Given: December 15, 2019
I'm going to continue tonight with what I’d done last week: “Who is God?” Last week was part one and tonight will be part two.
I chose this topic because it's a topic that hardly anybody speaks about, for obvious reasons. But the truth is that it's a critical topic. It's very crucial, because we pray to the Ribono Shel Olam---G-D---all the time, right? We think about Him, hopefully, all the time and He's, obviously, the centerpiece--- if I may use that word---of the entire Creation, right?
So, like I said ast week, it's amazing how little we know of G-D and, not only that but what's funny is that everybody has got his own conception of Who G-D is. If he's a Sephardi, then maybe He’s wearing a turban, if they wear turbans. If he's a Chasidische guy then, of course, He's wearing a streimel, and so on. We tend to view G-D in terms of our value systems or what's important to us and that's what I’ve come to correct. Who the Ribono Shel Olam is, is absolutely astonishing.
Last week I used the analogy of an elevator. We were going into an elevator, go down one floor, the doors open, and we have a certain perception of G-D. We're going down, as opposed to going up. At that perception, if you recall, I said that the Ribono Shel Olam is “absolute Oneness,” which means that a being of the nature of G-D cannot be duplicated. It is existentially impossible for there to be two beings like G-D. G-D doesn't have “relative unity” which means G-D doesn't just happen to be one; He is absolutely One! You cannot have a being with the characteristics of G-D, the Ribono Shel Olam, that there should be two.
Then we went down one more floor and I said that the Ribono Shel Olam is simple. It's called “pashtus”---simplicity. The Ribono Shel Olam is pashut. What does that mean? I mentioned that it means there's only one thing called “Him.” There are no parts and He's indivisible. I mentioned certain other things which are very important. There's no such thing as any kind of multiplicity with G-D. There's no such thing as “two.” He's a single entity which we cannot understand because we have a hundred trillion cells. He has no cells, no “parts” and, whoever He is, He’s indivisible. So, you can't even cut Him up---I mean, if you could. That's the concept of being indivisible. He's pashut--- simple.
I also added the very important aspect that the Ribono Shel Olam is identical with His behavior. I used an example of somebody knowing something. Grammar recognizes three components:
1- a “subject,” the one who knows
2- an “object of the verb,” the knowledge itself
3- the “verb,” the act of knowing
These are, basically, the subject and predicate--for those who remember their grammar. There is the actor and the act. But the Ribono Shel Olam doesn't have that. The RaMBaM says this very interestingly, that the Ribono Shel Olam, G-D, is identical to His knowledge; it’s Him! He's identical to the act of knowing itself. We don't understand what that even means. Like the RaMBaM says, we could hear it but, obviously, we have no concept of what that could possibly mean. The main idea raises the question why it is so. Why?---because He is pashut. There are no parts; even His behavior is Him. He's identical to His behavior.
If you're scratching your head wondering what in the world is this, everybody scratches his head. The RaMBaM too scratches his head and he says that we have no concept of what this means. We can talk about it, say it, but that's what it is. It all emanates from the middah---attribute called “pashut.”
Then, I mentioned something else which is very important, that there's a problem because everything has at least two things: there’s the thing itself, its characteristics, its essence---whatever it is---and its existence; it is. It has being. We don't know what “existence” is. We just know the results of existence, that we are, but we don't know what it is to be, what is in us that makes us be. That's the concept called “existence.”
I mentioned something very important which begins to tell us what the nature of the Ribono Shel Olam is---at least so far---that G-D doesn't have existence. He is existence, which is a very important distinction. We have it and therefore it could be taken away from us. He doesn't “have” it; He “is” it.
“Pashut” means that G-D is identical with whatever He has; it's Him. Therefore, G-D and His existence is identical; it’s the same thing, which means that He is existence per se. Nobody knows what that means. No being, not even the highest malachim---angels can fathom what that means because we've never seen existence separate from a thing or an object. There's no such thing as “existence” walking down the street by itself. Therefore, no being can understand what that is, what pure existence or existence per se is.
This answers many, many different questions in terms of the Ribono Shel Olam’s attributes. That's why He knows everything; He’s omniscient. That's why He's omnipresent; He's everywhere. He's omnipotent; He can do anything. He is existence itself and He can make exist whatever He wants. I mentioned also that's why God must exist, because if you take existence away from Him, it's Him that you took away! From a being that “has” existence, it can be taken away and it vanishes. But since G-D is existence, what are you taking away? Where is He going to go? It's Him, you see?
That's why the Ribono Shel Olam’s shem---name is YHWH, because the word YHWH, spelled yud-heh-vav-heh, is from the verb l’hiyos---to be, and the Ribono Shel Olam says, “I am being; I am existence itself.” That was the second level, a door that opened the second floor.
Then we went down to a third floor. What was the third floor? Again, it’s beyond our ability to understand. I'm telling you what “echod,” “yochid,” and “u’meyuchod” mean. RaMCHaL wrote a whole sefer---book“Tacktu (516) Tefillos” in which RaMCHaL keeps referring to those terms, to the Ribono Shel Olam being echod---One, externally One and cannot be replicated. He's yochid, single, which is, again, the concept of pashtus, pashut---simple, and now we’re told He’s u’meyuchod---and unique.
What does that mean? I mentioned that it doesn't say “ein od camohu”---there is nobody like Him. It says “ein od milvado”---besides God there is nothing else. in “Nefesh Ha-Chaim,” Rav Chaim of Volozhin says, “ein od milvado, mamesh.” What does that mean? I explained what that was, that G-D is the only thing that really exists, and that's because He is existence. We who have to be given existence don't really exist even after we’re given existence because, in the end, it's all Him, and we emerge from Him. But we don't understand our own non-existence; we can't penetrate that because, if we understood how we non-exist---guess what! We would non-exist.
