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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

Who Testifies to a Person

Article No. 37, 1984-85

It is written in The Zohar, Shoftim [judges] (and in the Sulam Commentary p 8, Item 11), “It is a Mitzva [commandment/good deed] to testify in court so that his friend will not lose money because he is not testifying. This is why the authors of the Mishnah said, ‘Who testifies to a person? The walls of his house.’

“What is the meaning of ‘The walls of his house’? These are the walls of his heart, as it is written, ‘Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall.’ The authors of the Mishnah asserted that it teaches that Hezekiah prayed from the walls of his heart. Moreover, his household testifies to him. His household are his 248 organs, since the body is called ‘house.’

“This is what the authors of the Mishnah asserted: ‘A wicked one, his iniquities are engraved in his bones. Likewise, a righteous one—his merits are engraved in his bones.’ This is the reason why David said, ‘All my bones shall say.’ But why are the iniquities engraved in the bones more than in the flesh, tendons, and skin? This is because the bones are white, and a black writing is visible only from within white. It is like the Torah, which is white from within, meaning the parchment, and black from without, meaning the ink. Black and white are darkness and light. And moreover, the body is destined to rise on its bones, hence the sins and merits are engraved in its bones. If he is rewarded, the body will rise on its bones. If he is not rewarded, it will not rise and will not have revival of the dead.” Thus far its words.

We should understand why The Zohar interprets that a person should testify before a court so that his friend will not lose money. This is interpreted in the work of the Creator. Thus, we should understand what it is that one is demanding, and from whom he is demanding it. And to make it reliable, a person must testify.

In the work of the Creator, a person demands of the Creator to give him what he wants of the Creator. Thus, to show that his argument is true, doesn’t the Creator know whether or not a person is telling the truth? However, if the man testifies, then he knows that his argument is true. Moreover, how can one be trusted to testify for himself? And we should also understand why the testimony must be from the walls of his heart, since he brings evidence to the meaning of “walls of his house” from Hezekiah in the words, “Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall,” which we interpreted to mean “the walls of his heart.”

Thus, a person’s testimony should also be from the walls of his heart. However, it is known that a testimony must be from his mouth, as our sages said, “From their mouths, not from their writings,” and here he says that it should be from the walls of his heart and not from the mouth.

We should also understand why it says, “This is what the authors of the Mishnah asserted: ‘A wicked one, his iniquities are engraved in his bones. And likewise, a righteous one—his merits are engraved in his bones.’”

But are sins and merits engraved in corporeal bones? How is a spiritual matter, which is sins and Mitzvot, engraved in bones? And it is even more difficult to understand his answer, “This is because the bones are white, and a black writing is visible only from within white.”

Also, we should understand why he says, “And moreover, the body is destined to rise on its bones.” Why particularly, “On its bones,” which means that whether or not he is revived depends on his bones?

To understand the above in the work, we must remember the known rule that “There is no light without a Kli [vessel],” meaning that it is impossible to receive any fulfillment if there is no hole or deficiency there, where the filling can enter. For example, a person cannot eat a meal if he is not hungry. Moreover, the amount of pleasure that person can derive from the meal is measured by the amount of desire he has for the meal.

It follows that where one does not feel any lack, he will not experience any pleasure, which he will be able to receive, since there is no room to receive any filling. Thus, when we speak of the order of the work, when a person begins to enter the work, meaning when he wishes to do the work of holiness with the aim to bestow contentment upon his Maker, according to the above-mentioned rule, he must have a need for it—to feel that he needs to bestow upon the Creator. And we can say that he has a Kli to the extent of his need to give to the Creator. And the filling for that Kli is while he gives to the Creator, meaning when he wishes to bring Him contentment. This means that the body already agrees to bestow upon the Creator.

