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The Lord Has Chosen Jacob for Himself

Article No. 16, Tav-Shin-Mem-Vav, 1985-86

In The ZoharTeruma (item 1), Rabbi Hiya interprets the verse, “The Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself.” These are its words: “Rabbi Hiya started, ‘For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His merit.’ How beloved are the sons of Israel by the Creator, Who desires them and wishes to unite with them and bond with them, and He has made them a unique nation in the world, as it is written, ‘And what one nation on Earth is like Your people Israel,” and they desired Him and bonded with Him. It is written about it, ‘The Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself,’ and it is written, ‘For the Lord’s portion is His people.’ And to the rest of the nations He has given ministers and rulers over them while He took Israel for His portion.”

We should understand the following about the above words of Rabbi Hiya:

1) He begins to interpret, “For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself.” This means that the Creator has chosen Jacob because he says that He wanted them and wanted to unite and bond with them. Afterwards he interprets to the contrary and says, “They desired Him and bonded with Him,” as it is written, “For Jacob has chosen the Lord for himself.”

2) What does it mean when he says, “and He has made them a unique nation in the world,” as it is written, “And what one nation on Earth is like Your people Israel”? After all they are a nation among the seventy nations of the world, so what does “one nation” mean? It seems to imply that He made them be one nation.

3) He interprets, “For the Lord’s portion is His people,” to mean that He has given the rest of the nations ministers and rulers over them, and took Israel to His portion. We should understand what it means that He has given the rest of the nations ministers and rulers, but took the people of Israel to His portion.

It is known that there are two types of guidance: the first is called “private Providence,” and the second is called “guidance through reward and punishment.” They contradict one another, and Baal HaSulam interpreted that one cannot attain this with the external mind, but only when one has achieved one’s wholeness in one’s inner degree can one attain this.

The order of man’s work is that we were given the work of the Creator with guidance through reward and punishment. This is why one must not say, “I am waiting for the Creator to give me desire and craving to engage in Torah and Mitzvot, and when He feels that I am feeling a good feeling I will keep the Torah and Mitzvot. It is forbidden to say that since we are as “clay in the hands of the potter,” in the hands of the Creator. How does our overcoming help to work against the view of our bodies? We are told that we must not look at our bodies, which demand that we satisfy their wishes. Rather, we must accustom our bodies and convince them to follow the rules of Torah whether they agree or not.

We must believe in reward and punishment—that everything depends on our actions, to the extent that we persuade our bodies to follow the laws of Torah. Our sages said, “The reward is according to the labor (Avot, Chapter 5): “Ben He, He says, ‘The reward is according to the labor.’”

Baal HaSulam said that we must keep the two above types of guidance in the following manner: Before the act, meaning during the preparation, when he is about to keep the Torah and Mitzvot, he must believe in Providence of reward and punishment. Then, “Everything that is in the might of your hand to do, that do.” That is, everything depends on man’s work: to the extent of one’s strength to overcome in Torah and Mitzvot, so he will be rewarded.

But after the work he should say that he believes in private Providence. It follows that since it is difficult for a person to say after all the efforts he put in, how can he say that it is private Providence? It follows that afterwards he is still working in reward and punishment. That is, if he tries to believe that it was private Providence he will receive reward for this. If he cannot believe in private Providence, it follows that he is punished for not wanting to believe in private Providence.

Therefore, by believing in private Providence and that it is not up to him, but the Creator has chosen to connect with him, he must praise and thank the Creator for choosing him. This applies to each and every discernment. That is, for even the smallest action in spirituality that one is rewarded with doing he should thank the Creator for giving him a thought and desire to do this thing.

One should accustom oneself to this work. When he rises before dawn, whether he woke up by himself or a friend woke him up, he should believe that although he overcame his idleness and got out of bed—with great effort, and he certainly deserves gratitude and a great reward for such great effort—he should still believe that the Creator has given him the desire to overcome all the thoughts he had when he rose out of bed.

It follows that it is the opposite of what one thinks, meaning that the Creator deserves gratitude for giving him the power and desire to overcome all this thoughts and desires. It follows that on the one hand the Creator has chosen him, and this is called “private Providence.” On the other hand, Jacob has chosen the Creator, and this is the meaning of reward and punishment.

Now we will explain what we asked, “What does it mean when he says, ‘and He has made them a unique nation in the world’?” After all, there are seventy other nations in the world, and the verse says, “And what one nation on Earth is like Your people Israel”?

It is known that singular and plural in spirituality are interpreted as disparity of form and equivalence of form, as it is written (Exodus, 19:2), “And Israel camped there before the mountain.” RASHI interpreted, “As one man with one heart.” This is why it is written, “camped,” in singular form (in Hebrew]. However, the rest of the pauses are with complaints and disputes, this is why it is written there “camped” in plural form [in Hebrew]. It follows that singular refers to equivalence of form.

With the above said we should interpret that the Creator has made the people of Israel. Although they are many, as in “As their faces are not similar to one another, their views are not similar to one another” (Berachot, 58). Still, He has made them a unique people in the world, which is a great novelty. That is, although they are a nation, meaning plural, they still have the singular form through equivalence of form. As it was at the time of the giving of the Torah, so should be the wholeness of the people of Israel, meaning to become one.

It is presented in the article “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)” (item 23): “This is why the text refers to them in singular form, as it is written, ‘and there Israel camped before the mountain,’ which our sages interpret ‘as one man in one heart.’ This is because each and every person from the nation completely detached himself from self-love… It turns out that all the individuals in the nation have come together and become one heart and one man, for only then were they qualified to receive the Torah.”

We therefore see that the Creator made it so the people of Israel would achieve wholeness by giving them the power to all be of equal form, which is to bring contentment to one’s Maker.

We should also explain the third question. We asked about His giving the rest of the nations ministers and rulers, while taking Israel for Himself, for His own portion. We should interpret this in the work in one person, meaning in one body. When a person attributes everything that happens in the world to the Creator, who does and will do all the deeds, he is regarded as a part of the Creator because there is no other authority in the world. At that time he is considered a part of the Creator. When he does not attribute everything that happens in the world to the Creator, but says that they are other forces, which are not Kedusha [holiness], he is in a state of “nations of the world,” meaning having appointees and ministers. However, this is when he is in a state of “the rest of the nations of the world.”

Inapoi la pagina 1986 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link

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