Monday, January 14, 2013

Part II Gra & Arizal disagreed? - Rabbi Tzadok

Guest Post by Rabbi Michael Tzadok Elkohen  Part I is here

I hope to do justice to this topic, though admittedly it is rather broad.  There are some twenty hours of Shiurim on the the subject of the Sheveira online from Rav Ephraim Goldstein, and even then they are introductory at best.  So an article of this nature is difficult in the extreme.  We return to our question of whether the GR”A disagreed with the AR”I.  

At the outset I think it would helpful to note the primary questions raised by the initial commenter.   I will try to sum them up like this: 1) Is the GR”A arguing on the AR”I? 2) Does the AR”I say that Malkhut shattered in the Sheveira? 3) Does the AR”I say that our physical world has no order?  To understand the basic discussion it would behoove everyone to listen to Rav Triebitz’s shiur found on his Hashkafa Circle website.  Shiur 8.  I will for the sake of clarity quote Rav Triebitz’s readings of the AR”I and the GR”A here, and then go on to show how, in fact they don’t actually disagree.  Rav Triebitz quotes the AR”I first, from Shaar HaNekudim Chapter 5, the start of the chapter, where he says:

Second edition.  And we will return to explain the emanation of these seven kings from within Binah and how they broke, at first they all went out from within Binah and they were all in the light of Daat and entered with it into it’s vessel.  It is known that these seven kings are the six extremities of Z”A and each one is equal to the other because each one is a single extremity the same size as the others,  and therefore each of these vessels only had enough strength to retain it’s own light, and when they all came together into Daat the vessel was not able to withstand it and it broke and descended below as we will explain Bezrat HaShem.  Afterward the next six lights went out into the Vessel of Chesed and it also was not able to withstand it and it broke and fell below as we will explain Bezrat HaShem.  It has already been explained above that these seven lights, that Netzach and Hod are considered one light because they are two sides of the body and afterward the fives lights went forth and entered into the vessel of Gevurah and they fell also with them the impression of Chesed meaning as it is known that all of the five sephirot from Chesed until Hod ever one of them gives an imprint of itself into the Sephira of Yesod, and for this reason Yesod is called all because it included them all, and therefore each one of them broke  and an imprint of each one fell into Yesod and it wasn’t able to withstand it, and it broke and died.  And afterward the four lights and two imprints of Chesed and Gevura fell into Tiferet  and it broke and fell and in the same way with them all until two light an five imprints fell into Yesod and it wasn’t able to withstand it and it broke and fell, and only one light came into Malkhut and with all of this it was not able to withstand it and it broke and fell also.

He then follows up, after an explanation of the AR”I, with the words of the GR”A concerning the first line of the Safra Detzinuta(Parashat Teruma 176b).

 She didn’t rule at all, because Malkhut doesn’t have it’s own light, rather only that which it receives from her husband.  Therefore the lights of the kings they died, the light of Malkhut never came.  Therefore the reign of Malkhut is not mentioned in the Torah at all.  And only a single point went out and nine points stayed above.

Here Rav Triebitz claims that there is a an explicit machloket beteen the AR”I and the GR”A.  However, I am forced to disagree with him.  If chapter 5 of Shaar HaNekudot was the only place that the AR”I spoke of the Sheveira than I would be forced to agree with him.  However it is not the only place.  In fact Shaar HaNekudim is followed by Shaar Sheveirat HaKelim which deals more explicitly and thoroughly with the Sheveira.  Chapter five of Shaar HaNekudim in truth only serves as a brief introduction and primer to what is to come.  Now I will bring a piece from Shaar Sheveira chapter 6 which all of the commentators say is the essential understanding.  As a brief introduction the AR”I says that the Dinm emanated before the Chasadim(this can be found in the first Rashi of the Chumash and also Rabbeinu Bachya).  The Sheveira only occurred in the Dinim, which he calls Ben, the lights of Ben consist of five points, Keter, Hokhmah, Binah, V”K(Chesed through Yesod) and Malkhut.  Hopefully with that brief introduction what he says next will be understandable:

At first emanated the first point of Ben which is the Keter of Ben, and it contains 10 sephirot and all the ten sefirot in in it were contained in it’s own Keter, which is the Keter of Keter, and remained there the light of Keterand the other 9 lights descended into the vessel of Hokhmah of Keter, and the light of Hokhmah remained there, and the other eight lights descended into the vessel of Binah, , the light of Binah remained there and the other seven lights descended into the vessel of Daat and it broke.  It’s light ascened above the vessel fell below.  Afterward the light of Chesed went out and it contained in it the other six lights, and it broke and the light ascended above and the vessel fell below, and afterwards the light Gevurah went into the vessel of Gevurah and with it the other five lights and the same thing occurred there.  See the same thing occurred in each of the seven kings of Keter of Ben which are the seven lower sephirot of this Keter.  Afterward went out the second point of Ben which is the Hokhmah of Ben and it also contained 10 sephirot and the same thing occurred within it as occurred in Keter, that the first three Sephirot in in it did not break, and when Daat went out the Sephirot began to break until all seven had broken, which are the seven kings in it.  And afterward the third point of Ben went out which is the Binah of Ben and the same thing happened within it that happened in the above two nekudot, that the first three remained intact and the lower seven broke.  And afterwards the seven lower points of Ben went out which are contained in only two points, as is known that they are Z”A and Nukvah of ben and each of these two points contains it’s own 10 sephirot and these also broke as mentioned above… However there is a single difference between them, and it is that the first three points  each had ten sephirot each and the first three of each and every ten remained intact, but the lower seven broke however with the lower two points which contain the seven lower points of Ben as is known did not go out with ten sephirot as the first three points did, rather the fourth point which corresponds to the Z”A of Ben had it’s first three points remain above in the Binah of Binah of Ben, and the fifth point which is the Malkut of Ben all of it’s lower 9 sephirot remained above as was the way with Z”A and nothing went out except the Keter alone.

The text here is a bit difficult, but it matches precisely the language of the GR”A.  The AR”I in chapter five of Shaar HaNekudim we find according to the commentaries was speaking of what occurred within the specific sephirot themselves, assuming that they had a full compliment of their own Sephirot, he was not speaking of General 10 Sephirot of any world, which is called a Partzuf.  Within a Partzuf we have a breakage in the lower seven sephirot of Keter, Hokhmah and Binah, everything that emanates from Chesed until Yesod breaks(since their upper three Sephirot remained above) and there is no breakage in Malkhut at all, as only it’s Keter came out.  

So let us return to our questions: 

 1) Is the GR”A arguing on the AR”I?  In my opinion, no.  The entire Eizt Chaim was in the hands of the GR”A that we know.  All of the meforshim have seen the need to clarify the Sheveira as it is an exceptionally difficult Inyan in the AR”I.  The GR”A makes no actual comments on the AR”I, however in his commentary on the Sifra D’Tzinuta, it would appear, that he, like all the other commentators selected this later text to be a more authoritative and complete telling of the Sheveira and applied it’s understanding to the Zohar(which Rav Chaim vital says in the purpose of the Kitvei in the first place).  The text from chapter 8 of Shaar Sheveirat HaKelim is also from the final edition that Rav Chaim Vital wrote, which everyone (apparently aside from the Admurim of Lubavitch) held to be the more authoritative.  It would appear to my poor understanding that the GR”A, whether on account of his correspondence with the Rashash, his own Giluy Eliyahu HaNavi, or the power of his own learning understood that and applied it here. 

2) Does the AR”I say that Malkhut shattered in the Sheveira?  In short, no.  The individual Malkhut of the upper Nekudot did break but the actual Malkut did not break.  Only it’s Keter emanated and there was no breakage in the first three sephirot of any of the Nekudot. 

3) Does the AR”I say that our physical world has no order? To say this we would have to say two things.  First that the actual Malkhut did break, which it didn’t, and in addition that there was not a Tikun, which there was(covered in the following Shaar of Eitz Chaim).  So no he does not say that. 