And since man is born with a nature for reception and not for bestowal, if one wishes to engage in bestowal the body will certainly resist it. And if a person wants to engage in bestowal, meaning that he has a desire to obtain such a Kli, and a Kli means a desire and deficiency, then the body immediately comes and asks, “Why do you want to change the nature you were created in? What is the deficiency that you feel you are lacking? Are you one hundred percent sure that you understand that you need to work in order to bestow? Look at how the majority do the work of holiness; they are not meticulous about what they do. In other words, in their engagement in Torah or Mitzvot, they see primarily that the act will be proper, with all its precisions and details, but not the intent. They say, ‘We certainly do what we can.’ They pay no mind to the intent because they say that the work Lishma [for Her name] belongs to a chosen few, and not to everyone.”

It follows that the body, which comes and asks its questions, is probably asking to the point. And since it is not given a sufficient answer, it doesn’t allow a person to think thoughts of desire to bestow, since it is right, there is no light without a Kli. In other words, “If you don’t feel the need to engage in bestowal, why are you making a fuss?” So first it tells him, “Give me this need, the desire to bestow, and then we’ll talk.” But according to the above-said, the need for the desire must be present, meaning that he should suffer at not being able to bestow. Thus, since he has no Kli, he certainly cannot be granted the light, meaning the filling.

Therefore, a person should try to have a great deficiency because he is unable to bestow upon the Creator. And it is known that a deficiency is determined by the sensation of suffering that he feels because of the deficiency. Otherwise, although he does not have what he is asking, it is still not considered a deficiency because a real lack is measured by the pain that he feels at not having. Otherwise, it is nothing but empty words.

Now we can understand what our sages said (Taanit, 2a), “‘To love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart.’ What is the work of the heart? It is a prayer. We should understand why they extended the prayer beyond the literal meaning. Usually, when one wants another person to give him something, he asks him to, verbally, as it is written, ‘For You hear the prayer of every mouth.’ So why did they say that a prayer is called ‘the work of the heart’?”

We said above that a prayer is called “a deficiency,” and he wants his deficiency to be filled. And yet, no deficiency is sensed in a person’s mouth; rather, all of man’s sensations are sensed in the heart. This is why if a person doesn’t feel a lack in his heart, what he utters in his mouth does not count at all, so we could say that he truly needs what he is asking for with his mouth. This is so because the filling he is asking for should enter a place of deficiency, which is the heart. This is why our sages said that a prayer should be from the bottom of the heart, meaning that the whole heart will sense the lack for which he is asking.

It is known that light and Kli are called “deficiency” and “filling” [or “fulfillment”]. We ascribe the light, which is the filling, to the Creator, and the Kli, which is the lack, to the creatures. Thus, a person should prepare the Kli so the Creator will pour the abundance there, or there will be no room for the abundance. For this reason, when a person asks the Creator to help him so he can aim his actions to bestow, the body comes and asks him, “Why are you praying this prayer? What are you missing without it?”

For this reason, we must study and scrutinize the books that discus the necessity of the work of bestowal until we understand and feel that if we don’t have this Kli, we will not be able to enter the Kedusha. We should not look at the majority, who say that the most important thing is the act and here is where all the energy should go, and that the acts of Mitzvot and establishing of the Torah that we do is enough for us.

Instead, he must perform every act of Torah and Mitzvot in order to bring him into the aim to bestow. Afterwards, when he has complete understanding of how much he needs to engage in order to bestow, and he feels pain and suffering at not having this force, then it is considered that he already has something for which to pray—for work in the heart—since the heart feels what it needs.

For such a prayer comes the answer to the prayer. This means that he is given this strength from above so he will be able to aim in order to bestow, for then he already has the light and Kli. However, what can one do if, after all the efforts he has made, he still does not feel the lack of not being able to bestow as pain and suffering? The solution is to ask the Creator to give him the Kli called, “A lack from not feeling,” and that he is unconscious, without any pain from being unable to bestow.

