(In the previous post, I wrote about how in the Kabbalistic language of Rabbi Yonah, G-d’s “Will” is synonymous with “Keter” — the most all-inclusive of the s’firot. The present post was originally part of the previous one, but for the sake of simplicity and clarity, I expanded it and separated the discussion of Rabbi Yonah’s teaching from Rebbe Nachman of Breslav’s teaching on the same theme. They can be read separately or as one unified piece.)

In the Kabbalah taught by the Ari (Rabbi Yitzhak Luria; @ 500 years after Rabbi Yonah), the first s’fira, previously called “Ratzon” or “Keter,” is Chochmah (“Wisdom”), leaving only “9.”  The “10th” is fulfilled by “Da’at” (knowledge), uniting Chochmah and Binah (understanding). The Hasidut of the Besht and those who came after him followed the Ari’s model.

In this context, we can understand Rebbe Nachman of Breslav’s teaching in Likutei Moharan, ch. 1, that we must see the “chochmah” or “seichel” in all things and “bind” ourselves to it:

“For the Jew must constantly gaze [histakel; הסתכל] into the wisdom [שכל] of every matter and bind himself to the wisdom [חכמה] and intelligence [שכל] that is to be found in everything. This in order that the wisdom [שכל] that is in each matter should enlighten him, that he draws [himself] closer to Blessed G-d through that very thing. For the intellect [שכל] is a great light that shines to him in all of his ways [i.e. everywhere he goes, in everything he does and in everything that happens to him].”  [1]

The Rebbe uses [seichel] and [chochmah] as interchangeable synonyms for the quality of Divine Wisdom — the S’firah of Chochmah — which, in the Lurianic model followed by Hasidut, is also synonymous with “Keter” in other schools of Kabbalah.

Therefore, it’s not “human intellect” that is a “great [i.e. infinite] light,” but Divine Wisdom, which is also Divine Being in its purest expression; Divine Life Itself.

It should also be noted that by “gaze,” the Rebbe doesn’t mean for us to give only a casual glance.

He uses the verb “histakel,” which comes from a root [סכל] that means “to look at closely,” and itself means “to contemplate.”

He means: Give in-depth and prolonged attention to the Divine Life that’s in all things and events, and “bind ourselves” to It — i.e. recognize that we’re in no way separate from It ourselves. Here, Rebbe Nachman doesn’t mean that we should intellectually understand the orderliness of nature as suggesting a Creator (as do Newton and Einstein), although he might not refuse that as a possible first step. Rather, we must see that Wisdom as in no way separate from the event or thing. We must go beyond the thing or event and see [contemplatively; later experientially] the Life of the Creator as necessarily perpetually present in all the things created, including ourselves, just as water must be perpetually present in the ocean, if the ocean is to exist at all.

As we learned about Noach from the Zohar: All we need do to “walk with G-d,” is to stop separating ourselves from Him — i.e. stop thinking that we can ever, in any way, be separate from what G-d is.


[1] Rebbe Nachman of Breslav; Likutei Moharan; Breslav Research Institute, Rabbi Simcha Bergman, trans.; © 1986, p. 2/3