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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

What Is the Foundation on which Kedusha [Holiness] Is Built

Article No. 16, 1987-88

When building a building in corporeality, we see that anyone who wants to build a building must first dig the foundations, and on the foundation he builds the building. In digging the foundation, we see that we should discern between having to build a one-story building—that is, only the ground floor—or a multi-story building. Thus, the digging of the foundation into the ground should be according to the height of the building. The foundation is not dug at once. Rather, each day the foundation is built so that it will be deeper, and then one can build a higher building.

The same order applies in spirituality. When a person wishes to build a one-story building, he doesn’t need to dig very deep. He only digs a little, and he can build his building in keeping Torah and Mitzvot [commandments]. And what is digging in spirituality? It is a deficiency, when a deficiency is dug in the heart, since the heart is called “desire,” a heart is called Malchut, and a heart is called “earth” or “ground.”

As in corporeality, you dig a deficiency in the ground. In other words, before we go and build a building, we must first dig in the ground, that is, take out whatever there is in the digging site. Once the place where we want to build is empty, we begin to build. If the place is filled with earth, we mustn’t build on it because the building will fall.

Likewise, in spirituality we must dig in the ground, meaning in the heart, and take out the dust in the heart from there, and then the heart remains empty, without any filling. Then begins the time of building. It follows that when the heart is filled with corporeal things, it is impossible to build any construction on that ground because the whole building will tumble, since nothing is entitled to exist if there is no need for it.

Rather, only where there is a need, and he feels the lack from not having that which he craves, when he obtains it, that thing is entitled to exist, because he needs it. And then he knows—the measure of importance is according to the measure of the need, and he knows how to watch over the building so his enemies will not ruin it.

Here begins the matter of digging the foundations, meaning the depth of the digging in the ground depends on the height of the building that a person intends to build. Sometimes a person says that he is content with a ground-level building. In other words, he wishes to keep Torah and Mitzvot by which to be rewarded with a building that is at the ground level, meaning not far from the ground.

Therefore, he wishes to remain in earthliness, which is regarded as vessels of reception, meaning the reward in which he wishes to dwell. As when building a building to live in, the reward is considered the building where he lives. Thus, it is known that a person wants to live only by reward, and reward means that he is receiving delight and pleasure in return for his work, and this is the person’s life—that a man wants to live only for delight and pleasure.

The order of the work in Torah and Mitzvot begins with Lo Lishma [not for Her name], as it is written in The Zohar, “Some keep Torah and Mitzvot in order to be rewarded in this world, and some work in Torah and Mitzvot to have the next world.” However, his reward is only what he will receive in his vessels of self-reception, which is considered earthliness. This manner is called “people of the earth,” meaning that they do not move from the earth, which is called the “will to receive.”

It is as Maimonides said (Hilchot Teshuva(Penance Laws), Chapter 10), “When teaching little ones, women, and people of the earth, they are taught only to work out of fear and to be rewarded.”

This is not so with being a wise disciple, according to what Baal HaSulam said, that a wise disciple is one who is studying the qualities of the Wise, and the Creator is called “Wise.” Therefore, one who goes by the path of bestowal is regarded as learning from the wise. Hence, he is called “a wise disciple.”

It follows that those people who engage in Torah and Mitzvot to be rewarded with a building called “reward of this world or reward of the next world for one’s own benefit” are defined as “people of the earth.” This is considered that he wishes to build only the ground floor. Thus, he does not need to dig a deep foundation, meaning dig each day to make the digging deep. Instead, he digs once and the digging is enough for him.

In other words, when he understands that he has a need and desire to keep Torah and Mitzvot so as to be rewarded, when he understands that deficiency, that reason, he can already obtain the building of the reward. This is so because as long as a person does not wish to exit self-love, the body does not resist Torah and Mitzvot. Therefore, he does not need to dig each day, meaning he does not need to search for a need and desire to engage in Torah and Mitzvot because the body doesn’t resist his need, for he understands that it is worthwhile for him to work for his own benefit.

This is considered that his digging does not need to be so deep. Rather, the need to understand that it is good to engage in Torah and Mitzvot is enough to motivate him for the work. It follows that the digging he did once always remains with him and he can continue the work. Thus, his digging does not need to be deep.

However, if he wishes to build a multi-story building, meaning to be rewarded with a Neshama [soul] that consists of NRNHY, he can be rewarded specifically if his intention is in order to bestow, that all his thoughts and desires are only for the Creator’s sake and not for his own sake. In this way, when he wishes to create a foundation, to build such a building, the digging of the foundation—meaning the need for it—is not made in a single time.

This is so because after a person works with himself and lets his body understand that it is worthwhile to work to bestow, this digging does not come easily to him. During the digging he hits rocks, which are difficult to make holes in. It is hard to make even a small hole in a rock.

In other words, when he wishes to understand—when he has a big desire, when he sees that he cannot do anything in order to bestow and wishes to ask the Creator to give him what he wants, meaning to give him the light of Torah that reforms him—in the middle of the digging he finds a big rock.

In other words, a thought arises in him that he wishes to understand why he needs to work for the Creator and not for himself. After all, it is known that “Your life and the life of your friends—your life comes first.” And he has nothing to answer to that perception. Thus, he pauses in the digging because that rock is too hard to be able to make a hole in it.

For this reason, he needs a valuable instrument by which it is possible to break the stone. That instrument is called faith above reason, and it is only this instrument that can break the stone, which is called “external reason,” meaning that this reason is outside of Kedusha [holiness] because it only serves the Kedusha as a shell that precedes the fruit.

Thus, since only with faith above reason is it possible to break the stone, there is the matter of ascents and descents here, since one is not always capable of going above reason. It follows that all his digging and finding of some deficiency to ask the Creator to give him strength to go by the path of bestowal has been resealed by the rock.

As a result, he must dig once more, repeatedly. And each time he begins to dig out the earth, in the middle of the digging he finds a rock again. And once again he begins to ask questions within reason. And again, he overcomes and uses the faith above reason. And once more, he obtains a place of lack and begins to pray to the Creator to bring him closer to His work, meaning to do the work of the Creator for the Creator, and not for his own sake.

And since his whole construction is built on above reason, the digging is sealed again, meaning that his need disappears again and he has nothing to ask; that is, he has no need for the Creator to bring him closer. Thus, he must start digging again, meaning to work in order to find a deficiency, so he will have a basis upon which to ask the Creator to build his building.

In this digging, we find that when we dig in the ground, we find dust and rocks. Dust is called “heart,” meaning the will to receive for oneself. This is still not so terrible because with great efforts, one can take out the dust from the earth. But when he finds rocks in the middle of the digging, when the reason begins to ask questions, then he needs heaven’s mercy to receive strength to overcome above reason.

Therefore, there is great work on the foundation because the digging is not finished in a day. Rather, immediately after the digging come the rocks and fall in his mind, meaning he receives foreign thoughts. That is, after he has already overcome above reason, for a time he cannot maintain it but suffers another decline and must begin anew. However, one must believe that no work is lost. Rather, everything remains but there is a correction of not seeing what he has already done.

Therefore, it is considered that each day when a person digs the foundation, he digs into the depth of the ground and does not go back to working on what he has already worked yesterday. But the progress is in deepening, and the measure of the depth of the digging is when he receives a genuine need for the Creator’s help to help him have the desire to work in order to bestow.

“Each penny is accumulated into a great account.” Finally, out of all the digging, he arrives at such a depth that it is possible to build a building on it, to be worthy of being rewarded with NRNHY of the Neshama, which one should be rewarded with.

We understand the construction of Kedusha [holiness] in two respects: 1) Kli [vessel], and 2) Light.

A Kli means that the Creator gives a desire and a craving to bestow upon the Creator.

“Light” means that once he has a desire to bestow, which is called Dvekut [adhesion], he receives a degree of Neshama, until he is rewarded with NRNHY. It is written in the “Introduction to the Study of Ten Sefirot” (Item 133), “So it is in the work of the complete righteous, that the choice that applies during the concealment of the face is certainly not applied once the door for attainment of open Providence is opened. Instead, they begin with the primary part of His work—in disclosure of the face. At that time, one begins to march on the many degrees, as it is written, ‘The righteous go from strength to strength.’ These works qualify them for the will of the Creator, that His thought in creation would be realized in them: to delight His creations.”

Now we can see that there is a degree of being rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator, meaning obtaining the degree of wanting to bestow. After that, there is the order of being rewarded with the light, which is called NRNHY, which are degrees in the disclosure of the light.

According to the aforesaid, we can interpret what is written (Gen 26:15), “And all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines sealed. ... And Isaac dug again the wells of water which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham, and the Philistines had stopped them up. And Isaac's servants dug ... And the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac, saying, ‘The water is ours!’... And they dug another well, and quarreled over it too ... and [he] dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; and he named it Rehovot, for ‘At last the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.’ And he went up from there to Beersheba.”

The digging that they did was to find a deficit and a need for the salvation of the Creator; they were for the Kli, meaning to ask the Creator to give them the need to bestow. And they see that they cannot because the body resists it by nature, for it is born only with a desire to receive.

