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Kabbalah reveals the mystical meaning behind the Mishna.

When I am I

When I am I

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When I am I
Kabbalah reveals the mystical meaning behind the Mishna.

From Maggid Meisharim, parashat Ki Tisa, Rabbi Caro's recording of the teachings he heard from his angelic mentor (see his Biography).

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
And if I am for myself, what am I" (Avot 1:14).

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me" means if I do not grasp hold of the "I," namely malchut [which is called in Hebrew "ani"], who will be for me -- that is, to which of the supernal sefirot can I dedicate myself?

Malchut represents the authority of G‑d, and dedicating oneself to malchut means accepting upon oneself the Yoke of Heaven. If one does not accept the Yoke of Heaven, what holiness is there in emulating any of the sefirot?

"And if I am for myself, what am I" means when I grasp the "I," malchut, and I take it "for myself," for the lower malchut [malchut of the lowest world, Asiya, namely, the human individual, in this case "myself,"] as it says in the verse, "Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh" [a play on words in that the Hebrew word for "bone" shares the same root as that for "myself"]1 (Gen. 2:23) - then "what [in Hebrew, Mah] am I?" [This can be read as "I am Mah,"] meaning that at that moment I join together the Name Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei expanded to the numerical value of Mah [45] with "ani" ["I"], malchut.

In other words, when I take upon myself the Yoke of Heaven (malchut) and make it part of me, there is revealed upon me the Ineffable Name, whose transcendent, indefinable quality is alluded to in the word "what" -- ma'h.

Footnotes
1.
The word used here for "bone," which is indicative of the lower malchut, shares the same root as that of the word "myself" in the mishna cited above and indeed refers to Man.
Rabbi Moshe Miller was born in South Africa and received his yeshivah education in Israel and America. He is a prolific author and translator, with some twenty books to his name on a wide variety of topics, including an authoritative, annotated translation of the Zohar. He has developed a coaching-type approach to dealing with life's issues based on Chassidism and Kabbalah—a tool for dealing with normal issues that everyone faces as well as issues psychologists usually address, often ineffectively. He also gives free live classes over the Internet.
Rabbi Yosef Caro, 4258-5335 (1488-1575) was born in Spain and fled the Inquisition with his family at the age of 4, settling in Safed, Israel. Author of Shulchan Aruch ("The Prepared Table" - Code of the Jewish Law) a compendium of the laws universally accepted by Jews of the Torah governing a Jew's entire life: personal, social, family, business, and religious, and a mystical work entitled Maggid Mesharim. He was chief rabbi of Biriya, a suburb of Safed, from 1546.
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February 15, 2014
light
you have brought the light for me in articulating meaning to those thoughts
thank you Moshe Miller
gene
Fort Collins , Colo USA
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