Charles Mopsik & Isaac Luria – Tikkun Olam: Repairing of the World
picture by Marc Attali.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is an extract from Charles Mopsik celebrated opus, ‘Les grands textes de la cabale-Les rites qui font Dieu’ (The great scriptures of qabbalah-The rites that make God), published by Editions Verdier in 1993. From page 492 to 495. English translation from the orignal French by Via-HYGEIA. Here Charles Mopsik masterly introduces Isaac Luria’s practical conception of the process of saving the world by repairing it and bringing it step by step towards redemption: ‘tikkun olam’, Hebrew: תִּיקּוּן עוֹלָם, lit. ’repairing of the world’. Impressive clarity and simplicity!
‘Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572) doesn’t really bother to recall the theurgical conception of cabala in regard of rabbinical tradition or theological reasoning. The aim of his impressive theoretical constructions is eminently practical. He explains the world-in the broadest sense-only to show how to change it and bring it step by step towards redemption. Each step of the theogonic, cosmogonic and anthropologic process that he describes as a grandiose display of an extreme complexity, is only the preliminary to considerations linked to the necessity to repair what has been broken, to complete the oeuvre (Via-Hygeia note: God’s creative output) started by the divinity, that begun in God Himself and unfolds dramatically, from episode to episode, until down to the meekest of men. From the most common of gestures, the manner to wear one’s clothes, for example, up to exceptional celebrative ceremonies, nothing stands-out of the program of universal repair, patiently elaborated by Rabbi Isaac Luria, who relies upon many Jewish traditions and previous cabalistic sources that, with authority, he selects and amplifies, revalorizing some of their neglected aspects.
A monumental enterprise, the ‘Chemonah Che’arim’ (the eight gates) written by his main disciple, Rabbi Haim Vital (1542-1620) gathers and transmits the teaching of this master. Many volumes are devoted to the description of the practice of the Law and aspects of the divine world they are able to animate for the reciprocal benefit of Men & God manifested in the pleroma of his emanations. The limits of the present work does not allow us to venture too far in the details of the rich and poly-morphic expositions of these volumes, and from which the internal coherence is far from being assured. Though, it is necessary to indicate very schematically the great lines of the gigantic constructions and the cosmic interactions revealed by Rabbi Isaac Luria’s visions and in particular what is related to the primordial drama of the Breaking of the Vases. This catastrophic event has consistently impacted the constitution of the divine pleroma and made necessary the theurgical and restorative intervention of Man.
After the ‘Tsimtsoum‘, or ‘retraction’ of the En Sof (the Infinite) in Itself, a residue (rechimou) persisted in the circular space left empty, and a ray coming from the En Sof occupied in parts that space. From this double residue, a series of countless worlds emerged and among them a world called Adam Kadmon (the primordial Man). From the ears, nose and the mouth of the primordial Man, lights gushed in a linear manner and joined in a common Vase. This domain called world of stains (Via-Hygeia note: the French is written as ‘taches’, hence stains in English. Dictionaries give ‘binding), (‘olam ha-‘aqoudim), because the sefirot were not yet differentiated. From the eyes of the primordial Man came out in a linear and circular manner lights differentiated into ten sefirot, each having its own Vase, itself composed of a rougher light, recipient in which the subtle light of each sefira would organize and activate itself. This is when the event called ‘Breaking of the Vases’ (chevirat ha-kelim), or also ‘death of the kings’ (mittat ha-melakhim), occurred: while the vases of the first three sefirot were able to bear the light they were flooded with, the vases of the six other sefirot, from Hesed to Yesod, could not resist the irradiation that overwhelmed them at once, and they broke one after the other, the pieces fell and took with them in their descent the whole of the worlds. The vase of the tenth, Malkhut, broke also, but to a lesser degree. The greater part of the light that escaped from the broken vases managed to come back by itself towards it superior divine source, but one piece of light remained and fell together with shards of the broken vases. From these pieces of debris, the shells (Via-Hygeia note: les ‘coquilles’ in French, qlipot in Hebrew, elements of the dark power of the Other side) were composed.
These shards of the vases, or ‘dead kings’, were also at the origin of matter. We live in a world made of the debris of these vases of light. These debris hold captive the sparkles that could not reintegrate their spiritual domain and mixed themselves with the shells. These shards of divine light therefore stayed locked in the shells, being, paradoxically, their unique source of vitality and ontic food. Hence, good is forced to vivify evil. These ‘slags’ (siguim,) being the matter of the world down here, are the jails of the lights that came from the eyes of the primordial Man, that were unable to free themselves by their own movement. The main instrument of the tikkun-happening-within-the-divine (Via-Hygeia note: ‘intra-divin’, in French) was the light that gushed at the beginning from the forehead of the primordial Man. It busied itself re-organizing the mess that happened following the Breaking of the Vases. The new structures that were henceforth elaborated, stable and balanced, were called ‘Configurations’ (partsoufim). Five in number, each comprehend one or several hierarchies of sefirot. These Configurations replaced the sefirot as main manifestations of the primordial Man. At the heart of each ones, the recently emanated powers joined with those which were damaged at the time of the Breaking of the Vases. Each Configuration constitute therefore a step in the repair process. Among them, the Configurations called ‘Abba‘ & ‘Imma‘ (Father & Mother) took the place of the sefirot Hokhmah & Binah and must be coupled together.
This coupling (zivoug), being the archetype of all the other couplings that are happening in the inferior degrees of emanation, is caused by the rise of the 288 sparkles that were dispersed when the Breaking of the Vases happened and that are returning to the bosoms of the Mother (Imma). In the absence of these sparkles that once fell-and when rising towards their source are called ‘feminine waters’-there can be not unification in the world of emanation. Even though this repair process of the broken Vases was almost accomplished by the auto-generated activity of the superior lights that structured themselves and the consecutive Configurations, some final actions must be undertaken by Man, whose oeuvre (Via-Hygeia note: here deed (s) born out of labor or work) is the teleological cause of the creation. The oeuvre of Man is the final touch that must be applied to the picture of universal restoration. It consists into the rising of the sparkles of light-being still imprisoned in the shells- towards the divine source and inducing the coupling of the bi-polar Configurations ‘Abba‘ & Imma‘ (Hokhmah & Binah) and Ze’ir Anpin & Nukvah (Tipheret & Malkhut), to restore the inferior world of fabrication (‘assiyah) so that it recovers it ideal spiritual place again, and at the same time separate it completely from the shells-now inert and powerless, because any divine life has left, therefore leaving them dried and empty.’