However, in that, too, there are two discernments to make: 1) When he prays for the Creator to give him the strength to overcome the will to receive and work in order to bestow, and he wishes for the Creator to give him this power. 2) Sometimes, one cannot ask the Creator to give him the desire to bestow because the body resists the prayer, as well. The body is afraid that perhaps the Creator might help him and he will lose the desire to receive. It follows that he must pray that the Creator will give him the strength to overcome the body and that he will have the strength to pray to the Creator for help in overcoming the will to receive and working in order to bestow.

It follows that he is praying, and what is his request? It is to be able to pray. This is called “a prayer for a prayer.” It is called that the Creator should help him with the Kli, meaning to understand that what he needs is the strength to bestow. It turns out that the Creator helps him and gives him a desire to want to understand that all that man needs is the desire to bestow in mind and in heart.

Afterwards, when he has the need and he wishes to work in order to bestow, but cannot, the Creator gives him the light, meaning light that comes for the correction of the Kli, to be able to work in order to bestow. And that light is called Kli, as it is known that the light is named after the act. And since the light gives him the desire, which is called Kli, it is called that the Creator gave him the vessel of bestowal. This is called “the foundation,” and on such a foundation it is possible to build a multi-story building. In other words, once he has obtained the foundation, which is the vessel of bestowal, he begins to be rewarded with a full level of NRNHY in his soul.

However, concerning the Philistines sealing the wells that his father’s servants dug in the days of Abraham, we should interpret it in the work. Abraham is the discernment of Hesed [mercy/grace]. Abraham’s servants are those who follow the path of Hesed, meaning those who wish to go by the path of bestowal, which is called Hesed. They dug this deficiency for themselves, meaning the need for vessels of bestowal. But as much as they dug to find deficiencies, their deficiencies were sealed, and they always had to work anew, to dig again, repeatedly.

Now we can interpret the dispute between the herdsmen of Gerar and the herdsmen of Isaac, as it is written, “And Isaac's servants dug ... And the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac... So he named the well Oshek, because they Hitashku [contended] with him. And they dug another well, and they quarreled over it too, and he named it Sitnah [Hebrew: enmity]. And [he] dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; and he named it Rehovot ... And he went up from there to Beersheba.”

We must understand the meaning of “Herdsmen of” in spirituality, and the difference between “The herdsmen of Gerar” and “The herdsmen of Isaac” in the work, as well as why there was a quarrel over the digging of the first two wells and none over the digging of the third well, as it is written, “And they did not quarrel over it.”

It is known that one cannot live without provision. “Provision” is considered that which sustains one in life and of which he says, “This is worth living for.” Certainly, there are many degrees of man’s provision. Some are content with little, meaning that if a person has the food animals settle for, he says, “This is enough for me and such provision is worth living for.” Compared to the provision of others, he is regarded as settling for little.

And some say that they settle for such nourishments that are enough to provide for little children. This is an addition to animals, since they have interests: they play hide-and-seek, with toys and so on, and they settle for that. They say, “What we enjoy doesn’t have to be real. Even if it’s a lie we can still find our provision there.” On the contrary, it is the real things that we find completely meaningless.

As an allegory, I said many times that we see that there are little girls whose parents bought them toy dolls to play with. Sometimes, the mother is in the kitchen preparing a meal, with a year-old baby in the house, and the baby is crying. The mother says to her little girl, “Go play with the baby. By that, the baby will enjoy and I will enjoy because I’ll be able to prepare the meal.”

But we see that in reality, the girl will not go. If we were to ask the girl, “Why don’t you want to play with the baby? You’re only playing with your doll, kissing it, but why won’t you play with a real baby instead of a toy one? Moreover, you can see that your mother is doing the opposite. She never kisses your doll, but the real baby.” The girl would probably answer, “My mother doesn’t want to enjoy life; that’s why she can’t play with a doll. But I still want to enjoy life, so I can’t play with a real baby.”

Similarly, in the work, one cannot enjoy the truth in the work. Rather, man is impressed specifically by the lie and takes pleasure and liveliness from that. If he is told, “It is unbecoming for you to enjoy work with unreal things,” he says, “I still want to enjoy the world; that’s why I settle for little in my engagement in Torah and Mitzvot.”

For the most part, each person in the masses that observe the holy work and keep Torah and Mitzvot chooses his own measure of time he must dedicate to Torah and Mitzvot. Each one measures for himself what he understands as sufficient for him in both quantity and in quality, and says that he settles for little. He does not have to be among the wealthy, who have great possessions. Instead, each understands his measure in Torah and Mitzvot with good reason.

It is as The Zohar says about the verse, “Her husband is known at the gates,” each according to what he measures in his heart. This means that according to the greatness of the Creator, he knows how much time he must dedicate to Torah and Mitzvot and how much he must exert if it is hard for him to keep the Torah and Mitzvot.

However, there are a chosen few who do not settle for the provisions of the masses. According to the Ari, the dissatisfaction that they feel is a matter of the root of the soul. They need to advance more than the masses, and they begin to understand that the main work should be to sustain themselves with man’s food, not with the food of beasts or with the food given to little ones. As Maimonides puts it, “When teaching the little ones, they are taught to work for a reward, and they are not told of the matter of Lishma [for Her name].”

However, here begins the exertion when he wishes to go by the path of bestowal upon the Creator and not for his own benefit, and that, the body resists. And then he begins to receive thoughts that wish to make him see that, “You don’t need to be an exception. As the others settle for the provision of reward for labor in this world and in the next world, this should be enough for you, too. So why are you making noise about wanting to work specifically in a manner of bestowal? Can’t you see that this is difficult? If it weren’t, others would work in bestowal, too.” With these arguments, these thoughts seal the diggings, meaning the deficiencies and the need to obtain the desire to bestow.

Now we can interpret what is “The herdsmen of Gerar” and what is “The herdsmen of Isaac,” and what is the dispute between them. “Herdsman” means provider. “The herdsmen of Gerar” means that their provision is in following the crowd. In other words, thoughts come to them that they don’t need to work like the work of the few, who wish to reach the truth, called Lishma, meaning in order to bestow. Instead, they settle for being workers who keep Torah and Mitzvot to receive reward in this world and in the next world. This means that here, too, in keeping Torah and Mitzvot, he can follow a path of settling for little.

“The herdsmen of Isaac” means what sustains Isaac. This is considered sustaining the discernment of Isaac, the discernment of bestowal. As long as he can bestow upon the Creator, this is his provision, and from this he makes a living.

That was the quarrel between the herdsmen of Gerar, who were telling him that any digging to find deficiency and need to engage only in the path of bestowal is not worth digging and searching for such deficiencies. They seal the need by saying, “We must follow the masses and not be exceptions.”

The herdsmen of Isaac were digging and looking for a need and deficiency to find pain and suffering from not being able to do things with the aim to bestow. This means that they understood that the most important thing was to work in bestowal, but they did not feel pain and suffering from this deficiency that they found. Thus, they dug and sought advice concerning how to feel suffering, and the herdsmen of Gerar came and blocked the deficiencies that they had found. In other words, they promoted the understanding that it is not so terrible; we can follow the masses and whatever they are saying, since we settle for little.

This caused suffering to Isaac’s herdsmen, since they had made great efforts to find that their deficiencies could not work in bestowal and to be pained by it. And they were already able to pray from the bottom of the heart, and they already had a place of blessing, meaning to give thanks to the Creator for revealing a place of lack to them, which is the main part of the work of the Creator. In other words, if they cannot aim the actions to benefit the Creator, they are not considered servants of the Creator, but their own servants. And the herdsmen of Gerar suddenly came and pulled them to follow the provision of the masses. By that, they were sealing all the well of Isaac’s herdsmen, and this is the issue with the quarrel that they had between them over the digging of the wells.

And now we will explain what we asked: Why did the herdsmen of Gerar quarrel over the first two wells and did not quarrel over the third well? It is known that the order of the work is in three lines—right and left, which are opposite to one another, then comes the middle line, and then peace is made.

It is also known that we said that the masses belong to a single line. Therefore, there is no one to oppose him, to make contradictory arguments, since he has only one line. This is why the matter of ascents and descents is hardly relevant to them. But with the right line, the left line stands opposite it, which is why in the right line there is already the matter of ascents and descents.

It is known that the right line is a line of truth. A single line, however, is not so true. Also, it is known that anything that is far from the truth is easier to keep. This is why the way of the masses, who are taught to go by a single line, means that they haven’t come to know and to understand that there is more than the actions. Rather, when they keep the 613 Mitzvot, they aim that the Creator commanded us to keep them, by which we will receive reward, and this is a complete righteous.

The only distinction among the workers is in quantity, in the amount of time each one gives for his engagement in Torah and Mitzvot. Therefore, since he is not so close to the truth, to being in Lo Lishma [not for Her name], there aren’t that many ascents and descents in those states, which are called “provision of the masses.” This is so because if he only believes in reward and punishment, to the extent of his faith the body agrees to work and to exert in keeping Torah and Mitzvot, since the reward he expects to receive in his vessels of reception are not in contrast with the body, which is called “will to receive for himself.” Thus, they can work with great diligence.

And there is another reason why there aren’t so many descents in them: they find success in the work. In other words, they see that each day they advance in Torah and Mitzvot because it is human nature that when we see that we succeed in some work, there is motivation to work. All this is considered one line.

