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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

The Severity of Teaching Idol Worshippers the Torah

Article No. 17, 1986/87

Our sages said (Hagigah 13), “Rav Ami said, ‘Words of Torah are not to be given to idol worshippers, as it is written, ‘He has not dealt so with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them.’ In the Sanhedrin (59), Rabbi Yohanan said, ‘An idol worshipper who engages in Torah must die, as it is written, ‘Moses commanded us a law, an inheritance.’ We are inherited, and not they.’’”

The Gemarah asks, “Rabbi Meir says, ‘How so? After all, even an idol worshipper who engages in the Torah is as the high priest, as it is written, ‘If a man does them, he shall live by them.’ It did not say, ‘priests,’ ‘Levites,’ or ‘Israelis,’ but ‘a man.’ This means that even an idol worshipper who engages in Torah is as the high priest.’”

We should understand it in the work, according to the rule that in the work we learn the whole Torah within a single person. The Zohar says that each person is a small world in and of itself. This means that he consists of all seventy nations of the world. Thus, what is “Israel” and what are “idol worshippers” within a person himself?

Another question about the words of Rabbi Meir is that he brings evidence from the verse, “If a man does them, he shall live by them.” After all, Rabbi Shimon says, “a man refers to Israel,” and he brings as evidence the verse, “You are called ‘man,’ and not the nations of the world.” Thus, how does Rabbi Meir bring evidence from the word “man” as referring to idol worshippers? The Tosfot wishes to explain in the Sanhedrin that there is a difference between “man” and “the man.”

RASHI interprets that there should not be misunderstandings about Rabbi Shimon, who says, “Man means Israel.” It is simple, he does not differ from Rabbi Shimon—that a man means specifically Israel. Also, we should understand the great disparity between Rabbi Yohanan and Rabbi Meir, where Rabbi Yohanan says, “An idol worshipper who engages in Torah must die,” and according to Rabbi Meir he is not like an ordinary one from Israel but as the high priest. Can it be that he will be greater than an ordinary one from Israel?

The Zohar says (Aharei, p 103, and in the Sulam Commentary, Item 289), “Rabbi Elazar asked Rabbi Shimon, his father. It is written, ‘He has not dealt so with any nation.’ However, we should ask that since it is written, ‘He declares His word unto Jacob,’ why does it say, ‘His statutes and His ordinances unto Israel’?”

This is a double meaning. And since the Torah is the hidden, high, and precious one, His very Name, the whole of Torah is hidden and revealed, meaning that in it, there is hidden and literal in His Name.

Hence, Israel is in two degrees, concealed and revealed. We learned that three are the degrees that connect to one another: 1) the Creator, 2) the Torah, 3) Israel. This is why it is written, “He declares His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances unto Israel.” They are two degrees. One is revealed: the degree of Jacob, and one is concealed: the degree of Israel. And what does the text imply by that? He replies, “Anyone who is circumcised and inscribed in the holy name is given into the revealed things in the Torah.” This is the meaning of what is written, “He declares His word unto Jacob.”

However, “His statutes and His ordinances unto Israel” is at a higher degree. Hence, “His statutes and His ordinances unto Israel” are the secrets of the Torah. The laws of the Torah and the secrets of the Torah need not be disclosed except to those at a properly higher degree. And as Israel is so, meaning that they disclose the Torah only to one who is at a high degree, it is all the more so for idol-worshipping nations.

In Item 303, it is written, “Come and see that the first thing in the Torah that is given to infants is the alphabet. This is something that the people in the world cannot come to wish and conceive in their understanding.” To understand the above-said, we first need to know what Israel is, and what is an idol-worshipper in the work.

Our sages said about the verse (Shabbat 105b), “There shall not be a strange God within you, nor will you bow before a strange God.” What is the strange God in man’s body? It is the evil inclination. This means that an idol-worshipper is called “the evil inclination.” It follows that when speaking of a single body, then idol-worshipping, which is called “a foreign God” or “a strange God,” is entirely within man. Accordingly, we should discern the idol-worshipping in the person himself, which is the evil inclination, and the discernment of Israel, which is the good inclination.