It's interesting that there are malachim that go higher and higher in their understanding of the Ribono Shel Olam and, when they're about to break into the understanding of what is ein od milvado, they disappear because it's a paradox, mine ube---in and of itself because you can't know you don’t exist and yet exist. So, it’s the end of them! Although, at least they tried.
The Ribono Shel Olam said “ein od milvado” and I mentioned the example of a dream which, I think, is a great example. Two guys are existing within a dream and one guy says to the other, “That guy over there sleeping on the couch is real. We're a figment of his imagination. If he woke up, we would instantly disappear.” This tells you, to a certain extent, that He really is. He is real and we are, in many ways, a mental image of Him, but the interesting thing about it, which is impossible to understand, is that we are not even a mental image of Him. Why? The Ribono Shel Olam says as much in Nevi’im---book of Prophets. It says, “v’ani lo shenisi”---and I have not changed. What does that mean, that You haven't “changed”? There's You before the Creation and there’s You after the Creation, so You changed. There was some type of a change. There was an action that You didn't do before. But the Ribono Shel Olam says, “v’ani lo shenisi.” That is absolute and it makes sense when you say that we don't really exist. We have no real understanding of how that could be so, but we do exist relative to each other. Whatever that means, we have an existence relative to each other, but not in real terms.
By the way, I mentioned also that that's what the yiddin---Jews saw at har Sinai---Mount Sinai. As it says: “ata horeisa lada’as”---you have been shown that you may know, ‘ki ha’Shem hu elokim”---G-D is the Lord and Master, “ein od milvado”---besides Him, ein od---there is nothing else. This was the real gilui---revelation at matan Torah---the giving of the Torah. Rashi says that the Ribono Shel Olam opened up the heavens and showed the Jews shehu yechudo shel olam---His Oneness of the universe. “Yechudo” means that He’s the only one that is. He is the “singular guy” in the entire briyah---Creation.
We’ve got to take an elevator down to the fourth floor, but is there a fourth floor, yet another perception of G-D? And the answer is: there is. Would you believe it? We've already covered, basically, the most profound understandings. Most people don't have this understanding of the Ribono Shel Olam. But there is a fourth level and I'm going to tell you the fourth level, the last level; you’ll understand why.
We know that the Ribono Shel Olam is a boreh---Creator, and we know why. If He’s existence itself, then He can bring anything out of nothing; because He is existence. He gives it existence. The question is this; does anything coexist with G-D? In other words, what did He create?
We know He created. It says, “bereshis bara elokim” ---in the beginning G-D created. You can ask the question: wait a minute! We know You created everything, but was there anything You didn't have to create because it coexisted with You? That's a very interesting question and the answer is astonishing. Does anything coexist with God so that He didn't have to create it because it coexisted?
And the answer is that everything is created, everything. There is nothing that exists with G-D. Nothing. It's just Him and that's it! He is the sole occupant of reality which is far bigger than the briyah---Creation. What does that mean? You’ve got to be thinking about this.
This shiur that I'm about to give you is abstract, but I'm going to try to explain it as best I can so you’ll walk away with an understanding, I hope. It's a funny place to be because there are obvious ideas whose workings we cannot fathom, but you will have an understanding and an appreciation of Who it is that you pray to.
Nothing coexists with G-D at all. Therefore, He had to have created everything. To know what that means, we have to understand what it means to “create everything.” What is “everything?”
There are three basic things that He created, and then, of course, each one is a category of almost an infinite amount of things, but seven fundamental concepts will be presented.
He created objects, things, matter. He created matter. And we know that, according to Einstein, matter’s nothing more than condensed energy or “frozen” energy. Therefore, matter is just another form of energy. Therefore, He created energy. He created matter and energy, those being called “objects.” Actually, I can tell you that there are seven fundamental concepts or constructs of the briyah that He created:
1- Time: the duration of matter or existence (We don't know precisely what that is, but anyway, He created time.)
5- Life: things that are animated (although sometimes you look at people and you wonder if they’re alive or dead, but that's a philosophical question.)
6- Consciousness: Nobody knows what consciousness is. Do plants have consciousness? There are people that say “yes,” because they talk to their plants. Consciousness, whatever that is, the ability to be aware---He created that.
7- Spiritual Universe: includes the neshama---soul, the malachim---angels
Those are all the entities that comprise the entire briyah, all that we know of.
(As part of consciousness), He created what's called “abstract ideas.” We don't recognize them usually. For instance, the concept called “war” is an idea like “love,” “peace,” “justice.” There's no such thing as justice walking around. He also created the concepts of the entire briyah, not just the objects.
He also created what is called the “rules of reality.” Whether we know it or not, reality has rules. For instance, can something exist and not exist at the same instant in time? The answer is, no. It either is, or it ain't, one of the two, right? There's no middle! It's called the “law of the excluded middle.” You either exist or you don't; there's no middle here. That’s a law of existence.
Another law of existence answers the question: can something be and not be? The first law says that there's no middle; you either are or you're not. This one says that you either are or you are not in terms of time. You can't be and not be at the same instant in time. Not only is there is no middle, but you cannot have both states simultaneously. That's very important because our logical thinking is based on that. Imagine if you have a contradiction in which something is “A” but contradicts “B.” What’s the problem? If “A” can be “B,” and “B” can be “A” at the same time, then there'd be no contradiction. That is a fundamental law of reality. Well, He created that too. He actually created the rules of reality; He had to create them also.