This is not so when a person begins to work in order to bestow, meaning when the reward that he expects to receive in return for his work is to obtain Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, when his intention in keeping Torah and Mitzvot is to have only the desire to bestow upon the Creator and not for himself. And as much as he exerts to be rewarded with vessels of bestowal, he does not move an inch. On the contrary, he sees that he is not succeeding in the work. Thus, from where will he receive livelihood so he can continue with the work?

The correction is to know the truth: that he is still immersed in self-love and he is still remote from the Creator. But then he must tell himself, “Although I still don’t see any progress in the work, I have the great privilege of being able to do something in Torah and Mitzvot.”

Then he must believe above reason that although he still doesn’t feel His greatness, doing little things in Torah and Mitzvot—even if by coercion—makes him happy that he has some grip in Torah and Mitzvot. And for that he is grateful to the Creator. This is considered that the gratitude he gives to the Creator is given in truth.

In other words, he knows the truth—that he is remote from the Creator—and yet he is happy that he has the strength to do something in Torah and Mitzvot, although he doesn’t do it wholeheartedly. But what is important to him is that he is serving the Creator, even though he still doesn’t feel the greatness of the Creator. Nevertheless, he is thankful to the Creator for allowing him to do anything for Him.

And this is true. He is not deceiving himself into thinking that he is regarded as a servant of the Creator because he knows the truth, that everything he does is completely by coercion and not willingly.

But those who walk on a single line, who give thanks to the Creator for rewarding them with engagement in Torah and Mitzvot, there are two drawbacks there: 1) One considers himself a servant of the Creator, and this is not the truth, since he is working for himself. 2) The Creator is not the one who is important in his eyes, meaning that it is worthwhile to work for the Creator. Rather, all the importance of the work is in how much reward he will receive for his labor. In other words, he is looking at the reward—whether he will receive a weighty salary—and not whether the giver of the salary is important.

But those who go by the right line consider the giver of the work, how important Heis to them. Their desire is always that the giver of the work will be important to them, and this is their reward. This is considered that they always long to see the greatness of the Creator.

It follows that they are not after the reward that they will receive for their work. Rather, when they keep His commandments, they always look to see that the commander, the Giver of the commandments, will be more important in their eyes each time, and this is their reward in their exertion in Torah and Mitzvot. For this reason, they say that even a small grip in Torah and Mitzvot is a great thing, and they are delighted and receive livelihood.

Now we can explain the quarrel over the first digging, since the matter of the three diggings comprises the whole work. In other words, there are many diggings that belong to the right line, many diggings that belong to the left line, and many diggings that belong to the middle line. The reason for it is that not all the diggings can be done at one time. Rather, in each line there is much to dig until the lines are acquired in full.

Concerning the first well that they dug, it is written, “And he named the well Oshek, because they Hitashku [contended] with him.” We should explain Oshek. It means that with the first well, which implies to the right line, they engaged in Torah and Mitzvot in these diggings.

This is so because the right line is called “wholeness,” since the left line is called “deficiency.” Right is called “wholeness,” meaning that in the right, they had the strength to engage in Torah and Mitzvot with joy for the above-mentioned reason: whatever grip they have in Torah and Mitzvot, they believe that it came to them from above, that the Creator gave them the desire and craving to be able to engage a little in Torah and Mitzvot. This is why the herdsmen of Isaac argued, “Whatever grip we have, it is important to us and we thank the Creator for it.”

Conversely, the herdsmen of Gerar were following what the masses say: “We keep Torah and Mitzvot by our own strength, and for this reason, we demand of the Creator to pay for our labor in Torah and Mitzvot.” By that, they seal the well that the servants of Isaac had dug, who said, “We can receive livelihood from here because even a small thing is important to us, meaning that the Creator gave us the desire and craving to do anything in the work of the Creator. But we see that there are people who don’t have the desire and craving to do anything in the work, since the Creator did not give them this desire.”

This is why the herdsmen of Isaac were receiving life from this well. The herdsmen of Gerar came and sealed that well so they would not be able to receive life from there. They would tell them, “Your insistence on this inferior work is worthless. You will not receive any reward for it because it is completely unimportant, since the majority of people regard it as inferior.”

This is why in the first well, which they called “Oshek” [contending], they said, “It is not contention that it is worthwhile rejoicing with this petite work, about which you are making a fuss. After all, there is nothing to look at, as you yourselves are saying, that it is only a very small work. And your focus on the giver—this, we don’t understand.”

Afterwards, the herdsmen of Isaac’s servants shifted to working on the left line, to criticizing the situation they are in, that they are still immersed in self-love. They see that they are unable to work for the Creator by themselves; hence, they dig in the bottom of their hearts to find deficiencies and pain. In other words, they seek advice onhow to torment over being remote from the path of bestowal. And certainly, when they have suffering, they will receive help from the Creator, as during the exodus from Egypt, as it is written, “And the children of Israel sighed because of the bondage ... and God heard their groaning.”

Thus, by digging into the bottom of their hearts, they found a well, meaning a place where they could pray. “And they quarreled over it too, and he named it Sitnah [enmity].” This means that the herdsmen of Gerar became slanderers to them, not letting them pray that the Creator would fulfill their wish, meaning that the Creator would grant them the strength to overcome the vessels of reception so they could work to benefit the Creator and not for themselves.

It follows that through their quarrel, they sealed the diggings that they had dug in the left line so they would have a need for the Creator to fulfill their wishes for the better. “Good” means in order to bestow, as it is written, “My heart overflows with a good thing. I say, ‘My deeds are for the King.’” The meaning of “My deeds are for the King” is that everything he does will be for the King, that his intention is to bestow upon the King.

And the herdsmen of Gerar were slanderers toward them so they would not be able to pray because they were following the majority saying, “The act is the important thing, and the intention of doing it Lishma is not our business. Rather, it is for people who are pure at heart and gifted from birth. And the work in bestowal is not for us.” Thus, they sealed off the need for prayer. And this is why they called the second well, Sitnah, from the word, Satan [which also means “slandering”].

And in that line, too, they did not make the second well in a single time. Rather, they dug many times in each line. However, all of them, meaning all the diggings, fall under the name of the three wells.

But afterwards, once they completed the process of work in two lines, they were rewarded with the middle line. It is as we said in the previous article, that the right line is called “his father,” the left line is “his mother,” and the middle line is called “the Creator,” as it is written, “Three partake in man—his father, his mother, and the Creator.”

“His father gives the white.” This means that there is no deficiency there. Rather, everything is white, meaning that he is content with his lot, with the little hold of spirituality that he has.

“His mother gives the red.” This means that he is not in a good situation, but rather filled with deficiencies, and then he has room for prayer.

Afterwards, “The Creator gives the soul.” When the Creator helps him, when He gives him the soul, then Satan no longer has room, meaning he has nothing to slander. This is the meaning of the words, “And [he] dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; and he named its name Rehovot, for ‘At last the Lord has made room for us...’ And he went up from there to Beersheba.”

We asked, “What is the reason that the herdsmen of Gerar did not quarrel over the third well?” Where there is a deficiency in Kedusha [holiness], there is room for the Sitra Achra. Hence, when a person goes by the right line, he knows that he is immersed in self-love and that all of his actions are not for the Creator, but he wishes to be a servant of the Creator and in the meantime he is serving himself. And despite all the baseness that he is in, he wishes to thank the Creator for giving him some contact with the work of the Creator, even if it is in Lo Lishma.

And he believes above reason that the Creator gave him the thought and the desire to engage a little in the work. And since he believes as much as he can in the greatness and importance of the Creator, above reason, although he was not rewarded with feeling the importance within reason, he still has the privilege of doing simple things. He is thankful and he praises the Creator, and he is delighted and wishes to thank the Creator like those people who are in the form of a single line, meaning those who feel that the work that they do is truly in wholeness and all they need to add is in quantity.

In quality, however, they feel that they are so complete that they need to work on humbleness, as our sages said, “Be very, very humble.” They exert much work on that, on finding some lowliness in them, and it is all because they do not know that they are only from a single line. This is the work of the majority.

But one who wishes to go by the right line, who knows that there is a left line, too, which weakens the right line, must exert great efforts to believe above reason that even a little work in spirituality—even if it is incomplete, as they feel it for themselves—is important. And also, he must thank the Creator and be happy, and feel that now he has a life and that such a life is worth living.

This means that by believing above reason that there is no end to the greatness of the Creator, and it is very important for him that he can serve the King, this is called “right line.” And this is a lot of work. But a person should feel that the work in the right line is important; he should strive to have the same extent of livelihood as when he was working in a single line, or at least no less than when he was working in a single line, before he came to work in the right line.

Yet, here in the right line, there is much work in it, and it doesn’t come as easy as while working in a single line. This is because there he knew that the deeds he was doing were great and important, so it was easier for him to work. But in the right line, he sees for himself that his deeds are worthless in and of themselves, since he is not working wholeheartedly. Thus, he cannot say that he is doing great things and that the Creator will certainly grant him much reward in return for his work.

