there and back again - the story of Eden

Short version of the story of eden according to Reb Elimelech m'Lizhensk as learned out from the first passuk of parashath Lech Lecha (לך לך):
Etz HaHayyim (עץ חיים) is the name of the high spiritual level upon which Adam was created. After eating from the Etz HaDa'ath, (עץ הדעת) a name for the lower worlds, he was 'corporealised' (became more invested in the physical world) to a much lower level. Now he must serve God from his low level and work his way back up to his previous level--this is the goal of man in the world.
(To my limited understanding (as is everything else in this blog):) This was presumably the second of two breakings that happened around the time of the creation of the world. The first was the 'breaking of the vessels'. This caused sparks of holiness to descend into the world. Still, these sparks were in a very spiritual state. A state from which they could be redeemed through Adam simply eating of the fruit of the trees of Gan Eden. Once Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (ie. the lower, more physical, worlds) The sparks of holiness were driven further into the loam of physicality. This act also brought Adam down to a level of physicality from which he could once again raise these sparks.

To the best of my understanding of anything at all, these sparks are alternately referred to as letters or souls. This is because these pieces of light that have fallen from on high are called Yisrael (ישראל) because they are fundamentally the same. Just as Yisrael was sent into exile, so too these sparks were exiled. [Every time a Jew fails to use his blessings to serve God and instead serves some other cause, the sparks of those blessings are lost into the physicality of the world, they are litterally part of that Jew's soul. (Rebbe Nachman explained about these sparks in Likkutei Moharan 17)] Yisrael goes into exile specifically to redeem the sparks. This is the heart of כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה. (all of Yisrael is responsible one to another) Because we understand and value one another, and care for one another's wellbeing as our own, because we recognise the Godly soul within one another, so too, we are the caretakers of the fallen sparks/souls/letters as we recognise their common origin with our own. The one-ness within all of us is what drives us to cleave together, to cleave to the Godliness in the other.

In this final redemption, the one coming, it is an all deal. (Not all or nothing, because there's only one potential outcome.) We are all going up again, to our source. Raised up either through others who bear our responsibility (the Tzaddikim) or through our own efforts. Either way, we are all going home. The sooner we recognise this, the sooner we can thank HaShem for this certainty, with complete and total Emunah, perfect in its simplicity.


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