The Beginning of Wisdom – Chapter 10

(Within which the matter of Sitra Achera and the complete rectification, which will ultimately occur, are explained.)


214.  Now, just as G_d, blessed be He, created the worlds of Briyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah as means to affect goodness and holiness, so too, He created entities which are instrumental in bringing about the [possibility of] evil, which He deemed necessary for the world. [The possibility of evil is necessary in order to bring about the conditions of free choice.]  These forces are generally called Sitra Achera, that is, the “Other Side”, the side of evil, G_d forbid.  Even though G_d’s will is good, He created evil as a temporary existence in order to bring about the ultimate good. The very existence of evil, therefore, is solely to realize this goodness, as stated[1], “Everything that G_d does is for His sake”[2].

215.  The agents of Sitra Achara have three functions: The first is to seduce man to sin, through which he becomes impure, as stated in Gemara (Yoma)[3], “When man acts impurely below, He is made impure from above.”  These forces, from which the Yetzer Hara – Evil inclination stems, draw man toward sin by causing it to appear sweet and pleasant [in his eyes], as stated[4], “Stolen waters are sweet”.  The Zohar refers to this as “The pleasure for impurities”.  Nonetheless the purpose in their creation is to bring merit to the righteous. Through conquering the evil inclination, which seems insurmountable, the righteous are rewarded in direct proportion to their effort, as stated[5], “According to the difficulty is the reward”.

All this is explained at length in the Zohar[6] through the allegory of the king who sent a harlot to seduce his son. He stipulated to her that if she succeeds, all the goodness that would have rightly been given to his son would be hers instead.  But, if he shunned her advances, the prince would receive great reward and she too would be rewarded, since through her great efforts he merited this goodness.  Throughout, the fathers’ intent was for the good of his son. Even the Harlot, though she appeared in the guise of a temptress, was the king’s agent and secretly desired the prince’s success[7].

216.  The second function of the Sitra Achara is to accuse and summons a soul to judgment, G_d forbid, as stated in the Zohar[8], “G_d made it, that they fear Him[9] – i.e that He created an accuser who demands judgment, and that the concept of punishment exists, so that there will be a fear of G_d in the world.

217.  The third function is to mete out punishment upon the sinners, either in this world or in Gehenom.  All this is to fulfill G_d’s desire to conduct the world through justice, as stated[10], “For all His ways are just”.  All the above fall into the category of Sitra Achara and are called Kelipot – Husks.  Holiness – Kedusha is called Pri – Fruit and they are as husks surrounding the fruit.

218.  There are four general Kelipot which are alluded to in Yechezkiels vision, as written[11], “And I saw and behold a storm wind coming from the north, a great cloud, and a roaring fire encompassed by a glow”.

They are also alluded to in Eliyahu’s vision[12], Ruach – Wind, Ra’ash – Earthquake, Esh – Fire, within which G_d was not revealed, plus a Kol Dmama Daka – a still small voice[13].

219.  Of these four, three are completely evil.  The fourth, which is Kelipat Nogah – the glowing husk, may be transformed to goodness.  The Brit Milah – Circumcision, consists of three steps corresponding to the three impure Kelipot.  They are the removal of the foreskin – Arlah, the pulling back of the remaining skin – Priah, and the letting of a drop of blood – Tipat Dam.  In addition, the verse in Bereshit referring to Tohu – formless, Vohu – emptiness, Choshech – darkness, and Ruach Elokim – the spirit of G_d, corresponds to these four Kelipot[14].

220.  G_d created everything with its counterpart; Therefore just as He created the three holy levels of Briyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, so too, He created the Briyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah of Kelipah, as their counterparts.

221.  In respect to the “created” realms of holiness, only three levels exist.  However they have the benefit of G_d’s influence and revelation which rests upon them from His Divine conducts, i.e. Atzilut.  The Sitra Achara, on the other hand, does not receive such influence from above.

221b. Rather, an additional world of Sitra Achara called Atzilut of Kelipah was created as a counterpart to Atzilut of Kedusha, so that Sitra Achara and Kedusha would have the same number of corresponding parts. However, unlike Atzilut of Kedusha, which represents G_d’s Divine conducts, Atzilut of Kelipah is merely a created world and, as such, they are not comparable[15].

