Updated: Jul 18
Unveiling the mysteries of divine sustenance. "Even individuals guilty of sins punishable by excision and death by Divine agency continue to receive their vitality, even though their spiritual lifeline has been severed." On Tanya for 18 Tammuz.
Consider the question of how individuals, even those burdened by severe transgressions, can continue to live and thrive throughout the era of exile.
In our rich tradition, we encounter teachings that illuminate the intersection of justice and mercy in the Divine realm. The Talmud presents us with the wisdom of Rabbi Yochanan, who relays the words of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai. This profound teaching suggests that certain groups, including those who are persistently sinning, are shielded from the depths of Gehinnom (hell) by Divine grace (Talmud - Berachot 10a). This remarkable insight assures us that even individuals whose actions may warrant severe consequences are recipients of Divine sustenance and protection.
Moreover, the Midrash offers us a pathway to spiritual vitality amidst the burden of numerous sins. It guides us to immerse ourselves in the study of Torah, which acts as a transformative elixir, infusing our souls with life and renewal (Midrash - Bereishit Rabbah 35:2).
Through the profound engagement with Torah study, we tap into the wellspring of Divine wisdom, transcending the weight of our transgressions and igniting the spark of spiritual vitality within.
The Zohar, a mystical masterpiece, further deepens our understanding of Divine sustenance. It introduces us to the concept of the 'mixed multitude' (erev rav), individuals who joined the Jewish people during the Exodus from Egypt, lacking a pure spiritual nature.
Despite their imperfections, the Zohar reveals that they, too, were recipients of Divine sustenance and blessings, drawing from the holy energy that permeated the Jewish people (Zohar - Parashat Terumah 157b). This mystical perspective teaches us that even those who are not entirely righteous can partake in the Divine vitality that flows through the universe.
Drawing from these classical Torah sources, we gain invaluable insights into the paradox of Divine sustenance for sinners during the era of exile. The Alter Rebbe, in his seminal work, the Tanya, provides profound elucidation. He explicates that during times of exile, the life-force of holiness can be accessed through the garb of kelipah, an outer shell that encompasses both good and evil (Tanya, Chapter 6).
Through this mechanism, individuals, even those guilty of severe transgressions, continue to receive their vital sustenance from the kelipah. This mystical framework demonstrates that Divine benevolence extends to all, offering sinners the opportunity to repent, rectify their past misdeeds, and realign with the Divine presence.
Contemplating these profound teachings invites us to delve into the unfathomable depths of Divine mercy and compassion. In the presence of our own shortcomings and failings, there is perpetual hope for redemption and renewal. As we navigate our individual spiritual journeys, let us find inspiration in the possibility of teshuvah (repentance) and embrace the assurance that Divine sustenance is extended to all who earnestly seek it.
May the teachings of our rich tradition provide solace, guidance, and encouragement as we strive towards righteousness, repentance, and the embrace of Divine blessings in our lives.