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Hear Our Voice

Article No. 39, Tav-Shin-Mem-Hey, 1984-195

In the Slichot [prayers for pardon], we say, “Hear our voice, the Lord our God, have mercy and pity on us, and accept our prayer with mercifully and willingly.” In the Monday and Thursday litanies we say, “Have pity on us, O Lord, with Your mercy, and give us not to the hands of the cruel. Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Hear our voice and pardon us, and do not abandon us in the hands of our enemies to obliterate our name. In the end, we have not forgotten Your name; please do not forget us.”

We should understand why it ends, “In the end, we have not forgotten Your name; please do not forget us.” It implies that this is the reason why we ask that the Creator will help us, because it says, “In the end, we have not forgotten Your name.” What reason and cause is there in “In the end, we have not forgotten Your name,” for which we say, “please do not forget us”?

To understand the above, we must know how are the nations who are asking heretic questions, since we say, “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’” We also need to understand why we say to the Creator, “Give us not to the hands of the cruel.” Who are the cruel? Also, it seems that if we were not placed in the hands of the cruel in exile, it would not be so terrible and we would not need to pray to be delivered form the exile among the nations.

We will explain this according to our way. Since we are born after the Tzimtzum [restriction] and the concealment, and only the will to receive for ourselves is revealed in us, it lets us understand that we should work only for our own benefit. By becoming enslaved to self-benefit, we become remote from the Creator. It is known that near and far relate to disparity of form and equivalence of form.

For this reason, when a person is immersed in self-reception, he is separated from the life of lives. Naturally, he cannot feel the flavor of Torah and Mitzvot [commandments], for only when he believes that he is keeping the Creator’s commandment not for his own benefit he can adhere to the Giver of the Torah. Since the Creator is the source of life, at that time a person feels the taste of life and calls the Torah, Torah of life,” and the verse, “This is your life and the length of your days,” comes true.

But during the separation everything is dark for him. Although our sages said, “One should always engage in Torah and Mitzvot Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], and from Lo Lishma he will come to Lishma [for Her sake],” there are many stipulations to this. First he needs to have a need to achieve Lishma. A person thinks, “What am I losing by engaging Lo Lishma, for which I should always remember the reason why I am learning Lishma? It is not in order to receive a corporeal or spiritual reward. Rather, the reason I am learning Lo Lishma is to thereby achieve the degree of Lishma.

At that time the question, “Why do I need to work for something I don’t need?” awakens in him. The body comes to him and says, “What will I gain by your desire to work in order to bestow, called Lishma, that if I exert in Lo Lishma, I will receive something important called Lishma?”

In truth, it is to the contrary. If he tells his body, “Work in Torah and Mitzvot Lo Lishma, which is the reason by which you will achieve Lishma,” the body will certainly disrupt him, if this is his purpose, to achieve Lishma. It brings many excuses to a person why he cannot do the work of Lo Lishma.

Perhaps this is the reason why the body disrupts people who learn Lo Lishma so that it will lead them to Lishma, and does not let them engage even in Lo Lishma, since the body is afraid “lest the man will achieve Lishma.”

This is not so for the kind of people who do not learn with the intention to achieve Lishma, and engage in Torah and Mitzvot because the Creator commanded us to keep His Torah and Mitzvot, in return for which we will be rewarded in the next world. During the study of Torah they do not aim to exit self-love and be able to keep Torah and Mitzvot in order to bestow. It follows that since he is not going against the body, meaning against self-love, the body does not object so much to keeping Torah and Mitzvot, since the body’s view is that it will keep everything in its own authority, meaning in self-love.

But for those who intend during their engagement in Torah and Mitzvot to be rewarded with Lishma, it is difficult to observe even Lo Lishma, since the body is afraid that it might lose all the self-love and will do everything for the Creator, leaving nothing for the body. It follows that there is a difference even in the Lo Lishma, meaning in the intention of the Lo Lishma itself. If the intention is to remain in Lo Lishma and not to go further, meaning achieve Lishma, a person can persist in learning Torah because his body does not pose much resistance.

