Inapoi la pagina 1987 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link
What Is Preparation for Reception of the Torah?
Article No. 18, Tav-Shin-Mem-Zayin, 1986-87
The writing says, “And the Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain.” Concerning the people, the writing says, “And they stood at the foot of the mountain.”
We should understand what “came down” means for the Creator, which means a descent, lessening. After all, this was at the time of the giving of the Torah, so why should this be regarded as a descent for the Creator, as this was a time of joy?
Our sages said about “and they stood,” that it teaches that “He forced the mountain on them like a vault” and said, “If you accept the Torah, very well. But if you do not, there will it be your burial” (Shabbat 88). He asked there in the Tosfot, “Forced the mountain on them like a vault,” although they had already preceded doing to hearing. There are many answers to this question, but we should also understand the meaning of forcing on them the mountain like a vault in the work.
To understand the above, we must remember the known rule that there is no light without a Kli[vessel]. That is, there cannot be filling without a lack. It is impossible to enjoy something without yearning for it, and yearning for something is called “preparation,” meaning a need. The need for something determines the yearning, and the level of the pleasure corresponds to the level of the yearning.
It therefore follows that prior to the giving of the Torah, there had to be a preparation for the reception of the Torah. Otherwise, there could not be joy of the Torah. That is, they had to prepare the need to receive the Torah, and the need yields the above-mentioned yearning. According to the level of the yearning, so is the measure by which we can enjoy the Torah. However, we should know what indeed is the need for the reception of the Torah.
Our sages said (Baba Batra 16), “The Creator created the evil inclination, He has created for it a spice.” RASHI interpreted “Created for it the Torah as a spice,” which cancels thoughts of transgressions, as was said (Kidushin 30), “If you encounter this villain, pull him into the seminary.” And there, in Kidushin, they said, “Thus the Creator said to Israel: ‘I have created the evil inclination, and I have created for it the spice of Torah. If you engage in Torah, you will not be given into its hands,’ as was said, ‘and if you do well.’ ‘But if you do not engage in Torah, you will be given into its hands,’ as it was said, ‘Sin crouches at the door.’”
Accordingly, we see that the Torah is a correction to come out of the governance of the evil inclination. This means that one who feels he has the evil inclination, who feels that the evil inclination, with all the counsels it gives to a person about how to be happy and enjoy life, aims to harm him. That is, it obstructs him from achieving the real good, called “ Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator.” This is why a person says about it that this inclination is bad and not good.
However, it is very difficult for a person to say about it. That is, the evil inclination makes him understand that it is in his interest to see to his enjoyment in life, to feel pleasure from the things he does, meaning that all his actions will be only for his own sake. It makes him understand that a person should know the rule that all the counsels it gives him are only with one thing in mind: his own benefit. And even though sometimes it says that he should do something for another, it is with good reason that it tells him to work in favor of another. It is calculated in advance that this act will later yield benefit for himself. Therefore, how can a person say about it that it is an evil inclination, when it tells him to believe that it has no other aim but his own good, and not the good of anyone else?
For this reason, a person has a lot of work to come to feel that his will to receive is bad, to the extent that a person will know with absolute certainty that he has no greater enemy in the world than the receiver in him, as King Solomon would call it, “enemy.” It is as it is written, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him bread.” It is very difficult for a person to determine once and for all that he is bad and wants only to fail him from walking on the good path, which is the very opposite of the way of the receiver, since the path of truth is only to bestow, while the receiver wants only to receive. It follows that here is where one must choose if he is to be called “good” or “bad.”
Our sages said about it (Nida), “Rabbi Hanina Bar Papa says, ‘That angel appointed over pregnancy is called Laila [Hebrew: night]. It takes a drop and places it before the Creator and says to Him: ‘Master of the world, what shall become of this drop? Will it be a mighty one or a weakling, a wise one or a fool, rich or poor?’ But ‘wicked or righteous’ it did not say. Rather, this was given to man’s choice.’”
We should interpret that choice means to determine, decide, and name the receiver in a person, or that it is truly a good inclination because it tends to man’s benefit and is not distracted for even a minute into caring for others whatsoever. For this reason, it is worthwhile to listen to it, since it cares only for his own benefit, meaning that he will be happy. Therefore, it should be trusted and not veer off from it to the right or to the left, but carry out all its commandments and not deviate from it one bit.
There is also the opposite view, that it is indeed bad because by listening to it and engaging in self-love, we become remote from the Creator due to disparity of form. Then the quality of judgment is on a person, which was done by the correction of Tzimtzum [restriction] that was done on the light of doing good to His creations. For this reason, the name of the Creator, The Good Who Does Good, cannot be revealed where there is self-love. And for this reason, a person must decide once and for all that self-love is the real bad and harm-doer for a person.
However, the question is, from where can one receive the strength to make a choice to say about the receiver that it is so bad as to say that from this day forward he will not listen to it?
