תורה ברשת
Torah of the Besht III – Bad as a Seat for Good
הרב יהושע וויסברג
השיעור הועבר ע"י הרב יהושע וויסברג
שיעורים נוספים של המרצה ניתן למצוא כאן

בס''ד                                                                                 

הרע הוא כסא של הטוב

Introduction

In recent weeks we have seen twice how the Besht responds to a classic religious question by shifting from the realm of abstract theology to the existential.

A few weeks ago the Besht introduced us to a philosopher’s question, “If G-d is so fearsome, why does He need to command us to fear Him?” Which we read as a challenge to the very existence of religion –if G-d is real, why does faith require such an elaborate construct to prop it up? 

The Besht responded by taking us directly to the realm of experience. He answered that the fear of G-d is not in itself a natural experience, nor is it something one can command. Rather it is an experience one can choose to awaken from within our familiar experiences of fear. The command to fear (or love) G-d is not an instruction to pretend, but to awaken an inner dormant dimension of an existing experience.

Similarly, in the teaching we learned last week, the Besht asked what it means to ‘know’ G-d, when by definition all knowledge of G-d is impossible. In his response he explained that in this context “knowledge” refers not to abstract knowledge, but to חיבור, intimate encounter and direct experience of a thing.

This week the Besht (through a teaching of his student the Toldot) asks a familiar question about the persistence of evil in G-d’s world. Here too his answer takes us to the realm of the experiential and existential.

The Question

The Toldot Yaakov Yosef asks if it is really possible that our confusing world of both good and evil, light and darkness, truth and klipa, is really a single world unified in G-d. How can one G-d create, sustain and dwell in a world of such contradictions?

In his words, “how can G-d’s presence (the shechina) be both one unified whole, and also inhabit all things, good and bad alike?” Or, in the context of the mystery of the burning bush, how can a physical bush sustain the presence of G-d and remain existent, not consumed?

In the Toldot’s reading, Moses questions about the burning bush extend to his own human complexity;  if Moses is on some level a microcosm of the world and contains evil within himself, how can he be the one to raise the world?

Evil is the seat of good

In response, the Toldot writes, “evil is the seat of good” and explains by way of two examples:

  • ופרעה הקריב וישאו בני ישראל את עיניהם (Shemot 14:10) which, based on the surprising use of the הפעיל form of the verb קרב, he explains to mean not that Pharo approached Israel, but that Pharo (by approaching Israel) caused Israel to approach G-d, וישאו בני ישראל את עיניהם. It was only on the “seat” of the threat of evil Pharo that an extraordinary moment of search for and consciousness of G-d was able to take shape.
  • We are only able to grasp and appreciate a thing in contrast with other things. Even עונג, the primal experience of joy and delight is apparent to us only when it comes in contrast to צער. Even the good in our own identity is discernable only in the context of contrast of wickedness elsewhere.

In different teaching, the Toldot offers a third example of “evil is the seat of good”;

  • even the ascetic, for whom the pleasures of this world are a distraction, and for whom fasting and the withholding of pleasure is מעשה הצדיקים and the path to G-d, needs times of joy, food and drink in order to avoid the מרה שחורה, or depression that so easily accompanies self denial.

Or similarly, there are times when even an extremely negative trait, such as pride, is a crucial stage or tool in one’s own growth in avodat Hashem.

The Toldot shifts the question of the existence of “evil in the world” to the question of our experience of bad. With three very different examples, he outlines a dynamic by which the bad and evil in our lives also provide the context and even the catalyst for the good.  It is only because of the presence of bad in the world that the good can grow, or take form.

Thoughts

So what does that really mean?

I too wonder at how a person can waver between moments of deep commitment and awakening, heightened consciousness and faith on the one hand, and doubt, distance and feeling disconnected on the other. How can a single human being, rooted in good, feel so conflicted so often?

In last week’s teaching the Besht encouraged us not to try to escape experiences of distance and צער when they come, but rather to see them as independently valuable experiences of G-d in themselves.  In moments צער and even hester, listen for the quiet echo of G-d’s presence.  

In this week’s teaching, the Toldot seems to me to be saying something different, that it is not possible to imagine ones experiences of good, of closeness and growth without direct acknowledgment of the distance, failings and interruptions that prod the good to respond, grow and take form.

So perhaps, the Toldot is challenging us to think of the negative experiences not only “of G-d” as we learned last week, but as “of the good”, and even when we are in the darker experiences, to see in them the contours of the good to which they are providing a seat.

(note: the first teaching below is a version of the 5th teaching on parshat Shemot that I sent to some of your individually two weeks ago, just simpler)

1.     תולדות יעקב יוסף בראשית פרשת לך לך

וכן שמעתי ממורי זלה"ה וירא ה' כי סר לראות וכו' (שמות ג, ד), כי השכינה כוללת כל העולמות, דומם צומח חי מדבר, וכל הנבראים שבעולם הן טובים או רעים, והי' תמוה לו למשה רבינו ע"ה שהיחוד האמיתי היא השכינה, ואיך כוללת ב' הפכים בנושא אחד, טוב ורע והם ב' הפכים והוא הייחוד. וכן שמו של משה כולל הכל טוב ורע, וז"ש משה רבכם קוביוסטוס וכו' (בכורות ה א), ואיך נעשה היחוד על ידו וכו'. אבל באמת אתי שפיר, כי הרע הוא כסא אל הטוב, כמו ופרעה הקריב וכו' (שמות יד, י), או על ידי שרואה מעשה הרשעים והוא אינו בגדר שלהם, יש לו תענוג ויתרון לאור מן החשך, ונעשה זה התענוג בכל העולמות ע"י הרע, וכמעט שעי"ז יש לרע עליה, רק כשעולה משם יתפרדו כל פועלי און וכו', ודפח"ח.

2.     בעל שם טוב בראשית פרשת בראשית מא – ויהי ערב ויהי בוקר

ונחזור לביאור מורי זללה"ה בפסוק הנ"ל, כי יש מעשה הרשעים, אכילה ושתיה ושמחה ושחוק וכיוצא, ויש מעשה הצדיקים תענית וצום ובכי ומספד וכיוצא, אמנם כשנתגברה חולי המרה שחורה על ידי עצבות וסיגופים וכיוצא, אז צריך לאחוז במדות הרשעים, לאכול ולשתות ולשמוח להסיר החולי הנ"ל, ולפעמים כשרואה שיצר הרע מתגבר בו, ילבש שחורים ועצבות (קידושין מ' א), וכל זה צריך לשקול במאזני שכלו, וזהו שאמרו ואיני יודע באיזה מהם חפץ וכנ"ל: (צפנת פענח דף ק"ד ע"ב, בן פורת יוסף דף מ"ו ע"ג)

שיעורים נוספים ניתן למצוא בקטגוריות הבאות: בא
תאריך העלאה:ח׳ בשבט ה׳תשע״ו
18/01/16
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