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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

If I Am Not for Me, Who Is for Me?

I have already said in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that prior to making a Mitzva, one must not consider Private Providence at all. Instead, one should say, “If I am not for me, who is for me?” But after the fact, one must reconsider and believe that it is not “by my power and the might of my hand” that I did this Mitzva, but only by the power of the Creator, who planned it for me in advance, and thus I was compelled to do it.

This is also the order in worldly matters, for spirituality and corporeality are equal. Hence, before one leaves for work to make his daily earnings, he should remove his thoughts from Private Providence and say, “If I am not for me, who is for me,” and do everything that is done in corporeality to earn one’s living as they do.

But in the evening, when he returns home with his earnings, he should never think that his own resourcefulness has gotten him this profit. Rather, even if he were lying in the basement all day long, he would still earn his living, since this is what the Creator had planned for him in advance, and this is how it must be.

And even though it seems contradictory and unacceptable to the superficial mind, one must still believe so, as this is what the Creator has written of him in His law from books and from authors.

This is the meaning of the unification of HaVaYaH- Elokim. HaVaYaH is Private Providence, where the Creator does everything, and He does not need the help of dwellers of clay houses. Elokim (God), in Gematria, is “the nature.” And one who behaves according to the nature He had imprinted in the systems of the corporeal heaven and earth, and keeps their laws like the rest of the corporeal ones, and at the same time believes in the name HaVaYaH,meaning Private Providence, unites them, and they become one in his hand. Thus, he renders much contentment to his Maker and brings Light to all the worlds.

This is the meaning of the three discernments: Mitzva (good deed/commandment), transgression, and permission.

When one does what is permitted, and does not unite it with the authority of Kedusha (holiness), that whole place falls into the domain of the Sitra Achra. And when one prevails, and performs as many unifications as one can, where permitted, he brings permission back to the domain of Kedusha.

Thus I have explained what our sages said, “The healer has been given permission to heal.” This means that although healing is undoubtedly in the hands of the Creator, and human trickery will not move Him from His place, still, the holy Torah states, “and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed,” letting you know that this is permission, the battlefield between Mitzva and transgression.

Thus, we ourselves must conquer this “permission” and place it under the Kedusha. And how is it conquered? When one visits an expert physician, and the physician gives him a thoroughly tested medicine that has been tried a thousand times. And after one is healed he must believe that without the physician, the Creator would still heal him, for his lifespan has been predetermined. And instead of singing the praises of the human physician, one thanks and praises the Creator, and thus conquers the permission and places it in the domain of Kedusha.

It is similar in other matters of “permission.” Thus, he expands the boundaries of Kedusha and increases the Kedusha to the fullest. And all of a sudden, he finds himself standing completely in the HolyPalace, since the boundaries of Kedusha have so expanded that it has reached his own place.

I have explained all that to you several times, since this matter is a stumbling block for quite a few people, who have no clear perception of Private Providence. “A slave is comfortable without responsibility,” and instead of work, he wishes for the safest, and wishes even more to revoke the questions from his faith and acquire incontrovertible proof that is above nature. This is why they are punished and their blood is on their own heads, since after the sin of Adam ha Rishon, the Creator devised a correction for this sin in the form of the unification of HaVaYaH-Elokim, as I have explained.

And this is the meaning of “with the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” It is human nature that when one achieves through great efforts, one finds it very difficult to say that it is the Creator’s gift. Thus, one has room for work, to labor with complete faith in Private Providence, and to decide that he would obtain all that even without his work. Thus one corrects this transgression.

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