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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

One’s Greatness Depends on the Measure of One’s Faith in the Future

Article No. 9, 1986-87

It is written in The Zohar (BeShalach [When Pharaoh Sent], p 64, and in the Sulam Commentary, Item 216), “‘Then shall Moses ... sing.’ It should have said, ‘Sang.’ And it replies, ‘But this thing depends on the future, that he complemented for that tie and complemented for the future, when Israel praises this singing in the future.’ ‘This singing’ is in female form [in Hebrew], but it should have said, ‘This song,’ in male form [in Hebrew]. And it replies, ‘This singing is that the queen praises the King.’ Rabbi Yehuda said, ‘Thus, it is the singing of the queen to the King, so why does it say, ‘Moses and the children of Israel’? After all, the queen should have been the one who is praising.’ It replies, ‘Happy are Moses and Israel, for they know how to properly praise the King for the queen.’”

We should understand the answer that he gives about what is written in future form, that it refers to the future. What does it come to teach us in the work? We should also understand the answer that he is giving about why it writes “singing” in female form, which interprets the intention to Malchut, meaning that Malchut is praising the King, about which Rabbi Yehuda asked. Thus, if his intention is the Malchut, why does it say, “Moses and the children of Israel”? For this reason, he must interpret his intention as being for Moses and the children of Israel, who know how to praise the King for the Malchut. We should also understand the meaning of Moses and Israel having to praise the King for the Malchut, and why they do not have to praise the King for themselves, but for Malchut.

It is known that Moses is called “the loyal shepherd.” Baal HaSulam interpreted that Moses was providing the people of Israel with faith, and faith is called Malchut [kingship]. In other words, he instilled fear of heaven, called “kingdom of heaven,” into the people of Israel. This is why Moses is called “the loyal shepherd,” after the faith. It is written about it, “And they believed in the Lord and in his servant, Moses,” meaning for Moses having instilled in them faith in the Creator.

It is known that one cannot live out of negativity, but out of positivity. This is so because “provision” refers to what a person receives and enjoys receiving. This comes to us from the purpose of creation, called “His desire to do good to His creations.” Therefore, a person must receive delight and pleasure so as to have something with which to delight one’s body. This is called “positivity,” meaning a filling. And with this filling, he fulfills his needs.

But a person also needs a lack. Otherwise, there is no place in which the light of life can enter. A lack is called “a Kli” [a vessel]. This means that if one has no Kelim [vessels], he cannot receive anything. A lack is called “a desire,” meaning that he has a desire for something and he feels that he is lacking this thing and wishes to fulfill the need. To the extent that he feels its absence and to the extent that he needs to satisfy his need, this is the measure of his lack. In other words, a great lack or a small lack depends on the measure of one’s sense of necessity to satisfy that need.

This means that if a person comes to feel that he is lacking something, and he feels that feeling in his every organ, yet he doesn’t have a strong desire to satisfy his need, there are many reasons why he doesn’t have such a great desire to fulfill his need.

  1. He told his friends what he needs and he feels the necessity for it. However, the friends made him see that what he needs is unattainable. So his friends influenced him with their views that he must accept his situation. They weakened his strength to overcome so he can prevail over the obstacles on his way to obtaining what he wants. In consequence, the need and craving weakened, too, since he sees that he will never obtain what he wants. For this reason, meaning because he sees that it is utterly impossible that he will ever fulfill his need, this is the reason why he doesn’t obtain his goal—it causes him to lessen his need. It turns out that his great desire has waned due to despair.

  2. Sometimes he doesn’t even tell his friends what he wants; he only hears from friends who were talking to each other. And he heard that they have already given up, and that affects him, too. In other words, their despair affects him and he loses the enthusiasm that he had for achieving Dvekut [adhesion] as soon as possible. Thus, he loses that willpower.

  3. And sometimes, one thinks for himself, without any slander from the outside, but sees that each time he wishes to draw near to Kedusha [holiness], when he begins to analyze, he realizes the opposite, that he is regressing instead of moving forward. And this causes him to lose his strength for the work.

