity but even though G-D could take them out of Egypt physically, it was far more difficult to “take Egypt out of the Jew,” so to speak. Once you’ve been in a country for so many years, you become habituated to its culture, its lifestyle, its values and beliefs. Why would you expect people with a slave mentality, ingrained in them for hundreds of years, to elevate themselves to receive the Torah?
This shows you that the Ribono Shel Olam “hoped,” in a certain sense, for a quantum leap and, somehow, in one fell swoop, they’d say to themselves: this is incredible, to talk to G-D directly and receive His Torah! They’d rise to the occasion; that’s what G-D wanted. It would have been difficult, yes, but possible.
The Gemara talks about this attempt as the possibility for a person to receive a wondrous Olam Ha’Ba—Future World because he took a quantum leap despite enormous difficulty. That’s what G-D wanted.
How do you take Egypt out of the Jew, to get the Jews to accept the Torah on that very high level of prophecy? G-D didn’t give up so He tried again.
Moshe said he’d return from his ascent on the 40th day. A prophet is never wrong so, when he did not come down at the professed time on the 40th day, they thought he was dead. The real reason is that they themselves made a mistake; there was no clock, so they thought the hour had been reached but it hadn’t. They panicked.
What was this? G-D was giving them a second chance to accept the Torah from G-D directly by, in essence, removing Moshe as intermediary. G-D purposely sets up the Jews to think that Moshe is gone and, therefore, wants them to say: okay, we already endured the first two commandments directly so let’s rise to the occasion and do the rest ourselves, have direct revelation.
Moshe’s perceived delay was a set-up! It was not to make the Jews fail but to discover their own wherewithal, their ability to be worthy of a level of kedusha—holiness that would take, on average, many, many years of cultivation.
So, that was the second attempt of G-D to get the Jews to interact with Him directly. Tragically, neither worked. Instead, they built an idol wanting that to be their intermediary. These events show us that the Jews are holy enough, great enough, to be able to “take over” for Moshe Rabbeiniu. It shows us what a neshama really is and what its true potential is.
Torah in the Klipah
As a result of all of this, the Torah went into the klipah. The Torah itself became surrounded by the zohama—satanic defilement. It doesn’t penetrate the Torah but it serves as a wall, a barrier around the Torah that brings about certain consequences. The task of the Jew, therefore, is to take the Torah out of the zohama. That’s really what he’s supposed to do.
We know what the Torah would have been had it not become surrounded by the zohama. It would have been, as the first tablets, the ohr rishon—the messianic Light. That’s what they would have experienced. The Torah would have entered their minds with total clarity, no problem! Clear! All the inferences, the implications of the Torah would have been readily and immediately available by the Jewish person. That is what the messianic Light is and what will be experienced in the messianic era.
The speed with which it would have entered the Jewish mind would have been phenomenal. It would also have entered the mind as a super-organized structure instead of being perceived as confusion with aspects out of sequence. That perfect revelation was the luchos rishonos—the first tablets.
Where do we see this? There’s a pasuk—verse in parshas—Torah portion “Mishpatim” which says, “eile mishpatim asher tosim lifneihem”—these are the laws placed before them. Rashi points out that laws are not “placed” before anybody; they’re taught. The verse might have said that “these are the laws that you will teach them.” The pasuk, as is, creates the impression that the laws are some sort of object.
Rashi brings down, explains, a very important idea. G-D, when teaching Moshe, told him that, in teaching them the Torah I’m giving you, don’t just teach them the law; you must also tell them the reason for the laws, the principles. It’s not just the law itself, the situation, the din—law. You must teach the reasoning behind each law, why it’s true, why the particular conduct is applicable to the given situation.
The second idea Rashi speaks of in terms of what G-D instructed is that Moshe was not to just give them halachos—rules. He should organize it for them, structure it. That is what is meant that you will “place it before them” like a shulchan aruch—prepared table. Imagine you sit at an event and the table is prepared, set; it’s not just items on a table. Each item has its place exactly where it must be on that table. It's not just about laws but their principles, the reason for each law organized and prepared with exquisite form, G-D is saying. That’s the messianic Light.
