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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

Concerning Bestowal

Article No. 16, 1984

Explaining the matter of bestowal. When a person serves someone whom the world regards as important, the important person doesn’t need to reward him for his service. Rather, the very service of an important person is regarded by him as though he has rewarded him. This means that if one knows that he is an important person, he already enjoys the service and doesn’t need further reward for his service. Instead, the service itself is his pleasure.

But if he is serving an ordinary person, he takes no pleasure in the service and must be rewarded for the service. This means that if he does that same service for an important person, he needs no reward.

If, for example, an important person comes by plane, carrying a small suitcase, many people are waiting for his arrival, and the important person gives his suitcase to someone to take it to the car that will take him home. For this service he wants to give him, say, one hundred dollars. He will certainly refuse to receive from him because the pleasure he derives from his service is more than the hundred dollars he is giving him.

But if he were an ordinary person, he wouldn’t serve him even for money. Instead, he would tell him, “There are porters here; they will carry your suitcase to the car. As for me, it is beneath me to serve you. But since it is the porters’ job, they will be happy to serve you if you pay them.”

It follows that in his same action, there is a difference and significant distinction not in the act, but for whom he does it—if he is doing it for an important person. It depends only on the importance of that individual in that person’s eyes, meaning what he feels about that person’s greatness. It doesn’t matter if he understands that he is an important person or if others around him say that he is an important person; this already gives him the strength to serve him without needing any reward.

According to the above, we should understand the true intention of the one who is serving the important person. Is his intention to enjoy serving him, since he considers it a great privilege? Or is it because he takes great pleasure in serving him? From which source does the pleasure of serving the important person come to him? He doesn’t know. However, he is seeing something natural—that there is great pleasure involved here—so he wants to serve him.

In other words, is his aim that this is an important person, which is why he wants that person to enjoy? Or does he want to serve him because it gives him joy? Meaning, if he could have the same pleasure that he takes in serving him through some other means, would he relinquish this service, since he only wants to serve him because he feels that here he could find a good feeling, and this is why he serves him?

The question is whether the service is because he wants the important person to feel good, the pleasure that he derives from serving him is only a result, but his aim is not for himself but only for the important person to feel good. Or, is he in fact not considering the important person, but all his calculations are about how much pleasure he can derive from it?

And if we asked, “Does it matter with which intention he is working?” The answer is that we should know what vessels of bestowal mean.

There are three discernments that we find in an act of bestowal.

1) He engages in bestowal upon others—whether with his body or with his money—in order to be rewarded for it. In other words, the service itself is not enough to give him pleasure. Instead, he wants to be given something else in return for it. For example, he wants to be given honor in return for his work in bestowal. For that, he has the strength to work. But if he weren’t confident that he would receive honor in return for it, he wouldn’t do what he does for others.

2) He engages in bestowal upon others and does not wish to be given any reward for his work, meaning another thing, something else. Rather, he settles for performing acts of bestowal. It is in his nature to enjoy doing good to others and this is his whole pleasure. Certainly, this is a greater degree than the first, since from here we see that he does things with the aim to do good to others. We should call it, “Bestowing in order to bestow.”

However, if we look a little deeper and scrutinize his real intention in giving to others, does he do all those deeds because he wishes to enjoy—meaning for self-love, since by his nature, he enjoys acts of bestowal—or is his aim that he enjoys others having good things?

In other words, is he enjoying others having a good mood and this is why he tries to do good to others, so they would be in high spirits and enjoy their lives? And if by chance he sees that there is another person, and that person would succeed more than he in doing what he wishes to do for his town’s people, would he relinquish his pleasure in performing acts of bestowal and try to have the other person do it?

Indeed, if that person—who engages in acts of bestowal without wanting any reward for his work—couldn’t make the concession of having the other person do those things for his town’s people, although he knows the other person is more competent, we still cannot call this “bestowing in order to bestow,” since at the end of the day, self-love is his determining factor.