222.  Though the order of the levels of Kelipah correspond to those of Kedusha, Atzilut of Kelipah, being itself a created level, does not stand above the created realms of Kedusha. Rather, it stands opposite the Holy of Holies of the world of Briyah, since no created thing can rise higher than that level[16].

223.  Furthermore, the seven palaces of Briyah of Kedusha also have counterparts in Sitra Achara.  They are called[17], “The Seven Impure Palaces”.  Their names in ascending order are:

Bor – the pit

Shachat – death

Duma – silence

Chova – debt

Sheol – the grave

Tzalmavet – the shadow of death

Eretz Tachteet – the netherworld

223b. These, in turn, correspond to the seven names of the Yetzer Hara as follows[18]:

Ra – The evil one

Tameh – The impure one

Soneh – The enemy

Even Michshol – The stumbling block

Arel – The uncircumcised one

Satan – The tempter

Tzafoni – The northerner

The Zohar explains[19] at length the specific purpose of each of these.  Generally the agents of Kelipah have the opposite function to those of Kedusha.  In addition, the Sitra Achara also consists of ten sefirot which are called “The Ten Sefirot of Kelipah” or “The Counterfeit Palaces”.

224.  Because G_d desired to conduct the world with judgment as well as kindness, He created the Sitra Achara.  As such, the Sitra Achara is considered to have come out of the attribute of judgment since that is its sole purpose, without which, it would not have been created.

225.  As stated above, initially G_d manifested the attribute of total judgment, represented by the name of 52 – Ban.  He then joined to it the attribute of mercy, represented by the name of 45 – Mah, in order to bring about its rectification. Since Sitra Achara comes about solely from the judgment of Ban – 52, the gradual rectification brought about through Mah – 45 diminishes its function so that, ultimately, with the final rectification, Sitra Achara will cease to exist.  Part of it will be transformed into holiness and the remainder portion will be obliterated.

226.  The existence of the Yetzer Hara and the Sitra Achara is only necessary during the six millennia of this world which go according to the conduct of the six sefirot – Chessed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod and Yesod, as stated in Talmud, “You have given us the Yetzer Hara for the sole purpose of earning merit.”  However, beginning with the seventh millennium, which is the “World to Come” and is a time of reward, (and certainly after the tenth millennium, which is the eternal conduct of Adam Kadmon), its purpose will be abrogated, as the Talmud states, “In the future the Holy One, Blessed Be He, will slaughter (abrogate) the Yetzer Hara”[20].

226b. This is further supported by the scriptural verses[21], “I will withdraw the impure spirit from the earth” and[22], “I shall remove the heart of stone from your flesh”.  In addition, concerning the “World to Come”, scripture states[23], “And I shall give you a heart of flesh and I shall instill a new spirit in your midst and cause you to walk in my statutes”, and[24], “Hashem shall be King upon the entire earth, on that day, Hashem shall be One and His name One.”  Even in this world, the Sitra Achara may be abrogated on a specific spiritual level by the complete rectification of that level.  It then only exists on a lesser level[25].  But concerning the World to Come it is stated[26], “Death shall be swallowed forever”, and the world will be perfected in G_d’s Kingdom.  This will constitute complete rectification in which “G_d will be One and His name One”.  May it be G_d’s will that we merit this speedily, in our days, through Kindness and Mercy – Amen.

[1] Mishlei 16:4

[2] “For His sake” – He being the ultimate good.

[3] Talmud Yoma, p.39a.

[4] Mishlei 9:17

[5] Pirkei Avoth, chap.5, mishnah 21.

[6] Zohar p.166.

[7] Talmud Sanhedrin p.64.

[8] Raaya Mehemna, Emor p.98b.

[9] Kohelet 3:14.

[10] Devarim 32:4.

[11] Yechzkiel 1:1-4.

[12] Melachim I 19:12-13.

[13] According to GR’’A the earthquake in Eliyahu’s vision is interchangeable with the cloud in Yechezkiel’s vision.

[14] GR’’A, Heichalot Pekudei p.1.

[15] Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 30.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Zohar Pekudei p.263.

[18] Talmud Sukkah, p.52a.

[19] Zohar Pekudei p.263.

[20] Talmud Sukkah, p.52a.

[21] Zechariah 13:2.

[22] Yechezkiel 36:26. See also Talmud Sanhedrin p.64a and Midrash HaNe’elam p.137.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Zechariah 14:9.

[25] Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 47.

[26] Yeshayahu 25:8.

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