Inapoi la pagina 1987 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link

It Is Forbidden to Hear a Good Thing from a Bad Person

Article No. 04, Tav-Shin-Mem-Zayin, 1986-87

It is written (Genesis 13:8-9), “And Abram said to Lot, ‘Please let there be no strife between you and me, or between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please part from me: if to the left, then I will go to the right; and if to the right, then I will go to the left.’”

We should understand why he says “For we are brothers,” since they were not brothers.

The Zohar (Lech Lecha, Item 86) interprets this as follows: “‘For we are brothers,’ meaning the evil inclination and the good inclination are close to one another. One stands to the right of a person and the other to his left. That is, the evil inclination stands to his left, and the good inclination to his right.” Accordingly, “for we are brothers” means that we are speaking of one body and the quarrel is between the good inclination and the evil inclination, which are called brothers.

This is perplexing. The good inclination tells the evil inclination, “If to the left,” meaning you are telling me to take the path of the left, which is the path of the evil inclination, for it is always on the left, as it is written in The Zohar that the evil inclination is to his left. The good inclination tells him: “I will not go by your way. Rather, I will go by the way of the right, the way of the good inclination, which is always on the right. We can understand this. But when it says, “If to the right,” meaning that if the evil inclination goes to the right, which is the path of the good inclination, why does the good inclination tell it, “Then I will go to the left,” meaning that the good inclination will go by the way of the left, which is the path of the evil inclination? This is difficult to understand.

Baal HaSulam asked why is it that when Jacob had an argument with Laban, it is written (Genesis 31:43), “And Laban replied and said to Jacob, ‘The daughters are my daughters, and the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine.’” That is, Wicked Laban argued that everything is his, meaning that Jacob had no possessions and everything belonged to wicked Laban.

But why is it written (Genesis 33:9), when Jacob gave the presents to Esau, “And Esau said, ‘I have a lot, my brother. Let what is yours be yours.’” He did not want to receive from him everything he wanted to give him. But Laban claims the opposite—that everything is his.

He said that here there is an order of work—how to behave in the work with the evil inclination when it comes to a person with its just arguments in order to obstruct a person from achieving Dvekut[adhesion] with the Creator.

“Laban said” means that it comes with the argument of a righteous. It tells him, when a person wants to pray and wishes to prolong his prayer a little, or another example, when he wants to go study at the seminary, a person had in mind to be as strong as a lion and overcome his laziness. The evil inclination comes and argues, “It is true that you want to overcome, to do the will of your Father in heaven, as it is written (Avot, Chapter 5), “Yehuda Ben Tima says, ‘Be as fierce as a leopard, as light as an eagle, running like a gazelle, and as strong as a lion to do the will of your Father in heaven.’

“However, I know that you have no desire to do the will of your Father in heaven. I know the truth—that you are working only for self-love and you have no love for the Creator that you can say that the fact that you are going to do something now is for the Creator. Rather, you are working only for me, for the Sitra Achra [other side], and not for Kedusha [sanctity/holiness].

“Thus, what is this overcoming? That is, if you are working for me then I advise you to sit calmly and enjoy, since everything you want to do is for me. Therefore, I have pity on you so you will not make great efforts, and enjoy the rest.” This is what Laban said. That is, he dressed in a white Talit [prayer shawl], meaning he said, “The daughters are my daughters … and all that you see is mine.”

Jacob countered him: “It is not so. I am working for the Creator. Therefore it is worthwhile for me to overcome my laziness and do the Creator’s will. I do not want to listen to your argument—the argument of a righteous that you are making.”

Wicked Esau was the opposite. When Jacob came to him and wanted to give him his possession of Torah and Mitzvot [commandments], Esau told him, “I have a lot.” That is, “I have a lot of Torah and Mitzvot from other people, who are all working for me and not for the Creator. But you are righteous; you are not working for me but for the Creator. Therefore, I have no part in your Torah and work. This is why I do not want to receive it and admit it into my authority. Rather, a righteous, and you are working only for the Creator.”

Baal HaSulam asked about it: Which of them made a true argument, Laban or Esau? He said that in truth, both said the truth—what is good for the Sitra Achra, that they obstruct a person from achieving wholeness. The difference is in their arguments: whether it comes before the act or after the act. That is, prior to the act, when a person wants to overcome and do something in Kedusha to benefit the Creator, the evil inclination dresses in the argument of a righteous and tells him: “You cannot do anything for Kedusha. Rather, everything you do is for me.” This is called “All that you see is mine.” That is, you are doing everything for the Sitra Achra. In that case, it is better for you to sit and do nothing. Why exert to overcome your laziness? By this it subdues a person so as not to engage in Torah and Mitzvot. This is Laban’s argument.

Esau’s argument is after the act. That is, if one finally overcomes Laban’s argument and follows the path of Jacob, Esau comes to him and says: “You see what a mighty man of war you are? You are not like your friends. They are lazy and you are a man! There is no one like you!” This puts him into the lust of pride, of which our sages said (Sotah 5b), “Rav Hasda said, ‘Mar Ukva said, ‘Any man in whom there is crassness of spirit, the Creator said, ‘He and I cannot dwell in the world.’’”

For this reason, Jacob counters him and argues, “This is wrong! Everything I did was only for you,” meaning for his own benefit, which is a will to receive that belongs to the Sitra Achra. “Now I must begin the work anew so it will all be for the Creator and not for you. But until now I have been working only for you.” This is what Jacob gave to Esau as a gift and Esau would not receive from him and argued to the contrary, that Jacob was righteous and worked only for the Creator and not for his own benefit.

