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

Concerning Prayer

Article No. 10, 1986

Our sages said in Masechet Taanit (p 2): “To love the Lord your God and to serve Him, this is a prayer. You say, ‘This is prayer,’ or is it only work?’ We should say, ‘with all your hearts.’ Which is work in the heart? It is prayer.”

We should understand why prayer is regarded as work. Is it work to pray to the Creator to grant our wishes and requests? And if our sages said so then they want to imply to us that there is a special meaning to the prayer—that it is work and not simply a prayer. Thus, what is the issue to which our sages imply?

Indeed, it cannot be said that a person prays and asks to be given something if he has no desire for it. Only when a person feels he lacks something does he go and ask for that filling, related to the lack, from the one who can fulfill it, since one asks only from one who has what he needs, and he also knows that he wants to give and to do good to others.

Accordingly, when a person comes to pray and ask the Creator to satisfy his need, his prayer should be clear. That is, he should clearly know what he needs. That is, when he comes to ask from the Creator he should picture himself speaking to the King, and the King can make him the happiest man in the world at once because nothing is missing in the King’s house. Thus, first one must carefully examine before the prayer so he knows what he really needs, that if the King fulfills his lack he will not need anything more and will be the most complete man in the world.

According to what we learned—that the purpose of creation is to do good to His creations—it follows that on the part of the Creator there are no hindrances on bestowing delight and pleasure upon the creatures. This means that the reason why the Creator created in the creatures a lack, called “desire to receive,” was in order to satisfy the deficiency. As we explained, a lack is called torment and affliction if he cannot satisfy his need.

Therefore, all the lack that was created was with the intention to feel pleasure through it, since the lack is included in the intention to do good. This follows the rule that the craving for something gives the pleasure from satisfying it. It is known that even when we give to a person a meal fit for kings, if he has no desire for the meal he cannot enjoy it.

Therefore, when a person feels a lack and has no satisfaction for it, he comes to ask the Creator to grant him his wishes. In general, a person asks only for delight and pleasure. As we learned, on the part of the Creator, a person does not need to pray that the Creator will give him delight and pleasure because His wish is to do good to His creations. Therefore, no one should be asked for anything if the Giver wishes to give.

It follows that before one goes to ask of the Creator to grant his wishes, he should first examine what he needs. This is what he should ask of the Creator. It seems as though the Creator does not give to a person without a person asking first. This means that because asking is not included in the purpose of creation, which is to do good to His creations, but is something that emerged later, from the creature, for this reason the creature must ask the Creator to give him. But we should not ask that the Creator will want to give delight and pleasure because this is His wish, as said above, that His wish is to give delight and pleasure to the lower ones.

However, we should know that since there was the matter of the Tzimtzum [restriction], called “correction of creation,” as it is known that it is so that the Creator’s gift will not be unpleasantness, called “bread of shame.” And since we attribute this correction to the lower one, called Malchut de Ein Sof, who is called “the Kli [vessel] that received the upper light,” and once this receiver received the abundance, a craving for equivalence of form awakened. This is why she did the Tzimtzum.

He says in The Study of the Ten Sefirot (p 9, “Inner Reflection”): “The upper light does not stop illuminating to the creatures for even a minute, and the whole matter of Tzimtzum and Histalkut [departure] of light that are mentioned here relate only to the impression and reception of the Kli, meaning the middle point. This means that although the upper light does not stop illuminating, the Kli still does not receive any of its illumination because it diminished itself.”

As said above, not receiving in order to receive does not relate to the purpose of creation. Rather, it is attributed to the correction of creation. It is an act of the lower one who strives for equivalence of form. It follows that the lower ones cannot receive delight and pleasure although the upper one wants to give because they need vessels of bestowal, and this pertains to the receiver and not to the giver, as we said, that the lower one, called Malchut de Ein Sof, made the Tzimtzum. This is why this Kli relates to the lower one, meaning that the lower one will want to receive only if it can aim in order to bestow.

For this reason, when a person comes to pray to the Creator to give him what he needs, we should say that he actually needs something that does not come from the purpose of creation. Rather, what he needs is something that comes from the lower ones. That is, Malchut, who is called the “lower one” because she receives abundance from the upper one, made a new Kli to receive abundance only in this Kli called “vessel of bestowal.” Therefore, all he should pray for is that the Creator will give him this Kli because this is all he needs.

