A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth

Mashiach and Jewish Leadership: Part 37 – The Second and Third Stages of Mashiach

In the second of three paragraphs recited along with the Shema daily, we are informed that the amount of rain and its subsequent blessings depends ultimately on the actions of man. Nature and how it treats us is thus a reflection of man's level of righteousness. Once the entire Jewish People return to G-d and Torah, a resulting shift will occur in the balance of nature, causing it to "behave," thus providing all our physical and spiritual needs.

At present, our inner world of mind and heart vibrate mostly with static and psychic disturbance. One of the first changes to be perceived on an inner personal level after the Mashiach will be the gradual disappearance of mental and emotional friction. We will begin to tune in to more and more stations, or dimensions of reality, without the accustomed static interference. People will simply be content and this transitional time will be marked by a lack of suffering, so much identified with worldly existence.

The purification of our inner spheres will cause a corresponding change in the physical atmosphere of nature itself, eventually leading to the second stage of Mashiach, when nature assumes supernatural proportions, as in the prophesy of Isaiah: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.?"

The innate peace between all the elements of Creation relates to the continual learning of Torah, whose "ways are ways of pleasantness and all its pathways are peace." The word for "heaven" (shamayim) is constructed from the words "fire" (esh) and "water," (mayim) elements that in this world are antagonistic, yet in their spiritual source are complementary. The concluding words of the second paragraph of the Shema discussed above are: "In order to prolong your days and the days of your children upon the ground that G-d has sworn to your ancestors to give them, like the days of the heaven on the earth." This verse, and in fact the essence of the entire first two paragraphs of Shema, alludes to the mission of the Jewish people to dedicate themselves through Torah and mitzvot to reveal "heaven on earth." It further confirms G-d's promise that a time will indeed come when this idealized reality will actually be realized.

Whereas teshuvah is represented by the sefirah (the Divine radiances or powers upon which all reality is constructed) of binahand nature, Torah is represented by chochmah, "wisdom" and the supernatural. Although in this world Torah appears to mirror reality, only at the second level do we really become aware that the truth is quite the opposite–nature is a reflection of the Torah as is said: "G-d looked into the Torah and created the world." Though this level is on occasion apparent within the confines of normative reality, it takes a clear mind, free of psychic disturbance to perceive and appreciate this view of reality.

The river flowing out of the third Temple, representing a continual influx of Torah wisdom into the world, is alluded to by the four rivers flowing out of the primordial Garden of Eden. The word for "garden" (gan) equals the number of portions in the Torah (53). This connotes reality being watered by its source in Torah.

The total metamorphosis of nature will occur in the third stage?the resurrection of the dead. Nature and its inherent properties of entropy and death will be transformed and transcended by their antithesis–eternal life. This stage corresponds to the level ofkiddush HaShem, the continual elevation of one's life to G-d. This phenomenon was revealed briefly at Sinai, when all the souls left their bodies upon hearing each Divine utterance. The souls were instantaneously returned to their bodies through the "dew of resurrection." The incentive to give so completely to G-d emanates from an intuitive understanding that the soul is in essence "a part of G-d above." At that elevated level we tap into the Divine life force, the secret of the resurrection of the dead.

Though the dynamics of leadership are highly idealistic in nature, and the vision of redemption even more so, they give clarity to both the good and the seemingly less than good of the present moment. By setting a high standard they allow us to not only dream, but to work to make that dream come true. The role of the Jewish leader, especially at such a critical time as ours, is to show how the rectified future is already present in some sense even now in our painfully unperfected world.

Every person must see their own individual experience of teshuvah as an example of how the whole world can and will doteshuvah as well. Each and every redemptive act of rectification in this world becomes one more stone in the pathway toMashiach.

The general rule regarding prophesy is that negative prophesies do not have to take place if the people mend their ways, while good prophesies are guaranteed to become manifest. Though many years have passed since the prophesies quoted here were first voiced by our holy prophets, their timeliness actually increases as we near the end of our six-thousand year cycle of history. It is our sincere hope that the reader will be inspired to act within his or her sphere of influence to create small yet meaningful contributions to the awesome task of bringing redemption to the world. For as Hillel the elder asked: "if not now–when?"

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