So, He created objects. He created all the concepts about everything and He created the rules of existence. The question then is: who is He? If everything is created---everything---then who is He, really?
What you begin to realize is that there's no word to describe Him at all because, to be able to do so would mean Him to be a created entity. In other words, any word you can use to describe Him is created so it can't be Him because He was before the Creation. If that's the case, then what word can I call him?---"nothing.” There is no word that will, in any way, describe Him because it doesn't coexist with Him; it was created. How do we refer to Him? We can't. It’s interesting, because there is nothing that refers to G-D.
That's why it says in the pasuk---verse in the Navi: “To whom will you compare Me and I will be comparable to that?” You can't! You can't say, “G-D is like…this.” No! “This” is a created thing, right? If it's created, then G-D certainly is not that. You cannot talk about G-D because there’s no vocabulary that applies to him at all.
But wait! We daven---pray. We talk to Him. The neviim---prophets talked to G-D. So, who in the world were they talking to? That's what we have to begin to think and understand.
I call this “atzmuso”---Whoever He is in Himself. We don't know Who He is because, like I said, everything is created. So atzmuso, Whoever He is, wherever He is and whatever He is, only He knows. In fact, the only one Who knows Who G-D is, is Himself. That's it. And He knows Himself not because He has to think “Who am I?” He knows Himself through Himself. We don't know how that works.
The Ribono Shel Olam “decided”---and “decision” is a created concept---that everything should emerge in an instant, and this is part of the Creation. G-D created what I call a “bubble.” That's how I’d characterize it, though not literally, figuratively. G-D is outside the bubble. What He decided to do is to create a kind of bubble and make the whole of Creation inside the bubble. He's going to create objects, ideas and reality, all in the bubble. But He is outside the bubble. We have no idea what does it mean to be “outside the bubble,” because there is nothing that refers to Him. The Ribono Shel Olam created everything within a bubble, so to speak. It’s a very important idea, and a bubble is just a metaphor.
Then He decided, saying, in effect: withinthis bubble there are so many different ideas that I just gave rise to. I'm going to adapt some of these ideas and assume them as My personality so that you, who are in the bubble, can relate to Me, you and whatever else is in the bubble. I will adapt certain ideas in the bubble and I will always act that way. As far as you're concerned, that's who I am. These are my characteristics. And that's what He did. He created what I call a “bubble” and He adapted certain ideas to the bubble. What ideas did He adapt for Himself? This becomes the shechina; the word “shochen” means “to dwell.”
In other words, the way we perceive G-D is based on whatever's in the bubble. What are some of the ideas? They include the yud-gimmel middos--13 attributes. The Ribono Shel Olam says that He will always be “rachum v’chanun, erech ha’payim v’rav chesed ve’emes” (Exodus 34:6-7). in other words, the Ribono Shel Olam decided to pick a “costume,” a guise that He’ll act according to and we will relate to that guise. But, again, He's outside the bubble, so all the middos of the Ribono Shel Olam are not Him! They are what He created and adapts as His costume, as His character traits, as His character profile, and we relate to that profile.
Is the Ribono Shel Olam really a rachum, merciful and compassionate? Of course He is, but he's not really that, because rachamim---compassion is a created idea. The ability to be merciful or compassionate, which means to have the capacity to overlook things that the person does which deem him unworthy, is a created, concept. But the Ribono Shel Olam tells us: you see that concept that I created called “rachamim”? I will always behave that way.
So, all of the yud-gimmel middos are not Him but are really costumes, or garbs, or what's called “lavush,” that which He dons, wears. As far as we're concerned, we relate to Him that way, and that's ok. There is no way to go beyond the bubble because then you're in non-existent territory because nothing coexists with Him.
So, we see that the Ribono Shel Olam creates what's called a “character profile,” and that character profile is all the yud-gimmel middos. There are many other things that the Ribono Shel Olam creates, as seen from the Torah, the communications with Moshe Rabbeinu, Avraham Avinu, the ability of somebody to discern what I'm thinking through use of language. This is a created concept too. The Ribono Shel Olam “talks.” The Ribono Shel Olam “remembers.” He certainly seems to have a memory, right? He seems to have power. Look at what He did to Egypt, and do on. These are all created ideas that he adapts as part of His character profile.
None of this is contrary to atzmut because atzmut is nothing that we know of. How could it be contrary to that? We don't know what He is in a positive way, so we don't know what's contrary, right? If you don't know “A,” you cannot know its opposite called “B.” It's consistent with His ratzon---Will, with what He wants, that's all. He decided this is the way I want to act and behave toward the beings in this bubble. That's His ratzon, and even His Will is a created entity which is why the prayer says: “yehi ratzon milfanecha”---may it be Thy Will before You. What’s that supposed to mean? It should have said just “may it be Your will.” Why say “a will before You”? Have you ever heard a person talking like that to another guy, “May it be a will be for you”? We don't talk like that to humans, right? Nobody has “a will before them.” The Ribono Shel Olam does because He creates the will; It’s a nivra--- a Creation. Then, He does what He wants. But the will itself, whatever He wants to do, itself is created. When you begin to talk about the Ribono Shel Olam, you’ve got to come up with a different type of understanding and profile.
Everything is created instantly, His Will and then the action and so on. We now begin to understand that the Ribono Shel Olam is atzmuso lo nodah---His real essence is unknown. We don't know what G-D is because any word that you could use to describe Him is a created word which, therefore, cannot be Him---so that's out.