However, we should understand why this inclination, which tempts one to delight himself and enjoy life, is called “evil.” After all, it tells a person, “If you listen to me, you will enjoy life.” Thus, why is it called “evil inclination” or “a strange God”? Also, what is the connection between idolatry and the evil inclination, and why is it called “Godliness” and praised and bowed to as one serves idolatry?

It is known that there are two kings in the world: 1) The king of all kings, 2) An old and foolish king, meaning the evil inclination. It is also called “two authorities”: 1) The authority of the Creator, 2) The authority of man.

Our sages said that when a person is born, he is born immediately with the evil inclination, as it is written, “Sin crouches at the door.” In The Zohar, it means that as soon as one comes out of the womb, the evil inclination comes to him. In the work, we should interpret it that immediately, from the day one is born, he works and serves the evil inclination within him with his heart and soul.

However, it is known that the evil inclination is only the will to receive within us, as explained in the “Introduction of The Book of Zohar.” And as soon as one is born, his only purpose is to serve the will to receive. This means that all his senses focus on how to serve the old and foolish king. Also, one bows before him, and bowing means that he subjugates his reason and his mind before him.

This means that sometimes he hears that one should serve the king of all kings, and at times, the mind and heart resolve that the reason we are born is not to serve the will to receive. And yet, he subjugates that view and says, “Although my reason shows me that it is not worthwhile to toil and serve the will to receive my whole life, but that it is worthwhile to serve the Creator, I go above reason. In other words, the body tells me, ‘Drop everything you have received from books and from authors—that you must serve the Creator. Rather, as then, so now, do not defy the will to receive but serve it with your heart and soul.’”

It follows that one bows before the will to receive because subjugating the reason is called “bowing.” And this is considered that a person is serving a strange God who is a stranger to Kedusha [holiness]. He is also called “a foreign God,” for he is a foreigner to Kedusha.

At that time, the person who serves him is called “foreigner” or “idol-worshipper,” and this is the strange God in a man’s body. In other words, the strange God is not something on the outside—that he is serving something outside his own body. There is a thought that this is actually considered that he is committing idolatry. Rather, by serving and working for his body, which is called “the will to receive,” inside man’s body, it is called that he is committing idolatry, and that person is called “foreigner” or “idol-worshipper.”

This is so because he has no connection to Kedusha, since Kadosh [holy] is called the Creator, as it is written, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord am holy.” It means, “You shall be dedicated” (as said in Article No. 16, 1986/87). Since the Creator is the giver, to have Dvekut [adhesion] with Him, called “equivalence of form,” a person should be a giver, too, and this is called Kedusha [holiness].

It therefore follows that one who serves and works for the will to receive creates an object, meaning that it is his God. He wishes to serve only it with his heart and soul, and in everything he does, even an act of bestowal, he does not even consider the act of bestowal, except according to the benefit that his will to receive will derive from it. He does not divert his focus from it, God forbid, but clings to his faith that this is all that must be served.

Even though his mind resolves that it is not worthwhile to serve it, he still doesn’t have the power to overcome his God, whom he has been serving since the day he was born. This is why it is called “faith,” since he is serving his will to receive above reason. And there is no reason in the world that can detach and separate him from the adhesion that he is attached to it from the day he was born. This is called “a gentile” or “a foreigner.”

Israel means the opposite of a strange God, meaning Yashar El [straight to God]. This means that his sole intention is for everything to be straight to the Creator. In other words, his only thought and desire is to come directly to adhesion with the Creator, and he doesn’t want to listen to the voice of the will to receive. He says that the name that was given to the will to receive, “evil inclination,” suits it because it only inflicts harm upon him.

In other words, the more he tries to satisfy its wish so it will not obstruct him in his work to be a servant of the Creator, it is to the contrary. That is, he constantly makes sure that he gives it what it demands of him, and he gives to it because he thinks that by so doing, it’ll stop disturbing him. But then we see the exact opposite—this receiver actually grows stronger by his satisfying its needs, meaning it becomes even more evil.

And now he sees how right our sages were when they said (Beresheet Rabbah 25, 8), “Do not do good to a bad one,” meaning do not do good to a bad person. It is the same for us, who learn everything in one person. The meaning will be that it is forbidden to do good to the will to receive, which is the evil inclination, since out of any good that a person does to it, it has more strength to harm him later. And this is called “returning a favor with evil.” They are like two drops in a pond; that is, to the extent that he serves it, just so is its power to harm him.