However, in a single line, there is no resistance on the part of the body, so he can work easily, without obstructions. But in the right line, he has a lot of work because he says that he wants to work for the Creator and not for the body, so the body naturally resists and he must constantly struggle with the body. Thus, he must always work with it and defeat it.

And there is another issue. If he wishes to continually walk on the right line and have strength for the work, he must make the Creator constantly greater and make great efforts seeking advice on how to obtain the greatness and importance of the Creator. If he appreciates the actions, meaning that he says, “My actions are very important above,” it will certainly be a lie because they are not in Lishma, since self-love—instead of love of the Creator—is involved in everything he does.

However, in the single line they do appreciate the deeds because in a single line they speak only of actions and not of the intention—whether his intention is in order to bestow or not. There, the order of the work is to not be meticulous about the actions. But when beginning to work on the aim to bestow, which is called “right line,” it cannot be said that the actions are fine, that he is happy with the work he does.

However, if he extols the Creator as much as he can, above reason, he will never overemphasize his faith in the greatness of the Creator, since we must certainly say that the Creator is greater than man can extol Him. Hence, saying that the Creator is important turns out to be the truth, and thus he is going on the path of truth.

And then a person can say, as in corporeality: “We see that concerning an important person, even if one can do a small service for him, it makes him happy and gives him high spirits.” This means that it is not the act that is the most important, meaning the service that he gives, but the one he serves. Thus, when a person walks on the right line, it is a line of truth.

However, since the right line is a line of truth, there is great resistance on the part of the Sitra Achra, who doesn’t permit walking on the path of truth, which leads to the correction of the world. This is because the building of the Klipot [shells] comes from the world of shattering and corruption. This is why all the things in the world that belong to destruction and corruption have strength to do their deeds. We see it clearly with little children, who can work on breaking and corrupting, but cannot work on things that bring about correction, such as the allegory with the little girl.

This is so because of the shattering that occurred in the upper worlds. Hence, the corporeal branches follow the same routes. This is why there is energy to work on corruption and shattering, but for correction, it is hard to work on things that bring about the correction of the world in the corporeal branches because the correction above has not been completed.

This is why it is very difficult to walk on the right line. In other words, one must see how people exert on the path of one line, while they should have at least as much energy and high spirits while walking in the right line.

And when a person wishes to appreciate the right line, the herdsmen of Gerar come and quarrel. In other words, they make him understand that, “This is the wrong way. How do you want to thank the Creator for such a small work? You’re thanking the Creator for something worthless. Conversely, those who walk on a single line know that what they do is important, and they can thank the Creator for it. But for trifling things? After all, you yourself are saying that your actions are worthless, since they are not from the heart, since you are saying that you are not working for the Creator. Thus, your gratitude is like flattery, and how do you derive joy and high spirits from a lie?”

The herdsmen of Gerar Gorerim [drag] him to the view of the majority, who can thank the Creator only for important things. And this is true, “While you are walking in a lie.”

This Klipa [shell] is a big Klipa, and it doesn’t allow a person to be happy and receive livelihood from the truth. Instead, it wishes to bring man into sadness and depression. Sometimes it brings him to a point where his life becomes meaningless, and then the only thing that can give a person joy is sleep, since while he is sleeping he enjoys not being in a state of despair and pointlessness in life.

This is similar to a person who must undergo surgery at a hospital. There is a special physician who is called “anesthesiologist.” This is the doctor that one wishes to see so he can give him a tip on how he can sleep for at least three months. This Klipa completely ruins the Kedusha because it is impossible for one to be able to say that the Creator is benevolent. A person defines that state as a descent, but there remains a question, “To where is he descending?”

The answer is that he is descending to the netherworld. If a person becomes stronger in that state, he says (in a Hanukah song), “Lord, you have lifted my soul from the netherworld.” Therefore, this is one’s duty, when the herdsmen of Gerar come to a person and wish to drag him into the domain of the majority, meaning how they regard a person who is doing something small when they know that it is small and they are unappreciative of such an act.

“So how do you do two opposite things? On the one hand, you admit that when doing such an act while being aware of doing it, it is an act full of faults,” since during the action there are many alien thoughts, each according to his degree.

For example, they make a blessing and say, “...who sanctified us with His commandments.” But during the blessing, they know that they are not feeling anything during the performance of the commandment, and they give much thanks to the Creator for it. Thus, he says that the blessing and the gratitude that he gives for it are not because he is doing something important.

And afterwards, you say that one should receive livelihood and joy from being rewarded with making a Mitzva [good deed/commandment], even if it is unimportant, and to thank the Creator for rewarding you, and say, “Who has chosen us.” Moreover, you say, “An everlasting love, Your people, the house of Israel, the love of Torah and Mitzvot.”

This brings up the question, “If you cannot see anything in the Mitzva that you are keeping, why are you saying that the Creator gave us good things because He loves us? What is the point of this Mitzva, which you say that He gave you for love? We, the majority, say that He gave us Torah and Mitzvot because He loves us. It is as Rabbi Hananiah Son of Akashiah says, ‘The Creator wished to reward Israel; thus, He gave them plentiful Torah and Mitzvot.’

Thus, since He wished to reward us with having the next world and this world, with receiving great reward without feeling shame—for it is known that when one eats the bread of shame, he is ashamed—He therefore gave us plentiful Torah and Mitzvot, by which we would be able to receive a great reward. Yet, we know that with a small and incomplete deed, this would be the bread of shame.

Therefore, when a person walks on the right line and wishes to receive life and high spirits from having done a small thing, he thanks the Creator for having rewarded him with doing something for Him and he believes above reason that the King is a great King, called “The Great, Mighty, and Terrible God.”

It is said that a thing is important in one’s eyes according to the importance of the King, even if he was only permitted a small service to the King, even one that is not important and with many faults, as long as he has some contact with the King. This is so because he is not seeking reward.

The order is that if one brings something to someone and wants a reward, then the order is that the thing is checked to see whether the reward that is demanded for the object is worth it or not. But those who walk on the right line have no wish for any reward. Instead, what they do for the King is their entire reward. Hence, they believe above reason that they are doing some service for the King, and this gives them livelihood, joy, and high spirits that they are rewarded with doing some service for the King.

And it is true that they say that the Creator is very important, but we don’t have the power to appreciate His greatness, and vice versa, that from the perspective of the act, there cannot be a smaller and more trifling act than what they are doing. Hence, it follows that it is true on both sides, and everything is built on the basis of faith above reason. Baal HaSulam said, “Everything that is built on above reason enters Kedusha and is considered internality, and within reason is considered externality.”

Therefore, since the right is built on the basis of truth, the herdsmen of Gerar immediately awaken and wish to drag a person to the view of the majority. Then this Klipa begins to attack a person and make him understand the view of the majority—that what they say is true. At that time, a person begins to believe this Klipa, when she wishes to kill him and extract all the vitality of Kedusha from him and to throw him to the netherworld. This Klipa dresses in false clothing and says that all she is telling you now is only so you will not fool yourself on a path of falsehood.

Hence, all that one can do then is stand guard while the thoughts of the herdsmen of Gerar come to his mind like jagged arrows dipped in poison, which kill a person instantaneously, leaving him without the spirit of life of Kedusha.

This Klipa comes to a person and sends him her views and ideas, and they don’t come, “God forbid,” so he will not be a servant of the Creator. On the contrary, they make one understand that, “Since now you clearly know what is the work of truth, that the intention must be for the Creator, and you know for yourself that you cannot aim for the Creator, thus your prayer is certainly worthless, as is the Torah that you are learning. You are wasting your efforts in vain. Therefore, it is better for you to work on the intent you must make. Thus, it is better, instead of praying or studying and doing trifle things, all Lishma.”

And since he is under her authority, he certainly has no strength to do anything in Lishma. Thus, she kills him. “It is better for you to think about the purpose of the work and not act. This is why it is better that you engage in the work of intentions, that you must do everything in Lishma.”

And since he is in her domain, and he certainly has no strength to do anything in Lishma, by that, she kills him. “Thus, when you pray, you don’t need to overcome yourself if you wish to speak to someone during the prayer, since your prayer and your Torah are meaningless. Thus, when you are not studying, if you have someone to speak to, or if you have someone to speak to during the prayer, it is a waste trying to refrain from speaking, since you are not losing anything anyway, since both your prayer and your Torah are worthless.

“This is so because in the prayer, you see that you have no connection to the words you are uttering. And in the Torah, what are you losing by stopping in the middle of the study? You yourself are saying that the important thing is to aim for the Creator. Thus, what are you gaining if you know a few pages of Gemarah or other words of Torah?

“And likewise in actions; why do you need to be so meticulous about actions? I am not telling you that you should eat forbidden things; rather, I am speaking of the rigor of customs, that you want to follow this path. After all, you know that the most important is to aim for the Creator. Thus, leave these actions and do what you understand that you must do. And the keeping of customs rigorously—this is not for you. Rather, those deeds are for simple folk, who do not think and do not know what real work is. Therefore, it is best for you to think about the thought of how to bestow upon the Creator.”

And when a person obeys this Klipa, called “the herdsmen of Gerar,” how they speak only in favor of the work of truth, then a person believes what they say and begins to neglect the schedule of the prayer and the Torah studies, and begins to listen to the voice of that Klipa. And since now a person has no life at all, since he has no action by which he can receive a life of Kedusha, when he begins to contemplate doing something for the Creator, the body laughs at him and shows him only dark depictions of the work for the Creator.

