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

What Is Preparation for Selichot [Forgiveness]

Article No. 36, Tav-Shin-Mem-Vav, 1985-86

It is known that for anything we want, we must prepare the means to obtain it. Accordingly, what must one prepare in order to receive Selichot [forgiveness]? In corporeality we see that one does not say to another, “Sorry,” unless he has done something that harmed the other person in terms of money, honor, or bodily harm, by causing him some injury. In that case it can be said that one should ask for the other’s forgiveness, to forgive the wrong that he has done to him.

There are two things to discern here: 1) If he did not do anything to him, but he is asking him for forgiveness, the other person will look at him as though he is insane. If we saw someone walking on the street saying to everyone, “Sorry, sorry,” we would certainly think that he is mad. Forgiveness pertains only to some felony. 2) If another person causes a great loss to another person and apologizes as though he did something small, he will certainly not receive what he has asked for, since he has done a great offense, but he apologizes as though he did something small. It is inconceivable that he will forgive him. Rather, one measures the severity of the damage that he has done to his friend, and to that extent chooses the means that will make his friend forgive him.

We see in corporeal conducts how people behave concerning forgiveness among people, and from the conduct between man and man we should apply the same order between man and God. That is, when one comes to ask the Creator for forgiveness, to forgive his sins, the two above discernments apply, as well: 1) that you do not apologize for nothing, but only for hurting another, or you will be perceived as insane, or that you are mocking the other by asking his forgiveness. 2) The request for forgiveness should match the measure of harm to the other.

Therefore, when one comes to ask the Creator to forgive his sin against Him, that he blemished His honor, one must think about his sin against the Creator. This is so because if a person does not feel any sin yet asks for forgiveness, it is as though he is joking. He is yelling and crying and asking the Creator’s forgiveness when he does not feel that he has damaged the King’s glory whatsoever.

The reason why a person does not feel his sins is as our sages said (Yoma, 86), “If a person commits a transgression and repeats it, it becomes to him as permitted.” This is the reason why a person does not feel his sins when he comes to ask the Creator for forgiveness.

It follows, according to the second discernment, meaning discerning the measure of the sin, that first one must acknowledge the measure of the flaw that he has flawed in the glory of the King. Otherwise you cannot speak of forgiveness. Thus, one should try as much as possible to be able to ask that He will forgive his sins according to his sins, meaning that they will be of equal weight.

Our sages also said (Sukkah, 52), that to the wicked, the sins seem like a hairsbreadth, and to the righteous they seem like a high mountain. The question is, what does this “seem” mean? That is, they said, “Seem to them,” but what is the truth?

The thing is that when one does not notice before whom he sins and does not feel the importance and greatness of the Creator, he is faithless. At that time, when he begins to think, “But I’m a Jew, as well,” and since now is the month of Elul, and it is customary in Israel throughout the generations that since it is a month of mercy, and anyone who is regarded as “Israel” knows that now is the time to ask the Creator for forgiveness for the sins of the house of Israel. Also, we blow the Shofar [festive horn] so man’s heart will begin to contemplate repentance for sins. At that time one believes that he, too, must have sinned and must ask the Creator for forgiveness.

However, what is the measure of the flaw that he has blemished in the King? A person cannot feel this feeling. Rather, to the extent of one’s faith in the greatness of the Creator he can assume the measure of the flaw that he has caused by his sins. Therefore, all those who come to ask for forgiveness without any preparation as to what they are forgiveness for are as one who is asking forgiveness of someone although he did terrible things to him, which require true remorse for his actions, yet he is asking forgiveness as though he did something insignificant. Naturally, the request for forgiveness is also without real value as it should be for a real sin.

It follows that before one comes to ask forgiveness he must first reflect on the core of the sin. Afterward he can consider the sins that were caused by the core of the sin. One should know that the core of the sin with which one blemishes, and from which all the sins extend, is that one is not trying to have permanent faith. If he has partial faith he settles for this.

It is as it is written in the “Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot” (item 14), that if he had permanent faith, that faith would not let him sin. That is, he asks forgiveness from the Creator since he sees that the real reason for all the sins is that he lacks permanent faith. Therefore, he asks the Creator to give him that strength, meaning to have the ability to always have faith steadfast in his heart. Naturally, he will not come and commit sins and blemish the glory of the Creator because he has no feeling of the greatness of the Creator, and because he does not know how to appreciate the glory of heaven, and how not to harm it.

Therefore, he asks forgiveness from the Creator, to help him and give him the strength to take upon himself the burden of the kingdom of heaven above reason, meaning to have the power to overcome and strengthen in faith in the Creator, and to know how to behave between man and God, with some reverence.