It turns out that then he collapses under his load. He has nothing from which to receive sustenance because he sees only negativity and darkness. Thus, he loses the spirit of life that he had when he seemingly had some livelihood, called “reviving his soul.” And now he feels spiritually dead, meaning he cannot make a single movement in the work, just as if he were actually dead.

This means that even though now he sees the truth, meaning the recognition of evil, it is negative, and from that one cannot receive any livelihood, since provision of the body is specifically from positivity. Therefore, one must walk on the right line for two reasons: 1) to keep his desire from waning when he hears slander; 2) to receive vitality, which is specifically from positivity, meaning that it is an important thing and that there is a question of wholeness here.

However, it is difficult to understand how, when he criticizes his work-order and sees that his being immersed in self-love is the truth, how can he be told to walk on the right line, which is called “wholeness”? After all, as far as he can see, when he judges honestly, it is a total lie.

It is known that general and particular are equal. This means that the individual follows the same order that applies to the collective. In regard to the collective, it was given to us to believe in the coming of the Messiah (in the prayer, “I Believe”), “I believe in the coming of the Messiah. And though he may be delayed, I await his arrival still.”

Hence, one must never give up and say, “I see that I am incapable of obtaining Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator.” It is considered that he goes out of the exile—in the nations of the world, called “self-love”—and comes under the authority of Kedusha [holiness], and will come to correct the root of his soul and cling to the Life of Lives.

It follows that if one believes in redemption in general, that He will come, he should believe that redemption will come in particular. Hence, one should receive wholeness for himself in relation to the future in a way that one should depict for himself the measure of goodness, pleasure, and joy that he will receive when he receives fulfillment for all his needs. And this certainly gives him emotional satisfaction and energy to work to obtain this goal that he hopes to achieve.

It turns out that first one must depict for himself what he is hoping for, what will make him happy and joyful if he obtains what he anticipates. However, first one should thoroughly know the goal that he wants to obtain. And if one does not pay close attention and much scrutiny to what he expects from his life, meaning he should tell himself, “Now I have decided what I want, after analyzing the joy in life that can be obtained in the world.”

If he has the opportunity to obtain it, then he will have the strength and wisdom to say, “Now I can thank the Creator for having created His world.” Now he can wholeheartedly say, “Blessed is He who said, ‘Let there be the world,’ since I feel the delight and pleasure, that it is truly worthwhile for me and for all creations to receive this delight and pleasure that I have now received from the purpose of creation, called ‘His desire to do good to His creations.’”

And although he is still far from obtaining the goal, if he nonetheless knows for certain from what he can receive his future happiness, it is as it is written (Avot, Chapter 6), “Rabbi Meir says, ‘Anyone who engages in Torah Lishma [for Her name] is rewarded with a great many things. Moreover, the whole world is worthwhile for him. He is let into the secrets of the Torah and he becomes like an everlasting spring.’”

And when he pays attention to that—to what he can achieve—meaning when he feels the importance of the goal and depicts for himself the happiness that he will achieve, the joy that he will experience when he attains it is unimaginable.

Thus, to the extent that he believes in the importance of the goal, and to the extent that he believes that “Though he may be delayed, I await his arrival still,” he can receive the filling of the light of life from the future goal. It is known that there is inner light and there is surrounding light. Baal HaSulam once interpreted “inner light” as referring to what one receives in the present, and “surrounding light” as the light that is destined to shine, but which one has not yet attained. However, the surrounding light shines in the present, too, to the extent of his confidence that he will attain it.

He said that it is like a person who bought merchandise from the market. Since many people brought this merchandise to the market it had little value, so all the merchants wanted to sell the merchandise at any price. But there were no buyers because everyone was afraid to buy, perhaps it might grow even cheaper.

Then one man bought all the merchandise for a very low price. When he came home and told them what happened in the market, they all laughed at him: “What did you do? Of course all the merchants wanted to sell all the merchandise that they had in stock. This will only make everything cheaper, and as a result, you will lose all your money.”

But he insisted, saying, “Now I am happier than ever, since I will profit from this merchandise not as before, when I knew I could profit twenty percent from the merchandise. Instead, I’ll make a five hundred percent profit. However, I will not sell it now. I will put it in storage and I will take it to the market in three years, for by then this merchandise will not be found here in the country, and I will get the price that I want.”

