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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

Walking the Path of Truth

Let me write to you with regard to the middle pillar in the work of God, so as to always be a target for you between right and left. This is because there is one who walks who is worse than he who sits idly. It is he who deflects from the road, for the path of truth is a very thin line that one walks until one comes to the King’s palace.

And anyone who begins to walk at the beginning of the line needs great care to not stray to the right or to the left of the line, even as a hair’s breadth. This is so because if at first the deviation is as a hair’s breadth, even if one continues completely straight, it is certain that he will not come to the King’s palace, as he is not stepping on the true line, and this is a true allegory.

Let me explain to you the meaning of the middle pillar, which is the meaning of “The Torah, the Creator, and Israel, are one.” The purpose of the soul, when it comes into the body, is to be rewarded with returning to its root and to cleave unto Him, while still clothed in the body, as it is written, “to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments, and to cleave unto Him.” You see that the matter ends in “to cleave unto Him,” as it was prior to clothing in the body.

However, great preparation is required—which is to walk in all His ways. Yet, who knows the ways of the Creator? Indeed, this is the meaning of “Torah, that has 613 ways.” He who walks by them will finally be purified until his body will no longer be an iron partition between him and his Maker, as it is written, “And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh.” Then he shall cleave unto his Maker just as he was before the clothing of the soul in the body.

It turns out that there are three discernments:

  1. Israel is he who strains himself to return to his root.

  2. The Creator, which is the root one longs for.

  3. The 613 ways of the Torah, by which one purifies one’s soul and body. This is the spice, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created for it the Torah as a spice.”

However, these three are actually one and the same. In the end, any servant of the Creator attains them as single, united and unified discernment. They only appear to be divided into three because of one’s incompleteness in the work of God.

Let me clarify it to you a little: you shall see its tip, but not its entirety, except when He delivers you. It is known that the soul is a part of God Above. Before it comes into a body, it is attached like a branch to the root. See in the beginning of The Tree of Life, that the Creator created the worlds because He wished to manifest His Holy Names, “Merciful” and “Gracious,” and if there were no creatures, there would be no one to have mercy on.

However, as much as the pen permits, as they said, “The whole Torah is but the names of the Creator.” The meaning of attainment is that “what we do not attain, we do not define by a name.” It is written in the books that all these names are the reward of the souls, compelled to come into the body, for it is precisely through the body that it can attain the names of the Creator, and its stature is according to its attainment.

There is a rule: The sustenance of any spiritual thing is according to the merit of knowing it. A corporeal animal feels itself because it consists of mind and matter.

Thus, a spiritual sensation is a certain discernment, and the spiritual stature is measured by the amount of knowledge, as it is written, “One is praised according to one’s mind.” However, the animal knows; it does not feel at all.

Understand the reward of the souls: Before a soul comes into a body, it is but a tiny dot, though attached to the root as a branch to a tree. This dot is called “the root of the soul and its world.” Had it not entered this world in a body, it would have had only its own world, meaning its own share of the root.

However, the more it is rewarded with walking in the paths of the Creator, which are the 613 ways of the Torah that return to being the actual Names of the Creator, the more its stature grows, according to the level of the names it has attained.

This is the meaning of the words, “the Creator imparts each and every righteous Shay (310 in Gematria) worlds.” Interpretation: The soul consists of two righteous: Upper Righteous, and Lower Righteous, as the body is divided from the Tabur (navel) upward and from the Tabur downward. Thus it acquires the written Torah and the oral Torah, which are two times Shay, being TaRaCh (620 in Gematria). These are the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah and the seven Mitzvot de Rabanan (of our great Rabbis).

It is written in The Tree of Life, “The worlds were created only to disclose the names of the Creator.” Thus, you see that since the soul came down to clothe this filthy substance, it could no longer cleave to its root, to its own world, as before it came to this world. Rather, it must increase its stature 620 times more than how it previously was in the root. This is the meaning of the whole perfection, the whole NRNHY up to Yechida. This is why Yechida is called Keter, implying the number 620 [9].

Thus, you see that the meaning of the 620 names, being the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah and the 7 Mitzvot de Rabanan, are in fact the five properties of the soul, meaning NRNHY. This is because the vessels of the NRNHY are from the above 620 Mitzvot, and the Lights of NRNHY are the actual Light of the Torah in each and every Mitzvah. It follows that the Torah and the soul are one.

However, the Creator is the Light of Ein Sof, clothed in the Light of the Torah, found in the above 620 Mitzvot, as the sages said, “the whole Torah is the names of the Creator.” This means that the Creator is the whole, and the 620 names are parts and items. These items are according to the steps and degrees of the soul, which does not receive its Light at once, but gradually, one at a time.

From all the above, you find that the soul is destined to attain all 620 Holy Names, its entire stature, which is 620 more than it had before it came. Its stature appears in the 620 Mitzvot where the Light of the Torah is clothed, and the Creator is in the collective Light of the Torah. Thus you see that “the Torah, the Creator, and Israel” are indeed one.

Let us return to the issue that, before the completeness in the work of God, the Torah, the Creator and Israel appear as three discernments. At times, one wishes to complete one’s soul and return it to its root, which is considered “Israel.” And sometimes one wishes to understand the ways of the Creator and the secrets of the Torah, “for if one does not know the commandments of the Upper One, how will he serve Him?” This is considered “Torah.”

And sometimes one wishes to attain the Creator, to cleave unto Him with complete cognizance, and essentially regrets only that, and does not agonize over attaining the secrets of the Torah, and also does not agonize over returning one’s soul to its origin, as it was prior to its clothing in a body.

Hence, one who walks upon the true line of preparing for the work of God must always test himself: Does he crave the three above discernments equally? Because the end of the act equalizes with its beginning. If one craves one discernment more than the second or the third, then one deflects from the path of truth.

Thus, you had better hold onto the goal of yearning for the commandment of the Upper One, for “one who does not know the ways of the Upper One and the commandments of the Upper One, which are the secrets of Torah, how will he serve Him?” Among all three, this is what guarantees the middle line most.

This is the meaning of, “Open for me one aperture of repentance, such as a needlepoint, and I will open for you gates where carts and coaches enter.” Interpretation: the aperture of the needlepoint is not for entrance and exit, but to insert the thread for sewing and for work.

Similarly, you are to crave only the commandment of the Upper One, to work. And then I will open for you a door such as an entrance to a hall. This is the meaning of the Explicit Name in the verse, “but in very deed [10] as I live and all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.”

[9] Translator’s note: In Hebrew, Keter contains the same letters as TaRaCh.

[10] Translator’s note: the word ‘indeed’ is spelled like ‘hall’ in Hebrew.

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