Free translation and adaptation from a discourse of
Rabbi Sholom Dov Baer Schneerson
Chanukah 5678 91917)

by Rabbi David Rothschild

[bracketed remarks are the translator's, usually based on other discourses]


Part 2 (of 3)

Part 1



Fix Evil

The rectification of the Left Side must occur from the Left Side itself. This can be understood through the difference between the Levites and the Cohens. Both participated in the running the Temple's sacrifices.

The Cohens originate from the Right Side. The Torah writes, "The Cohen is a man of kindness." The Levites are from the Left Side. Their true purpose is to rectify the Left Side. The Torah refers to the Levites with the word "it". This term connotes that which is concealed. The object is unknown; this is why it can only be referenced as "it." The Zohar says, "It is the Ancient One". The understanding of this connection of concealment to the Levites' ability to rectify the Left Side elucidates the power of Chanukah lights.

When G-d created the worlds a north wind circled the Earth. At a certain point G-d terminated creation. If He hadn't, the north wind would have completely encompassed the world. Then, evil's power would have been unstoppable. Still, the strength of evil is great. It adheres to the Left Side to nurture life-force. Being, however, its power isn't absolute, this sucking from the Left Side can be rectified.

The Levites executed this rectification by slaughtering the sacrifices in the northern section of the Temple. North corresponds to the left. That's because G-d's Presence is revealed in the Tablets of Law. Inside the Temple the Tablets faced east. From G-d's perspective north is on the left-hand side.

Holy Union

As mentioned above, the term "it" refers to the concealed. There are ascending levels of "the unknown." After creation there appeared two categories of worlds: The Revealed World, and the Concealed World. In this context, The Concealed World is the attribute or sefirah of Understanding ("Binah").

[The set of sefiros on the left side commence with Understanding. The seferah directly below Understanding is "Gevorah" or Severity. On the right side the first sefirah is Wisdom "Chochmah"). Below Wisdom is "Hesed" or Kindness.]

Inside the sefirah of Understanding shines a revelation of "the Ancient One" ("Atik"). [Atik in Hebrew means to duplicate. Atik is a copy of the essence of the Infinite Light even after creation. As it is above revelation, it can only reside within a concealed place. The letters of Understanding give space for revelation.]

Wisdom is above creation and can thereby accept within itself a revelation of the Infinite Light of Atik. Understanding then receives this revelation of Atik from Wisdom.

Kabbala calls Understanding "Mother" and Wisdom "Father." They are bound together in an everlasting unity. Their bond is brought about by the Levites. Moreover, the word Levy in Hebrew means to bind together and connect.

Thus the Levites cause the revelation of the Absolute Infinite Light in Understanding. This then is the explanation of what the Zohar said, "It is the Ancient One". The Ancient One - Atik - is revealed in Understanding.

The Free World

The sefirah of Understanding is also called the "Free World." Being that the Infinite Light shines there, evil cannot exist. It's called the Free World because it is free from evil. As the Levites' source is Understanding, they are intrinsically above evil. Therefore they have the power to cause its rectification.

The Left Side, then, begins in the free-from-evil world of Understanding where incomprehensible Infinite Light shines. Below Understanding starts Severity. This is still in the realm of holiness. It's just that the dynamic of Severity restricts and constricts light. As a result, at the bottommost level evil is created and nurtured. The way to deal with evil, then, is to decimate it at its source - the source of the Left Side.

Sweet Severity

As mentioned above the source of the Left Side - Understanding - has the power to eradicate evil. But what is intrinsic to Severity that only through its source can it be rectified?

[Each sefirah contains within itself an expression of the other ten sefiros. Inside Understanding for example, resides the sub-sefirah of Severity of Understanding.]

The secret is that at its source, Severity isn't severity at all. The source of Severity is Understanding, and in Understanding there is no severity. That's because the Kindness of Wisdom itself becomes the Severity of Understanding. As the essence of Severity is loving kindness, the Kabbala calls it sweetened severity.

The sweet severity in Understanding is the source of the lower sefirah of Severity. By operating at the level of the source of Severity, the Levites - themselves a manifesting of this source - rectify the Left Side and evil itself.

Hair Tubes

This explains why the Levites were commanded to constantly shave all the hair off their bodies. Hair is like a narrow tube that constricts the life-force which passes through it. Evil attaches itself to the extremities of the hair where it can nurture off the diminished light. To eliminate that possibility, the Levites shaved.

The Cohens, though, assisted the Levites in the Temple service. When Levites lifted certain offerings, the Cohens first placed their hands under the Levites' hands. Together they would raise the sacrifice.

The principle here is that in order to elevate the physical to spiritual, the act must be preceded by an influx of G-dly Kindness from above. That's why the Cohens -- representing Kindness - helped the Levites. But there is a deeper reason.

Not Yet

These days, spiritual conduct must be performed specifically through Kindness. Only in the Future Era will Severity be primary. The Ari said, "In the future the Levites will be Cohens." Thus during Temple times, the Levites required assistance from the Cohens. Kindness was, and continues to be, the way to serve G-d. Nevertheless, the service of the Levites was to rectify the Left Side of severity.

[In the Future the attribute of G-d's Essential Severity will dominate. The nature of severity is to overpower. G-d will force a revelation of the unrevealable.]

Holy Eight

The Greeks conspired to coerce Jews to abandon Torah. The Macabees were victorious on the battlefield by virtue of their literal self-sacrifice to preserve the Torah. In this merit, they drew down a revelation of the Absolute Infinite Light of G-d's Essence to rectify the Left Side. This is why they instituted Chanukah lights. The lights manifest the Absolute Infinite Light. This Absolute Light is a revelation of the higher name of G-d which itself is represented by the number eight.

The prophet Samuel said, "You are my candle G-d, G-d makes my darkness light."
The names for G-d here are the holy four-letter name. [Each of the four letters connotes a phase in the process of revelation, expansion, descent, and the final expansion of light.] G-d is represented by two identical names appearing juxtaposed in the Torah.

The first, or lower name, refers to the light which enacts the system of creation. This is the diminished Limited Light mentioned above. Its source is the Relative Infinite Light which had to be concealed. Then the Limited Light descended below. As the light moves downward it is further reduced by a multitude of veils. At the end of the process the light has reached such a limited state that it can now be a source of life for finite entities. This is what Samuel meant by "You are my candle, G-d" -- the lower name which makes creation.

The second, higher name of G-d, is above the system of creation. It is the Absolute Essence of Light. This is the intention of the second half of his statement, "G-d makes my darkness light." To illuminate darkness requires a revelation of the higher name above creation.

[on to Part 3]


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