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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

Support in the Torah

When a person is studying Torah and wants all his actions to be in order to bestow, one needs to try to always have support in the Torah. Support is considered nourishments, which are love, fear, elation, and freshness. And one should extract all that from the Torah. In other words, the Torah should give one these results.

However, when one studies Torah and does not have these results, it is not considered Torah. This is because Torah refers to the Light clothed in the Torah, as our sages said, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created the Torah as a spice.” This refers to the Light in the Torah, since the Light in it reforms it.

We should also know that the Torah is divided into two discernments: 1-Torah, 2- Mitzva. In fact, it is impossible to understand these two discernments before one is rewarded with walking in the path of the Creator, by way of “The counsel of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” This is so because when one is in a state of preparation to enter the Lord’s Palace, it is impossible to understand the Path of Truth.

Yet, it is possible to give an example, which even a person in the preparation period may somewhat understand. It is written (Sutah 21), “Rabbi Yosef said, ‘A Mitzva protects and saves while practiced, etc. The Torah protects and saves both when practiced and when not practiced.’”

“When practiced” means when one has some Light. One can use this Light he had obtained only while the Light is still in him, as now he is in gladness, since the Light shines for him. This is discerned as a Mitzva, meaning that he has not yet been rewarded with the Torah, but only elicits a life of Kedusha (holiness) from the Light.

This is not so with the Torah: When one attains some way in the work, one can use the way he has attained even when not practicing it, that is, while not engaging in it, meaning even while one does not have the Light. This is because only the luminescence has departed him, whereas one can use the way that one attained in the work even when the luminescence has departed him.

Still, one must also know that while practiced, a Mitzva is greater than the Torah when not practiced. “When practiced” means that now one receives the Light, which is called “practiced,” when one receives the Light in it.

Hence, while one has the Light, a Mitzva is more important than the Torah when one has no Light, when there is no liveliness of the Torah. On the one hand, the Torah is important because one can use the way one has acquired in the Torah. Yet, it is without vitality, called “Light.” And in a time of engaging in a Mitzva, one does receive vitality, called “Light.” In this respect, a Mitzva is more important than the Torah.

Thus, when one is without sustenance, one is considered “evil.” This is because now one cannot say that the Creator leads the world in a conduct of “Good that Doeth Good.” It is considered that he is evil since he condemns his Maker, as now he feels that he has no vitality, and has nothing to be glad about so that he may say that now he is grateful for the Creator, for bestowing upon him delight and pleasure.

One cannot say that he believes that the Creator leads His Providence with others benevolently, since we understand the path of Torah as a sensation in the organs. If one does not feel the delight and pleasure, what does it give him that another person is experiencing sensations of delight and pleasure?

If one had really believed that Providence is revealed as benevolence to his friend, that belief should have brought him delight and pleasure from believing that the Creator leads the world in a guidance of delight and pleasure. And if this does not bring one liveliness and joy, what is the benefit in saying that the Creator does watch over one’s friend with a guidance of benevolence?

The most important is what one feels in one’s own body—either good or bad. One enjoys one’s friend’s pleasure only if he enjoys his friend’s benefit. In other words, we learn only by the sensation of the body, regardless of the reasons. What is important is only if one feels good.

In that state, one says that the Creator is “good and does good.” If one feels bad, one cannot say that the Creator behaves toward him in the form of the good who does good. Thus, precisely if one enjoys one’s friend’s happiness, and receives high spirits and gladness from that, then he can say that the Creator is a good leader. If one has no joy, he feels bad. Thus, how can he say that the Creator is benevolent?

Therefore, everything follows the state one is in. If one has no liveliness or gladness, he is in a state of having no love for the Creator, no ability to justify his Maker, and no gladness, as would be fitting for one who serves a great and important king.

And we must know that the Upper Light is in a state of complete rest. And any expansion of the Holy Names occurs by the lower ones. In other words, all the names that the Upper Light has, come from the attainment of the lower ones. This means that the Upper Light is named according to their attainments. Put differently, one names the Light according to the way one attains it, according to one’s sensation.

If one does not feel that the Creator gives him anything, what name can he give to the Creator if he does not receive a thing from Him? Rather, when one believes in the Creator, every single state that one feels, he says that it comes to him from the Creator. And according to one’s feeling, one names the Creator.

Thus, if one feels good in the state he is in, he says that the Creator is called “Benevolent,” since that is what he feels—that he receives goodness from Him. In that state, one is called Tzadik (Righteous), since he Matzdik (justifies) his Maker.

And if one feels bad in the state he is in, he cannot say that the Creator sends him good. Therefore, in that state one is called Rasha (Evil), since he Marshia (Condemns) his Maker.

However, there is no such thing as in-between, when one says that he feels both good and bad in his state. Instead, one is either happy or unhappy.

Our sages wrote (Berachot 61), “The world was not created…but either for the complete wicked, or for the complete righteous.” This is so because there is no such thing as feeling good and bad simultaneously.

When our sages say that there is in-between, it is that with the creatures, who have a discernment of time, you can say “in-between” about two times, one after the other, as we learn that there is a matter of ascents and descents. These are two times: once he is wicked, and once he is righteous. But in a single moment, for one to feel good and bad simultaneously, this does not exist.

It follows that when they said that the Torah is more important than a Mitzva, it is precisely at a time when he does not engage in it, when one has no vitality. Then the Torah is more important than a Mitzva, which has no vitality.

This is so because one cannot receive anything from a Mitzva, which has no vitality. But with the Torah, one still has a way in the work from what he had received while he was practicing the Torah. Although the vitality has departed, the way remains in him, and he can use it. And there is a time when a Mitzva is more important than the Torah: when there is vitality in the Mitzva and no vitality in the Torah.

Thus, when not practiced, when one has no vitality or gladness in the work, one has no other counsel but prayer. However, during the prayer, one must know that he is evil because he does not feel the delight and pleasure that exist in the world, although he calculates that he can believe that the Creator gives only goodness.

Yet, not all of one’s thoughts are true in the way of the work. In the work, if the thought leads to action, meaning a sensation in the organs, so the organs feel that the Creator is benevolent, the organs should receive vitality and gladness from it. And if one has no vitality, what good are all the calculations if now the organs do not love the Creator because He imparts them with abundance?

Thus, one should know that if one has no vitality or gladness in the work, it is a sign that he is wicked, because he is unhappy. All the calculations are untrue if they do not yield an act, a sensation in the organs that one loves the Creator because He imparts delight and pleasure to the creatures.

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