When the zohama surrounds that, it changes one’s ability to access the law. You may have a law which doesn’t appear to have a purpose behind it or it’s not brought down clearly. That’s the klipa, the shell that surrounds the kernel. The zohama surrounds the Torah and confuses everybody because it’s not clear and takes a tremendous effort to gain clarity, and it’s disorganized. This is the form of the Torah now. It is surrounded by the zohama. It’s not that it's woven into the Torah, but it serves as a barrier. The Ari says that, when learning Torah, having a question or encountering difficulty is an actual manifestation of the zohama which surrounds it.
What’s the task of the Jew? The task is to take the Torah out of the zohama and, automatically, everything becomes clear. Yegiah—tremendous effort breaks the klipah. That’s it. For the Jew, his yegiah, his great application of himself, his actual awareness that this effort breaks the shell that surrounds the Torah, is what does it. That’s referred to by chazal—sages in various ways, one of which is “yagato u’motsoso”--if you labor, you will “find” it, comprehend it. You’ll have broken the shell.
At the end of a mesechte—organizational element in Talmud, it says: you labor and we labor and they do not receive reward but we do. This refers to labor that breaks the klipah. The labor is what removes the zohama and, automatically, the concept we’re trying to figure out is released and, immediately, enters our minds. The “you who labor but don’t receive reward” refers to those who study in order to understand concepts. The “we who labor but do receive reward” refers to those who, through their very great expenditure of effort, break the shell for themselves and others. That approach is about the Torah’s release! Somebody who is yogeiah—industrious, applies himself in New York, for example, breaks the klipah of that area of Torah making it accessible with tremendous clarity to someone studying that concept in Los Angeles! That is yegiah—effort. That’s what does it. This is a very different way of understanding what the essential task of a Jew is in terms of Torah learning.
There’s a Gemara “Sanhedrin” that says, in “Eicha:” “b’m’chashchim hoshivani”—you have placed me in darkness and that’s “zu Talmud Bavli”—this is the Babylonian Talmud. It’s incredible because, you notice the way we have the Torah: mishnayos, gemara—right? So, of course, these are seforim of the Torah but, in many ways, they’re not written in a way that we can use as a textbook. We have no choice. We use them but, looking at them, they’re not written as an organized textbook, not sequential and not complete; there’s missing content in the exposure of what is said. Most of the time, when you learn Mishna, background information is not provided. One is prompted to ask, “Why this law relevant to its situation?” Information, the principle, is missing. It’s even missing that information which clarifies whether the law is rabbinical or biblical. This is the difficulty of learning mishnayos. Why is it this way? That’s the klipah, the zohama. There’s a great deal to say about this.
There is what is called “Daf Yomi” which we know about, a movement to learn one blat—page per day. Why wasn’t there a Daf Yomi three hundred years ago? Why now? Why was it proposed by Rav Meir Shapiro in, I think, 1920? The idea is fascinating. As we approach the End, closer to the messianic era, this ever-greater Darkness--which I’m spoken of many times, as does RaMCHaL--means that fewer learn Torah and, since that is the case, there’s less knowledge and, certainly, less labor being applied, less yegiah. So, how can the klipah be broken? This has been known to be true at the End of Time.
So, what G-D did is fascinating. He gave the idea of instituting this practice of a page-per-day study, put it in the mind of Rav Meir Shapiro. It’s called “Daf Yomi”—page-per-day, but it’s not real education in the sense that you learn something and then you know it. Guys who learn Daf Yomi learn it daily for seven-and-a-half years but do they end up really knowing it?—of course not. You can’t know the Gemara by learning a page per day. In fact, I always say, in a comical way, that the only way a guy can say, “I forgot the entire SHAS,” is by having learned it by Daf Yomi. You can’t retain anything learning that way; it’s much too quick.
Regardless, the Ribono Shel Olam put the idea of “Daf Yomi” in the rabbi’s mind and Jews gravitated to it, which is great. At least they have that. That would provide the yegiah. Even though we’re getting close to the messianic era and there’s tremendous Darkness, which means “ignorance,” when most don’t learn or, if they do, they don’t know, G-D “gives” them the effort, the labor, that they have to get up at 5:30am to do the daf—page and must persist in doing the daf again and again and again. That’s the yegiah that breaks the klipah.
This is why Daf Yomi is appropriate at the End of Time. Instead of doing the effort to learn and know the Gemara as they used to do, at the End, when so little is learnt, it’s the effort and labor, the misiras nefesh--self-sacrifice to learn which becomes paramount. If you are self-sacrificing in learning the Torah--even if you don’t understand it--the fact that you sacrificed in order to understand what you can, is, itself, what breaks the klipah. That is why Daf Yomi is completely appropriate but only for the End of Time.
