Thursday, January 31, 2013

Whoever Has Not Suffered

Art by Charnine
From the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov - Yitro
Keser Shem Tov 46

"The Jewish people were not exiled until they denied G·d and the dynasty of David." [Yalkut Shimoni, I Samuel #106]

"The only difference between the world at the present and the world at the time of the Messiah is the subjugation to the [gentile] kingdoms." [Tractate Pesachim 68a]

The Baal Shem Tov taught:

The Talmud teaches, "Whoever has not suffered for forty days has received thereby his future reward. And what is considered suffering? Even if one puts his hand into his pocket to take out a golden coin and instead takes out one of lesser value." [Tractate Erkhin 16b]

However, since suffering is only in atonement for liability, how can such minor inconvenience constitute atonement?

The explanation is that since the righteous person lives with G·d, he believes in Divine providence and knows that G·d is guiding all events in his life down to the smallest minutiae, and that all his suffering is an expression of Divine justice - DINA, which is represented by the Divine Name of ADoNaI - on account of his sins.

Hence, as soon as the righteous person suffers however slightly, he immediately [searches his soul and] regrets [any misdoing], and becomes filled with anxiety and fear of G·d. He is thus immediately forgiven, since he believes [that his suffering is from G·d], and he repents and binds his mind to G·d.

Therefore, even when one is only slightly inconvenienced by having not taken out the coin he intended, since this only happened because of his sin, and he [is aware of this and] repents, this constitutes atonement.

This concept is referred to as "David" [made from the letters daleth, vav, daleth] :-  for the Infinite One, Who is referred to as Ayin/Nothingness, is represented by the [first] daleth. "Nothingness" is then conveyed via the vav to the [second] dalet, which represents the nadir of nothingness, which is expressed by a belief that everything that happens is Divine providence from G·d.

However, when a person does not believe that everything that happens is Divine providence from G·d, but rather attributes things to his own actions, this is considered having denied G·d and the aforementioned concept of "David" for he is denying the justice [providence] of the Kingdom of G·d/ADoNaI.

But G·d's Kingdom is hidden and subservient to the kelipoth/shells that cover and conceal G·d's providence from mankind. (1) 

In the future, though, with the coming of the Messiah, who will banish the spirit of impurity from the earth, G·d's providence will be revealed even in the minutest of events.

With this we can understand, "The Jewish people were not exiled until they denied G·d and the dynasty of David" and "The only difference between the world at present and the world at the time of the Messiah is the subjugation to the [gentile] kingdoms."

Understand this well (2) for everything that a person is able to comprehend about G·d is only regarding His Malkhut/Kingdom, but above that cannot be comprehended.

1) These "shells" are the "laws" of nature, the apparent cause-and-effect, and in this case, the statistical but "chance probabilities" that seem to govern whether one picks the gold coin or the copper one from one's pocket.

2) Until here is quoted from the Toldot Yaakov Yoseph, VaYishlach #8. The conclusion is that of the compiler of the Keser Shem Tov, and its relevance to the rest of the piece is not clear.


  1. Very nice picture, I adore surrealism, my type of art.
    That concept of "David" and Infinite-Nothingness is interesting, but I can't comment, because don't know hebrew alphabet.
    Devorah, I need your help, here on left-up is Rav.Kook picture, and this I accidentally found on internet:
    It should be noted that Rabbi Kook espouses the kabbalistic view that in the eschatological era,
    the so-called lower animals will be endowed with intelligence similar to that of man in the present era.
    See R. Abraham I. Kook, "Afikim ba-Negev," Ha-Peles, vol. 3, no. 12 (Elul 5663), p. 718.

    Maybe you can comment on it? Or know some good rabbi to explain it.
    In last few years I noticed animals acting better than humans.

    1. Isaiah 11:6-9: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie with the kid, and a calf with a lion’s cub and a fatling together, and a small child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like cattle. An infant shall play over the hole of an asp, and the weaned child shall put out his hand over the eyeball of an adder. They will not harm or destroy on all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the sea.”

      Isaiah 65:25: “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like cattle, dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not harm nor destroy in all My holy mountain, says G-d.”

      These quotes can be taken literally, or as Maimonides explains: this is a parable, meaning that the Jewish people will dwell securely together with their enemies who are likened to wolves and leopards.

      I was taught that in the time of Moshiach, animals will also have an advanced spiritual awareness, and the wolf will literally befriend the lamb. [Not that I want to contradict the Rambam, but I guess it's just another situation where people have different opinions]

    2. What would be wrong in contradicting the Rambam ??
      Only Moses in all of human history is not allowed to be contradicted -I think.

    3. I know this comparison, that wild animals are gentile kingdoms. But it seems Kook says about usual animals, atleast that's how I understand, feel.
      Anyway, thanks Devorah!

  2. "Whoever has not suffered for forty days has received thereby his future reward."

    Never thought I'd be grateful to be suffering.. ;-)

    1. If we only knew..... we should all thank G-d for our sufferings, and enjoy them ! But I think that's a very high level to aspire to....

  3. It could be both ways - all animals having a gentle nature and dwelling together, and all people living in peace and harmony with the Jewish people. Would that be a perfect world?