Not only that, all the middos of the Ribono Shel Olam, those which we ascribe to Him, also are not Him but He decided to adapt them as a personality profile. So as far as we're concerned, that's Him. But you have to always be aware He's beyond the descriptions in the bubble.
Participant: It seems to me that G-D is love, has love for people of Klal Israel. But a person might say that, well, He doesn’t really have love. What would be the approach to that?
R’Kessin: if somebody loves you and behaves toward you as though they love you, what's the difference really? If he shows he loves you, displays love, does he have to actually feel the love? If he doesn’t, would that make him less of a lover?
We're concerned with what the Ribono Shel Olam does, not with what He is. That's a very important distinction and, as far as He's concerned, He loves. He will act to you in a way that displays love infinitely greater than your wife! I don’t know if that’s saying much, depending on who you talk to. Are you going to ask yourself, or even ask G-D, “Do You really love me? Do You really love, really feel this?”
G-D says: Listen! You know, I don't feel anything! Feelings are nivra---created. G-d could say: I don't feel anything. I will to love you!
And believe me, it's a lot more than what you're going to get from your wife! I don't want to antagonize women, but I'm just trying to give an example---mothers, whatever…
This is what the shechina is, basically. The shechina is G-D in His personality within the bubble, what we can relate to. But G-D is always consistent and He's always infinite in that midah, that attribute. We're not talking about a being that experiences it. It's an idea or emotion that He wants to adapt vis a vis His actions toward you.
Some people can ask, well, “When you pray, who are you praying to? Are you praying to G-D, the atzmuso? Are you praying to shechina?”---which I will talk about. The answer is that you’re praying to atzmuso. We don't know how that works, but G-D hears exactly what you're saying in and of Himself, beyond the bubble. We don't know how that works, because “hearing” isn't a trait that He has. We don't even “exist” according to the common understanding of the word.
Now, you're going to say, “Wait a minute! You just said that G-D is existence itself. What is that supposed to mean, that G-D is existence?” Is existence a created entity? That's a very interesting idea! Does the actual phenomenon of “being,” of “existence,” coexist with G-D? But then, something coexisted with G-D, His existence!
The Ribono Shel Olam created a representation of Himself, and that representation of Himself is called “ein sof.” Ein sof is not G-D. It's nivra, but it is the greatest thing ever made; it's the top rung. “Ein sof “means “infinite,” but G-D is not infinite. There's no such thing as “infinite” by Him because that's a word. The idea that numbers never end is itself a concept, but G-D has no numbers, right? Therefore, there’s no such thing with Him that numbers never end because He doesn't even have numbers.
But He created the greatest thing ever made, based on us, which is a representation of Himself---ein sof. That thing called “ein sof,” is the being that is existence itself. And that is the being that has ein od milvado---other than Him there is nothing. What He created is something that has “nothing” with it. He's beyond that but, in the bubble, the ein sof, the infinite thing, is a representation of the Ribono Shel Olam that we can relate to. The fundamental idea of that ein sof is that it is existence itself and, therefore, it's an ein od milvado, the only thing that is.
But it's not that ein sof is different than G-D. In some way, it's a representation of Him. It is just called “ein sof.” The representation of the Ribono Shel Olam as ein sof is the highest, greatest level of shechina---Divine Presenc that exists, so to speak. That's the shechina. There are many lower levels of shechina in terms of what G-D wants us to perceive of Him, but that idea of ein sof is a Being that represents the Ribono Shel Olam. But it does not go beyond the bubble; it's within the bubble.
The Ribono Shel Olam wanted to do something, to create what's called a zuloso---other because the ein sof is ein od milvado. There is nothing but the ein sof within our context because existence is the only thing that is; there's nothing else. But the Ribono Shel Olam wants to create a zuloso, something which is other than the ein sof. That's a concept which the Ribono Shel Olam Himself created, the concept of an “other.”
It's all creations, you see. In the beginning, He created different worlds. We’re not getting into those kabbalistic (ideas) now, but He creates five different worlds, five different realities, all inhabited with “other,” just different “others.” This is basically the way it operates.
Any questions so far? Because this is really abstract.
Participant: Who's responsible for creating…did the ein sof create the olamos---worlds, or did atzmuso create the olamos in conjunction with the ein sof?
R’Kessin: That's like asking, if you have a hand, “Who's doing it, you or the hand?” There is nothing independent of G-D but, in some way, we don't know how, G-D outside the bubble can relate to the ein sof within the bubble. The greatest form of existence is the ein sof. in fact, the ein sofis existence, and you could call it the “Hand of G-D,” but we don't know how the outside gets to the inside; it’s unknown.
Participant: To understand who the Ribono Shel Olam really is, you have to destroy the third level because level three doesn’t apply anymore.
R’Kessin: No, the ein sof is level three.
Participant: Yes, but atzmuso is beyond level three.
R’Kessin: Yes, but level three, which is ein od milvado, that’s the ein sof.
Participant: Atzmuso goes beyond existence. There’s no such thing as existence without atzmuso.
R’Kessin: Yes, exactly. The ein sof is a created representation of the Ribono Shel Olam, but remember, it's not G-D; the ein sof is not the Ribono Shel Olam. You cannot characterize and say the Ribono Shel Olam is infinite but, certainly, as far as we're concerned, the ein sof is like the Hand of God even though it's not G-D which is existence per se. And then, what the Ribono Shel Olam does is create the concept called an “other.” Therefore, He's now going to make realities apart from the ein sof. We don't know how He does that, but He does. Therefore, He creates five realities, which are all other than the ein sof which is not G-D but it is the greatest representation of the Ribono Shel Olam. Therefore, we are now looking at a great many variations.
