The Power of Good Speech and the Point of Truth

Rav Shagar's lesson on Likutei Moharan 34: about the ability to overcome crisis and disgrace by finding 'the point of good'; about the importance words spoken in honesty between friends; and about the ability of every jew to understand what God demands of him in his unique tikkun.

This teaching discusses every man's ability to overcome crisis and disgrace through two methods: a tzaddik's influence on his followers as well as man's own influence on his peers. Rav Shagar expands on these themes to focus on the issue of the Oral Torah's renewal and the role of the tzaddik – as well as every human being – in that creative process.

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A. Disgrace and the 'Point of Good'

It is written: "Reproach breaks my heart" (Psalms 69:21) for reproach and disgrace break a man's heart. And [the heart's] repair comes by binding his heart to the point that belongs to it in that moment – and in this way, the shame upon his heart is undone.

Rabbi Nachman opens this teaching by describing a common problem. In the course of a lifetime, one is likely to experience humiliation that can generate feelings of crisis and frustration, a sense that one has been allotted an unfair portion in life. This opening is, among other things, connected to Rabbi Nachman's own biography: Rabbi Nachman faced much controversy and opposition throughout his life. Yet this teaching is also relevant to our own lives: it is not uncommon for us to face humiliation or feel that we have been poorly treated by our society, our workplace or even by family.

Yet society's attack on man is only the initial damage. Rabbi Nachman delves more deeply into the spiritual consequences of this humiliation, which can cause man to lose his self-confidence in the face of harsh rebuke. Rabbi Nachman describes this effect as a breaking of the heart – man begins to think about himself with disgrace and negativity. For example, this is the type of inner shame that man experiences when his crime is revealed.

How then does one overcome this inner shame?

Rabbi Nachman answers: "binding his heart to the point that belongs to it in that moment." One cannot overcome disgrace and humiliation by self-defense nor by justifying and excusing the initial act that aroused such condemnation. Rather, one must understand that at any given moment and situation, there is a 'point of truth' that is a part of one's positive personality. Remembering and identifying this point is the process for emerging from the crisis. As man focuses and observes himself from a higher perspective, the moments of disgrace – even if they were justified – become secondary in relation to the internal point of truth, which is unconditional and within which is revealed the ein-sof – the Infinity – present in every human being.

When inner shame obstructs personal growth and progress, Rabbi Nachman then makes the following suggestion: always remember that we have a 'point of good.' We might recall a beloved person and the friendship between us, a positive and meaningful act we have done or other memories that can become anchoring points of faith and hope in our condition, allowing us to leave behind feelings of lowliness and crisis. Through this process of recollection, we can return to a meaningful state of being, and be recharged with new strength.

The idea embedded in Rabbi Nachman's guidance is the following: one must know how to be aware of and listen to the 'point' that 'speaks' to him in that exact moment. Instead of sinking into theoretical, vague thoughts, one must make a concrete point manifest. This point may not be the highest or most transcendent, but it is the point that – to use Rabbi Nachman's words – 'belongs to his heart in that moment' – and so it is through that point that he can rise from his broken state. A real, present memory can dispel feelings of shame, a state of hopelessness, anger or depression.

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The Admor HaZaken (Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi) offers yet another strategy for handling the heartbreak that follows humiliation. He suggests that one must take advantage of instances of heartbreak by knowing how to use them in service of God :

"But for most human beings [to use the heartbreak in the service of God] is the time when he is saddened by worldly matters or simply for no apparent reason. It is then that one reaches an opportune moment of capacity to channel his sadness into 'taking stock' [of spiritual matters]… and in doing so, he will be rid of depression from worldly matters and will arrive at a true joy…" (Likkutei Amarim: Tanya 31)

The majority of us cannot summon heartbreak in the service of God, because for most of us estrangement from God does not truly break the heart. However, we can actualize the potential within moments of depression and true despair – for example, being the subject of serious insults – so as to grow in our avodat Hashem. In such instances, the Admor teaches us to redirect our attention from the humiliation to the Ego caused by insult. Instead, he suggests becoming aware of shame until we arrive at heartbreak, and then bringing that despair and sadness to our spiritual state. If we dwell and reflect within the humiliation – rather than resisting and shaking it off – we have the potential to transform its character and bring us closer to the/our service of God. In an almost paradoxical manner, humiliation now takes on a completely different meaning: instead of being a source of disadvantage and descent, disgrace becomes an impetus for growth.