22 comments:

  1. Rabbi Elkohen,

    In this post and in the first one, you refer to correspondence between the Gra and the Rashash.

    Historically, while the Gra and the Rashash's lifetimes overlapped, the alleged fact of correspondence between them seems to be unknown to most people...

    Perhaps you can refer us to a published source for this?

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    1. Sefer Ahavat Shalom, by Rav Yaakov Hillel.

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    2. Page number???

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  2. @R. Tzadok - "I hope to do justice to this topic":

    I'm not sure how you could have done justice to the topic without referring at all to the primary source that Rav Triebetz was learning from in his shiurim on hashkafacircle.com:

    - The Gaon's kuntress "Asarah Klalim"
    http://www.hashkafacircle.com/Asarah_Klalim.pdf

    I am not a spokesman at all for Rav Triebetz, but these are some points I understood him to say in the shiurim on hashkafacircle.com:

    (In Shiur 8, "The Breaking of the Vessels", starting around 28 minutes:)
    http://hashkafacircle.com/shiurim/category/vilna-gaon-shiurim/

    "...Gaon is arguing on the Ari, the Gaon is saying there was no breakage of the keli of the vessel of malchus, malchus came out in one tenth of its capacity...We have an explicit machlokes between the Gaon and the Ari Zal...Malchus represents our physical world...
    What is the dispute between the Gaon and the Ari?

    According to the Ari there is no scientific structure to our physical world, our world is merely shattered vessels...

    According to the Gaon, there was never a shattering of the vessels, our physical world emerges the way it was created, although its spiritual aspect has left it, what remains is the imprint of the upper spiritual nine nikudos, our physical world represents the lowest sefira of the 10 sefiros, but nonetheless its a physical reality which has structure and scientific law...the Gaon understands that tzitzum is k'pishuto, the spiritual leaves the physical, the physical remains intact, whereas for the Ari, if the physical contains the breaking of the vessels, you have to say there's some type of spiritual immanence in the physical world...

    (according to the Gaon) the physical world contains the imprint of the chochma that Hashem created the world with, whereas for the Ari...there's no imprint, all there is is shattered pieces that man has to assemble through his avodah...shevirah is the detachment of the spiritual from the physical...the imprint remains within the physical world..."

    In Kalal Dalet of the Asarah_Klalim linked to above, the Gaon specifically states that if one tries to understand the physical world, he will be able to discern the imprint (reshimo) of Hashem's chochma and dibur which were once part of the physical world.

    Where does the Ari ever say that one can discern scientific order to the universe?

    Note the Tanya's statement on science. Doesn't this derive from the Ari's teachings as I understood Rav Triebetz to say?

    "Not so in the case of the science of the nations; thereby one clothes and defiles his divine soul’s faculties of ChaBaD (intellect) with the impurity of the kelipat nogah contained in those sciences,
    whither they (the sciences) have fallen, through the “shattering of the vessels,” out of the “hinder-part” of Chochmah of holiness, as is known to those familiar with the Esoteric Wisdom."
    http://www.chabad.org/library/tanya/tanya_cdo/aid/7887/jewish/Chapter-8.htm

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    1. Where does the Ari ever say that one can discern scientific order to the universe?
      Where does the Gaon ever say that you can? That was Rav Triebitz's Chiddush, it is not found within the Gaon. Where does the Gaon ever argue on the Ar"i? Again that was Rav Triebitz's chiddush, based on the piece that I brought above, from the Gaon's commentary on Sifra D'Tzinuta.

      You are confusing Rav Triebitz's commentary with the words of the Gaon.

      Note the Tanya's statement on science. Doesn't this derive from the Ari's teachings as I understood Rav Triebetz to say? First I(and the Leshem, and Rav Yaakov Ades, and Rav Yaakov Hillel, and numerous mekubalim greater than Rav Triebitz would say that the Gaon's understanding is derived from a proper reading of the Ari.