As far as we're concerned, when we pray, we don’t pray to the ein sof. We pray to G-D--- whatever, whoever, wherever, whenever He is. That's what we pray to, the Being called
But in terms of creating a reality called a “briyah”---Creation, it has to start with something, right? So, the Ribono Shel Olam creates a representation. You know what it's like? I use this example: Imagine you have an appointment with a king---yes, with a king---whoever he is. You enter the throne room and, suddenly, you see a suit, but whoever is wearing this suit is invisible. The suit, or the crown, is floating on air. There's no head, but there is a lavush, a garment, the royal robes, but you don't see a being. You do see the royal robes and the crown so, when you talk, who are you talking to? Well, you talk to the lavush, the garment, but you don't know who is under the crown. Under the crown and wearing the lavush, the garment, is the atzmuso of which we can no conception.
The lavush, however, we can relate to. It's not a really good example because, with ein sof, you cannot even relate to the lavush. That's the problem. I'm giving you an example in which you can actually see the garment, but really, the ein sof is not the garment. It's almost like a garment within a garment, but the ein sof, which is the representation of G-D, is the greatest reality of all and, after that, G-D makes zuloso---others and begins to create many different realities.
The ein sof is a created entity, the greatest of all. In fact the ein sof is the ein od milvado, pure existence. We cannot connect with that. Pure existence doesn't allow anything else to exist, because it's the only thing that is. So, in some way, all this is allowed because of an operation called tzimtzum---retraction or contraction. We don't know how it works, but in some way the ein sof, which is the highest level of shechina, is able to contract itself---which is very poor usage of English---or restrict itself to allow something else to emerge, the potential of “other” to exist. This is all within the bubble. In Kabbalah, it’s called the “cholol”---hollow. The ein sof creates within itself, so to speak, a hollow and within that hollow there’s the potential of that which is “other” to exist. And then He begins to create “others”---five realities.
It's very abstract. I always get a kick out of religions. I once read a whole article---but I don't want to say which religion---because there were arguments like: is God a man or a woman? My reaction was: excuse me! It's almost like a bunch of infants arguing over G-D but that's the level of the understanding. Masculinity and femininity are created entities, roles designated for humans, for nobody else. G-D is so beyond the bubble; it’s absurd.
These are very important ideas. I want to tell you something that shows you the power of
Participant: When G-D told Moses, “You could see my back, but you can’t see My face,” am I correct in saying that He couldn’t? If He said, “I want to show you My face,” you can’t see it, it’s not possible---and live.
R’Kessin: You can’t see it and live. Correct.
Participant: Is there anything that’s truly a created entity? If everything’s an emanation from the Ribono Shel Olam Himself, did He really create anything?
R’Kessin: Huh? He created the briyah.
Participant: The way we call it the “briyah,” the Creation, it’s like something from nothing, but everything emanates from the Ribono Shel Olam.
R”Kessin: Well, in that sense, everything emanates from the ein sof, which is existence itself.
Participant: There’s nothing really, truly, created.
R’Kessin: If you want, you can say that, yes. But then the ein sof itself was created from nothing so it depends on how far back you want to go.
Now, remember all the representations of G-D are really different levels of the Divine Presence, the shechina. The highest level of Divine Presence is the ein sof.
Participant: Klal Israel saw it.
R’Kessin: No, you can't see ein sof. You cannot, in any way, see or experience ein sof. It is unknowable. Atzmuso is ‘forget about it’! That’s completely unknowable! Ein sof is completely unknowable because it's pure existence. We don't know what kind of being that is. Yet, after that, in what's called the first reality called “Adam Kadmon”---primordial man which is Olam ha’Ba---Future World, you can. G-D created, therefore, many realities, five of them. One, of course, is Adam Kadmon, then Atzilus, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Assiyah. That's what they are termed in Kabbalah, and there are many different levels of reality that have different residents within those realities. The higher you go---and if you reverse it, you go from Assiyah, Yetzirah, to Beriyah, then to Atzilus and then to Adam Kadmon---you are experiencing more and more of the shechina and less and less of yourself. Zuloso begins to take a backseat, but not to the extent that you disappear. Adam Kadmon, which is the first reality created, is really Olam ha’Ba and it is a reality in which the experience of G-D is beyond comprehension. You experience the ein sof. Remember, you don't really experience the ein sof as it is because it's too high. G-D, in terms of atzmuso, forget it!
Participant: Ein sof and Adam Kadmon as name sets are interchangeable?
R’Kessin: No, they're not interchangeable; they're different.
Participant: Cutchuibrichu? (kadosh baruch hu in Aramaic)
R’Kessin: “Cutchu brich hu” holy One blessed be He refers to ein sof. “Shchinte” (shechina in Aramaic) refers to Divine Presence, same as shechina. “Shchinte” is all the revelations of G-D from highest to lowest. G-D will ultimately want to remove the veil and reveal Himself in the greatest way possible that a created entity can experience. We don't know what that is because, even in Olam ha’Ba, it's an infinite ascension, infinite, which is amazing. That means that whatever you experience about G-D in the future world, it’s different than what you experience of Him in the next day or the next hour. We don't know what that means. The unknowable should be able to be revealed and become more and more known. It’s the ein sof as it can be revealed in the Future World.
Now, what is interesting is that G-D could have created an infinite series of bubbles---think about this---an infinite number of bubbles, without end, each bubble an entire Creation, and no bubble has anything replicated in any other bubble.