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 B. The Speech of the Tzaddik

For this is the principle: the tzaddik has the power to govern and act according to his own will, as our sages wrote: "'He that rules over men must be righteous…' (Samuel II 23:3)…who rules over Me? The tzaddik (BT Moed Katan 16b). And this is the aspect of "And Joseph is the ruler" (Genesis 42:6), that Joseph is the root of the collective souls of Israel, and they branch out from him and receive [sustenance] from him. And the primary purpose of this ruling power is to illuminate and awaken the hearts of Israel to service of Hashem, as it is written: "Oh God, hear the voice of Judah and bring us to his nation." (Deuteronomy 33:7) This is the tzaddik illuminating the branches in the heart of Israel."

In this section of his teaching, Rabbi Nachman proposes an additional path – the strength of the tzaddik – for finding that inner point which can relieve a heavy spiritual burden. One can bind himself to the tzaddik's mission and strength, to the tzaddik's influence on those around him. The tzaddik is described as a ruler, because he is endowed with the governing power to act freely according to his will. Yet this governance is not an expression of force, nor does it stem from charismatic, socially engaging leadership abilities or exclusive access to some type of information. Rather, the tzaddik's rule is rooted in his ability to awaken the hearts of those around him to the service of God.

The tzaddik is granted this particular power because he is able to speak honestly, truthfully. In doing so, the tzaddik reveals to every person the point of truth embedded within the individual himself, awakening the individual to a faith in himself and in God. In this way, the tzaddik uplifts an individual from a situation of deep shame and humiliation, restoring him to a full, whole life.

And this aspect of "Joseph is the ruler" (Genesis 42:6) is the aspect of mlafum – מלאפום)[1 ] As it is written: "the covenant is a chariot to (the sefira of) Yesod, which its 'Havaya(הוי"ה)' is in the punctuation [sign] of mlafum." The mlafum consists of the words melo fum – מלוא פום (fullness of the mouth). This teaches us that the vessel that holds abundance – namely, the mouth of the tzaddik – is full of the Godliness of Hashem.

The figure of Joseph is associated with the sefira of Yesod (Foundation), a sefira that symbolizes the level of the tzaddik – for the tzaddik is the foundation, the yesod, of the world. In the Kabbalistic hierarchy of sefirot, this sefira is the locus at which all potential types of shefa, of abundance, are collected. They meet at yesod moments before continuing on to the sefira of Malchut (Kingship), which encompasses all human life.

Rabbi Nachman reads mlafum[2]  as a combination of two words: melo fum, fullness of the mouth. He claims that the tzaddik identified with yesod can make God's Name manifest through his speech, rousing his listeners to reveal their inner point of truth. Certainly, such a thing could be said of Rabbi Nachman himself.

The tzaddik is the root of the souls of Israel. He possesses the spirit, the charisma, that can inspire his followers. This is why any person can connect to the tzaddik's point of truth when he is in a state of depression and disgrace. It is an incredible phenomenon: the tzaddik's very presence and speech can illuminate those around him and lift them up from a state of brokenness to a place of tikkun, repair.

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C. The inner point in the Torah

And every individual of Israel has the aspect of "a tzaddik who rules," the aspect of mloh fum (fullness of the mouth), as it says: "And your nation – they are all tzaddikim." (Isaiah 60:21) And this is the explanation for "Israel, His dominion" (Psalms 114:2): that is, "who rules over me? The tzaddik." (Moed Katan 16b). Because every individual of Israel possesses something precious inside, this is that aspect of the point, one which cannot be found in any other.

…because prior to the Giving of the Torah, the ruling power was in the hands of God. After the Giving of the Torah, He gave rulership in the hands of all of Israel, to each one according to his own quality. For the letters of the Torah are coverings for the will of God, because it His will that the commandments be so. For example, with regards to the mitzvah of tefillin, He desired four parshiyot (passages) in casings (boxes) of leather – rather than silver – because that was His will. So it is that the will of God is dressed in the whole Torah. And now that the Torah has been given into our hands, so too is God's will given into our hands – it is in in our control, so to speak, to have His will be as ours.

In this section of his teaching, Rabbi Nachman expands on the concept of tikkun (repair) through speech – this is a power that he initially ascribes to the tzaddik, but now extends to the speech of every single person. There is an inner point that every person is capable of absorbing from another: 'They received one from the other" (Targum Yonatan's rendition of "And one would call to the other…"[Isaiah 6:3]). Within every person there lies a unique, valuable point – one that he would give his life for. If an individual is able to discuss this point and share it with another, then that person also bears that power available to the tzaddik: a control that does not signify the use of force over other people, but rather the ability to assist another person in revealing the hidden, internal point deep within and manifesting its potential.

