Tefillah - 019 Revealing Oneness
In Shemoneh Esrei, after we say הגדול הגבור והנורא which are each unique revelations of Hashem in a person’s life, represented by each of our Avos we say קל עליון “The Almighty One On High.”
Keil Elyonis a higher aspect of His G-dliness. It is revealed through the next words of Shemoneh Esrei הגומל חסדים טובים “He who bestows good kindness.”
What is the meaning of Keil Elyon?
Chazal say that Hashem is always arranging matches in Heaven. Everything in Creation has opposing forces; for example, heaven and earth, man and woman, etc. Hashem pairs matches in Heaven, meaning, He takes opposite forces and combines them, even though they are opposites.
The depth behind this is that each day, Hashem combines opposite forces in Creation and unifies them together.
We, as well, have an avodah to unify Creation, just as Hashem unifies His creations together. Obviously, we cannot unify Creation like Hashem can, but since we have an avodah to resemble Hashem, we have an avodah to bring a degree of unity to Creation.
Let’s make this concept simpler. The Mesillas Yesharim writes that all of life is a test, no matter what situation you are in. The depth of this is that every situation we are in somehow opposes us, and that is the difficulty of our test. We are always being challenged and opposed by various forces in Creation.
Every day, people are being blessed with Chiddushei Torah; new sefarim are printed each day. There is an abundance of holiness that is being poured down onto the world.
But along with this, there is an equal amount of evil that comes to the world to oppose all the holiness. The more spirituality that becomes revealed, the more evil and impurity comes to counter it. That is the rule of Creation – holiness and evil are constantly equal with each other in strength. The same is true for all the evil that is going on in the world. Since there is much evil going on in the world, more opportunities for holiness are given to us, so we can counter all the evil.
If holiness and evil are always equally powerful, why then is it so hard for us to withstand the difficulties in our spiritual situation? It is because a spiritual light that enters Creation can only work for the day it comes in. Today we can’t use yesterday’s spiritual light, because now more evil has entered the world, since yesterday.
Fighting The Yetzer Hora In The 20th Century
In today’s generation, there is an abundance of Torah each day. Each day there are chiddushim; there is a lot of revelation of Hashem today. There never was a generation like today, in which there is much Torah going on; look how many sefarim there are
But because there is so much holiness today coming into the world, there is an equal amount of evil that comes into the world to counter it. There is a lot of hester panim (concealment) today; we don’t know when Moshiach will come. We are very far from the state of Adam HaRishon.
Do we have enough holiness and good revealed in the world to counter all the evil facing us?
If one has a superficial perspective, he focuses solely on the positive points of today’s times, that there is a lot of Torah going on, etc. But if one has an inner perspective, he realizes what is going on. He understands that since there is much holiness being poured into the world, there is an equal amount of evil coming into the world to counter it.
Every person knows he has difficulties. If he doesn’t, his feelings are deadened. The average person knows that he has spiritual difficulties. These are difficulties which our Avos did not face – they are difficulties which were never here before in the world.
Do we have enough good to fight all the evil we face?
There is a great amount of evil and impurity in today’s world. But we have a great, huge light we can use to counter it. It is within reach to each and every Jew. True, we have difficulties which were never here until now. But we have a huge spiritual light as well in our arsenal that we can use to counter all the evil. If not for it, we can’t survive spiritually.
Hashem brings both light and darkness to each generation. The darker our situation, the more light Hashem gives us to dispel the darkness.
If one doesn’t understand what kind of situation we are in today, all he will see is the difficulties of today, and he will despair. Many, many people are grappling with how to survive spiritually in these generations, with all the new evil influences that keep coming into the world. The yetzer hora that was around even 2 years ago is not the same yetzer hora as today. We face a whole new yetzer hora each day!
How do we deal with the new yetzer hora?? This is an age-old question, and it was asked 2 years ago as well. But now we are faced with a new yetzer hora entirely! The yetzer hora today is constantly a new kind of yetzer hora!