Our job is to take the Torah out of the zohama that surrounds it because of the Sin of the Golden Calf which determined why the Gemara and the mishnayos are written in such a confusing way. That is what is meant by “You have placed me in Darkness.”
Is the Torah coming out of the klipah?--yes. How do we see this? There’s a certain phenomenon that has been happening—and I’m going to say something which I don’t think is understood or known—a tremendous number of seforim--books are printed but not just due to traditional publishing. The advent of computer self-publishing means that anyone can now compose and publish a sefer--book of his own. There’s a huge number of books in English or French, such as that of ArtScroll. That’s an example of the Torah coming out of the zohama.
It’s getting easier to learn Torah because it’s not only being translated; the incomplete material is being supplied. Missing ideas from sentences are now there. The Gemara has been missing every third word making it difficult but that difficulty is ending. ArtScroll inserted every missing thought making it a full-fledged composition. They’ve also added background information, notes. It’s astounding! They’ve, in many ways, changed the tsurah--form of SHAS. How were they able to do that? The dedication of all the years of Jews learning and laboring to learn (i.e.“Daf Yomi”), has lifted the Torah out of the zohama.
The argument being resolved in heaven now is: well, since the Torah is now much less surrounded by zohama, we can now make it easier to learn. As I said regarding the Ari, if you have a kasha—question because something is difficult to understand, that’s the zohama attaching itself to your mind. All the publishers that are translating, making Judaism available to Jews, is happening now because, through the labor of the Jews for thousands of years, they’ve succeeded—not totally as there’s something else that has to be done—in releasing it. Translation of the Talmud, the insertion of missing material, the inclusion of notes of the rishonim and achronim--the earliest and latter sages as background information of so many different books besides Gemara, so much commentary and translation, such a proliferation of seforim is because the Torah is leaving the klipah, the zohama.
I believe that’s the hashkafic reason for the creation of ArtScroll and what’s happening in the publishing world of Jews. What a tremendous labor to persist to learn 2,711 pages for seven-and-a-half years! All this are the repercussions of the Sin of the Golden Calf and an understanding of what G-D really wanted.
You should know one thing: all will be restored during the messianic era, all of it. The luchos rishonos—first tablets will then reassemble themselves, so to speak, and the Torah will, again, be the messianic Light, will be totally different. It will include information which will be beyond belief. The details of the messianic Light cannot be comprehensible now. That is part of the messianic era. It’s not just that a Jew will close his eyes and, suddenly, and with total clarity, the Torah will fly into his mind. All the inferences, the speed with which he will get content with no problems, no difficulties, no questions, the organization of the material being, as it says, “placed before them” like a shulchan aruch—table prepared, all the details of the Creation will be staggering for each Jew.
If you want to understand the manifestation of what it means for Torah to be surrounded by the zohama, look at the physical form of those first tablets, shattered! They lie shattered behind the second tablets in the ark. The state of being shattered bespeaks why you can’t reach clarity, can’t learn without great effort. That shattered state is what it means for the messianic Light to be in the klipah.
Someday, in the messianic era, it will all be repaired. Every Jew will have an automatic inheritance of the entire oral law, hashkafa, Kabbalah--you name it. Every Jew will be a stupendous scholar the way G-D intended since the beginning of time.
Q & A
Participant: Could women break the klipah also?
R’Kessin: Yes. A woman really has to learn Torah in terms of the mitzvos that she has. She is obligated to four mitzvos. She is exempt from those mitzvos asei—positive mitzvos which are determined by time but, if it isn’t time-related…and she has to observe all the negative commandments, right? Therefore, she has to learn. How else is she going to know? Once you learn and you’re obligated to learn in order to know, that will break the klipah.
Participant: Are there ways to break the zohama, the klipah, tactics that a person can use to break it more easily? You were saying that to understand something, we have to toil and the klipah breaks and then you, immediately, have clarity of that subject that you’re trying to learn so are there particular easier tactics that would break the klipah?
R’Kessin: It’s a very good question. There are; the greater attempt you make to achieve clarity and organization, the greater are the means to break the klipah. The Torah in the form termed “tiferes”—beauty, the form it’s intended to have. It’s like a magnificent painting where everything is there, present, without confusion or vagueness; it’s not a cholent! All is in its exact place and it’s clear and highly-structured. It has to be super-organized. That’s its real, intended form--tiferes. That beauty has been taken away due to the sins of the Jews and the resultant zohama.