It turns out that if he calculates how much he has earned in the present, meaning this year, then he has nothing. This is considered that he has nothing in the present with which to be happy.

But this is an allegory about the inner light, which shines in the present. However, the surrounding light, called “light that shines specifically in the future,” shines for him in the present, too, to the extent of his belief that in the future he will receive the full reward he hopes for. And then his joy will be complete. And now he is receiving joy and high spirits from the fact that he will receive in the future.

This explains the above allegory, that this merchant was ridiculed by everyone for buying the merchandise in the market precisely when it was irrelevant, when no one wanted to buy it. Yet he bought it as something that others left because it was worthless, and now he is delighted because he is one hundred percent sure that in three years this merchandise will not be found anywhere and then he will get rich. And so, he enjoys in the present what will happen in the future.

It follows that to the extent that he believes that it will come to him—and does not despair about the future—as it is written, “Though he may be delayed, I await his arrival still,” he can enjoy in the present what will come in the future.

Thus, when a person is told that even though he walked on the left line—meaning criticized and saw that he was in utter baseness—and he sees this truth, since he doesn’t wish to deceive himself and justify his thoughts and actions, but seeks the truth and doesn’t care if the truth is bitter, yet he wishes to reach the goal for which he was born, but because of all this truth he cannot go on living, since it is impossible to live without pleasure, called “vitality” and “life.” To live, one needs light, which revives a person. And by living, it is possible to work and to reach the goal. For this reason, he must then shift to the right line, called “wholeness.”

However, this wholeness—from which he now receives the liveliness that sustains his body—should be built on a basis of truth. And this brings up the question, “How can he receive wholeness when he sees the truth: he is in the lowest state, immersed in self-love from head to toe and without a spark of bestowal?”

To that he should say, “Everything I see is truth.” However, it is so from the perspective of the inner light. This means that in the present, he is in lowliness and has nothing from which to receive joy and life. But with respect to the surrounding light, which is the future, he believes that “Though he may be delayed, I await his arrival still.”

It turns out that through the surrounding light that shines in relation to the future, he can draw it so it will shine in the present. And to the extent of the faith and confidence that he has in the coming of the Messiah on the personal level, he can draw vitality and joy so it will shine in the present.

It follows that now that he is walking on the right line to receive wholeness, it is the real truth, since the surrounding light shines in the present. And besides, it is a path of truth, and since by that he believes in the coming of the Messiah on the personal level, it is a great remedy that through the commandment of faith, the future will draw nearer to the present in him. This means that the surrounding light will be internal, and this is considered that the light actually dresses in the present. It is called, “the surrounding will become internal.”

Thus, from here—meaning from faith, from believing that in the end he will reach the goal, even though reason shows him each time that he is retreating from the goal and not advancing—he overcomes and goes above reason. And then faith itself accumulates each time in the form of “each penny joins into a great amount,” until he is rewarded with permanent whole faith, which is the obtaining of the light of Hassadim in illumination of Hochma, as it is written in the Sulam Commentary.

Now we can understand what we asked about why The Zohar explains that this is why it is written, “Shall ... sing,” in future tense. By that, it implies that Israel are destined to praise this singing in the future. What does that come to teach us in the work? In matters of work, we should know what we have now, in the present, and to know what we must do. Thus, what can we learn about what the future holds?

As we explained, we must walk on the right line, which is wholeness, and receive vitality from it, because it is impossible to live in negativity. Hence, there is advice to feel wholeness from what will be in the future. This is the meaning of what the righteous call, “singing in the future.” In other words, now—in the present—they are singing about what they will receive in the future. This means that to the extent that they picture the delight and pleasure they will receive in the future, they can feel it in the present, provided they have faith that there is a future, meaning that in the future everyone will be corrected.

This is something one can already be thankful for in the present. To the extent that he feels it, this is the measure of the praise that he can give in the present. And besides receiving life in the present from positivity, he gains from the goal in general being important for him because he must picture for himself the delight and pleasure in store for the creatures to receive.