But if a person aims, while engaging in Lo Lishma, to thereby achieve Lishma, it contradicts the view of the body. While it is true that he is still engaging Lo Lishma, but since the aim is to achieve Lishma, the body will resist every single movement and will present obstructions over every little thing.

This means that when those who do not go for the goal of achieving Lishma look at the obstructions that people who are walking on the path to achieving Lishma, they laugh at them. They say that they don’t understand them, that they take every little thing as a tall mountain, and every little thing becomes a huge barrier for them, and they have to muster great strength for every single movement. They do not understand them and tell them: “Take a look for yourselves and see how unsuccessful your way is. We, thank God, study and pray, and the body has no power to deter us from engaging in Torah and Mitzvot. But you, with your way, you yourselves say that every little thing you do is as though you have conquered a tall mountain.”

We can compare this to what our sages said (Sukkah, 52), “In the future [referring to the days of the Messiah], the Creator will take the evil inclination and slaughter it before the righteous and before the wicked. To the righteous, it will seem like a tall mountain. To the wicked, it will seem like a hairsbreadth.” Although there it discusses the days of the Messiah, we can take an example from there, meaning explain here that those who intend to achieve Lishma are regarded as righteous, since their aim is to be righteous, meaning that their intention will be only for the Creator. To them the evil inclination is regarded as a tall mountain

Those who haven’t the goal of achieving Lishma, meaning to exit self-love, are considered “wicked” because the evil, called “receiving in order to receive,” remains in them. They themselves say that they do not want to exit self-love, and to them the evil inclination seems like a hairsbreadth.

This is similar to the story that is told about Rabbi Bonim: He was asked in the city of Danzig, Germany, why Polish Jews are liars and wear dirty clothes, while German Jews are truthful and wear clean clothes. Rabbi Bonim replied that it is as Rabbi Pinhas Ben Yair said (Avoda Zarah, 21), “Rabbi Pinhas Ben Yair said, ‘Torah leads to caution, cleanness leads to abstinence, and fear of sin leads to holiness.’”

Therefore, when the Jews of Germany began to adopt cleanness, the evil inclination came to them and told them, “I will not let you engage in cleanness because cleanness leads to other things until you finally arrive in Kedusha [holiness]. It follows that you want me to allow you to achieve Kedusha. This will not happen!” What could they do? Because they yearned for cleanness, they promised it that if it would stop interfering with their work on cleanness they would go no farther, and it has no reason to fear that they might achieve Kedusha, for they are truthful. For this reason, the Jews of Germany are clean, since the evil inclination does not disturb them.

When the evil inclination saw that Polish Jews are engaging in cleanness, it came to them, as well, and wanted to obstruct them because they would achieve Kedusha, and it opposes it. They said to it, “We will not go farther.” But what did they do? When he left them, they kept going until they reached Kedusha. When the evil inclination saw that they are liars, he promptly fought with them over cleanness. Therefore, because Polish Jews are liars, it is hard for them to walk in cleanness.

In the same way, we should understand those who engage Lo Lishma and say that our sages promised us that from Lo Lishma we come to Lishma, and therefore we need not make great efforts to achieve it, but that this will eventually come. Therefore, we have no business with the view that we should always remember that everything we do in Torah and Mitzvot is in order to achieve Lishma and this is our reward, and this is what we expect.

Rather, we will engage in Lo Lishma and in the end, it will come, as our sages promised us. This is why the evil inclination does not come to divert them from engaging Lo Lishma, since it sees that they have no desire whatsoever to achieve Lishma, so it does not bother them at all, as with the story about Rabbi Bonim.

