Shavuot, Megilat Ruth & The 10 Sefirot Part One
Transcribed by Daniel Goldman from a lecture recorded on 4 May 1999: We’re going to begin by shattering a myth. The myth is that there is something called a “World to Come.” I have some bad news for you. There is no such thing as a “World to Come.” If you translate the Hebrew words Olam Habah, do they mean the world to come? A “World to Come” would be Olam Sheyavo. The words Olam Habah mean the “World that Came.” The truth is, that world has already been here. To a certain degree, Ruth’s mission is to uncover that world.
Before there was Creation, the first thing was God. There was nothing other than God, meaning that there wasn’t even an idea of God, because God was God. God doesn’t need to know God’s self because all of God is One. According to Rambam, that’s what the third commandment means. When we say Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad, we mean that God was, is, and will be One. This is beyond anything we can comprehend.
The first thing that God did was to create an idea. This idea is what we know as Infinity. There had never been an idea of Infinity. There was nothing beyond God. So actually, the first stage of Creation was the creation of ideas, the very first being that of infinity. With the creation of Infinity, which is referred to in Kabbalah as the Ein Sof, or “The One Who has no end,” an idea introduced into creation so that you would know that there was something beyond comprehension. No matter how much we tried to understand, it would still be beyond our grasp.
But the Ein Sof is not practical if there’s going to be a creation. So the Ein Sof was broken up into 10 Influences, or sefirot. These Influences were then going to interact with each other, and in their interaction, no one of the ten would be complete without the other. They define each other and depend on each other, and as such, there are actually 100 (10 x 10 = 100). As each sefirah interacts with the next, it brings something else into existance. The result is not direct from God. It can’t be direct because if God were directly involved, we would lose our free choice. That is to say, God would be so manifest in the world and it would be impossible for us to sin.
The three primary influences are Keter – Crown, Chachmah – Wisdom (also means idea), and Binah – Perception. These are the Influences, or the divisions of the Ein Sof that were used to create what we refer to as the “World to Come.”
On the first day, everything existed in potential. In connection with this, Rashi asks how could the Sun and the Moon have been created on the fourth day, when we already know that light already existed on the first day! Rashi answers that everything existed in potential on the first day.
In fact, light is the symbol of perception which we have referred to as the Or Haganuz, or “the light that was hidden.” This light is the world that was here, a world that the Torah refers to as the first day. The Torah writes, “Day One,” as opposed to the first day. “Day One” refers to a day of Oneness. It was a day in which God’s presence, God’s Oneness, God’s existance was manifest. And that is what we refer to as the “World to Come.” It was already here.
Our mission is to somehow restore the world to a state in which it is again “Day One.” Not because God made it so, but because we worked towards making God’s presence manifest in the world. So, as we uncover the world, and look behind all the things that hide God’s presence, we are reaching back to what we refer to as the future world. It is a world that exists, and we’ll get there in the future. So if I say, “I would like to eat that ham, but I am not going to because God is master, and not I,” I have uncovered God’s presence in the world.