      Now, if we are going to quote from Chabad websites, there is this nice piece. "Many kabbalists are of the opinion that this version, known as the mehadura kamma (the first version) is the most reliable version of Rabbi Chaim’s writings." Which is where Chabad differs from everyone else in understanding the AR"I. Even other Chassidim hold that the Mehadura Batra is more reliable.

      Now if you want me to find a place in the Kitvei that argues on Rav Triebitz's commentary, well that's just not possible. All I am capable of doing is taking the primary pieces that Rav Triebitz uses to make his arguments, and show how they are not in conflict, which is what I did.

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  3. I'm not sure how you could have done justice to the topic without referring at all to the primary source that Rav Triebetz was learning from in his shiurim on hashkafacircle.com:
    - The Gaon's kuntress "Asarah Klalim"
    http://www.hashkafacircle.com/Asarah_Klalim.pdf
    I am not a spokesman at all for Rav Triebetz, but these are some points I understood him to say in the shiurim on hashkafacircle.com:
    (In Shiur 8, "The Breaking of the Vessels", starting around 28 minutes:)


    The points of disagreement that he brings there are not found in the Asarah Klallim of the GR"A, which is why I did not feel the need to reference it. He brings them from Chapter 5 of Shaar HaNekudot, and the GR"A's commentary on Sifra D'Tzinuta.

    Which is why I translated those parts.

    Rav Triebitz makes his points about what the Ari believes as far as lack of order in this world, based off of saying that the Ari thought that the sefira of Malkhut broke. If the entire divergance between the GR"A and AR"I occur only at that point, then there should be no further need than to demonstrate that they do not in fact diverge at that point.

    It may also be interesting to note that the Baal HaTanya did not think that the GR"A was arguing on the AR"I but rather that all conflict between him and the GR"A or his students and those of the GR"A were about what the words of the AR"I actually meant.

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    1. @R. Tzadok - "The points of disagreement that he brings there are not found in the Asarah Klallim of the GR"A":

      Your statement is completely contradicted by the text of the the Gaon's kuntress "Asarah Klalim" itself.

      In Klal Dalet, Daf 131, L103: "The intelligent person can apprehend and find within it (the universe) the (imprint) of Hashem's chochma..."

      In Klal Dalet, Daf 132, at the top: "the detachment of the hashgacha and the chochma is the shevira and the misah, so that the vessel (the universe) descended from its level and the light departed above but the light remains surrounding the vessel..."

      The Gaon is clearly defining "shevirah" (breakage) in a radically different manner than the Ari, (ie for the Gaon shevirah is detachment of light as opposed to the Ari's shattering of the vessel), but you apparently are unable to admit to that!

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    2. Part 1
      The Gaon is clearly defining "shevirah" (breakage) in a radically different manner than the Ari, (ie for the Gaon shevirah is detachment of light as opposed to the Ari's shattering of the vessel), but you apparently are unable to admit to that!
      No he is not. Read the second long piece of the AR"I. The light ascends above(granted I left out 5 chapters of how and why) and the vessel falls below. Just as the GR"A says in is Klalim. Quoting directly from the GR"A:
      ועתה נסתלק כל האורות שהוא ההשגחה, וכן החכמה הוא, ולא נשתייר רק בבכינת רשימו... ובעת סילוק ההשגחה והחכמה הוא השבירה והמיתה, שהכלי ירדת ממדריגתה והאור נסתלק למעלה
      And now all of the lights have ascended, which is the hashgacha, and it is also the Hokhmav, and nothing remained except the imprint... And when the the hashgacha and hokmah ascended above this is the breaking and death, which the vessel fell from its level and the light went above.

      Here there is no doubt that the GR"A and the AR"I are saying the same thing. Even Rav Triebitz says they only disagree as to whether the Malkhut broke, wich according to Shaar HaNekudim chapter 5 it did, and Shaar Sheveirat HaKelim it is explained that it didn't. Aside from that the GR"A is not explaining the Sheveirah any differently than the AR"I.
      As far as the light remaining surrounding as an Or Makif, of course it does, the first three sefirot are the Makifim, since the light returns there, according to the Ari, it would also be a Makif. You would have needed to learn the previous 38dapim of the Eitz Chaim to know that. Likewise the Ari is expclicit that it is a klal, הכל נבנה בחכמה that everything was created from wisdom(again something in the AR"I that you would have had to have read the previous 38dapim to know).
      Yes we have an imprint of Wisdom left. And an intelligent person can find it within creation, even Rebbe Nachman says this in the name of the AR"I in Torah 1 of his Likutie Mohranan. So Rebbe Nachman seems to see something as being meforash in the AR"I that you are claiming doesn't exist.