Of course, we know that Chazal say that Hashem said, “I created a yetzer hora, and I created a Torah as the remedy.” Torah learning is the remedy, but we need to understand how it can be the remedy. There is no exact guidance from Chazal on how to defeat the yetzer hora of each generation.
Let us try to understand the depth of the war between good and evil that is going today, where our free will is in all this, and based upon that, we can then understand the meaning of “Keil Elyon” and how that makes Hashem into the Gomel Chassadim Tovim.
The Difficulties of The Current Generation Vs. The Previous Generations
Any sensible person knows that the kind of impurity going on today in the world, in the recent years, is not just “a lot” of bad influences we are facing. It’s a whole new kind of impurity that has never been here before! It is because we are in the generation of the “footsteps of Moshiach” (ikvesa d’meshicha), and evil is at its strongest peak.
In previous generations, each generation had a particular hardship that they faced. The Generation of the Flood acted evil in a particular way, the Generation of the Tower of Babel (the dor haflagah) had a problem when it came to believing in Hashem, and the city of Sodom acted evil in a particular way. The Vilna Gaon writes at length about this; the generation of the flood was judged with water, the generation of the Tower was judged with wind, and Sodom was judged by fire, and each of these punishments were parallel to the particular kind of sin which each of these generations were rampant in. Those were different manifestations of evil, but at least it was just one kind of evil in each generation.
In the previous generations, there was the Haskalah movement, the Inquisition, etc. But it was only a test for that particular generation. In today’s generation, all of the evil in the world - since the start of Creation – are all here at once!
The evil today in the world is not just ‘another’ kind of evil that has entered the world. It is rather all of the evil together all at once!
To give an example, in today’s generation, a person can hear news going on at any place in the world, wherever he is. He can hear all the filth and all the evil going on in any place in the world. The kind of evil that exists today can connect a person to all of the evil in the entire world - all at once.
We are speaking here about the entire avodah of our soul in this generation.
There was always a yetzer hora. Chazal say that each of our Avos had a particular yetzer hora in their generation. In the generation of Avraham Avinu, the desire for idolatry was rampant. In the time of Yitzchok, there was a desire for murder. In the time of Yaakov, the desire for adultery was dominant. But in our generation, all the evil is here all at once!
Adam had a test which he had to choose between good and evil, and it was an all-inclusive kind of difficulty which included in it all the kinds of evil together. He failed the test, and ever since then, as the generations went one, each generation received a certain test of evil they faced, but only one kind of evil at a time. But now, when we are in the final generation, our test is similar to Adam’s test: all of the evil is facing us all at once.
Holy Unity Vs. Evil Unity
Now that all the forces of evil have joined together, evil has unified together, and this is a disturbing and cataclysmic kind of unity. Why are we being faced with such a test? It is all being orchestrated of course through a higher wisdom: Hashem’s plan.
When we say Shema Yisrael, the Jewish people declares how Hashem is One and His Name is One. Currently, only the Jewish people are aware that Hashem is the One. In the future, even the non-Jews will recognize Hashem as one; His name will become one upon the entire world, as we say in the end of Aleinu. We don’t know when the redemption will arrive; no one knows, because “matters of the heart are not revealed by the mouth”, but what we know for sure is that He will reveal Himself on that great day of the future.
But the echad which will soon be here in the future is currently being countered by an evil kind of echad: the fact that all evil has come together and unified together to challenge us. This evil kind of echad is responsible for why there are Jews in the world who don’t even know how to say Shema Yisrael.
Good and evil are forces created by Hashem that counter each other. In the final generation, we are not faced with another kind of evil – we are faced with a bond of all kinds of evil that have joined together.
The words here are relevant directly to your personal soul; they are not only meant for certain people to hear. The words here apply to every person, to what the avodah we have in the final generations.
Baseless hatred destroyed the Beis HaMikdash, and it still dances among us, as the Sages state. This is the total opposite of the concept of echad.
The test in this generation is a war of echad vs. echad. It is also a test of baseless hatred and strife. The unification of evil fights our holy power of echad, and the forces of disparity (hatred and strife) are also preventing us from having echad on this world.
