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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

You Stand Today, All of You

Article No. 19, 1984

The interpreters ask about the words, “You stand today, all of you ...your heads, your tribes, your elders and your officers, every man of Israel.” It begins with the plural form, “You” [plural form in Hebrew], and ends in singular form, “Every man of Israel.” The author of the book, Light and Sun, explains that by using plural form and singular form, it points to the matter of love of friends. Although among you are “heads, tribes,” etc., still no one sees greater merit in himself than in any man of Israel. Instead, everyone is equal in that no one complains about the other. For this reason, from above, too, they are treated accordingly, and this is why great abundance is imparted below.

It is our way to study everything within one subject. It turns out that a person should take upon himself the burden of the kingdom of heaven as an ox to the burden and as a donkey to the load, which are mind and heart. In other words, all of one’s work should be in order to bestow.

Accordingly, if one works in order to bestow and does not wish for any reward in return—except to serve in the holy work without hoping to be given any addition to what he has—he has no wish even for additional work. In other words, receiving some knowledge that he is walking on the right path is certainly a just demand, and yet he relinquishes even that because he wishes to go with his eyes shut and believe in the Creator. And what he can, he does and he is content with his lot.

And he even feels that there are people who have some understanding of the work of the Creator, while he sees that he is completely empty. In other words, many times he feels a good taste in the work, and at times he feels that he is in a state of “Your heads.” In other words, at times he thinks that now he has reached a degree where it is impossible that he will ever decline to a state of lowliness, a state where if he wishes to engage in the work of God, he has to make great efforts to force his body. At that time, what he does is by compulsion because he has no desire for the work, and the body only wishes to rest and does not care for anything.

Instead, at that time he feels that he has already come to know for sure that there is nothing else in the world except to work in order to bestow, and then he certainly finds good taste in the work. And when he regards his previous states, he cannot understand, now that he is in a state of ascent. Hence, by all calculations, he decides that now it is impossible that he will ever suffer a decline.

But sometimes, after a day, an hour, or a few minutes, he descends to such a state of lowliness that he cannot immediately feel that he has fallen from his uplifted state to the “depth of the great abyss.” Rather, at times, after an hour or two he suddenly sees that he has fallen from the highest level, meaning from his previous certainty that he was the strongest man, and he is like any man of Israel, meaning like an ordinary person. Then he begins to seek advice in his heart, “What should I do now?” “How can I pick myself up to the state of Gadlut [greatness/adulthood] that I had before?”

At that time, one should walk on the path of truth—to say, “My current state, being in utter lowliness, means that I was deliberately thrown out from above to know if I truly wish to do the holy work in order to bestow, or if I wish to be God’s servant because I find it more rewarding than other things.”

Then, if one can say, “Now I want to work in order to bestow and I do not want to do the holy work to receive some gratification in the work. Instead, I will settle for doing the work of holiness like any man of Israel—praying or taking a lesson on the daily portion. And I don’t have time to think with which intent I study or pray, but I will simply observe the actions without any special intent.” At that time, he will reenter the holy work because now he wishes to be God’s servant without any preconditions.

This is the meaning of what is written, “You stand today, all of you,” meaning everything you went through, all the states you have experienced—whether states of Gadlut or states of less than Gadlut, which were considered intermediate or so. You take all those details and you do not compare one degree to another because you do not care for any reward, but only for doing the Creator’s will. He has commanded us to observe Mitzvot [commandments] and to study Torah, and this is what we do, like any common man of Israel. In other words, the state he is in right now is as important to him as when he thought he was in a state of Gadlut. At that time, “The Lord your God makes with you this day.”

This means that then the Creator makes a covenant with him. In other words, precisely when one accepts His work without any conditions and agrees to do the holy work without any reward, which is called “unconditional surrender,” this is the time when the Creator makes a covenant with him.

Baal HaSulam explained the matter of making a covenant: When two people see that they love each other, they make a covenant between them that their love will always endure. And he asked, “If they love each other and understand that this love will never leave them, why this covenant? Why do they make this covenant, meaning for what purpose?” In other words, what do they gain by this making of a covenant? Is it only a ritual or is it for some benefit?

He said that the matter of making a covenant is that now they understand that it is in their interest for each to love the other because of reasons they can now see—that each one feels the other and cares only for his well-being—so they make a covenant. And as now neither has any complaints against his friend, or they would not make the covenant, they tell each other, “It is worthwhile for us to make a covenant once and for all.” In other words, if there is ever a state where one will have complaints against the other, they will both remember the covenant that they made when love was revealed between them.

Similarly, even though they currently do not feel the love as they did then, they still evoke the old love and do not look at the state they are currently in. Instead, they go back to doing things for each other. This is the benefit of the covenant. Thus, even when the love that was between them has lost its fancy, because they made the covenant, they have the strength to reawaken the shining love that they had before. In this way, they usher each other back into the future.

It follows that making the covenant is for the future. It is like a contract that they sign that they will not be able to regret when they see that the ties of love are not as they were, that this love gave them great pleasure while they were doing good to each other, but now that love has been corrupted, they are powerless and none can do anything for the other.

But if they do wish to do something for their friends, they must consider the making of the covenant that they had before, and out of that they should rebuild the love. It is like a person who signs a contract with his friend, and the contract connects them so they cannot part from one another.

It follows that, “You stand today, all of you.” In other words, he thinks of details, “Your heads, your tribes, your elders and your officers, every man of Israel.” This means that of all the high degrees that he had, it is now considered for him that he is in a state of “Every man of Israel,” and he assumes that state, as when he was in a state that he considered good. He says, “Now I do my part, and I agree that the Creator will give me what He wants, and I have no criticism.” At that time, he is rewarded with making a covenant. In other words, the connection remains forever because the Creator made a covenant with him for all eternity.

