It is a principle of Torah that the beginning is wedged into the end. The nature of the human body as it will be in the days of Moshiach is the way that it was at the beginning, before the chet Eitz Hada’as, the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. Prior to the sin, the body of man was “pure and clean” without any aspect of evil or waste at all. This body is the Tzelem Elokim (“Divine Image”), also referred to as Adam’s garments in Gan Eden, as mentioned in
Adam was placed in Gan Eden, which, although it is within the physical world, is not visible because it is the pure dimension of “ruchniyus sh’b’gashmiyus”, the spirituality within physicality that is “completely separate from olam hazeh”. The body of Adam Harishon itself was on this level of ruchniyus sh’b’gashmiyus, and dwelled in the refined spirituality of Gan Eden. Gan Eden “was for him what olam hazeh is for us now”.
When Adam and his wife sinned, they mixed in evil and were expelled from Gan Eden. Hashem garbed them in “garments of skins”,8 which cover up the original “garments of light”. Not only his body, but the entire world became garbed in klipa. Following the sin, our entire perception of reality is the reality of klipa. In the words of the Rebbe Rashab: “what we see as physical is not physical. What we see as physical is something attached, which we need to separate…what we see is the result of the chet Eitz Hada’as”. The sin brought into being the olam hazeh that we know: a world of lies—alma d’shikra. As the Rebbe Rayatz says: “This world is called alma d’shikra.
The physical is a lie, for the true existence is the spiritual life force, not the existence of physicality, and the existence of physicality covers up the spiritual life force.”
Chassidus explaines that in the Days of Moshiach the body will achieve complete refinement and return to the pristine level it held before the sin. Man will once again be on the level of Tzelem Elokim, meaning the level of ruchniyus sh’b’gashmiyus. Man will shed the “garments of flesh”, which conceal the light of the neshoma, like a snake sheds its skin. Then the Tzelem Elokim, the “garments of light” will be revealed.
The Two Bodies Within
The effect of the sin—which resulted in the covering of the “garments of light” with “garments of flesh” —can be grasped by what the Arizal states in Eitz Chayim: contained within the material (external) body of man “he has two other bodies; one is the refined and pure body [the Tzelem Elokim, which is the Intellectual Soul]…and the second is from klipas noga and it includes the yetzer tov and the yetzer hara…and it is called the Animal Soul, the nefesh habahamis…and this is the true body which is from klipas noga and it is a gar ment…which is called garments of skin…”
This means that the “coarse body” of flesh which we perceive, which is the “garment” of this world, contains two other bodies: a pure and holy body (the Tzelem Elokim) and the “true body” of klipas noga (the nefesh habahamis, which remains attached to the body of flesh). The Tzelem is described as “the intermediary between the soul and the body”, and while it is relatively spiritual, we will see below that the Rebbe emphasizes that it is actually in the category of physical.
There are two cases in Torah of individuals who are described as having a bodily existence after their passing, Yaakov Avinu and Rabbeinu Hakadosh (R’ Yehudah Hanosi), their being alive after passing refers to their existence in this “second body”, the Tzelem Elokim.
When a neshoma enclothes itself in this Tzelem Elokim and appears to others in the world, it is in the category of physical and thus even able to render halachic decisions.37
The Rebbe said about our relationship to the Rebbe Rayatz after Yud Shevat: “he went up, and we stayed in our places, so we can’t see him.”38 But if we will elevate ourselves, meaning learning Chassidus and inyonei Geulah properly and fulfilling the directives of the Nossi Hador, Hashem will grant us success to open our physical eyes—the eyes of the Intellectual Soul—and we will then see exactly how, in the most elevated and refined manner, the Rebbe is (and all the Rebbeim are) alive in body and soul, chai v’kayam b’guf gashmi k’p shuto mamash!