3) He is working in order to not receive any reward. And even if he sees that there is another person who is more competent, he relinquishes his pleasure in giving to others and cares only for the well-being of the other. This is called “bestowing in order to bestow.”

Thus, there is broad scrutiny that must be made here about his real intention: whether he wants high spirits for himself and this is why he serves him, or is he aiming to give high spirits to the important person.

To understand the above distinction, we can understand the matter by a person picturing for himself that he is a very important person, and this is why he wishes to please him, so he would be in high spirits, and this is why he wants to serve him. But during the service that he does for him, he himself is in high spirits and feels elated. Now he feels that all the pleasures he would feel in his life are nothing compared to what he is feeling now, since he is serving the most important person in the world, and he has no words to describe the contentment he derives from wanting to make that important person be in high spirits.

Now he can scrutinize himself, meaning what is his aim in wanting to give contentment to the important person— is he caring for his own good, meaning that he wants to delight him because it would give him high spirits—or is he aiming only for the important person to enjoy, so the important person will have high spirits, and he has a great desire to serve him only because of the greatness of that person?

Thus, although during the service he feels the great pleasure that is derived during the service, still, if he knows that there is someone who would give more contentment to the important person if he were to serve him, he concedes his own pleasure, which he can feel during the service. Instead, he wishes wholeheartedly for the other to do this service because it would bring him more contentment than if he were to serve him.

It therefore follows that if he agrees to concede his service—even though he experiences great delight from his service, and yet, to benefit the important person and make him more content, he relinquishes it because he is not thinking of himself but only of the benefit of the important person—this is considered that he has no intention of self-benefit. Instead, it is all in order to bestow and he has no consideration of himself. At that time, he has the complete scrutiny, for he cannot deceive himself, and this is called, “complete bestowal.”

However, we should know that one cannot achieve this on his own. Rather, it is said about that (Kidushin, 30), “Man’s inclination overcomes him each day and seeks to kill him, as it is said, ‘The wicked watches the righteous, and seeks to slay him.’ And if the Creator did not help him, he would not overcome it, as it is said, ‘The Lord will not leave him in his hand.’”

This means that first, one must see if he has the strength to come to be able to act with the aim to bestow contentment upon the Creator. Then, when he has already come to realize that he cannot achieve it by himself, that person focuses his Torah and Mitzvot on a single point, which is that “the light in it reforms him,” that this will be the only reward that he wants from the Torah and Mitzvot. In other words, the reward for his labor will be for the Creator to give him this strength called “the power of bestowal.”

There is a rule that one who makes an effort, meaning cancels his rest, it is because he wants something, since he knows that without labor he will not be given, so he must toil. For this reason, a person who exerts to keep Torah and Mitzvot must certainly be missing something, and this is why he exerts in Torah and Mitzvot, to obtain what he wishes through it.

Accordingly, one must pay attention and contemplate what he wants—what is the reward that he wants for his work—before he begins his work in serving the Creator. Or, put simply, what is the reason that compels him to engage in Torah and Mitzvot? Then, when he determines what he needs, for which he must toil, a person begins to think very hard until it is difficult for him to know what he really wants.

This is why there are many people who, when they begin to contemplate the purpose of their work cannot determine the real goal. For this reason, they say, “Why should we tire ourselves with scrutinizing?” Instead, they work without any purpose and say, “We are working for the next world.”

And what is the next world? “Why should we think about that? We only believe that it’s good and settle for that. When we receive the reward of the next world, then we’ll know what it is. Why should we get into scrutinies?”

Only a few say that there is the matter of Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, and that to achieve Dvekut they must achieve equivalence of form, meaning “As He is merciful, you, too, are merciful.” And then he begins to try to achieve equivalence of form—that all his actions will be in bestowal—for only then the restriction and concealment that exist in the world are removed from him and he begins to feel the Kedusha [holiness].

