Hemshech Tzaddik-Dalet Part III
What would you do to get a glimpse, just a glimpse, of
a reality that is beyond the one you usually perceive?
As we are about to celebrate the unfettered dance of Simchat
Torah, the Chassidic series Tzaddik-Dalet
– which has been the focus of this column in the past few
weeks marking the 75th anniversary of this discourse’s delivery
– helps us enter a new zone, which can lift us above the
trappings of our daily routines and the din of our demoralizing
The story until here: All of existence is a process, a
transmission consisting of three stages, yesh,
ayin, yesh. All matter – the “body” and
being of our physical universe (the created yesh)
– carries within it energy (ayin), which in turn
originates from a source, the “transmitter”
(the true yesh).
As we travel deeper into the worm-hole that connects our
perceived reality and the deeper reality within –
concealed by layers upon layers of thick curtains –
we discover that in the in-between ayin state there
are actually many levels and dimensions.
In the continuing process of deconstructing existence –
which this classic discourse does so methodically –
the Rebbe Rayatz further dissects the transitionary ayin
into two: Ayin of the Yesh Ha’Amiti and
the ayin of the yesh ha’nivra. Since the
transmission is not of the Essence itself, but of a reflection,
it goes through gradations as it moves down the pipeline.
First comes a state that carries the transmission, removed
from the essence while reflecting it. Then this state metamorphasizes
into another, lower form of ayin, which is more
customized to the final recipient, yet still beyond it.
The first ayin is called “non-existent” or “nothingness”
simply because of its actual insignificance, completely
paling in comparison to its source. The second ayin
is so called not because of its insignificance; it actually
carries much significance, indeed, it is the source of the
recipient’s existence. It is called ayin
because from the perspective of the recipient 1) it remains
unknowable and mysterious; 2) its existence is of a different
“personality,” one that our existence cannot
relate to and sees as “non-existent”.
In other words, every state of being, which inherently
originates from a higher state of being – i.e. every
transmission from one state to another – consists
of four levels: The source (Yesh Ha’Amiti), the
way the source manifests and is reflected as it begins to
transmit and evolve (ayin ha’amiti), the transmission
getting closer to the recipient (ayin of the yesh
ha’nivra), and the recipient (yesh).
To make this a bit more palatable, take the example of
a teacher and student: As the teacher (the first yesh)
transmits an entirely new idea, he first must gather his
thoughts and condense the idea in his own mind (the first
ayin). Then he must find words and examples that
the student can relate to (the second ayin), which
will carry and plant the idea into the student’s mind
(the final yesh). This is true for every form of
transmission and process.
And these four levels in a sense repeat themselves again
and again as we move through the cosmic order. Each “section”
of the process consisting of a state that evolves into a
lower state, with two levels of “ayin” in-between
[The following two paragraphs can be skipped if you find
them too esoteric:
There are actually three different ways to explain the
meaning the two levels of ayin. 1) The infinite
light (sovev) divides into two dimensions: the
essence of the light and its extension. 2) The infinite
light (prior to the tzimtzum) is the first level
of ayin and the finite light (after the tzimtzum)
is the second level. 3) The finite light itself (memaleh)
divides into two.
It seems obvious, though the Rebbe Rayatz does not state
it specifically, that every stage of existence, from the
highest to the lowest, has two stages in the in-between
process that connects every two states of reality. Relative
to your existing state, the level above you is a lower form
of ayin, and the level above that is a higher form
of ayin, which follows the yesh above
What this all means in practical terms:
Understanding the dynamics of existence and how our reality
came to be is not just an academic exercise which satisfies
our natural curiosity to know “how things work”
(the proverbial clock, which we take apart to see what makes
it tick), but something far more profound and consequential.
The inner workings of reality teach us how to retrace the
steps and reconnect to our core source, how to integrate
our surface level existence with the inner forces that shape
and define our very being.
