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Concerning Fear and Joy

Article No. 23, Tav-Shin-Mem-Vav, 1985-86

The holy Zohar asks (Aharei, item 2 in the Sulam [Ladder commentary]), “Rabbi Yitzhak started, ‘It is written, ‘Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.’ It is also written, ‘Serve the Lord with joy, come before Him with singing.’ These verses contradict one another. But we learned, ‘Serve the Lord with fear,’ since any work by which one wishes to serve one’s Master requires fear first, to fear Him. And because of the fear of his Master he will later be rewarded with performing the Mitzvot [commandments] of the Torah with joy. This is why it is written, ‘What does the Lord your God ask of you but fear,’ and by this he will be rewarded with everything.’”

We should understand what is fear. We see that fear and joy are two opposites, and how can fear be a reason for joy, as he says, “Because of the fear of his Master he will later be rewarded with performing the Mitzvot of the Torah with joy,” since they contradict one another?

We should also understand why the Creator wants to be feared. What does it give Him? It is like a person walking into a henhouse telling them,” If you take upon yourselves to fear me, I will give you food and water. I will give you everything you want in return for fearing me.” Can it be said that man has any consideration whether the chickens respect him?

It is much more so with the creatures toward the Creator—what value and importance can we say that the Creator has for the creatures fearing Him? It is so much so that our sages said that a person must do nothing but engage in fear, as it is written, “What does the Lord your God ask of you but fear?” It is also written (Ecclesiastes, 3), “God has made it so that people fear Him,” which means that everything that the Creator did, He did so that He will be feared.

To understand the above, we should remember the purpose of creation, meaning the purpose for which the Creator created Creation. It is known that the reason is His desire to do good to His creations. However, in order to bring to light the perfection of His deeds, meaning so there will not be the “bread of shame,” He has made a correction called “Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment,” where before one has vessels of bestowal it is impossible to see or feel His existence, called “recognition of the Creator.”

This means that although we say each day in the prayer, “The whole earth of full of His glory,” we still have no feeling of it. Rather, we must believe above reason that this is so. The reason is that although there are no changes in the light, because “there is no absence in spirituality,” there are nonetheless changes on the part of the Kelim [vessels], and the Kelim limit the light. It is so because in the Kelim we discern the greatness of the abundance—their impression from the abundance. If one has no Kelim that can be a clothing for the light, then no light is apparent in reality, according to the rule: “There is no light without a Kli [vessel].” That is, we must know one thing: we can speak of what we attain in our sensations.

Baal HaSulam said an allegory about the Tzimtzum: It is like a person covering himself so no one will see him. Can it be said that a person who hides himself so that others will not see him does not see himself because of it? Likewise, the Creator has made the Tzimtzum and concealment so the lower ones will not see Him while they are immersed in self-love, which is receiving in order to receive, which causes disparity of form and separation between the Giver, who is the Creator, and the receivers, who are the creatures.

And since there is no reception in our root, which is the Creator, when a person does engage in reception he feels unpleasantness, called “bread of shame.” This is why there was a correction on the part of the lower ones—that we attribute the Tzimtzum to the lower ones. That is, the lower ones need the Tzimtzum and concealment since precisely through this correction they will be able to correct the reception into aiming to bestow. But from the perspective of the upper one there are no changes. All the changes are only the qualification of our Kelim, as much as they can receive in order to bestow.

Accordingly, since the delight and pleasure do not illuminate in a place of separation, a person is unable to acquire complete faith prior to correcting one’s will to receive. It is as he says (“Introduction of the Book of Zohar,” item 138), “It is a law that the creature cannot receive disclosed evil from Him, for it is a flaw in His glory for the creature to perceive Him as an evildoer, as it is unbecoming of the complete Operator. Hence, when one feels bad, denial of the Creator’s guidance lies upon him to that same extent, and the superior Operator is concealed from him.”

From this we see the necessity of the correction of bestowal: Not only is it impossible to receive the delight and pleasure that has been prepared for us, but there is something here that removes us from faith in Him, and this is the worst!

Now we can understand the meaning of fear. We asked, “Does the Creator need us to fear Him?” According to what we explained, fear is as it is written in the Sulam [Ladder commentary on The Zohar], that man fears that perhaps he will not be able to overcome and receive in order to bestow, as it should be, but will receive in order to receive, which would cause him separation, not necessarily from the delight and pleasure that he will not be able to receive, but he fears that he will not come to deny His faith. It follows that he can actually come to the Sitra Achra [other side].

This is the meaning of “God has made it so that people fear Him.” Through this fear there will be a twofold great correction: 1) they will have faith in the Creator, 2) they will be able to receive the delight and pleasure that the Creator wants to give them.

It follows that the Creator wants to be feared so that we will have the Kelim to receive the delight and pleasure. By this we will have faith in Him, as it is written in the Sulam (p 138), “Fear is safekeeping that we will not be removed from His faith.”

From this we will understand what is written, “What does the Lord your God ask of you but fear?” It means that He wants to give us abundance, but what detains is the disparity of form, for the light cannot clothe in vessels of reception. Hence, when a person is afraid and vigilant to always keep his intention in order to bestow, the Creator can give him His bestowal in completeness, without any unpleasantness, called “bread of shame.”

By this we understand what we asked, “How can fear be reason for joy?” With the above said, it is simple: By having fear, meaning by being careful to always use the vessels of bestowal, the Creator can give him the delight and pleasure because he has vessels of bestowal. And certainly at that time he will have joy from the abundance he has received in order to bestow. It follows that the fear causes the joy, and if he has no fear he is removed from everything.

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

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