Chapter 4: A Nation on a Mission
The Role of the Jewish People
Adam—The First Man, The Collective Soul
The ARI explains that in truth, we are all parts of a single soul, known to Kabbalists as Adam HaRishon (the first man), and to most other folks as Adam. The exile, says the ARI, occurred as a continuation of the correction process. In Shaar HaPsukim [Gate to the Verses], he wrote, “Adam HaRishon [Adam] included all the souls and included all the worlds. When he sinned, all those souls fell from him into the Klipot [shells, forms of egotism], which divide into seventy nations. Israel must exile there, in each and every nation, and gather the lilies of the holy souls that had scattered among those thorns, as our sages wrote in Midrash Rabah, ‘Why were Israel exiled among the nations? To add foreigners to themselves.’”[i]
In that regard, The NATZIV of Volojin wrote, “Its beginning was on Mount Ebal … but they completed this exalted matter only through exile and dispersion.”[ii]
It is with good reason that exile is necessary in order to complete the correction of the Jews, and thereafter the entire world. We previously said that when Abraham offered the correction method to his fellow Babylonians, they rejected it because they were too busy being self-indulgent and egotistical. And yet, if we are all parts of one collective soul, as the ARI pointed out, eventually all of us will have to achieve correction, by which we will discover the Creator and become like Him. This is the benefit, as described in Chapter 2, that He intended to give humankind.
Thus, Abraham’s correction was only the beginning of the process, certainly not its end. In a long and elaborate essay titled, “And They Built Store-Cities,” Baal HaSulam writes, “We must also understand what Abraham the Patriarch asked, ‘Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it’ (Genesis 15:8)? What did the Creator reply? It is written, ‘And He said unto Abram: Know of a surety that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs.’”[iii] Baal HaSulam explains that with this reply, the Creator promises Abraham that all the people will achieve correction through the mingling of the corrected nation—Israel—with the uncorrected nations—in this case represented by Egypt.
Surprisingly, in reply to his question, the Creator promises Abraham exile. And not only that, writes Baal HaSulam, Abraham “…accepted it as a guarantee on the inheritance of the land.”[iv] Indeed, Abraham knew that a mingling of the desires—represented by the different nations of the world—was necessary in order to complete the correction of humanity. Considering that each of the nations represents a part of Adam’s soul, it is necessary for every part of the soul to be introduced to the correction method, and for that part of the soul to eventually adopt it. This is why Israel had to be exiled and spread throughout the world.
As part of the expansion of the correction process in humanity, Abraham went into exile in Egypt, where his tribe had grown into a nation. And when the Israeli nation exiled after the ruin of the First and Second Temples, it introduced the correction method to the entire world.
Although the method has clearly not been adopted by the rest of humanity, it has nevertheless planted the tenets we already mentioned, tenets that form a common basis upon which to begin the correction process as soon as people begin to seek it.
In “The Arvut [Mutual Guarantee],” Baal HaSulam details the process by which the Israeli nation corrects itself first, so as to convey the correction to the rest of the nations. In his words, “Rabbi Elazar, son of Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai), clarifies this concept of Arvut even further. It is not enough for him that all of Israel are responsible for one another, but the whole world is included in that Arvut. …Everyone admits that to begin with, it is enough to start with one nation for the observance of the Torah [law of bestowal] for the beginning of the correction of the world. It was impossible to begin with all the nations at once, as they said that the Creator went with the Torah to every nation and tongue, and they did not want to receive it. In other words, they were immersed in … self-love … until it was impossible to conceive in those days to even ask if they agreed to retire from self-love.
“…But the end of the correction of the world will be only by bringing all the people in the world under His work, as it is written, ‘And the Lord shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall the Lord be One, and His name one’ (Zechariah, 14:9) … ‘And all the nations shall flow on to him’ (Isaiah, 2:2).
