Before the creation of spatial reality, the Infinite One constricted Himself from the center point of His Infinite Light, creating a “vacant space”. He then drew a ray of His G-dliness into the cavity, along which the entire chain of emanation was created and formed to channel this ray toward its culmination in our physical universe. [See Likutei Moharan 49 and 66]
As a result of this Primordial blueprint, all of existence is founded upon two energies – negative (rooted in the Void), and positive (rooted in the Ray). But these energies are not the same. Because the Void was formed by the “removal” or “concealment” of G-dly Light, negative energy is nothing other than the absence of positive energy – darkness that results from the negation, or concealment, of light. [See Likutei Moharan 33]
For example, it isn’t that “life” is contrasted by “death”, both terms existing as categories of equal nature and meaning. Because while both states may be readily observed within our reality, the nature of death is fundamentally different than the nature of life. Whereas life draws on the positive Ray of G-dly manifestation, death is nothing other than the absence of life, the negative absence of divine Presence. The same is true for the categories of “righteous” and “wicked”. “Rish’us” isn’t a category in and of itself – it is the absence of “tzidkus”; not an issue to be violently grappled with, but a void waiting expectantly to be filled. A “wicked person”, a rasha, is simply one who is presently void of righteousness, of spiritual completion, of maximizing his potential. The inner inclination toward evil shares this nature as well. This inner darkness is “an active void”, merely the negative absence of holiness and higher satisfaction. Finally, a “sick person” is, more rightly, a person who is presently in want of health. Thus the Lubavitcher Rebbe refused to call a hospital a “Beit Cholim”, opting instead for the more positive “Beit Refuah”. It all sounds like semantics, but as we shall see, it’s a completely different perspective that has great implications for how we consider remedying these issues.
Now, translated into human behavior, negative energy doesn’t remain quite so passive as the darkness caused by the absence of light. It surges forward in way that often seem far more powerfully active than positive energy, more blindingly impactful than the light itself – what the Zohar refers to as a “butzina d’kardenusa – a torch of darkness”. The consequence of evil manifesting within individuals and our world at large and the enormous suffering it unleashes must never be understated or downplayed in any way. But that doesn’t change the essential fact of its innermost nature – its premise as the void of Goodness. Because recognizing the nature of what we are up against is the first step toward effecting change.
We are the most advanced generation ever to have walked the earth. The level of our progress in every area of practical development is staggering. But the prouder and more trusting in our own capacities we become, the more “adultlike” we grow in our arrogant sense of sophistication and control, the more and more blatantly apparent it seems that we haven’t even begun to learn the lessons of history. What a modern, progressive country we are, where kids can’t go to school in the morning without fear of being murdered at their desks. Wow. Bravo! Truly the apotheosis of history.
The world has learned nothing.
The simple truth is this: darkness is not battled with laws and mandates, with somber speeches and stricter policies and stronger gun control regulations. Because darkness doesn’t exist in a true sense, despite the active manner in which it appears to manifest. Darkness is only a void, the absence of positive development, the dearth of G-d’s Presence. There is only one way to banish the darkness, and that is to add light. To shape a society via education that preserves and develops the sweetness and innocence of youth, founded upon virtuous values, ethics, goodness, prayer, other-focused spirituality, kindness, dignity, humanity, self-mastery, humility, modesty, and nullification to a divine Mission to let G-d into our world so that His Living Presence can begin to heal our wounds. As the Jewish nation, a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy People, this is our mandate. In the Jewish State, where we have a singular opportunity to implement the strongest possible foundations of yiddishkeit within societal institutions, this is our responsibility. This is the call of the hour.
The more we identify as our bodies and recognize only the physicality of existence, the more the Void will expand and the darker things are going to get. The solution, which is so remarkably accessible, is to begin to once more identify as our souls and come to recognize the spirituality of existence, the Presence of the Creator Whose Essential Life-Force can illuminate the darkest corners of earth with vitality and goodness. It seems that we have lost faith, as a world, as a society, as a community, as individuals – even if we rattle off the “Ani Maamins” after davening each morning. We have become jaded, cynical, nihilistic, trapped in a post-modern hopelessness that is rooted in the mirage of secular advancement and sophistication. In short, we have lost our child-like capacity for spiritual imagination – the foundation of prayer, of teshuvah, of redemption; the spirit of true emunah. We have lost touch with the spark of Moshiach Ben David – rooted in the line of Yehuda-Yehudi, the essence of our national identity – an irreducible kernel of optimism, of hope, of courage to start again with absolute conviction that this time will be different, founded on the awareness that we are not alone, that Hashem is real and that everything can change. Tragically, our (very reasonable) reaction to the darkness of the world is exactly synonymous with the barren ground from which this very darkness has sprung forth. The darker things become, the less hope we have for change, for transformation. But it was this very perspective on darkness, on evil, on brokenness, that caused the proliferation of the “void” and “lack” in the first place, and so the darker things become. And thus the vicious cycle continues. [See Likutei Moharan 155]
Until someone comes along who is an “Ish Emunah”. Someone who still believes in the world, who sees evil for what it is. Someone who understands that every lack he sees in creation is his to fill, that the rotting of a seed in the earth is only a temporary stage in its ultimate development. And when he or she shines their light of childlike innocence, simplicity, sweetness, hope, idealism, and truth into the world by continuing to “judge it favorably” and identify its “nekudos tovos” with the perspective that all evil is a void and that every void may be filled with the light of Hashem’s Presence and Positive Energy, this itself lifts the world from the “kaf chovah” – an experience of stuckness, sadness, and despair – to the “kaf zechus” – hope (prayer) that we can get better (teshuvah), and that the world can heal (geulah). [See Likutei Moharan 282]
All of us have a spark of Moshiach inside. [Likutei Halachos, Hashkamas HaBoker 1:8] At this moment in time it is absolutely crucial that we discover this shining spark of youthful wonder and tap into the torrent of faith, sensitivity, idealism, and goodness its contains – becoming saturated with the spirit of David HaMelech’s teshuvah and taking up his weapon of prayer to redeem humanity. [See Likutei Moharan 2]
“There is no despair in the world at all!” [Likutei Moharan Tinyana 78]