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Weekly Hashkafa #71: Avraham Avinu and the Imperative to Do the Tikkun

Given: 10/25/2021


I had mentioned the concept of Adam, that he is a “Yisrael,” meaning that he can do tikkun---rectification, having a soul that is connected to all the different (spiritual) worlds. Because of that, any of his acts can alter or change the energies of those worlds. He can by his deeds, bringing down the energy of the emanations, the ten sefiros, and changing the world. That’s what a “Yisrael” is, someone who can alter the physical world by accessing the spiritual world.

We also know that from all the generations from Noach until the dor ha’flaga---generation of the dispersion that mankind sinned grievously. No one was doing tikkun. G-d had given mankind approximately 2000 years, twenty generations, to rectify the Creation, but mankind failed. So, G-d subjected them to the “last chance,” option, which He does. Whenever He’s about to create a game-changer, He does a “last chance.” What did He do?

Avraham vs. Nimrod

He made Avraham great and He made Nimrod great. Two leaders, however each was different from the other. Nimrod’s inclination was to rebel against G-d; Avraham’s was to promote G-d. G-d said: Let’s see who the people follow. It was only one country, one language. G-d continues: If they follow Avraham, then I will not disconnect them from the sefirot. As a result, they will continue to do the tikkun. If they follow Nimrod, I’ll alter mankind and disconnect them from the sefirot (which I mentioned last lecture) and they will no longer, in many ways, be able to do that. That would render them purposeless. But He allowed them to have merit by helping the Jews.

Mankind, of course, followed Nimrod, and built the tower in order to war with G-d. G-d spread them, separated them, creating the concept called “many languages” because a nation operates through culture, particularly its language. It is language that separates nations. G-d separated them by language differentiation, and separated them physically. All this was done miraculously.

Why did G-d do this? The problem was that if G-d were to give this capability to Avraham, then it becomes a Jewish enterprise; the only ones who can do it are the Jews. But then He would have to separate them. Why? If the Jews are the only ones who can do it, mankind—the other of only two nations---will become insanely jealous. Avraham will engender a tremendous amount of hatred. This results in anti-Semitism and the urge to destroy the Jews. If G-d, however, separates them into 70 nations, they are apt to fight amongst themselves and leave Avraham and his descendants “alone” to do the tikkun. This has been the case for 4,000 years. We now understand the strategy.

U.N. and the Re-unification of Mankind

But when it comes close to the messianic era, that segregation is no longer necessary. G-d would rather have the nations united, together. Then, they can recognize G-d as one. He will undo the forces that split the nations into 70. We now know why G-d put it into the mind of mankind to create that organization, the United Nations. What the U.N. does is unite the nations: one building, each with its interpreter for its own language. So, what happens? As explained, and as G-d said, when the nations unite, the result is hatred of Jews and efforts to destroy them. That is what the U.N has been doing for years. We know there’s a double standard with them. Whatever is good for the nations is bad for the Jews. The concept of anti-Semitism is the that which differentiates between the soul of a Jew and the soul of the goy. It is not just jealousy; the Jews also provide the nations with a scapegoat. The nations are always doing evil and, as a result, bringing punishment upon themselves. So they look at the Jew and think: why are they doing better than we are? They need a scapegoat and the ones who promote the Jews as scapegoats are the leaders of these nations. The reason why many nations are failures is due to the evil of their leaders.

Take a look and see who dominates these nations, the evil of their leaders. They are incompetent, greedy, evil. At best, some are mediocre. Most are selfish. I would say, as an aside, that the greatest curse G-d could put upon a nation is not to harm them directly but give them a leader who is evil. So many of the nations have this and they must divert attention away from their failures so they scapegoat the Jews. This has been going on for thousands of years. So, G-d decided to separate them and divide them for the Jews to be able to do the tikkun.

