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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

What the Torah Being Called “the Middle Line” Means in the Work

Article No. 19, 1989/90

It is written in The Zohar (Yitro, 76 and Item 293 in the Sulam Commentary), “The Tanna Rabbi Yehuda says, ‘The Torah was given on the side of Gevura.’ Rabbi Yosi says, ‘Thus, the Torah is on the left.’ He told him, ‘She returned to the right, as it is written, ‘On his right hand, a fiery law unto them.’ And it is written, ‘Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power.’’ Thus, we find that left is included in the right, as it is written, ‘On his right hand,’ and the right in the left, as it is written, ‘Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power.’ Thus, Gevura, which is left, is included in the right.”

The Torah is the middle line, meaning it included both lines—right and left.

It is also written (p 62, and Item 235 in the Sulam Commentary), “On the third month, on this month, Uriel governs, since Nissan, Iyar, Sivan correspond to HGT—Michael governs Hesed, Gabriel on Gevura,and Uriel on Tifferet. And this is the meaning of “A whole man,” who is called Jacob, who is Tifferet. Also, “Whole” is from the word “wholeness.”

And it is written (Item 242), “And was given on the third month, to the third people, who were included in three degrees, meaning three patriarchs, the triple Torah, which is Torah [Pentateuch], Prophets, and Hagiographa, and it is all one.” Thus, the Torah is considered the middle line.

It is also written (p 76, and Item 296 in the Sulam Commentary), “‘And the whole people saw the voices.’ It asks, the writing says, ‘Saw,’ but it should have said, ‘Heard.’ He replies, ‘So we learned. These voices were engraved in darkness, cloud, and mist, and they appear in them as a body appears.’”

We should understand what it means to us in the work that the Torah consists of right and left. Also, what does it mean that the Torah was given on the third, who is Jacob, a whole man, who is called “Wholeness.” And what does it mean that they were engraved in darkness, cloud, and mist, which is the body, where the voices are engraved.

It is known that in the order of the work, first one must take upon himself the burden of the kingdom of heaven, and then he should study Torah. This is so because if he doesn’t have the kingdom of heaven, we should ask, “Whose Torah is he studying?” because first, one must believe in the giver of the Torah, and then he can keep the Torah. Thus, the kingdom of heaven is called Assiya [action], which he takes upon himself to go above reason.

In other words, although one’s reason may come to him with many questions, he answers them, “You are asking me questions from reason, and I’m going above reason, from a place where reason cannot reach, attain, or understand, which is called ‘faith.’ Thus, there is no place to all the questions you are asking me.”

This is called “right,” that he believes that the Creator watches over the world benevolently. And although, when he looks at the world, he has many questions, he goes above reason and says, “They have eyes and do not see.”

Instead, he thanks and praises the King for giving everyone only good. This is called “right,” Hesed, meaning that the guidance of the world is in Hesed [grace/mercy]. That is, the Creator leads the world only with Hassadim. And he says about that, “I will bless You every day.”

However, if there is evil Yetzer [inclination] in a person, Baal HaSulam interpreted it as being from the word Tziur [drawing]. In other words, it shows a person bad images of the guidance of the Creator, of how the Creator is behaving with the world. It also gives an image of the inferiority of the work in general, which is called “Divinity in the dust.” Thus, how can one overcome and walk on the right, called “wholeness,” and be able to say, “Only goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”?

Our sages said about that, “The Creator said, ‘I have created the evil inclination; I have created the spice of Torah.’” It follows that the Torah that he is now engaged in is so it will be a spice, meaning that through the Torah, he will be able to overcome the evil and walk on the path of Hesed, called “right.” In that regard, it can be said that the Torah was given on the right, named after the action. In other words, it qualifies a person to walk on the right path. This is called, “the first discernment in the Torah,” where right is called “wholeness,” when he feels no lack at all.

The “second discernment” in the Torah is the left, called Hochma [wisdom]. This is considered the wisdom of the Torah. In other words, once he already has the right, which is Hesed, meaning faith above reason, and he believes in the Creator—that the Creator leads the world benevolently—he is rewarded with the giver of the Torah, called “the wisdom of the Torah,” as it is written, “The Torah comes out of wisdom.”

