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Concerning Help that Comes from Above

Article No. 08, Tav-Shin-Mem-Vav, 1985-86

Our sages said (Sukkah, 52), “Rabbi Shimon Ben Lakish said, ‘Man’s inclination overcomes him every day and seeks to to put him to death, as it is said, ‘The wicked watches the righteous and seeks to put him to death.’ If the Creator did not help him, he would not overcome it, as it is said, ‘The Lord will not leave him in his hand or condemn when he is judged.’’”

It is written in The Zohar (Vayishlach, item 10): “Rabbi Hizkiya said, ‘Why then is it written, ‘And Jacob was left alone’? Where were all the camps of messengers that you say surrounded him and came with him?’ Rabbi Yehuda said, ‘Since he brought danger upon himself by remaining alone at night and seeing the danger with his eye. Since they came to guard him only from an invisible danger, they parted him.’ Then he said, ‘I am not worthy of all the mercies and all the truth that You have shown Your servant.’ These are the camps of holy messengers that surrounded him and now parted him for he had put himself in evident danger. Rabbi Yitzhak said, ‘This is why the holy messengers parted him. They surrounded him and have now parted him because he put himself in evident danger.’”

Accordingly, there is a question: “When did the messengers part from him?” They parted when he put himself in danger. That is, first he put himself in danger, and then the messengers parted from him. It was said about this, “And Jacob was left alone.” That is, when they saw, they parted. We should say—“as one comes in and one comes out.”

We should understand why the messengers did not come to guard him in the face of evident danger. It is as though we say that they are unable to keep him from real and evident danger. If so, when can they keep him, when it is not evident? And if the danger is not evident, who knows that there is danger here that requires keeping? That is, to whom should it be evident, to the person? Or if the messengers see that there is evident danger they leave although the person does not know?

To explain this in the work, we first have to know what is the danger there. Afterwards we will explain what is “evident danger.” It is known that the work begins from the right line. “Right” means something that does not require correction. That which requires correction is called “left,” as our sages said, “We place the Tefillin on the left, as it was said, ‘And it shall be a token on your hand.’” Yad-Koh [your hand]. Our sages said, “The left pushes away and the right pulls closer.”

For this reason, when a person is taught to walk in the ways of the work he begins from the righ because the right there poses no danger to the spiritual life, since he can always add because the right line is called Hesed [mercy]. This means that a person appreciates the Torah and Mitzvot[commandments] and says that the Creator has been merciful with him by giving him a thought and desire to observe Torah and Mitzvot. And even the simplest intention, meaning that he does not know what thoughts to think during the performance of Mitzvot and while engaging in the Torah, but simply knows that he is observing the commandment of the Creator, who commanded us through Moses, this is enough to commit him to observe the Torah and Mitzvot according to his ability, and this is enough for him.

Therefore, upon each and every deed he does in Torah or engagement in Mitzvot he thanks and praises the Creator for being merciful with him, giving him a thought and desire to observe the Torah and Mitzvot. Hence, in each and every Mitzva [sin. of Mitzvot] he thanks and praises the Creator for awarding him with a grip in Torah and Mitzvot, regardless of how much. Rather, whatever time he has when the body lets him learn he learns, and as much as he can he exerts to keep the Mitzvot. He is happy that he can keep the Creator’s will, which was not given to other people like him, meaning that the Creator did not give them the understanding and desire to keep the commandments of the Creator.

One who walks on this line is still not regarded as walking on the right line because we see that when there is only one line and a person does not see another line, it is impossible to say that this is called the “right line.” We can say “right” only when there is another line. Then I can say that one is “right” and one is “left.”

Therefore, when guiding a person to walk in the path of the Creator he is told, “Know that the Creator does not want anything from you but only that you will observe the Torah and Mitzvot in utter simplicity. This is enough for you. You do not need great intentions like the great righteous. Rather, the Creator requires man to observe Torah and Mitzvot according to man’s understanding, each according to his quality, meaning with his innate talents. It is impossible to require man to engage in Torah and Mitzvot the same as those who are very capable or brave, but each according to the quality with which he was born.

It is as the holy ARI says, “There is not a day that is like another or a moment that is like the next, and there is no man who is like another, and the galbanum [type of incense] will correct what the frankincense [another type of incense] will not correct.” That is, each person should correct his self and the quality with which he was born. One is not required to do more than the might of the mind and strength with which he was born.