But at the End, as it says in “Tehillim”—psalms, perek beit---2nd chapter: “Why are the nations excited against G-d and His anointed one?” That tells you that, at the End, the nations will come together, but for the purpose of attempting to destroy the Jews---which is Gog u’Magog-- due to the intense anti-Semitism that they have. As a united force, they can attempt to war against Mashiach ben Yosef. The United Nations is a current-event reversion of what happened 4,000 years ago. G-d split them to enable the tikkun to be done and now unites what was separated. This is one of the ways we know we’re at the End of Time. It is this bringing together of the nations, creating the climate of extreme anti-Semitism, that indicates it is nearing the End. We’ve seen all the resolutions the U.N. passes to condemn the Jewish people. Even though it is obvious what is happening, ultimately, it is they who will be condemned. They have no idea---which I’ve explained many times---what their retribution will be when judgement finally catches up with them.

The Second Chance

G-d had mercy on the goyim---there’s a midrash---exegetical commentary---about how He always does that, gives a second chance. The chazal---sages tell us how, by matan Torah---giving of the Torah, G-d went around to all the nations, all the root nations, and asked them if they wanted the Torah, to reconnect to tikkun, to reconnect all the souls of the 70 roots of the nations to the sefiros---Divine emanations. They all rejected it. We don’t know what the historical event was. It could have been that some segment of the population of each nation was trying to awaken their fellow men to become more ethical, moral, but everyone rejected it. Or G-d looked at the spiritual capacity of each nation and recognized that it was so low that, even had He offered them the reconnection, they would have been unable to realize it. But, there was a chance. Each refused for whatever reason. It is thought that each refused it for its own reason.

For example, when offered to Esav/Edom, they asked: what’s in it (the Torah)? When G-d told them “thou shalt not murder” is in it, they said: no, we’re sorry because we live on that.

When offered to Ishmael, they similarly asked: what’s in it? G-d said, “Thou shalt not steal.” Ishmael responded: sorry, but that’s how we make our living.

Each nation had a reason why they wouldn’t accept. The Jews not only accepted but did so out of great love. Therefore, we see that G-d had set up, after 2000 years---Avraham was 52 years old in the year 2000 from Creation---that the ones who will do the tikkun are the Jews and it became a Jewish enterprise.

The Beginnings of the Mission

This allows us to understand two very important ideas from the biblical portion “Lech L’cha” in which Avraham embarks on this tikkun mission. We see two “beginnings” that have to happen.

The first is when G-d tells Avraham to leave his land---Charan---and his family, and go to the land that “I will show you.” Why doesn’t G-d tell him where it is, to Cana’an or Eretz Yisrael? We could say that, perhaps, G-d held in store for him a great reward not to be disclosed. Imagine Avraham, a man of 75 years, not particularly wealthy, making a very difficult journey. Imagine that he’s told to leave every comfort and familiarity, and he even doesn’t know where he’s going, which is extremely unsettling. G-d is saying: you have to trust Me.

But the truth is that there is something much greater. It is, in essence, G-d saying: you have to understand that to do this fundamental job I’m giving you, you must trust me.This is a requirement. Why? Because a great deal of what you will go through will be a mystery to you. You will have to trust me in ways you will not understand. Bitachon---trust is critical to the job of tikkun. I will begin this enterprise by not telling you where you’re going. It’s not just to set you up to have greater reward. Over the thousands of years that you and your descendants will be doing this job, there will be many, many strange things that will happen, incomprehensible things.

Then what happens? Here’s the first quandary for Avraham as he travels to Cana’an. He gets there and there is one of the worst of ten famines the world has known. G-d had told him “I will make you great, etc.” and yet he comes to a land in the grip of famine. Imagine what a regular guy would have thought: this is the Land of Milk and Honey?

The second thing is that Avraham can’t even stay there. This is the “land that I will show you”? How can it be? Avraham likely thought. I have to leave or starve to death.

But, where can he go?---Egypt. It was a land filled with zima—immorality. Immorality is what it was known for. Take a man like Avraham, having to go to a land filled with hashchosa---corruption. That is the third thing.

The fourth quandary is when he turns to Sarah and says something like: I know you’re quite beautiful. These immoral people are checking who’s coming in and they kill husbands to take their wives. They’ll kill me and take you to be with somebody else. So, Sarah is kidnapped. And that’s not even the worst of it. They kidnap her to become the concubine of the Pharoah. Even worse, the rule is that when a Pharoah dies, no one can marry the widow. It was considered a disgrace to the Pharoah’s memory that his widow could be given to a commoner. So, Sarah could never come back to Avraham.