However, one should always remember what is the evil that the receiver causes him. This is why one must always remember the purpose of creation—to do good to His creations—and believe that the Creator can impart endless delight and pleasure. It is written about it (Malachi 3:10), “‘And test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.’”

The reason why a person doesn’t feel the delight and pleasure that the Creator wishes to give is because of the disparity of form between the Creator, who is the giver, and the receiver. This causes shame upon reception of the delight and pleasure. To avoid the bread of shame, there was a correction called Tzimtzum [restriction]—to not receive unless it is in order to bestow contentment upon one’s Maker. This is called “equivalence of form,’ as our sages said, “As He is merciful, you are merciful.”

This means that as the Creator is the giver and there is no reception in Him whatsoever—since from whom would He receive?—man, too, should strive to reach that degree of not wanting to work for himself, but to keep all his thoughts and desires on pleasing his Maker. And then he receives suitable Kelim [vessels] for reception of the upper abundance, which is the general name for the delight and pleasure that the Creator wished to give to the creatures.

In general, the abundance divides into five discernments, called NRNHY. Sometimes they are called NRN. Also, the upper abundance can simply be called Neshama [soul], and the receiver of the Neshama is called Guf [body], but those are not fixed names, but depend on the context.

Thus, who is the obstructer to receiving the above-mentioned delight and pleasure? It is only the will to receive. It obstructs and doesn’t let us out of its authority, called “reception in order to receive.” It is on this discernment that the Tzimtzum took place—to correct the vessels of reception so they will be in order to bestow, at which time he will be similar to the giver.

And there is equivalence of form here, called Dvekut. At that time, through Dvekut with the Creator, a person is considered alive, since he is attached to the Life of Lives. And through the receiver in him, he is separated from the Life of Lives. This is why our sages said, “The wicked—in their lives, they are called ‘dead.’”

Thus, it is clear who is obstructing us from being given life: it is only the receiver in us, and we should determine that through the above-mentioned calculation. It turns out that it is the cause of all the troubles and afflictions we suffer in life. Clearly, the moniker, “evil inclination,” suits it, since it causes all our troubles.

Let us imagine a sick person who wants to live. There is only one cure that can save his life, by which he will be rewarded with life; otherwise, he will have to perish. And there is one person who is stopping him from having this medicine. Clearly, this person is called “an evil man.” It is the same for us. When one learns that only through the desire to bestow is it possible to be rewarded with spiritual life, that there is where the real delight and pleasure are found, and that this will to receive detains him from receiving, how will we look at it? Of course we should see it as the angel of death. Meaning, it is causing us to not be granted life!

When a person comes to realize this—that our receiver is the evil in us—and wishes to be “Israel,” meaning he doesn’t want to commit idolatry, which is the evil inclination in man’s body, and wishes to repent for having committed idolatry all that time, and wishes to be a servant of the Creator, in that state, when he wishes to exit the domination of the evil inclination, what should he do?

To that, there is the answer that our sages said (Kidushin 30b), “So says the Creator to Israel, ‘My sons, I have created the evil inclination, and I have created for it the spice of Torah. If you engage in Torah, you will not be given into its hand, as it is written, ‘If you do well, will it not be lifted up?’ And if you do not engage in Torah, you will be given into its hand, as it is written, ‘Sin crouches at the door.’’” In other words, only the engagement in Torah has the power to come out of the domination of the evil inclination and enter Kedusha.

It therefore follows that one who engages in Torah—when speaking of the work—the purpose of the study must be clear to a person, meaning the reason that causes him to engage in Torah. This is so because there are two opposites in the Torah, as our sages said (Yoma 72b), “Rabbi Yehosha Ben Levi said, ‘Why is it written, ‘And this is the law that Moses put’? If he is rewarded, it becomes a potion of life to him. If he is not rewarded, it becomes a potion of death to him.’ For this reason, when a person engages in Torah, he should see that the Torah does not bring him into death.”

