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The Imprints of the Righteous

Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:November 26, 2014

The portion begins Vayetze Yaakov mi Be'er Sheva vayelech Charana, “Jacob leaves Be'er Sheva and goes to the city of Haran.” To this, Rashi raises the question - why did it say that Jacob left Be'er Sheva, when it could have just said “Jacob is going to the city of Haran?” Why did it have to also let us know that he's leaving the town of Be'er Sheva?

The answer, Rashi says, is to teach us that when a righteous person leaves a place, it leaves a mark; it's an interesting word that he uses - it leaves a roshem, or an “imprint.” As long as a righteous person is in a city or a place, he is its shining Light, he is all the beauty of the place. But when the righteous person leaves, then the beauty of the place is diminished, the Light of the place is diminished. So, this answers the question: why does it say that Jacob left Be'er Sheva? Because it left a mark; when a righteous person leaves a place, it creates a mark. And this is something that the Rav would speak about a lot.

There’s a section from the Etz Chaim that Rav Ashlag also talks about in the Ten Luminous Emanations. There is an understanding of the secret of what the Ari is telling us here that I’d like to share. The Ari explains that when the pure Lights elevate to the Upper Worlds, what is left in the lower realm is the coarse Light, which is called the vessel, and it is the nature of Light that it leave an imprint. The Ari uses the same word as Rashi, roshem; when Light leaves, it leaves a mark, or an imprint. “All the Lights, when they leave, when they disappear, they leave an imprint in the vessel, in the lower world, where they were in the first place…in the beginning… before they left.”

When I learned this, even when I learned this with the Rav, my understanding was that the majority of Light has left, leaving only some smaller sort of memory, imprint, or spark of Light. But it's deeper than that, because the Ari here adds something - that "it is always the nature of the higher realms, the higher souls, the higher Lights, the desire of the higher vessels to shine into the lower vessels, into the lower Lights, and that nature does not change… And the desire of the higher Light, the higher soul to shine into the lower vessel, that desire remains."

So, what is the secret of reshimo, the imprint of Light that stays even after the Light has left,that the Ari is telling us? It is that reshimo represents the desire of the higher Light to shine into the lower Light. Therefore, to understand how it relates to this week's portion, even though Jacob left Be'er Sheva, his desire to shine the totality of his Light into Be'er Sheva remained, and therefore he continued to shine in Be'er Sheva. So that even though he left, even though the Light of Jacob left the place called Be'er Sheva, his desire - or cheshek as the Ari calls it – to shine into Be'er Sheva remained. And that's the secret.

I want to add one more thing to this. When do you have a greater desire to give to somebody: when you're giving to them, or when you're not giving to them? Usually, the greater desire is when you're not able to fulfill the desire. If I want to give you a meal, and I prepared the meal I put on the table, my desire is not so much now, because I've done it already; you're sitting there in front of the meal I prepared, and even though I'm happy you're enjoying it, my desire to give it to you is less. But, when I know you're not coming home for a week, and I really want to give you a meal, but I have to wait another seven days, my desire to share with you is even greater.

The secret that when a righteous person leaves the place it leaves a mark is that the mark is stronger because the cheshek is stronger. The desire of the higher vessel to give is greater now than it was before. Because when there's a disappearance, when there's a removal, that's when the desire is revealed. I hope this is clear, because we have to delineate what we thought the concept of leaving an imprint was before, and what we understand it to be now.

The Ari teaches it's a more powerful secret that when the Light is removed, the desire of the righteous person to share with us is even greater now than it was before. And that's the first secret of this week's portion. The concept of reshimo is what? That the desire to give is even stronger once there is a disappearance, once there is an elevation of the Light. Therefore, what we want to receive on this Shabbat, and what the Creator is giving us on this Shabbat, is to understand that if you feel pain in the disappearance, understand that behind that disappearance is an even greater desire of the righteous person to give to us. Because of this, the Ari explains, there has to be that disappearance; the desire cannot be awakened in its complete form until there is first that disappearance. And if we connect to that, we receive greater Light.

We want to connect to that reshimo. We want to connect to the cheshek that is there from the righteous person, from the Rav, for example. If we connect to that, which is greater now than it was before, we can receive greater Light than we ever received before. It's a very important understanding.

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