It follows that one line is when he is told that he does not need to find deficiencies in his work. Rather, if he keeps Torah and Mitzvot in utter simplicity it is a great thing since he is observing the King’s commandments. Man should calculate and appreciate his work in utter simplicity. That is, if he is praying and saying a verse or a blessing, whether the blessing on the Mitzvot or the blessing on pleasure, he should think then to whom he is speaking. Certainly, to the extent that he pictures before whom he stands he will feel differently while saying the blessings and while praying. Even if he does not know the meaning of the words, it is still very important because it does not matter what he says but to whom he is speaking!

Therefore, when observing some Mitzva, such as wearing Tzitzit [prayer shawl], he looks at the fact that there are some Jews in the world who were not given the opportunity to wear a Tzitzit, but he was given the privilege of keeping the commandment of the Creator. He should be very thankful to the Creator for this!

Therefore, to the extent of his simple mind, according to his belief in the greatness of the Creator and that it is a great privilege that he can do what the Creator wants, for these reasons he says the blessing, “Blessed are You, O Lord.” That is, he blesses the Creator and thanks Him for rewarding him and giving him what He did not give other people.

Also, when he blesses on pleasures he also thanks the Creator for rewarding him with believing that the Creator has provided him with the pleasures that people can enjoy. But other people do not have this reward of believing that the Creator has given them all the things with which people can enjoy. And also, a person says during the Eighteen Blesses in the morning, “Blessed are You, O Lord, for not making me a gentile,” thanking the Creator for making him Israel.

We therefore see that we must thank the Creator for the smallest things we have in Kedusha[holiness/sanctity], and regard it as great. Although we cannot appreciate it, we should still believe it. I heard from Baal HaSulam who once said that as much as we understand the importance of Torah and Mitzvot Lishma [for Her sake], in truth, Lo Lishma [not for Her sake] is far more important than we appreciate Lishma.

This means that we cannot appreciate the contentment that the Creator derives from our desire to do His will. And each act that is done below, in this world, causes awakening above, in the upper world, as it is said in the holy Zohar, “An act below awakens an act above.” Since man has not yet been rewarded with entering the King’s palace and attaining the lights that are renewed by the works of the lower ones, we must believe that this is so.

That is, when a person comes to the synagogue and says there one verse for the Creator, to the Creator, this act is priceless because at that time a person does the deed, and there is nothing more to add in the action. This is a sign that there is wholeness in the act, and it is as important to the Creator as though he has kept it with all the intentions of the complete righteous. In other words, he is told that there are righteous who add only intentions to the actions, but there is nothing more to add to the act itself, as said above. It was said about the act, “Do not add and do not subtract.”

However, he is told that the work of intentions is not for him, that it belongs only to a chosen few. Thus, if this is his wholeness, he puts all his energy into keeping what he received by upbringing. By this he knows that all he has to do is maintain the quantity. As for the quality, meaning to improve the intentions, namely the reasons that make him keep Torah and Mitzvot, he knows what he was told in his upbringing that in general he will have this world and the next world for his work in observing Torah and Mitzvot. This is called “one line” and not the “right line” because there is still no left here, of which we can say that this line is called “right,” since there is no “right” without “left.”

In this way there is no danger that he might lose the spiritual life of Kedusha [holiness]. Rather, he is always advancing because his calculations are measured by the action, and each day he adds new actions. Therefore, he is always moving forward because he always sees that each day he adds new actions. For example, when he reaches the age of twenty he knows that he has seven years of observing Torah and Mitzvot. And when he reaches the age of thirty he has acquired seventeen years of Torah and Mitzvot.

It follows that this path is secured and there is no danger here to his spiritual life since he has a basis on which to look and measure his progress. Hence, this path is regarded as a safe path and there is no danger here to his spiritual life. That is, on this way he will not fall from his degree or ever despair because he sees that he is not succeeding in his work. Instead, he will always be at peace. His only regret in the work will be that it pains him that other people around him do not serve the Creator like him. This is his only regret in his work. But in himself he finds that he has much to be happy about, that thank God he has possessions of Torah and Mitzvot.

However, when he is told that there is another way, called “left line,” which means that on this way a person sees that although he engages in Torah and Mitzvot he must still correct himself during the work, and that the correction is not on the action, but that he must correct the intention, meaning with what intention he does what he does, namely the reason that makes him keep Torah and Mitzvot, this is already regarded as a dangerous way.