However, here there is room for scrutiny. If the lower one must make this Kli because it pertains to the lower one, as we said above that Malchut did it, then why does a person not make this Kli by himself, but must ask the Creator to give him this Kli? Moreover, we say about this Kli that the lower one must make it. We tell him that this is all he needs to ask from the Creator, but if this pertains to man’s work then why does he need to ask the Creator?

The matter is clarified more in the words of our sages who said (Berachot 33b), “Rabbi Hanina said, ‘Everything is in the hands of the Creator except for fear of the Creator, as it was said, ‘And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but fear?’”

RASHI interprets “Everything is in the hands of the Creator” as follows, “Righteous and wicked do not come by heaven. He has given this to man and has placed before him two ways, and he must choose fear of heaven.”

The matter of fear is explained in the Sulam [Ladder commentary on The Zohar] (“Introduction of the Book of Zohar,” item 203): “Indeed, both the first fear and the second fear are not for his own benefit, but only out of fear that he will lessen bringing contentment to his Maker.” According to the above, it means that fear is that person must aim everything he does to be in order to bestow contentment upon the Creator.

We asked, if this is so, and bestowal is something that man must do, why did we say that he should ask this from the Creator, since it was said, “Everything is in the hands of the Creator except for fear of the Creator”? We should know that man cannot go against the nature with which he was created. Since the Creator created man with a nature of wanting to receive, as we said that it is impossible to enjoy the pleasures without a desire for the pleasure, and we learned that the essence of creation, regarded as “existence from absence,” is the will to receive, hence when one wants to do something in order to bestow it is considered going against nature. This is why we cannot change our nature. Accordingly, if man cannot change nature, why did our sages say, “Everything is in the hands of the Creator except for fear of the Creator?” This implies that man does have the strength to change it.

We can interpret that there are two things here: 1) a desire, regarded as only a potential, that he wants to bestow; 2) that he also has the ability to carry out his thought in actual fact.

Therefore, we should interpret that the demand from man to choose to walk in ways of bestowal, he should know that this is the Kli to receive the purpose of creation—to receive the delight and pleasure—and if he hasn’t these Kelim he will remain in darkness without light. Once he knows this in complete certainty and begins to intend to carry out acts of bestowal, he sees that he cannot go against nature.

Here comes the time of prayer, and not before, since there is no such thing as asking for urgent help—asking for vessels of bestowal, which are Kelim in which he can receive life and without which he is regarded as dead, as our sages said, “the wicked in their lives are called ‘dead.’” This is because by nature, man asks for help only when he cannot obtain what he wants by himself, since prior to this there is the matter of shame, as our sages said about the verse, “Chrome gorges for the sons of men.” “When man needs people, his face changes to be as chrome. What is chrome? There is a bird in the cities near the sea, whose name is Chrome. When the sun shines on it, it turns into several colors” (Berachot, p 6).

It is known that the corporeal nature that we were given is such that through it we learn spiritual matters. Therefore, before one knows that he cannot obtain the vessels of bestowal by himself, he does not ask the Creator to give them to him. It follows that he does not have a real desire for the Creator to answer his prayer.

For this reason, one must work to obtain the vessels of bestowal by himself, and after all the work that he has put into it without obtaining it begins the real prayer from the bottom of the heart. At that time he can receive for help from above, as our sages said, “He who comes to purify is aided.”

But since this prayer is against nature, since man was created with a desire to receive, which is self-love, how can he pray to the Creator to give him the force of bestowal while all the organs oppose this desire? This is why this work is called “prayer,” meaning he must make great efforts to be able to pray to the Creator to give him the force of bestowal and annul man’s force of reception.

This is why our sages said, “‘And you shall work’ is prayer, the work in the heart.” By this we will understand why they refer to prayer as “work in the heart.” It is because one must work a lot on himself to cancel self-love and assume the work of obtaining vessels of bestowal. It follows that on the desire to have vessels of bestowal he must work with himself to want to pray, to be given the force of bestowal.

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

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