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Concerning the Slanderers

Article No. 18, Tav-Shin-Mem-Hey, 1984-195

It is written in The Zohar (Bo, item 1): “Rabbi Yehuda started and said, ‘Happy are the people who know the cheer.’ See how people must follow the path of the Creator and keep the Mitzvot[commandments] of the Torah so that through it they will be rewarded with the next world and be saved from all the slanderers above and below. This is so because as there are slanderers in the world below, there are slanderers above who stand ready to slander people.”

We should understand what are the slanderers below. This is understandable with regard to above, that if we want to give something to a person, slanderers come and complain about that person saying he should not be given what he is about to be given. But below? This begs the question, “Before whom are they complaining about the person?”

We should interpret that the slanderers come to the person himself. If a person wants to go by the path that ascends toward bestowal upon the Creator, slanderers come and tell him: “The way of bestowal is not for you; this way is suitable only for a chosen few, with special qualities and talents, brave hearts, strong, and who are able to overcome. But not you, for you don’t have the qualities of those above the common folk. Therefore, it is better for you to dwell among your own people, meaning follow the path of the general public and not aspire to be exceptional.”

In that regard, Rabbi Yehuda comes and tells us the verse, “Happy are the people who know the cheer.” RASHI interpreted that they know how to appease their maker. How do they appease Him? By Him pouring abundance upon them. Rabbi Yehuda interprets about that that they must go by the path of the Creator and observe the Mitzvot [commandments] of the Torah.” We should understand what are the “ways of the Creator.” The verse comes and tells us about that, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are My ways your ways.”

That is, only above reason can one walk by the path of the Creator. But within reason, the body itself is his slanderer and accuser, making him understand that the path of bestowing upon the Creator is not for him.

By this you will understand the verse (Exodus, 23): “You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and distorts the words of the righteous.” We therefore see that when one comes to scrutinize the order of his work and sees the conditions required of him, he decides that he cannot take upon himself this path, which is the work of bestowal, for two reasons:

1) He is not one hundred percent certain about the reward for the work, since he does not see anyone who has received the reward for which he labored. That is, when he comes to criticize people who he sees that they did toil and tolerated the conditions of the work, he sees that they really did make great efforts. However, he does not find that they have already received the reward for their work. If he asks himself why they did not receive reward, he comes up with a great excuse: One who keeps all the conditions of the work certainly receives reward. However, they made great efforts, but not the one hundred percent required of them. This is why they are in a state where they believe He is ejecting them (from the work, for they believe that they are right and the work of bestowal is not for them).

2) At that time a second question comes up: “Who knows if he will be more capable then they are, and he will be able to give the full one hundred percent required to be brought to Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator?”

After those two reasons he decides that he is one hundred percent right in not wanting to take upon himself this path, which is built on faith above reason and on the basis of bestowal. He is so certain that he is right that he is sure that no one can criticize his unwillingness to take this path.

Accordingly, there is a question: “Those people who did commence on this path, who have taken upon themselves to walk on the path of bestowal, how did they overcome those questions?” Certainly, when one is told, “Go work, but not in order to receive reward,” immediately asks all these questions, since these question give one no rest. Thus, by which force could they emerge from the state of questions, which are called “evil waters”?

The only way is to go above reason and say, “What I see—that I am right and I must take the path that everyone takes—is not the truth, as I see it. Only one whose eyes are open can see the truth, but one whose eyes are not open cannot see the truth. When a person asks these questions he is biased toward his will to receive, since he is considering only the benefit he can derive for himself. Therefore, he can no longer see the truth. The verse comes and tells us about that: “You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted.”

Therefore, it cannot be said that he is right according to his view because he is bribed by the will to receive, so he no longer has open eyes to see the truth. Instead, he should say, “Although I heard all your correct question, now I am unable to answer you. But once I have been rewarded with the desire to bestow I will have open eyes. Then, if you come to me with all your questions, I will certainly give you the right answers.

“But now I have no choice but to go above reason because all the reason that I see comes from the side of biasness. And although I think that all my calculations are correct, it should be said about them what the verse tells us, ‘distorts the words of the righteous,’ that I am unable to see who is right, meaning say that everything that must be done in order to bestow was not said about me, and ‘I dwell among my own people,’ like everyone else who settles for keeping Torah and Mitzvot saying, ‘I do what I must do.’

“Concerning intentions, this pertains to one who feels he needs it. I, for one, do not feel that I need to be smarter than everyone and I am content with less.” It was said about this, “distorts the words of the righteous,” but I go above reason.