So, imagine this old man, no wealth, no family, sitting somewhere in the middle of Egypt in some motel---so to speak---and he’s finished! And this is after being promised by G-d to be made a “great nation.” Why did G-d do this? G-d was teaching him the job requirement. G-d was telling him: you think this is gonna be a bed of roses?—no. You will be exposed to terrible events that will make no sense. So, instead of having a great time doing the bidding of the king, you will be subject to circumstances that will test your resolve to continue. It will appear as I’ve abandoned you but you must have bitachon---trust.

From this, the reward comes. Who, ultimately, enabled Avraham to become wealthy?---Pharoah. When Pharoah realized who Avraham was, a holy man, a prophet--- a plague came upon Egypt and it became apparent that G-d brought it for Avraham’s sake---Pharoah told Avraham to leave Egypt, that his type of spirituality is not what Egypt wants, but that he will give Avraham great wealth.

G-d was teaching Avraham that, not only had he not been abandoned throughout these restorative sufferings, but the hardship itself is what made him wealthy! From the darkness comes the wealth. Many Canaanite kings envied him and his reputation became very great. What did it?—the incidents in Egypt. G-d can make you rich and successful outright, or lower you to where it appears dark, bleak, hopeless. But from there comes the yeshua---salvation.

G-d made a covenant with Avraham, the bris bein ha’betarim---Covenant Between the Pieces. That is how a covenant was made; the parties would cut creatures in half and both parties would walk between the parts. This was the official, legal, event that creates the concept of “Jews” to do the tikkun.

The Distinctions of “70”

I mentioned previously that Avraham was one of the 70 shoroshim---roots, and caretaker of 1/70th of them, caretaker of the tikkun. But now, G-d put Avraham in charge of all 70 parts---all of it! As I mentioned in the previous lecture, Avraham now took over the 70 different connections toward the 70 different parts of the sefiros. That’s why it says there are 70 parts of the Torah, because each sefira is able to enlighten you on one aspect of the Torah. Since there are 70 different parts we are connected to, we have 70 different facets. That is also why there are 70 (root) languages. Each shoresh neshama---root soul has its own way of communicating with others. That is also why there are 70 members of the Sanhedrin because each is able to perceive information from the root that he is connected to. That is why when the Jews went to Egypt, there were 70. There were 69 until they reached the city walls, when Yocheved, Moshe’s mother, was born between the walls. Each of the 70 was caretaker over one of the sefiros in order to bring about Redemption.

G-d told Avraham: you have to understand that your job is not just to do the tikkun, to bring the holiness of the sefiros down to this world to purify it, to make it more spiritual. You also have to undo all the evil that was done for 2000 years by the 70 nations when they were connected to the sefiros, tainting them. The Jewish enterprise was also charged with the job of taking back the power of the Satan—remember he gets his power from the sefiros, a power that the Jews renounce when they sin. These are referred to as the “sparks of holiness.” One aspect of rectification would be accomplished when they take back this holiness by descending into a treacherous environment and remaining righteous. That is how they can take it back. That is what G-d told Avraham, that his descendants would be gerim---strangers, aliens held captive in a land for 410 years. That land was, of course, Egypt. Thus, they emerged with the sparks of holiness and were redeemed.

Avraham asked: how will I know that I will be able to do the tikkun. What if my descendants sin just as the generations before the Flood did? My children will be destroyed too. Perhaps You should choose another candidate.

G-d said no. G-d promised to guarantee that the Jews will do the tikkun. It will not be done simply by remaining strangers in a hostile and evil environment and maintaining their righteousness---which is really all they should have had to do. As I described in a previous lecture, G-d’s hanhagas ha’yichud---actions of the One guarantee it. If the Jews in Egypt were unable to resist temptation, they would become enslaved and afflicted. G-d gave them three ways to do the tikkun: remain righteous---thereby taking back the holiness from the Satan---or suffer, and their pain would be the method to restore the holiness to where it belonged. The other method is repentance.