If one does not understand what kind of evil we are facing, he isn’t aware of how much impurity we face. Good and evil are warring against each other now; darkness and light are fighting each other.
Our Inheritance From Dovid HaMelech
The avodah of each our Avos are represented by HaGadol (Avraham), HaGibor (Yitzchok) and HaNora (Yaakov). But “Keil Elyon” represents the power of Dovid HaMelech, who is called the “head” of the Avos by our Sages. Dovid HaMelech’s ability is what can enable us to survive the final exile and merit the redemption.
The Avos built our people with their unique middos; Dovid HaMelech revealed to us the power of echad, which can help us survive the final exile. Dovid revealed echad because he was the head of the Avos, and there is only one head. The Avos were three, but Dovid was one.
The only way we can succeed in these days is to utilize the power of “echad”. This is our avodah.
When people wonder why Moshiach hasn’t come yet, there are all kinds of answers: we are lax in lashon hora, tzniyus, etc. It’s true – we can discover that we are lax in all 365 sins of the Torah. But that’s not the root of the problems; those are all just branches of the problems. Those are all examples of the general hester panim (concealment of Hashem) that we are in today, but they are just the details; they do not describe the root of the problems.
Of course, there are many statements of Chazal in which we can see why Moshiach’s arrival is being prevented. Those are all true. But those are all branches of the real problem we have; we have to find out what the root of the problems are, and that will solve all the branches of the problem with it.
The root of all the problems today is because we are missing the power of echad/oneness, giluy ha’echad – to reveal the oneness of Hashem. The words “Keil Elyon” alludes to the revelation of G-dliness which each person can do.
Living A Paradoxical Kind of Existence
In the heart within us – and only in the heart, because the heart is where truth resides – is where echad/oneness can be revealed. The heart can reveal a unity amongst the entire creation – between person, plant, animal and rock.
Practically speaking, when it comes to our actions, we must separate very far from the evil of this world. But at the same time, deep in our soul, we must desire that there be oneness in Creation. Our soul can connect it all together. Our body, though, must be separated from evil, because it is not capable of revealing oneness within Creation. Therefore, our soul can desire unity in the world, but we must distance our physical body from coming into contact with any of the evil on this world.
Oneness means to look at every Creation as being a creation of Hashem, thus, there is no such thing as a bad person. Hashem wants every person to exist, so we must see each person as someone whom Hashem loves. This is the oneness which our heart can realize. However, when it comes to how we actually associate ourselves with the world, we must distance ourselves from all the evil on this world. It is just that deep down in our heart, we should desire that all of Creation be united, that G-dliness be revealed in everything.
Keil Elyon is this power of unity with the world that is unique to a Jew’s soul; a non-Jew does not have this deep power.
Even when we see a fly, we should not dismiss it as some worthless creature, but as a creation of Hashem.
The depth of the avodah of this final generation, as the Gemara says, is “Break the barrel, but save the wine.” On one hand, when it comes to how we act, we must separate from most of the people of the world right now, who mostly act evil. But deep down we must still desire echad. Echad means that you want everyone in Creation to become united together. Although you must distance yourself from people for the time being, deep down you should wish that all of us would be united.
What’s the advice we have to survive this generation? People make asifos (gatherings) for chizuk (inspiration), but this isn’t enough. It is commendable of course, and it is wonderful that G-d fearing people are gathering together to discuss what to do. But it doesn’t help. They will get rewarded of course, but it doesn’t help!!
What, then, can help us? It is when we realize that the test of this generation is that we need the power of echad to counter the united forces of evil that have joined together; the holy kind echad can win against the evil kind of echad.
As we mentioned, we must be very cautious in how we use echad. We must physically separate from the evil people of this world, but deep in our heart we should want that everyone become united together and realize the purpose of Creation, which is to reveal the oneness of Hashem.
May we merit help from Hashem to realize that just as much as there is a tremendous of evil going on in the world today, so is there an equal amount of good and holiness as well which we can use to fight it; and that we should merit to withstand the difficulties and see Moshiach really soon. Amen.
 Yoma 9b