This teaching emphasizes the vital importance of the words spoken in confidence and deep honesty between two friends, a true conversation that awakens one to avodat Hashem. The fact that there are times when we are unable to help or comfort a friend, to lift another from depression, points to the difficulty of connecting with that inner point of truth – and especially speaking about this point with deep conviction. The success of speaking from that point of truth can bring one to faith, and extract him from the grips of cynicism, nihilism and indifference. Rabbi Nachman emphasizes that with this quality, every Jew has the mouth of a tzaddik: if he speaks from the point of truth within, he can awaken his peer to hope and faith and – as discussed above – can lift him up from a condition of brokenness and shame.

We find that the idea of an inner quality – a point of truth that every individual can harness to overcome troubles with the outside world – integrates with a crucial concept related to the Oral Torah. When the personal point of a human being is empowered, one cannot passively face the Oral Torah as a world of solid, imposed values. Instead one becomes actively involved in the creation of its values. Emphasizing the personal, inner point and legitimizing it as a major motive in avodat Hashem is relevant to the Torah itself as well. Thus, the relationship between man and God is not one-sided, and man's will shapes the Torah that we possess.

For the Torah to make contact with the point of truth, it must connect with an inner truth to which the individual relates. It is not enough to come to a person and pronounce, "That's how it's written," "It's what the rabbis taught…" and so on. The Torah was given at Sinai as a commandment and an obligation, as our Sages said: "[God] held [the mountain] over them like a cask" (BT Sabbath 84b). Yet Rabbi Nachman introduces the notion that after the giving of the Torah, the control – the 'governance' over Torah and its channels of revelation – passed from the domain of God and into the hands of man. What does this imply? Learning Torah is not only an activity within the framework of prescriptive observance, one which reinforces commandments and explains obligations. Learning Torah becomes an opportunity and responsibility for a Jew to identify a Torah of personal relevance: to contribute new chiddushim that respond to present-day reality, insights that awaken the other to discover an inner point within.

Chazal emphasized that the capacity of chiddush in the Torah relies on the tradition of the Oral Torah. In Tractate Menakhot 29b, they described the following scene: Rabbi Akiva derives new insights from the serifs of the Torah letters even as Moses – who is listening in – cannot understand Rabbi Akiva's teaching, until finally Rabbi Akiva stresses that this knowledge stems from "Halacha [given] to Moses at Sinai." Yet we find that according to Rabbi Nachman's words in this chapter, there is a much more radical suggestion being made about the power of chiddush. The words of a tzaddik are not only fresh interpretations of a Torah transmitted through the generations; the tzaddik's words create a new Torah on par with the 'old' one. This new Torah draws its power from the framework in which God's will is in the hands of the tzaddik who essentially 'controls' his Creator: "Now that the Torah is given in our hands, so too is the will of Hashem, Blessed Be He, given to us. For we are, so to speak, 'in control' of having His will be ours." Chiddushim of the Torah are not only interpretations, they are also able to activate the will of God.

In a sense, this teaching of Rabbi Nachman is the opposite of the common interpretation of Chazal's saying of "Make your will His will" (Pirkei Avot 2:4).  The tzaddik does not match his own will to that of his Creator; instead, he generates the will of God through the force of his chiddushim, his renewal of the Torah.

At first glance, Rabbi Nachman's teaching that we create the will of God appears to emphasize the autonomy of man, the empowerment of man's will: "Make your will", build your will so as to know God's will. Yet, upon closer inspection, the capacity to apply my 'point of truth' is essentially an expression of bittul, self-nullification. Oftentimes, the nullification of man's will is actually an assimilation: surrendering personal identity to the religious conventions of one's society. The individual fears God, but is not prepared to do proper self-accounting and ask: "What is the worth of this fear of God for me, existentially and personally?" The social framework around him blocks out any thought, experience or interpretation that would suggest deviation. This type of self-nullification – a dissolving of the self within a societal set of norms – is not a true nullification.

True nullification is reached when one commits to his point of truth (even though obedience to this point may not always align with society's expectations). This is because God speaks to us only through our inner point of truth. It is through this point alone – through a deep awareness of it – that we can find a way to hold Godliness.