This is the meaning of Avraham’s prophetic vision. He slept and saw that G-d went through the pieces in two ways: one was as a fiery flame, the other as a smoking furnace. Rashi says that the smoking furnace was a symbol of Gehenom---purgatory. G-d’s appearance as a fiery flame, a brilliant light, would signify that the Jews successfully resisted evil, stayed righteous, didn’t assimilate. His appearance as a furnace meant that they were sinning. Either way, the objective would be met assuring Avraham that his descendants would be spared. Either way, the Jews will have rectified the evil of the non-Jews who, for the two millennia that they were still connected to the sefiros, failed to rectify Creation. Either way, the Jews will have collapsed the Satanic empire, collapsed the power of the Satan’s zoamah---(power of) impurity, decomposition and began the process of zikuch---purification of the physical universe.

The Jews had to go to Egypt to reclaim the sparks of holiness. That was part of the process. And they did. This is indicated by the Torah’s verse about their having left Egypt with “richush gadol”---great wealth, possessions. The numerological value of the Hebrew phrase “they will leave with great possessions” is equal to the numerological value of “sparks of holiness.”

This story of Avraham is the “intro” to the job. It is like when you are being hired and you sit down with your employer and he spells out all the conditions. G-d’s initial conditions were: I’m not going to spell out exactly what the reward will be and you just have to trust Me. The second condition was that it will be a tough job but I will not abandon you.

We don’t know what the ultimate reward will be like. Yes, there is Cana’an, the Holy Land. But the ultimate “land” where we will ultimately wind up is olam ha’ba--- Future World. We trust that G-d will reward us with something sublime. Also, this journey, this task, would not be simple, would be filled with contradictions, darkness, suffering along the way, and we have to maintain our bitachon. This is Avraham’s introduction to the job of tikkun.

You should know that this is why the Jews are the only nation of antiquity to survive. All others are gone. If you want to look at the ancient Assyrians or Babylonians, you have to dig them up because they are all dead! The reason for that is because we are the only ones who can do the tikkun and we are guaranteed to be able to do it, hence the smoking furnace of the vision.

The concept that lies between the end of “Noach” and “Lech Lecha” is critical, the requirements of what the Jews must have. No matter what the Jewish people have to go through, they must believe in G-d, trust in G-d, knowing that what He says He will do, He will do. Furthermore, we will be both in the Future World and the messianic era which is an incredible thing to look forward to. These chapters are pivotal in understanding our task.

Q & A

Participant: If each one of us is connected to a root sefira and our job is to take back the energy of that sefira, that is, technically, our tikkun (our mission) in life. So, if we found out which root sefira we were connected to, we would know what our path is? Have there ever been mekubalim---kabbalists---or learnings which could help us dig deeper into this (to determine what our personal mission is)?

R’Kessin: In the olden days, you’d be lucky. You could walk over to the Kohen Gadol---High Priest and ask him. He could look at his choshen---breastplate, look at the stones, see which ones lit up---because it was all miracles--- and he could tell you. Or you could go to a prophet, perhaps to Yirmiyahu, and ask, “What am I supposed to be doing here?” and he would tell you. He would have a nevuah---prophetic vision, make the request, and G-d would answer him. The problem is that such prophetic powers ended long ago. Today, there are a few ways a person might be able to do that. One is gilui Eliyahu, where Eliyahu appears to certain tzaddikim---righteous individuals so that tzaddik can ask Eliyahu. Another is when the tzaddik himself has ruach ha’kodesh---holy spirit and he could know what your tachlis---purpose is. There were some, like the Arizal, who would know what your tafkid---mission is by looking at your hands, your forehead and be able to “read” it because it is really on display in the creases of your skin, etc., but these people are gone. Who can do it today? Unknown.

But remember, G-d will guide you to do it. If it isn’t meant to happen, it won’t. There are things we try but they don’t succeed because it wasn’t our tachlis.

“Pirkei Avot”---Ethics of the Fathers asks, “Who is rich?--- somebody who is happy with his lot, his portion.” How do we understand that? Many will say they would be happier with the other guy’s portion. What it really means is that your portion—whatever it is---is exactly what you need to do your mission. You have to be given the complete wherewithal, everything, in order to fulfill your mission. If that is the case, and I have everything I need to do it and I do it, that is the greatest of all wealth. Right? When a person does his own tikkun, that’s his olam ha’ba. If you need to be rich, you’ll be rich---not because you earned it---but because wealth is what you need to do your tikkun. For someone else, things may be more difficult but that is what he needs to do his. It is in the Future World that you will get that is the greatest wealth. All of your energy, your kedusha---holiness, your dveikus---attachment to G-d is earned exactly through the sefira that was yours to impact. If that is what it says in “Pirkei Avot,” obviously, G-d has to give you your portion. G-d knows that you don’t know what your portion is so He must give it to you and you decide what has to be done. It will come to you. If it isn’t your portion then it shouldn’t come to you. If it were to come to you, it could mislead you, cause you to make a mistake. Everything has exact precision. You have exactly what you need to connect to allow the flow of your particular sefira and that is the best situation you could be in.

