88. אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה, אִם כָּךְ, מַה זֶּה מֵקִים מֵעָפָר דָּל? אָמַר לוֹ, כְּמַשְׁמָעוֹ, אֲבָל בְּגָוֶן זֶה מֵקִים מֵעָפָר דַּל מִשּׁוּם שֶׁאֵין לוֹ מֵעַצְמוֹ כְּלוּם, וּמֵאוֹתוֹ עָפָר יָצָא דַל שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ כְּלוּם, וּמֵאוֹתוֹ עָפָר כָּל הַפֵּרוֹת וְכָל טוּב הָעוֹלָם יוֹצְאִים מִמֶּנּוּ וּבוֹ נַעֲשִׂים כָּל מַעֲשֵׂי הָעוֹלָם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב (קהלת ג) הַכֹּל הָיָה מִן הֶעָפָר וְהַכֹּל שָׁב אֶל הֶעָפָר.וְשָׁנִינוּ, הַכֹּל הָיָה מִן הֶעָפָר – אֲפִלּוּ גַּלְגַּל חַמָּה, אֲבָל אָבָק לֹא עוֹשֶׂה פֵּרוֹת וְנִצָּנִים [לָעוֹלָם] לְעוֹלָמִים, וּמִשּׁוּם כָּךְ וַיֵּאָבֵק אִישׁ, שֶׁבָּא בְּאוֹתוֹ אָבָק וְרָכַב עָלָיו כְּדֵי לְקַטְרֵג לְיַעֲקֹב.
“וַיִּוָּתֵר יַעֲקֹב לְבַדּוֹ וַיֵּאָבֵק אִישׁ עִמּוֹ עַד עֲלוֹת הַשָּׁחַר.”
“Then Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.”
Rabbi Shimon explains the word ‘וַיֵּאָבֵק’ ‘wrestled’ and says that the three letters ‘אָבק’ from the word means ‘dust’ to tell us that the angel came to Jacob from dust (אבק) that is what is left from a thing that was burnt in a fire.
The difference between dust ‘אבק’ and earth ‘עפר’ is that dust has no value and can never bring fruits, but earth brings all kinds of fruits. This is a rule for the above and the below levels. The Nukva of Zeir Anpin is called ‘earth’ ‘עפר’ and the worlds below her come from her. The dust is the Nukva of Sam-el, who is an ‘other-god’ that doesn’t make fruit and that is why the impure side is called ‘dust’.
Rabbi Yehuda says if earth (עָפָר) is so important, what does it mean (Psalms 113:7) “מְקִימִי מֵעָפָר דָּל מֵאַשְׁפֹּת יָרִים אֶבְיוֹן.”
“He lifts the poor from the earth (עָפָר) and the needy from the garbage dump.”
He explains that earth (עָפָר) is lowly and the aspect of the Nukva that is called ‘earth’ and doesn’t have any power of its own but receives everything from Zeir Anpin. When there is no unification with Z”A, the poor who have nothing come out. When there is a unification of earth, the Nukva with Z”A, all the fruits and all the good in the world come out of it, as it is written;
“הַכֹּל הוֹלֵךְ אֶל מָקוֹם אֶחָד הַכֹּל הָיָה מִן הֶעָפָר וְהַכֹּל שָׁב אֶל הֶעָפָר.”
“All go to one place: all are from the earth (עפר), and all return to earth (עפר).”
We learned that everything came from earth (עפר), and even the sun, but dust (אבק) never makes fruit, and therefore, ‘and a Man wrestled with him’, namely Sam-el, comes riding in the same dust (אבק) to challenge Jacob.
Most translations translate ‘earth’ ‘עפר’ as ‘dust’ so the explanation of the Zohar may sound confusing.
The essence of the study is to teach us that the other side has no light of its own and considered ‘dust’. The Zohar explains this dust as ashes that are left after a fire consumes the energy of a thing. ‘Earth’ (עפר) is the foundation of our world that allows us to manifest everything we wish to bring out of it. When we inject seeds into the earth, it becomes fruitful.
Our body is considered as עפר ‘earth’ as God told Adam after the sin. Genesis 3:19
“בְּזֵעַת אַפֶּיךָ תֹּאכַל לֶחֶם עַד שׁוּבְךָ אֶל הָאֲדָמָה כִּי מִמֶּנָּה לֻקָּחְתָּ כִּי עָפָר אַתָּה וְאֶל עָפָר תָּשׁוּב.”
“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For you are earth (עפר), And to earth (עפר) you shall return.”
We need to work and earn (sweat) to bring out bread from the earth. Every desire we have is in a potential state until we ‘plant’ the seed that is the aspect of unification of Light and vessel.
We can achieve better ‘fruitfulness’ when we invite the Light to be part of our seeds.
There is no special blessing to make when we plant a seed in the ‘earth’ because we can’t tell if the ‘earth’ would accept it, but we can always make our own prayers and meditations to invite Hashem to be part of the process and bless our actions.