Rabbi Zvi Homnick, Beis Moshiach
The disheveled sad-looking man shuffled into the shrink’s office, dropped his file on the desk, and started in with, “Doc, I have been a loser and a failure my whole life. From when I was little, my father always told me that I would never amount to anything, and it turns out he was right.”
The psychologist quickly scanned the file as he spoke, and then said, “Wait a minute, you look very familiar and even your name is familiar.”
The man replied, “That’s because of my famous identical twin brother.”
Psychologist: Oh, that famous financial adviser to all the wealthiest people in the world. I can’t believe a father would treat identical twin brothers so differently.
Man (shouting): My father treated us both exactly the same!
Psychologist: So how did you turn out so differently?
Man (disgusted): Because that no-good bum never listened to his own father.
We began to explain in the previous article, the uniqueness of our generation in the process of the revelation of the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, in terms of the Rebbe corresponding to the divine attribute of Malchus, and how that affects the integration of the “short way” and “long way” of Tanya. [In a footnote to the sicha of 28 Sivan 5751, the Rebbe adds that our entire generation, men women and children, represent the divine attribute of Malchus.] Let’s try to develop those ideas in more detail and (hopefully) more simple terms:
In order for Hashem to be a father, He has to take a “part” of Himself and imbue it with a sense of an individual existence. That first “spark” of individual existence knows and experiences the truth that nothing else exists outside of Hashem and that its sense of individual existence is only an expression of Hashem’s infinite creative powers. Or in more simple language, the sense that what feels like “me” is actually “Him” (super-bittul) so I can only be “me” by being totally connected to “Him” (super-love).
[Actually, Chassidus explains that super-bittul goes even deeper than that. Since what feels like “me” is actually “Him” there is no vested interest in being “me” and the natural instinct is to go back to just being “Him,” so even being “me” is only an expression of the super-bittul to “Him” and what He desires.]
The next step is to develop this “spark” into an entire personality, with a higher consciousness (faith, will), an intellect (wisdom, understanding, conscious knowledge), emotions and emotional traits and drives (love-kindness, fear-severity etc.), and the capacity for self-expression (thought, speech, action). Adding these layers, and even sending the soul down into created worlds that are progressively further from the true reality of Hashem’s Oneness, does not change the core “self” and its natural instincts of super-bittul and super-love.
As noted previously, what Hashem really wants is to be a king. Chassidus explains that a king who only rules over his own self is not a king; a king who only rules over his own sons is not a king; a king who rules over beings that have no commonality with him is not a king; a king who rules only by force is a dictator and not a king. So that is where human beings and animal souls come in.
Humans have ostensible “commonality” with their Creator since they are created “in our image and in our likeness,” but by investing them with “animal” souls that are totally self-centered, they experience themselves as completely separate unlike “sons.” Yet, like animals that have a natural subservience and attachment to their masters, once they have been properly tamed and trained, human beings can choose and learn to accept upon themselves a higher authority to attach themselves to and to submit to his leadership.
So we solved all three problems with the whole “G-d as King” narrative. Humans with animal souls experience themselves as not part of His self; created beings are not sons of their Creator; humans have some seeming commonality (at least with G-d as He manifests through his “faculties” – “image and likeness”); humans have the tendency to seek out, embrace and submit to higher authority.
WE HAVE NO OTHER KING
However, all of that leaves us with an even bigger problem. How in the world would a selfish human/animal manage to lift its snout out of the trough of physical pleasures to choose G-d as his king, with absolute authority over his mind and heart, and every thought, word or deed?
For that we have the analogy given by the Baal Shem Tov of a king who wants to test the wisdom and loyalty of his son and sends him off to a faraway place in his country, inhabited by the most primitive people who have no understanding and appreciation of the greatness of the king, in order to civilize and educate them and turn them into loyal subjects of his father. So the G-dly soul, the “son” of the King, is sent down to inhabit a human body together with an animal soul and enters into the protracted and exhausting struggle that we know as “free will,” in order to win over the body and animal soul.
Oy vey, free will? But that can only work if the instinctive super-bittul and super-love of the G-dly soul is covered up, because I would rather die than do anything that could “disconnect” me from G-d, and nothing in the created universe, including animal souls, can compete with the bittul and love expressed in the mesiras nefesh of a Yiddishe neshama. But if my true G-dly self is concealed, how am I to wield any influence over my animal soul and convince it to do anything other than what it wants and feels like doing?
So for free will to work, there must be the ability for animal desires to cover up and distract the G-dly soul from its true self (super-bittul, super-love) and purpose (to influence the human/animal self to submit to Hashem as King), as well as the ability for the G-dly soul to tap into its true self at any time (the “short way” of Tanya), along with the ability to fulfill its purpose to influence the animal mind, heart and behaviors (the “long way” of Tanya).
All of this leads us to the ultimate problem. What King Hashem wants from His “subjects” is to build Him a “dwelling in the lowly realms,” a place that He can call “home,” and He wants that home to be within each and every Jew and in the world at large. Home is where you can “let it all hang out,” “let down your hair,” “be yourself” without any need to cover up. For Hashem to be fully at home in this world without any covering up means that it has to be a place that is hospitable to His true reality, namely that there is nothing that exists aside from Him. How can created beings that experience reality as if they are not a part of Him, not even like sons that are an extension of Him, turn themselves and the world into something they and it are not?
That is where the attribute of Malchus as manifested through the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach, and through him to each and every man, woman and child of this generation, comes in, as we shall explore in the next installment.
The magazine can be obtained in stores around Crown Heights. To purchase a subscription, please go to: bmoshiach.org