But when he begins to reach the degree of bestowal in his work, he sees that he is very far from it, that he has no desire for a thought, word, or deed that he would have the ability to aim in order to bestow. And then he doesn’t know what to do to obtain the power of bestowal. And each time he adds effort, he sees that this whole matter is far from him. In the end, he realizes that it is not humanly possible that he will ever reach it.

At that time, he realizes that only the Creator can help him, and only then does he understand that he must engage in Torah and Mitzvot in order to receive reward. And the reward for his labor will be for the Creator to give him the power of bestowal. This is the reward that he hopes for, since he wants to achieve Dvekut with the Creator, which is equivalence of form, meaning bestowal.

And this is the only reward he hopes for—that through his toil in Torah and Mitzvot he will be given what he cannot obtain by himself, and instead, he needs another to give him. It is like labor in corporeality: since one cannot obtain money by himself, he works, and in return, he is paid money. Likewise, in spirituality, what he cannot obtain by himself, he needs someone to give it to him, so this is what we call “reward.”

Therefore, when a person wishes to achieve the quality of bestowal because he wants to achieve Dvekut with the Creator, and he cannot obtain this quality, but needs the Creator to give it to him, that which he wants to be given is called “reward.” And since there is a rule that if one wants reward he must make an effort and work, he keeps Torah and Mitzvot to be given this reward, which is called “the power of bestowal,” meaning to exit self-love and receive a desire to have the strength to engage only in love of others.

This is the meaning of, “One should always engage in Torah and Mitzvot in Lo Lishma [not for Her name], for from Lo Lishma one comes to Lishma [for Her name] because the light in it reforms him.” Thus, through the labor in Torah and Mitzvot to achieve Lishma, he will achieve the degree of Lishma by laboring first. This is why he is rewarded with the light in it, which reforms him, and it is considered that he was given the power of bestowal from above.

However, we should ask, “Why does he first need to exert himself and afterwards be given the light of Torah? Why is he not given the light of Torah immediately, so it will reform him instantly? Also, why exert and toil for nothing and waste time for nothing? Wouldn’t it be better if he were given the light right at the beginning of his work, meaning that he would immediately receive the light and would immediately begin his work in Lishma?”

The thing is that there is no light without a Kli [vessel], and a Kli means a desire. In other words, when a person has a need and craves to satisfy that need, this is called “a Kli.” Only then, when he has a Kli—meaning a desire for some fulfillment—can it be said that he is given the filling and he is content with the filling that he was given, since this is what he craved. Reward is considered a fulfillment, when the craving receives. Moreover, the measure of the importance of the fulfillment depends on the measure of the craving. And by the measure of his suffering, to that extent one enjoys the fulfillment.

For this reason, it is impossible to give a person a light that will reform him when he has no desire for it whatsoever. This is because reforming him means he will lose the power of self-love and receive the power of love of others.

If a person has no desire to exit self-love, and he is told, “Do some work and in return you will have no desire for self-love,” he does not regard it as a reward. On the contrary, he thinks that for the workhe did for the owner, he should have rewarded him in return for his labor. But in return, he is giving him something very bad, and so much so that he would lose all the self-love in an instant. Who would agree to that?

For this reason, first one must study in Lo Lishma, so that through it, the body will assist him, since a person is willing to give up a small pleasure to receive a great pleasure. But by nature, one is incapable of imagining pleasure unless it is based on self-love. Therefore, he is told that he will be rewarded for engaging in Torah and Mitzvot. This is not a lie, for he will certainly be rewarded. In other words, he is told that for his effort in Torah and Mitzvot, he will be rewarded, and this is the truth, since he will indeed be rewarded, but the reward will change.

For example, a father tells his child, “If you are a good boy, I will buy you a toy car, a plastic car.” Afterwards, the father goes abroad and returns several years later. The son has already grown, and he comes to his father and tells him, “Dad, before you went abroad, you promised me a plastic toy car.” So his father goes and buys him a real car, one that can travel great distances.