Participant: We’re having enough trouble with this one. (laughter)
R’Kessin: Do not go out and blow bubbles after this (laughter)! The bubble is the totality of everything and even ein sof is within the bubble, right? But we don't know if that’s all that G-D did. We have no idea; G-D never told us what He's doing. He could have created an infinite number of bubbles, each one a total Creation and, in any one bubble, there is no duplication within any bubble of anything in another bubble. There's no duplicate of anything in one bubble as it pertains to another bubble. Each, and all, may be different.
And the amazing thing about that is that G-D as no previous experience, if you think about it. In other words, anybody who does something is always borrowing from his experience. A painter has to create the reality he knows, right? Someone who discovers something does so with materials that already exists, right? But there is nothing at the level of G-D that He can have experience from. Yet, He created a Creation, this bubble, that is absolutely perfect, without any experience, and He could have made an infinite number of bubbles, which He may have, as I will show you, and nothing is duplicated in any other bubble. That is the power of G-D! We cannot even wrap our heads around what this means.
Participant: He can, basically, create realities.
R’Kessin: Exactly, and no reality replicates, duplicates, or repeats anything from other realities. Could you imagine what that is? That's His power!
Now, you could say: I can see now an infinite number of realities, each one different, but the interesting thing about it is: what about our reality? Does it have a name? Forget about the rest; we don't even know of them. Does our reality have a name? And the answer is: yes, it does. The name of this reality is “Torah.” We now realize that Torah is the document that is everything in this bubble. That's why ChaZaL say, “hafoch bo, v’kulo bo.” What do they mean? “Afoch bo” means to turn it this way, turn it that way, but no matter which way you manipulate it, everything is in the Torah. G-D created a document to which He is like an architect and everything in the building is in that architectural plan. The architectural plan of this briyah is Torah. That's really what it is.
Participant: So, is Torah beyond the bubble?
R’Kessin: No, Torah is in the bubble and is a complete description of this bubble.
Participant: Then all the bubbles have a different Torah?
R’Kessin: We don't know. G-D never revealed what He's doing in His spare time.
Participant: Blowing bubbles.
R’Kessin: Blowing bubbles? That's right.
But the Ribono Shel Olam never told anybody, neither to Moshe Rabbeinu or malachim---angels. Nobody knows what God is doing all the time although the Gemara seems to say He's making marriages… Ok, good luck!
But we don't really know. So, G-D says: as far as you’re concerned, you know only this bubble, this Torah, and it is a complete description of this bubble. I explained how the Torah is complete description because I gave two shiurim---lectures: “The Greatness of Torah, parts 1 and 2,” maybe “part 3” and I explained how that can happen.
That's what the Torah really is and that is why, if the Torah is missing even one letter, it’s pasul--invalid. Why? Because then it's not the total reality of the bubble; something's missing, even if it is just one thing.
What we see now is a very profound understanding of Who the Ribono Shel Olam is and that is why David ha’Melech---King David says in Tehillim---psalms that, if you want to praise G-D, what's the greatest way to praise Him?---silence. That's it. I just said Shmone Esre (laughter).
In other words, that’s what David ha’Melech says: “l’cho”---to You, “dumiyah tehila”---praise waits. (psalm 65:1) In other words, silence is praise.
Why? There's no vocabulary that in any way can describe anything about G-D because all vocabulary is what?---created. So, that's not G-D. The greatest praise you can offer G-D is utter silence, the greatest praise of all. You can imagine everybody in shul just sitting and looking at the wall saying nothing. It would look rather odd.
As far as we're concerned, we cannot relate to G-D, whatever or whoever He is---atzmuso---Whoever He is in His true self, whatever that is. But we all relate to the representation called the “ein sof.” We can never know what the ein sof is because it's pure existence.
What we can do is in Olam ha’Ba. I mentioned in a previous shiur what happens in that reality. That’s when the feeling of “self” begins to diminish, but not to the extent that you disappear because then you wouldn't experience anything. You begin to feel, to experience G-D as the ein sof, whatever that means. Everybody here has a feeling of “self” which is your barrier to experiencing G-D. “Self” diminishes and is replaced by the Ribono Shel Olam.
We don't know how that works, but it tells us a very interesting thing. Everything in this world has what's called “degrees” or “variations.” Saying that something has “degrees” means that it can have more or less, right? The only thing that does not have any degree is called “existence.” You either exist, or you don’t. There's no such thing as I feel I'm existing more today, right? Of course not! You can't exist “more” today. Existence has no gradations, no degrees.
Do not confuse I have a great feeling of well-being today with I feel I exist more. Feelings of well-beingyou can have. Fine, but that's not about gradations of existence. In Olam ha’Ba, you exist differently every day. You feel existence differently and it has gradations. Why? It is because you are experiencing G-D---ein od milvado---experiencing the ein sof, and since that is pure existence, that's what you're experiencing.
So, we do not know what it means to exist “more.” As far as we're concerned, we have existence or we don't have existence; there's no more or less. There’s just “it is” or “it isn't.”
But Olam ha’Ba has degrees of existence because the ein sof, which is existence, is being felt more and more. You're feeling less and less of yourself, but that's a good thing. It's not like you're disappearing. Again, we don’t know it works, but the more you experience about the Ribono Shel Olam, the greater is the feeling. Apparently, that feeling is infinite. I always define the experience of Olam ha’Ba as “infinite bliss, eternally.” The greatest bliss of all is to experience “being” and to “be” more.
I’ve always loved that army saying, “Be all you can be.” That’s true; that's Olam ha’Ba. It doesn't mean you have to go to in the army for Olam ha’Ba. If you could “be” more, “exist” more, the pleasure would be…. we don't even know what kind of pleasure that is. That is what happens in Olam ha’Ba, a variation of degrees of existence which we do not know.
