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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

A Prayer of Many

Article No. 15, 1985-86

It is written in The Zohar (Beshalach (When Pharaoh Let), and in the Sulam Commentary, Item 11), “And she said, ‘I dwell among my own people.’ He asks, ‘What does that mean?’ He replies, ‘When Din is present in the world, one should not part from the collective and be alone because when the Din is present in the world, those who are noticed and are noted alone are caught first, even if they are righteous. Hence, one should never retire from the people because the mercy of the Creator is always on the whole people together. This is why she said, ‘I dwell among my own people,’ and I do not wish to part from them.’”

“When Din is present in the world” refers to the desire to receive, which is self-love, the nature in which the creatures are born, due to His will to do good to His creations. And because there was a desire for equivalence of form so there would not be the bread of shame, a sentence [ Din] was passed that it is forbidden to use the vessels of reception, except when one knows that he can aim for the reception to be in order to bestow. Then, one is permitted to use the vessels of reception.

Accordingly, the meaning of “When Din is present in the world” is that when the whole world is immersed in self-love, there is darkness in the world because there is no room for the light to draw the creatures down due to the disparity of form between the light and the creatures who receive the light. It is on this disparity of form that the sentence was passed that the upper abundance will not be given to the creatures.

Therefore, when a person awakens and wishes for the Creator to bring him closer, meaning give him vessels of bestowal, which is called “bringing closer,” he asks the Creator to help him. However, it is known that the help that comes from the Creator is called “upper abundance,” which is called Neshama “a soul.” It is as The Zohar says, that the aid received from above is in a holy soul.

For this reason, when a person comes to ask the Creator to bring him closer to Him, but he is seen alone, it means that he understands that the Creator must bring him closer personally. Yet, why does he think that the public can remain in its current state and that only he should be treated differently by the Creator?

It is because he understands that he has merits that others do not. And although these are individuals who do not belong to the collective because they understand that they deserve to draw near the Creator more than others and consider themselves righteous, they are caught first. In other words, the Din, which is self-reception, is present in them more than in all the others, and they become worse than others in the qualities of self-love.

This is so because he thinks that he deserves more than other people. In other words, it is enough for other people to have what they have, but when he considers himself, he deserves more than the rest of the people. This thought is considered actual reception, meaning 100% self-love. It follows that self-love begins to develop in him more than in others.

It therefore follows that he is constantly working in self-love. And yet, to his own eyes, he seems righteous, since he wishes to work as a giver. He tells himself that his request of the Creator to bring him closer is right because what is he asking? For the Creator to give him strength to keep Torah and Mitzvot in order to bestow. And what fault could there be in wishing to serve the King?

With that, we can interpret the words of The Zohar. It advises those people with an inner demand, who cannot accept the state they are in because they do not see any progress in the work of God, and believe what is written (Deuteronomy 30:20), “To love the Lord your God, to listen to His voice, and to cleave unto Him; for this is your life, and the length of your days.” They see that they lack love and Dvekut [adhesion/cleaving] and they do not feel the life in the Torah or know how to find counsel for their souls to come to feel in their organs that which the text tells us.

The advice is to ask for the whole collective. In other words, everything that one feels that he is lacking and asks fulfillment for, he should not say that he is an exception or deserves more than what the collective has. Rather, “I dwell among my own people,” meaning I am asking for the entire collective because I wish to come to a state where I will have no care for myself whatsoever, but only for the Creator to have contentment. Therefore, it makes no difference to me if the Creator takes pleasure in me or can receive the pleasure from others.

In other words, he asks the Creator to give us such an understanding, which is called, “entirely for the Creator.” It means that he will be certain that he is not deceiving himself that he wants to bestow upon the Creator, that perhaps he is really thinking only of his own self-love, meaning that he will feel the delight and pleasure.

Therefore, he prays for the collective. This means that if there are a few people in the collective who can reach the goal of Dvekut with the Creator, and this will bring the Creator more contentment than if he himself were rewarded with nearing the Creator, he excludes himself. Instead, he wishes for the Creator to help them because this will bring more contentment above than from his own work. For this reason, he prays for the collective, that the Creator will help the entire collective and will give them that feeling—that they receive satisfaction from being able to bestow upon the Creator, to bring Him contentment.

And since everything requires an awakening from below, he gives the awakening from below, and others will receive the awakening from above, to whomever the Creator knows will be more beneficial for the Creator.

