Topic: Personal Transformation | Posted:February 17, 2016
It says in the Torah, in the portion of Tetzaveh, that there were 11 elements which went into the ketoret, the incense that was brought at the time of the Tabernacle, the Mishkan. One of these elements is called chelbena, which it says in the Talmud had a bad smell. The ketoret is meant to be reiach nichoach, a beautiful smell; then, why is one of the 11 ingredients in it a bad smell?
The work of Aaron, which is what this portion is also speaking about, and really the spiritual work of all of us, is to bring along those people and those elements that are far away from the Light of the Creator. Therefore, the reason chelbena was added to the ketoret, which is one of the most elevated connections, was to indicate that we are also including the souls of the people who are far away from the Light of the Creator in the connection we are making and the elevation that we are doing.
But what is the secret of that understanding? It says in the Talmud, in the Gemara, that when something very negative is meant to happen, one of the tools we use to remove that decree is a group of people who fast and pray for the annulment of that decree. But the sages tell us that if a group of, let’s say, 100 righteous people fast and pray, the chances of them removing the decree is small. However, if out of the 100, there are 80 who are righteous and 20 who are negative, then there is a much greater chance that prayer will be answered and the decree annulled.
So, again, the question is why? Logically, you would say let me choose the 100 righteous people, they will be more powerful, they will be able to remove the decree, they will be able to reveal the Light that is necessary. But the kabbalists say no; if you want the decree to be annulled, you have to choose the other group. The group where there are both negative and positive people. To understand the logic of this, the Zohar tells us that Light is only Light when it comes out of darkness, and good is only good when it comes out of bad. Therefore, if a person is going in a negative path, and he leaves that negative path, then that is when the Light of the Creator is truly and greatly revealed.
Let us understand what the Zohar is saying; Light is only Light if it comes out of darkness. That is not what we logically think. We think, yes, it is possible to reveal Light out of darkness, but it is also possible to reveal Light out of Light. If you had a choice between having a day when you are connected and inspired versus a day when you are disconnected and in darkness, you would choose to be in the day where you are inspired and connected, and reveal Light from there. But the Zohar says no, that is not Light; Light is only Light when it comes out of darkness.
What is the secret of this teaching, of why you need negative people within a group that is trying to do great things, and of why within the incense, which is a very powerful connection, there had to be something that smelled terrible? The kabbalists teach that the purpose of the creation of our world, and the purpose of our individual lives, is to reveal Light where there once was darkness. This is why it says that somebody who has fallen and come back up reaches a higher level than somebody who in his entire life was positive.
Why? Because the person who is always positive, who always maintains an elevated state, has never gone down into darkness. And if you never go down into darkness, you never have the ability to light up the darkness… and if you never light up the darkness, you never accomplish the purpose for which you came to this world. So, when we understand that the purpose of our spiritual lives is to Light up the darkness - not to reveal greater Light where there already is Light - we understand why it is necessary to fall on a relatively consistent basis. Now, most of us do not have to worry about it. This falling happens naturally, but we need to understand why it is an important part of our spiritual work. If we stay in the state of wherever we are today, assuming we are somehow spiritually developed, we will never be able to reveal Light in darkness; we will only be able to reveal Light from Light.
But if we fall today or tomorrow, then when we elevate from that spiritual dark reality we have fallen into, we have now filled that entire void with Light. We have revealed Light from darkness. Whereas, if we maintained the same spiritual state, we would never have revealed Light in that darkness, because we would have been revealing Light in Light. And the Zohar says the purpose of our lives and the purpose of the creation of this world is not to reveal Light in Light, but to fall and in that falling be in the dark place, and then Light up that entire void with Light. It is why the kabbalists teach that in the ketoret there has to be one ingredient that smells terrible; the idea being that the purpose of the ketoret is to reveal great Light, and therefore, if there is nothing terrible in it, if there is no darkness in it, if there is no ability to be in some state of darkness that you can Light it up, then there is no purpose of the ketoret.
It is the same thing with the group of people who are trying to do something important and trying to annul a decree. If you do not have negative people as part of that group, then all you do is reveal Light from Light, and it is elevated people who are revealing Light… and that is not Light as it pertains to the purpose of our lives and the purpose of this world. Therefore, there has to be a negative smell in the ketoret, there have to be negative people in a group of people trying to annul a decree. Because then, you have the ability to reveal Light where there once was darkness. And so, too, in our individual lives; falling is the constant that has to be a part of our lives until we perfect ourselves completely.
The kabbalists teach that our spiritual connection is constantly in flux between being connected and disconnected. Most of us think that is just an unfortunate part of our spiritual work. But the truth is, it’s not. It is a necessary part of our spiritual existence and our lives, because if we are never disconnecting, we never have a new void to fill with Light.