ChaZal allude to this saying, “ayin lo rasa”-the eye has never beheld. Everything prophesied will be experienced in yemos ha’mashiach---messianic era. But what will be experienced in Olam Ha’ba, what is concealed for the tzadikim, the eye has never beheld. The reason for that is because Olam Ha’ba is qualitatively different. It's not an experience of something external to you but one of existence itself within you; and we have no idea what that means.
And what is interesting is the terminology. It says “ha’ayin lo ra’asa”--- the eyes have never beheld. I think what the ChaZal should have said is “moach lo mevin”---the mind cannot conceive of that. Really, we can conceive of it. We know what existence is because we exist, but we don't know what it means to have existence in different grades, degrees. So, we can have an understanding, but we don't have any idea of what kind of experience that is.
That's really what Olam Ha’ba is, a place where the zuloso---self diminishes to the extent that you feel more and more the existence of the ein sof. Apparently, that's an infinite climb; apparently it goes on and on.
Participant: the question is, based on that, is it simply a psychological understanding of existence, of what’s going to be, or is it based….
R’Kessin: No, it's not psychological at all. It’s real.
Participant: But is it based on the….that existence is going to be what we’re going to feel in Olam ha’Ba. Is it just an understanding?
R’Kessin: Ask yourself what's the greatest good that G-D can do to you. If G-D says to you, I want to give you a gift, what's the greatest gift He can give you? Existence; nothing beats it. “To be” is the greatest thing of all; everything else is secondary. Think about that. That is the greatest gift of all---being. And that's what you get; you get “being” in spades in Olam ha’Ba, but we have no idea what the experience is like, what it means. In fact, no being knows what it means. No malach knows what it means. Like it says, “the eyes have never beheld.” No angelic being has ever beheld that or experienced what it means to exist more or to a greater degree.
The Kabbalah says that the upward climb in Olam ha’Ba is infinite; it never stops. We don't even know what that means, but apparently the whole experience of “being” itself can go on and on and on, infinitely. That is what Olam ha’Ba is. Olam ha’Ba is more than that but, at its core, that's what it is.
Participant: Would it be true that in Olam ha’Ba there are different gradations of existence, different levels of the dveikus---adherence, attachment to the Ribono Shel Olam?
R’Kessin: Yes, correct. That's what it is.
Participant: That is why they say, that (when) a certain great kadosh or tzadik has ascended to Olam ha’Ba, they leave this world and we’ll never see them again because they'll have such a high level of dveikus.
R’Kessin: The state that you experience in Olam ha’Ba is called “deveikus.” It says, “to Him you will cling.” We know that, right? What is dveikus, being attached to G-D? What’s that supposed to mean? When you attach yourself to G-D, you are experiencing an aspect of Him. What is the aspect of Him that you experience?---that He “is.”
That's why it’s YKVK. I mentioned that, right? “Ehyeh asher ehyeh”--- I will be whatever I will be; I am that I am. It’s as if G-D were to say: I ‘am’ the ‘am’-ing. I'm the verb ‘am.’ That's Who I am. You want to know My name? I am the (infinitive) of the verb ‘to be’ in the sentence ‘I am’. That's the greatest thing about the Ribono Shel Olam. There's nothing greater. And that's what you experience; that's dveikus. That's what it means; it doesn't mean that you’re given some type of external pleasure.
That's why you think about the childishness of so many religions, what they think awaits mankind in their future world. Islam takes the cake on that, right? That's not G-D. Those are the people waiting for me, the girls, whatever, right? What is that! This is your conception of what Olam ha’Ba is? You know what their conception of Olam ha’Ba is? It's this world without any restrictions. Think about that. That’s what everybody wants so why not?---no limitations, no restrictions, no boundaries – enjoy! That's their concept.
But in Judaism, it has nothing to do with external experiences. It's all about G-D, about dveikus! The question becomes: what's the dveikus about? What do I get when I am attached to Him? The answer is: there's an aspect of G-D which is incredible and which is existence itself. Apparently, you can feel an infinite variety of (states) of existence. It’s beyond belief!
Participant: You talked about the zuloso, the ‘us’ becoming less in the same time that we exist more. How could I be less and exist more?
R’Kessin: It's a paradox. You're right because, if I exist less, than how can I exist more? But, apparently, we emanate from G-D. Remember I once said it's like a cloud that has a shape. The shape is us. The Ribono Shel Olam is the chomer, the actual material, and the tzura, the shape, is us. But the shape is not the cloud. The cloud has a shape, right? The shape exists in the cloud, right? It is a distinct being called “a form,” that's true, but it's not a cloud! So that's the same idea; the cloud is G-D and we are a shape in G-D, but the shape doesn't really exist independent of the cloud.
In any case, as we exist less, we have less and less of “self” and more and more of Him, and that's the key to dveikus, to experience as much as we can of G-D. That experience is just beyond comprehension. Nobody knows what it is. No angel knows. Nobody knows.
But we know one thing: the reality of the Future World, which is Adam Kadmon, is a reality which is different than this reality. It's not another reality like this, like well, I'm going to go to planet Mars. Mars is a planet and you can experience many similar things, right?
Olam ha’Ba is a different reality that awaits us, but a reality predicated on one being called “G-D.” That's the key, the overarching experience and that's all in the bubble. It's amazing, isn't it? What G-D did, we cannot even begin to fathom.