Participant: If there are only 70 parts that we need to get the energy back from, then how does it subdivide and subdivide and each of us is 1/70?

R’Kessin: It’s like I explained elsewhere, there are ten and each of the ten has ten. Those are the ten sub-sefiros. That’s the first layer. Then the second layer is a hundred because each of the ten has ten. So, it’s ten times hundred which is a thousand and it progresses infinitely. You are some sefira and somewhere down the ladder is the sefira dedicated to you. That’s your job. If you do that job, then that’s all you need, because that is the window to G-d.

Participant: When we say the tikkun is almost done, that means that most of the people have done their tikkun and gotten the holiness back. Didn’t you say that right before mashiach comes, all the Jewish souls come back?

R’Kessin: They will come back with t’chiat ha’meitim---resurrection of the dead.

Participant: Everyone alive now still has to do tikkun?

R’Kessin: Yes. But we’re getting closer and closer to the End. It says that mashiach doesn’t come until all the neshamot—souls in a place called “Guf” come down. Every soul destined to be in a body must be born to do its tikkun. Ultimately, everyone gets up. Some will get up in the beginning, because they’re more spiritual. Others may have to wait decades. But everyone will be up by the year 6000.

Participant: I don’t understand why G-d doesn’t do something to let us know what our tikkun is.

R’Kessin: I would imagine that what G-d needs every Jew to do now is have bitachon. That is the greatest zchus---merit that we have now. You have to have faith. If we all knew what was expected of us, we wouldn’t need bitachon; we would just do it. Remember what happened by krias yam suf---parting of the Reed Sea? Moshe said, “Go forward into the sea.” No one wanted to do it. They were afraid to drown. Finally, one person, Nachshon ben Aminadov went in. He had to display bitachon for the sea to part. You have to display some type of trust in G-d. That is the key to open up the door. Everyone knew they’d gotten out of Egypt so why did they need bitachon? Millions left to go into the wilderness---no food there! They didn’t know about the manna or what they could drink. That was the problem with the many who died, who didn’t leave Egypt. They wanted to leave Egypt but---to the wilderness? There’s nothing there! They didn’t have trust in G-d. They believed in G-d, knew that Egypt wouldn’t enslave them anymore, that they were free, but that wasn’t enough.

G-d said: I need to change your life. I need to give you Torah. So Nachshon ben Aminadov had to display bitachon. Even when Redemption is near and we don’t know what is going to happen, we need bitachon, that G-d will lead us in the right direction. It is critical for the geulah---Redemption. That is why we cannot know exactly what we have to do. G-d is in charge, is taking care of all your needs and will not abandon you, just as he didn’t abandon Avraham. Not only that, it was because of the darkness that Avraham became wealthy and famous.

Participant: Does bitachon make you wake up earlier for techiat ha’meitim?

R’Kessin: Yes, it does. It is a powerful mitzvah. Very powerful.

Participant: Is spreading bitachon as important as spreading the halachot---laws of loshon ha’ra---evil speech?

R’Kessin: Each does its own thing. Bitachon was a major element in the akeida---sacrifice, binding of Isaac. How do you slit your son’s throat?---because Avraham had bitachon. He believed that, on some level, what he was doing made sense. G-d needed him to do that.

Participant: If G-d spoke to you, of course you’re gonna listen. If He told me to do X, Y, and Z, of course I’m going to do it. So how does it demonstrate bitachon if Hashem is talking to me and I’m going to do it.

R’Kessin: Think about this: why did the Jews make the Golden Calf if they all heard G-d’s voice?

Participant: It was the Eirev Rav.