In fact, there’s a pasuk--verse in “Tachanun,” which asks, “How long will Your might be in captivity and Your beauty be in the hands of the enemy?” “Might” refers to hatzlacha—fortune, and “beauty” refers to knowledge. These have been given over to the goyim—non-Jews. That is why their strides in science, technology, and other accomplishments have been proliferating. That’s a whole topic I’ve covered many times. They have the tiferes and we have the foundation of Torah but it’s not in the form of tiferes. It’s in confusion because it’s surrounded by klipah. It’s not a shulchan aruch as G-D intended, a systematic compendium for Moshe to teach us in a structured way. The lack of structure, the lack of connection of the dots, is one of the greatest impediments in learning Torah. That’s why so many don’t know what’s going on; the dots are not connected.
What is the way of tiferes? What would the Torah look like if there were tiferes? RaMCHaL speaks a lot about that, especially in the introduction of “Derech Ha’Shem.” It’s important to know. If you learn in that way, that yegiah breaks the klipah. It’s not in the details themselves but the details insofar as they relate to each other in a structured framework. You would be as though looking at the totality of a building. That’s a way to break the klipah, by replicating the Torah in the form of the beautiful.
Participant: The desire to have the clarity breaks it?
R’Kessin: Yes, because G-D considers the machshava—thoughts of a Jew, the desire and will of a Jew, and will reward you for that.
Participant: Do you think that’s why your “mishnaic map” hasn’t been able to be fully developed yet? It’s in the klipah?
For more on this topic of the Rabbi’s “Mishnaic map - RAMAT,” Please visit the following website link: https://www.torahthinking.org/mishnaic-map-ramat
R’Kessin: The answer is “yes.” The thing that I want to do, the “map,” requires greater explanation which I’ve given in other lectures. For example, imagine looking at a map of, let’s say, New Jersey, seeing everything in New Jersey. But, the beauty of it is in your acquisition of understanding of every geographical point, the distance and orientation of north, south, east, west and how each point relates to each other point.
Instead of geographical points, imagine having halachos--laws depicted on a map so that, looking at it, you see the totality of an entire masechte of halachic ideas, each in its exact place and how it relates to every other idea. That would revolutionize your understanding and chinuch—education overall. You could teach an entire mesechte in one week. The map has all the ideas. The way to do it is not through the Gemara because the Gemara is concerned with solving problems; that’s the sugya. You could do it with the mishnayos. Theoretically, it is possible--but I’m won’t explain now--to teach 4,192 mishnayos with not just the ideas of the Mishna but with all the missing information. It could all be put into a map and taught in one week, and it would lend itself to retention. The mind loves organized information.
It would reinstate Torah in its form of tiferes. The only thing missing then would be the incredible amount of detail missing in terms of Kabbalah and how it connects to hashkafa and halacha, but, at least, it would be that organized, prepared table, the shulchan aruch which is nothing more than a symbol for “framework” or “structure,” the appropriate and logical placement of ideas. To “place” all the Mishnaic ideas would revolutionize Jewish education and, if done right, all shisha sidrei mishna–six orders of Mishna and all 4,192 mishnayos could be learned in one year which would be astounding. This organizing is the second thing to be done.
The first thing to be done is to overcome the problem of the Torah’s language. Most people are not familiar with the language of the Torah. There’s a great deal to talk about regarding linguistics. They don’t know Hebrew or Aramaic. It’s interesting that the rishonim like Rashi and the Ibn Ezra focused a great deal on dikduk—grammar and linguistics. There are different types of Hebrew: biblical, mishnaic, medieval, and modern. Once you know Hebrew, Aramaic isn’t far off; it too is a Semitic language. There are many similarities between the two. Most guys are not familiar with Hebrew to the extent they should be. That’s the major language you’re dealing with. Language is ignored and the teaching of it is mistaken too. If you knew how to organize it, you could teach the grammar of Hebrew in thirty hours.
Participant: Ha’Shem didn’t want an intermediary when He originally gave us the Torah and eventually had to use Moshe because we failed that test but, when mashiach comes, wouldn’t mashiach be an intermediary?
