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What Does It Mean that the Righteous Suffers Afflictions?

Article No. 09, Tav-Shin-Mem-Het, 1987-88

The Zohar (VaYeshev, Item 11) interprets the verse, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous”: “‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous, and the Lord will deliver him from them all.’ It is not written, ‘Many are the afflictions to the righteous,’ but rather ‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous,’ indicating that one who suffers many afflictions is righteous because the Creator wants him. And because of it, the Creator wants that person and delivers him from them all.”

We should understand these words: 1) Why should the righteous suffer afflictions? 2) If afterward, “the Lord delivers him,” then what is the point in afflicting the righteous if the Creator must then save him? It seems like pointless work.

It is known that the order of the work for those who want to walk on the path of truth, called Lishma[for Her sake], meaning in order to bestow and not for themselves, is that they want to be righteous and not wicked, called “receiving in order to receive” in the work. That is, even the acts of bestowal that they do with their intention to receive are considered wicked in the words of The Zohar, as it says about the verse, “‘And the mercy of the nations is a sin,’ for all the good that they do, they do for themselves.” This means that all the good that they do, their intention is their own benefit, and this is their sin.

Conversely, those who want to serve the Creator must work only for the sake of the Creator and not for their own sake. Therefore, the nature of the creatures is only for their own sake, as it is known that the desire to do good to His creations created a lack for this purpose, meaning for the creatures to yearn to receive pleasures, for without yearning, a person cannot enjoy anything. Moreover, the extent of the pleasure depends on the measure of the yearning.

For this reason, when a person is told he must relinquish his own benefit and work for the sake of the Creator, for only by this can he achieve Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, and this is man’s purpose and is considered repentance, since the quality of reception separates a person from the Creator due to disparity of form because the Creator is the giver and the creatures receive from Him what He gives them, for this reason when a person comes to a degree where all he wants is to bestow, this is called “equivalence of form.” This is regarded as the creature returning to its root, meaning unites with the Creator. At that time he reaches the degree of “righteous,” since he is no longer working for his own sake, but for the sake of the Creator.

Therefore, when a person does not want to work for the sake of the body, the body resists his work and does not let him do anything that is in order to bestow. When a person forgets the intention to bestow and begins to work in order to receive, he can once again continue the work. Yet according to the rule, from Lo Lishma [not for Her sake] we come to Lishma [for Her sake], an awakening from above comes to him that we must work in order to bestow. Then, he immediately encounters resistance from the body, which does not let him continue with the work of bestowal and he begins to feel the troubles that the body inflicts on him.

He repeatedly overcomes his body to some extent but then descends from his work once more and feels the bad in him. It follows that one who wants to be righteous constantly feels the afflictions that the body causes him. That is, each time he wants to do something to bestow, the wicked one comes and asks, “What is this work for you?” But when a person works for himself there is no place for the wicked to ask “What is this work for you?” because he is working for the sake of the wicked, called “will to receive for himself.” It follows that the wicked’s question comes specifically when he wants to work for the sake of the Creator.

Now we understand why specifically the righteous suffer many afflictions. It is because man’s inclination overcomes him every day. That is, when the evil inclination sees that a person has some light, called “day,” that he is on the right path, it immediately overcomes him and wants to fail him with its complaints, telling him, “What will you get from wanting to work to bestow?” And that same order happens each and every day.

This is as our sages said (Kidushin 40), “One should always see himself as if he is half guilty, half innocent. If he performs one Mitzva [commandment/good deed], happy is he, for he has sentenced himself to the side of merit.” Yet, if “One should always see himself as half guilty, half innocent. If he performs one Mitzva, happy is he, for he has sentenced himself to the side of merit,” then how can he say again, “half,” since he was already sentenced to the side of merit, so why do they say “always”?

As was said, “Man’s inclination overcomes him every day.” The minute the evil inclination sees that now it is “day” for him, it immediately overcomes him. It follows that according to the measure of good that he did, the evil promptly overcomes him, and then he is once more “half guilty, half innocent.”

This is the meaning of “overcomes him every day.” That is, each day there is new overcoming. We should interpret that “man’s inclination overcomes him every day” means that the bad in him is increasing, as in, “a growing stream of adding evil.” For this reason, it is “One opposite the other.” As soon as a person overcomes and does a good deed, the evil inclination overcomes him.

It follows that the righteous suffers many afflictions. That is, each day, the bad in him grows and according to his good deeds, so the evil becomes revealed in him. It is as our sages said, “Anyone who is greater than his friend, his inclination is greater than him.”

We should understand what the words, “than him” imply to us. According to what we explained, “than him,” meaning the fact that his inclination has grown, comes as a result of man’s growing, since he tried to be a man and not a beast. From this, the inclination grew, as well, as it is written, “One should always be half guilty, half innocent,” so as to be able to defeat the evil.