This is so for two reasons: 1) He is told that it is true that it is impossible to work without reward. Rather, any person who does any work, whether great or small, needs fuel that will give him strength to work. If he is told that the reward is that he will bring contentment to the Creator, meaning that “His wish will be only to bestow upon the Creator,” the body does not understand this reason as sufficient to give him strength to work, since it is against human nature because the substance of man is the will to receive in order to receive.

For this reason, when he works in one line, meaning that the basis of his work in this world is that he will receive reward in this world and in the next world, the body can understand that for himself, meaning to enjoy and be rewarded it is worthwhile to work.

However, when he is told that he must work with intentions and aim with each action he is doing to bring contentment to his Maker, he is left powerless in the work since then his body demands explanations: “How can I work and relinquish many things that the body can enjoy so the Creator will enjoy?” There is danger in this path that he might lose all of his spiritual life, even what he has acquired while engaging in one line.

2) The second reason for danger is that even if he prevails each time and wants to work in order to bestow, he sees that he cannot overcome in the intention, but always sees the opposite—that when he worked in one line he saw he was advancing. That is, if he spent ten years of work then he had ten years of Torah and Mitzvot, and if he has been engaging twenty years in Torah and Mitzvot then he has a possession of twenty years.

But here, on the right line, it is to the contrary. If he has spent three years and cannot aim his work in order to bestow then he is more shattered and broken since he has been working on the path of bestowal for three years but he has nothing to show. That is, he has no possession even though he has put in three years of work. It is even more so if he put in five years and so forth. Therefore, the longer he has exerted in the work, the more he sees that he is worse.

But Baal HaSulam said that in truth, on the one hand we can say that a person did advance toward the truth, in recognizing the evil. Before he began the work he thought he would be able to overcome his evil. It is as our sages said (Sukkah, 52), “To the wicked, the evil inclination seems like a hairsbreadth, and to the righteous like a high mountain.”

But on the other hand a person needs to see the truth as it is, meaning that by this his evil did not move an inch, and this might put him in danger of despairing because he would say that Lo Lishma[not for Her sake] is worthless, since the essence of the work is to bring contentment to the Creator, and he sees that he will not be able to overcome. It turns out that by walking on the left line he might God forbid be repelled completely from spiritual life, for he has already flawed the Lo Lishma. It turns out that he is empty both ways and has no grip on the life of Kedusha.

For this reason, people are guided by only one line. If they wake up by themselves and have a drive of their own to start searching for the truth, if they are guided to walk by this way forever or only when in the beginning of the work, they are not shown the left line—that they must correct themselves to do all their works for the Creator.

This is as Maimonides says (end of Hilchot Teshuva), “Sages said, ‘One should always engage in Torah, even Lo Lishma, since from Lo Lishma he comes to Lishma. Therefore, when teaching children, women, and the uneducated, they are taught to work out of fear and to receive reward. Until they gain knowledge and acquire much wisdom, they are told that secret bit-by-bit and are accustomed to this matter with ease until they attain Him and know Him from love.”

Therefore, we must walk on the right line, as well as on the left line, means that even if he knows that there is a truth called Lishma, still, the way he walked in it when he had only one line, now that line has received a new name and it is called “right line.” However, what does it add to us that now we call the one line, “right line”? The explanation is that now there is an intention on the right line. That is, by changing the name, “one line” to “right line,” a special intent is attached to this name, which did not exist when it was called “one line.” This is why it is forbidden to cancel the left line and walk on the right line, since there is no right without left. Thus, we must say that when he was walking in one line, he did not know if there is another way. But now that there is the left line opposite it, the one line is called “right line.”

This means that the wholeness he is receiving now is not because he is walking without deficiencies but because he feels whole and happy with his work as before he went into working in the left line, but for a different reason. Here, in the right line, the wholeness is because he sees that he is a simple person and knows that there is a true path, meaning that you must engage for the sake of the Creator, but he sees that he is far from it. That is, his body does not allow him to annul himself completely before the Creator, that his only direction in life will be to bestow. And yet, he sees that the Creator did give him strength to have some contact with holiness, and others do not have this power. It follows that he thanks and praises the Creator for this. It follows that in such a state he is in wholeness.

