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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

The Labor Is the Most Important

My dear son, Baruch Shalom,

I have received your letter and I congratulate you for the Semicha (rabbinical ordination) that you have obtained. This was the first wall that blocked your path from marching forward. I hope that from this day forth you will begin to succeed and go from strength to strength, until you enter the King’s Palace.

I would like you to obtain another Semicha, but from this day forth, hurry yourself to spend most of your time preparing your body to muster strength and courage “as an ox to the burden and as a donkey to the load” so as not to lose even a single moment.

And should you ask, “Where is this preparation?” I shall tell you that in the past, it was necessary to obtain all seven secular teachings and undergo terrible self-torments prior to attaining the Creator. Yet, not many were rewarded with the Creator’s favor. But since we have been rewarded with the teachings of the Ari and the work of the Baal Shem Tov, it is truly within everyone’s reach, and no further preparation is required.

Should your foot tread upon those two, and with God’s mercy upon me, I have been favored by Him, and I have received them with both my hands, and my mind is as close to you as a father is close to his son. I will surely pass them on to you when you are fit for receiving mouth to mouth.

But the most important is the labor, to wish to toil in His work. This is because the ordinary work does not count at all, but only the bits that are beyond the ordinary, which are called “labor.” It is like a person who needs a pound of bread for satiation—his whole meal is not considered a satiating meal, except the last bit of the pound. That bit, for all its smallness, makes the meal satiating. Similarly, from each work, the Creator draws only the surplus beyond the ordinary, and they will become the Otiot (letters) and the Kelim (vessels) for the reception of the Light of His face.

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