Secret of Splitting
by Rabbi David Rothschild
Free translation and adaptation
from a discourse of
Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi
Parshat Beshalach, 5567
Part 2 (of 2)
"The Children of Israel walked
on dry land in the midst of the sea" (Exodus 14:29). The most significant
factor in the verse is that the sea became dry land . Prior to this event, The
Higher Sea - Supernal Speech - hid the Divine Lights of Emanation. Now the order
of Creation was miraculously altered. A state of concealment was transformed into
one of revelation. The Higher Sea split open, revealing its hitherto concealed
lights. Corresponding to this celestial occurrence was the splitting of the physical
sea and it's transformation to dry land.
Now, for the first time since
Creation, all the higher lights of the World of Emanation could shine in a revealed
manner down into the three Lower Worlds of Creation, Formation and Action. For
when the Higher Sea split, the screen that had prevented such a revelation, vanished.
With the curtain of Supernal Speech removed, the light of Emanation's Will, Intelligence
and Emotions shone freely below.
Kabbala uses a different metaphor for the
Splitting of the Sea. The Ari Zal describes the state prior to the Spitting as
'pregnancy', while the condition brought about by the Splitting is called 'birth'.
Souls in the World of Emanation had been inter-included within the attribute
of Kingship of that world. Similar to an embryo's inter-inclusion with its mother,
these souls were hidden within the Higher Sea -Kingship.
When the sea split,
these souls emerged into revelation down in the Three Lower Worlds. This new condition
is allegorized as 'birth'. Thus, the name chosen for this event is the Spitting
of the Sea; similar to the act of birth, where the opening of the womb allows
souls to enter the world.
Now we can understand
why the Splitting of the Sea was an indispensable precondition for the receiving
of the Torah. By traversing the sea breach, the Israelites realized a new state
of being. Without this benefit, they wouldn't have been able to receive the Torah.
though, did the receiving of the Torah actually entail? G-d's Infinite Light shone
down in a revealed manner. First it entered His attribute of Supernal Wisdom -
Wisdom of Emanation. From there His Light descended into His attribute of the
Lower Wisdom, also called the sefirah of Kingship. In Kingship reside the collective
souls of the Jewish People. The Zohar calls this spiritual abode The Congregation
of Israel (Knesset Israel). Jewish souls obtained G-d's Infinite Light from Supernal
Wisdom. That's why G-d's transmission on Mt. Sinai is called not only the Giving
of the Torah, but also called the Receiving of the Torah.
The novel nature
of this revelation is identical to what happened at the Splitting of the Sea.
There, the screen separating Emanation from the Three Lower Worlds lifted, allowing
Emanation's Infinite Lights to shine below. Likewise, the Splitting of the Sea
permitted G-d's Infinite Light to descend to the Seat of Jewish souls.
Moses and the Israelites, though, only received the Infinite Light
in Supernal and Lower Wisdom for the purpose of performing the commandments. On
Mount Sinai we were given the Revealed Torah. This Torah's purpose is to instruct
us how to carry out the commandments in actual practice. As the verse says, "Today
to do them" (Deuteronomy 7:11). And the learning of Torah is equated to their
performance. All of this is contained in the Revealed Torah, which descended below
to the physical world -the Revealed World - specifically into material objects.
Wisdom came down to become enclothed in an external manifestation: the 248 positive
commandments and 365 negative mitzvahs all make use of earthly objects.
But the inner aspect of the Torah wasn't revealed on Mount Sinai.
Only in the Future Era will the Messiah make it known. Thus the Talmud reveals,
"Tomorrow you will receive their reward." Only then will the secret
reasons behind every mitzvah be revealed.
Today, these secrets are concealed
in the highest realms of Divinity. They are above even the supernal World of Emanation.
Moses never saw them, as it is written, "You won't see my Face" (Exodus
33:23). The Hebrew word for face also translates as "inner.'
inner truths are sequestered in the Absolute Essence of G-d, within the innermost
attribute of Concealed Delight. The Zohar identifies this level as, "Concealment,
hidden therein, and impossible to be revealed." The Zohar refers to it as
Hidden Paradise, as the verse says, "Eyes can't see it; only G-d can"
King Solomon prophesized, "He will kiss me with the
kisses of His mouth" (Song of Songs 1:2). Rashi informs us that the verse
refers to the secrets of the Torah that only the Messiah can reveal. As Isaiah
said of King Messiah, "My servant will enlighten, he shall be exalted and
acclaimed, and be very elevated" (Isaiah 52:13). The verse tells us that
G-d's Absolute Essence will shine in King Messiah. And through him the secret
reasons of the mitzvahs will be made known to all of the Jewish People. The Hebrew
word for reason (tam) also translates as taste or delight. King Messiah will reveal,
for the first time, G-d's Innermost Delight hidden within the Torah.
[Rabbi David Rothschild, a resident of Tsfat, is the founder and editor of