This is the meaning of the great importance of “cleanness,” which is presented in all the books, that one must be clean before every Mitzva [commandment] one is about to do. And regarding cleanness, Baal HaSulam said that one should be careful that everything will be on the side of truth, and that no falsehood will be involved there. He also said that as there is a difference between people concerning keeping clean—there are people who make sure there is no dirt on their clothes, and there are people who are not so meticulous and the dirt is plainly visible, so they remove it. That is, it depends on the measure of loathing that one has for the dirt.

It is likewise in spirituality: No person is like another, and it depends on the extent to which one loathes falsehood. To the extent that he cannot tolerate falsehood, he comes closer to the path of truth.

He also said that we must know that this dirt in matters of the soul is the true harm-doer. Since the soul is eternal, one should be very careful with falsehood and keep one’s truth clean from any manner of falsehood.

By this we will understand what our sages said (Shabbat 114), “Rabbi Hiya Bar Aba said, ‘Rabbi Yohanan said, ‘Every wise disciple who is found with a blemish on his clothes must die, as it was said, ‘All who hate Me, love death.’ Do not call it ‘hate Me,’ but ‘cause to hate Me.’ RASHI interprets that ‘cause to hate Me’ means that they make themselves loathsome in the eyes of people, and the people say, ‘Woe unto the disciples of Torah for they are loathsome and dishonorable.’ It turns out that they make the Torah loathsome.’’”

Superficially, this is difficult to understand. If he has a blemish on his clothes, does he deserve to die? He brings evidence from the verse, “All who hate Me, love death.” Here, too, we should understand: If he hates Me, is this a sign that he loves death?

According to what we explained above, that cleanness pertains to the need to be clean, so there will be no mixture of falsehood there when he wants to walk on the path of truth. Truth is called Lishma[for Her sake], as Maimonides says (Hilchot Teshuva, Chapter 10), “One who works out of love, engages in Torah and Mitzvot, and follows the paths of wisdom not because of anything in the world, or because of fear of harm, and not in order to inherit goodness. Rather, he does the truth because it is the truth, and the good will finally come because of it.”

Therefore, it means that concerning finding a blemish in his clothes—which are regarded as clothes within which one receives goodness and life—they must be cleansed from any mixture of self-love, and be only for the Creator. According to this we will interpret “All who hate Me love death.” We asked, “Why does the verse say, ‘All who hate Me,’ meaning the reason he hates Me is that he loves death?

According to the above, this is simple: The meaning of death is clarified, since precisely one who is adhered to the life of lives has life. But one who is separated from Him is separated from life.

This is why it was said, “All who hate Me,” meaning who do not love the Creator, to work only for the Creator, but mix there a little bit of self-love, and self-love is death because it causes separation from the life of lives. For this reason, one who loves death, meaning self-love, becomes hateful of the Creator because of it.

RASHI interprets “cause to hate Me” to mean that they make themselves loathsome in the eyes of people. People say, “Woe unto the disciples of Torah, for they are loathsome and dishonorable.” It follows that they cause to hate the Torah.

This is difficult to understand. If there is a stain on his clothes, is he already loathsome in the eyes of people? And also, does the Torah cause people to hate the Torah so much that for this he deserves a punishment of death, as our sages said, “Every wise disciple who is found with a blemish on his clothes must die”?

In the work, we should interpret that “making themselves loathsome in the eyes of people” means one’s own organs, desires, and thoughts. Man’s body is called “a world in and of itself.” The organs of the body say, “Woe unto them who study Torah, for they are loathsome.” But it is written, “For they are our lives and the length of our days,” and they are “More desirable than gold, then much fine gold, and sweeter than honey and the honeycomb,” but we don’t see this with our disciples of Torah.

The reason why we do not see all those precious things in disciples of Torah is that there is a blemish on their clothes, meaning that there is self-love mingled in our disciples of Torah during the work. It follows that this blemish causes the good and the life in the Torah not to be able to clothe in these clothes, since they are not clean where everything is for the Creator. At that time the “people in our body” fall into despair. It follows they are causing them to hate the Torah.

That is, where the disciples of Torah should have revealed the preciousness of Torah, as it is written, “For it is your wisdom and understanding before the eyes of the nations,” here they see the opposite. And who caused all this? It is all because they were not careful with cleanness, which is called a “blemish.”

By this we will understand why he must die if there is a blemish on his clothes. It tells us that that blemish that he makes in his clothes separates him from the life of lives. This is why this is considered that he is compelling himself to come to a state of death. And it is all because he was not careful with cleanness, but falsehood, called Lo Lishma [not for Her sake] was mixed into his work. Rather, everything must be for the Creator.

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