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Holy Sparks #5: Why Not Antarctica?

May 9, 2009 | by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

Some spots on earth are merely storage halls of Holy Sparks, until the time comes for each spark to be released.

Let's face it. If being sent to the "four corners of the earth" is to be taken literally, there are still plenty of places the Jewish people have not yet moved to, willingly or unwillingly. Not that anyone else has moved there either, but still, for Jews uncomfortable with the Middle East situation and not 100 percent secure in America (or England or France or South Africa or Argentina), the Great White North, or the Great White South, might be a last ditch option. Not to mention the Sahara Desert...

Why not? It might be far easier to weather the cold and polar bears, and avoid all the social, political and religions tensions. Maybe God has one more final exile in mind for the Jewish people, a much colder one, after which time we'll have gone to all those corners and be ready to come home, once and for all.

When God created the world, He separated out a large portion of [holy sparks] to make all that was to come into existence throughout the six days of creation. What remained after that (of the sparks from the world of Tohu), the Almighty left behind for man to rectify through his actions, throughout the generations until the arrival of Moshiach.

They were set aside and given place in all the deserts throughout the world, from where they ascend and are constantly undergoing rectification. What this means is that they are drawn from the portions of the desert to places of settlement, where they become revealed and rectified as necessary.

They represent the new and additional strength of each yield from the land, which results in straw for animals and wheat from which man makes his bread, or anything that is "quarried" from the ground. As it is written, 'For silver has a source and there is a place where they refine gold' (Job 28:1). All of it is the result of the rejuvenation which flows into the places of settlement from the places of desert. (Sefer HaKlalim, Klal 19:2)

At first reading, this sounds like a difficult concept to understand. However, as we will see, not only does it makes perfect sense, but it helps us better appreciate a miracle of life that we may otherwise take for granted.


Why are there new crops every year? Why is there plenty in some years, and famine in others? Why does the ground at times produce nothing at all, let alone food that we can eat and enjoy? We may know why this occurs on a physical level, but what is the spiritual mechanism?

Holy Sparks, of course.

Like a time capsule, each Holy Spark of history has its own moment in time to be realized and used throughout the course of six millennia, before returning to its source Above. Who determines when that moment is and where it is to be used? God Himself, Who moves the sparks to wherever He wants, in order to help a person, nation, and the world to fulfill its potential and role on the stage of world history. Only God can be so precise.

God has an elaborate system for moving sparks around, so they're available when and where we need them.

God has a whole system for doing it, and right under our very noses, too. The life that we take for granted in a world that we are used to, is really a very sophisticated and elaborate system for moving sparks around, so they can be available when and where we need them.

For example, a simple wind moving north from the Sahara Desert toward a big city may be carrying dust filled with Holy Sparks, just waiting to land on the soil of some community to bring life to the ground, which in turn can bring life to animals. This in turn brings life to people who can use the Holy Sparks for a Godly purpose -- thereby expending them and sending them on their way back to the source.

Contrary to assumption, cornflakes do not grow on the shelf of the local supermarket. They grow out in a field that was nourished by Holy Sparks, without which all the irrigation in the world could not make a difference.

Similarly, what gives a vitamin its power is the sparks contained within, which are invisible to the scientist and doctor. Why else would one entity be stronger or weaker than another in terms of accomplishing a specific task?

It all comes down to the sparks inside -- the nature of a specific spark and its potential. Why one place in the world is inhabitable and why one is not depends on the sparks there, and their potential to maintain life on any level. How that particular place responds to external conditions and human activity will depend on its spiritual make-up -- that is, the sparks designated to be there.

Think of it as a spiritual gene pool. Each spark has a different potential to create, vis a vis the other sparks. Appreciating the vastness of life and its closeness to unlimited potential, is another way of appreciating the vast spiritual pool of Holy Sparks. From there we can begin to appreciate a little of the wisdom God used to make creation, and with which He continues to maintain creation every moment of the day, all throughout history.


However, the question we came to answer was why there are no longer any "corners" of the world where the Jewish people can go. The answer is that the deserts, whether they are frozen or made from sand, seem to be places not meant to be inhabited by humans.

Of course, if we had to, we could build some kind of enclosed city in the Arctic Circle, or in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Knowing human ingenuity, we'd figure out some way to sustain life within it.

When Adam left the Garden of Eden, he designated specific places on earth to be inhabitable.

However, such areas in the world are not "natural" human habitats, and at this late time in history it seems unlikely that they will become so. More than likely they are wastelands because God ordained them as places that man will not live en masse, so that they can remain as storage halls of Holy Sparks, until the time comes for each individual spark to be released and its potential realized.

In fact, the Talmud says that when Adam left the Garden of Eden, he designated specific places on earth that would be inhabitable (Brachot 31a).

Perhaps Holy Sparks are the reason why there are no more "corners" of the earth for the Jewish people to flee to, as they have continually done throughout their long, arduous journey toward the end of history and the Final Redemption.


In any case, the Jews are in the final exile of history: Golut Edom -- the Exile of Edom, Eisav's descendants. It began with the Romans back at the destruction of the Second Temple, and in the 2,000 years since, we've been everywhere Edom has made his home -- whether in Europe, Russia, or America.

We've been nearly everywhere mankind has ever settled.

Now it's time to go home.

The Jewish year is 5762. According to the Zohar's calculation, with which the great kabbalist Rabbi Shlomo Elyashiv seems to concur, "Resurrection of the Dead" is destined to begin no later than 28 years from now. By that time, the Zohar also explains, all the exiled Jews remaining at the end of history will have to be gathered in, and Moshiach will have already rid the world of evil.

By this time, the sparks of history will have to already be expended and returned to their sources Above.

Rome wasn't built in a day, and it probably would take a lot longer to build a thriving community in inhospitable Antarctica. No matter how we look at it, if life for the Jewish people takes a turn for the worst, and the "Lavans" of today no longer look at us with the same smile as they did yesterday, then we need to think about whether we have perhaps exhausted the sparks.

If our work is finished, then staying around may defeat our purpose. And in the end, defeat us, too.

See Holy Sparks Part 1: Exile and Redemption
See Holy Sparks #2: The Contractor Who Couldn't Say Goodbye
Holy Sparks Part 3: Soul Food
Holy Sparks Part 4: The Purpose of Creation

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