However, it is difficult to understand how there can be such a distance between being rewarded and not being rewarded, to the point that they say that if he is not rewarded by engagement in Torah, it becomes a potion of death to him. Wouldn’t it be enough that he were not rewarded? Why is he even worse than one who did not engage in Torah at all? That is, one who did not engage in Torah doesn’t have the potion of death, and one who engaged in Torah obtained death in return for his work. Can such a thing be?

This question is presented in the “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot” (p 20, Item 39), “However, their words require explanation to understand how and through what does the Holy Torah become a potion of death for him. Not only are his work and exertion in vain, and he receives no benefit from his labor and strain, but the Torah and the work themselves become a potion of death for him. This is indeed perplexing.”

In the “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot” (Item 101), “Since the Creator hides Himself in the Torah, since the matter of the torments and pains that one experiences during the concealment of the face are not similar between one who possesses few sins and has done little Torah and Mitzvot and one who has extensively engaged in Torah and good deeds. The first is quite qualified to judge his Maker favorably, to think that the suffering came to him because of his sins and scarceness of Torah. For the other, however, it is much harder to judge his Maker favorably.”

It is similar with us. When he places the goal before his eyes, meaning that the upper one wishes to delight His creatures, but to avoid the shame, we must have vessels of bestowal. And since we are born with the will to receive, which is considered a strange God, whom we serve even above reason and who enslaves us, and we cannot come out of its power, we believe in our sages who said, “The Creator said, ‘I have created the evil inclination; I have created the spice of Torah.’’

This is the reason that makes one engage in Torah, and then the Torah brings him life. In other words, through the Torah he comes out of the domination of the evil inclination and becomes a servant of the Creator, meaning that his intention is only to bring contentment to his Maker. And he will be rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator, meaning that at that time, he will adhere to the Life of Lives. Indeed, only in that state, when a person studies about this goal, is the Torah regarded for him as a potion of life, since through the Torah he will be rewarded with life.

And yet, if he does not engage in Torah for that purpose, through the Torah that he is studying, the will to receive will grow stronger and acquire more strength to keep him under its control. This is because the receiver lets him understand that he is not like other people because, thank God, he is a man who has acquired good deeds and Torah, and certainly, the Creator shouldn’t treat him as He treats ordinary people. Rather, the Creator should recognize him for who he is.

And if he works in concealment, he is certain to have complaints against the Creator, since if he suffers from something, he tells the Creator, “Is this the reward for the Torah?” Thus, he always has grievances against the Creator, which is called “doubting Divinity.” By that, they are separated from the Life of Lives.

This means that where they should have longed to be annulled before the Creator and to have all that they do be only to serve the Creator, those who work for the receiver wish for the Creator to serve them: all that their receiver needs, the Creator should satisfy. It follows that they are working opposite from those who want to be rewarded with life by their engagement in Torah.

Therefore, we can understand what we asked about why Rabbi Ami says, “Torah is not to be given to idolaters.” If this is in the work, meaning in the person himself, and he is in a state of idolater, the reason that it is forbidden to learn is that it is pointless. This is so because in the work we learn that we should study Torah in order to come out of the domination of the evil inclination. But if he doesn’t want to break free from the enslavement of the evil inclination, then why does he need the Torah? It follows that if he were to be given Torah, it would be pointless. It is a waste of effort for the one who will teach him.

However, Rabbi Yohanan adds to Rabbi Ami and says, “Not only is it pointless, but if an idol-worshipper engages in Torah, it will harm him.” He is risking his soul because for idol -worshippers, meaning those who study Torah without the goal of exiting the domination of the evil inclination, but wish to stay under it and serve it willingly, this is called “idolatry.”

It is written about it, “A strange God in man’s body.” Thus, he is taking for himself the potion of death. This is why Rabbi Yohanan said, “An idol-worshipper who engages in Torah must die.” It means that he is risking his soul because the Torah will be a potion of death for him. However, what Rabbi Meir would say is, “Where is it from that an idol-worshipper who engages in Torah must die? Rather, he is like the high priest, as it was said, ‘I f a man does them, he shall live by them.’”

And we asked about it, A) Why is he saying that he is like the high priest? Isn’t an ordinary priest a high degree? This is so far from the words of Rabbi Yohanan, who thinks that he must die. So what is the reason for this exaggeration that he is as the high priest? B) The interpreters ask, the evidence that Rabbi Meir brings, where it says, “The man,” Rabbi Shimon says that “the man” actually means Israel and not idolaters.

