Topic: Holidays & Time Zones | Posted:March 22, 2013
Rav Ashlag, in his Introduction to the Ten Luminous Emanations (published as And You Shall Choose Life), gives a lengthy explanation of how to know if we have achieved what we came to this world to achieve. He says that a person can be revealing great Light, but if he’s missing one ultimate consciousness, one ultimate gift – what he calls pekichat einayim, the opening of the eyes – then he should know that he is not accomplishing what he came here to do. The only indicator of where we are in our spiritual development is pekichat einayim, the opening of our eyes.
Let me explain what this means.
I remember many years ago, maybe 25 years ago, we were at the grave of Rav Akiva. The death of Rav Akiva, as it is told in the Talmud, was very, very painful. It says that the Romans scraped his skin with metal combs, and through that great and terrible pain, he died. It says that one of Rav Akiva’s students came up to him as he was dying, and asked, “How can this be? A person as elevated as you, how can you be going through this?” Then it says that Rav Akiva pushed the student away.
I remember this very clearly, because the Rav said that this story which we all know is not the real story; the Rav said that the Romans thought they had the body of Rav Akiva and were causing him pain… but it wasn’t really Rav Akiva’s body.
When I heard this it really bothered me. Because when you read something written by the sages, the kabbalists, 2000 years ago, when you read something written in the Talmud, then it just is. But then the Rav, out of nowhere – he didn’t say his teacher told him or even how he knew it – but he said the story did not happen in that way, that the Romans never touched Rav Akiva’s body. So, for years it bothered me, but then, as I began further reading in the writings of the kabbalists, I began to see the true secrets emerge.
Now, over 25 years later, I agree with the Rav that the Romans never touched the body of Rav Akiva. There are tens of kabbalists who write this idea, and the Zohar hints at it. It begins our appreciation for, and a true understanding of, this concept of illusion; because what they saw was not Rav Akiva’s body… It was an illusion. And not only with Rav Akiva, but with what are called the ten harugei malchut, the ten great kabbalists, who were also killed by the Romans at that time. If you read the stories, they go through terrible deaths as well. However, the kabbalists teach that the Romans never actually touched any of them.
What we think we see with our eyes is a complete illusion. The reality is that until we come to true sight, to a true pekichat einayim, to a true opening up of our eyes, there cannot be the Final Redemption, there cannot be an end to pain, suffering and death. You know why? Because the Redemption is here. The end of pain and suffering is here. But, as long as our eyes are living in illusion, we cannot see it.
Many of us know the story of the Destruction of the Temple. It’s terrible - tens of thousands of people killed, and the Temple, the one place where the Light of the Creator is meant to shine on the entire world, was destroyed. That’s what millions of people saw, and that’s the reality the entire world still sees; when you go to the Temple Mount now, you see that there’s a Mosque there. You see, of course, the Western Wall – the place upon which the Temple was built, and pieces of the Temple broken down, but there’s no Temple.
The Rav would go to Israel and view the place where the Temple was, and I went with him sometimes as a child. When I was really young, the Rav would often ask me, do you see the Temple? Which, if you’re talking to any sane person, seems like a ridiculous question. You don’t have to go to history books to know that the Temple was destroyed. You can go to Jerusalem today and see that it is destroyed!
But the Zohar reveals to us a great secret in Pekudei. It says, “Come and see the stones that were the Temple, this physical place that brought Light to the entire world, chas v’shalom, heaven forbid, do not think for one moment that they were destroyed, that anybody had control over those stones even. They were not burned. And they were not consumed. They were all concealed. And the Creator hid them. And the entire Temple was concealed. Even one stone of the Temple was not removed.”
The Zohar makes this statement, and the Rav, who is never concerned with talking about things that are above where most of us are, knew it, and knew we have to talk about this, because we have to get there – to the place where we are certain that not even one stone of the Temple was removed. If we don’t get there, as the kabbalists teach us, the Final Redemption cannot come.
When the Final Redemption does come, the Zohar says, we will see it; however, one cannot see it unless “he fills his eyes with dark stone.” When a person fills his eyes with this dark stone he is able to see, today, the Temple in Jerusalem, to see that nobody’s ever destroyed it, to see that the complete structure has not moved. Only then, when you merit that level, will you merit to see the Final Redemption with your eyes.
The kabbalists teach that on Pesach, every single one of us is given a gift of this true vision. It is the only way for the Final Redemption. You can be the most spiritually elevated person in the world, but if you haven’t achieved pekichat einayim, if your eyes have not opened, if you can’t see the Temple in Jerusalem, then you have not accomplished what you came to this world to accomplish.
So what, then, is the secret that the Zohar tells us of putting the black stone in our eyes? The answer, as Rav Ashlag says in the Introduction to Ten Luminous Emanations, is that in our eyes which we have made physical, we cannot see anything spiritual. But the Zohar says if you put this dark stone in your eyes you can see.
Think about it. What do we do with our eyes? We see somebody doing something that upsets us, and we become upset. We see somebody who has done something that harms us, and we are disappointed. We use our eyes to look at all kinds of things with the Desire to Receive for the Self-Alone. We cannot have physical eyes and spiritual eyes. You cannot look at somebody in disgust and also see the Temple. You cannot look at somebody in jealousy and see the Temple. You cannot have physical eyes, Rav Ashlag tells us, and have spiritual eyes.
Therefore, I know for myself, I want the Final Redemption, and I hope for all of us, we are at least striving for it. We want an end to pain, suffering, and death. It’s here. But as long as we have physical eyes we cannot see it. But imagine what happens when we do see; there’s no more death. We are sad when a person dies because we can’t see them with our physical eyes. But you know what? We can see them with spiritual eyes.
During Pesach, I’m asking for this gift of true vision, and I hope we all ask for this, and bring it to the world. Most of us probably can’t go to the Temple in Jerusalem tomorrow and see. But, when the Final Redemption comes - and it’s going to come, hopefully sooner, with less pain, rather than later - we’ll realize it was a dream. It was a dream because the eyes we were using to look were the eyes that we held on to. The physical eyes, the eyes that are jealous, the eyes that are disappointed, the eyes that see the hurt that others cause me.
With those types of eyes, Rav Ashlag says, you cannot see anything spiritual. If you want to come to this great blessing of olamcha tihiyeh bechayecha, as Rav Ashlag says, to see your Light, to see your world, to see the Final Redemption, to see an end to pain, suffering and death in your lifetime, there’s only one way to accomplish it: start removing your physical eyes. How? When you see somebody that upsets you, let it go. When you are jealous of somebody, let it go. Remember that as long as you keep those physical eyes you’ll never see the truth. You’ll never see the Final Redemption.
Rav Ashlag shares a beautiful and deep teaching that tells us our soul is made to swear before we come into this world that even if the entire world tells us we are righteous, if we have not opened up our eyes, if our eyes are not at least beginning to see, then we have not accomplished anything.
The Redemption is here. Bilah HaMavet LaNetzach, the Removal of Death Forever, is here. But there’s one great barrier: we are holding on to our physical eyes. I ask the greatest blessing - for myself and for all of us on this Pesach - that we begin this work for our true eyes. Because once the eyes open up, once we merit the pekichat einayim, there’s no more pain, there’s no more suffering, there’s no more death. This is an unbelievable opportunity that can almost never be reached, at least the seeds of it, except during Pesach.