This means that when one reflects, he will see that he needs only one thing—to reflect on the difference between Jew and gentile, for which we bless each day, “Blessed are You, O Lord, for not making me a gentile.” But one does not pay much attention to what he says, “For not making me a gentile.” That is, he does not consider himself: in what way he is Israel and not a gentile. We must know that the main distinction is in the faith—Israel believes in the Creator and a gentile has no faith in the Creator.

Once he knows that difference he must check his measure of faith in the Creator, meaning as it is written in the “Introduction to the Study of Ten Sefirot” (item 14), how much he is willing to make concessions for his faith in the Creator. Then he will be able to see the truth, meaning if he is willing to do things only for the sake of the Creator and not for his own sake, or is he willing to work for the Creator only to a small extent, meaning that God forbid that he should blemish self-love, or else he will not be able to do anything.

It therefore follows that then is the time when he can see the truth: his true measure of faith in the Creator. From this he can see that all the sins stem only from this reason. By receiving preparation and qualification when he comes to ask the Creator to forgive his sins he can assume the true measure of the flaw, meaning in what way he has blemished the glory of the King and he will know what to ask of the Creator, meaning what sins he has sinned and which he must correct so as not to sin again.

Now we can understand what is written in the portion, Nitzavim [Standing] (Deuteronomy, 30:11): “For this commandment, which I command you today, is not beyond you, nor is it far. It is not in heaven, and not beyond the sea, for the matter is very near you—in your mouth and in your heart to do it.”

The words, “For this commandment,” to which commandment is he referring? We should also understand the meaning of “It is not beyond you.” The thing is that the core of the Mitzva[commandment] is the Mitzva of faith, meaning to believe in the Creator. Afterwards we can keep His Mitzvot [pl. of Mitzva]. All the slanderers and all the obstructions come to the Mitzva of faith. The body begins to ask many questions—both questions that the body itself is asking, and questions about faith that the body hears other people.

They come to a person when he wants to take upon himself the burden of the kingdom of heaven “as an ox to the burden and as a donkey to the load,” meaning everything above reason. Suddenly, the body becomes smart and begins to investigate and ask “Who” and “What”? Under no circumstances does it let us take upon ourselves the Mitzva of faith. The body’s questions are so strong that one cannot answer its questions. Then a person becomes bewildered and does not have the strength to overcome its just arguments, according to the reason by which it is asking. The body’s questions are a true wonder.

The writing tells us about this: “For this commandment,” meaning the commandment of faith, “is not beyond you.” That is, you do not need to answer the body’s questions, which it asks within reason, since the Mitzva of faith is built specifically above the intellect. That is, the external mind, which was given to man, cannot attain it. This is why you do not need to answer its bewildering questions.

Instead, one must believe that all the questions that the body asks do not come in order for you to answer them. It is to the contrary: These questions come to a person so as to give him a place to believe above reason. Otherwise, if the body understood with its intellect that a person wants to work for the Creator, it would be within reason. This would be called “knowing,” not “believing,” for precisely where one’s mind does not grasp, there, if he does something, it is purely on the basis of faith.

It therefore follows that one does not need to be very talented in order to be able to answer the body’s questions, since all the answers are “Above reason,” called “faith.” This is regarded as “It is not in heaven, and not beyond the sea,” requiring great tactics. Rather, it is utterly simple, and it is called “It is in your mouth and in your heart to do it,” meaning if there is only a desire in the heart then we can overcome.

But the matter of “above reason” requires clarification, since there are many discernments to make there/ Baal HaSulam said that above reason means that one should depict for oneself how he would keep Torah and Mitzvot if his reason determined that it is worthwhile to engage in Torah and Mitzvot. That is, if he felt the taste that is in each and every Mitzva.

One must believe that as there are corporeal pleasures, such as pleasures of eating, drinking, and respect, where each thing tastes differently, we must also believe that there is a special taste in each Mitzva. Accordingly, if he tasted the change of flavors during his engagement in Torah and Mitzvot, what excitement and vitality he would feel during his work? Reason would compel him to create for himself an image in the work that is suitable for a servant of the Creator. He would look at all the things that want to disrupt him from his work as inconsequential, unworthy of his attention.

According to the abovementioned depiction, which he depicts to himself within reason, he should make the same depiction above reason. That is, although he does not feel that there will be something that reason supports, he still works precisely as if he has strong reason and feeling. When he does this, it is regarded as working above reason.

However, as long as he feels that if he had reason he would be serving the Creator more willingly and more consistently, then he is still working within reason, since there is still a difference between reason and above reason. Precisely when it makes no difference to him, it is regarded as “above reason.”

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

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