climbing without falling

Everyone in the world is part of one huge chain. No two people are at the same level. Each person is above and below other people.

At each level of the chain there is a new test, a new yetzer harah, a new challenge, a new klipah.

When someone reaches a new level, they encompass this new test. It is within them, and they are the shell around it. It prevents them from continuing their climb up this chain towards greater spirituality. They must fight and overcome this test, forcing it to the outside, so that they may gain access to the inside.

In such a manner they become the center (internal, pnimi) and the test, the klipah, becomes external, chitzoni. They may then rise to the next rung of the ladder, the next higher link in the chain.

Once again they are chitzoni to the klipah which hides the next higher level of the chain. Again they must force the klipah to the outside and gain dominance in the inside, which allows them to climb still higher.

What we see from this is that through someone's spiritual growth, a constant war is waged with the klipoth always forcing them to the outside, the extremities, to irrelevance, while the person continues ever inwards, to newer and deeper levels of pnimiyut, inner, integral life.

(Sometimes instead of links in a chain it might be helpful to think of the stages as concentric inner chambers. You are forever moving inward into a more intimate and hidden space, and there's no way to get there other than by moving through the chambers one at a time, overcoming the challenge in each chamber. [Here is an example of how the modern media and pop culture mirrors the spiritual reality of the world, in dungeons in old RPG and modern MMORPG games, you progress through dungeons through tasks of increasing difficulty finally to reach an ultimate pay-off.])

This is my best understanding of Likkutei Moharan I:25
(an animation would probably help) (I also need to speak to my Rav about it, because there's another possible interpretation/understanding - the text has a nusach acher (alternative version) which seemed to be the nusach I would have chosen based on my understanding, the actual nusach alludes to an even deeper understanding.--note, there aren't so many occurrences of such alternative nusachim in the Likkutei Moharan--unlike some other sefarim, like the Zohar which is rife with numerous versions overlapping each other all the time.)

The most amazing part is that, since no two people can occupy the same level in the chain at the same time, when one person wants to sanctify himself by rising to a new level, he raises up everyone else above him and below him as well. In such a manner, when we are sanctifying ourselves we are actually sanctifying all of Bnei Yisrael at the same time.

Our own spiritual growth is the spiritual growth of the whole nation.

There are some powerful ramifications of such an understanding. We normally talk about how prior to a period of growth there is an initial fall. In fact, the Maor Eynayim addresses this in this week's parasha. (Terumah) He illustrates nicely with a physics example. When we go to throw a stone high into the air, we first pump downwards, to build potential for our arm, so we can build momentum with a larger swing of the arm before letting go. (Think of a (american) football quarterback, his hand first moves back and down, and then snaps forward and up.) Similarly, when God throws us to new heights, we are first brought lower, then shot upwards. We've addressed this numerous times before.

In this new model, this new insight, we are actually always moving upwards, the perceived downward fall is merely being relegated to the "outside" of this new level we've attained. Rebbe Nachman says this is a crucial point. Sometimes he says, we think we've overcome certain personal challenges, and we think we've grown and then all of a sudden we fall back into our old ways. Rebbe Nachman says no, if you've beaten those "old ways" then what your being challenged by now, is a new level, a new challenge, that is clothed in the same faulty attributes. You are refining yourself at a new and higher level.

It may seem like it's the "same old" tests. But they're actually all new. (Sort of "It's new to you" reruns but very very lehavdil.) Knowing that these are new tests, instead of getting depressed that you've fallen, you can take heart that you are growing and succeeding, and it can inspire you to fight even harder than before. (This is a very Chassidic power move, similar to the Baal HaTanya's twist that if you are getting machshavoth zaroth it means you are actually accomplishing something and your yetzer harah is fighting back.)

Note the difference in Rebbe Nachman Chassiduth, you're not really falling in order to rise, you are being pushed to the outside. (of a new level) It's only a perceived push to the outside, as you are (actually) always moving inwards, just after a step inwards, you find yourself at a new level and a whole new outside.


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