Two Sides of the Infinite

Eliyahu YaakovIn the previous article, we left off explaining that the essential Godliness that we bring forth in this world of struggle is what we mean by soul.

The soul is described in Kabbalistic works as a spark of divinity here in this seemingly imperfect world; this is the essence of who we are.

As souls inhabiting a body in this seemingly imperfect world, we each, with our own deficiencies and gifts, act as unique irreplaceable characters reflecting God in a realm in which it was possible to choose an alternative path. So it is not simply that there is a 'Within' perspective of God, but I am the 'Within' perspective of God. When I choose to go with my Godly soul-side even in this world of dilemma, there is no greater manifestation of God-clarity. After all, how good would God really be if He did not have the choice to opt for an alternative to that which is the ultimate good?

That means to say that there are two "sides" to the Infinite. The 'Beyond' perspective: God is perfect and beyond all possibility of being anything other than perfect. And there is the 'Within' perspective: God is so perfectly beyond that He can be within the seeming imperfections of this world, yet not limited to being within them.

The difference between these two perspectives is in the fact that the 'Within' perspective requires there be a perception in which it seems there is something "other" than God for God to be within. The advantage of the 'Within' perspective is that there exists an appearance of an alternative to God, resulting in potential conflict and possibility for choice. This, according to Kabbalah, is why God created the world. God sets up the arena by which an aspect of Himself (the soul) can choose an alternative to Godliness in order that when this aspect of Himself does choose Godliness there will be an unparalleled manifestation of God. Similar to a candle shining brighter in a dark room than when next to the sun, the manifestation of God is greater when the God-path is chosen with a lack of clarity at the outset of the journey.

The 'Within' perspective is realized to the extent the 'Within' acts as the ideal that is 'Beyond' despite the 'Within's' initial state of confusion.

Similar is the aforementioned path the healthy parent takes in raising the healthy child. The parent does not depend on the child for its essence, but provides the child with the opportunity to make a significant contribution, a service of worth by which the child asserts itself as a real player in the family dynamic. To the extent the child chooses toward the parent's intent, the parent's true objective materializes and the greatness of the parent is seen through the actions and development of the child. As the child (who is "within" a scenario in which it is quite feasible it will choose a destructive path) chooses the ideal path of action that the parent (who is "beyond" such a scenario having an effect on him) would have chosen, the child ascends a bit to the level of the parent and the parent's glory is seen through the accomplishment of the child.

It turns out that the struggle of the child is ultimately a service to the parent; through the child's triumph in the arena set up for it by the parent, not only does the child gain who he really is, but the child causes a manifestation of glory for the parent that, although not needed by the parent nor effecting a change in the parent, would not have been there had the child not capitalized on the opportunity presented by his own struggle. (In terms of one's relationship with God, the truth is that God's glory "exists" either way, but by us choosing to make Godly choices we attach ourselves to, and assume the identity of, God's glory by becoming the "vehicle" by which God's glory shines into this world of non-God-clarity, thus resulting in a "service" done for the Divine.)

Perfectly Imperfect

Just as a child is the seed of the parent, we are each a spark of the Infinite. We each have Godly genetics yet are presented with worldly dilemmas. To the extent we act Divine, we bring out our true selves and manifest God-clarity in an otherwise God-unclear world.

In a sense, this whole world is a movie set producing God's American Dream; it is precisely this realm of conflict and struggle that sets the stage for God's glory to become apparent. And we each play a role in this film. Without our innate imperfections and our struggles to become more perfect, this 'Within' perspective of God would not manifest itself.

This is our Divine Service—through struggling to manifest the Divine within us, we perform a service for the Divine.

In the next article, we will discuss what it means to wake up daily with this awareness, and have it be a real, meaningful, and empowering part of one's day and one's life.

2/3/2011 5:00:00 AM
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    About Eliyahu Yaakov
    Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov is a sought after international speaker on Kabbalah, relationships, parenting, and life. His newly released book, Jewish By Choice: A Kabbalistic Take on Life & Judaism, recently hit #1 on Amazon's Best Seller list.