We should interpret what Rabbi Meir says, “An idol worshipper who engages in Torah,” as referring to what we explained above. Rabbi Meir’s intention is that a person has come to realize that he is an idol-worshipper, that he sees that from the day he was born until now he has been serving idols, a foreign God, meaning the evil inclination, which is inside a man’s body. He sees how he is enslaved and is under its control and has no power that will defy its word. And although he often understands with his mind and reason that it is not worthwhile to serve it, but to the contrary, the evil inclination should serve the Kedusha [holiness], he still subdues his reason and serves it as if he realized that it was worthwhile to serve it.

When a person comes to realize it, when he sees that there is no power in the world that can help him, and he sees that he is lost and will be cut off from life forever, to deliver himself from death—being “The wicked in their lives they are called ‘dead’”—in that state he comes to believe the words of our sages. They said, “This is what the Creator told Israel, ‘My sons, I have created the evil inclination; and I have created for it the spice of Torah. If you engage in Torah, you will not be given into its hand.’”

It is about this kind of idol-worshipper that Rabbi Meir said that he was like the high priest. And he brings as evidence that it is written, “If a man does them, he shall live by them.” He interprets that if one engages in Torah in order to “live by them,” if the reason for his engagement in Torah is that he wishes to be rewarded with life and not be wicked—an idolater, which is a foreign God in a man’s body—but his sole aim is to be rewarded with life, this verse, “If a man does them, he shall live by them,” is about him.

This is so because if he engages in Torah, he will be as the high priest. And not just a priest, but he will be a priest, meaning obtain the quality of Hesed [mercy], which is called “a priest,” meaning he will be rewarded with vessels of bestowal, and he will also be rewarded with Gadlut [greatness/adulthood]. This is why he says that he is like the high priest.

Accordingly, we should ask why Rabbi Meir says, “Even an idolater.” As we explained, it is to the contrary, since such an idol worshipper is worthy of being as the high priest. We can explain and say that the word “Even” means that even if a person comes to such lowness that he sees that he is truly an idolater, that he sees that thus far he gained nothing in his life, but only served his evil inclination. In other words, all his thoughts and desires have been only in favor of the receiver. He hasn’t even touched the path of truth, meaning had the ability to believe in the Creator above reason, but only according to what the reason allowed him to see—that specifically by working for it, it will give it energy to engage in Torah and Mitzvot. To such a person, Rabbi Meir comes and says, “Do not regret this lowness. Instead, you should believe that even when you have come to such a low, the Creator can still help you out of the exile of being under its domination all this time.” So the reason is to the contrary: The meaning of what he says is, “Even if the world agrees.”

However, in truth, only now is there a need for the Torah. Only now do you have the real Kelim [vessels], the real need for the Creator to help you, since you have come to the point of truth, as our sages said, “Man’s inclination overcomes him every day. Were it not for the Creator, he would not prevail over it.” Now he sees the truth, that he really needs the help of the Creator.

Now we can understand the above-mentioned words of The Zohar, where he says that on the face of it we should make three discernments in the work: 1) idol-worshippers, 2) Jacob, 3) Israel. The difference between them is that idol-worshippers are forbidden to study even the literal Torah. And we learn that from what is written, “He has not dealt so with any nation.” In general, it is permitted to teach him the literal, specifically in the revealed matters. It concludes that from the verse, “He declares His word unto Jacob,” which is an inferior degree. When he is at a superior degree, it is permitted to teach him the secrets of Torah. It concludes that from the verse, “His statutes and His ordinances unto Israel.”

It is written in The Zohar, Yitro (p 69, and Item 265 in the Sulam Commentary), “‘Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob,’ to that place which befits their degree. ‘And tell the children of Israel,’ since Jacob and Israel are two degrees. Jacob is the degree of VAK, and Israel is the degree of GAR. However, Israel is called ‘the perfection of everything,’ which means showing Hochma [wisdom] and speaking in the spirit of Hochma.”

