Before the Creation of our world, we experienced the unlimited Light of the Creator in perfect simplicity. When our world was created, however, the Light was removed so that we could earn it, but the residue of that Endless Light remained. That residue is called Reshimu. Consider if you had mixed several different liquids together in a single glass and then emptied the glass. The drops left behind would still contain a mixture of every one of those liquids within it. The same is true of the Reshimu. It contains within it every aspect of the Light that we once experienced.
According to Rav Ashlag in Ten Luminous Emanations, the source of all our hope comes from a connection to this residue. It reminds our souls of the endless blessings we once had and pushes us to keep striving towards a deeper connection with the Light. It is what awakens our desire. There cannot be any desire, small or large, within the Supernal Worlds or the lower worlds, that does not stem from the Reshimu.
When we get thirsty and have a desire for water, for instance, an aspect of that desire comes from the Reshimu. Most people think, “I want water because I am thirsty and have a desire to drink.” We believe the desire is the cause, and the fulfillment we experience from drinking it is the effect. But Rav Ashlag teaches here that this is actually backwards. The only way that a desire is awakened is if there was once a fulfillment of that desire. We cannot desire water if we have never tasted it and then had it taken away from us. The Reshimu gives us a taste of the Light so that we can grow a desire to reconnect with the Endless Light. Our desire is not the cause that allows Light into our lives - the Light is the cause of our desire.
So much of the world is overrun with selfish desires to fulfill the ego, to put down other people, for destruction. But even those desires are rooted in the Reshimu. Rav Ashlag does not differentiate between good and bad desires – he teaches us that all desires stem from the Reshimu. The question is, how do we choose to use the Reshimu?
Every person in his life is given a reservoir of Reshimu – an exact measurement of what our souls need in order to fulfill our spiritual purpose. We can use it to build a desire for the Light, bringing us slightly closer to completing our spiritual work, or we can use it to awaken and fulfill selfish desires. Both desires still come from the Reshimu. The difference is that when we awaken a desire for negative or selfish things, we use up our reservoir of Reshimu. Once we use it, it is gone! In order to fulfill our purpose, we need all of our Reshimu. If we use 50% of it towards selfish desires, that half is gone, and the furthest we can go is 50% to our spiritual goal, because we won’t have the motivation to go the other half.
We can start to understand, then, how our negative actions aren’t just acting upon some negative desire we have, but that we are actually drawing from our limited supply of Reshimu. When a person has a great desire for something really negative, he has awakened a great desire that came all the way from the Endless World. It is the Light saying, “I am here to fulfill you!” Unfortunately, what often happens is we disregard that awakening and use it for something negative. Therefore, these negative desires do not come from our own internal selfish nature, but from the Light wanting to fulfill us. The Light is what awakens our desire, and then we have a choice: are we going to manifest our desire in a positive way to push us forward or in a negative way?
The kabbalists teach that you cannot live with two desires. You cannot be both selfish and selfless. The more that we have selfish desires, the more we diminish our desire for the Light of the Creator. What we hopefully realize through this teaching is that, if we want to reach our spiritual goals, we must push ourselves to awaken our desire that is rooted in the Reshimu and use it for its true purpose: to connect once again to the Endless Light of perfection.
*Adapted from Michael Berg’s Ten Luminous Emanations lesson 36.