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Blog Post Five: Revealing Light from Darkness: Marc Gafni

Marc Gafni » Blog - Spiritually Incorrect » Blog-Series: Light from Darkness » Hebrew Wisdom » Integral Evolutionary Kabbalah » Shadow » Blog Post Five: Revealing Light from Darkness: Marc Gafni

In biblical language the word for “creation” is yatzar. But yatzar also represents primal, even dark, passions. We reveal our light, our soul, from the shadows. The shattered vessels of our miniature temple, which for Luria was the image of our souls, can only be made whole again if we are willing to enter the ruins of our lives and dreams, and from there reveal G-dly essence.

We’ve seen how the spiritual light of solomon’s temple is born from the dark created with the “yatzar” passion of bezalel’s dark hands. A poignant temple image may deepen our understanding.

The second-century mystics, in a discussion recorded in Talmud Yoma, pose the question:

“What is the source of primal passion? From whence comes the primal surge towards both beauty/goodness, as well as sin? They meditate upon the question for three days. As the sun sets on the third day, they are graced by a startling vision.

Standing facing the Holy of Holies of the Temple, the ultimate source of sanctity and serenity, they suddenly see a lion of fire tearing through the royal curtains. The fiery lion is clearly a symbol of primal passion. But why does this raging creature emerge out of the temple’s Holy of Holies? Is that not the place of ultimate purity—the symbol of ethical and spiritual perfection? 

The vision reveals to the masters that only by facing our most primal passions can we find our holy of holies— our soul.

Bearing this image in mind we can now illuminate several shocking assertions of the kabbalists: The first—”Higher is the divine source of ra (evil) than the source of tov (good).”

Or in a second expression by the same master, Dov Ber of Mezrich, “All that is in its original source on a higher plane finds expression in this world on a lower plane.”
Tov and ra are commonly translated as good and evil respectively. Evil however doesn’t quite capture ra because evil associates in our imagination with a dualistic way of thinking.

Most of us were educated on binary pairs: up and down, order and chaos, right and wrong, and evil and good. Many times in history and in our own personal lives we need to act based on these dualistic understandings. We need to put on our cape and fight for the good against evil.

Lurianic Kabbalah teaches that ra is often enmeshed in good—it is a less dualistic word than evil.

Indeed the binary system collapses in an astounding play of words—the original Hebrew root word ra has a second meaning. It means friend. We need to befriend our ra to reveal our light.

Reb Schneur Zalman explains this concept with the allegory of rocks falling from the top of a wall. When the wall is standing it is clear that the rocks in the upper rows are indeed the highest places.

However, if the wall collapses – the higher the rock the lower it falls.

marc gafni
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