It follows that if he has the strength to ask for such a prayer, then he will certainly face a true test—if he agrees to such a prayer. However, if he knows that what he is saying is only lip service, what can he do when he sees that the body disagrees with such a prayer to have pure bestowal without a hint of reception?

Here there is only the famous advice—to pray to the Creator and believe above reason that the Creator can help him and the whole collective. And he should not be impressed if he sees that he has already prayed many times but his prayer was not answered. This brings one to despair and the body mocks him and tells him, “Can’t you see that you cannot do a thing? And as if you are completely hopeless, you are now asking of the Creator to grant you things that are unacceptable to reasonable people.”

At that time, the body argues, “Do tell me, who among the pious and practical people wish for the Creator to give them something that is completely unreasonable? Moreover, you can see for yourself that you were not granted even smaller things than the demand you are making now of the Creator to help you, even though you asked the Creator to help you. And now you say that you want to ask the Creator to grant you something great. It is indeed a very important thing because there aren’t many prayers in the world that ask the Creator to give them strength to do things for the collective, that the whole public will be rewarded with delight and pleasure by your labor. This is called ‘pure and clean bestowal without a hint of self-love.’

“And you think that your prayer for small things was not granted, but great and important things are certainly priceless.” For example, we might say that it is worthwhile to go to a certain person who has such precious paraphernalia that you’d have to search the entire world to find such objects, since they are found only among a chosen few. And a person from the middle-class came, who barely had the usual paraphernalia in his house, and it suddenly occurred to him that he, too, should try to obtain those objects, too, which are found among the chosen few. Certainly, if someone heard about it he would laugh at him.

It is the same for us. When a person is not educated, but is below average, yet wishes to ask the Creator for Kelim [vessels] that are found with a chosen few in the world, here the body itself mocks him. It tells him, “You fool, how can you even think of asking the Creator for something that even learned people do not have? How can I give you strength to work on such nonsense?”

And here begins the real work, since man’s work in this world is to exit the domain of the evil inclination, which is called “receiving in order to receive.” And now he wishes for the Creator to help him walk on the path of pure and clean bestowal without a hint of self-reception.

It follows that this work is truly against the evil, since he does not wish to leave any possessions with it. Rather, now he wants his work henceforth to not be for the will to receive. Rather, he asks the Creator that even what he worked for before, and what was registered in the domain of the will to receive, will all be moved from its authority to the authority of the Creator.

It follows that now he prays for the Creator to give him the strength to repent. That is, the Creator will give him the strength to bring all the deeds that were for the will to receive back to the Creator’s domain, both those of the past, and those of the future. It is as Maimonides says (Laws of Repentance, Chapter 2), “Repentance must be for the past, as well.”

He writes, “What is repentance? It is for the sinner to leave his sin and remove it from his mind, and resolve in his heart never to do it again, as it is written, ‘Let the wicked forsake his way.’ And he should also regret the past, as it is said, ‘For after I turned back, I repented,’ and He who knows all mysteries will testify that he will never return to this sin.”

Now we can understand the importance of a prayer of many, as it is written, “I dwell among my own people.” The Zohar says, “One should never retire from the people because the mercy of the Creator is always on the whole people together.” This means that if one asks the Creator to give him vessels of bestowal, as our sages said, “As He is merciful, you be merciful, too,” one should pray for the whole collective. This is because then it is apparent that his aim is for the Creator to give him vessels of pure bestowal, as it was written, “The mercy of the Creator is always on the whole people together.” It is known that there is no giving of half a thing from above. This means that when abundance is given from above to below, it is for the whole collective.

For this reason, one must ask for the whole public, since any abundance that comes from above, always comes for the whole people. This is why he says, “The mercy of the Creator is always on the whole people.” Thus, there are two meanings to that, since to have pure bestowal, it would have been enough to pray for only one person besides himself. But there is another issue here—a person must ask for a whole thing because it is a rule in spirituality that what comes is always a complete thing, and all the observations are only in the receivers. For this reason, one should ask for the whole collective.

And since the abundance comes to the whole collective, and since there is no light without a Kli [vessel], meaning it is impossible to receive fulfillment if there is no vacancy for it where the filling can enter, he is therefore answered for that prayer that he was making for the public. It is as our sages said (Baba Kama, 92), “Anyone who pleads for mercy on his friend is answered first, since he needs the same thing.” It means that although the abundance comes to the collective, the collective lacks the Kelim.

In other words, the abundance that comes from above is enough for the whole people, but without Kelim—deficiencies, so they can fill the cavities—the public does not attain the abundance that comes from above. Rather, he who has deficiencies is answered first.

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