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The Difference between the Work of the General Public and the Work of the Individual
Article No. 16, Tav-Shin-Mem-Zayin, 1986-87
It is written in The Zohar (Emor, Item 58): “Come and see, when a person is born, a force from above is not appointed over him until he is circumcised. Once he is circumcised, the spirit awakens upon him, meaning the light of Nefesh from above. When he is rewarded with engaging in Torah, he is a complete man, whole in everything, for he has been rewarded with the light of Haya. But when a beast is born, as soon as it is born, the power it has in the end, it has when it is born. This is why it is written, ‘When an ox or a sheep or a goat is born.’”
We should understand this differentiation between beast and man, and what it teaches us in the work. First, we must understand what is “man” in the work and what is “beast” in the work. What is “man”? Our sages said (Berachot 6) about what was said, “In the end of the matter, all having been heard, fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man.” What is “for this is the whole of man”? Rabbi Elazar said, “The Creator said, ‘The whole world was not created but for this.’” In other words, the whole world was created for the fear of the Creator. This is the meaning of what he said, “for this is the whole of man.” It follows that “man” is one who has fear of the Creator, and one who does not have fear of the Creator is not called “man.”
This also explains what they said (Yevamot 61), “Thus would Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai say, that it was said, ‘And you are My sheep, the sheep of My pasture. You are man. You are called ‘man,’ and the idol-worshippers are not called ‘man.’” We should also interpret that by “man,” he is referring to one who has fear of heaven (although in terms of the judgment, he is not important. Rather, he is from an impure one; although a person has only the degree of a beast, he is still defiled in the tent. Nonetheless, in the work, we learn within one man the discernments of Israel and the seventy nations, as The Zohar says that every person is a small world. For this reason, with respect to practical Mitzvot [commandments], called “the revealed part,” we learn everything separately, meaning a gentile and Israel separately, meaning we learn everything as separate bodies. This is why the rule is that the graves of idol-worshippers are not defiled in a tent, since it is written about Tuma’a [impurity], “Should a man die in a tent.” This is why idol-worshippers are not defiled in a tent.)
It therefore follows that one who has fear of the Creator is called “man,” and one who has no fear of the Creator is considered a “beast,” and not a man. However, we should understand the measure of the fear of the Creator, since there are many discernments in this.
The Zohar (“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” Item 190) writes, “Fear is interpreted in three discernments, two of which do not contain a proper root, and one is the root of fear. There is a person who fears the Creator so that his sons will live and not die, or fears a bodily punishment, or a punishment to one’s money. Hence, he always fears Him. It follows that the fear he fears of the Creator is not placed as the root, for his own benefit is the root, and the fear is the result of it.
And there is a person who fears the Creator because he fears the punishment of that world and the punishment of Hell. Those two kinds of fear—fear of punishment in this world and fear of punishment in the next world—are not the essence of fear and its root. The fear that is the essence is that one should fear one’s Master because He is great and ruling.”
According to the worlds of The Zohar, the essence of the fear of the Creator is because the Creator is great and ruling. This is what compels us to observe His Mitzvot [commandments], since this is regarded as working not in order to receive reward, meaning not for one’s own sake—so he will receive some reward for his work. Rather, the work itself is the reward because he feels it is a great privilege that he sees that he was given a thought and desire to serve the King, and regards the great gift he has been given from above as a fortune.
It therefore follows that a “man” is one who walks on the path where all his actions will be with the aim for the Creator and not for his own sake. But one who does not have the intention, but only the act, while this is a great thing, without the intention it is regarded as a “beast,” as it is written (Proverbs 19:2), “Also, a soul without knowledge is not good.” “Without knowledge” means that “knowledge” means intention, as it is written, “You grant man knowledge.”
This is perplexing, since the path of truth is to go above reason, so (why) do we pray to be given reason? Baal HaSulam said that knowledge of Kedusha [holiness/sanctity] is called Dvekut [adhesion], “equivalence of form.” Accordingly, we should interpret “without knowledge” to mean “a soul without Dvekut,” but in a state of “beast,” not walking on the path of being rewarded through the power of Torah and Mitzvot to come to a state where he can aim in order to bestow. He is called “a beast without knowledge,” without equivalence of form. This means that in everything he does, he has no other intention but his own benefit. This is called a “beast,” and he is not regarded as “You are called ‘man,’ and not the idol-worshippers.”