Thus, a person remains without life, and he no longer has the strength to say above reason that the Creator is benevolent, and he falls under the dominion of heresy. At that time, he does not have any strength to contemplate spirituality and comes to a state where the world darkens for him. This is the meaning of what is written, that the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac. In other words, they were furnishing Isaac’s servants with their views until they dragged them into their own authority, at which time they would kill them and take all their livelihood from them.

In other words, they would suck out what little faith they had, and they remained bare and empty. This is called “the Klipa of the right,” which does not let them follow the path of truth. Thus, although their actions are incomplete, they believe above reason that the Creator is so important that doing even the smallest service for the King is still considered a great thing.

And since that small act is true, and their belief above reason that the Creator is a great and important King is also true, it follows that then they, too, are attached to the quality of truth. And they can rejoice in doing their Master’s will even a bit, since truth is a great thing in and of itself.

This is why we must beware of this Klipa when beginning to walk on the right line. Only when a person is strong in overcoming the Klipa of the right does the work on the left line begin. Thus, the person himself evokes his criticism on himself, and not the Klipa.

Hence, while a person does not have livelihood and can take the right line, he must not walk on the right line. Rather, once he is full of life and joy from the work of the right, the time comes for him to engage in the left line, meaning to see the lowliness of his state and why he has not yet been rewarded with the Creator admitting him into the King’s palace.

Baal HaSulam once said about what is written (Psalm 57), “Awake, my glory ... I will awake the dawn.” Our sages said, “I awaken the dawn, and the dawn does not awaken me.” He said, “The literal meaning is that King David said that he does not accept the Shahar [dawn]—from the word Shahor [black], and darkness, which comes to him—and he awakens from the blackness. Rather, ‘I awaken the dawn,’ meaning when he feels that he is fine, then he himself evokes the blackness.”

We should interpret his words that a person does not accept criticism that his actions are not in order and that all that he does is worthless while the Klipa comes to him and dresses in a cover of righteousness, and ostensibly wishes for a person to not deceive himself in the work, but to work for the Creator.

But when such thoughts come and he does not evoke them, he should know that they are not coming from the side of Kedusha. Rather, since the Klipa of Gerar sees that a person receives livelihood from small things, that he settles for little and says that he believes above reason that there is no limit to the importance of the Creator, and he says that it is considered a great privilege that he was rewarded with the Creator giving him even a small desire and thought of serving Him, and he sees that there are many people in the world who do not have this privilege. Therefore, he is grateful and praises, and is very thankful to the King. And he is delighted and receives high spirits from that state.

At that time, the above-mentioned Klipa comes and wishes to kill him, to take out all the air of Kedusha that there is in him. She doesn’t allow him to praise the Creator, but throws him into the netherworld and takes whatever faith he had. And then the person is considered dead because he has no life of Kedusha.

And who was the cause of that? Only the Klipa, who comes to a person in false appearance and speaks only in favor of Kedusha. This is called “The dawn does not awaken me,” meaning that he did not wish to receive darkness and blackness from the Klipot.

Rather, “I awaken the dawn” will mean, “Whenever I want, I awaken the dawn.” In other words, I myself awaken the darkness and the blackness within me—that I am still immersed in self-love and I still do not have love for the Creator. I’m still without the glory of the Torah and I still do not have the importance of the Torah to know that it is worthwhile to do everything to obtain the light of Torah, as well as how to appreciate the importance of keeping the Mitzvot that the Creator commanded for us.

And while I need to perform some Mitzva and intend that it will be in order to bestow, the resistance in the body promptly awakens in full force. And he has a great struggle to do anything and he sees the ascents and descents each time. And then he has room for prayer. This is so because a person awakens himself at the right time, meaning when he feels that he will be able to pray instantaneously, and not that the black will bring him sadness and depression, that he will not have the ability to pray for the blackness.

One can see for himself whether it comes to him from the side of Klipa or not. The sign for it is that something that comes from Kedusha is always in the form of “increasing holiness and not decreasing.” In other words, one always asks the Creator to elevate him to a higher degree than the one where he is. But when the blackness comes from the side of Klipa, a person is incapable of asking the Creator to raise him above his state.

“Rather, they bring down,” meaning bring him down to the netherworld, and he loses the small part of faith that he had and remains seemingly dead, without the spirit of life. Then his only liveliness is if he can sleep, meaning escape and forget his state of depression.

According to the above, we should interpret the words of The Zohar when it says, “It is forbidden to raise the hands without prayer and litany.” We should understand what this means that our sages prohibited the lifting of hands in vain, and only if you can pray and make a request is there no prohibition, since there is prohibition only in emptiness.

According to the above, we should interpret that “hands” comes from the words, “If a hand ... obtains.” This means that when a person raises his hands to see what he has obtained in the work of the Creator, if he has Torah and fear of heaven and good deeds, if he believes in complete faith that the Creator is benevolent, if he is ready and has the strength to overcome, then if he sees that he has none of the things that he thought he would obtain through his labor in Torah and Mitzvot, he will not despair. On the contrary, he will have the strength to pray for the Creator to help him.

And he will have the strength to tell himself, “My seeing that I have nothing good in my hands is because the Creator has now allowed me to see the truth, that I truly am an empty vessel, and there is neither Torah nor fear of heaven and no good deeds in me. Rather, everything I do is only for my own benefit, and now I have a Kli [vessel] and a real need, from the bottom of the heart, for the Creator to grant my wish, since the help that I need—for Him to help me—is necessity and not luxury.

Thus far, I thought that I needed the Creator’s help for redundancies, not for necessities, because I knew that I am not like other people, who have no hold of spirituality whatsoever, but now I see within reason that my situation is worse than that of the rest of the people because I feel that I have nothing. Therefore, I am suffering and in pain because of my situation. But for the masses, it is not so bad because they don’t feel what I feel. Therefore, I cannot derive satisfaction from the fact that they, too, have nothing, that this is what I think and that this is what my reason makes me understand—that this is the state of the others.”

This means that it is possible that they have good states, since one does not know what is in one’s friend’s heart. But a person determines his friend’s state according to what he sees with his eyes, and from that, he deduces how to behave. For example, if his friend is a hidden righteous, he thinks about him that he is not so orthodox.

And what can one learn from this hidden righteous? Only frivolity. Therefore, when a person is looking at the majority, regardless of the actual degree of the majority, what is important is what a person thinks about the majority. Therefore, at that time, a person sees that his state is worse than that of the others; hence, he says that the Creator should help him because he is suffering more than the majority.

It follows that if he can assume that while he raises his hands he will see what he has in his hands and he will be able to pray, then he will know that his calculation came from the side of Kedusha. And then he is permitted to shift from the right line to the left line. Otherwise, if he does not know in his heart that he has the strength to pray, he must not shift to the left line, since then he will face the Klipa called “the herdsmen of Gerar.”

It is written in The Zohar (Vayikra [The Lord Called], p 131, and Item 401 in the Sulam Commentary), “Rabbi Yehuda started and said, ‘Or make his sin known to him.’ He asks, ‘On who’s behalf? Who made it known?’ It should have said, ‘Or knew his sin.’ What is ‘Make his sin known to him?’ He replies that the Creator commanded the assembly of Israel to make the sin that he sinned known to man.”

It is written in The Zohar (Vayikra [The Lord Called], Item 404 in the Sulam Commentary), “Here, too, the Creator said, ‘Make his sin known to him, which he has sinned.’ One who rises at night to engage in Torah, the Torah makes his sin known to him. And not by a way of Din [judgment], but rather like a mother who tells her son with soft words, and he repents before his Master.”

We must understand why, specifically, when the Creator alerts him that he has sinned, it is considered that now he is aware of the sin, but if his friend sees that he has sinned and his friend sees that he still did not repent and alerts him to his sin, it is not considered knowing. And what is the reason that if, specifically, the Creator alerts him that he has sinned, he knows that he has sinned and this is the time to repent, but if the Creator does not alert him, it is not yet time for him to repent for the sin?

And we should also understand what The Zohar says, that one who rises at night to engage in Torah, the Torah alerts him, and one who studies all day, the Torah does not make it known to him that he has sinned. But when he studies at night, even when he does not study during the day, the Torah does make it known to him. Thus, we should understand the advantage of studying at night over the day, and we should also understand what is written, that the Torah makes his sin known to him “Not by a way of Din [judgment], but rather like a mother who tells her son with soft words.”

RASHI interprets the verse, “Or make his sin known to him.” “When he sinned, he thought it was permitted. Afterwards, he was informed that it was forbidden.” We should understand it in the work. What is this sin? It is known that all the work that was given to the lower ones is in the form of “Which God has created to do.”

It is known that creation is called so because He created existence from absence, which is called “will to receive,” and “craving to receive pleasure.” And because of the equivalence of form, called Dvekut [adhesion], another Kli [vessel] must be made, so we can receive the light of the pleasure. In other words, we must add the aim to bestow over it, or else it is forbidden to receive the abundance.

