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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spiritual Acquisition: Explaining Chassidic/Kabbalistic Concepts Based on the Writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

In the Chassidic discourse (Ma'amar) for the 29th of Iyar, 5712, Shabat Mevarchim Sivan, Parashat Devarim, the Rebbe discusses the statement found at the end of Pirkei Avot: "G-d acquired five acquisitions in His world. These are: one acquisition is the Torah, one acquisition are the heavens and the earth, one acquisition is Abraham, one acquisition is the people of Israel, and one acquisition is the Holy Temple." (6:10) 

The Rebbe begins by giving the traditional explanation of this verse: these important elements are described as acquisitions to show their importance to G-d. When a person acquires something, he gives of his own money, which otherwise could be used towards providing for his sustenance. The elements listed are in chronological order, since the Torah was created before the heavens and the earth, which in turn was created before Abraham, who was created before the people of Israel, who came into being before the Temple.

This explanation, however, leaves us with several questions. If the verse were meant just to show the importance of these elements, the verse could have read "G-d has five acquisitions." Why is it necessary to state that Hashem acquired them. Also, why does the verse state, "in His world." It seems completely superfluous, as we all know all these things are found in the world, and that the world belongs to Him. This is particularly difficult to understand given that the heavens and the earth (ie. the world) are one of the five elements listed.

The Rebbe then explains that when the verse reads, "in His world," it is describing a world where there is absolutely no room for there to be any doubt as to His rulership over it; where there is absolutely no possibility of making the mistake that the world runs on its own, or that G-d forbid there is more than one authority [such as the Zoroastrian belief] that there is a ruler above and one below, G-d forbid. In order for these elements to be raised to such a world, there had to be an actual action from Hashem, and that is why the verse states that Hashem "acquired" them "in His world."

The idea of an acquisition is not the creation of something from nothing (Yesh M'Ayin), but rather it is a transfer from the domain of the seller to the domain of the buyer. It is not an action of creation, but rather it is taking something from the realm of the hidden to the realm of the revealed.

Acquisition, Kinyan in Hebrew, applies specifically to the World of Atzilut, as can be found in the verses of Kiddush Levanah, the sanctification of moon: "Bauch Konech, Baruch Borech, Baruch Yotzrech, Baruch Osech," (blessed is your Acquirer, blessed is your Creator, blessed is your Former, and blessed is your Maker). The latter three related to the lower three worlds: Beriyah(Creation), Yetzirah (Formation) and Assiyah (Action). Kinyan (acquisition) refers to the highest world, the World of Atzilut(Emanation).  In the world of Atzilut, Emanation, the act of creation does not apply. In that world, there is more of a revelation of G-d, serving as an intermediary between the Emanator and His creations.

Hashem's spiritual acquisition also applies to the idea of elevating something from the lower worlds to the level of the world ofAtzilut.

In Jewish law, there are two components of a physical acquisition: Meshicha (moving) and Kesef (silver, money). There is a debate in the Talmud between two of the most prominent rabbinic authorities as to what actually takes place during an acquisition. One opinion is that moving a physical object is actually a Torah requirement, and that once the buyer moves the object it now actually belongs to him, and he become obligated to pay the seller. The other opinion is that the monetary exchange is actually what makes the acquisition takes place, and once that is done the seller is obligated to give the object the the buyer. The moving the object would then be solely a rabbinic decree.

The practical difference between these opinions is that regarding first opinion the acquisition requires a change of domain of the object, while the second one requires absolutely no change in the object itself.

The same is true on a spiritual level. Everything in the world was created requiring a Tikkun, a "fixing." That is why the verse state, "Asher Barah Elokim La'asot," which G-d created in order [for us] to do. When we perform a Tikkun, we are taking something out of its present domain and bringing it into the domain of holiness, the private/unique domain (Reshut HaYachid) of the Yechidoh shel Olam (the "One and Only" of the World), which is connected to the world of Atzilut, which is called "His world," as explained above.

This spiritual acquisition has two ways of being performed: Meshicha and KesefMeshicha, moving, is when the elevation comes from the way in which a person behaves regarding all worldly matter, moving them to the realm of holiness and Divine service. This is Ita'aruta deleTa'ata: arousal from below, where man initiates the relationship.

Kesef (silver) is rooted in the word Kesufim, desire, and reflects our longing and love for Hashem once He reveals himself to us first. This is called Ita'aruta dela'Eilah: arousal from above.

The Ma'amar then begins a discussion of two levels of love (Kesef)... (b'Ezrat Hashem to be continued at a later date)

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