And it is written in The Zohar, Yitro (Item 260), “‘Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob’ is to the females, ‘And tell the children of Israel’ is to the males.” Also in The Zohar, Yitro (Item 261), “‘Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob’ meaning with a saying, from the side of Din [judgment]. ‘And tell the children of Israel’ is as they said, ‘And he shall tell them his covenant.’ Telling is Rachamim [mercy] for the children of Israel, meaning the males that come from the side of Rachamim. This is why it states ‘telling’ about them.”

We should understand the distinctions in the words of The Zohar, which says in the portion, Aharei, that Jacob and Israel are two degrees: 1) Jacob is below, with whom one studies the literal; 2) Israel is the degree above, with whom one studies the secrets of Torah.

It is written in The Zohar, Yitro (Item 260), “Jacob is females, Israel is males.” It says (Item 261), “Jacob is from the side of Din, which is why it writes, ‘saying,’ and Israel is Rachamim, for telling is Rachamim.” It says (Item 265), “Jacob is considered VAK and Israel is considered GAR. This is why it is written, ‘And tell the children of Israel,’ which means to show Hochma and to speak in the spirit of Hochma, since telling implies Hochma.”

First, we will explain what The Zohar interprets about the discernment of Jacob. It says, 1) VAK, 2) females, 3) Din, 4) a revealed degree, the lower degree, the literal.

The order of the work that a person should begin in order to achieve the goal is to know his state in the work of the Creator and what is the goal that he must reach. In other words, what is the wholeness that a person must achieve?

The first state is for a person to know that he is an idol-worshipper, called “idolater.” This is the evil inclination that exists in man’s body. It is called, “a strange God” or “a foreign God.” This is to clarify his state, where he truly is—that he is truly in a state of idol-worshipping.

However, one should make great efforts to see the truth because it is impossible to reach the truth unless through Torah and work, as our sages said, “From Lo Lishma [not for Her name], one comes to Lishma [for Her name].” In a state of Lo Lishma, when a person exerts in Torah and work, it is human nature to look at people in his surroundings. And he sees that there are no other people like him, dedicating so many hours to the work of the Creator.

In that state, he feels superior to others, and this causes him to forget the goal, meaning that the important thing is to achieve Lishma. This is because people on the outside caused him to feel wholeness, and that wholeness is the reason why he cannot feel that he is devoid of the main goal—reaching Lishma.

It is especially so if he is respected for being a servant of the Creator. Indeed, all the people who honor him instill their views so that he will believe what they think about him, that he is a highly virtuous man without any faults. Thus, how is it possible that a person will say about himself that he is in a state of idol-worshipping, that he is still uncircumcised? It follows that his adhesion to the masses, meaning their adhesion to his Torah and work brought him wholeness. In the work, this is called, “a grip to the external ones.”

And what is he losing by their having a grip? The answer is that the grip is the reason why he cannot see his real state, that he is still in a state of idol-worshipping, and seek advice on how to exit the domination of the evil.

The second state of a person is when he circumcises himself. “Circumcision” means that he cuts off the foreskin. The foreskin is the three impure Klipot [shells], called “Stormy Wind,” “Great Cloud,” and “Blazing Fire,” and the will to receive comes from there.

However, it is not within one’s power to cut off this foreskin. Baal HaSulam said about it that the Creator should help in order for a person to be able to cut off the foreskin. It is written about it, “And made a covenant with him.” The meaning of “With him” is that the Creator helped him. However, it is for a person to begin.

Yet, if we say that he cannot circumcise himself by himself, then why should a person start, if we say that he cannot finish? It seems as though his work is in vain. However, it is known that there is no light without a Kli [vessel], and a Kli is called “a deficiency,” since where there is no deficiency, there is no filling.

Thus, a person having to start refers to the deficiency. It doesn’t mean that a person should start with the filling. Rather, when we say, “start,” it is about giving the need and the lack. Afterwards, the Creator comes and gives the filling for the lack. This is called “And made a covenant with him,” that the Creator helps him.

This is also regarded as right line, which is the meaning of “Father gives the white,” as explained in Talmud Eser Sefirot. This means that when the upper light shines—meaning Ohr Hochma [light of Hochma], called Aba [father]—it is possible to see the truth, that the foreskin—will to receive—is a bad thing. Only then does one come to realize that he should throw away the self-love. This is the help that a person receives from the Creator—he comes to the recognition of evil.