And even if we want, it is still not given. However, if we wish to receive in order to receive, this is already called “a sin” in the work. This is so because through this desire, a person becomes more remote from the Creator, and it becomes more difficult for a person to be able to repent, which is called “returning to the root,” meaning the giver.

Thus, one should return to his source, since the disparity of form made him remote from the root, which is about bestowal. Therefore, when a person acts but does not intend for it to be in order to bestow, but instead, his intention is only to receive for himself, he is farther away, and this is his sin.

But in the order of the work, when we begin to work, we begin in Lo Lishma. This is why at that time we understand differently, meaning that what appears to a man in the order of the work are only two things: 1) To do, which is the 248 positive Mitzvot [commandments to perform certain actions]; 2) Not to do, which is the 365 negative Mitzvot[commandments to avoid certain actions].

In other words, there is a sin and there is a Mitzva [good deed]. Then, when a person believes in the Creator and in His law, a person knows very well what is a sin and what is not. And should he forget or err in some action because he didn’t know that it was forbidden, if his friend sees, his friend can alert him that he has sinned. Thus, he himself did not know, but his friend, who saw, can tell him, and then a person repents for the sin he had committed.

But when speaking of the work on the path of truth, which is with the intention to bestow, which is only an intention, this is hidden from one’s friend, since one cannot know what is in one’s friend’s heart. For this reason, his friend cannot alert him that he has sinned by not intending for it to be in order to bestow.

Now we can interpret what we asked, that this implies that it is specifically the Creator who can alert him that he has sinned, and his friend cannot tell him that he has sinned, since his friend cannot see his friend’s intention. Thus, only the Creator knows which intention he had while engaging in Torah and Mitzvot.

However, there truly is a profound matter here, in the explanation of The Zohar that the Creator alerts him that he has sinned. And since when one sees in the Torah that what one needs to keep are positive and negative Mitzvot and he will already know what is a sin and what is not, this is so in the beginning of his studies. It is as Maimonides says, “When teaching women and little ones, they are taught in order to receive reward.” Only afterwards, “When they gain much knowledge, are they told” that they must study Lishma, meaning in order to bestow.

It follows that one cannot understand that if he does not have the intention to bestow, it is considered a sin in the work on the path of truth, since the majority are still in Lo Lishma, and he wishes to go in Lishma. For example, if he doesn’t have the aim to bestow, it is considered a sin, but a person cannot feel it for himself. It is similar to a person performing an act that is prohibited in the Torah, such as desecrating the Sabbath or eating forbidden food, etc., meaning he will have the same feeling while performing some Mitzva without intending to bestow, as when committing a grave sin.

This brings up the question, “Who can alert the person that if he does not perform in order to bestow it is considered a sin and he should repent for it, meaning ask of the Creator that he will not sin again?” In other words, here we must understand, a) that if there is no intent to bestow, it is a sin, and b) that he should have the desire to repent so as to not sin again, as our sages said, “Repentance is called remorse for the past and acceptance for the future.”

This matter of a person feeling that it is a sin—that he will feel that this is a general sin, that it is all the evil that exists in man—this is something that only the Creator can understand. The Torah and Mitzvot that were given are to correct that evil, which is called “will to receive for oneself,” and it is not within one’s power to understand that it is all the evil that separates the creatures from the Creator.

And this is what The Zohar says about the verse, “If the sin that he has sinned is made known to him.” In other words, the Creator made his sin known to him will mean that the Creator alerts him what the sin that he has sinned is because for the person himself, it is difficult to accept it and say that if he is working for his own benefit, in the work on the path of truth, it is considered a sin.

Only when the Creator gives him this awareness can he feel that it is a sin. For example, when one person kills another person, of course he feels that he has committed a grave sin, such as if a person has a chauffeur, and that chauffeur hit someone with the car and killed him. However, if it was at night and no one knows about it, it is not necessarily the chauffeur who feels that he has killed a man, but even the landlord, who was travelling with him, feels that sin, as well.

In spirituality, when the Creator alerts him that he has sinned and he is killing the aspect of man each day, only the Creator can give such a feeling in spirituality. But the person himself cannot know or understand it.

Now we can understand what RASHI explains about the verse, “Or make the sin known to him.” These are his words: “When he sinned, he thought it was permitted. Afterwards, he discovered that it was forbidden.”

To understand his words in the work, we should interpret “When he sinned” as “While he was engaging in Torah and Mitzvot in order to receive.” He still didn’t know it was forbidden. Rather, if he kept Torah and Mitzvot only in action, he felt it was permitted. Only afterwards did it become known to him that there was a prohibition here, that his aim was in order to receive reward. But who informed him that it was forbidden, that using the vessels of reception is prohibited? The Zohar interprets that it is the Creator who alerted him, for without the help of the Creator it is impossible to feel it.

It therefore follows that in the work, the primary evil and sin is the will to receive, which is the only cause that stops us from receiving what the Creator wishes to give to the creatures, and why we cannot be rewarded with Dvekut. As we learn, the light of Neshama divides into five discernments, called NRNHY, which clothe only in one’s vessels of bestowal.

Thus, for a person to have the sensation of evil and darkness, that it all comes from this harm-doer called, “the will to receive for himself,” only the Creator can alert him that it is a sin. This is so for the reason that a person is accustomed to using the will to receive even when he begins with the work of the Creator.

It is as our sages said, “One should always study in Lo Lishma.” Thus, he already has permission from our sages to study, since by that he will come to Lishma. Thus, since there is permission from our sages that we must study in Lo Lishma, it is difficult to come to a person and tell him that it’s a sin, since they will say that it is permitted to study in Lo Lishma. Thus, there is no reason to believe that this is indeed the biggest sin because this is all that obstructs the achieving of Dvekut with the Creator.

With the above said, we can interpret what we asked about the words of The Zohar, which writes that for one who rises at night to engage in Torah, the Torah announces his sin to him. We asked why specifically those who study at night, and should it be particularly the Torah which alerts his sin to him.

The answer, as said above, is that specifically through the Torah one can come to feel that receiving for himself is called “a sin,” meaning that the will to receive for himself is called “a sin.” But ordinary people cannot know, as Maimonides says that the matter of Lishma is not revealed to women, to little ones, or to the populace. And the meaning of “not revealing” is because they cannot understand. However, specifically through the Torah means that the Torah can bring such a feeling to a person that will make him see that reception for himself is considered a sin.

But why is it specifically Torah that is studied at night that has the strength to alert him to his sin? In other words, what is the advantage of the night over the day, which implies that specifically at night, as it was written that for one who rises at night to engage in Torah, the Torah makes his sin known to him? To understand it, we must first understand the meaning of “day” and “night” in the work.

“Night” is, as our sages said (Pesachim 2b) about the verse, “The murderer arises at dawn ... and at night he is as a thief.” “Does that mean that light is day? The meaning there is this: If the matter is as clear as light to you that he comes to take life, he is a murderer. But if you are doubtful about it, like the night, you must regard him as a thief.” Thus, we see that our sages use “day” and “night” for “certain” and for “in doubt.”

We can interpret that “day” in the work means that when a person engages in Torah and Mitzvot, he has the confidence that he will receive reward for his labor. Then he is content and has no room for prayer for the Creator to help him, since what is he lacking? It is, however, possible that one will see that, “I should do more,” but he probably has excuses of not having enough time for some reason or because of health issues. However, on the whole he is fine because he believes that he will receive reward. He believes in reward and punishment in this world and in the next world, and this is called “studying Torah at daytime.”

“Studying Torah at nighttime” means that he has doubts, because doubt is called “night.” This occurs when a person wishes to walk on the path of truth, meaning with the aim to bestow. That is, he wishes to work in Torah and Mitzvot on a different quality level than the way he worked on the path of the majority, with the intention to receive reward in this world and in the next world. Instead, he wishes to engage in Torah and Mitzvot not in order to receive reward. But the body resists this path. Hence, alien thoughts always come to him, bringing him constant doubts in his work.

And what are the doubts? Sometimes he thinks that he should walk on the path of bestowal, and then the body begins to resist. Then, thoughts come to him that perhaps the majority is right, meaning that he doesn’t have to work in a manner of bestowal because it is hard to fight against the body. Therefore, it is better to follow the majority view, since the majority are certainly more fine-looking and have a more important place in the world. And they chose to walk on the path of aiming the actions to be only for the Creator, and not with the aim to bestow. This means that they keep Torah and Mitzvot because the Creator commanded us to keep His commandments and observe His law, and not, God forbid, for money or for honor, meaning that by engaging in Torah and Mitzvot he will be respected or will be called, “Rabbi.” Rather, they keep Torah and Mitzvot for the Creator because He commanded us, and in return, we will receive reward. This must be the best way.

And since this does not contradict self-love, it is not so difficult to walk on this path. But on the path of bestowal one always has doubts because this way is unaccepted by the majority and the body is naturally inclined toward the view of the Klipot, which are only about reception. This is why he has constant work in fighting these thoughts.

And even when a person overcomes the body and makes him understand, “But you see that by nature, one wishes to serve the great one without reward, but only in pure bestowal.” Then the body stands against him and makes a true argument: “In corporeality, you see that you are ‘great,’ and you see that everyone respects you. Thus, you can be influenced by the majority, by the majority appreciating him as great. Therefore, there it is worthwhile to work in bestowal. But here, you are in concealment because the greatness and importance of the Creator is not revealed, and you just want to believe that this is so, that the Creator is important and worth serving without any reward.”

