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The Idra: A Rectification for Eternity

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

We saw before that the Zohar form the basis for all the Kabbalistic knowledge we have nowadays. It was composed by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi) with his 9 colleagues which were collectively called “Idra”. The “Idra” however is more often related to the most important passages of the Zohar that explain how the spiritual worlds are arranged. They speak about how the spiritual systems are organized and how they interrelate. It also mentions many of the angels that serve Hashem and how they interact.

The Idra Rabbah and Idra Zuta

The Idra Rabbah (Greater Assembly) talks mainly about the Partzufim (spiritual systems) of Chokhmah (wisdom) and Bina (understanding). It was spoken in the forest together with the 9 other sages: Rabbi Eliezer his son, Rabbi Abba, Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Yossi bar Yaakov, Rabbi Yitzchak, Rabbi Chizkiyah bar Rav, Rabbi Chiyya, Rabbi Yossi and Rabbi Yaakov. Rabbi Yossi bar Yaakov, Rabbi Chezkiyah bar Rav and Rabbi Yaakov passed away and were not present in the Idra Zuta.

On the other hand, the Idra Zuta (Minor Assembly) focuses on the 6 Sephirot (Kindness, Strength, Beauty, Victory, Splendor, Foundation) plus Malkhut (Kingship). It was spoken when Rabbi Shimon was on his deathbed with 6 remaining colleagues while a cyclone of fire kept everyone else outside. It was a tremendously dramatic moment and the colleagues began trembling, without knowing the cause. Rashbi then says he hears then the symphony from Heaven and tells everyone that Hashem together with the greatest Tzaddikim came to hear his last words before departing. When that happens, he’s escorted by the sages and a cloud of fire to be buried in Meron.

In the Idra, each one of the colleagues is then called to explain the incredibly deep secrets of the spiritual worlds, from which his soul emanates. They explain and each time Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai happily blesses them with ever more blessings.

Without the Idra, we’d definitely not have neither Kabbalah or Chassidut nowadays.

Why the Idra?

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai starts the Idra Rabbah rhetorically asking his colleagues “how long will you continue to dwell on the [theory of] one column?”. This refers to the primeval state of the first emanations from Ein Sof which were arranged in one column only. Because these primordial sephirot didn’t interact with and gave their light to each other, they broke. After this, Rashbi explains, Hashem rectified them forming the world of Atzilut, where the Sephirot were rearranged in 3 columns (the one on the right related to Kindness, the left to Strength, and the middle to Beauty/Compassion). There are incredible secrets surrounding this idea, one of which is that we can only be whole when we are part of the whole and let go of our egotistical desires, to give to those in need.

Moreover, the Idra then was a massive rectification needed to not only uphold the knowledge of Kabbalah but also guarantee the continuation of the world. It also enabled the spiritual worlds to illuminate and be sustained throughout the generations since, in the Idra Zuta, we also learn about the holy lights emanating from Keter (crown), which include the awesome Tikkuney Diknah, Nimim and Hivartei (different names for the “strands of beard”) that provide overwhelming mercy and compassion to Creation, and without which the world could not continue. The Idra then shows us a little bit of the overwhelming love Hashem has for all his Creations and wants us to succeed.

Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, one of the greatest Kabbalists of the previous century, used to study the whole Idra Rabbah and Idra Zuta every Shabbat. Incredibly, he said that the entire knowledge of Kabbalah is included in them! One of his famous Segulot to bring any wish come true is, in fact, to recite the complete Idra at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron. It might take around 5 hours to complete that but many people testify to the efficacy of this segulah, as it generates tremendous happiness and opens up many gates in Heaven.

Surprisingly, we know the location of the Idra is located in the north, in Kadita, as was revealed to us by the Arizal. He himself used to teach his disciples there and sit in the place of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. May the merit of the sages of the Idra help us come ever closer to Hashem.

In Summary

It is indeed very important to go beyond looks as they can be very deceiving and our Rabbis cautioned us against that. The simple meaning is that the soul is much deeper than what can be readily seen. In fact we see many rabbis that married women with certain health issues and visible scars and when asked by their students simply replied they never noticed out of their love for them.

This heightened spiritual sensitivity even caused R’ Aryeh Levin from Jerusalem to tell the doctor “my wife’s leg is hurting us” as he felt the pain as was his own.

This is progression is particularly important during old age, when physical beauty wanes and a man must appreciate his wife’s spiritual beauty which should only become greater with time.

This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!

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