Thursday, October 2, 2008

1:3:86 Two worlds

The duality of the higher worlds and Olam Asiya, the world of action is hinted at throughout the Torah, and this midrash is a prime example. 

In this midrash, while still in the womb, Jacob addresses Esau:  “Esau, my brother, our father has two of us, even as there are two worlds before us – this world and the world-to-come.  In this world there is eating, drinking, and the give-and-take of business.  But with regard to all such activities, the world-to-come is quite different.  If it be your wish, you take this world, and I will take the world-to-come.”

Later, in the face of Jacob’s success when he returned from Laban’s house with wives, children, servants, livestock, and silver and gold, Esau challenges Jacob – why does Jacob make use of Olam Asiya?

Jacob replies that what he has in this world is merely a gift of Hashem for his needs in this world.  Esau then begins to recognize the enormous portion that is Jacob’s – considering how much more Jacob will receive in the world-to-come.

In many Chasidic and classical Jewish accounts, we are accounted to have two souls in us:  Jacob and Esau – animal and divine – eternally struggling.  Especially in these days of teshuva – when ha-satan is confused by the sound of the shofar, and we are drawn close to the King, this midrash reminds us that the power of Ein Sof pervades so strongly that the mere reflection of our share in the world-to-come is visible, to those who can see, in the Olam Asiya.  Indeed, there is an echo between the two worlds:  as we say in Hataras Nedarim before the Rosh Hashana liturgy, explicitly drawing out the parallels of the beis din in this world and in the Divine level, ultimately quoting Devarim 23:6:

“Just as you are released by the court here below, so shall you be released by the Heavenly Court, and it shall make no impression at all.  And all the curses shall turn to blessings, as it is written:  ‘And the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, for the Lord your God loves you.’ ”

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