And each time he contemplates the matter, he gradually sees a bit more of what he can receive in the future, meaning what has been prepared for us by the purpose of creation. And although he sees that in his current state he is miles away from the goal, this depends on the measure of his faith in the goal, as in the example of the allegory above. This follows the rule, “All that is certain to be collected is deemed collected” (Yevamot, 38).

With the above, we can understand what The Zohar explains—that the reason why it writes “Shall ... sing,” in future tense, is to imply that Israel are destined to praise this singing in the future. This is so because we must know that, so we can receive joy and vitality in the present from what will be in the future. By that, we can sing in the present as if now we were receiving all the delight and pleasure.

This is regarded as being able to receive illumination from a surrounding. In other words, the surrounding shines in the internal from afar, meaning that although a person is still far from obtaining the delight and pleasure, he can still draw illumination from the surrounding in the present.

Now we will explain what we asked about The Zohar explaining why he writes, “This singing” in female form [in Hebrew]. It is because Moses and Israel know how to properly praise the King for the queen. And we asked, “Why do Moses and Israel not praise the King for themselves?”

First, we must understand the issue of having to praise the King. In corporeality, we understand that a flesh and blood king needs honors, to be respected. He receives joy from the praises that they give him. But with regard to the Creator, why does He need us to praise Him and sing before Him chants and songs?

It is a known rule that everything we say in regard to the Creator is only by way of “By Your actions we know You.” However, there is no attainment in Him, Himself, whatsoever. Rather, all we speak of relates to the attainment of the lower ones.

This is the reason why one must praise and thank the Creator, for by that, one can measure and assume the greatness and importance of the giving that the Creator gives him. To that extent, one can test how much importance and greatness of the King he feels.

The purpose of creation is to do good to His creations, meaning for the creatures to enjoy Him. And by the measure of the greatness of the Giver, there is meaning and pleasure in giving, that they give Him in order to enjoy. And when one tries to give thanks, he already has reason for considering and scrutinizing the giving: what he received and from whom he received, meaning the greatness of the giving and the greatness of the giver.

It follows that one’s gratitude should not be because the upper one will enjoy it, but so that the lower one will enjoy it. Otherwise, it is similar to the allegory that Baal HaSulam said about the verse, “Who has not taken My name in vain.”

He asked, “What does it mean that a person takes in vain? Does it mean that he was given a soul from above in vain?” He said that it is similar to a child being given a bag of gold coins, and is delighted about the coins because they look so nice and are lovely to look at. But the child is incapable of assessing the value of the gold coins.

From this we can understand that the gratitude and praise that we give to the Creator are only to benefit the creatures, meaning that we have something by which to praise the King. This means that when one tries to praise the Creator, this is the time when he is capable of feeling the importance of the gift and the importance of the giver of the gift. And for this reason, what one should mind most is the praise that one gives to the King. This enables him to be given every time anew. Otherwise, if one cannot appreciate the King’s gift, one cannot be given anything because he falls under the definition of “Who is a fool? He who loses what he is given” (Hagigah, 4a).

And what is the reason that a fool loses what he is given? This is simple: he is a fool. He doesn’t appreciate the importance of the matter, so he doesn’t pay attention to keeping the gift that he has been given. For this reason, the extent of the importance of the gift is his keeping of it. Thus, he can be in a state of constant ascension because it is evident that he doesn’t lose what he is given, for he appreciates it.

It follows from the above that one may have many descents because he doesn’t appreciate the gift of the King. In other words, he cannot appreciate the measure of importance of the nearing—that he has been given from above a desire and a thought that it is worthwhile to be a servant of the Creator.

And since he did not appreciate the importance of the matter, meaning the calling that he was given—to enter and to serve the King—he might even corrupt, if he is serving the King without knowing how to keep himself from blemishing something. In that state, a person is thrown back to a place of garbage and waste.

In that state, he sustains himself on the same waste that cats and dogs search to sustain themselves, and he, too, searches for provisions for his body in that place. He doesn’t see that he can find provision elsewhere. Meaning, during the descent, those things that he said were waste and unfit as food for humans—but are suitable as food only for animals—he himself chases that provision and has no desire for human food because he finds it completely tasteless.