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    3. Part 2
      What the Gaon is doing is giving a Maskhana of what the AR"I wrote concerning the Sheveira. It is the same with the Leshem's Klalim, or anyone else. The GR"A explains the Sheveira in a single Klal that wouldn't amount a single Amud in the Eitz Chaim. The Ari takes 11dapim on the discussion of the Sheveira alone, 44 amudim.
      If you really want to get into a full discussion of Sheveira I would be happy to oblige. However, in order that we can have an intelligent and informed conversation I would ask that you first learn the subject well, and not just a single shiur, I would suggest that you listen to Rav Ephraim Goldstein's shiurim on the subject starting with Shiur 16 here, which covers chapter five of Shaar HaNekudot and then continue on through the end of that shaar and then the next shaar, Shaar Sheveirat HaKelim, with his introductory shiurim here. That way you will at least a bit of a poshut understanding of what the Ari is saying regarding the Sheveira so that we can truly discuss it's fine points in relation to the GR"A.
      Now if you want to discuss the fine points of the creation of the Olamot, not just the Sheveira, that is going to require the previous eight Shaarim.
      I am not trying to slight you, but in all honesty you are making some rather big assumptions based on very rudimentary information. You are insisting that I am refusing to admit something. You are correct I am refusing to admit something that does not exist, in light of all the information. In reality you are trying to expand the machloket beyond the boundaries that Rav Triebitz gave it, and even that machloket, which is entirely based on the breakage of malkhut, evaporates when the full weight of Eitz Chaim is brought to bear, not simply a few lines.
      Right now this is comparable to a third grader trying to debate abstract mathematics while he is still learning his multiplication tables.

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    4. @R. Tzadok - "Even Rav Triebitz says they only disagree as to whether the Malkhut broke, wich according to Shaar HaNekudim chapter 5 it did, and Shaar Sheveirat HaKelim it is explained that it didn't. Aside from that the GR"A is not explaining the Sheveirah any differently than the AR"I."

      All my comments re: shevira were directed solely to the issue of shevira in malkhut. If I my earlier comments were not clear about that, I apologize.

      However, you have admitted here that Shaar HaNekudim chapter 5 does in fact indicate that malkhut shattered, so that there is a basis, for those who rely on chapter 5, to conclude that the Gaon and Ari disagreed about an issue that has great ramifications for the fundamental nature of our Universe.

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    5. However, you have admitted here that Shaar HaNekudim chapter 5 does in fact indicate that malkhut shattered, so that there is a basis, for those who rely on chapter 5, to conclude that the Gaon and Ari disagreed about an issue that has great ramifications for the fundamental nature of our Universe.

      That would work, aside from two things.
      1) Only the Baal HaTanya(and than only maybe) relied on Shaar HaNekudot, but that would not accurately reflect the actual shita of the Ari.

      2) If there wasn't Shaar HaTikun, in which these vessels are all rectified and the lights returned to them before the creation of this physical world(which the GR"A also talks about later on in his Pirush of Sifra D'Tzinuta).

      If I had to guess since I don't know the mind of Rav Triebitz, and so far I have not heard back from him on my clarifying questions, I would have to say that he was being Mehalak in order to teach a Prat. Which many mekubalim and meforshim do, but that he doesn't consider it the end of the story.

      However, to be fair, really the GR"A does not argue on the AR"I himself, he does argue on how to understand the AR"I, but not on the AR"I.

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  4. @R. Tzadok - "there is no breakage in Malkhut at all":

    Your statement contradicts your citation from Shaar HaNekudim Chapter 5, above: "only one light came into Malkhut and with all of this it was not able to withstand it and it broke and fell also."

