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By Rami Alloni
Many people are interested in the mystical side of Judaism, yet since the study is strenuous and requires much advanced knowledge; their pursuits rarely lead them to achieving spiritual satisfaction. Yet many of the deep concepts of the Cabbala are presented in many Chassidic writings which bring the esoteric teaching of the Cabbala down to the level in which it may be utilized even for the most unlearned individual.
In this article, we will show how to incorporate a lofty concept of the Cabbala into your life.
One of the more difficult concepts in that of Keter. Keter, which is Hebrew, means crown. Like a crown is something that sits above the head of the individual and surrounds his mind and even influences his thinking, so too is Keter. Keter is that sphere of influence that exists above the realm of cognitive thinking, known as Chochmah (lit: wisdom) and Binah (lit: understanding).
Like most crowns, at least those that we see in two dimensional drawings, Keter has three high points. These three pinnacles are called the three crowns of Keter: Ratzon (desire), Emunah (intrinsic belief), and Ta'anugh (pleasure). Each of these three pinnacles exist on a plane which is above intellect.
Let us elaborate:
Ratzon, desire, supercedes the intellect. The concept of desire is a pure desire that comes from within. True there are desires that the intellect may create or direct. In its essence, desire supercedes intellect and is closely related to Ta'anugh (pleasure) as will shortly be explained. Like a person has a desire to have a home, as an example, or to eat, we may understand why he has the desire, but the desire is not born from the intellect.
Emunah (intrinsic belief) is also above intellect. This is what connects a person directly to G-d. It is not the systems or concepts which we call basic beliefs of our religion or even in G-d Himself. This belief is the intrinsic bond that comes from the soul's connection to G-d and requires no intellectualization. Only later when one tries to intellectualize the inherent connection of the soul to G-d can we begin to understand it.
The last crown on the crown of Keter is Ta'anugh (pleasure). Ta'anugh (pleasure) is the inner enjoyment that is experienced by the body. Like chocolate or olives, we can intellectually comprehend that a person is capable of enjoying these foods, and we can break down that aspect of the food which generates the enjoyment, but we can not explain why it is that some tongues react to olives and others get pleasure from chocolate, or pickles etc.
Now Ta'anugh (pleasure) and Ratzon (desire) go together. Exactly which is the driving force is a topic for deep analysis. Does Ratzon (desire) cause a person to do something and because he does this thing he gets a Ta'anugh (pleasure) or is it the other way around, Ta'anugh (pleasure) generates the Ratzon (desire) to do something, the in which the end result is Ta'anugh (pleasure). In either case we see that these two Ta'anugh (pleasure) and Ratzon (desire) are closely related.
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How are we to use the above lesson in mystical thought to enrich our daily lives?
Here we must rely upon Chassidut to explain to us the practical uses for us that we may utilize these lofty concepts, even in our daily mundane existence.
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We must go back to the old time question, why did G-d create the world? After all he was complete and with out flaw and needed nothing to complete Himself.
The answer is that with out man, G-d was lacking in several respects. One is the desire of good to do good. To Himself, he could not be good. Is a person who treats himself to chocolate cookies each day inherently good? Probably not. But a person who helps another who lacks something is an example of good. There was the desire of G-d to give to his creations pleasure. The essence of good means not receiving, but giving. In the case of G-d, this meant total giving, a giving without taking back something in exchange for the good which is given.
To understand this deeper, let us liken this to a parent who takes his child either to do a difficult test or to play in a situation like "monkey bars" or in a competitive sport in which a difficult trial is presented to the child. The parent is not allowed to help; he must stand hidden from view, watching his child trying hard to pass the test. In the parents heart he is rooting for the child. He follows each and every move that the child does with great intensity.
When finally the child succeeds, the parent is exuberant. The parent will jump into the air and shout out loud expressing his inward happiness.
The child will also experience a thrust of joy as he successfully completes his task. His joy comes from overcoming a difficult test, but he does not share in the joy of the parent because he does not know that the parent is full of joy.
If, at the moment which the child enjoys his personal success, he were look towards the parent he would see that his success has generated joy also in the parent. Then the parent's joy would add an additional joy to the child's pleasure.
Now let us apply this to our personal life. G-d is like our parent. He desires that we do His commandments. For us, it is a challenge if we will do it correctly, sometimes if we will do it at all. G-d is watching in the wings; will we do the Mitzvah successfully? When we finally do the Mitzvah successfully, then G-d gets immense pleasure. We also derive pleasure from doing the Mitzvah. Our pleasure is miniscule especially compared to G-d's infinite pleasure. However if we were aware that G-d is personally watching us and that he is getting tremendous pleasure from our simple actions, then we would add to our personal pleasure from G-d's infinite pleasure.
But this requires that we raise our awareness. We must bring those aspects from Keter down into our consciousness. This is when we realize that G-d always watches all of our actions at all times, not just Mitzvah related ones. Our daily conduct can give G-d tremendous pleasure is we conduct ourselves in a manner becoming His children.
When we add the infinite pleasure from G-d to our personal pleasure from doing His Mitzvots, then our desire to do more will increase. As mentioned above, Ratzon (desire) and Ta'anugh (pleasure) go hand in hand. Where one is found, the other is close by.
Conversely: those who do His Mitzvots without pleasure and without an awareness of G-d will eventually do them without desire. Similarly, those who do them with no desire will never derive any pleasure from them. The two (Ratzon and Ta'anugh) are always together.
Now we have learnt a bit of Cabbala with an explanation according to the Chassidic masters. We have seen how Cabbala can add inner dimension (pleasure and desire) to our lives.
These are very important elements in all elements of life and should be studied with a competent teacher. But it is not the study that is important, it is the application.
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