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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

Divinity in Exile

It is written, “There is none else besides Him.” This means that there is no other force in the world that has the ability to do anything against Him. And what one sees, that there are things in the world that deny the Higher Household, the reason is that this is His will.

And it is deemed a correction, called “the left rejects and the right adducts,” meaning that which the left rejects is considered correction. This means that there are things in the world, which, to begin with, aim to divert a person from the right way, and through them he is rejected from Sanctity.

And the benefit from the rejections is that through them a person receives a need and a complete desire for the Creator to help him, since he sees that otherwise he is lost. Not only does he not progress in his work, but he sees that he regresses, that is, he lacks the strength to keep Torah and Mitzvot even in Lo Lishma (not for Her Name). That only by genuinely overcoming all the obstacles, above reason, can he keep the Torah and Mitzvot. But he does not always have the strength to overcome above reason; otherwise, he is forced to deviate, God forbid, from the way of the Creator, even from Lo Lishma.

And he, who always feels that the shattered is greater than the whole, meaning that there are many more descents than ascents, and he does not see an end to these states, and he will forever remain outside of holiness, for he sees that it is difficult for him to observe even as little as a jot, unless by overcoming above reason. But he is not always able to overcome, and what will become of him?

Then he comes to the decision that only the Creator Himself can help. This causes him to make a heartfelt demand for the Creator to open his eyes and heart, and truly bring him nearer to eternal adhesion with the Creator. It thus follows that all the rejections he had experienced came from the Creator.

This means that it was not because he was at fault, that he did not have the ability to overcome, that he had those rejections. Rather, for those people who truly want to draw near the Creator, and so they will not settle for little, so they will not remain as senseless children, he is therefore given help from Above, so he will not be able to say, “Thank God, I have Torah and Mitzvot and good deeds, and what else do I need?”

And only if that person has a true desire will he receive help from Above. And he is constantly shown that he is at fault in the present state. Namely, one is sent thoughts and views that are against the work. This is so he would see that he is not one with the Creator. And as much as he overcomes, he always sees how he is farther from holiness than others, who feel that they are one with the Creator.

But he, on the other hand, always has complaints and demands, and he cannot justify the Creator’s behavior, and how He behaves with him. This pains him. Why is he not one with the Creator? Finally, he comes to feel that he has no part in holiness whatsoever.

Although he occasionally receives an awakening from Above, which momentarily revives him, soon after, he falls to a place of baseness. However, this is what causes him to come to realize that only the Creator can help and really bring him closer.

One should always try to go by a way of cleaving unto Him; namely, that all his thoughts will be about Him. That is to say, even if he is in the worst state, from which there cannot be a greater decline, he should not leave His domain, namely think that there is another authority, which prevents him from entering holiness, and which can bring benefit or harm.

That is, one must not think that there is the force of the Sitra Achra (Other Side), which does not let a person do good deeds and follow the ways of the Creator. Rather, one should think that all is done by the Creator.

It is as the Baal Shem Tov said, that one who says that there is another force in the world, namely Klipot (shells), that person is in a state of “serving other gods.” It is not necessarily the thought of heresy that is the transgression, but if one thinks that there is another authority and force apart from the Creator, he is committing a sin.

Furthermore, he who says that man has his own authority, that is, he says that yesterday he himself did not want to follow the ways of the Creator, this, too, is considered committing the sin of heresy, meaning he does not believe that only the Creator is the leader of the world.

But when he has committed a sin, he must certainly regret it and be sorry for having committed it. But here, too, we should place the pain and sorrow in the right order: where does he place the cause of the sin? For that is the point that should be regretted.

Then, one should be remorseful and say: “I committed that sin because the Creator hurled me down from holiness to a place of filth, to the lavatory, the place of filth.” That is to say, the Creator gave him a desire and craving to amuse himself and breathe air in a place of stench.

(And you might say of what is written in the books, that sometimes one comes incarnated as a pig, and receives a desire and craving to take liveliness from things he had already determined were litter. But now he wants to receive nourishment from them again.)

Also, when one feels that now he is in a state of ascent, and feels some good taste in the work, he must not say, “Now I am in a state that I understand that it is worthwhile to worship the Creator.” Rather, one should know that now he was favored by the Creator, hence the Creator brought him closer, and for this reason he now feels good taste in the work. And one should be careful never to leave the domain of holiness and say that there is another who operates besides the Creator.

(But this means that the matter of being favored by the Creator, or the opposite, does not depend on the individual himself, but only on the Creator. And man, with his external mind, cannot comprehend why now the Creator has favored him and afterwards did not.)

Likewise, when he regrets that the Creator does not draw him near, he should also be careful that the sorrow would not concern him, that he is remote from the Creator. This is because by that, he becomes a receiver for his own benefit, and one who receives is separated from the Creator. Rather, one should regret the exile of the Shechina (Divinity), meaning that he is causing the sorrow of Divinity.

One should imagine that it is as though a small organ in the person is sore. Nonetheless, the pain is felt primarily in the mind and the heart. The heart and the mind are the whole of man. And certainly, the sensation of a single organ cannot resemble the sensation of a person’s full stature, where the majority of the pain is felt.

Likewise is the pain that a person feels when he is remote from the Creator. This is because man is but a single organ of the Holy Shechina, for the Holy Shechina is the common soul of Israel. Hence, the individual sensation of pain does not resemble the collective sensation of the pain. This means that there is sorrow in the Shechina when the organs are detached from her, and she cannot nurture her organs.

(And perhaps this is the meaning of the verse: “When a person regrets, what does Shechina say? ‘It is lighter than my head.’”) By not relating the sorrow of remoteness to oneself, one is spared falling into the trap of the desire to receive for oneself, which is considered separation from holiness.

The same applies when one feels some closeness to holiness, when he feels joy at having been favored by the Creator. Then, too, one must say that his joy is primarily because now there is joy Above, in the Holy Shechina, because she could bring her private organ near her, and that she did not have to send her private organ away.

And one derives joy from being rewarded with pleasing the Shechina. This is in accord with the above calculation that when there is joy for the part, it is only a part of the joy of the whole. Through these calculations he loses his individuality and avoids being trapped by the net of the Sitra Achra, which is the will to receive for one’s own sake.

Although the will to receive is necessary, since this is the whole of man, since anything that exists in a person apart from the will to receive does not belong to the creature, and we attribute it to the Creator, the will to receive pleasure should be corrected to being in order to bestow.

Namely, the pleasure and joy that the will to receive takes should be with the intention that there is contentment Above when the creatures feel pleasure, for this was the purpose of Creation—to benefit His creations. And this is called the joy of the Shechina Above.

For this reason, one must seek advice how he can bring contentment Above. And certainly, if he receives pleasure, contentment shall be felt Above. Therefore, he yearns to always be in the King’s palace, and to have the ability to play with the King’s treasures. And that will certainly bring contentment Above. It follows that one’s longing should be only for the Creator.

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