According to the above, we should interpret the verse, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” We should understand what this verse comes to tell us. We cannot say that it comes to tell us that we do not know what is hidden and only the Creator knows. We cannot say that because without the verse, we do not know what is hidden from us. Thus, what does the verse come to tell us?

It is known that there is a thing that is hidden and a thing that is revealed. It means that the active part of what we do is when we can see whether or not we are doing it. And if the body does not wish to perform the Mitzva [commandment], there is a tactic—one can force oneself, meaning that he is compelled to do the Mitzva against his will. It turns out that coercion is relevant with revealed things.

The hidden thing is the intention in the Mitzva. This, one cannot see, meaning what the other one intends while doing. It is the same with the person himself, the one who acts. He, too, cannot know, unless he lies to himself while doing. He thinks that he has no other goal and that he is completely dedicated to the Creator. But with the action, called “the revealed part,” it is irrelevant to speak of a person lying to himself, that he thinks that he is wearing Tefillin (phylacteries) when in truth, it is not Tefillin. Similarly, a woman cannot lie to herself saying that she lights the Sabbath candles when in fact she isn’t.

But with intention, it can be said that one lies to oneself. He thinks that he is working Lishma [for Her name] when in fact he is entirely in Lo Lishma [not for Her name]. Also, there cannot be coercion because one cannot coerce one’s thought into thinking what he wants to. Regarding things that belong to emotion or knowledge, a person is powerless. He cannot force his mind to understand differently than it does or feel differently than how he feels.

Now we can understand the above matter—that all that is left for us is the practical part. This is called “The things that are revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” We are commanded to perform the action, meaning it is the deed that we are commanded to do, even coercively.

But as for the intention, called “the hidden part,” in that, no man has any view or governance. Thus, what should we do to keep the hidden part, as well? Here all that one can do is test, meaning examine himself to see if he is truly doing everything in order to bestow, or whether the body resists the aim to bestow. He feels that he is removed from it to the extent that there is nothing he can do alone, since whatever he plans to do, all the tactics to be able to aim in order to bestow, do not help him.

It is about that that the verse comes to tell us that this matter of Lishma, called “the hidden part,” belongs to the Lord our God. In other words, only the Creator can help him, while there is absolutely no possibility that he himself would realize it. It is not in the hands of man because it is above nature. This is why the verse says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God,” meaning that it belongs to Him, that the Creator should provide this force called “to bestow.”

This is why our sages said (Kidushin 30), “Man’s inclination overpowers him every day and seeks to put him to death, 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.’”

The matter of seeking to slay him means that it wishes for man to do everything in order to receive, which is regarded as being separated from the Life of Lives. Naturally, one remains a beast. This is why our sages said, “The wicked are called ‘dead’ while they are alive.” It turns out that it is called “death” when his intention is to receive. This is considered separation. To be rewarded with Dvekut [adhesion], meaning to be granted the strength to bestow—to have such a thing—only the Creator can give it to him; it is not in man’s power to obtain.

This is why our sages said, “Man’s inclination overpowers him every day 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.’” From what we explained, we can understand the verse, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our sons.”

Thus, only the act is for us to do, but the hidden part is for the Creator to do.

However, there is still something for us to do about the hidden, so the Creator will give us the hidden part. This follows the rule that everything requires an awakening from below. There is a rule that there is no light without a Kli [vessel], meaning there is no fulfillment without a deficiency. You cannot insert anything unless there is a vacancy, and then you put in whatever you want. But if there is no cavity, no empty place, how can we insert anything?

Therefore, first we should see that we do not have the vessel of bestowal, called “desire to bestow,” and that this is our light. As we explained in previous articles, our primary reward is to obtain the desire to bestow, called “Reflected Light,” as it is said, “The whole reward that we hope for is the Reflected Light” (General Preface to the Tree of Life).

Therefore, if the desire to bestow is called “the light,” then this deficiency, when one sees that he does not have the power to bestow, is called “a Kli.” He feels that this is what he is missing, meaning he sees what he is losing by not having this power called “the power of bestowal.” Hence, his deficiency is built in him according to his sensation. This is called “a Kli” and “a vacancy,” for here—where he lacks the power of bestowal—there is room for this filling to enter. This is called “the arrival of the light into the Kli.”

However, we should know that receiving this Kli requires a lot of work. We have Kelim [plural of Kli], called “deficiencies,” which we wish to fill. They are called “Kelim of self-love,” meaning that we wish to receive fulfillment. These are very important Kelim because they come from the side of the Creator, who created them existence from absence because He wishes to do good to His creations, meaning that He wishes to give fulfillment. Yet, how is it possible to give fulfillment if there is no vacancy in which to place the filling? For this reason, He created these Kelim existence from absence to place the delight and pleasure in them. It turns out that this is the essence of the Kli that the Creator created.

However, because this Kli is called “desire to receive,” it wished to have equivalence of form, called “Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator.” This is why this Kli was disqualified from being a Kli for reception of the upper abundance. Now there is a need for a new Kli for reception, which dresses in the former Kli, where only by both—by clothing the will to bestow within the will to receive—will this Kli befit reception.

The previous Kli, called “desire to receive,” came from the Emanator. The lower one has no part in the work of the desire to receive, although everything comes from the Emanator. Similarly, the second Kli, called “desire to bestow,” comes only from the Emanator, as well, and the lower one cannot add, just as in the first Kli, called “desire to receive.”

However, the difference is that the vessel of bestowal must first have a demand from the lower one, who seeks of the Creator to be given the new Kli. This, the first Kli did not have because it came to him without any awakening on the part of the lower one.

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