14 Adar B 5779 / Thursday, March 21, 2019 | Torah Reading: Tzav
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Perfection and Imperfection    

Perfection and Imperfection

The deficiency caused by the Tzimtzum is the root of imperfection. When deficiency becomes completely overwhelming, the result is that evil becomes manifest.


Part 47 of "138 Openings of Wisdom" by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato

Opening 30, part 5
Part 2: In accordance with this pathway... As discussed earlier, the Place that came into being in all its aspects corresponds directly to the degree of the Tzimtzum. ...the axiomatic law was instituted... This means that it was the rectification of the Residue to form worlds and structures that was prepared, and the rule of good and evil was instituted, as I will presently discuss.
...that would eventually bring about the formation of a realm of existence based on good and evil... What this means is that good and evil as such were not revealed there immediately but rather, that a certain path unfolded in such a way that at the end, the rule of good and evil emerges. To explain this whole matter: We know that there is such a thing as an opposite and something else that is divergent. What is truly evil is the Other Side and all that results from it, namely every kind of ruin. This is literally the opposite of perfection. On the other hand there is something which diverges from perfection and is incompatible with it but which is not its complete opposite. This applies to all those deficiencies which are not actual evil in themselves but which lead to a steady deterioration until evil itself emerges. However, as long as we have only a deficiency and not actual evil, we cannot call it the opposite.
You must now understand something that was introduced after the Tzimtzum: this is the Line of Measurement (kav hamiddah, also known as boutzina d'kardunita, the "torch of darkness"). This is the power to institute boundaries, which causes lack and deficiency. For the Tzimtzum brought into being something that did not exist at first -- deficiency. Initially all was perfection, and only afterwards deficiency emerged. Here we have the underlying power of Judgment, which was revealed through the Tzimtzum. This is the power that causes concealment, void and emptiness, bringing about every kind of deficiency that can possibly exist, as we actually find in reality.
Nevertheless, this did not immediately cause the worst possible deficiency, which is the opposite of perfection, as we said above. What it did was to cause deficiency after deficiency, gradually, stage by stage. Each one was a further divergence from perfection until finally, total deficiency emerged, the very opposite of perfection -- the Other Side. Initially the power of Judgment caused only the slightest of all deficiencies, the first concealment, which was the concealment of perfection. Nevertheless, great light, abundance and illumination remained, and this is the ultimate that the most perfect of creatures can attain. Afterwards the power of Judgment caused a greater concealment, leaving a radiation less than the first.
So it went on, causing concealment after concealment. Each further concealment brought about new consequences. Even the second concealment did not cause actual evil and destruction but only a diminishment of radiation. In this way things went down from level to level, with one concealment after another and one deficiency after another, until actual flaws came into being and then evil emerged, as will be discussed below.
Thus as soon as the Tzimtzum came about, it brought into existence this power to cause deficiencies, which would eventually produce evil. Indeed, this power was central in all the acts that followed the Tzimtzum, standing ready to descend and spread forth from level to level until actual evil would emerge. However, since the intention was not only to produce evil, it did not immediately bring forth the evil that is the opposite of perfection. For in fact, the intention was to produce good and evil together. For this is the difference between perfection and imperfection: perfection is entirely good, while imperfection can include good and evil. Perfection consists of nothing but perfection, while that which is deficient may involve many deficiencies, one worse than the other.
If you think about it carefully, you will see that this comes from the fact that the opposite -- total evil -- was not brought into being at once. Initially there was only a concealment of perfection. What remained of the perfection that was not completely concealed is the good, while what was lacking from the initial perfection was bad. With the first concealment, a great deal of the initial perfection remained, while the deficiency was minimal. We could even say that there was no actual deficiency but only a preparation that would eventually lead to the development of evil, inasmuch as there was now a state of concealment, whereas evil would not have developed from perfection at all. Thus, as stated earlier, there was as yet no deficiency but only a state of concealment. Afterwards a second concealment came about, but even so, much of the initial perfection remained while the deficiency was still small.
Thus it went down level by level. Each time, what remained of the initial perfection became less and less, for this is precisely what the concealment caused, until in the end, only a modicum of the initial perfection remained, while the deficiency was so great that actual evil started to develop. Nevertheless, what is able to emerge from it is only the beginning of evil. With further intensification of the concealment level by level, eventually the deficiency becomes so great that actual evil comes into being, this being the very opposite of perfection, as stated above.
Thus we find here two things that exist on all the different levels. The first is the Line of Measurement, which is what causes successive degrees of concealment. The second is the existence of good and evil, which are what is left of the initial perfection depending on the degree of the concealment and the extent of the deficiency. You must understand that the deficiency caused by the Tzimtzum is what is called the root of the roots of evil. In the end, when the deficiency becomes completely overwhelming, the result is that evil becomes manifest. Thus we see that the Tzimtzum is the root of the axiomatic law that eventually brings into being a realm based on good and evil. This law consists of what remains of the original perfection together with the deficiencies that came into being afterwards. What remained of the original perfection later brought forth the entire realm of holiness, which consists of the Sefirot in all their different aspects, while the deficiency brought about a new consequence, just as deficiency itself was a new innovation. This new consequence is the Other Side, as we will discuss further later on.
To be continued.
(Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum is the director of Azamra (http://www.azamra.org/). The 138 Openings of Wisdom is available for purchase online at http://www.azamra.org/Product_pages/openings.htm)

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