    How can you now say that your second citation, Shaar Sheveira chapter 6, is more thorough than Shaar HaNekudim if it in fact it contradicts Shaar HaNekudim?

    Either the two shaarim contradict each other, in which case your arguments are invalid, or else you have failed to understand the more complex Shaar Sheveira which does not in fact contradict Shaar HaNekudim.


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    1. Like I said all of the Meforshim say that Shaar HaNekudot, was dealing with just that, Nekudot. What happens within one of the five Nekudot that make up a Partzuf/Olam, presuming said Nekud has a full set of Sephirot.

      Shaar Sheveirat HaKelim was dealing with a full partzuf, in which case the actual Malkhut didn't break. I explained this in the article. You must have missed it.

      These two Shaarim are only two of five places in which the Arizal speaks about the Sheveira. The other three, also talking about a full partzuf, all agree with the Shaar Sheveirat HaKelim, and that is how the Mekubalim learn it. I only dealt hear with the instances that would have been in the GR"A's hands.

      I would really appreciate it if you want to argue, that you would at least do the work of looking into the various Mefarshim to have some sort of understanding as to what you are talking about.

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  5. @R. Tzadok - "Which is where Chabad differs from everyone else in understanding the AR"I. Even other Chassidim hold that the Mehadura Batra is more reliable":

    Without a doubt, its clear that the Baal HaTanya's opinions represent some of the most extremely influential and accepted shitot among all the Chassidic groups, even when they might well reject the most recent rebbe's opinions.

    This is without even speaking of the great media power and influence of the present Lubavitch movement.

    So considering that it appears there's major uncertainty among even Kabbalah scholars as to the Ari's actual shitot, its not at all unreasonable to recognize the Baal HaTanya's understanding of the Ari's shitot as the de facto, mainsteam, accepted shitot of the Ari at the current stage of history.

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    1. So considering that it appears there's major uncertainty among even Kabbalah scholars as to the Ari's actual shitot, its not at all unreasonable to recognize the Baal HaTanya's understanding of the Ari's shitot as the de facto, mainsteam, accepted shitot of the Ari at the current stage of history.
      Not so. The Remez(who preceded him, as did the Ramchal) as well as the Rashash and the GR"A understand the different then him. So his was not the defacto understanding. Now you are just making stuff up.

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  6. What difference does all this make to a normal person's life?

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    1. Avraham,

      If you can take an hour I suggest you listen to this shiur. Because Rav Golstein views this chapter as only an introduction to the larger inyan of Sheveirah, as he received it from his teachers Rav Moshe Shchatz and Rav Weintraub ZTzUK"L, he brings it down to a very very practical and musardik level here.

      Quite honestly I am afraid to bring things down to that level publicly, however, Rav Goldstein is the Kabbalist I only hope to be one day, so he undoubtedly knows better than me what can and cannot be shared publicly.

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  7. Alleged correspondence between the Gra and the Rashash.

    Perhaps you can refer us to a published source for this?

    Rabbi Michael Tzadok:
    Sefer Ahavat Shalom, by Rav Yaakov Hillel.

    Question: Page number???

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  8. Rabbi Eidensohn (Daas Torah),

    Could you please ask Rav Meir Triebetz to write a response to R. Tzadok's claim that "there is no doubt that the GR"A and the AR"I are saying the same thing (re: shevira and its effect on this Universe)"?

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    1. bli neder - he just made a chasuna. it is also difficult to get him to put things in writing but I'll ask him.

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    2. He said he doesn't want to get into a discussion of kabbala on a blog. I hope to persuade him to give a shiur on the topic

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  9. I've summarized a bit here for Rav Yehudah (Alfasi) and he'd like to say, all this pilpul is meaningless - anyone who can speak so well on the kabbalah should focus their attention on the Kavanot, daven with them, not merely study them (as was the express intention of the Rashash) and encourage others to do so, as well. B'kitzur - tzarich l'chaven!

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