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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

Letter No. 70

November 20, 1964

To my friend, the dearest of men,

How have you been … may the Creator help you in all that you wish for the best, and may you succeed wherever you go.

It is written in the holy Zohar (Vayishlach, 19-20): “It is better to be ignoble and a slave to Him than respectable and breadless. Ignoble means Jacob, who lowered his spirit before Esau so that afterwards, Esau would be his slave,” etc. From the verse, “It is better to be ignoble,” etc., this is Jacob, who lowered his spirit before Esau so that afterwards Esau would be his slave and he will rule over him and exist in him: ‘Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you.’

“Come and see about ‘…Because Jacob knew that he was now needy of him, he became ignoble before him. By that, he was wiser and shrewder than on any deed he had ever done against Esau,’ etc. Interpretation: ‘Because Jacob knew that he was now needy of him, he became ignoble before him. By that, he was wiser and shrewder than on any deed he had ever done against Esau. And had Esau sensed this, he would have killed himself, so he would not come to that.”

We should understand what wisdom is there in surrendering himself before Esau now, to the point that The Zohar says that had Esau known about this he would have killed himself.

We should interpret this according to Baal HaSulam, which is by way of ethics, namely that one should know how to handle oneself in the work of the Creator. We see that with Laban it was the opposite. With Esau we see that Jacob subjugated himself before him and gave him presents, but Esau did not want to receive and replied to Jacob, “I have plenty,” until Jacob pleaded with him to accept his gifts. Conversely, with Laban we see that Laban told him the opposite: “The daughters are my daughters, the sons are my sons, and all that you see is mine.”

We should know that there are two kinds of evil inclination, called “two kinds of Klipot [shells/peels]”:

1) First there is the act. When a person wants to perform a Mitzva [good deed/commandment] or study a lesson, it comes and tells him: “You are not worthy of doing this; after all, what you are doing is not for the Creator; you are doing this only for me,” meaning for the evil inclination.

“The daughters are my daughters” means all the understandings that you have in serving the Creator is what I have given you, and you have no view [knowledge] of Torah. “And all that you see is mine,” meaning all that you see with regard to Torah and Mitzvot [commandments] is on my name, namely the evil inclination. Thus, why exert so hard in Torah and good deeds since it is not for the Creator anyway, and your work is not accepted before Him, so you will have no reward for this anyhow. Therefore, you need not do anything good.

At that time one must overcome and say to it: “What you are saying is incorrect. Rather, I am doing everything for the Creator, and everything I’m doing is accepted by the Creator and gives Him contentment. It is enough for you that I work for you, meaning my giving you to eat and drink, and so on. But with regard to serving the Creator, you have no permission to interfere with such matters.

2) Once he has done the good deeds, it is to the contrary, meaning that then he should say to his evil inclination (which is then called Esau, from the [Hebrew] word, Asu [done/deed], meaning after the fact): “I am giving you everything. That is, everything I did was for you, which is regarded as Lo Lishma [not for Her sake].” This is regarded as giving him the gifts, which is the Torah and Mitzvot that he claims belong to Esau.

At that time Esau claims the contrary: “I have plenty, and I do not want your Torah and Mitzvot.” That is, Esau tells him, “You did everything for the Creator, so you are therefore a great Jew, so you should be proud over all your friends who are not working for the Creator, while you are. He wants him to come into haughtiness.

But one who is in a state of Jacob argues otherwise: “The Torah and Mitzvot belong to you. Now I need to repent because I want to bring contentment to the Creator and I feel my lowliness, that I am still far from the truth, from being able to direct all my works to the Creator.”

This is the difference between Laban and Esau.

May the Creator help us be saved from Laban and from Esau, and may we be granted complete redemption soon in our days, Amen.

From your friend who wishes you and your family all the best.

Baruch Shalom Ashlag,

Son of Baal HaSulam

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