The son is already clever and understands that now is not the time for a plastic car, but for a real car. Is this considered a deception by his father? Of course not! Instead, now the boy sees that when he was a child, he could only understand a trifle reward.

Here, too, he begins with a trifling reward, called Lo Lishma, meaning he is waiting to be rewarded with something that is worthless compared to the real reward that he will receive—being rewarded with Lishma, which is the Kli in which one can receive the delight and pleasure that the Creator wishes to impart. Those are the real pleasures.

It follows that by telling him to work in Lo Lishma, meaning to receive a reward, this is true, meaning that when he aims in order to bestow, he will be rewarded, too. The only falsehood is in the actual reward. While a person is in Lo Lishma, he thinks that he will be given a different reward, that the Kli that receives it is called “self-love.”

But afterwards, when a person grows, he begins to understand that the Kelim [vessels] that actually receive the reward are the Kelim of bestowal, that it is precisely through those Kelim that the real delight and pleasure is received. At that time, he feels that he is the happiest man on earth. But the reward that he wished to receive while he was in Lo Lishma could only be a reward suitable for a little boy.

Thus, when teaching to receive reward and pleasure for one’s work in Lo Lishma, it is not considered a lie, since he did not lose anything by his reward being exchanged for a greater reward. We should only explain that the Lo Lishma, meaning this reward, is not the real name, as he thinks. Instead, the reward has a different name than what he thought. However, a reward remains a reward, and the reward is not changed; only the name of the reward changes—from a false and imaginary reward to a true reward.

From all the above, it follows that the main thing that a person needs in return for his toil in Torah and Mitzvot is for the Creator to give him the vessels of bestowal, which one cannot obtain by himself because they are contrary to nature. However, this is a gift from above—that his reward will be to always wait for the time when he can bring contentment to the Creator. And since this is the reward that he awaits, this is called “his reward.”

To understand the above, we should look in “General Preface to the Tree of Life” (Item 3), where it is written, “The root of the darkness is the Masach in the Kli of Malchut, and the root of the reward is rooted in the Reflected Light that comes out through a Zivug de Hakaa.”

There he offers the root to what we see in this world—that everything that we see in this world is a branch that extends from the roots, from the upper worlds. He says there, “The root of the labor that a person feels in this world extends from the root of the Masach in the Kli of Malchut.”

This means that the Kli that the creatures have is called “a desire to receive pleasure,” which the Creator created because of His desire to delight His creatures. Hence, He created in the creatures a desire to receive pleasure. In the upper Sefirot, this is called Malchut.

Afterwards, we learn that there was a Tzimtzum [restriction]. This means that one doesn’t want to be a receiver because he wants equivalence of form with the Creator; hence, a rule was made in the Kedusha [holiness] that nothing is received unless there is an aim to bestow.

This is the meaning of the correction of the Masach [screen]. Since we are speaking of upper lights, not wanting to receive light is called “a Masach.” It is like a person who places a curtain or a veil when the sun shines too brightly and he doesn’t want to receive the sunlight, so that the sun will not shine into the house.

Hence, when speaking of upper lights, although Malchut had a great desire and craving to receive the light of pleasure, she still relinquished the pleasure, not receiving it because she wanted equivalence of form. This is called “labor,” meaning doing something against her will preventing herself from receiving the pleasure.

In the corporeal world, too, when a person must give up some pleasure, it is considered an effort. For example, if a person enjoys rest, and for some reason must give up his rest and do something, this is called “labor.”

He also shows us how, when the corporeal branch receives a reward, where it is rooted in the upper worlds. He shows us that the root of the reward extends from the Reflected Light—the desire to bestow that comes out of the Zivug de Hakaa that occurred between the upper light and the Masach and Aviut [thickness] (see The Study of the Ten Sefirot, Part 4, Item 8). He writes, “The clothing Reflected Light comes out as a result of two forces.”

