|The Inner Dimension: A Gateway to the Wisdom of Kabbalah and Chassidut|
Books & Tapes
of the Jewish Year
Holiday Messages and Meditations on the Jewish Year
The Jewish Month of Cheshvan
In the previous chapter we explored three basic types of people in their service of God. These types can be defined as natural, unnatural and highly self-conscious.
The Right Axis: Flowing
with the Natural Tide
person who lives naturally, "flowing along" with things as they are in despair
of the possibility to change his ways is located on the right axis of the sefirotic
chart. This is the axis of natural flow and expansion. The movement of the
right axis is the natural drift of water, gliding effortlessly from above to
below. The right axis is the axis of love. When a person is motivated by love
(watery love and not fiery love, which is characterized by actions over and
above one's natural inclinations) his actions are natural and flowing.
this natural flow in not rectified, it leads to despair. Nature is defined by
the perpetuation of a given reality and the underlying belief in the cyclical
nature of life. Service of God within the framework of nature is service that
strives to be no more than "everyone else," incapable of changing the course of
eternal reality. On a deeper level, the major force in unrectified and
unmotivated natural flow is the law of entropy. Although at first glance the "natural
types" may seem to be free flowing and unfettered, they in fact exist in straits
from which they cannot escape.
In ancient times, the law of entropy -- the unrelenting disintegration of all reality – was most compellingly embodied by the Egyptian high priest. (The Hebrew word for "Egypt," Mitzrayim, is cognate to the Hebrew word for "straits," meitzarim). This belief reached its high point in the despair of Western religion in the possibility that man can change for the better. The unrectified flow of nature toward disintegration is the religion of Egypt -- the religious source of all that which limits and imprisons man in his present state.
The Lower Right Axis: Netzach
The person in the lower triplet on the right axis despairs of changing himself for the better. This is a flaw in the emotive power of netzach, whose inner dimension is confidence. The archetypal rectified netzach personality is Moses. His holy trait of netzach connects to the eternal and unchanging reality of God, which is above the ever-shifting human reality. The rectified trait of netzach in the World of Action is the power to fight despair, to overpower the disintegration of entropy and to initiate change and rectification. The personality that most exemplifies the struggle with unrectified netzach is Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, whose very name, Nachman, equals netzach (148) in Gematria. Among Rabbi Nachman’s most famous teachings are "There is no despair at all in the world," and "If you believe that something can be broken, believe that it can be fixed."
The Upper Right Axis: Chesed
The person in the higher triplet on the right axis corresponds to the emotive power of chesed. On the surface, it does not seem that a person who serves God with the cold despair of ever ascending to greater spiritual heights fits into the definition of chesed --which expresses giving and love. Chassidut explains that with all the will to give and expand typified by the emotive power of chesed, it is flowing but weak. The giving of chesed alone (without the addition of gevurah, "might") is giving that has become second nature, void of the strength of purpose to overcome obstacles and to give even more.
The Left Axis: Unnatural
person who lives unnaturally -- who does not flow with the natural stream of
things and strives to overcome his nature and to ascend to greater heights -- is
part of the left axis of the sefirotic chart. This is the axis of
contracted gevurah, "might." The
movement of the left axis is ascent, as fire that aspires upward in an attempt
to free itself of the wick that confines it within the reality of nature. The
person on the left axis is motivated by the understanding that he must exert
effort to extricate himself from the confines of his natural state.
Significantly, the personality types that are on the left axis, as exemplified in a rectified manner by fear of Heaven, are considered more positive. When a person has basic fear of Heaven, he is more open to constantly improving his "natural flow." This is the most direct path to true service of God.
The Lower Left Axis: Hod
The person in the lower triplet of the left axis -- whose deeds are not positive but who prays to God to extricate him from his straits -- corresponds to the emotive power of hod. A hod personality is full of thanks while admitting that he has erred. He does not accept his present reality as a pre-drawn conclusion. As one of the character traits of hod is passivity, this person will not initiate action to extricate himself from his present reality. He will rather suffice with prayer to God. The upward movement of the left axis is expressed in the emotive power of hod as non-complacency with one's present reality.
The Upper Left Axis: Gevurah
person in the higher triplet of the left axis
is the beinoni ("Intermediate")
of the book of Tanya. He serves
God against his nature. For this
reason, he is constantly in a state of thanksgiving to God and prayer to Him.
This corresponds to the emotive power of gevurah. In gevurah, non-complacency
with one's present state is expressed with initiative. This person constantly
strives to overcome his evil inclination. Because he is conscious that it is not
natural for him to overcome his evil inclination, he is in a constant state of
awe (the inner dimension of gevurah), apprehensive of the possibility
that he will fall from his present state of Divine service. This leads him to
sincere and heartfelt prayer to God to always help him to ascend to greater