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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

Lishma

In order for a person to obtain Lishma (for Her Name), one needs an awakening from Above because it is an illumination from Above, and it is not for the human mind to understand it. But he who tastes, knows. It is said about that, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Because of that, upon assuming the burden of the Kingdom of Heaven, one needs for it to be in utter completeness, meaning only to bestow and not at all to receive. And if a person sees that the organs do not agree with this view, he has no other counsel but prayer—to pour his heart out to the Creator, to help him make his body consent to enslaving itself to the Creator.

And one should not say that if Lishma is a gift from Above, then what good is one’s strengthening in his work, and all the remedies and corrections that one performs in order to come to Lishma, if it depends on the Creator? Our sages said in that regard, “You are not free to rid yourself of it.” Rather, one must offer the awakening from below, and this is considered “prayer.” But there cannot be a true prayer if he does not know in advance that it is impossible to attain Lishma without prayer.

Therefore, the acts and remedies that he performs in order to obtain Lishma create the corrected vessels within him, to want to receive Lishma. And after all the actions and the remedies, then he can make an honest prayer, since he has seen that all his actions brought him no benefit. Only then can he make an honest prayer from the bottom of his heart, and then the Creator hears his prayer and gives him the gift of Lishma.

We should also know that by obtaining Lishma, one puts the evil inclination to death. This is because the evil inclination is called “receiving for one’s own benefit.” And by attaining the aim to bestow, one cancels the self-gratification. And death means that one no longer uses one’s vessels of reception for oneself. And since he has revoked the role of the evil inclination, it is considered dead.

If one considers what one receives for his work under the sun, one will find that it is not so difficult to subjugate oneself to the Creator, for two reasons:

  1. One must strain oneself in this world in any case, whether one wants to or not.

  2. Even during the work, if one works Lishma, one receives pleasure from the work itself.

It is as the Sayer from Dubna says about the verse, “Thou has not called upon Me oh Jacob, neither has thou worried thyself about me oh Israel.” It means that he who works for the Creator has no effort. On the contrary, one has pleasure and elation.

But he who does not work for the Creator, but for other goals, cannot complain to the Creator for not giving him liveliness in the work, since he is working for another goal. One can complain only to the one he works for, and demand to be given vitality and pleasure during his work. It is said about him: “Anyone that trusts them shall be like them that maketh them.”

Do not be surprised that when one assumes the burden of the Kingdom of Heaven, when he wants to work in order to bestow upon the Creator, that he still feels no vitality at all, and that this vitality would compel him to assume the burden of the Kingdom of Heaven. Rather, one should accept the burden of the Kingdom of Heaven coercively, feeling that it is not to his benefit. Meaning, the body does not agree to this work, why the Creator does not shower him with vitality and pleasure.

The reason for it is that this is a great correction. Were it not for that, the will to receive would agree to this work, and one would never have been able to achieve Lishma. Rather, he would always work for his own benefit, to satisfy his own desires. It is as people say, that the thief himself runs and yells, “Catch the thief!” And then you cannot tell which is the real thief, to catch him and reclaim the theft.

But when the thief, meaning the will to receive, does not find the work of accepting the burden of the Kingdom of Heaven tasteful, since the body accustoms itself to work against its own desire, one has the means by which to come to work only in order to bring contentment to one’s Maker, since one’s sole intention should be only for the Creator, as it is written, “Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.” Previously, when he was working for the Creator, he did not derive pleasure from his work. Rather his work was done by coercion.

But now that one has accustomed oneself to work in order to bestow, one is rewarded with delighting in the Creator, and the work itself renders one pleasure and vitality. And this is considered that the pleasure, too, is specifically for the Creator.

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