Now we can interpret what we asked, “How can it be said that the good inclination said to the evil inclination, ‘If you take the right path, I will take to the left.’” After all the path of the left belongs to the Sitra Achra and not to the side of Kedusha. According to the above we can interpret that the good inclination said to the evil inclination: “You should know that you cannot deceive me because I know one thing—that you want to obstruct me from achieving the degree of a servant of the Creator, meaning that all my thoughts will be in order to bestow. And you, due to your role, are trying to leave me in self-love. Therefore, how can I listen to your right, meaning when you come to me and clothe in the argument of a righteous, namely advise me to be righteous and work for the Creator. This cannot be since it is not your role. You probably want to fail my achieving the goal with your counsels. For this reason, when you come with the argument of the right, called Laban, what should I do? Anything but listen to you, and do the complete opposite of your opinion.” This is why it is written, “and if to the right, then I will go to the left.”

Accordingly, a person should always be alert not to fall into the net of the evil inclination that comes to him with the argument of a righteous, and not listen to it. Although it makes us understand that we are not going on the straight path, since what we want to do now is a Mitzva [commandment] that comes through transgression, by these words it ties us and we fall into the trap and the net, as it wants to control us with the justness of its words.

It is said in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that to know whether it is the advice of the evil inclination we must scrutinize: If what it says requires labor, it belongs to the good inclination. But if listening to it will cause you not to need to labor, it is the sign of the evil inclination. By this we can discern if this is the advice of the good inclination or the evil inclination.

For example: If a thought comes to him that not every person should rise before dawn, that this work belongs to people whose Torah is their craft, and not just any Jew can equal wise disciples, who must keep, “And he will contemplate His law day and night,” but just a Jew. It also brings evidence from the words of our sages to justify its argument, from what Rabbi Yohanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Minchot 99): “Even if a person reads only the Shema reading morning and evening, he has kept, ‘This book of Torah shall not move from your lips.’” Thus, it argues before him: “It is better for you to get up in the morning like everyone else and not be tired the rest of the day. Then you will be able to pray with more intention than you will be able to pray if you rise before dawn.”

It is known from all the books of Hassidut that prayer is the most important, since in prayer, a person thinks of nothing but that the Creator will hear his prayer. The prayer is when we can aim more easily and feel before whom we stand. It is not so when studying Torah, although it is written, “Learning Torah is equal to all of them.”

It is also interpreted that the meaning is that the Torah brings one importance and greatness of the Creator. It follows that the Torah is only a remedy that brings a person the ability to pray and feel the words “before whom you stand,” which is a remedy by which to achieve Dvekut [adhesion]. When a person prays to the Creator he can know with whom he speaks and in what manner he is speaking with the Creator. At that time he can annul before the Creator, and this is the most important—that he will annul his own authority. He needs to come to feel that there is nothing in the world but the Creator, and a person wants to adhere to Him and annul his own authority.

Our sages said even more: All the good deeds that a person does, both Torah and other things in Kedusha, a person can see if they are in order according to his feeling during prayer. It follows that prayer is the most important. “If you rise before dawn it will all be ruined. So what are you gaining?” Clearly, it is arguing the argument of a righteous.

At that time a person can scrutinize: If he listens to its argument and it will give him more work then he can know it is the argument of the good inclination. If he listens to its advice and it will give him less work, it is a sign that now the evil inclination speaks to him, but clothed in the argument of a righteous. By this it traps him in the net it has set up for him by speaking to him the words of the righteous. In truth, we always need a guide who knows how to lead a person, so as to tell between truth and falsehood, since one cannot scrutinize alone.

Accordingly, when the evil inclination comes with an argument of a righteous, wanting to advise a person how he can enter Kedusha, we can interpret what our sages said (Baba Batra 98a), “Anyone who boasts with a Talit of a wise disciple, but is not a wise disciple, is not admitted into the presence of the Creator.”

We should understand why it is such a grave sin to boast with the mantle of a wise disciple, meaning to regard the clothing of a wise disciple so highly as to boast of it. After all, he did not commit such a grave transgression worthy of such a harsh punishment as not to be admitted into the presence of the Creator. It implies that we are speaking of a person who is worthy of being in the presence of the Creator, but this sin of boasting with a garment of a wise disciple deserves such a harsh punishment.

We should interpret that it means that the evil inclination comes to a person and boasts of the Talit of a wise disciple, meaning speaks to a person like a wise disciple speaking to an uneducated person and advising him to be a wise disciple. It is as Baal HaSulam asked, “What is a wise disciple? Why do we not say simply, “wise?” It implies we should know that wise means the Creator, whose desire is to bestow upon His creatures. One who learns from the Creator this quality of being a giver is called “wise disciple,” meaning that he has learned from the Creator to be a giver.

Now we can interpret that the evil inclination comes to a person and advises him how to achieve Dvekut with the Creator, meaning to be in the presence of the Creator, but he is not really a wise disciple, namely that the aim of the evil inclination is not to bring him to Dvekut, but on the contrary—to separation—and it is speaking like a wise disciple because it wants to set a trap for him to divert him from the right path.

If a person does not notice who is speaking to him—the good or the evil inclination—and only hears that it is speaking with the Talit of a wise disciple, it takes pride in it, meaning lets him understand the importance of a wise disciple while conspiring to divert him to another path, to disparity of form. At that time one is told that he should know that if he listens to its advice, one who listens to its advice will not be admitted into the presence of the Creator, but to the contrary.

Therefore, one must be very careful and know with whom he speaks. He should not mind what he is saying, meaning that even if it says good things, he must still not listen to it. It follows that from an indecent person it is forbidden to hear even decent words.

Inapoi la pagina 1987 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link

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