R’Kessin: But the others allowed them to do it. The problem is that we are rooted in teva--nature, in the physical world. Even though you have a divine vision, it still has to come via natural means. We always have a tendency to be skeptical because all we see is natural means. It’s not just the experience but also what G-d says to do. G-d could say to do something and you say to yourself: what? How am I gonna do that? I could get killed. It’s like Nachshon Aminadov. The Jews saw the nisim---miracles, yet only Nachshon jumped in. Everyone else thought: I’m gonna drown. It’s not simple to have bitachon. Being immersed in the physical world, it’s hard to let go when you know that, if you let go, the normal consequence is death. It’s very hard to let go.

Participant: What happens in the spiritual realms when you use your bitachon? What happens that changes the dimensions….let’s say something is happening to you and you input bitachon and surrender and do all the kavanot---intentions in your mind: whatever is happening is for my good, I thank G-d for it….What is happening in the other realms that we don’t see, that the physical eye doesn’t see but is happening in the other realms?

R’Kessin: You get closer to G-d. The more you trust Him, the more He allows you to experience Him, or in the future to experience Him. Dveikut---attachment is enhanced by bitachon. The less you have, the further G-d is from you.

Participant: Let’s say in some moments when I experienced dveikut and started tearing up, crying from it, the physical reactions to it…what is that exactly?

R’Kessin: That would indicate that you seem to have a tendency to be close to G-d, that there’s something about you that is close to Him on an emotional level. That is a very great ma’ala---virtue.

Participant: So, your physical being can connect to the spiritual and you can have an emotional reaction?

R’Kessin: Yes, the reaction is that you can become more spiritual.

Participant: So, it opens doors.

R’Kessin: It opens doors to the shekhina---Divine Presence. You can get close to the Divine Presence.

Participant: So why doesn’t ha’Shem allow us to have that always---that it comes and goes?

R’Kessin: He doesn’t want to disturb your free will. If you experienced the reward, the outcome of a mitzvah, it would disturb your free will. That’s why angels cannot sin. G-d wants us to be able to sin (but to choose not to). G-d won’t take our free will away. It would disturb our ability to get our reward in the Future World. Your reward has to be merited which means what you do has to be done, chosen, freely. There is only a certain extent to which G-d will reveal Himself because, if He did, your free will would be disturbed. That’s only for the angels.

Participant: By “revealing,“ you mean that, many times, when we do a mitzvah, we don’t know the repercussions of what is happening in the upper worlds. Is that what you mean by “revealing” so when mashiach comes, we will learn the effects of all the mitzvot? That’s Mashiach ben David?

R’Kessin: Yes. You will know everything, everything that happened, why it happened, what the outcome was. That’s when everything is revealed. That is Mashiach ben David. The main idea with Mashiach ben Yosef is to destroy evil, the fight, the horns of the re’em---Oryx. He has to turn over the whole world to realize G-d. Mashiach ben David carries on the established kingdom.

Participant: So, ben Yosef has somewhat of a similar job to Avraham, to turn over the world toward monotheism.

R’Kessin: Right. Very similar jobs. That is why the ram by the akeida---binding of Isaac was Mashiach ben Yosef. Like I said, the horns were ensnared because those are his weapons and Avraham offered him up on the altar. As I’ve said many times, it is only the suffering of Mashiach ben Yosef that saves the Jews. So, Avraham is similar to Mashiach ben Yosef, similar jobs.

Participant: I have a question about the sparks of holiness, where they are. Let’s say you’re in a big hospital. Do you remove them all over the place or do you have to standing right there?

R’Kessin: No. It is based on a kabbalistic event. It is referred to as the “breaking of the vessels” where the energy of the sefiros fell through a cracked vessel. It’s a very important kabbalistic event, but not something you can see. It’s a very important feature of the tikkun.

Participant: Is anti-Semitism removing sparks of holiness?

R’Kessin: Sparks of holiness is that which the Satan takes and which energizes him. Once he has all that energy, he is able to project the force called zoamah that controls the physical world.

Participant: But if we suffer from the anti-Semitism, don’t we get back some sparks of holiness?

R’Kessin: Every time a Jew suffers, it depletes some aspect of the Satan.

Participant: Is it considered to be suffering if someone tells you something terrible and you feel anguish?

R’Kessin: All anguish is suffering, whether mental or physical. It’s all suffering.


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