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It is important to note that Rabbi Nachman’s conception of the ability to create God’s will is not aimed at a religious ‘reform’ that would legitimize casting aside the Torah and mitzvot in order to accommodate a personal desire to engage in other activities. Rather, we are concerned with the individual’s ability to grasp – with all his strength – the truth embedded deep within him, and to follow through with it fully. For it is this very point, and the desire that flows from it, that is a revelation of Godliness. This is the profound insight in Rabbi Nachman’s words: there can be no discontinuity between the Torah and the inner desire of an individual.

It must be said that Rabbi Nachman lives with a Torah-consciousness and personally identifies with the Torah’s dynamism, and can therefore find his inner truth within it. He is not coming from the outside and discovering some personal, individual truth. This is a man whose very world is Torah – with all its myriad meanings and layers – and who, therefore, has the natural ability to both renew (through chiddushim) and create.

Anyone who engages in learning Torah also rejuvenates the text with chiddushim. Some of these chiddushim may emerge from the upper worlds; Rabbi Nachman described his teachings as ones sourced from the [kabbalistic] level of “ancient days.”   The level of the new Torah teaching depends on the quality of the speaker’s truth. The more transparent and truthful the speaker’s words, the deeper the Torah chiddush – and the stronger the words’ effect on their audience. When one feels a belonging to the Torah, the chiddushim are not only his chiddushim but are also understood as actual Torah.

Rabbi Kook writes that when an individual produces a chiddush – an insight – with the force of the Torah within him, this teaching is considered a part of the Torah:

The hidden mode of thought is Israel’s freedom –  that is, the Jewish soul…When freedom reaches its highest peak, when the soul no longer suffers from the burden of opinions stemming from foreign, non-Jewish sources – it is then that ideas are generated and propelled by this pure holiness, the very secrets of the Torah…and the congregation of Israel (כנסת ישראל) was itself a [form of] knowledge received by Moses at Sinai.

Though Rabbi Kook ascribes the value of the Torah’s secrets to contemporary ideas, this quality cannot be applied to the thoughts of any odd speaker. Rather, he is describing a particular, spiritual, Jewish quality that enables one to be mechadesh – to renew and gain insight – and in doing so to actualize a continuation of transmission and tradition.

The individual who possesses this quality lives in the world of Torah: his chiddushim come from within. This is not an individual whose insights originate from what Rabbi Nachman calls “outside wisdom” – forms of knowledge that are not rooted in the internal point of Judaism of the individual and the community. One who does not dwell in the aforementioned state of being may contribute philosophical or generally intellectual insights, but the spirituality and virtue of the Torah will not be revealed in them.

On the one hand, we are born into a reality of tradition, halacha and Torah. On the other hand, the Torah itself grants and legitimizes the act of chiddush through inner truth, which is the only pathway to avodat Hashem. Living between these two loci – a Torah embedded in one’s reality, and the dynamic, renewing Torah emerging from chiddushim – a Jew must find his spiritual world: identify his level and his faith, strive to understand what God demands of him in his unique tikkun and become aware of his personal point of truth.

Rabbi Nachman does not seem to fear that this sort of personal searching will cause one to stray from Torah and tradition. The assumption is that one who learns Torah will find his spiritual world within it, and a sense of belonging and relationship will follow. It is clear that from a practical perspective, if a contradiction between his world and the Torah arises, he should suspend any errant desire. Yet this is a purely theoretical possibility: such a conflict would not arise. If Godliness is a reality for the seeker, then his search for truth is sincere. Coming from the world of Torah, he is able to both identify his personal truth and identify its parallel in the will of God – which is revealed as his own will.  If so, in times to come “The Torah will come from me” , namely: in the future the fulfilment of mitzvos and the learning of Torah will be on a higher spiritual plane, and desires that fall beyond the Torah of today will come to be included within the Torah of tomorrow.

Rabbi Nachman’s teaching here is especially interesting because even as he emphasizes the simplicity and naivete in man’s avodat Hashem, the focus on an existential situation grants value to man’s personal creativity. We might even say that this is a radical position – a call to action, to follow the truth to its end. The Rishonim (early medieval commentators) such as Rabbeynu Bachaye stressed the need for an intellectual investigation that would bring one to belief in God as an objective truth. Yet Rabbi Nachman here rejects the intellectual search and speaks instead of the individual finding an inner truth. It is fascinating that precisely this approach – emphasizing the existential experience in faith, where one’s chiddushim emerge from a point within and constitute true a full renewal of the Torah –  is one that glorifies naivete, teaching a simple faith that cannot ever be fully understood.