For this reason, the stability of the states of ascent depends primarily on the importance of the matter. This is why it depends mainly on the praise and gratitude that he gives to being accepted from above. This is so because the praises themselves that he gives to the Creator enhance His importance and esteem. This is why we are commanded to think very seriously about the praising.

There are three discernments in regard to the praising:

  1. The measure of the giving. This means that the importance of the gift is according to the measure of praise and gratitude that one gives for the gift.

  2. The greatness of the giver, meaning if the giver is an important person. For example, if the king gives a present to someone, the gift may be a very small thing but it will still be very important. In other words, the measure of the praise and gratitude does not take the greatness of the gift into account, but rather measures the greatness of the giver. Therefore, the same person might give to two people, but to one, the giver is more important and he recognizes the importance and greatness of the giver. Thus, he will be more grateful than the other, who does not recognize the importance of the giver to the same extent.

  3. The greatness of the giver, regardless of whether he gives or not. Sometimes, the king is so important in the eyes of a person, that the person has a strong desire to speak to the king, but not because he wishes to speak to the king so that the king will give him something. He doesn’t want a thing, but his whole pleasure is in having the privilege of speaking to the king.

However, it is impolite to come to the king without some request, so he is searching for some request that the king may grant. In other words, he is saying that he wants to come to the king so the king will give him something, but in truth, he says that he wants the king to give him something only on the outside. In his heart, he doesn’t want anything from the Creator. Just having the ability to speak to the king is enough for him and it doesn’t matter to him if the king has given him something or not.

When people on the outside see that he did not receive a thing from the king, and look at him as he is walking out of the king’s house delighted and elated, they laugh at him. They tell him, “What a fool you are! How mindless are you? You can see for yourself that you are leaving as empty-handed as you came in. You walked into the king to ask for something of the king, yet you walked out empty-handed, so why the joy?”

We can understand this if while a person prays to the Creator to give him something, we can discern about it, 1) that one prays for the Creator to give him what he demands of the Creator. If He accepts his demand for the prayer to be granted, when he receives what he wants, he is willing to thank the Creator. And the extent of salvation that he received from the Creator is the extent of his joy, high spirits, praise, and gratitude. In other words, everything is measured by the degree of greatness of the salvation that he received from the Creator.

2) The measure of the greatness of the giver. In other words, since he believes in the greatness of the Creator, this is what determines for him what he is receiving from Him. That is, even though in the eyes of the receiver it is a small thing, he still received something from the Creator. Thus, he can already be glad, and praise and thank the Creator, since it is the giver who is important to him, as in the above-mentioned allegory.

3) The greatness of the giver without giving. He, too, has great importance. In other words, the king is so important in his eyes that he doesn’t want anything from the king, but will consider it great fortune if he can speak even a few words with the king. And the reason why he comes in with some request is only superficial, since one cannot come before the king without some request. Yet, he did not come for the king to grant his request. The reason he said he was asking for something was only for the external ones, who don’t understand that speaking to the king is the most valuable giving, but the external ones do not understand it.

And when we speak of a single body, we should say that the “external ones” are the thoughts that come to a person from the outside world, meaning those who have no concept of the internality, and have no tools to understand that the internality of the king is what counts. Rather, they value the king only by what extends from the king to them, which is called “the externality of the king.” But they have no clue of the internality of the king, meaning the king himself and not what extends from the king outward.

Hence, these thoughts mock a person when he says, “Since I just spoke to the king, it doesn’t matter if the king is granting my wish.” Rather, his only wish is the internality of the king, not what extends from him.

Therefore, if a person prays to the Creator and doesn’t see that the Creator has given him something—since what matters to him is the internality of the king—he can be glad and rejoice in having been rewarded with speaking to the king. Yet, external thoughts within him wish to revoke that joy in him because they consider only the vessels of reception—what he received from the king in his vessels of reception, while he tells them, “I am delighted and joyful, and I praise and thank the king simply for having given me the chance to speak with him. This is enough for me.”

Moreover, he says to his external ones, “Know that I want nothing of the king except to praise him and to thank him. By that, I adhere to the king because I want to bestow upon him by praising him. And I have nothing else to give him. It follows that now I am considered ‘a servant of the Creator,’ and not ‘a servant of myself.’ For this reason, I cannot hear your telling me, ‘What have you gained?’