But with those who do yearn to achieve Lishma, the evil inclination sees that they engage in Lo Lishma because there is no other way but to begin in Lo Lishma, as our sages said, “He should not engage Lo Lishma unless because from Lo Lishma we get to Lishma,” and they sit and wait, “When will I achieve Lishma already?”

When the evil inclination sees that they are exerting to achieve Lishma through the remedy of Lo Lishma, it promptly comes to them and does all kinds of things to disrupt them, so they do not achieve Lishma. It does not let them do even tiny things Lo Lishma because of fear, since they are exerting to achieve Lishma, as in Rabbi Bonim’s reply.

Accordingly, there are two discernments in Lo Lishma:

1) His purpose in Lo Lishma is to achieve Lishma. He always examines whether he has already taken a step in his work toward arriving at Lishma. When he sees that he has not moved an inch, he regrets it and pretends that he has not even started with the work of the Creator, since his gauge in Torah and Mitzvot is how much he can aim for the Creator. For this reason, when he sees that he cannot even aim the smallest thing for the Creator, he feels as though he hasn’t done a thing in the work of the Creator, and regards himself as a useless tool.

At that time he begins to contemplate his purpose. Days are passing and he cannot come out of his state; all he wants is self-love! Worse yet, each day, instead of looking at disruptions in the work as though they are nothing, he sees them as tall mountains; he always sees a great barrier in front of him that he cannot overcome.

Baal HaSulam said about such states that a person advances precisely in these states, called “states of Achoraim [posterior].” However, one is not allowed to see it so he will not regard it as Panim[anterior], for when a person sees he is advancing, his power of prayer weakens because he sees that the situation is not so bad since in the end he is advancing, though in small steps. It might take a little longer, but he is moving. But when he sees that he is regressing, then when he prays the prayer is from the bottom of the heart, according to the measure of suffering that he feels due to his poor state.

But this you will understand what we say in the litany, “Have pity on us, O Lord, with Your mercy, and give us not to the hands of the cruel.” We must know who are the cruel. We should know that when we speak of individual work, then man is the collective. That is, he contains within him the nations of the world, as well. This means that he has lusts and views of the nations of the world, and he is in exile among the nations of the world that exist within him. This is called “the hands of the cruel.”

We ask of the Creator, “Give us not to the hands of the cruel.” In corporeality, a cruel person is one who gives troubles to people mercilessly, not caring that he is hurting others. Likewise, in the work of the Creator, when a person wants to take upon himself the burden of the kingdom of heaven, the views of the nations of the world in him come and torment him with the slander he hears from them. He must fight them, but they are stronger than him and he surrenders and is compelled to listen to them.

This pains and torments him, as it is written, “And the children of Israel sighed from the work and cried out, and their cry from the work went up to the God, and God heard their groaning.” Thus, we see that man’s suffering from the evil inclination is the reason why he should have room for prayer. It follows that precisely when he is at war with the evil inclination and thinks that he cannot advance, precisely here he has room for progress.

Baal HaSulam said that a person cannot appreciate the importance of the time when he has serious contact with the Creator. It follows that a person feels that he is in the hands of the cruel, and the nations of the world in him have no mercy on him, and that their cruelty against him is especially when they ask him as it is written, “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’” This is a question of heresy, that they want to obliterate the name of Israel from him, as it is written, “Do not abandon us in the hands of our enemies to obliterate our name.”

It follows that the main thing they want is to uproot Israel’s faith in the Creator. With these arguments they separate him from the Creator so he cannot connect to the Creator, to adhere to the life of lives and feel the taste of spiritual life. This is why he says that although he hears each day their spirit of heresy, as it is written, “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’” but “we have not forgotten Your name,” meaning I still remember the address to turn to.

That is, although only the Creator is left within us, and not what there is in the name, since they cause the name that stays in us be dry and tasteless, still, “we have not forgotten Your name. This is why we ask, “Please do not forget us,” meaning that He will give us the strength to approach Him so we can attain what is contained in the holy name.

Inapoi la pagina 1985 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link

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