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D. Speech as Tikkun (Repair)

And when the heart – that is, the aspect of [the letter] vav, the aspect of the Tablets – is enmeshed in bad forms of love – the type of honor and disgrace called a ‘thickening’[3] of the heart – then it belongs to the aspect of the Broken Tablets… And this is the aspect of a fallen, shattered love, because we know that evil and klipot [‘shells’ of materiality] are made manifest from the Breaking of the Vessels…

And when the heart – the aspect of vav –  connects to the [letter] yud – which is the point, the aspect at which the tzaddik is present and where a loving holy light is seen, (because the light of chessed [loving-kindness] remains at Sefirat Yesod in the World of Emanations) then the bad types of love – the shame, the thickened skin of the heart – are cancelled out…

We conclude that every person must have a discussion between himself and the Creator, to take the aspect of that point – the perspective of “My mouth utters wisdom” (Psalms 49:4) – and illuminate it for the [letter] vav, which is the aspect of “the utterance of my heart is insight” (Psalms 49:4). And that is how the thickened skin on his heart is removed.

Rabbi Nachman returns here to the beginning of his teaching, writing that when a man’s heart is broken due to shame and disgrace, the event reveals a more internal condition of downfall and crisis. For Rabbi Nachman, this downfall is not limited to a personal, localized occurrence, a crisis which must be personally overcome to progress further in one’s life. Rather, it is a cosmic event that parallels the ‘shattering of the vessels.’ Shame and heartbreak are not symptoms of a happenstance, secondary downfall in man’s life – we are dealing here with a deep existential problem. Therefore the tikkun (repair) is an integral part of man’s mission, enabling him to collect and return the ‘fallen sparks.’[4]

The kabbalistic description of the Breaking of the Vessels (and their repair) is raised to explain a parallel process: that through the tikkun of the heart’s understanding, man can repair (and repurpose) his shame and disgrace.[5] The Ari writes that this sort of repair leads the heart to insights of chessed (loving-kindness) which previously had no means to descend to the world. What are these insights of chessed? Rabbi Nachman explains that these are man’s ‘fallen loves’: man’s role is to redirect them from a love for evil to a love for holiness. Such a task can be fulfilled with the help of a tzaddik whose work is that of tikkun, as Rabbi Nachman writes: “Because the tzaddik – who is the locus from which holy life emanates – can illuminate the vav (the aspect of the heart), and thus shame – the thickening of the heart– is eliminated."

Rabbi Nachman goes on to say that the process of revealing the ‘inner point’ – the central concept of this lesson – is enabled through three types of speech that manifest goodness: the words of the tzaddik, peer-to-peer discussion, and man’s conversation with himself about his condition:

These are the three ways: [1] a connection with tzaddikim – because they are the collective point of Israel – can bring him light and awaken his heart and [2] through speech with his fellow, each person can illuminate and awaken the heart of his peer and [3] through speaking with his Creator he can also awaken his heart, through a mouth that speaks wisdom and removes the thickening of the heart.

How does this sort of speech occur? Let us begin with the least conventional case of speech: a person’s speaking with his Creator. Rabbi Nachman describes it as follows: “Every person should speak with his Creator, so as to illuminate the aspect of the point.” Rabbi Nachman emphasizes that this is not a one-way speech of man to his Creator, but rather him and his Creator engaging in speech with each other. Man engages his Creator in turning to himself, and it is through this method that he awakens his inner point.

The deeper idea in Rabbi Nachman’s words here is that this sort of speech is not my turn towards the Other, but rather engaging the Other in my turning towards oneself. We can verbalize some potential samples of the speech between a person and his Creator, formulations that can begin to open us to this dynamic.

I face myself and say:  Shimon, what are you thinking? Do you really think that this is truly how it is? Do you really believe this?

Or I turn to my friend and say: Between the two of us, what do you really think? We both know what happened…

My understanding is that this type of speech is not just a friendly conversation on any odd topic. This type of speech, even if it is turning outward toward the other, is an activity that nevertheless belongs to the very existential interiority of a human being. Hence the expression: “between him and between…”: I am involving myself with myself, a sort of doubling of myself. This type of speech – where man speaks with himself and shares his situation with himself – is essentially a turning towards the heart, which is in a state of disgrace because the vessels of chessed that fell when the world of Bina (understanding) was shattered. The purpose of speech then becomes to identify the chessed of the yesod (the quality of Chessed within Foundation) – namely, the point of love, the most internal point associated with integrity – and restore it to the heart.