It follows that if he can regret and ache over not having the deficiency, for not feeling how remote he is from Kedusha [holiness], that he is utterly mundane and doesn’t understand that the life he is living—wanting to satisfy the corporeal needs—is no more important than that of any other animal that he sees, and that if he paid attention to see how similar he is to them with all their aspirations, and that the only difference is man’s cunningness and his ability to exploit others while animals are not clever enough to exploit others.

Sometimes, even though he sees that he is studying Torah and keeping the Mitzvot, he cannot remember—while keeping the Mitzvot or while studying Torah—that he should obtain connection with the Creator by engaging in Torah and Mitzvot. It is as though they are separate things for him—the Torah and Mitzvot are one thing, and the Creator is another.

And if he regrets not having any sensation of deficiency, that he is like animals, this is called “work in the heart,” as well. It is called, “a prayer.” This means that for this deficiency, he already has a place in which to receive fulfillment from the Creator, to give him the sense of deficiency, which is the Kli that the Creator fills with a filling.

Now we can understand the question, “why is a prayer in the heart and not in the mouth?” It is because a prayer is called, “a deficiency,” and it cannot be said that he has a deficiency in the mouth. Rather, the deficiency is a sensation in the heart.

Now we should explain why we asked about his saying that the merits and the sins are engraved on the bones, and he can revive from the bones or not. The Zohar compares the bones, which are white, to the Torah, which is black over white, where the black is darkness and the white is light.

We should explain the meaning of bones being white. This is why both the merits and the sins are written on them, since concerning the work of the Creator, it should be interpreted that a person who engages in Torah and Mitzvot is called “a bone.” The primary part of Torah and Mitzvot is considered white, since something in which there are no deficiencies is called “white.” And since there is nothing to add to the actions that a person does, for it is said about it, “You shall neither add nor subtract,” his engagement in the Torah is called “bones.” They are white because the merits and sins of a person are engraved in them.

However, if a person criticizes his actions—the reason why he is building his foundation (the reason that compels him to engage in Torah and Mitzvot, his aim while doing the deeds)—and tries to see if he is truly doing those deeds for the Creator, to bestow contentment upon his Maker, then he can see the truth: he is inside the nature he was born in, called “receiving in order to receive,” and he doesn’t want to engage in Torah and Mitzvot without any reward.

And the real reason why one cannot exit his nature is that he doesn’t see the need for it, so he would have to change the nature that was imprinted in him, which is called “self-love,” and assume the love of others in order to achieve the love of the Creator. This is so because a person feels that he is deficient of the love of his surroundings, meaning that the family will love him, and his town’s people, etc. But what will he gain from loving the Creator? Also, what will he gain if he loves his friends? After all, he is always considering the profits related to self-love. Thus, how can he exit this love?

And if he asks himself why he is keeping Torah and Mitzvot in actions, and is even meticulous about all its precisions and details, then he answers himself that he received faith through education. In education, you begin to guide a person to engage in Torah and Mitzvot in Lo Lishma [not for Her name], as Maimonides says (end of Hilchot Teshuva [ Laws of Repentance]). It follows that he has taken it upon himself to believe in the Creator, that he will serve in the holy work, and in return will be rewarded in this world and in the next world.

This is why a person is told that the real work is to believe in the Creator who gave us Torah and Mitzvot to keep, and by that, we will achieve equivalence of form, called Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator.” This means that one should exit self-love and assume love of others. And to the extent that he exits self-love, he can be rewarded with complete faith. Otherwise he is separated, as written in the Sulam Commentary (“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” p 138), “It is a law that the creature cannot receive apparent harm from Him, for it is a flaw in His glory that the creature should perceive Him as doing harm, for it is inappropriate for the perfect Operator. Hence, when one feels bad, to the extent that there is denial of His guidance upon him and the Operator is hidden from him, this is the biggest punishment in the world.”