Thus, at that time a person becomes weak against the body and he has no answer, since at that time, there is only one thing to say—that he is going above reason. It follows that he cannot prevail over the body’s argument with his mind, and then it is heaven’s mercy that he needs in order to prevent him from escaping the campaign.

This is called “night,” when a person is in doubt because of the conflict with the body. And then this Torah reveals his sin to him, meaning that his sin is primordial and deeply rooted, since then he sees that he is lacking faith in the Creator. In other words, he cannot believe that the Creator is great and ruling and worth serving and giving to, and that He will have contentment from him.

In other words, there is no contentment for a person in serving a great king. As The Zohar says (“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” p 185, and Item 195 in the Sulam Commentary), “Fear is the most important, meaning that he will fear the Creator because He is great and rules over everything, since He is the root from which all the worlds expand, and His greatness appears in His deeds.”

Without Torah, one cannot feel what he is lacking because there is a rule that absence must precede presence, and it is impossible to feel absence, meaning for one to feel that he is lacking something, unless he feels that there is something good in the world, that it is a good thing, and that he doesn’t have it. Then you can talk about absence. In other words, when there is someone who feels the absence, you can say that he should try to satiate what is missing.

Who created the first absence? The Creator did, in the world of Ein Sof [infinity]. We learn that He is one and His name is One. The first absence is the Tzimtzum [restriction], when the light departed and left a lack. The light of the line is what should fill up the deficit made by the Creator, who is the presence, and He created a new thing—He created absence.

Thus, when one studies Torah, through the Torah he comes to feel that there is a Creator and a leader, because by studying Torah he receives the light of Torah that reforms him. Then he begins to feel through the Torah that there is the giver of the Torah, and this is when he begins to understand that it is a great privilege to serve Him.

And when he begins to converse with the body concerning this, the small feeling that he begins to feel—that it is worthwhile to serve the Creator—is met with the resistance of the body, which vehemently opposes the sensation of receiving from above in the form of “The light in it.” In other words, it is not all at once that one receives the light of Torah sufficiently to reform the body. Rather, it comes bit by bit. This is why there are ups and downs, and for each ascent that he receives and begins to understand that he must walk on the path of bestowal, the nature of the body immediately resists.

However, this is so deliberately, from the Creator. The reason for this is that “There is no light without a Kli [vessel].” What comes from above is called “awakening from above.” In other words, the need and the satisfaction come as one. At that time, he doesn’t have a reason for an awakening of the desire that it is worthwhile to serve the Creator. This is why, when the feeling that comes from above departs, gradually a need builds in his heart to work in bestowal, and this is when he begins to ask the Creator to give him the strength for it. Then this state is called “light and Kli.”

And there is another reason why one needs awakening from below: when the upper one gives without preparation on the part of the lower one, the receiver cannot feel it as important. And according to the rule that anything that a person wishes to enjoy depends on the importance of the matter, before the upper one lets him feel something, it cannot be said that he wants something.

Rather, after one experiences some awakening toward the work of the Creator, one must believe that the fact that a person has awakened to the need to engage in the work of the Creator is because Creator sent him these thoughts, without any messengers. In other words, when no one tells him that he should engage in the work, a person certainly says that it came to him from above.

However, even if some person comes and makes him understand, and explains to him that it is worthwhile to begin with servitude of the Creator and he is awakened by it, he still shouldn’t say that so-and-so showed him the merit of the work of the Creator. Rather, that person, too, was a messenger of the Creator to awaken him. Thus, sometimes one must say that the Creator gave him the desire without messengers, and sometimes he should say that this desire came from the Creator through an emissary.

And since that desire came to him without any preparation of his own, he cannot appreciate the importance of the matter. Thus, a person is not so impressed and he cannot enjoy that thing because he doesn’t know its value. It is like a person who sends a gift to his friend, but his friend doesn’t know how to appreciate it.

Let’s say, for instance, that the receiver of the gift thought that it was worth about 100 dollars, but the giver of the gift paid 10,000 dollars for it. Also, the giver knows that the receiver appreciates the value of the gift only according to his own understanding. Thus, we understand that the giver of the gift seeks advice and tactics to make the receiver of the gift understand the value of the gift, so he will be able to enjoy the gift as much as the giver wants him to.

This is the cause for ascents and descents in the work, which are called “day” and “night.” When we study Torah during the “night,” in that overcoming one sees how remote he is from the Creator by not being able to exit self-love, and the Torah brings him the sense of importance. And when he is in an ascent, he must say that the Creator is bringing him closer, meaning that the Creator is not hiding Himself from him, and this is why he feels that it is worthwhile to have Dvekut with the Creator.

It is as we learned in The Study of the Ten Sefirot, where he gives an explanation about the four phases of Direct Light and says, “What is the difference between Hochma of Direct Light and Malchut of Direct Light? If there is the same light in the Sefirot Hochma and Malchut, then why is one called Hochma and the other is called Malchut?”

The answer is that in the Sefira of Hochma there was still no preparation on the part of the lower one, since the lower one still didn’t exist, meaning sensed itself as inferior, in need of something and having to receive from the upper one, so he would complement its deficiency. Therefore, the lower one has no pleasure upon receiving the abundance from the upper one, as there is a desire in the upper one for the lower one to enjoy him.

The desire of the upper one is to do good to His creations, meaning for the lower one to enjoy. But because of the lack of preparation on the part of the lower one—since when the lower one was born it was born along with the abundance—there was no time for it to equip itself with a deficiency, meaning to crave the abundance.

But Malchut comes after the abundance has departed from the Sefirot above her. Thus, she already had the preparation, meaning the need for the light that illuminated in the Sefira of Hochma. Thus, only the Malchut can receive pleasure from the abundance that the giver wishes for the lower one to enjoy.

With all the above, we discern two things concerning the gift of the giver: 1) One should know what to want, meaning what it is that he needs, and 2) He must want to have that deficiency filled, meaning make all the preparations to be able to receive the gift.

Thus, how can one begin to feel a need for the work of the Creator when he does not know of the work of the Creator whatsoever, meaning that there is such a thing at all? In other words, if he doesn’t know about it, how can a desire for it awaken in him?

The answer is that as we learned about the Sefira of Hochma that the Creator, who is called “desire to do good,” created the light and the Kli together, the sensation of the spiritual comes to a person from above. He receives the light and the desire for the light simultaneously. Either the awakening comes to him directly from the Creator, or the awakening for the work comes to him through a messenger that the Creator sent in order to make a person understand, and influences the person that it is worthwhile being a servant of the Creator. However, everything comes to him from the side of awakening, without any preparation on the part of the lower one. And as was mentioned here, it is impossible for the lower one to have real pleasure from the work of the Creator, due to lack of preparation.

However, we said about the Sefira of Malchut that she craves the abundance that was in the Sefira of Hochma. Hence, when there is preparation on the part of the lower one, she receives the pleasure that the giver wishes to give. Similarly, here in the work of man, a descent comes to him from the awakening that he had and he begins to want what he had before. Then the lower one can prepare to receive the abundance.

Yet, the desire and craving for real Dvekut—to really be able to receive, and to regard it as important as the Creator wishes—does not occur at once. This is why there are many ups and downs. However, without the first awakening on the part of the upper one, it would never be possible for the lower one to want something that he didn’t know what it was.

Now we will explain what we asked about the meaning of the Torah making his sin known to him, and not by a way of Din [judgment], but as a mother who informs her son with soft words. Also, what are Din and “soft words?”

As we explained concerning that quarrel between the herdsmen of Gerar and the herdsmen of Isaac, something that provides is called “herdsmen.” The herdsmen of Isaac were saying, “We can receive sustenance only from the truth, and not from falsehood.” Hence, when they wished to work on the right line, they would say, “We are content with little, although in truth, the deeds we do are worthless because they are not done with the real intention.

Still, if we consider to whom we wish to bestow—to a great and ruling King—any work is enough for us and we consider it a great privilege because we are serving such a great and important King. Hence, as much as we are allowed to serve the King, we thank and praise Him even if it is a small service.”

This is called, “The herdsmen of Isaac,” who wish to serve the Creator with Isaac’s dedication, but the body doesn’t agree to it. But when they know that they should serve like Isaac, they are content with it and bless the Creator for it.

And when the Klipa of the herdsmen of Gerar comes, she sees that they are happy with the Creator and they immediately begin to quarrel with the herdsmen of Isaac saying, “Why are you happy with the Creator? You can see for yourselves that the service you are doing is not as it should be. When serving a King, the proper way is to do everything in full.”

“Therefore,” they ask, “Why this joy? We, who follow the majority, have something to rejoice about, since we say that we settle for keeping the practical part because the Creator commanded us. And in return, we believe that we will receive reward for keeping Torah and Mitzvot, and we are happy. But you, who say that the important thing is Lishma, and you can see for yourselves that you cannot engage in order to bestow, you see that you are not doing anything. You can see for yourselves how much effort you have already made, and yet you did not advance one inch. Why are you working for nothing? You are not worthy of coming closer to the Creator because you are too immersed in self-love, so it’s just a shame for all the time you are wasting for nothing.”