In other words, once he believes that there is the giver of the Torah, this is the time to be rewarded with the Torah. It is known that the Torah comes out of Hochma, and this discernment can be called “left,” meaning it comes after a person has been rewarded with the right, which is faith above reason, called “covered Hassadim.”

However, when speaking of a time when there is already disclosed Hochma, called “left,” there is another issue, called “middle line,” which means that the Hochma must be clothed in Hassadim. Prior to that, there is a big distance between Hassadim, which are called “right,” and Hochma, regarded as “left.”

It is as our sages said, “One who studies Torah Lishma [for Her name]” means that he is studying Torah with the aim to be rewarded with Lishma through the Torah, that his intention in the Torah that he is studying is to achieve the degree of Hesed, meaning to have the power to do everything in order to bestow, which is called Hesed. It is as our sages said, “Who is a Hassid [pious/follower]? He who says, ‘What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is yours,’ who wants nothing for himself.” Afterwards, when he is rewarded with Hesed through the Torah, “He is shown the secrets of the Torah” (Avot, Chapter 6, 1).

This is already called “left.” At that time, this left must be incorporated into the right. This means that the light of Hochma, which is left, is clothed in Hassadim, which is right, and this is called Torah, the middle line, between the right and the left. This is why it is considered that the Torah consists of Hesed and Gevura.

It follows that the first state is when he wants to reach the degree of Lishma, meaning in order to bestow. This is considered that a person is in exile, governed by the evil inclination. At that time he needs the Torah. This is called “studying Torah in order to achieve Lishma,” meaning that he believes in what our sages said, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created the spice of Torah.” It is called, “Torah in the form of right,” meaning Hesed, in order to bestow.

And when he has already attained the degree of Lishma, a second state arises and he is rewarded with revelation of the secrets of the Torah. Thus, after he has been rewarded with the giver, meaning that there is a giver in the world, there comes a state where the giver gives the person the Torah.

But there is more. He needs a third state, called “Hochma having to be included in the right,” which is called Hassadim. This is so because the Torah comes out of Hochma, which means that the Torah comes out of Hochma and must be clothed in light of Hassadim. Also, Hassadim are called “action,” and Torah is called “Hochma.” One’s Torah must not be more than one’s actions. Our sages said about it (Avot, Chapter 3, 12), “Anyone whose Hochma [wisdom/knowledge] is greater than his actions, his Hochma does not persist.” It also follows that the Torah, which is called Hochma, shines in the middle line. This is considered that the Torah consists of Hesed and Gevura, that she contains both.

There are two discernments to make in regard to one who is studying Torah Lishma:

1) He sees that he has no connection with doing things for the sake of the Creator. Instead, he sees that he is under the governance of the evil inclination, which claims, “She is all mine.” It doesn’t let him do anything in order to bestow. Rather, where he sees that there will be self-gratification, he can work. But if he doesn’t see any benefit for his will to receive, he has no energy to work. Put differently, his measure depends on what his will to receive will gain.

And when a person tries to come out of its dominion, as it is written in the essay, “What Does It Mean that the Speaking of Shabbat Will Not Be as the Speaking of a Regular Day, in the Work?” (Beshalach, Article No. 18, 1989/90), “To the extent that one tries to come out of enslavement and exile, he sees that he is placed in darkness, cloud, and mist.”

In that state, he sees the opposite of what our sages said, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created the spice of Torah.” In other words, the evil in him has grown too strong, meaning he never dreamed that if he began to work, to toil, and to do good deeds with the aim to achieve Lishma, that now he sees the opposite—that he never thought he could fall into such baseness.

Indeed, this came to him from the discernment, “For I have hardened his heart.” And although the reason he is now in lowness comes from above, in the sensation of the lower one, who feels in the dark—that nothing shines for him—he is tasting the taste of exile, even though it is coming from above.

