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

I Am the First and I Am the Last

Article No. 14, Tav-Shin-Mem-Hey, 1984-195

The verse says, “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.” It is known that the order of the work on the way to achieve the goal of Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator is to work in order to bestow. However, according to what man has received, the order of the work with regard to education is actually Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], as Maimonides said (Hilchot Teshuva, Chapter 10), “The sages said, ‘One should always engage in Torah, even in Lo Lishma, since from Lo Lishmahe comes to Lishma [for Her sake].’ Therefore, when teaching little ones, women, and uneducated people, they are taught to work only out of fear and to be rewarded. Until they gain knowledge and acquire much wisdom, they are taught this secret bit by bit, and they are accustomed to this matter peacefully until they attain Him, know Him, and serve Him with love.”

Therefore, when a person wants to walk on the way to the goal of Dvekut with the Creator, which means to aim that everything will be in order to bestow, he must first have a deficiency, meaning dissatisfaction with the work in Lo Lishma.

At that time he begins to search for another order in the work, since the engagement in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments] he was used to was on the basis of the will to receive, called Lo Lishma. But now that he needs to replace his entire basis on which he built his entire life’s order, it depends on the extent to which he sees that the state of Lo Lishma is the wrong way, does not let him rest, and he will not be at peace until he comes out of that state into a state of Lishma.

However, who is making him feel, while he is in the state of Lo Lishma, that this is still not the right way and he is still far from Dvekut with the Creator? When he looks at the rest of the people, they go by this path, so why does he need to be different? Another difficulty is that when he looks at the rest of the people he sees people who are more talented and more capable in the work than him. But they settle for the order of the work they had received when they were little, when the instructors taught them to work only in Lo Lishma, as in the above words of Maimonides. And then he sees about himself that although “a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved,” he cannot accept the state of Lo Lishma. At that time comes the question: “If I am really less talented and less capable in the work, where did I get this restlessness in the state of Lo Lishma?”

To this comes the answer: “I am the first.” That is, the Creator has given him this deficiency so he will not be able to continue on this path. One should not think that he has obtained this by his own wisdom. Rather, the Creator says, “I am the first,” meaning “I have given you the first push, so you will begin to walk on the path of truth. By giving you a deficiency of feeling that with the respect to the truth, you are deficient.”

Then begins the work that he begins to wait for a state where he repels self-love, and all his works are only in order to bestow. At that time he must dedicate to it all the thoughts and resources at his disposal, as in “Everything that you find within your power to do, that do.”

Afterwards, when he is rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator, he thinks that it is through his labor in Torah and Mitzvot, and by overcoming his self-love. He thinks that he has been rewarded with it only through his work, that he was very persistent, and only he had the strength to make the most of his opportunities, which gave him this riches and he was rewarded what he was rewarded.

The verse says about that: “And I am the last. That is, As I was the first, giving you the deficiency, I am also the last, meaning I have given you the filling of the deficiency.” The deficiency is called the Kli [vessel], and the filling is called “the light.” Since there is no light without a Kli, the Kli is made first, and then the abundance is poured into the Kli. This is why the Creator first gives the Kli, which is called “I am the first,” and then He gave the abundance, called “I am the last.”

By this will understand the difference between work that a person does in corporeal work, in some factory, and a worker doing spiritual work. Ordinarily, a worker who is not working does not receive reward. However, he is also not punished if he is not working.

Conversely, in spiritual work, one who is not working, who is not keeping Torah and Mitzvot, is punished, as our sages said (Avot, Chapter 5), “The world was created with ten utterances. What does that teaches us? It could have been created with one utterance. However, to avenge the wicked, who are destroying the world, it was created with ten utterances, and to give a good reward to the righteous, who are sustaining the world, it was created in ten utterances.

This has already been explained in previous articles, but the gist of the matter is that “to avenge the wicked” means that there will be the suffering that the wicked suffer in their lives. This means that when he looks at his own wicked, meaning at his own will to receive, if he sees that everything he does for the will to receive does not satisfy him in this life, and to the extent that he sees and feels the unpleasantness of this life, by these he receives a Kli and deficiency for spirituality. This is so because the unpleasantness that one feels in one’s life pushes him to search for a place where he can derive life.

It therefore follows that the punishment that he suffers for taking the wrong path is not regarded as vengeance for not walking on the path of the Creator, regarded as having to work for the Creator. On the contrary, it is assistance—he is being pushed toward happiness and bounty.

It therefore follows that the punishment he sees that the wicked are suffering, he needs to feel the suffering that the wicked suffer. This is the meaning of what is written (Psalms, 94), “Happy is the man whom You chasten, Lord.” This means that the suffering he feels when he is marching the wrong path is regarded as the Creator giving him a Kli, which is “I am the first.”

However, He does not let anyone feel suffering when walking on the path of Lo Lishma. Rather, only “He whom the Lord loves He admonishes.” This is regarded as feeling the taste of the wicked, who are immersed in self-love, and this pushes him from the path of falsehood to the path of truth.

It follows that when a worker is not working in corporeality, he is not paid, but he is not punished for not wanting to work. But this is not so in spirituality: If he is idle in the work, he is punished, as our sages said, “to avenge the wicked,” where it is not regarded as being punished, but as being elevated to walk on the right path. It is not considered a punishment, but as a correction.

This means that there are two manners of correction: 1) the path of Torah, 2) the path of suffering. However, this is not regarded as a punishment, but as a correction, and the correction comes to him by suffering.

Afterwards, when he has a Kli, called “vessel of bestowal,” where he previously had only a desire for self-reception, now he receives a desire, meaning he expects the Creator to give him the Kli called “desire to bestow.” When he has the Kli of the desire to bestow, he is rewarded with the bounty and happiness that were in the thought of creation, which is called “to do good to His creations.” This is the meaning of “I am the last,” referring to the filling, that what he lacked before, now He fills all his deficiencies.

However, this is so only with respect to private Providence. That is, for himself, a person should say that everything depends on him, for only according to his overcoming in the work he will be able to be rewarded with the goal for which he was created. This is regarded as a person having to believe in reward in punishment. At that same time, once he has done his work, he must say that everything is under private Providence, as was said in the interpretation to “I am the first and I am the last.”

Regarding this matter, that one should reach the goal, he should know that the most important thing is to come to aim all his thoughts and actions to be Lishma, as it is written, “Everything that is called by My name, I have created, made, and fashioned for My glory.” We should understand what is written about “Everything that is called by My name, I have created.” Did the Creator Himself not create for His glory what is not called “by My name”? We should also understand the meaning of “called by My name.”

We should interpret “called by My name,” that he relates to Him, as it is written, “Israel, Your people,” or “His people, Israel,” meaning that he relates to the Creator. At that time he must be in equivalence of form with the Creator, as it is written, “As He is merciful, so you are merciful,” meaning that his intention is only to bestow upon the Creator, that all his actions are only for His glory, and he has no concern for his own benefit.

By that we should interpret, “Everything that is called by My name.” That is, who relates to Me? These are people who say that the whole of creation is only for His glory, and not for one’s own benefit. Then one can relate oneself to Me, and is regarded in the collective called “His people, Israel,” or “Israel.” At that time one can feel what is written, “Who chooses His people, Israel, with love.”

It follows that one should acquire a deficiency—to feel that he needs the Creator’s help to come to “all his actions are for the Creator.” Then begins the order of the work Lishma, and then he is rewarded with things, as in the words of Rabbi Meir.

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

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