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And I Pleaded with the Lord

Article No. 34, Tav-Shin-Mem-Hey, 1984-195

“And I pleaded with the Lord.” RASHI interpreted that in all the places, Hanun [“gracious,” from the root, Hanan, the same root as for Etchanan (pleaded)] means Matnat Hinam [free gift]. Although the righteous can refer to their good deeds, they are only asking the Creator for a free gift.

It is written in Midrash Rabbah: “‘And I pleaded with the Lord.’ Out of all of them, Moses prayed only with a language of pleading. Rabbi Yohanan said, ‘You learn from this that one has nothing with one’s Maker, for Moses, the greatest of the prophets, came only with words of pleading.’ Rabbi Levi said, ‘Why did Moses come only with words of pleading?’ The allegory says, ‘Take care that the place of your words will not be caught.’ How so? The Creator said so to Moses: ‘I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.’ He said to him: ‘With one who has in My hand I will be merciful; I work with him with the quality of mercy. And one who has not in My hand I will pardon; I work with him with a free gift.’”

We should understand the above said: 1) How can it be said, “I will be merciful” in relation to someone who has in My hand? The words, “One who has in My hand” come from the words of our sages, “Count for Me in your hand,” meaning that he should be paid a debt. Thus, what does it mean that the Creator said that one to whom the Creator is indebted, the Creator tells him, “I will be merciful.” He should has said, “I will pay,” as it is written, “Who has preceded Me and I will pay him?” Therefore, how can it be said that paying a debt has to do with being merciful? 2) We should understand how it is possible to have two such conflicting views, where one view is that he deserves a debt from the Creator, as he says, “One who has in My hand,” and the other is that he has nothing in his hand. In what way are their arguments so remote from one another? What is the point from which they come to such opposite views?

To understand the above we should discern two kinds in those who engage in Torah and Mitzvot[commandments]. Although there is no difference between them in the actions, meaning that in terms of actions it cannot be recognized, but there is a huge difference in the intention between the two above kinds.

The purpose that the first kind wants to achieve through their engagement in Torah and Mitzvot is to receive reward for the labor, since there is a rule in our nature that it is impossible to work without reward. Thus, what compels them to keep Torah and Mitzvot is the fear of not getting the fulfillment for the deficiencies that they are feeling. They are deficient of this and that and have a strong desire and great craving to satisfy it.

Therefore, they do everything they can in order to obtain what they want. For this reason, this fear compels them to engage in Torah and Mitzvot. This is regarded as not observing the fear because of the commandment of the Creator, but because of self-benefit, as presented in the Sulam[commentary] (“Introduction of the Book of Zohar,” item 191): “It follows that his own benefit is the root, and fear is a branch derived of his own benefit.”

It turns out that this kind engages in Torah and Mitzvot so the creator will pay them. Thus, the Creator is indebted to them, since they made great efforts in the engagement in order to yield fruit. For this reason they come to the Creator with a demand: “Pay us for our labor.” By this we can interpret the words of the above homily [Midrash], when Rabbi Levi said that the Creator said, “With one who has in My hand,” meaning who deserves to be paid a debt, namely that from the beginning, his intention was for the Creator to pay for his labor in Torah and Mitzvot.

It turns out that he comes with an complaint, as it is said by our sages, “Count for Me in your hand.” By this we can explain the words of the above homily. However, we should still clarify why the Creator said about this argument, ‘I will be merciful.” What mercy is there here if he deserves to be paid a debt? How can it be said here, “I work with him with the quality of mercy”?

The second kind is those who have a completely different intention, since the want to serve the Creator in order to bestow contentment upon the Maker without any reward. According to the rule that man was created with a desire to receive for himself, how can he work without any reward? A I said in the previous articles, there are those who work in order to later receive a reward, and there are those who work because they regard the work itself as reward and payment, and they have no greater reward than to be allowed to work.

This is similar to serving an important person. It stems from nature that there is no greater reward than to serve an important person. This means that he can give everything he has in order to have the privilege of serving the King. It follows that the work itself is the reward, and he expects no other pay. Rather, he expects to have the privilege of always serving the King, ceaselessly, and this is his whole life, the whole purpose of his life, and it is imprinted in nature.