If a person introspects, he recognizes the truth that the Torah and Mitzvot should be for the Creator. He feels how remote he is from the truth, and the scrutiny brings him into pain and suffering at constantly marching on the wrong road from being called a “servant of the Creator.” Rather, all his work is for his own sake, which is called, “working for himself,” which is the way of all the animals, but is inappropriate for the speaking.

It follows that through those sufferings, he receives a Kli, meaning a deficiency. And since he sees that he is incapable of exiting self-love by himself, for he doesn’t have the strength to go against nature, the solution is to ask the Creator to help him, as our sages said, “He who comes to be purified is aided.” It follows that then he has room for filling the deficiency, since there is no light without a Kli.

This brings up the question that we asked earlier: “What can one do if, even though he understands that it is worthwhile to work in order to bestow, he still doesn’t have the pain and suffering at not being able aim in order to bestow? In that case, he should know that this does not mean that he doesn’t have complete faith in the Creator, only that he cannot aim in order to bestow. He should know that he is lacking whole faith, since when he has whole faith in the Creator, there is a natural law that the small annuls itself before the big. Thus, if he truly had whole faith in the greatness of the Creator, he would be annulled before the Creator naturally, and he would wish to serve Him without any reward.

It follows that there is no deficiency here, for he cannot prevail over nature. Rather, there is lack of whole faith here, although he has faith. The evidence of that is that he is keeping Torah and Mitzvot. However, it is not whole faith, as it should be.

In other words, the entire wholeness is that they believe in His greatness, and if one wishes to know if he has whole faith, he can see how much he is willing to work in order to bestow and how much the body is annulled before the Creator. Thus, a person’s inability to work in order to bestow is the deficiency, but there is a greater deficiency here—that he lacks whole faith—and this is the main one.

But what can one do if, even though he sees that he lacks whole faith, that deficiency still does not beget in him pain and suffering at his being deficient? The real reason is that he is looking at the majority, and sees that they are important people, of influence and status, and it is not apparent that they lack whole faith. When speaking to them, they say that this is only for a chosen few, which is their well-known view. This is the great partition, which becomes a barrier for a person, arresting his progress on the right path.

This is the reason why we need an environment, meaning a group of people who are all of the view that they must achieve whole faith. This is the only thing that can save a person from the views of the collective. At that time, everyone strengthens everyone else to crave to achieve whole faith, that he can bestow contentment upon the Creator, and that this will be his only aspiration.

However, this does not conclude the solution for achieving a deficiency for whole faith. Rather, one must exert in actions more than one is accustomed in both quantity and quality. And the body will certainly resist that and ask, “How is today different from other days?” And he will reply, “I am picturing myself as a servant of the Creator, how I would serve the Creator if I had whole faith. This is why I want to serve Him at the same pace as though I were already rewarded with whole faith.” This creates in him a deficiency and pain at not having whole faith, since the resistance of the body causes him to have a need for whole faith. But this is certainly said specifically where he goes against the body, in coercion, when he works with the body not according to his will.

It follows that those two actions, his working more than he is accustomed to, and the resistance of the body, cause him to need whole faith. Only then is a Kli formed in him so that afterwards the light will clothe within it, since now he has room for prayer in his heart, meaning a place of deficiency. And then the Creator, who hears a prayer, gives him the light of faith by which he can serve the King not in order to be rewarded.

Now we can understand what we asked about the meaning of the merits and sins being engraved in corporeal bones. “Bones” refer to the heart of the matter [“bone of the matter” is an idiom in Hebrew], referring to the Torah and Mitzvot that he is keeping. We were given it to keep it in action, and there is nothing to add to it, as it is written, “You shall neither add nor subtract.”

And on these actions, the sins and merits are engraved, meaning that if he wishes to walk on the path of truth and criticize his actions—whether they are with the intent to bestow or not—and he is a man who loves the truth and is not interested in what others do, but wants to know if he is engaging in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma [for Her name] or is it all for himself, then he sees that he is immersed in self-love and cannot come out of it by himself.

