This week’s parsha opens with Moshe Rabbeinu transmitting a message from Hashem to the Jewish nation as they prepare to enter the Promised Land. He says, Re’eh anochi nosein lifneichem hayom beracha ukelalla – “See, I have placed before you, today, a curse and a blessing.” Noting the semantic incongruity of the singular “Re’eh”, “see,” and the plural “Lifneichem”, “before you”, the author of Kah Echsof, Rav Ahron HaGadol of Karlin, shares a profound thought.

One of the foundational questions the early Kabbalists sought to resolve is how it is possible for our world, a realm of multiplicity, to derive from a perfectly unified Source, the Infinite One. The chain of formation explicated in their works outlines the complex system by way of which Hashem constricted His infinite light and clothed His Essence in many garments which allow for the illusion of separateness from the spiritual realm and multiplicity under the rules of time and space – all without ch”v detracting from His perfect unity. While even the most basic overview of this process known as the (Seder HaHishtalshelus) is far beyond the scope of this short message, it is the implication of this process that interests us: while the human consciousness experiences this world as a realm of multiplicity, the true spiritual existence is one of absolute unity, subsumed within the undifferentiated light of Hashem Echad.

Based on this premise, Rav Ahron HaGadol teaches that a Jew’s job in this world is to live among the disparate forces of olam hazeh and experience the polarities of good and evil with their many branches – all with the awareness that, in truth, everything derives from a source of unity; even evil, which seems to counter holiness and elevation, is part of the process of teshuvah and ultimate return to the Master of the world. When a Jew lives in this way, all his varied experiences are unified under a single mission statement: everything in his world offers the possibility for him to get closer to Hashem. Good is to be engaged with, evil is to be battled, and everything in between is to be elevated – all for the singular goal of allowing Hashem’s unity to settle in the realm of multiplicity. This is the primary task of a Jew in the world, the avodah of “B’chol derachecha da’ehu,” “Shivisi Hashem l’negdi tamid,” and “Na’aseh lo dirah b’tachtonim.”

Using this foundational concept, Rav Ahron HaGadol interprets our verse in a remarkable manner. “Re’eh anochi”: I, Hashem, look upon creation from a standpoint of singularity (the word “Re’eh,” “see,” is in singular form). “Nosein lifneichem Hayom”: It is only from your perspective that the plurality of the world is experienced (the word “Lifneichem,” “before you,” is in plural form). “Beracha uk’lallah”: And you therefore experience both good and evil as being equally real. However, in truth, both good and evil derive from Hashem Who is perfectly good. They are placed “before us” so that we can transform multiplicity to unity, evil to goodness, and darkness to light.

One of the foundational questions the early Kabbalists sought to resolve is how it is possible for our world, a realm of multiplicity, to derive from a perfectly unified Source, the Infinite One. The chain of formation explicated in their works outlines the complex system by way of which Hashem constricted His infinite light and clothed His Essence in many garments which allow for the illusion of separateness from the spiritual realm and multiplicity under the rules of time and space – all without ch”v detracting from His perfect unity. While even the most basic overview of this process known as the (Seder HaHishtalshelus) is far beyond the scope of this short message, it is the implication of this process that interests us: while the human consciousness experiences this world as a realm of multiplicity, the true spiritual existence is one of absolute unity, subsumed within the undifferentiated light of Hashem Echad.

Based on this premise, Rav Ahron HaGadol teaches that a Jew’s job in this world is to live among the disparate forces of olam hazeh and experience the polarities of good and evil with their many branches – all with the awareness that, in truth, everything derives from a source of unity; even evil, which seems to counter holiness and elevation, is part of the process of teshuvah and ultimate return to the Master of the world. When a Jew lives in this way, all his varied experiences are unified under a single mission statement: everything in his world offers the possibility for him to get closer to Hashem. Good is to be engaged with, evil is to be battled, and everything in between is to be elevated – all for the singular goal of allowing Hashem’s unity to settle in the realm of multiplicity. This is the primary task of a Jew in the world, the avodah of “B’chol derachecha da’ehu,” “Shivisi Hashem l’negdi tamid,” and “Na’aseh lo dirah b’tachtonim.”

Using this foundational concept, Rav Ahron HaGadol interprets our verse in a remarkable manner. “Re’eh anochi”: I, Hashem, look upon creation from a standpoint of singularity (the word “Re’eh,” “see,” is in singular form). “Nosein lifneichem Hayom”: It is only from your perspective that the plurality of the world is experienced (the word “Lifneichem,” “before you,” is in plural form). “Beracha uk’lallah”: And you therefore experience both good and evil as being equally real. However, in truth, both good and evil derive from Hashem Who is perfectly good. They are placed “before us” so that we can transform multiplicity to unity, evil to goodness, and darkness to light.

The Jewish person is sent to this world on a mission to reconcile the world’s multiplicity with the unified presence of the Sole creator.

Rav Ahron of Karlin
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R’ Yaakov Klein is the founder of the Lost Princess Initiative, an author, musician, and lecturer devoted to sharing the inner light of Torah through his books, music, and lectures.

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