However, now that he has begun to work on the left line and understood that the work of bestowal is the main thing, it is difficult for him to be content with less. If he should work, he should work in order to achieve wholeness. But to make efforts to be rewarded with only a touch on the holy work, for this the body has no fuel. This is called as it is written, “Wherever there is a deficiency in Kedusha, there is grip for the Klipot [shells/ peels].” That is, the Klipot make him think, “Should you work so hard for such a small reward, meaning to have such a small grip in Kedusha?”

It follows that the Klipot have the strength to remove him from the Kedusha to a great extent. That is, he is not told that it is not worthwhile to exert for Kedusha“Kedusha, meaning serving the King, is certainly a great thing, but you see for yourself that you haven’t the strength for it.” Therefore, at that time awakens the danger that he will fall from the work completely because now the body has a grip in his work since man himself sees his deficiencies in the work.

But in the work on one line he knew that this was his wholeness because he was instructed from the beginning that Lishma belongs to great people who were born with great natural talents and good qualities, and with great powers to overcome their bodies. That is, they control themselves and can carry out what they like, and no one can stop them.

As for you, what’s required of you is only according to your ability. That is, do what you can, and by that you have done your duty, since the Torah was not given to the ministering angels but to all the people, each according to his ability.

However, once he begins to walk on the left line he feels that he, too, should achieve Dvekut[adhesion] with the Creator and work in order to bestow, and henceforth he will not be able to feel wholeness in the work of the right line because the left will be obstructing him. Here begins the work of faith above reason. That is, he must believe that the work of Kedusha is very important work. Therefore, he does not mind if he is rewarded with true wholeness or the wholeness he deserves. That is, he still does not have the great privilege of doing the holy work completely, but to a very small extent. But he regards it as a great fortune, whose value he cannot even measure.

It follows that in this work, when he walks on this line, he appreciates the Kedusha so it constantly increases its importance. This is so because he should believe in its greatness above reason, although he still does not actually feel it. He must tell himself: “The reason I must believe above reason in the importance of Torah and Mitzvot is that I am still not worthy of feeling its importance and greatness, as it is known that as long as one is still immersed in self-love, he is unfit to feel the delight and pleasure that is clothed in them. But in truth, when I am worthy, I will see it in actual fact.”

It therefore follows that the reason must believe above reason not because of lack of light that is clothed in Torah and Mitzvot, but rather the lack is in the Kli [vessel] of the lower one, that he is still unfit for it, and the Creator knows when I am fit, and will certainly let me feel the taste of Torah and Mitzvot.” It follows that we should believe above reason not because we cannot feel the good in it because the light is concealed and we cannot attain it. If that were so then what does it mean, “For they are our lives,” which is said about the Torah and Mitzvot? Rather, he should believe above reason as long as he has not corrected his vessels of reception. But when he completes his correction, the delight and pleasure will spread in everything holy in which he engages.

Therefore, if he walks on the right line and believes above reason in its importance, to the extent of importance that he appreciates the Torah and Mitzvot he can appreciate even the smallest thing, meaning even a touch, meaning even Lo Lishma of Lo Lishma can also delight him because with this act he is observing the commandment of the Creator.

However, afterwards he must shift to the left line, meaning criticize the work—whether the work he is doing is a way to achieve Dvekut with the Creator, as our sages said, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created the Torah as a spice,” if he is really going toward this purpose. This is regarded as putting himself in danger. When he is on the left line, his work is mainly to pray, meaning to cry out to the Creator to help him from above, as our sages said, “He who comes to purify if aided.”

By this we can interpret the meaning of the angels who surrounded Jacob, as mentioned in the words of the holy Zohar, that the angels came to guard him, meaning that it is help that comes from above to assist him so he can continue his way. However, help comes from above when a person has already begun the work and stands midway and cries out for help. But before he has begun the work he is not given assistance.

Therefore, when Jacob has begun the work and has put himself in danger and asked the creator to help him, the angels were sent to keep him so he could win the war into which he has already entered. But when he has completed the work that he began and received help from the angels, and wanted to begin a new work, called “small cans,” and the beginning of the work is in darkness, called “night,” this is called “evident danger,” since a dark place, called “left line,” is dangerous, then he should start alone. Afterward, when he sees that he cannot, he begins to ask the Creator to help, and then he will receive help from above.

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

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