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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

Letter No. 38b

Who is the self that we say is the servant of the Creator, and who is the recipient of the reward that was promised, where by good deeds he will be rewarded with the good future?

All those things were said only about man, the apex of creation, as it is written, “And God created the man in His own image.” Creation means something new, which is existence from absence. This is the desire to receive pleasure, meaning the creation of a deficiency that always craves to satisfy the lack with pleasure.

In order for the sensation of pleasure to be utterly complete, he was given work in Torah and Mitzvot (commandments), by which he is to be perfected and become fit to receive the pleasure without any deficiency. That is, one who receives pleasure from another feels torment along with the reception of the pleasure due to the shame, called “bread of shame.” By being perfected with virtues he will have the ability to receive pleasure without the feeling of shame.

It follows that man is called “desire to receive pleasure,” and the desire to receive pleasure was given hands and legs to serve it, as well as the most esteemed servant, called “intellect.” All those servants bring him pleasure, and if one of the servants is missing, the pleasure associated with that servant is missing.

If he is lacking the most esteemed servant, meaning the intellect, he still feels pleasure and pain, except that he might swap, and instead of receiving great pleasure, he might receive minute pleasures. That is, he cannot judge with his intellect which is more worthwhile in terms of quantity and quality, and might therefore cause harm and break tools.

Even an insane person intends to receive pleasure through his actions, or he would not do this bad thing, but there is a reason that causes him to do this foul thing. Everything that he thinks might bring him pleasure, he does immediately, and does not have the mental capacity to weigh with his intellect if this is a real reason or an imaginary one.

And do not wonder how one can derive pleasure from breaking or spoiling. It is said about the philosopher, Aristotle, that he burned a big and expensive house because he wanted to commemorate his name, meaning that his name would remain forever because everyone would remember his name through this act. That is, everyone would remember that Aristotle burned the big mansion.

It follows that although he did a bad thing, he had a reason. That is, he felt pleasure in doing the bad thing that he did by commemorating his name. Likewise, anyone who is insane lacks the power of critique, but the essence of man still exists.

Also, there is pleasure in avoiding pain, since this is already a calculation for the future, meaning that he is acting now in order to avoid suffering later. This already belongs to the intellect, meaning that the intellect reminds him that this is something bad. And since his intellect is already flawed, he cannot put thoughts together and therefore feels only the present and not the past or the future. It turns out that the mind is only man’s servant, like the rest of the servants, but the essence of man is the lack that craves to receive pleasure, meaning that he feels complete wholeness in the pleasure.

The will to receive exists in all the animals, but only man was given the ability to feel another. That is, he can share with his friend and sympathize with his friend, meaning derive pleasure from his friend’s pleasure, as well as suffer when his friend suffers.

It follows that man was given an additional place to receive pleasure—outside his own body. Animals are impressed only by themselves, and not by others, but the speaking has been given the ability to feel another, too (with the exception of certain animals that were given this sensation by nature, but they feel it specifically toward the same species).

In addition to the speaking, a person from Israel was given a power—the sensation of Godliness. It is in this respect that it was said, “You are called man.” It is an additional power to the speaking, meaning that he can regret the exile of the Shechina (Divinity) and rejoice with the glory of heaven that appears in the world. It therefore follows that a person from Israel was given another place to receive pleasure, additional to the speaking. This is the main pleasure for which the world was created—to receive the pleasure of the sensation of Godliness.

All the pleasures that exist in the world come from the Creator, since the Creator illuminates in all those things, but why are these pleasures called “corporeal pleasures”? It is because a person can enjoy them without having to include the Creator in them. That is, even if one does not feel Godliness, when he does not believe in the Creator, he can still enjoy all those things.

But tasting the flavor of Torah and Mitzvot is impossible without assuming the burden of faith. To the extent that the light of faith shines for him, to that extent the pleasure in Torah and Mitzvot grows for him. This is why we call the pleasure in Torah and Mitzvot “spiritual pleasure.”

One can feel corporeal pleasure even when one has no relation to Torah and Mitzvot, since a person cannot live without vitality, for every person must taste the taste of pleasure, since the nature of creation is a desire to receive pleasure, for the thought of creation, called “His desire to do good to His creations,” imprinted in the creatures the need to enjoy. When one sees no pleasure in the present or in the future, he must commit suicide because his coming into this world was only in order to receive pleasure.

And since man was given the work of choice, to reject the bad and choose Torah and Mitzvot—for only at the time of choice is it possible to nurture good qualities that can receive the true good—there was given a time of concealment during the work. That is, one does not feel the taste of pleasure in Torah and Mitzvot, since only during concealment is there choice.

In the meantime, until one is rewarded with the flavor of vitality of spirituality, he takes all his vitality only from corporeal things, whose pleasure is limited. But this is only a transition until he comes to taste spiritual flavor, so he must feel only the flavor of corporeal things. But even in those corporeal things it is possible to accustom oneself to receive pleasure for the Creator.

The will to receive is called “man’s body.” This is why it does not undergo any changes, but rather remains in that state of always wanting to receive pleasure.

Clothing: Anything that undergoes change is not the essence of the object, for an object does not undergo any change. Hence, all those things from which one derives pleasure are regarded as garments. For example, today his is wearing this garment and tomorrow another garment. There are clothes with which one works in the kitchen, and there are clothes with which one serves the king.

Any pleasure is regarded as light, and there is no light without a Kli (vessel, which is a spiritual thing, and any spiritual thing must be clothed in some corporeal clothing, but only through clothing can one receive the pleasure that is found within it. Therefore, we were given many garments in which there are pleasures, such as eating, drinking, royal apparel or simply respect that one is given, or delight from intellectual things or from Torah and Mitzvot. Every person has different attires, and no person is like another. However, there is one thing where all are the same—everyone wants pleasure.

Changing attires: The changes in a person—who sometimes wants to enjoy honor, and sometimes only lust, and sometimes Torah and Mitzvot—come from many reasons. Sometimes it is hereditary, meaning that the forefathers had chosen to enjoy certain pleasures, and it passes from generation to generation. This is the meaning of ancestry, where the good qualities pass from the father of the family to the following generations.

Also, we under changes through books and authors—where a person is impressed by the environment. As the tree sucks from what is around it, which is why the thorns and other bad things around the tree are always cut off, man, too, is the tree of the field—sucking from its environment. This is why he is impressed by authors. That is, he has good friends and he accustoms himself to enjoy the things that the friends say are good or are bad. Or, there is the environment of books, meaning what he learns and reads in books, and the books state which is a good thing and which is a bad thing, and then the person follows their advice.

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