This is the case as well with speech with God: the essence of this speech is turning towards God from an existential, immediate present: “Master of the Universe, You know what I am thinking.” Yet as the Rishonim have discussed at length, God is aware of the Other’s self-knowledge[6]: even when I speak with myself, God listens. This Other is a part of my self-knowledge, and this is why the speaker is newly receptive to an inner point of self-knowledge – its own existence belonging to the heart, one that enables intimacy. Man turns with intimacy towards God and speaks from within it.

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Rabbi Nachman explains that even when man is overcome by despair, meaninglessness, anger and sadness, he still has the capacity to connect with the inner point that can revive him. An especially moving aspect of this teaching is that Rabbi Nachman claims that a speech-act between a friend and his peer can have that powerful effect: every man becomes a tzaddik as he turns to the Other. When you turn to your friend in this particular way, he becomes your tzaddik, returning your ‘point’ that belongs to your heart. Speaking with a friend involves – first and foremost – hearing his voice, the voice behind the words. The voice contains within it the enjoyment of the other.[7] At a certain point during the conversation between the two, one can take the other’s point of enjoyment – of chessed – and join it with his own enjoyment. Thus emerges a speech of togetherness: not one facing the other, but a partnership of a deeper kind.

I will illustrate this by way of another example. Imagine a first date: the situation is sensitive and tense. An encounter between two strangers is bound to be highly pressured because each person is judging, evaluating the other. But as the relationship continues – and as an intent towards a union and agreement of some kind grows – a new kind of speech develops, a conversation of both together, “between him and between her.” This is not me nor the Other, but rather this is a juncture of being and integrity, an existential point that we are both present and participating in. We find our genuine selves together. One of us must take the first step, a breaking-through which requires something of a self-sacrifice. In return, one hopes to receive an answer from the other that vindicates such a radical openness.

Similarly, God calls to Abraham and Abraham answers, “Hineni – Here I am.” We await that reply, the voice saying, “Hineni.” The wait can be fraught with doubt, fear or lack of faith. There will not always be an immediate answer. Sometimes it takes time to be convinced, and then it is still necessary to call out, to return, to call out once more. One aspect of this self-sacrifice is the knowledge that I will continue to call out, though I may not meet the other’s reply. I sacrifice on behalf of my point of truth, which compels me to turn to my friend; I remain loyal to it, regardless of his reaction.

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[1] The mlafum is another name for the shoorook vowel.

[2] The Mahara"l of Prague associates the mlafum with the shoorook. According to him, it is the vowel that the Kabbalists use for the name of God connected to the sefira of Yesod. See, for example, the Mahara"l of Prague's Tiferet Israel (Tel Aviv, 1984): Chapter 66, p. 512. It should be noted that there is a difference between the Sephardic tradition (which associates the mlafum with shuruk) and the practice of Rashi and other Ashkenazi grammarians (who associated mlafum with chulom). In any event, the Kabbalists associated mlafum with the sefira of Yesod. See Rabbi Moses Yair Weinstock's book, The Siddur of the Gaonim and Kabbalists and Hassidim (Jerusalem, 1973): Part 8, p. 30-31.

[3] Literally, the “foreskin” as in the verse: “And you will circumcise the foreskin of your hearts, and no longer stiffen your necks” (Deuteronomy 10:16).

[4] As Rabbi Nachman explains later: “Because the breaking of the vessels of chessed fell on the bina (wisdom) of Creation – the understanding of the heart – and the light of chessed remained at sefirat Yesod of the World of Emanations, which is the aspect of “Tzaddik, foundation of the earth.” So we find that bad types of love stem from the breaking of the vessels of chessed.

[5] The source of these words is in the Ari’s teachings on the difference between Chessed’s breaking and its descent to the layer of Bina in the world of Creation, and between the Gevurot – the strengths – that descended to sefirat chochma in the world of Creation: ‘The shattering was in the vessels, not the lights…the chessed left and the vessel broke, and descended to the bina (understanding)  of Creation; the light descended to the place of the Vessels of Yedsod in the World of Emanations. And after that, Gevurah (judgment) emerged, broke and the vessel descended to the chochma (wisdom)  of creation.” (Etz Chayim, Hechal Nekudim, The Breaking of the Vessels, Chapter 3.)

[6] See Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 2:1, Hilchot Teshuva 5:5; Moreh Nevuchim, 3:20.

[7] See Volume 1, 116-119.

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