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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

Letter No. 33

April 23, 1957

To the wise Rabbi, the elder of the group,

I received a letter from your grandson… where he asked several questions. And since I normally answer in general and not specifically, though I like the questions to be specific s and not general, the general actually contains many details.

That is, the answer is usually more effective for the work on the real path. And then, precisely when the person asking has many details, it is possible for the general to illuminate in many details, which we call “many Kelim (vessels),” so I will answer in general.

It is known that the most important is the joy. However, we need to understand the meaning of joy, as it is written, “This joy, what does it do?” Also, why was the praise of the work defined with regard to joy, as it is written, “Because you did not serve [work] … with joy.”

We can understand the meaning of joy from worldly matters (as Baal HaSulam said, that he gives him the conducts of this world only to receive from them letters and vessels for spiritual needs).

We see that people toil all day, some at work and some at commerce, and wait all day for the time when they can return home, have a good meal, and enjoy with their families.

Or, one who sails across the sea and suffers the hardships of the job, and longs for the time when he can return home, when he sees that the return to his home approaches, joy begins to fill his heart. At that time the constant longing that he has to reach his goal increases the goal. That is, he feels that it is worthwhile to make every effort only to be able to come home and enjoy. Otherwise, meaning if he did not toil, he would have nothing with which to enjoy because the house would be completely empty and he would not be able to enjoy.

It follows that there are two issues here: 1) a good meal, or one who comes from sailing the ocean and brings a lot of money; 2) the longing to reach the goal. We can say that if we could weigh the pleasure on a scale, we could say that the pleasure of the meal or the pleasure of one who brings money from abroad weighs one kilo, and the craving of one who craves all day to go home and eat his meal can increase the pleasure to the extent that the pleasure will weigh one hundred kilos.

Also, one who yearns to return home with the money he has made abroad, the yearning increases the pleasure immeasurably, and the pleasure grows only according to the measure of the yearning.

In turn, the measure of the yearning grows according to the measure of the labor. That is, one who works hard and toils, to the extent that he is suffering, the pain itself brings him the measure of the yearning to get rid of the suffering and reach his destination. And all the vitality he has while suffering is only from the future, as he feels that soon he will be able to return home.

It turns out that if a person has a good meal or a lot of money but did not toil for them, he can taste only the first level of pleasure, meaning to the extent of one kilo. But one who has toiled and yearns receives pleasure from the second level and will be able to increase the pleasure one hundred or one thousand fold.

We might ask, “And what is the truth,” meaning if there is pleasure in the meal and in the money. If he is yearning, what difference does it make if the meal and the money are objects, and how can labor and yearning add to the pleasure?

But as we said above, corporeal possessions and spiritual possessions have one nature. Any pleasure, whether corporeal or spiritual, is called “light.” And we have a rule about lights, that we have no attainment. That is, it is impossible to determine its final form unless through the Kelim. This means that we determine the shape of the lights according to the quality of the Kelim.

And regarding Kelim (vessels), it is known that it is regarded as yearning for something. It follows that the Kelim increase the light. This means that it is not the light that must be great, but the Kelim must be greater. Only if one has many Kelim, meaning a strong desire, one feels greater pleasure in the light.

Therefore, even in corporeality, the meal and the money do not determine the measure of the pleasure, but rather the labor and the yearning determine the measure of the pleasure.

By that we will understand the meaning of joy. It is customary that one who begins with the work of the Creator is sent foreign thoughts in the middle of the Torah and prayer. This torments the person. But the torments are only to the extent that one wishes to be rid of them and expel them.

And how does one expel these thoughts? Only through joy. That is, one should be confident that he will eventually reach the desired goal, which is to bestow contentment upon his maker and serve the king.

Also, one should make depictions, meaning imagine how good and how pleasant it is to be in the King’s shadow, and behold the pleasantness of the Lord and visit in His palace.” It is written that the Creator enjoys with the righteous, and I, too, will certainly reach that degree.

Subsequently, one should look at the foreign thoughts, which cause him this loss of not being able to be among the dwellers of the King’s palace, and then he can examine the scrutiny of giving good reward to the righteous and avenging the wicked, meaning the value of light and darkness.

It follows that to the extent that he is suffering from the foreign thoughts, so he delights when he has good thoughts. And if there is a time when he has no foreign thoughts then he is happy. And at a time of lowliness he should receive vitality and joy from the future, meaning that eventually the Creator will have mercy on him and will approach him.

It follows that through the foreign thoughts he increases the meal, meaning the time when he has good thoughts and can praise and thank the Creator for bringing him closer to Him now.

Thus, the foreign thoughts are primarily in order to bring him joy—that he will long for the time when he can serve the King unflawed. This elevates the foreign thoughts—presented in books—where a person must correct the foreign thoughts if they come to him in the middle of the work.

May the Creator help us be rewarded with serving the Creator with gladness and a good heart,

Your friend

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