All of life is a journey. Not just a journey on earth,
but one that carries us from one state of being to a higher
state of being, from one state of consciousness to a higher
state of consciousness, like climbing a mountain, the mountain
of perception, where each leg upward allows you to see and
experience new horizons. When humans say that they like
to improve and perfect their lives what does that mean?
Is perfection physical – instead of one million, two
million dollars? Instead of one car two, instead of one
home two homes, and so on? True perfection and self-actualization
is when we release all our potential, when we reach higher
states of awareness. It is about spiritual perfection –
not being trapped by our own limited perspectives and possibilities,
and reaching for heights (hitherto) unimaginable. It is
the story of the finite yearning for the infinite.
How high and what exactly constitutes these heights is
subject to various opinions. Hemshech Tzaddik-Dalet tells
us that no limits exist in how high we can reach –
but only if you are ready to “pay the price.”
There is no way to get beyond mediocrity and experience
transcendence if we ourselves and our mindsets remain mediocre.
Climbing upward requires the readiness to suspend pre-conceived
notions and experiences, to set aside self-interest and
other ego-driven pursuits, and allow yourself to be carried
to a broader place.
To climb the mountain and elevate our lives from one state
to a higher state we need to experience two states of bittul.
The first realization is that our existence is very limited
and that there is a far greater force, unknown to us, that
energizes our very beings. Once you assimilate this new
perception (which is no small feat and takes much work),
you can begin to climb to the next level and realize that
not only is our existence inferior to its source, but that
there is a level where there is only light and energy, reflecting
a higher reality, and all of existence is completely engulfed,
and has no identity of its own, in that light. Not only
that something greater than us exists; not only that’s
is not all about you, but that that you compared to it are
nothing at all.
Once you come to that profound awareness, then you can
integrate your being with that higher state, and then something
dramatic happens: You become absolutely significant
– not because you think you are somebody, but because the
essence makes you somebody.
To understand this we need to further analyze the meaning
of light and bittul. This we will leave for the future columns
of this ongoing series. Let us for now return to Simchat
Torah, which immediately follows the festival of Sukkot.
One of the personal lessons of spending an entire week
in a Sukkah instead of in our comfortable homes is to remind
us of the temporal nature of existence. The material world
is not our home. We must never succumb to the illusion that
our man-made structures and mortal edifices are our natural
environments. Corporeal life is a means, a road that leads
us to a deeper, higher reality. The transitory Sukkah reminds
us that we are just travelers in this impermanent material
world; we are spiritual beings on a material journey, not
material beings on a spiritual journey.
The vulnerable Sukkah has many layers, but as we travel
inward each layer makes us stronger – and wiser, realizing
new states of transcendence and joy.
Seven days in a Sukkah prepare us to enter yet another
dimension of reality, called Shemini Atzeret and Simchat
Torah, when we dance the seven circles (hakofot).
Each circle sucks us further into its vortex, helping us
melt away the fears of our limited perspectives in a narrow
To enter a higher reality we have a narrow passage called
“ayin.” To enter this passage you must first
shed layers of ego and self-interest, recognizing that there
is a reality that precedes you and is concealed from view;
a reality beyond your grasp and of another dimension. Once
you travel up this state of selfless ayin, it will
lead you to yet another passage. There you need to shed
not just any shred of self, but you need to know that compared
to the Higher Reality your reality has no significance at
And then.... And only then a new passageway opens up for
you – wider than anything you have ever seen, transforming
you into a new being, a new reality.
Yes my friends, the secret to immortality is to disappear.
Disappearance can never disappear, the invisible cannot
be obliterated, selflessness cannot be annihilated.
Want to catch a glimpse of another reality?
Dance on Simchat Torah. Don’t just dance. DANCE.
Ahh, to dance and dance into oblivion. An oblivion that
carries us into the ayin, and then into another
and yet another – as we deconstruct existence and
catch a glimpse of a something beyond…