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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

Letter No. 64

August 20, 1962, London


In response to your letter from June 8, 1961, Jerusalem, I would like to make a few comments about your letter:

1) You write that if the Torah were given in the land [of Israel], the nations of the world would say that Israel received the Torah out of gratitude for the Creator giving them a land flowing with milk and honey, and so they were compelled to receive it.

We should understand, for we see that all the nations have big and abundant lands, yet they have no need to be compelled to receive the Torah, so why is only the people of Israel obliged to receive the Torah if He has given them a land?

2) You write that every nation creates the law on its own land, which is called a “homeland.”

That, too, I don’t understand, since it is known that any sedentary society, wherever it may be, creates rules in order to sustain the society. Otherwise it cannot exist. As we see that there are large groups that come to Israel from overseas, even if they are together for only a month, they already have judges and officers and special rules. It is all the more so with the people Israel, who were in the desert for forty years and were such a big crowd, so why wouldn’t they need laws?

3) We should also understand the connection between laws that politicians fabricated in favor of the people, where the laws are only in favor of worldliness and have no connection to spirituality, to the law from heaven, where the intention is mainly the spirituality of it.

4) You interpret the question about how when the Creator said, “I am the Lord your God,” the nations of the world said that He was seeking His own glory, but when He said, “Honor your father,” etc., they admitted to the first commandments, and the reason is that they saw that He diminished His glory by saying, “Honor your father.”

The explanation is insufficient. After all, we see that it is the order with every king that every soldier must honor his commander when he sees him. If not, the soldier is punished for dishonoring his superiors.

Moreover, we see that sometimes, if the soldiers do not obey their commanders there is a punishment of imprisonment, and the commander can even punish a soldier by death if he disobeys his commanders, since he is diminishing the king’s glory. So why was it said that if the Creator gave a commandment to honor the father and mother it diminishes His glory, and say that for this reason the nations of the world admitted to the first commandments?

Also, if they admitted to the first commandments, why did they stay idol worshippers and did not assume the Torah and Mitzvot (commandments)?

5) You write that the nations of the world thought that as long as the children are with the parents and are dependent on them, they must respect them, and in the desert, the children were dependent on the Creator, who provided for their needs, so they immediately understood that they must respect only the Creator and not the parents. But when they saw that the Creator said, “Honor your father and your mother,” that even here they must honor the father and mother, they regarded it as exceptional and admitted to the first commandments.

This, too, requires explanation, since even in the desert, the parents tended to their children, as it is written, “Every man as much as he eats; sheaves per head according to the number of your souls.” RASHI interpreted that you should take according to the number of people that each has in his tent, take sheaves per head.

Also, the manna, the bread from the sky, needed tending, as it is written, “Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.”

Thus, even then the children were dependent on their parents, and the only difference is that the parents did not have to toil in buying groceries for their children as they do now, when they have to toil in order to get the groceries. So what did they see in the Creator’s commandment to honor the parents in the desert?

We can give a simple reason, that this is why the Torah was given in the desert, since as soon as we come out from the governance of Egypt, we must promptly receive the Torah, and must not walk even one moment without the Torah. Therefore, the preparation for the reception of the Torah began as soon as they went out of Egypt.

Even in Egypt the Creator promised them that He would give the Torah, as it is written, “When you take out the people from Egypt, you will worship the God on this mountain.” It is so because exodus from Egypt without the Torah is incomplete, since the Torah is the most important thing. This is why the Torah was given in the desert.

While the body is enslaved to the Klipa (shell/peel) of Egypt, it has no choice. But as soon as it is liberated, the rule, “And you shall speak of them and not of idle matters,” immediately applies to it, for then it can be attributed the iniquity of cancellation of Torah, as it is written, “when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way.”

And concerning the nations of the world admitting to the first commandments, we should interpret this in intimation: The holy Zohar refers to father and mother as Hochma and Bina. The ways of Torah are clarified by three discernments, called HBD. Hochma is as in “Who is wise? He who sees the future,” and “if you call out for intelligence [Bina],” for the Torah is clarified through Hochma [wisdom] and Bina [intelligence]. There is also the Daat [knowledge] that connects, for Daat means Dvekut (adhesion) and connection, as in “and the man knew Eve, his wife.”

We should know that the basis of Judaism is faith, which means above the intellect, when a person believes in the Creator without any understanding or sophistication. It is only acceptance in the heart, as in “And you will know this day and reply to your heart that the Lord is the God.”

Once we are rewarded with faith, called Daat, which our sages regard as learning Lishma (for Her sake), then “He is rewarded with many things, the secrets of Torah are revealed to him, and he becomes as a flowing spring.” That is, once a person has been rewarded with faith, he is rewarded with the Torah, called Hochma and Bina.