The truth is that this, too, requires help from the Creator to show him the truth, that the receiver for himself is man’s real wicked one and enemy. When a person comes to feel this, he is immune from sinning. Then, all the concealments and punishments are removed from him because when he already knows that this is the angel of death, he will certainly run away from death. This is the time when the delight and pleasure that is in the purpose of creation can be revealed. At that time a person comes to attain the Creator, who is called The Good Who Does Good.
Accordingly, we should interpret what is written (Genesis 8:21), “And the Lord said in His heart, ‘I will curse no more the earth because of man, for the inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth.’” Nachmanides interpreted “in His heart” as not revealing the matter to the prophet at that time. And Even Ezra adds and says, “Afterward, He revealed His secret to Noah.”
It is difficult to understand that verse, for did the Creator see only now that “the inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth” and before this, He did not know?
In the work, we should interpret that the Creator now disclosed, after all the work that a person has put into awakening to achieve the truth, meaning to really know why he was born and what goal he should achieve, so now the Creator disclosed to him that the inclination of a man’s heart, which is the receiver, is evil from his youth. That is, it cannot be said that now he sees that the inclination has become bad. Rather, it is evil from his youth. However, until now he could not determine that it was really evil; therefore, the person was in states of ascent and descent. In other words, at times he would listen to the inclination and say that from now on I will know that this is my enemy and everything it advises me to do is to my detriment.
But afterwards, the esteem of the inclination rises again and once again he listens to it and works for it wholeheartedly, and so on and so forth. He feels that he is as “a dog returning to its vomit.” That is, he has already determined that it was unfit for him to listen to it because all the nourishments that the inclination gives him are but food fit for beasts and not for man. But all of a sudden, he returns to animal food and forgets all the decisions and views he had before.
Afterward, when he regrets, he sees that he has no other way but for the Creator to make him see that the inclination that is called “evil” really is evil. Then, once the Creator has given him this knowledge, he does not go astray again but asks the Creator to give him the strength to overcome it each and every time the inclination wants to fail him, so he will have the strength to overcome it.
It therefore follows that the Creator should give him both the Kli [vessel] and the light, meaning both the awareness that the inclination is evil and there is a need to emerge from under its reign, and the correction for this is the Torah, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created the Torah as a spice.” Accordingly, the Creator gave him both the need for the Torah, as well as the Torah. This is regarded as the Creator giving him the light, as well as the Kli.
According to the above, we should interpret the above verse, “And the Lord said in His heart.” The interpreters interpreted that not revealing the matter to the prophet is regarded as “in His heart.” Afterward, He revealed His secret. What is the secret? That the inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth.
Thus, the order is that first one must see by himself and choose and determine that the name of the inclination in his heart is “evil.” Afterward, he sees that he is unable to determine resolutely that he will not go back on his word and say that the inclination is a good thing and it is worthwhile to listen to it, and so on and so forth. At that time, it is regarded that the Creator says “in His heart,” that the inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth, but to one who engages in choice, the Creator still did not reveal that secret that the inclination is called “evil” because it is evil. This is done in order to give man room for choice and to determine that it is evil.
But afterwards, when a person sees that he cannot say that it is utterly evil, but regrets every time, then comes the state where he cries out to the Creator, “Help me!” This is the meaning of what Even Ezra says, “Afterward, He revealed His secret to Noah.” It means that Noah is called “serving the Creator.” That is, when the Creator reveals to a person that the inclination is evil from his youth, which is nothing new that the evil inclination is evil, “but I did not tell you. Now that I am telling you this secret, that Man’s inclination is evil, you can be certain that you will no longer listen to it, since I myself revealed this to you. Therefore, I will no longer curse,” since there will not be any need for more punishments, since everything will be okay, as it is said, “And I will strike no more all the living, as I had done.”
This means that before the Creator disclosed that the inclination of a man’s heart is evil, there had to be ascents and descents. That is, in the beginning of the work you had vitality, but in order to walk on the right path, you had to strike all the living, meaning I took from you the vitality you had in the work, and you descended from there to a state of lowliness because you have evil, which is the evil inclination. Then there can be, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created the Torah as a spice.” But before he has this evil inclination, he feels the necessity for the Torah. For this reason, only after the Creator revealed the secret that the inclination of a man’s heart is evil can there be the giving of the Torah, since there is no light without Kelim [vessels], and only where there is a need it is possible to give him what he needs.
However, the Creator revealing to him that the inclination of a man’s heart is evil is also called “light,” meaning filling, and there is no filling without a lack. For this reason, a person cannot be rewarded with the Creator revealing the bad to him before he has a need for it, since there is a rule that it is not man’s way to act needlessly, and it is even more so with the Creator, who does not do anything needlessly.
Accordingly, from where can one receive the need for the Creator to reveal to him the above-mentioned secret? For this reason, one needs to begin the work and know that his receiver is his evil, and he must escape from its ruling, and everything he does in Torah and in prayer, or when he engages in Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds], it is to try to make all these actions bring him the recognition of evil. When he feels that he is bad and wants to perform acts of bestowal, he begins to receive vitality. When he falls from his degree, he loses the vitality.
