We are reading…
From The Amazing Scroll of Esther
The Birth of Exile
An ancient tale, sprung from profound cognizance, relates about the prenatal state of man.
The moment of the conception on earth coincides with a corresponding event, evoked in heaven. For at that very moment a Neshamah (soul, abiding with God) is designated to anímate the babe to be born on earth, whose body is now in its initial stage of formation. The Neshamah is aware of the fact that its progress towards this earth implies its leaving the house of the Father, that this implies unimaginable desolation, a wretched exile. She implores to be allowed to remain in heaven, in the presence of God.
But since she is the Neshamah, since she is what bestows on man the pattern which makes him into the image of God, makes him appear in the likeness of God, she cannot but go the way God has similarly gone with creation. The way to earth, the way of formation, of self-sacrifice, in order to bestow – to the extreme limit or rather beyond it – divine sparks upon the forms.
God, too, accompanies creation into the world, God lives, shines, radiates in the world. God abiding in the world is what is alled Shechinah.
Thanks to God’s accompaniment of the world there is for this world too the return to its source of origin, to God. And that is redemption, the end of the exile, the end of incarceration in form. God accompanying the world that there may be redemption, this is the pattern of every and any event. Thus God also accompanies the world into the exile of Egypt to be with those that are in captivity there, and to take them back again. The great burden of redemption far outweighs all suffering in exile. Indeed, it is even so that: exile exists for the very purpose of accomplishing the ineffable bliss of redemption, of recognition, of the return. This return from one extreme to the other lends purpose to everything in creation, it gives the great and profound significance to all suffering in exile. It was for the sake of redemption that the world was created, and for the sake of redemption does God accompany this world.
The Neshamah follows the same path, thus sealing man with the seal of God. It is a path the full import of which is suspected and therefore rightly feared. Accompaniment into exile – in Hebrew the words for assuming form and for exile are derived from the same root – is no play-acting, it is not discharging a role, after which one can proceed to the order of the day. Accompanying into exile means purposive self-sacrifice, awareness of the fact that one shall perish, that one has severed relationships, that one shall fail to endure the suffering or understand it. It is the horrible dread of forlornness, lack of understanding, disappointment. The Shechinah in exile, galuth schechinah, is the totality of all suffering throughout time of all beings in all worlds. It is the one extreme which has the other extreme, redemption, for its anti-pole. In this world, however, the world in which everything presents itself in the form of duality, in which there is either life or death, in which there is either good or bad, there is also merely exile or redemption. And while there is creation, there is exile, until the very last Neshamah shall have brought the divine down into this world unto its extreme consistency. Only then will the accompaniment be fulfilled unto its extreme. This very last Neshamah is therefore called that of the Redeemer, of the Mashiach (Messiah).
to be continued…