In other words, before a person comes to the resolution that it is not worthwhile to be using the receiver, one cannot use the vessels of bestowal, since one contradicts the other. For this reason, a person must circumcise himself, and then he can take upon himself the desire to bestow.

It follows that removing the foreskin, called “circumcision,” comes by help from above. In other words, it is precisely when the upper light shines that one sees his baseness, that he cannot receive anything because of the disparity of form. In the worlds, this is called, “Father gives the white.”

And after he comes to the recognition of evil, there comes a second correction: he begins to work in order to bestow. But this, too, requires help from above. This is called, “His mother gives the red.” In Talmud Eser Sefirot, he interprets that this relates to the desire to bestow. It follows that both the power to annul the will to receive and the power that can perform acts of bestowal are given by the upper one. In other words, the help comes from above.

This brings up the question, “What does the lower one give?” Since it is said that the lower one must start, what does he start with, so that afterwards the Creator will give him the necessary assistance?

As it was said, all that the lower one can give to the Creator is the lack, for the Creator to have a place to fill. In other words, one who wishes to be a servant of the Creator and not an idol- worshipper must come to feel his lowness. To the extent that he feels this, a pain gradually forms within him for being so immersed in self-love, actually like a beast, and that he has no connection with the discernment of a human.

Yet, sometimes a person comes to a state where he can see his lowness and not care that he is immersed in self-love, and he doesn’t really feel the lowness to the point of needing the Creator to deliver him from it.

In that state, a person should tell himself, “I am not inspired; I am like a beast, doing only beastly things, and my only concerns in that state is that I ask of the Creator to let me feel more delight in corporeal pleasures, and I feel no desires otherwise.” In that state, a person should tell himself that now he is in a state of unconsciousness. And if he cannot pray for the Creator to help him, there is only one solution: to bond with people whom he believes have the sensation of the lack, who are in lowness and who ask the Creator to bring them closer, to deliver them from trouble to relief, and from darkness to light, although they haven’t been delivered yet.

Afterwards, he should say, “Of course they still haven’t completed their Kli of deficiency, called ‘the need to be delivered from this exile.’ However, they have probably traversed the lion’s share of the way to feeling the real need.” Thus, through them, he can receive their sensation, too, meaning that he will feel pain at being in lowness, too. However, it is impossible to receive the influence of the society if he is not attached to the society, meaning if he does not appreciate them. To the extent that he does, he can receive from them the influence without any work, simply by adhering to the society.

It follows that in the second state, meaning when he is circumcised and has gone through the two discernments—1) removal of the evil, which is the annulment of the vessels of reception, and 2) obtaining the vessels of bestowal—it is considered that now he receives the degree of VAK. This is considered half a degree, since a complete degree means that he can use the vessels of reception, too, in order to bestow.

And since he only obtained the vessels of bestowal after he was circumcised to be in order to bestow, it is merely regarded as the degree of VAK. This is called “the degree of Jacob.” It is also called “female,” as in, “His strength is as weak as a female,” which means that he cannot overcome and aim them in order to bestow, but only with the vessels of bestowal.

And this degree, too, is called Din. It means that there is still Midat ha Din [quality of judgment] over the vessels of reception, that it is forbidden to use them because he cannot aim in order to bestow. It is also called “a revealed degree,” to know that there is another degree, which is hidden from him. It is also called “a low degree,” to know that there is a high degree. We need to know this so that we know that there is more work to be done, meaning to still reach a higher degree.

This degree is also called “the literal,” since now that he has circumcised himself he has become “a simple Jew.” That is, before he was circumcised he was an idol-worshipper, and now he is simply discerned as “Jewish.”

Also, now he is called “Jacob,” as it is written, “Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob,” meaning “saying,” which is a soft speech, since the degree of Jacob is regarded as working only with vessels of bestowal, which are pure Kelim. This is why there is “saying” there, which is soft speech.

This is not so with the discernment of “Israel.” The Zohar interprets Israel as being 1) the degree of GAR, completeness of everything; 2) males; 3) Rachamim; 4) a high and hidden degree, the secrets of the Torah.

We shall explain them one at a time.