Afterward, once he has been rewarded with the Torah, he must extend faith once more because a person must serve the Creator not in order to receive reward. Once he has been awarded the Torah he can say that now he sees that it is worthwhile to serve the Creator because he has the Torah, which is as it is written, “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” It follows that he is blemishing the faith, which is above the intellect, where he does not see for himself any existence, and only works in faith to annul reality. This is the meaning of “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” That is, he wants nothing for himself and his only desire is to annul his existence completely.

Therefore, once rewarded with the Torah, a person must renew the faith, which is called Daat (knowledge) and Dvekut above the intellect, and then he has HBD.

Accordingly, there are two times of faith: The first order is “faith first, and Torah next.” At that time the order is Daat above and Hochma and Bina below. In the words of the holy Zohar(Beresheet Vol. 1, item 212), it is called Segolta de Taamim.

There are two kinds of Segol [Hebrew punctuation mark]:

1) Segol de Taamim, whose shape is that the deciding line is above:

At that time the deciding line that is above is called Keter, and the two lines—right and left—are named Hochma and Bina, for the Torah includes within it Hochma and Bina. Hochma is called “the secrets of Torah,” which a person receives, and Bina is called what the person attains by Hochma. That is, after one has scrutinized the Hochma he has received and understands in it as much as he understands. This is called Bina.

2) There is another form of Segol de Nekudot, whose shape is such that the deciding line is below:

This means that once he has attained the Torah, he must renew the faith once more. This is called Daat that connects the two discernments,” Hochma and Bina. If he does not return to search for faith above intellect once more, the Torah he had attained before departs from him because a person falls into saying that now he has support for his work, since he says that it is worthwhile to serve the Creator because he already has a basis on which to apply his work, so he no longer needs to serve the Creator above the intellect. It follows that now he is serving the Creator in order to receive reward.

Therefore, faith prior to attaining the Torah is called Keter, which decides between Hochma and Bina, and faith that comes after attaining the Torah is called Daat. This is called Daat de Kedusha (holiness), since only then can he keep the Torah from departing from him.

By that we can interpret the above words: “When He said, ‘I,’ etc., idol worshippers said that He was seeking His own glory.” “I and you will not have” is called “faith above the intellect,” which is annulment of man’s existence, which is called “equivalence of form,” as in “As He is merciful, so you are merciful,” where one does not want to exist at all, but to be annulled before the Creator, since he is not receiving any reward for his work.

“But when He said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ etc., they admitted to the first commandments.” That is, when they saw that the Creator commanded to respect Hochma and Bina, called “father and mother,” which is regarded as the Torah and the attainment of the secrets of Torah, they saw that the Creator was giving them a good reward, and realized that faith is only a means for attaining the sublime and lofty things, which is the sweetness of the light of Torah.

It follows that He was not demanding for His own glory, which is called “annulment of reality,” but that by that they will be able to come to a state of Gadlut (adulthood/greatness), which is a state of persistence of reality. At that time it is to the contrary—to the extent that a person attains the greatness and sweetness of the Torah, to that extent he can praise and glorify the King, since he sees and attains the greatness of the King, and they agreed that on the light of Torah, it is worthwhile to serve the Creator.

And yet, they remained idol worshippers and did not convert because they did not want to receive the Daat de Kedusha (knowledge of holiness). That is, once they were awarded the revelation of the light of Torah, called Hochma and Bina, they must renew the faith once more in order not to say that the faith they had had before they attained the Torah was only a means, and the most important thing for them is the Hochma and Bina, which is the persistence of reality and the reception of pleasure.

By extending faith once more, the people of Israel show to all that they are not aiming for Hochma and Bina, meaning for the reward, but that their sole intention is for the Creator, and the most important thing for them is faith above intellect, which is called “Daat that connects a person to the Creator,” and is regarded as Dvekut.

By that a person determines between the two lines, right and left, at which time there is the unification of man with the Creator and the Torah, which is called HBD. In the words of the holy Zohar: “The Torah and Israel and the Creator are one.” This Daat they do not want to receive, and this is called Daat de Kedusha.

Therefore, although they admitted that the Creator’s will is not His own glory, that He is not intending to receive reward, for they saw that His saying, “Honor your father and your mother,” which are regarded as Torah and as reward, is only from the perspective of the Creator. But man must do the work of Daat and say once more that to him, the essence of his work is not in order to receive reward. To this the idol worshippers could not agree and they remained in their situation.

May the Creator open our eyes with His Torah and we will be rewarded with Daat de Kedusha.

Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag,

Son of Baal HaSulam

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