“surely it could have been created with a single utterance!”
but the world was created in 10 utterances. Mishnah (Avot 5:1) asks why. we should first remember that 10 is the number of completion, but also the number of “minimum sufficient” from the time of Sodom….Avraham stopped bargaining down the number of righteous whose presence could save the city from utter destruction at 10. not 11, not 9.
just like the sefirot….10, not 11, not 9. not surprising as the sefirot mirror the stops through which the creating of Creation happens. they are sometimes called the 10 building blocks. and the Zohar (III:2b) tells us that the Torah itself is 10-dimensional. and there are those commandments numbering….
10 is also just 1 with nothing next to it…yet it represents the entirety of the made world. 1 is a mirror image of the ein sof (‘without end’), and the world was intended to be other than G’d. what is other than the explicit nature of G’d? well, simply put: many. and 10, as the minimum sufficient for a completion, is the representative of many. but it need be written with only a single numeral-character other than 1, but not a multiple of 1, so to speak. 2 would not do….but 1 next to nothing would. all of Creation amounts to nothing beside the All of G’d. and sadly, the number 10 also represents how G’d is, from the point of view of Creation…in the view of so many humans…. “next to nothing”. that is what hiddenness will getcha.
and yet this particular nothing of 0 is distinct. and this is where hod she b’yesod comes in. for humility in foundation is like the 0 next to the All of 1. and the world is further humbled, if you will, by its brokenness. yet the multiplicity of Creation is also its wonder and splendor. hod is splendor, after all.
bit the Mishnah goes on to explain that there are 2 primary ways of understanding this:
“to exact payment from transgressors who destroy a world of 10 utterances”
notice that it is not to punish transgressors of the 10 commandments, as so many will blithely tell you, but to “exact payment” from them. and what is the payment? t’shuvah, which itself is G’d’s reaction to the broken multiplicity of the world. t’shuvah is return to the oneness that is G’d. that is the payment….a drawing down of multiplicity (the dark side of left) back through adherence to the 10, with a powerful spiritual movement toward cleaving to G’d….becoming 1 with The One.
and the second reason?
“to better reward the righteous who sustain a world of 10 utterances”
and the reward for the tzaddikim? it is being tzaddik at all, for the tzaddik has made hod a yesod, humility and hiddenness is foundational for those who have perfected all 10 attributes and the 10 attributes of their interactions with the Creation around them. hod in yesod. from nothingness in multiplicity to oneness in hiddenness.
a paradoxical world indeed, this world of 10. and we are mindful of it on this 40th day of sefirat haOmer. this is the last set of 10 in the count, after all…..we’ve only 9 days left. for those who like NASA….it’s countdown time in the final couting up.
a paradoxical world of 10 utterances. and we are all in it together. ultimately in shalom, a wholeness of 1….no chaser.
mussar for hod she b’yesod
with another….bein adam l’chaveiro lower your expectations with folks around you…not to think less of them, but simply to require nothing more than what is whole in them. everything beyond that is a multiplicity, and neither of you need that….nor does the world need more man-made fragmenting.
with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo examine your stuff. consider the Morris ideal: have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or find to be beautiful. as stuff goes, peace comes….small really is splendid.
kabbalah for hod she b’yesod
in assiyah….the world of doing/completion in hod we see the small details…all of them. in yesod we see foundations and systems. does the highest level of soul comprose all the details of the lower levels of soul? or does it transcend them, forgetting all that is more earthly. consider the paradox of doing both. the birchat haShachar prayers give thanks for the great and the small. extend them in your prayers today.
in yetzirah….the world of feeling/foundation systems are built of small connections interlinked. a household runs through the work of the mom, the work of the dad, and work now and then by whoever else is in the house. they don’t all do it all….to each a particular. take on a new responsibility in your household (or if you are a mom, give one up). consider what better use of your time you might now make in building new connections in a broader community.
in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation examine the small interlocking pieces of the world…open up a device and see how the processor connects to the storage device connects to the ports, etc. meditate on what sort of cog in the wheel you are. could you be better as a different piece?
in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition Moshe had to wear a veil to enable people to look upon him without being dazzled by the splendid light G’d’s presence had left there. there were 2 sides to that veil…Moshe’s view was not perfectly clear….neither was the view of Moshe from outside the veil. meditate on how we all erect a veil before us, protecting what is private, not seeing what we care not to see. what is proper hiddenness?
kinyan 40 of 48 ways to acquire Torah
Ma’amido al haShalom….Setting Up Others for Peace. Hillel says it very well, pointing to Aharon as the symbol of hod and saying to make his way your foundation. remember that wholeness is 1, not even the roundest of zeroes.