“For example, all year long you engaged in Torah and in prayer, keeping all the Mitzvot [commandments], but you are still standing at the same degree as a year ago or two years ago. Thus, why the joy that you praise the Creator and say, ‘This is my gain, that I spoke to the Creator many times, and what else do I need?’ In other words, if the king had given me something, I might have received it in order to receive. But now that I have nothing in my hand, I am happy and thank the Creator because my intention in the work was only to bestow.”

However, since in that state a person is telling the truth, he faces strong resistance from the external ones, who cannot tolerate one who is walking on the path of truth, if his only aim is to bestow. In that state, he is at a great war, and they wish to shatter his joy. They make him think that the opposite is true—that what they are telling him is the path of truth, and that he is deceiving himself thinking that he is right.

In this world, a lie usually succeeds. For this reason, he needs great strengthening and to tell them, “I am walking on the path of truth, and right now I want no criticism. If there is truth in your words, I ask that you will come to me with your complaints, to show me the truth, when I decide it is time for criticism. Only at that time will I be willing to listen to your views.”

It therefore follows that one does not need to have joy in the work, only faith. In other words, when he believes in the greatness of the Creator, he doesn’t need the king to give him anything. Simply being able to speak to the king is all he wants, meaning to speak to the king as mentioned in the third discernment of giving praise.

If he pays more attention to praising the king, then high inspiration will come to him by itself because he doesn’t want anything from the king. This is similar to the Sefira of Bina. It is known that at its end, Hochma does not wish to receive the light of Hochma, but Hochma wishes to bestow upon the Emanator as the Emanator bestows upon Hochma. And she wants equivalence of form.

In that state, the abundance, called “light of Hassadim,” after the Kli, comes by itself. This means that the receiver wishes to engage in Hesed [grace/mercy], hence the abundance is called “light of Hassadim” [plural of Hesed]. It is similar here. When a person wants nothing of the king except to bestow upon the king, and pays attention to what he thinks, an inspiration from above comes upon him by itself when he engages in singing and praising of the king, to the extent that he has prepared himself.

Now we can understand the matter of Moses and Israel singing and praising the king for the queen, and not the queen herself. It is known that everything we say about the upper worlds is only in relation to the souls, which are called “the collective soul of Israel” or “the assembly of Israel.” It is explained in Talmud Eser Sefirot (Part 16), that the soul of Adam Ha Rishon came out from the interior of the worlds Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya, from which he received Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama. And they all came out from Malchut de [of] Atzilut, called “Divinity.” And Zeir Anpin, who gives to the Malchut, is called “King.”

And since Malchut is the receiver for the souls, it follows that Malchut cannot receive abundance for the people of Israel because they are still unfit—having no vessels of bestowal. Otherwise, it will all go to the Sitra Achra, who are called “dead,” since there is reception in order to receive in them, which is called “separation and remoteness from the Creator,” who is called “the Life of Lives.” This is why they are called “dead.”

In The Zohar, it is considered that a person must be concerned about the “affliction of Divinity,” meaning sorrow at not being able to receive abundance for her children, who are the people of Israel. She is called “the assembly of Israel” because she assembles within her the abundance that she should give to Israel. Therefore, when the people of Israel engage in equivalence of form, there is room for Malchut to receive the upper abundance from the king, who is called “the giver,” ZA, so as to give to the people of Israel.

This is called “Malchut, who is called ‘the queen,’ praising the king for the abundance she has received from Him.” Likewise, when she cannot receive abundance for Israel from the King, it is called “the affliction of Divinity.” And when she can receive abundance, she is called “The mother of the sons is happy,” and she praises the King.

Yet, all the sorrow and joy relate only to the whole of Israel. This is why The Zohar says that Moses and Israel say the song, meaning praise the king for the queen. It means that the reason why Moses and Israel praise the king is for the queen, which means that they have established themselves to praise the king, since what the king was to give to Moses and Israel was not for themselves, but for Malchut. In other words, they cannot tolerate the affliction of Divinity and this is why they engage in equivalence of form, so that Malchut can bestow. This is why it says, “Happy are Moses and Israel, for they know how to properly praise the King for the queen.”

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