“But the role of Israel toward the rest of the world resembles the role of our Holy Fathers toward the Israeli nation. Just as the righteousness of our fathers helped us develop and cleanse to become worthy of receiving the Torah [law of bestowal] … it is upon the Israeli nation to qualify itself and all the people of the world through Torah and Mitzvot [corrections of the egotism], to develop until they take upon themselves that sublime work of love of others, which is the ladder to the purpose of Creation, being Dvekut [similarity/equivalence of form] with Him.”[v]
Likewise, in his essay, “A Handmaid that Is Heir to Her Mistress,” Baal HaSulam writes, “The people of Israel, which has been chosen as an operator of the general purpose and correction … contains the preparation required for growing and developing until it moves the nations of the worlds, too, to achieve the common goal.”[vi]
Baal HaSulam and his son, the Rabash, may have been the latest Kabbalists to state that Israel’s role in the world is to bring the correction method to the rest of the nations, but they were certainly not the first. Countless rabbis, Kabbalists, and scholars dating back almost to the ruin of the Second Temple, have stated similarly.
Thus, Midrash Rabah states that “Israel bring light to the world,”[vii] and the Babylonian Talmud added, “The Creator acted with righteousness toward Israel, having dispersed them among the nations.”[viii] Rabbi Yehuda Altar, the ADMOR of Gur wrote, “Any exile into which the children of Israel enter is only to elicit holy sparks within the nations [similar to Baal HaSulam’s above-quoted words]. The children of Israel are guarantors in that they received the Torah in order to correct the whole world, the nations, too.”[ix]
Similarly, Rabbi Hillel Tzaitlin writes, “If Israel is the one true redeemer of the entire world, it must be fit for that redemption. Israel must first redeem its own soul, the sanctity of its soul, the sanctity of its Shechina [Divinity]. …For that purpose, I wish to establish with this book the ‘unity of Israel’ … If founded, the unification of individuals will be for the purpose of internal ascension and an invocation for corrections for all the ills of the nation and the world.”[x]
I would like to conclude this chapter with a few more of Baal HaSulam’s words, who in a few paragraphs detailed the purpose of Creation, humanity’s entitlement to it, and Israel’s role in achieving it. In his words: “Why was the Torah given to the Israeli nation without the participation of all the nations of the world? In truth, the purpose of Creation applies to the entire human race, none excluded. However, because of the lowliness of the nature of Creation [being egotistical] and its power over people, it was impossible for people to understand, determine, and agree to rise above it. They did not demonstrate the desire to relinquish self-love and come to equivalence of form, which is adhesion with His attributes, as our sages said, ‘As He is merciful, be you merciful, as well.’
“Thus, because of their ancestral merit [the examples set by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob], Israel succeeded … and became qualified and sentenced themselves to a scale of merit [corrected themselves to become like the Creator]. Each and every member of the nation agreed to love his fellow man [which is how they achieved the correction].
“…However, the Israeli nation was to be a ‘transition,’ meaning that to the extent that Israel cleanse themselves by keeping the Torah [laws of bestowal], they pass their power on to the rest of the nations. And when the rest of the nations also sentence themselves to a scale of merit [correcting themselves by relinquishing egotism], the Messiah [final correction] will be revealed. This is because the role of the Messiah is not only to qualify Israel to the ultimate goal of adhesion with Him, but to teach the ways of God [bestowal] to all the nations, as it is written, ‘And all nations will flow onto Him.’”[xi]
[i] The Holy ARI, Eight Gates, Shaar HaPsukim [Gate to Verses], Parashat Shemot [Portion, Exodus].
[ii] Rabbi Naphtali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin (The NATZIV of Volojin), Haamek Davar [Delve Deep in the Matter] about Devarim [Deuteronomy], Chapter 27:5.
[iii] Rav Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “Essays of Shamati [I Heard],” essay no. 86, “And They Built Store-Cities” (Ashlag Research Institute, Israel, 2009), 591.
[v] Rav Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Arvut [Mutual Guarantee]” (Ashlag Research Institute: Israel, 2009), 393.
[vi] Rav Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “A Handmaid that Is Heir to Her Mistress” (Ashlag Research Institute, Israel, 2009), 454.
[vii] Midrash Rabah, “Song of Songs,” Parasha no. 4, 2nd paragraph.’
[viii] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Pesachim, p 87b.
[ix] Yehuda Leib Arie Altar (ADMOR of Gur), Sefat Emet [Language of Truth], Parashat Yitro [Portion, Jethro], TARLAZ (1876).
[x] Hillel Tzaitlin, The Book of a Few (Jerusalem, 1979), 5.
[xi] Rav Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Love of God and the Love of Man” (Ashlag Research Institute, Israel, 2009), 486.