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The Life of Sarah

Article No. 7, Tav-Shin-Mem-Hey, 1984-195

It is written in The Zohar, in the portion, Hayei Sarah [The Life of Sarah] (item 17), “Another interpretation: ‘A king is a woman who fears the Lord, as you say, ‘A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised,’ meaning the Shechina [Divinity]. ‘…to a cultivated field’ is foreign fire, meaning the Sitra Achra, as you say, ‘to protect you from a foreign woman,’ for there is a field and there is a field. There is a field that all the blessings and sanctities are in it, as you say, ‘as the scent of a field which the Lord has blessed,’ meaning the Shechina. There is a field that every ruin, impurity, destruction, killing, and war is in it, meaning the Sitra Achra,” thus far its words.

According to our way, the meaning is that we have two ways—either to follow the path of those who come to the Creator, whose way is the path of bestowal, or a path that leads to people, which is reception, since the creatures are called “creatures” only with respect to reception and self-love, which comes to us from the core of creation.

There was a Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment on that aspect, for in this place it is not evident that the whole earth is full of His glory, as it is possible to attain that the whole earth is full of His glory only when one exits the place of reception. But prior to exiting reception, one can only believe that this is so.

To be able to feel this, we are given the advice to exit the place of reception, which the place of darkness and death. That is, the light of life cannot appear although it is present, but it is covered from man, and one who comes to that place becomes separated from the source of life.

Hence, that place is called “darkness and death,” and every kind of calamity is present there. This is called the Sitra Achra [other side], meaning it is the opposite of Kedusha [holiness/sanctity]. A place of Kedusha, called a “place of bestowal,” is a place of equivalence of form. This is why in that place appear all the delight and pleasure, as it is a place of blessing and holiness. This is called “a woman who fears the Lord.” Our work is only to come to fear the Lord, called “assuming the burden of the kingdom of heaven.”

By this we will understand what our sages said about the verse, “as black as a raven” (Iruvin, 22): “In whom do you find them? Raba said, ‘In one who pretends to be as cruel as a raven to his sons and to his household.’ And some say, ‘In whom you exclude the orders of Torah.’” RASHI interprets that a raven is cruel to its young, as it is written, “to the young ravens which cry.”

The word Orev [raven] comes from the word Arev [pleasant], as it is written, “for your voice is Arev [pleasant].” It is the opposite of the dove, as our sages said about the verse, “The dove came to him … and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf” (Iruvin 18). “Rabbi Yirmiah Ben Elazar said, ‘Why is it is written, ‘and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf’?’ The dove said to the Creator, ‘Lord of the world, let my food be as bitter as an olive but be given by You, and let them not be as sweet as honey but be given by flesh and blood.’’”

It is known that when a person works in order to receive, when his direction is only self-love, that work is called “sweet work.” This is why the dove said, “let my food be as bitter as an olive but be given by the Creator.” This refers to his sustenance, on which one sustains oneself, the sustenance on which one lives. If his work is intended to for the Creator, even though it is bitter because the body does not agree with his nourishment, it will be dependent on the measure of his ability to aim to bestow, since it is against the nature in which the body was born.

The body was born with a desire to receive. It craves only that which can sustain self-love. This is regarded as provision that comes from “flesh and blood.” The body enjoys this provision and finds it sweet. It is regarded as Orev [raven] because only provision of flesh and blood is Arev [pleasant] to it. But it runs from provision that is given from above—meaning from being able to work for the Creator—since it feels bitterness in acts of bestowal.

It therefore follows that the raven is called “work of self-love.” Since there was a restriction on the will to receive, which is concealment and the upper light does not appear there, the work of the raven is black. This is the meaning of “as black as a raven.” That is, where is the Torah found? In whom can the light of Torah shine? Only in one who has come to realize that a raven, meaning work in reception, causes only blackness, that he can receive only darkness and not light. Our sages said about this that the Torah is found only “in one who pretends to be as cruel as a raven to his sons and to his household.”

It is known that father and son are cause and consequence. Therefore, we should interpret the above words to mean that one who has realized that by serving flesh and blood, which is work in self-love, though it is sweet work, it is a raven. However, by this he knows the outcome, meaning what will come out of such work—only darkness, called “blackness.” At that time he knows that he has become cruel to his sons, meaning he has no mercy on the results that will come out of this.

It follows that if he knows he has become cruel by walking on the degree of raven, he changes his way and begins to walk on the path of the dove, agreeing to work for the Creator even though these nourishments are as bitter as olives. But the results, meaning the sons, will enjoy his work, since because it is in order to bestow, abundance will flow into that place. This is the opposite from the raven, who becomes cruel to his sons.

We can interpret that this is why Israel are compared to a dove. This is the assembly of Israel, which is regarded as Yashar-El [straight to the Creator]. This means that everything that the people of Israel do is with the intention Yashar-El. Conversely, the nations of the world are regarded as a foreign God, not wanting to dedicate their work to the Creator.

By this we can interpret the verse, “He gives to the beast its bread, and to the young ravens which cry.” We should understand the reason for the proximity of “beast” to “raven.” It is as our sages said about the verse, “Man and beast” (Hulin, 5): “Rav Yehuda said, ‘Rav said, ‘these people are cunning and pretend to be as a beast.’’” Baal HaSulam interpreted that it is faith above reason, whose basis is vessels of bestowal.

The young of the raven—when one looks and sees one’s results, meaning what will come out of self-love—begin to call out to the Creator to give them vessels of bestowal and faith above reason, once they have realized what results self-love, called “raven,” will bring them. We can say that this is called “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”

Baal HaSulam interpreted what is written in the songs of Shabbat, “Extend Your mercy to one who knows You, O jealous and vengeful God.” This means that since one has acknowledged that if he does not walk on the path of bestowal he will immediately suffer revenge, he is guaranteed to keep himself from failing and entering the road that leads to self-love, since he knows he will lose his life, meaning that he will fall into a place of darkness and the shadow of death. At that time he says, “Extend Your mercy to those who know You,” who is a “Jealous and vengeful God.”

This is why they ask of the Creator to give them the mercy, for they know that otherwise they are doomed. Only through the mercy that the Creator will give them they will receive vessels of bestowal. This is regarded as a “dove.” But the raven, meaning the sweetness that they demand as a condition in their work, which is called “raven,” makes them cruel, meaning killing all their sons. That is, by measuring his work according to the sweetness that he feels in his work, when his only consideration is how his will to receive guides him, he loses all his future.

This is the meaning of “He gives to the beast its bread.” When does he give them bread, which is called “faith”? When the young of the raven cry. That is, they understand that the results, called “sons,” which are born to the raven, are destined to die, for it is separation from the life of lives. Then, when they call upon the Creator to help them, they call upon the Creator in truth. This is the meaning of what is written, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”

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

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