Now we will explain what we asked—what does the difference between the birth of a beast and the birth of a man imply to us. The Zohar brings evidence to its words—that a newborn beast has the same strength in the end as it has when it is born—with the verse, “An ox or a sheep or a goat that is born,” that a day old ox is called an ox, since it is not written, “A calf that is born.” And concerning the work, this is (what) comes to teach us to know the order of development of man and beast.
First, when speaking of the work, we must know what is birth. That is, according to the rule that we learn about differentiating beast from man, it all applies to the same body. Because a person consists of seventy nations, he therefore consists of all that exists in the world, since according to what The Zohar says, man is a whole world. Therefore, we should know what is birth.
It is known that when we speak of a person, we mainly speak of the mind and the heart. We attribute the thoughts to the mind, and we attribute the desires to the heart. Therefore, when he has in his mind and heart thoughts and desires that pertain to the beast, this is regarded as the birth of a beast. But if the mind and the heart have thoughts and desires that pertain to “man,” this is regarded as the birth of a man. By this we discern between man and beast.
However, externally, in corporeality, we see that there are big changes in a beast from the day it is born. After some time, it develops in length, width, and height. However, the main difference for which they said that there are no differences in a beast from the day it is born to the end—that it has the same strength—refers to its internality. This comes to imply to us the order of the work. Saying “A beast that is born” means that from this basis he begins to build the building in which he will dwell his entire life.
Saying, “A beast that is born” means that the basis with which he builds his work in Torah and Mitzvot is on the state of a beast, called “action without intention.” He wants to continue in this way his entire life, for he thinks that this is the true path, that it is enough for those who want to walk on the path of the Creator to give all their energy and strength to observing Torah and Mitzvot meticulously, and aim, while working, to observe the commandment of the Creator, and what else do I need?
Primarily, a person who is born as a beast claims that he brings evidence to his correctness from the general public of Israel and how they behave, meaning on what foundation they rely. You will certainly see that they are going by the way of a beast. That is, if they observe Torah and Mitzvot, and even take upon themselves some additional restrictions to the Mitzvot that we were given, then everyone feels whole and sees no flaw in themselves that should be corrected. As evidence, they bring the words of our sages (Berachot 45): “Go see what the people do.” That is, when in doubt, go see what the general public is doing.
Indeed, he is correct. One who is born as a beast belongs to the general public and should do as the public does. This is as Maimonides writes in his interpretation on the words of our sages, “One should always engage in Torah, even Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], since from Lo Lishma he will come to Lishma [for Her sake]. Therefore, when teaching children, women, and uneducated people, they are taught only to work out of fear and in order to receive reward. Until they gain more knowledge and acquire much wisdom, they are taught that secret bit by bit, and are accustomed to this matter with ease until they attain Him and serve Him with love” (“Laws of Repentance,” Chapter 10).
Clearly, it is only just that one who wishes to follow the general public produces for himself evidence from the general public. But this applies to one who is born as a beast, for whom The Zohar says that the power he will have in the end, he has on the day when he is born. This is why it is said, “A day old calf is called an ‘ox.’” This means that until the end, he will not have more knowledge of Kedusha than he had at birth, when he began to work as a beast.
However, we should understand the words of Maimonides when he says, “until they gain more knowledge and acquire much wisdom.” The question is, “How can we know that they have already gained more knowledge and have acquired much wisdom?” Moreover, what is the measure of knowledge that is regarded as having acquired much knowledge? And also, what is the measure of much wisdom, from which onward it is permitted to reveal to them the meaning of Lishma, called “not in order to receive reward”?
According to the above, when a “man” is born means when thoughts and desires that a person should be a man come into his mind. A “man” means one who wants to walk on the path of fearing the Creator, meaning that all his actions will be for the Creator, in order to bestow, and not for himself, as a beast, who has no sensation of the other. Instead, he specifically wants to work in order to bestow.
Although he has not yet been rewarded with this, “being born” means that he has begun to walk on the basis of “man,” meaning that he wants to build his work on the basis of fear of the Creator, called “man,” and a beginning is called “birth.”