It is the Creator Himself who makes him fall from His degree, since he still does not see the real evil in him. But through the descents he has each time, he asks the Creator to reveal to him once and for all that the will to receive is evil and not to be taken after it.
It follows that the descents he has, come to him from the Creator, as it is written, “And I will strike no more all the living,” to receive from Him the vitality in the Torah and work and to remain without any vitality of Kedusha [sanctity/holiness] because man has already been completed with the need for the Creator to help him recognize the evil permanently, so as not to yearn once more to listen to the voice of the evil. It is so because man has come to the need for the Creator to help him, since now he sees that it is impossible that he will ever be fond of the evil inclination and want to listen to it, and will go astray again endlessly. This is the reason why he needs the Creator now, to help him know that the inclination within him is bad, and is the reason why he cannot achieve the delight and pleasure that the Creator has created for the creatures.
This is why a person has many descents, for by this a desire forms within him to yearn for the Creator to help him feel that the inclination of a man’s heart is evil.
Now we can understand what we asked: What is the preparation for the reception of the Torah? The answer is—the evil inclination. When a person knows that he has evil in him, which is after the Creator has informed him this, a new need is born in a man: how to defeat it. Yet, this can be only through Torah, as our sages said, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created the Torah as a spice.” This is the preparation for the reception of the Torah. That is, the need for the Torah is called “the preparation for the reception of the Torah.”
By this we will understand what we asked about the meaning of the words, “And the Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain.” What is “the top of the mountain,” and how can a descent be said about the Creator? It is known that in spirituality, the name is according to the action, as it is written about Manoah with the angel who said, “Why do you ask for my name?” Rather, it is according to the action.
For example, an angel who heals will be called Angel Refael [the Creator’s healing], and so forth. Likewise, when the Creator sends healing to a person, the Creator is called “Healer of the sick.” According to the above, the Creator revealing to man that the inclination of a man’s heart is evil is regarded as the Creator revealing to a person in what state of descent the man was born, as it was written, “evil from his youth,” meaning from the day he was born. Then, the Creator is named after the action, showing to the man his lowly state, and this is called “And the Lord came down on Mount Sinai.”
We find two wordings here: 1) Regarding the Creator, it is written, “And the Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain.” 2) Regarding the people, it is written, “And they stood at the foot of the mountain.”
We must understand what is a “mountain.” The word Har [mountain] comes from the word Hirhurim[thoughts], which is man’s intellect. Anything that is in the intellect is regarded as “in potential.” Afterward, it can expand into actual fact. Accordingly, we can interpret “And the Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain,” as the thought and intellect of man, meaning that the Creator informed all the people that the inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth. After the Creator informed them in potential, meaning at the top of the mountain, that which was in potential expanded in actual fact.
For this reason, the people came to actually feel and everyone now sensed the need for the Torah, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created the spice of Torah.” Now they said that through actually feeling that they were forced to accept the Torah, meaning without choice, since they saw that if they received the Torah they would have delight and pleasure, and if not, there it would be their burial. In other words, if we remain in our current state, our lives will not be lives but they will be our burial place.
Accordingly, we should interpret “And the Lord came down to the top of the mountain” to mean that once the Creator informed them on the mountain, in the intellect, that the evil is man’s heart, and once this has been set in their minds, in their thoughts and intellect, it immediately operated, as it is written, “And they stood at the foot of the mountain.” In other words, the descent that was on the mountain operated on them and they stood at the foot of the mountain, meaning the above descents controlled them.
It follows that “forced the mountain on them like a vault” means the descent and the information they received on the mountain, meaning with the thought about them that now they will have to receive the Torah because this mountain, meaning this descent, causes them the need to receive the Torah, so they can overcome the evil in their hearts.
The meaning of “forced … on them” is that the reason that now they must receive the Torah and they have no other choice is the mountain, meaning the information they received in the thought and intellect that they are in a state of descent because they have evil in the hearts. This is like a vault, meaning that it is coercive and they have no choice. This is regarded as the mountain controlling them at the bottom.
Accordingly, we should ask what does it mean that through the miracle on Purim, our sages said, “kept and received”?
It is that thus far coercively, henceforth willingly (Shabbat 88). It said, “Raba said, ‘Nevertheless, the generation received it in the days of Ahasuerus,’ as it is written, ‘The Jews kept and received.’” RASHI interpreted that it was for the love of the miracle that was done for them.
We should explain this as it is written in the “Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot” (p 41): “There is conditional love, where because of the pleasure he feels in Torah and Mitzvot, he keeps them. But there is a higher degree called ‘unconditional love,’ that because of the miracle, they took upon themselves to observe Torah and Mitzvot without anything.”
Inapoi la pagina 1987 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link