With the above said, we can interpret what we asked, “What does it mean that The Zohar says, “These voices were engraved in darkness, cloud, and mist, and they appear in them.” We should interpret that “These voices” are the voice of the Torah, which comes to give strength so one can act in order to bestow. This is called “the second discernment of Lishma,” meaning darkness, cloud, and mist,” which is the need and the Kli [vessel] to obtain the voice of Torah.

Two discernments come from above, which is called Lishma: 1) The Kli [vessel], meaning the darkness. This is the need—when he can no longer tolerate the darkness. 2) The light, meaning the power. This is the voice, the voice of Torah, which gives him the strength to aim in order to bestow, the light that reforms him. This is, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created the spice of Torah.” In other words, the voice of Torah “spices” the evil inclination with the ability to intend Lishma.

This is why it is written, “These voices were engraved in darkness, cloud, and mist, and they appear in them as it appears in a body.” This means that if they previously had Kelim, which are called “darkness” and “a place of lack,” then the voice of Torah could enter the darkness and illuminate.

But when there is no dark place, meaning when he still doesn’t feel the deficiency of not being able to do anything in order to bestow, it cannot be said that the light comes and illuminates, since the light has nowhere to enter. This belongs to the discernment of right, meaning Hesed. That is, he has already obtained the vessels of bestowal, and Hesed is called “bestowal,” when he acts mercifully with others. In that respect, he has already completed the Kelim.

Afterwards begins the third discernment, when he is rewarded with the secrets of the Torah, called “left.” Since this light comes in vessels of reception, it must certainly be in order to bestow. Yet, even though he has already been rewarded with being a receiver in order to bestow, it is still considered left, since the correction of clothing the Hochma in Hassadim is missing here. Otherwise, it will be, “His Hochma is greater than his actions.”

Here begins the matter of the middle line, where Hochma is clothed in Hassadim. That is, the left, called “vessels of reception that receive Hochma,” will be clothed in Hassadim. This is the meaning of what is written, “The Torah comes from the right, which is Hesed, and comes to the left, which is Gevura. This is called ‘disclosure of Hochma.’”

However, the right must be mingled with the left, and the left with the right. This is considered that the Torah is called “middle,” meaning comprising Hochma and deeds, as we said that his Hochma must not be more than his deeds.

Baal HaSulam explained the verse, “And the whole people saw the voices.” It is known that “voice” means Hesed, which comes from “hearing,” which is called Bina. “Seeing” is called Hochma, as it is written, “The eyes of the congregation are the sages of the congregation.” Also, Hochma that shines in vessels of reception requires keeping, so as not to receive them in order to receive. Hence, clothing of Hassadim must be extended to it, called “voice” and “hearing.”

Therefore, the words, “And the whole people saw the voices” mean that they saw that they received the light of Hochma when it is clothed in a voice, in Hesed. This is why it is written that they saw the Hochma when it was clothed in voices, meaning in Hassadim. This is called “middle line,” comprising Hochma and Hassadim.

With the above said, we will understand what we asked, “What does it mean that he says that the Torah was given on the third, which is Tifferet, which is the meaning of “A whole man,” Jacob, who is Tifferet, and whole means wholeness. We asked, “What is wholeness, that Jacob is called ‘A whole man?’”

The answer is that the Torah is the middle line and Jacob is the middle line, comprising right and left, hence there is wholeness. In other words, there is a mingling of Hochma and Hassadim. In the work, it means that a person should consist of both actions—called Hassadim—and of Hochma, since it is forbidden for his Hochma to be greater than his deeds.

However, one should believe that “there is none else besides Him,” that the Creator does everything. In other words, as Baal HaSulam said, before each act one should say that man was given only choice, since “If I am not for me, who is for me?” Thus, everything depends on one’s choice. However, after the fact, one should say that everything is private Providence, and that one does nothing on his own.

We should interpret this as the Ari writes (Talmud Eser Sefirot, Part 13, p 1367, Item 152), “There is the matter of Se’arot [hairs], which cover the light, so they will not enjoy the light as long as they are unworthy, since they might blemish.” The thing is that we must believe that the Creator gave us a desire and craving to do good deeds. And as long as one is unworthy, he must not feel that the Creator compels him to do good deeds. This is the reason why the Creator hides Himself in dresses, and this dressing is called Lo Lishma [not for Her name]. In other words, sometimes the Creator hides Himself in a clothing of friends.