There are articles written in which somebody was describing a dragonfly. It's beyond belief what a dragonfly can do. It can go up, down, sideways, hover, forward, backward. It's beyond belief how it exists. It's a nothing creature; what is it?--- a little thing, and this is only one creature. Scientists estimate there’s probably a hundred million different species, each one perfect in terms of its life, how it exists. How in the world did He make this? From what book did He read it? There's no experience. He can’t say: I read a book and I know what to do. No, it's all independent thinking, and the beauty of it all is ecological; that's what scientists realized. Everything is perfectly compatible with everything else and, if you disturb one thing, guess what?---everything gets disturbed.
How do you do that? How do you mix a hundred million different species? I'm not talking about 100 million things. Remember, there are seven thousand species of ants---species--- not seven thousand ants. Anybody could testify to them; just check out your backyard. There are 300,000 different species of….beetles. Like an entomologist once said, “G-D must have loved beetles because he made so many,” three hundred thousand different species, not three hundred thousand beetles. There are billions of beetles, all crawling in the ground. So how does the Ribono Shel Olam make 300,000 and each one distinct? If you ever go to a museum, you see the different types of beetles. it's incredible! And the Ribono Shel Olam made each one that can survive and sustain itself, and perfectly. It's amazing!
There we are! This is an understanding in terms of Who the Ribono Shel Olam is. At the fourth floor, what can you say? What can you say? I have removed G-D from all human speech, from all human thinking, and even then, I don't really know. We don't really know anything.
Participant: We live by our faith.
R’Kessin: Yes, in the end, “ha’tzadik b’emunaso ehyeh.” You live by your faith.
Now, we understand why G-D is almighty, omnipotent, omniscient. All this is really a joke to Him. For Him to fight the Egyptians was like: excuse Me! It’s like you fighting a flea! That's not even a good example, because I once mentioned that G-D has to create the opponent so the opponent can exist, and then the opponent can fight G-D. What kind of a capacity is that of an opponent to fight G-D when G-D has to give life to the opponent, give existence to the opponent in the first place?
That's why the Ribono Shel Olam is a yichud metziuso---the only thing that exists, therefore He's yichud shlitaso---the only force. Ein coach acher--- there is no other force, nothing. Therefore, He’s yichud anhagaso---singular in His action/behavior. The direction that G-D wants this world to go will be as it must go. That's what G-D wants. There's no way to defy His will unless He allows you to defy His will, but then that's part of His plan. That defiance is in agreement with what He wants, so G-D is the ultimate uniqueness in that sense.
I hope I've given some type of understanding. it’s been an abstract shiur and I would suggest that you review it several times. But, remember one thing: when G-D says “ki ohev hu ha’Shem elokecha---the Lord your G-D loves you, it's infinite love! Infinite. Whether He feels it or not doesn't make a difference. He loves you more than your mother, your wife, your kids and anybody else who professes to love you. That's really the main thing. That's important to understand. It doesn't make a difference if He experiences love. Nobody can match His love for you---period.
And the second thing is that, when you pray, He may have a representation called the ein sof but, believe me, you're praying to Him, wherever He is. That's why the malachim say: ayei makom k’vodo---Where is the place of his glory. Where is His makom? Where is He? We know He is. We feel existence in us but we have no idea where He is. Wherever He is, He's there with you totally and He's totally aware of what you are, what you need. All He wants is one thing: that you should be in Olam ha’Ba. That's the only thing He wants which is very comforting, by the way.
That's what He wants. He wants the Jewish people, certainly, and even a lot of mankind, to be in the Future World, experiencing it.
Participant: Why does RaMBaM give these 13 middos? Just for this bubble?
R’Kessin: Yes, of course. That's briyah---Creation. In other words, nothing will change in this beriyah. The description of that is the Torah. There won't be another Torah. The Torah is a description of this bubble. It will never change. Nothing will be altered from what He made. Everything was created on the first day. Then it emerged over the next six or seven. That's what it means. But do not think that this is all that G-D did. He has never revealed to anybody the full scope of what He did.
Participant: Maybe there is no other bubble, no other world.
R’Kessin: Maybe there is none; I don't know. I'm not saying there is, but don't think that He couldn't do infinite number of bubbles; that's what I'm saying. I have no idea and nobody knows, nobody. The mashiach doesn't know. Moshe Rabbeinu didn't know. Malachim don't know. Nobody knows. They don't know the totality of what G-D does.
Participant: We can't conceive His true essence. We can't conceive of what He would do?
R’Kessin: No. Like I said, He can create an infinite number of bubbles, no bubble in any way replicating any other bubble. To be honest, we cannot conceive of that type of creative mind.
The next time you pray to the Ribono Shel Olam, just remember to Whom you’re praying. He is not a being that you can conceive. He could do whatever He wants and there's nothing beyond Him. He hears your prayer, obviously. How He does it is His business, but He does.
Participant: If you’re praying with that in mind, of G-D being beyond the bubble, you are sort of approaching speechlessness, and you can’t really say anything.
R’Kessin: Technically, to Him, praise is silence. But G-D has adapted, relative to us, a whole personality. We need his rachmanus, His mercy and His kindness, so that's what He does. As far as we're concerned, it's real. The reality that you live in---it's real! To you. That's all.
I'm just disclosing the fact that nothing is real, in that sense, to G-D; it's all created. As far as we're concerned, remember, as I said, you can't sit in the middle of a highway and say, wait a minute! Nothing is real anyway so that truck barreling down on me isn't real, so why would I have to move out of the way? The answer is: because a relative truck can kill a relative person. It's all relative. It means that, within our reality, it will kill---that's it.