Thus, what did this Klipa do? She extended Midat ha Din [quality of Din] over that person and killed him. This is considered that the Klipa informs the sin with Midat ha Din, and then there is nothing he can do but fall into despair and escape the campaign. And she takes from him whatever faith he had, and he remains without spiritual life. But he is also unable to receive corporeal satisfaction, as he did before he entered the work. Thus, he remains melancholic and sad, and all because this Klipa came to him in a disguise of righteousness and care only for his well-being.

This is the meaning of what is written, that the Klipa makes his sin known to him in a manner of Din. But for one who rises to engage in Torah at night, the Torah makes his sin known to him as a mother who informs her son with soft words, and he repents before his master.

We should understand the meaning of “soft words.” The end of the essay comes and interprets, “He repents before his Master.” In other words, she informs him of the sin not because she wishes to remove him from the work of the Creator like the Klipa of Gerar, who informs him of the sin with Midat ha Din—that it is impossible to repent and to work in order to bestow, and thus she pushes him away.

Rather, she informs him as a “white mother” who makes him understand with soft words that he should not think that he can’t repent and work to bestow. “In soft words” means that it is not as hard as you think, since the Creator wishes to help a person when he feels that it is hard for him.

However, we must understand it, since the Creator Himself made it difficult, as it is written, “Come unto Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart ... that I might show these My signs.” In other words, the Torah allows one to understand that the fact that he is feeling that it is hard to walk on the path of bestowal is not because he is incompetent, but because “I have hardened his heart.” And why? “That I might show these My signs.”

And Baal HaSulam interpreted that it is in order to have a need for the letters of the Torah; hence, the Creator made the hardening of the heart so that by that, one will be needy of the Torah. Otherwise, he will have no need for the Torah. But since a person wishes to go by a way of bestowal and the Torah alerts him that the will to receive for himself is a sin, that this is the actual evil inclination, and one who wishes to walk on the path of bestowal, it is written (Psalms 1), “Happy is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners.”

We should interpret, “Who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked,” meaning the herdsmen of Gerar—who wish for him to follow them—since they make him understand that it is not worthwhile to follow the path of bestowal. Instead, they wish to hear the herdsmen of Isaac, who say, “One who walks on the path of receiving reward, it is called ‘a sin.’” And when they understand that this is a sin, they immediately cry for the Creator to bring them out of that state and wish to keep what is written, “Nor stood in the way of sinners.”

In other words, they do not wish to remain in the state of sinners, and they ask for the Creator’s help, that He will give them the light of Torah because “The light in it reforms him,” and he, too, wants to serve the King and be a true servant of the Creator.

The Zohar says that one should know the ways of Torah because “One who does not know the commandment of the upper one, how will he serve Him?” It follows that by not being able to come out of his will to receive for himself, and by feeling that he needs the Creator’s help, the need is born within him for assistance of the Creator.

His help is through Torah, in which there are two things: 1) “The light in it reforms him,” meaning he receives vessels of bestowal, and 2) When he has vessels of bestowal and he wishes to bestow upon the Creator but he doesn’t know what the Creator needs for him to give Him. In The Zohar, this is called, “One who does not know the commandment of the upper one, how will he serve Him?”

And here we should discern between a) the Klipa alerting him that he is a sinner, in Midat ha Din, whose aim is to remove a person from the work, and b) the Torah, which alerts a person that he has sinned “As a mother who informs her son with soft words, and he repents before his Master.”

The Torah alerts that he can correct this sin through the Torah in the two above-mentioned manners: 1) through the light in it, which reforms him; 2) by being rewarded with reasons for the Torah and reasons for the Mitzvot, for “One who does not know the commandment of the upper one, how will he serve Him?”

This is why The Zohar concludes, “And he repents before his Master.” But when the Klipa alerts him of his sin, he is incapable of repenting. Instead, he falls into despair and complete departure from the work of the Creator.

It follows that when a person is walking on the right line, he mustn’t hear the thoughts of the Klipa of the herdsmen of Gerar, as our sages said that David said, “The dawn does not awaken me.” Rather, afterwards, one must shift to the left line, and this is called, “I awaken the dawn.”

This means that he awakens the dawn. That is, a person has a special preparation of wishing to awaken the blackness. This means that he summons it, and not the thoughts of blackness, when the Klipa alerts him that he is in the wrong. It follows that he summons the left and examines how to correct his deeds—to see the measure of his remoteness from equivalence of form, and the measure of pain and suffering—he feels all that when he sees the lowliness of his state. He sees that sometimes he doesn’t care that he is remote from Dvekut with the Creator. This is the time to ask the Creator to deliver him from the exile he is in.

Here, too, we should discern two things: 1) He doesn’t feel that he is in exile. In other words, he has no wish to escape self-love. Rather, he is in a state that The Zohar calls Hav, Hav [“give-give,” but also the sound of a dog bark], like a dog, referring to the words, “The leech has two daughters, who cry like dogs, Hav, Hav.” It interprets, “Hav [give] us the wealth of this world, and Hav us the wealth of the next world.”

This means that they wish to keep Torah and Mitzvot, but in order to receive everything in the will to receive for themselves. This is considered that he doesn’t feel any exile, so that he should want to be redeemed from the exile.

He feels all that because he entered the left line. But when he walks on the right line, he mustn’t scrutinize if his work is complete or not. Instead, he is thankful to the Creator for whatever grip he has.

This state is called “concealment within concealment,” as it is written (Deuteronomy 31:18), “And I will surely hide My face in that day.” We should interpret that when he is in concealment, he doesn’t feel that he is in exile. And what is the exile? It is as it is written, “It is for our sins that we have been exiled from our land and were sent far from our land.”

It was written, “It is for our sins.” Sin concerns using the will to receive for oneself. This is what caused us the remoteness from “Our land.” It is known that “desire” and “land” are called Malchut [kingdom], meaning the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven means that a person takes it upon himself to enslave himself to heaven, meaning to the Creator, who is called “heaven,” as it is written, “Lift up your eyes on high, and see: who created these?”

This is the meaning of, “We have been exiled from our land,” meaning from our land, which is called “the kingdom of heaven,” to serve and to toil for the glory of heaven; we have been exiled from this will. But in which desire did we enter? In the desire of “the nations of the world,” called “receiving in order to receive.”

It is written, “[We] were sent far from our land.” Adamah [land] comes from the words Adameh la Elyon [I will be like the Most High], which is equivalence of form. And since we engaged with our own will to receive, we have become far from our land, from being in equivalence of form with the upper one. And when a person doesn’t feel the exile, that he is under concealment, the exile, which is called “concealment,” is hidden from him. Thus, he is in a state of concealment within concealment.

However, concealment within concealment also means a certain measure of disclosure. Indeed, there is concealment within concealment, but we should ask, “Where did this awareness that he is in concealment come from?” We should say that this awareness, too, came from the Creator, either directly or through a messenger.

For that, we should interpret the verse, “Maker of light and creator of darkness.” This darkness refers to a person’s feeling that he is inside a concealment, that he doesn’t feel that the Creator is hidden from him, and he has no desire to search for where He is, so that from this place he will surrender before Him and will have the great reward of serving Him.

He also doesn’t feel the concealment in the sense that the Torah is the clothing of the Creator, or regrets it. Instead, he is in a completely different world, meaning the fact that there is a Creator and that the Creator wishes to give delight and pleasure to the creatures doesn’t interest him at all. This feeling called “concealment within concealment,” is called “darkness,” and the Creator created and gave him this darkness.

But we see that a person usually doesn’t see the negative in himself. He always knows that he is fine, whether he is religious or non-religious. It is as it is written, “For a bribe blinds them that see.” And since a person is close to himself, he can never see the truth. Thus, a person who sees that he is not all right should say that he was notified of that from above.

2) He is in a single concealment. In other words, he feels that he is under concealment. This means that it pains him that he is remote from the Creator, meaning that the Creator is hidden from him and that he doesn’t feel the Creator to the extent that he will wish to annul himself before Him. But at the same time, it pains him that he is remote. At that time, he has no other way but for the Creator to help him, to make him capable of approaching the Creator, which is called “Dvekut and equivalence of form.”

And all this scrutiny that he does, which is called “left line,” should be at a certain time. In other words, particularly after he has walked on the right line that day and praised the Creator extensively for giving him even a small service, and he rejoiced in that. As we said above, this is the path of truth.

Afterwards, he can shift to the left line for a short while, but not for long. In other words, while he engages in Torah and in prayer, he should be careful not to go out to the left line, but to be specifically in the right, for this is called, “The blessed adheres to the blessed.”

And this is the time when he can be rewarded with a higher degree, as it is written, “Divinity is present only out of joy.” But when he is in the left line, which is a time of criticism, that time is the place to see only faults. But the work of the left should give him the need to pray. Prayer relates specifically to a place where there is a deficiency, and a place of deficit is called “cursed.” But then, “The cursed does not adhere to the blessed.” For this reason, there is no room to rise to a higher degree. On the contrary, the right line is the place for ascension, for then he is in a state of wholeness.

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