This is the time when a person comes and says that he wants to be a man because now he is born with the discernment of “man” in his mind and heart. This is called “until they gain more knowledge and acquire much wisdom,” meaning until wisdom and knowledge are born in their hearts, that it is not worth living a life of a beast, called Lo Lishma, as was written above, “Also, a soul without knowledge is not good.” At that time it is permitted to reveal to him the matter of Lishma, called “fearing the Creator,” and not that he engages in Torah and Mitzvot because he fears for his own benefit. But before the discernment of “man” comes to him, he must not be told, as in the words of Maimonides.
By this we will interpret what The Zohar tells us, that there is a difference between one who is born as a beast, where as soon as he is born, meaning in the beginning of his work, he immediately has the wholeness he will obtain afterwards, meaning the same mind he had received when he was born. This pertains to the foundation—that he began to work as a beast, called “self-benefit,” and everything he will build afterwards will be on the basis of self-love, and he will acquire no additions. Externally, he will grow as beasts grow after they are born—in length, width, and height. But a beast does not grow internally. That is, in terms of its mind, there is no difference between the day it is born and after it has grown over several years, since the beast remains with the mind.
The same applies to a person whose foundation and basis of the work is that of a beast, which is Lo Lishma. Here, too, there is no difference in the internality, which is the mind. Although he certainly grows externally, meaning that over time he has acquired and collected much Torah and many Mitzvot, internally, he has remained on the same degree. And the mind, which is the interior, did not undergo any change at its end.
This is why The Zohar says, “A man who is born, no force from above is appointed over him until he is circumcised. Once he is circumcised, he receives the light of Nefesh, until he is rewarded with obtaining the light of Haya because he was rewarded with these four degrees that are from the four worlds ABYA.”
It therefore follows that there is work that belongs to the general public, which is Lo Lishma, and is called a “beast.” We must not say that we should work Lishma because such people will not understand anyway, since they were born a beast and they cannot understand otherwise. Therefore, they must be taught only Lo Lishma.
According to the above, we can interpret what our sages said (Avoda Zarah 19), “Raba said, ‘One should always learn Torah where his heart desires.’” RASHI interpreted that “where his heart desires” means that his teacher should teach only the Masechet [chapter in the Mishnah/Talmud] that he asks of him, for if he teaches him a different Masechet, it will not be, for his heart is with his desire.
This is so because if he is born as a beast, meaning if the mind and heart understand that they must go according to the general public, based entirely on Lo Lishma, it is impossible to make him see that we should work in order to bestow. It is as RASHI interpreted, “If he teaches him a different Masechet, it will not be, for his heart is with his desire.” For this reason, he will make up many excuses why he cannot be as a “man,” called “fearing the Creator,” which is in order to bestow. It is as Maimonides wrote, “One should not say, ‘I am observing the Mitzvot of the Torah in order to receive the blessings written in it, or in order to be awarded with the life of the next world.’ Only uneducated people, women, and children serve the Creator in this manner, for they are taught to work out of fear until they gain more knowledge and serve Him with love.”
We explained that the meaning of “until they gain more knowledge” is until he is born in the discernment of a man, meaning until thoughts and desires that he should work the true work, meaning in order to bestow, come to his mind. It is as Maimonides writes, that we must serve the Creator only in order to bestow upon the Creator, as he phrased it, “He does the truth because it is the truth,” for “truth” means Lishma and not for one’s own sake. He says that this truth must not be revealed to the general public because they will not understand it, as RASHI interpreted, “for his heart is with his desire,” hence he cannot understand otherwise.
However, when he is born as a man, when thoughts and desires of being a man appear in his mind and heart, when he understands he needs to walk on the path of truth, although he still cannot walk, since he was born just now, meaning that now he has begun this work. Although he understands he must achieve it, meaning to do everything in order to bestow, though when he is born he has nothing, as The Zohar says, “When a person is born, a force from above is not appointed over him until he is circumcised.”
This means that when he begins to walk on a line of bestowal, called “giving birth,” he always sees the opposite value. In other words, he sees that after all his exertion, he has made no progress. Rather, he always sees that he has regressed.
This order, meaning the state of concealment that he feels, continues until he is rewarded with circumcising himself. Afterward, he goes forward until he obtains the four degrees called Haya, Neshama, Ruach, Nefesh. This is the difference between the general public and the individual, such as the difference in corporeality between man and beast.
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