However, we should understand why the Creator created such a nature, where if the lower one knows the importance of the upper one he wants to serve Him without any reward. Baal HaSulam said about this that since the Creator created the worlds in order to delight His creatures, He created in the creatures desire and craving to receive delight and pleasure. Otherwise, without a desire to enjoy, the creature cannot receive delight and pleasure, since there is no fulfillment without a lack.

However, along with it came the matter of the bread of shame—that there is no Dvekut [adhesion] here due to the disparity of form that has been born. For this reason, there was the correction of Tzimtzum [restriction], meaning to not receive, unless it is because he wants to bring contentment to the Creator. This is why he receives from Him, and otherwise he waives the pleasure.

However, this brings up the question, if he was born with a will to receive and this is his nature, from where can he receive a desire to bestow? This is against nature! This is why He has created a second nature—that the smaller one annuls before the greater one and derives delight and pleasure from serving the greater one. Then, when he has a desire to bestow upon the greater one, he thinks, “What can I give to the Creator so the Creator will enjoy?” since he wants to impart Him with pleasure so He will enjoy. At that time he sees that all he can give to the upper one, which you could say that the upper one lacks, is only one thing: that the lower one derives delight and pleasure. This gives pleasure to the Creator because this was the purpose of creation, which is to do good to His creations.

It therefore follows that all that man lacks in order to have the desire to bestow is the greatness of the Creator, for as soon as he obtains the greatness of the Creator he immediately wants to bestow upon Him due to the nature that the lower one, who is smaller, is annulled before the greater one.

This is why we were given the matter of wailing over the exile of the Shechina [Divinity]. This means that the whole matter of spirituality is degraded, which is called “Shechina in the dust,” when her importance is as that of dust, which is stepped on and is meaningless. This is the meaning of what is presented, that with each Mitzva [commandment] we must intend to raise the Shechina from the dust. That is, with every action one should intend that by this the glory of the Shechina will grow. It is as we say (In the Eighteen in the Supplementary Prayer of Rosh Hashanah [beginning of the year]), “Our Father, our King, reveal the glory of Your kingdom upon us,” namely that the kingdom of heaven will not be to us as dust, but rather glorified.

It follows that what this kind of people demands of the Creator is that He will reveal to them the glory of His kingship, and have nothing with the Creator since they do not require any reward from the Creator. Rather, all they want is to serve the King and please Him. They ask that the Creator will show them the glory of the kingdom of heaven.

Thus, they have nothing in the hands of the Creator that they can say that they gave something to the Creator for which they are demanding that He will satisfy their need, since anything they can do in order to bestow is only because the Creator has revealed to them with some importance, when they feel a little bit of the sublimity of the Creator. It follows that those people who have nothing of theirs in the hands of the Creator, whatever He gives them is only because “I will pardon,” I work with him with a free gift.”

But those who work in order to receive reward say that they have something in the hands of the Creator. That is, they give Him work and ask of the Creator to pay the reward for their work in return. And since the Creator does not deny the reward of any being, He pays them according to their work.

However, we must understand the words, “I will have mercy,” “I work with him with the quality of mercy [Rachamim],” since the Creator is saying that He feels mercy toward those who are walking on this path. And yet, the Creator does not deny the reward of any being, therefore He pays them according to their demand.

By this we will understand what we asked, “How can there be such a big difference between the two above views. The thing is that from the perspective of the Creator, we learn that the purpose of creation is to do good to His creations, but the creatures themselves turn it into two discernments, since those who cannot understand the importance of the greatness of the Creator have no way to begin the work, except in order to receive reward, as our sages said, “One should always engage in Torah and Mitzvot, even if Lo Lishma (Pesachim 50). They feel that they are giving something to the Creator.

But those who want to work in order to bestow see that they cannot give anything to the Creator. This is regarded as not having anything. It follows that what they want is for the Creator to show them a little of His greatness. They ask this for the purpose of pardoning, and then the Creator tells them, “I will pardon,” “I work with him with a free gift.”

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