R’Kessin: That’s an interesting question. He’ll be an intermediary in the sense that he has the yechida so the knowledge will come through him but, once the knowledge comes through him, it will then broadcast to every Jew independent of the mashiach. The Jew will have resumed his place as “center” so that, kabbalistically and spiritually, the knowledge comes through his yechida which is “open.” In the end, each Jew will be privy to the Torah by himself. That’s the nevuah—prophecy, and people learn through that. It’s a different way of understanding. So he is, and is not, an intermediary.
Participant: Our ability to have prophecy…that’s to be the quantum leap? When you say “quantum leap,” what do you mean?
R’Kessin: Yes, that’s the quantum leap but that leap is because of the galus—exile. We will have deserved, earned, that leap. G-D says, “I will bring you, will gather you, even if you are outcasts at the ends of heaven. From there…” This is from the famous pasuk from “Nitzavim.” “From there” means that He will gather us from within the klipah itself. “From there,” He will gather us and bring us to Eretz Yisrael. That is G-D doing it because we will have done it. It’s like Egypt. The Jews did the work of being in galus and G-D brought the makos–blows, plagues down. They’d accomplished changing the sefiros into, partially, a physical form. The same will happen by us.
Participant: You said that Ha’Shem was preparing a set-up for us when Moshe didn’t come down from Har Sinai, setting it up so we wouldn’t need Moshe and just turn to Him but doesn’t it say somewhere that the Satan showed a picture of Moshe dead and the Jews saw that and thought he really died?
R’Kessin: Well, yes, but it wasn’t a “picture;” it an image in the sky of Moshe lying in a funeral…
Participant: Why did Ha’Shem allow that image as if He too was setting us up to fail at the same time?
R’Kessin: No, He wanted the Jews to say: okay, it’s terrible that Moshe is not with us but we already experienced what G-D did. We became prophets as great as he was and, if we did it once, why not continue? G-D wanted them to make that quantum leap and assume the role of Moshe Rabbeinu. In order to convince them, He had to make sure they would think Moshe was dead. It’s not that Moshe is missing or he’s late. A navi--prophet can’t be late. G-D provided an incentive to make that leap.
The Satan had his ideas hoping that the Jews would not make the quantum leap but, instead, commit the sin of the Golden Calf. That was the Satan’s plan. G-D’s plan was to convince the Jews that Moshe was gone. I’m sure there were those who were probably saying: well, Moshe is late, but G-D didn’t want people to think that because what would happen? They’d wait and he’s back in the next hour, so what was the plan for? So, G-D allowed the Satan to do what he wanted for his purposes to provide the final argument that Moshe is dead. What the Satan does is always for his own sake but the Ribono Shel Olam allows him to be a guinea pig, to be the fool, to carry out the will of G-D unbeknownst to himself. That’s what happened. It was more important that the Jews think Moshe is gone so they make the quantum leap and each Jew become a Moshe Rabbeinu.
It's like what the RaMBaM says, “Every Jew can be like Moshe Rabbeinu.” You have to understand what that means—without getting into it—that it’s literal. Every Jews has, in the capacity of his neshama, to be as great as Moshe. That’s exactly what G-D wanted 3,300 years ago.
What you’re saying is correct but I’m trying to provide the underlying rationale.
Participant: Going back to the RaMCHaL, it’s not clear why he died so early. You spoke about the Vilna Gaon and what he said about Rav Chaim Vital but what was the ending? Why did the RaMCHaL die so young?
R’Kessin: Rav Chaim Volozhin never answered that but the Maggid of Meseritch, he who took over for the Baal Shem Tov, the main man in the whole world of chassidus, said that RaMCHaL died young because the world was not zoche—worthy to have his type of neshama among them. Remember, he was persecuted, put in cherem—condition of being banned, accursed. They made him take all his seforim, put them in a box, a chest, which is hidden somewhere in Frankfurt. He had a lot of kesovim—writings, one of which is a thousand-page commentary on “Koheles.” He also wrote a second zohar and these are all hidden in this box buried somewhere in Frankfurt. Imagine that!
Participant: Is anyone looking for it?
R’Kessin: Somebody told me—which is interesting—that, a long time ago, he hired a psychic guy to try to find it but the guy wasn’t successful. But it’s somewhere in Frankfurt, Germany.
Participant: This is also the klipah?
R’Kessin: Yes. Everything has a reason, even this.
