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Taking Control of Matter

Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:May 13, 2015

The portion of Bechukotai begins, Im bechukotai telechu, which Rashi the great commentator says means “if you do the difficult work when you don't want to do it,” ve’natati gishmeikhem, “then you will merit all the blessings the Light of the Creator can give us.”

The word geshem in Hebrew refers also to the physicality, the geshmiut, of this world. So the Creator, therefore, is telling us that we come to take control of physicality by doing the difficult work. If you want to have the ability and power to change physicality, if you want to be able to own matter, you have to be doing the difficult work. Im bechukotai telechu, if you do the work when you don't want to do it, if you do the good work when it’s difficult, then the Creator will give you control over the physicality.

It’s important to not just hear the concept, but also to understand the spiritual logic of how and why this works. We know that in the process of creation there are really two steps. Both the Ari, and Rav Ashlag in the Ten Luminous Emanations, discuss this at length. There is what's called the stage before form, before the physical takes over, which is referred to by different names; yuli is a word that the Ari and the kabbalists use. It means energy, or matter before it takes form. It's also called the level of ein - nothingness, and is also referred to as chomer. And then there is the shape it takes; the shape is called tzura.

So what happens? The Light of the Creator comes into matter, into the beginnings of physicality. That is called, in the first stage, matter - yuli, ein or, chomer. Then it takes shape and becomes a tree, a glass, etc. So there is matter, and then there is form. There is the yuli, or the matter before it takes form or shape, and then there is the shape or form the physicality takes. In the essence and core of every single one of us, there is the energy of the Light of the Creator. And then we give it shape. We very often give it shape in ways, unfortunately, of Desire to Receive for the Self Alone.

So for physical things, there are two stages – there is matter, chomer, and there is tzura, the shape it takes. When things are in the state of matter, you can change them to anything, because they don’t have a shape yet. But when they come out and are manifested as form, when they take shape, it is nearly impossible to change them at that point.

The same is true for us as well. Each one of us came into this world in the form of matter, and we have given our matter shape. And when we do an action and go against our comfort, when we go against our ego, we bring ourselves back, to a certain degree, to the level of matter before it takes shapes. And when you do that consistently every time you have a choice – and we have them numerous times a day, in big ways and small ways –you are taking yourself away from shape or form and bringing yourself back to the level of yuli, matter that is as yet unformed.

Again, it’s not enough just to know the concept - Im bechukotai telechu, if you push yourselves when it is difficult, then ve’natati gishmeikhem, I will give you control over the physicality. We have to understand the logic, which is that every time we go against our ego and our comfort and do the action that we do not want to do, that we are not inspired to do, we are actually taking ourselves back from manifested matter, from form, and returning ourselves to the stage of yuli, or nothingness. And when we do that to ourselves, the Creator then gives us the power to do that to everything else.

So as we go through the process of bringing ourselves back through the work that is difficult, and take our form back into a state of matter and a state of nothingness, we are given the power to take back all other manifested manner to its original form. If it’s manifested in negativity we will have the strength then to bring it back to positive, and so on and so forth. The way to take control of matter, the way to bring miracles, is through changing our form back to its state of matter. And the way to do that is through the difficult work, the work that we don't want to do, the work that we are not inspired to do, the work that our desires tell us not to do.

On this Shabbat, therefore, we are given the ability to actually make this understanding part of who we are, and change the way we view our spiritual work. We learn that we have the ability to rule over matter, which is the blessing that the Creator gives us on this Shabbat, ve’natati gishmeikhem, “I will give to you control over matter,” if we are consistently transforming our form back into matter, to ein, to yuli. Meaning, that we are going against our manifested form, our Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, our ego; and the more difficult it is, the more Light that is there. As we constantly transform our form back into matter, the Creator gives us control over form, to be able to transfer or transform it into any shape that we want; disease can become healing, and difficulty can become solution.

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