For example, there is a situation where a person doesn’t want to get up and study before dawn. So the Creator hides Himself in a dressing of friends and he gets out of bed, even though he’s tired, since a thought came to his mind that it is not nice to the friends that they all come to study, and he isn’t, since then everyone will look at his lowness. Hence, he gets up and goes to the seminary and studies. It follows that he doesn’t have the energy to get out of bed because of the commandment of the Creator, so the Creator doesn’t force him to go to the seminary, since if this were the reason, he’d be lying in bed. But the friends do obligate him.

And similar to this example are all other things when a person acts in Lo Lishma, although there are many degrees in Lo Lishma, but we will speak of this example. Here we should look at the person who is going to study and to keep Mitzvot [commandments] not because the Creator commits him. In other words, if it were because of the commandment of the Creator, he wouldn’t have the strength to overcome the body and to compel it to do good deeds. However, because of other people, he does have the strength to do good deeds. Thus we see what importance there can be to the Lo Lishma.

And yet, one must believe what was said above, that “there is none else besides Him,” meaning that it is the Creator who compels him to do the good deeds, but since he is still unworthy of knowing that it is the Creator who commits him, the Creator dresses Himself in flesh and blood clothes. Through them, the Creator performs these actions. Thus, the Creator acts in the form of Achoraim [posterior].

In other words, the person sees people’s faces but he should believe that behind the faces stands the Creator, who performs these actions. That is, behind the man stands the Creator, who compels him to do the deeds that the Creator wants. It follows that the Creator does everything, but the person regards what he sees and not what he should believe. For this reason, a person says that he is doing the deeds in Lo Lishma, as with the example of the friends who commit him.

Also, it doesn’t have to be friends. Rather, everyone has his own external appearance, which suits him. Hence, when, for instance, one comes to the seminary because the friends committed him to come, he says, “The Creator was the reason that he went to study, but the Creator only dressed in a clothing of friends.” Thus, now he thanks the Creator for being the reason.

It follows that when a person did the deed in Lo Lishma, when the Creator was not the reason that compelled him to perform the Mitzva [commandment], but he acted because, for instance, the friends ordered him and he had to obey, one must believe that he did this because the Creator commanded him to keep the Mitzva, and he had to obey what the Creator commanded him to do. However, the Creator hid Himself in a clothing of Lo Lishma, such as the friends, so that through this clothing he would think that he must obey the voice of Lo Lishma.

But in truth, one must believe that it was all the Creator’s doing. Thus, after he performs the Mitzva, he should say that it was the Creator who acted behind the clothing of Lo Lishma. It follows that then one should thank the Creator for giving him the desire to keep His commandments through this clothing.

With the above said we can understand the great importance of Lo Lishma. That is, it is not as one thinks—that he does everything for the Lo Lishma. Rather, he is doing everything because the Creator commanded him, except he was not rewarded yet with feeling that the Creator is actually the commander. For this reason, a person thinks that the Lo Lishma is the commander, and hence the act is not so important in his eyes.

However, if he believes that “there is none else besides Him,” as was written in previous articles in this portion, then in truth, he is keeping the commandments of the Creator, and he should appreciate his actions in Lo Lishma. And one’s imagination that he is only keeping an act in Lo Lishma is only because he was not rewarded yet with feeling that he is keeping the King’s commandment and that he is serving the King.

Hence, if he believes that the Lo Lishma is truly the Creator committing him to engage in Torah and Mitzvot, then he can give much thanks to the Creator for dressing in a clothing of Lo Lishma. And from that, one can come to appreciate the importance of Torah and Mitzvot even in Lo Lishma. Our sages said about it, “And they collect from a person knowingly,” meaning Lishma, and “Unknowingly,” meaning Lo Lishma.

This is the meaning of what is written, that the Se’arot [hairs], meaning the Lo Lishma, cover the light, so they will not be fed by the light as long as they are unfit for it. In other words, the Se’arot are a clothing, and under that clothing, the light stands and shines. But in the meantime, the light is covered.

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