In spirituality, a Zivug de Hakaa means that if two things are opposite to one another, it is regarded as Hakaa [striking/beating]. This means that on the one hand, one truly wants that thing because he sees that it will give him immense pleasure, but on the other hand, he overcomes and does not receive it because he wants equivalence of form.

Indeed, there are two desires here: 1) One’s desire to receive pleasure, and 2) his desire for equivalence of form. And of those two, a new thing is born, called “clothing Reflected Light.” With this force, he can later obtain the upper abundance because this Reflected Light is the appropriate Kli for reception of the bounty.

In other words, with this Kli, he has two things: 1) He receives the pleasure that is found in the upper abundance, which comes from the thought of creation, to do good to His creations. 2) At the same time, he finds himself in equivalence of form, which is the second discernment that he has upon reception of the abundance.

From all the above, we see that the whole reward is only the Reflected Light, which is the power of bestowal that the lower one receives from the upper one, which he calls “Reflected Light,” meaning what the lower one gives to the upper one. This means that the abundance that initially came from the Creator is called “Direct Light,” as it is written, “God created man straight.” It is as we learn, that the thought of creation was to do good to His creations, meaning for the lower ones to receive abundance, and this is called “straight.”

But the receivers of the abundance wish for equivalence of form, hence we have a correction called “Reflected Light.” This means that the receiver of the abundance does not receive it because he wishes to enjoy, but because he wishes to give to the upper one. In other words, as the upper wishes for the receiver to enjoy, the receiver of the abundance aims to return pleasure to the giver, meaning for the upper one to enjoy the fulfillment of His thought. It therefore follows that the reward is primarily the Reflected Light, meaning the power of bestowal that the lower one receives from the upper one.

But we should still understand why we say that the Kli, which is called “power of bestowal,” is the whole reward. After all, “reward” implies something that is received. We say, “I work for the pay,” or we say that the purpose of creation is to do good to His creations, meaning that they will receive reward. And here we are saying that the reward is called “the power of giving.” And what do we understand? That the reward should be for a person to be imparted with attaining Godliness and the secrets of Torah, and so on. But why is he saying that the reward is in obtaining the power of giving, meaning the power of bestowal? Moreover, he is telling us that this extends from the upper root, called “Reflected Light.”

There is a known rule that the cow wants to nurse more than the calf wants to suckle. It therefore follows that the Creator wishes to give to the creatures more than the creatures wish to receive. So who is inhibiting? We must remember the Tzimtzum occurred so that the creatures would have equivalence of form. This is a correction to prevent the bread of shame, which extends from our root because the Creator is about bestowal and not reception, for He has no needs and there is no such thing as reception in Him. Thus, according to the rule that exists in our nature—that each branch wishes to resemble its root—when the lower one must carry out an action that is not present in the root, he feels unpleasantness.

It follows that to receive abundance, which is light and pleasure, one does not need to do anything for it, since the Creator want to give to the creature more than the creature wants to receive. However, the creature has no Kli in which to enjoy the pleasures that he will be given, due to the shame. It follows that the only reward we need is the Kli, which is called “the power of bestowal.” Thus, all we need are Kelim [plural of Kli], and not lights, and this is why the reward is primarily the power of bestowal.

However, to obtain that Kli, called “the desire to bestow,” we need a desire, meaning to feel that we need this Kli. This is why we must first engage in Torah and Mitzvot in Lo Lishma, and this is our labor—to see that everything we do is for self-benefit, without any intention to bestow.

And then we see that we need the power of bestowal, and we want a reward for our work—that the Creator will give us this reward—the desire to bestow. And when we have that power, we will be able to receive the delight and pleasure that is already available and for which we don’t need to work at all because the Creator gives it. But for a person to rise from degree to degree, he must acquire the power of bestowal each time, and then nothing else is missing.

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