Angels mistaken for gods

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 16:49

the angels which where designated to rule over the nations, where mistaken to be gods, and worshipped...



Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 25

(אלא שבחוץ לארץ, החיות הוא על ידי התלבשות שרים החיצונים, הממונים על שבעים אומות)

(1However, outside the Land of Israel,2 the life-force is [bestowed] by [means of “the word of G‑d”] being invested within the extraneous patron-angels that are appointed over the seventy nations.

דהיינו, שיורד ניצוץ מדבר ה׳, הנקרא בשם מלכות דעשיה, ומאיר על השרים של מעלה, בבחינת מקיף מלמעלה

I.e., a [mere] spark from the “word of G‑d,” which is called Malchut of Asiyah, descends and radiates over the supernal patron-angels by encompassing them from above.

אך אינו מתלבש בהם ממש, אלא נמשך להם חיות מהארה זו, שמאיר עליהם מלמעלה בבחינת מקיף

I.e., it does not truly vest itself within them; rather, the life-force issues to them from this radiation which shines over them from above, in an encompassing manner.

ומהשרים נשפע חיות לאומות, ולבהמות חיות ועופות שבארצותיהם

And from the patron-angels, life-force issues to the nations, and to the cattle, beasts and fowl that are in their lands,

ולארץ הגשמית, ולשמים הגשמיים, שהם הגלגלים

and to the physical world, and the physical heavens, i.e., the spheres in which the stars orbit.3

(אלא ששמים וארץ ובהמות וחיות ועופות טהורים, נשפעים מקליפת נוגה

(4However, there are distinctions between the various categories of created beings: the heavens and the earth, and the cattle, beasts and fowl that are pure (i.e., kosher), are nurtured by kelipat nogah,

והטמאים ונפשות האומות, משאר קליפות)

whereas the impure [creatures] and the souls of the nations are [nurtured] by the other kelipot.)

Kelipat nogah represents a finely-balanced tension between potential good (which can also be misused) and potential evil (which can also be sublimated). The other three completely impure kelipot are entirely evil, as explained at length in Tanya, ch. 6.

והנה שמים וארץ וכל אשר בהם, בחוץ לארץ, כולם כלא ממש חשיבי, לגבי השרים שהם חיותם וקיומם

Now, outside the Land of Israel,5 the heavens and the earth and all they contain are all esteemed as truly nothing, in relation to the patron-angels which are [the conduits for] their life-force and continued existence.

והשרים כלא ממש חשיבי, לגבי החיות הנמשך להם מהניצוץ מדבר ה׳, המאיר עליהם מלמעלה

The patron-angels themselves are esteemed as truly nothing in relation to the life-force issuing to them from the spark of the “word of G‑d” which radiates over them from above, transcending them.

ואף על פי כן, החיות הנמשך לתוכם מהארה זו, הוא בבחינת גלות בתוכם

And even so, the life-force issuing to them from this radiation, is in a state of exile within them.

ולכן נקראים בשם אלקים אחרים, וקרו ליה: אלהא דאלהיא, שגם הם הן בבחינת אלקות

That is why they are called elohim acherim (“other gods”), while they call Him,6 “G‑d of the gods,” since they consider themselves as deities.

ולכן הגוים הנשפעים מהם, הם עובדי עבודה זרה ממש

Therefore, in view of their source, the nations which receive their life-force through [their patron-angels] are truly idolaters —

עד עת קץ, שיבולע המות והסטרא אחרא

[but only] until the time of the “end”, until the time of the imminent Redemption, when death and the sitra achra (i.e., the “other side,” the unholy aspect of the universe) will be swallowed up.

ואז אהפוך אל עמים כו׳, לקרוא כולם בשם ה׳

Of that time G‑d promises,7 “Then shall I make the nations [pure of speech] so that they will all call upon the Name of G‑d.”

The Alter Rebbe now returns to the theme of the Divine spark in exile:

ונקרא גם כן בשם גלות השכינה

This [sustenance of idolaters through the Divine spark] is also called “the exile of the Shechinah.”

מאחר שחיות זה, אשר בבחינת גלות בתוכם

For this life-force, which is in a state of exile within them, as previously explained,

הוא מהארה הנמשכת להם מהניצוץ מדבר ה׳, הנקרא בשם שכינה

stems from the radiation issuing to them from the spark of the “word of G‑d,” which is called Shechinah in the terminology of the Sages, as mentioned above.

According to the above, however, it would seem that this state of exile has existed since the creation of the world, with all its impure animals, etc. What do we mean, then, when we say that “the Shechinah was exiled”? This question is answered in the following parenthetical passage.

(וגלות זה נמשך מחטא עץ הדעת ואילך

(8And this exile, brought about by the fact that the kelipot derive their life-force from a spark of G‑d’s creative speech, stems from the sin of the Tree of Knowledge and onwards, for from that time kelipot were able to receive a degree of vitality that they did not have until that point.

והוא בחינת אחוריים לבד דקדושה

However, [they receive their vitality] only from the hindmost (i.e., from the lowest and most external) dimension of holiness.

אך כשגלו ישראל לבין האומות, ואחיזת ישראל ושרשם הוא בבחינת פנים העליונים

But when the Jewish people were exiled among the nations — and the Jewish people are attached and rooted in the Supernal Countenance (thepanim, or pnimiyus, i.e., the innermost aspect of Divinity) —

הנה זו היא גלות שלימה

this became a total exile. For then the innermost aspect of Divinity was also drawn down to the patron-angels and the nations, as explained at length inIggeret HaTeshuvah, ch. 6; see there.

ועל זה אמרו רז״ל: גלו לאדום, שכינה עמהם))

Of this our Sages, of blessed memory, said,9 “When [the Jewish people] were exiled to Edom, the Shechinah accompanied them.”))

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