Participant: What makes our generation worthy of mashiach? Like Moshe was the mashiach of his time so, obviously, the mashiach of our time will have as much knowledge as he did, as he grows, so what makes us okay? Our generation is horrible so….
R’Kessin: If you recall, you asked that question a while back, last year, and I answered. It’s because we have to finish up what everybody’s been doing for a thousand years, so it’s easier.
The second thing I said is that we have no idea of the greatness of every Jew because of the unbelievable difficulty of remaining Jewish or remaining religious. We have no idea. I mentioned the Rizhoner Rebbe who said that the reward of each Jew in the time of the End will be greater than the reward of the akeida—binding of Yitzchak by Avraham Avinu. That is how difficult it is in the sense of retaining observance to the mitzvos.
Just walk outside your house and what does it take to begin seeing things you shouldn’t see, thinking about things you shouldn’t be thinking about—fashion, you name it. We don’t realize how much we’ve been affected, so the reward that a person gets for being observant and believing in G-D, having emuna—faith is beyond belief. So, we’re not as bad as you think. We’re placed in a very difficult situation. But that’s what makes us much greater. Two thousand years ago, they didn’t have these challenges; we do. Now it’s much worse. We live in a country that’s become depraved. It’s beyond belief! The whole world is like this.
Participant: The RaMCHaL married?
R’Kessin: Yes, and his wife’s name was Tziporah.
Participant: Does it have anything to do with Moshe?
R’Kessin: No. He married…what was his father-in-law’s name…I’m trying to remember his name. I think he had a son. There was a cholera epidemic that hit Akko and he died in that epidemic.
Participant: Who was RaMCHaL a gilgul--reincarnation of? What’s the order of the gilgulim that led up to the RaMCHaL?
R’Kessin: RaMCHaL is a shoresh—root of the Mashiach ben Yosef. That’s how he was able to do what he could do, which was phenomenal. Rabbi Akiva is also a shoresh of Mashiach ben Yosef, and the RaMCHaL is, no question, part of that shoresh, that spark, of Rabbi Akiva, of his neshama, and why he’s buried near Rabbi Akiva. There’s been, over the years, the Ari, the root of Mashiach ben Yosef and, had the Jewish people been worthy, any of them could have been mashiach but, obviously, they weren’t. On the contrary, they persecuted the RaMCHaL, a tremendous mistake on their part. History has vindicated the RaMCHaL. He’s known world-wide as one of the greatest thinkers in the last three centuries. Everybody knows Luzzato.
It shows you the terrible mistake they made because the Satan doesn’t want people doing this so, through his kitrugim—prosecutions, the Satan gets the Jews to reject the RaMCHaL. The Satan can argue that the RaMCHaL’s success is not justified and, therefore, gets people to reject what could have brought the geula—Redemption. It’s incredible the power that the Satan has because of the sins of the Jewish people. Other than that, he’s nobody. He manages to dig into their chataim—sins and stop so many things. There are so many things that are wrong today in terms of what’s happening in Jewish society, a whole litany of problems that Jews have and it’s all satanic. He tries to get Jews to leave Judaism, the different “levels” of leaving, to get them to be more “modern;” that is also “leaving” on a certain level. This is a whole discussion in itself.
We live in an era in which, as I’ve said, the “window” is about to shut, but it won’t, as the RaMCHaL says, “ad v’lo ad bichlal”—until, but not including until. The “until” is because, if that window shut, the world would immediately cease to exist. Could you imagine that it’s going to be one nanometer from its bottom? That’s all that’s left. Today, we’re in the mem-tet-sha’arei-tumah—the 49th level of defilement.
I just read a statistic which is horrendous; it was done out of England, an institute there. They estimate that there are 15.1 million Jews in the world today. How many of them are hareidi, meaning people who are Torah-observant? Only two—2.1. That means that 13 million Jews are “gone,” Do we have any concept of the tragedy of what that means, that 13 million Jews have nothing to do with the Torah? Maybe somebody observes a little, eats matzah together with bread on Pesach in order to be “traditional.” I’m talking about real Torah-observant Jews in whatever capacity we understand that. They could be observant in any capacity we understand: Litvische, Chassidische, Sephard—Torah observant. But there’s only 2 million out of 15 million. The rest are partially gone or mostly gone. Imagine what the repercussions are for this generation! That is the Darkness!