1) The degree of GAR. Since each degree comprises ten Sefirot, which divide into Rosh and Guf [head and body, respectively], the Rosh is called GAR, meaning Keter-Hochma-Bina, and the Guf is called ZAT. They are two halves of the degree. This is why VAK is considered the low degree and GAR is considered a high degree. It is known that when speaking of the degree of VAK, it is called “half a degree.” This is a sign that the GAR is absent. For this reason, when saying, “the degree of GAR,” it means that there is a complete degree here, since the rule is that when two degrees are together, the higher one is mentioned and includes the lower one. This is why The Zohar calls the perfection of everything, “Israel.”

2) The degree of males. Each degree contains two kinds of Kelim: Zach [pure/fine]—which are vessels of bestowal, and Av [thick], which are vessels of reception. It is possible to use them only if the intention to bestow is placed on them. And since in order to bestow is against nature, it requires great effort with much strength against nature. And when one can overcome only the fine Kelim, this is called “a female,” which implies that his power is as weak as a female’s. But when he can overcome the vessels of reception, too, he is called “a man,” “male,” “strong.” And since Israel is considered GAR, the perfection of everything, using the vessels of reception, too, Israel is considered “males.”

3) The degree of Rachamim. Since there was a Tzimtzum [restriction] and Din [judgment] over the vessels of reception, and it is forbidden to use them unless one can do it in order to bestow, when one cannot aim to bestow with vessels of reception, there is Din over them and it is forbidden to use them. This is why a female is called Din.

But a male means that one can overcome, in order to bestow in vessels of reception, too, and the Din is removed from them. He is using the vessels of reception in order to bestow, and this is called Rachamim [mercy]. It is considered that the previous Din has been mitigated by the quality of Rachamim, that now he is receiving at the degree of in order to bestow. This is why a male is called Rachamim.

This means that males are called Rachamim and not Din, as written in The Zohar (Item 261), “Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob,” meaning saying is from the side of Din, and “Tell the children of Israel” means that telling is from the side of Rachamim.

RASHI interprets the verse, “Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob”: “The name Mekhilta [an interpretation on the book, Exodus] are the women, tell them with soft speech, and ‘Tell the children of Israel,’ the males, the words are as hard as tendons.”

We should interpret the words, “To the women with soft speech.” It was mentioned above that females are those who don’t have much strength to overcome, but only over the fine Kelim. This is called “soft,” meaning it is soft and not so difficult to overcome the vessels of bestowal [“difficult” is the same word as “hard” in Hebrew].

But the vessels of reception are very hard to overcome. Hence, the males—those who are in a state of males, who have the power to overcome—were given work in things that are as hard as tendons, referring to the vessels of reception. But why does The Zohar write that males are Rachamim? Rather, it says, “As hard as tendons,” and hard means Din, not Rachamim. Hence, on the one hand, it says that males means as hard as tendons, and on the other hand it says that they are Rachamim.

We should interpret that males have the power to overcome the vessels of reception, too, which are hard to overcome. And when overcoming the vessels of reception, called Midat ha Din [quality of judgment] that is on them, there is Rachamim on that place, and not Din. But with females, who have no power to overcome the vessels of reception, there is Midat ha Din on them and it is forbidden to use them.

4) A high and hidden degree, considered “the secrets of the Torah.” “Hidden” means that even if a person has already circumcised himself and has been rewarded with the literal, meaning with being a simple Jew, that is, he’s come to a state where he is not committing idolatry but serves the Creator, the light of Hochma—revealed over the vessels of reception—is still hidden from him.

But one who has been rewarded with the highest discernment, who is a male and has the power to overcome the vessels of reception, too, the light of Hochma, called “the secrets of the Torah,” appears on those Kelim. This is why The Zohar says (Item 265), “And tell the children of Israel,” meaning show Hochma and speak in the spirit of Hochma, since “telling” implies Hochma, as it is written, “And he shall tell them his covenant.”

It follows that saying that it is forbidden to teach Torah to idol worshippers should be interpreted in the work as, “It is impossible to teach idol-worshippers Torah.” As Baal HaSulam said, when speaking in matters of the work, where it writes, “forbidden,” it means “can’t.” But after he is circumcised, there are two degrees—upper and lower—meaning literal and hidden.

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