Then he cries for the Creator to help him out of self-love and be rewarded with the love of others and the love of the Creator, and “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” This is why he is rewarded with Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator.

It follows that then, the merits are engraved in his bones, meaning that the Torah and Mitzvot that he kept are called “white,” since in terms of the actions, everything is white, positive, and there is nothing to add to them. But afterwards, he scrutinized and saw that the aim was not in order, and that there was darkness on them because he was separated and didn’t have Dvekut, called “equivalence of form,” that he will do everything with the aim to bestow. Instead, he is ruled by self-love.

Thus, he has darkness placed over the white, which are the white bones, as written in the words of The Zohar. This means that he sees that there is darkness on the Torah and Mitzvot that he performed, that he is separated from the light, since the light wants to bestow, while he does everything in order to receive and cannot do anything except what concerns self-love.

It follows that his bones, meaning the practical Torah and Mitzvot, are white, which means that there is no deficiency in the act that requires any additions. But through the criticism that he puts on this white, he sees that there is darkness there. And if he pays attention to mending it because it causes him pain and suffering that he is in the dark, and he prays for the Creator to help him and deliver him from self-love, by that, he is later rewarded with adhering to the Creator.

This is called, “A righteous one—his merits are engraved in his bones,” meaning that his criticism of his white bones caused him to be rewarded with revival of the dead, since “the wicked in their lives are called ‘dead,’” for they are separated from the Life of Lives. Thus, when they are rewarded with clinging to the Creator, it is considered that they have been rewarded with the revival of the dead.

But, “A wicked one, his iniquities are engraved in his bones,” since a wicked one is one who is still immersed in self-love, and a righteous one is called “good,” and “good” is called “bestowal,” as it is written, “My heart overflows with a good thing; I say, ‘My work is for the King.’” In other words, what is a good thing? It is when one can say, “My work is for the King,” meaning that all his actions are for the Creator and not for his own sake.

This is why, “He who has a good eye will be blessed.” For this reason, those people who have practical Torah and Mitzvot, which is considered the core, that the Torah and Mitzvot were given by the Creator to keep them, this is called “whites,” since the actions have no deficiencies, as it is written, “You shall neither add nor subtract.” This is why his bones are white.

“His iniquities are engraved in his bones,” which are white, because he did not criticize his actions, whether or not they are in order to bestow. Instead, he trusted the majority and how they keep Torah and Mitzvot. And they say that working for the Creator is work that belongs to a chosen few, and not everyone must take this path of being concerned with his work being with the aim to bestow.

This is called “the view of landlords.” But “the view of Torah” is different. It is known that “the view of landlords is opposite from the view of Torah,” since the view of landlords is that by a person engaging in Torah and Mitzvot, his possessions grow and expand, since he becomes an owner of a bigger house. In other words, everything he does goes into self-love.

But the view of Torah is as our sages said about the verse, “When a man dies in a tent.” They said,” The Torah exists only in one who puts himself to death over it.” This means that he puts his self to death, meaning it is the self-love that he puts to death. Thus, he has no possessions, as there is no landlord to whom we can relate possessions, since his only aim is to bestow, not to receive. Thus, he annuls his self.

It follows that “A wicked one, his iniquities are engraved in his bones” means that he did not walk in the path of Torah, since the Torah is called “black over white.” The Zohar says that this is why his merits are engraved in his bones, “Since the bones are white, and a black writing is visible only from within white.” Like the Torah, meaning if there is white, which means that he keeps Torah and Mitzvot, it can be said that he is like the Torah, that he has black over the white. Then, he is trying to achieve Dvekut or remains with the white bones and doesn’t write anything on them.

This is why he is called “wicked,” for his iniquities are engraved in his bones. But those who have no white in them, who have no practical Torah and Mitzvot, do not belong to the discernment of “wicked.” Rather, they belong to the discernment of animals, meaning they are only beasts.

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