Chazal tell us that at the end of days, we will be in the galus of gaiva but within that galus, it will be a galus of taiva within that gaiva. In other words, our desires will have an imbalance in water that flood us and push us to grab onto a strength that has an imbalance in fire.
From the shiurim from Rabbi Moshe Weinberger on Rabbi Itamar Schwartz’s Da Es Midosecha, we learn that the root elements of air, water, fire and earth were formed in that order….gas, liquid, radioactive and solid.
The two roots that are at odds with each other are water and fire, liquid and radioactive. These are opposites that seemingly do not co-exist. Yet gas/air, which is movement, is able to bring the moisture from the water and the warmth of the fire to a balance. This balance is called tiferet, Yaakov Aveinu who brought the chesed of Avraham into balance with the gevurah of Yitzchok and who struggled with the soul of Esav and prevailed, for which he is given the name Yisroel.
Yosef HaTzaddik is known by this name because of the test he had regarding the yesod, where he overcame a strong desire because of his devotion to Hashem. Seeing an image of his father’s face – the face of Yaakov, who brought gevurah to be balanced by chesed into tiferet – aligned Yosef with Torah to rise above the urges and desires of his drives.
Torah is what frees us from gaiva as well as taiva, teaches the Vilna Gaon.
When we were released from slavery, our freedom began when we received the Torah, a tree of life that helps us to lift ourselves out of the two kelipas, taiva and gaiva, that formed when we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When we uplift our souls through Torah, we embark on a pathway of the tree of life, one that unifies us with Hashem and each other.
When we are caught up in our desires, especially our desire for honor, we might grab whatever strength we can to assure that our needs will be met. This is often because we have intellectual awareness of Hashem that does not give us the heartfelt sense that if we trust in Him, in ein od milvado, our bodily needs might not be met. Thus we turn to blame and shame and wielding words and power. But if we take the time, we might notice that we are listening to an inner message that is “bearing false witness” or “kidnapping” and if we see how our strength might be running to these do not category commandments, we can take a moment and reflect further…do I see that Hashem is One Who Loves me? Am I worshipping something other than Hashem if I follow this message? Once we see that our inner message is running at full speed into the dark and headed for something that puts up a wall between Hashem and our soul, we can stop and cry out and return….and THIS is what Hashem wants from us, to recognize we are a creation, He the Creator, and that without Him we are unable to do anything. Yet at the same time, He is placing us in contact with the actual elements of creation, earth wind water and fire, giving us the opportunity of a lifetime to use our real free will to ask Him to positively impact and bring into balance these four elements so that He may be seen in this world through our speech and deeds.
With emunah and mature spirituality, our ruach is capable of asking Hashem to please help us rise above our urges and impulses, as did Yosef HaTzaddik, that it is our want to NOT want the strength we are using to try to secure our desire and that instead, we ask that the strength become part of the simcha of our inner being in being connected only to truth, to Hashem’s lovingkindness, so that we may feel and reveal only His Compassion and Torah.
When we love Hashem and increase our love as much as we can, inspired by Yaakov Aveinu and Yosef HaTzaddik, our own ruach (inner movement, wind) is now drawing the moisture of Hashem’s love to quiet the dryness of the imbalance in the element of fire we may be experiencing.
As we intentionally intertwine the root elements, we form an integration of the elements and house them in our hearts, the flesh that is made from the earth. Our prayerful requests and love for Hashem and willingness to dedicate the purity of the faith in our hearts to Hashem alone and no other is the effort that stands as our eternal identity. Because we have come closer to Hashem in this way, the emotions that we feel shift as well, because these are branches of the root elements.