It is impossible to defeat the evil at once. Hence, the evil appears to a person slowly. Each time a person does something good, there is a place to reveal some more evil. This repeats itself until a person corrects all the evil within him. It follows that this is why the righteous suffers many afflictions.

We could ask, Why does all the evil not appear in a person at once? The answer is that a person would not be able to overcome all the evil within him. Only when the bad in him is not more than the good and the two are equal, a person can overcome through the power of Torah and Mitzvot[commandments/good deeds]. For this reason, the bad emerges in a person gradually, meaning to the extent that he has obtained the good, some bad is revealed to him from above, until over time, all the bad in a person will be corrected.

This extends from the order of scrutinies, as it is written, that it is permitted to sort only the 288 sparks, which are the upper nine that exist in each path of the 32 paths, but Malchut in each path is forbidden to scrutinize. This is called the “stony heart,” as in, “And I will remove the stony heart from your flesh,” since it is impossible to correct this evil during the six thousand years. After the six thousand years, when the 288 sparks have been sorted, all the evil will be sorted, as it is written in The Zohar, “The angel of death will become a holy angel,” and this is called “Death will be swallowed up forever.”

In this manner, when a person corrects the evil in him, meaning the vessels of reception, so they work in order to bestow, it is impossible to correct it at once. Rather, the vessel of reception in him, which is the source of evil that separates us from the Creator, divides into many parts. This is a correction from above. By dividing into many parts, each time we correct a part into Kedusha[holiness/sanctity], another part immediately comes—a bigger piece than what we needed to correct before. Because a person becomes accustomed to the work, he is given a bigger piece of the evil in him to correct each time.

It is like a person practicing weight-lifting. Each day he is given a heavier weight to lift. Likewise, in the work, each day we are given a bigger piece of evil to raise. This causes us to see as if we are not advancing in the work, but are regressing. That is, each day we see that the work is growing harder to overcome. But the reason is that each day we are given a bigger piece to correct.

“The Lord will deliver him from them all.” We asked, If the Lord should deliver us from the bad, why does He give us the bad, to suffer for no reason? That is, if man could overcome by himself, we could understand that it is given to man to correct. But if the Creator saves him, then what is the point of giving him many afflictions?

We already asked, Why can’t a person overcome by himself and only the Creator must save? And if we are given the choice to overcome, why are we not given the strength to be able to overcome? According to what Baal HaSulam said, this is so deliberately, so that a person will ask the Creator for help, and the help He gives is that He gives him a higher soul, in order for a person to need to receive a higher degree.

Since man must attain the NRNHY of his soul, and without a need, meaning without a Kli [vessel], it is impossible to receive filling, it was deliberately made so that man should begin the work. When he sees that he cannot overcome, he must not despair but rather pray to the Creator, as The Zoharsays, “He who comes to purify is aided. And with what? With a holy soul.”

Accordingly, there are two things here: 1) A person must begin to work in bestowal so as to have a need for the Creator to help him, since if he could overcome by himself, he would not need the Creator’s help. This is considered that he does not have a Kli [vessel], and there is no light without a Kli. 2) Man was not given the ability to overcome by himself. It follows that this is why he must begin but cannot finish.

By this we understand what we asked, Why the righteous deserve to suffer many afflictions? It is because the suffering that the righteous suffer from the afflictions obstructs him from achieving Dvekut with the Creator, and this causes him to have a Kli. And the reason why there are so many afflictions until he cannot overcome them, but the Creator “delivers him from them all” and a person cannot defeat them by himself, is on purpose, since the Creator cannot give a person a higher degree if he has no need for it. For this reason, the Creator gives him the parts of his soul as deliverance, as it is written, “And the Lord delivers him from them all.”

For this reason, two things are required: 1) The righteous must have many afflictions, which are the Kli. 2) Then, He gives him the parts of the soul as deliverance.

However, normally, when people ask, they begin to ask the Creator to help them out of the evil and give them a soul over a piece that has already been recognized as evil. But why does the Creator want a person to reveal a certain measure of evil and then the Creator will help him?

This is how it seems to man. However, we should make two discernments here: 1) Indeed, the Creator helps a person by revealing to him the bad in him, so he will know the truth. 2) This is revealed only to those who are capable of walking on the path of bestowal. This is why they are shown the evil, so they will have the ability to correct it. But to people who have no connection to the work of bestowal, the evil is revealed only in general.

This is similar to what we do in this world. When a person suffers from an incurable disease, he is not told what is his illness. Instead, he is told that he has other illnesses, but the truth, that he has a terminal illness, is not shared with him. The reason for this is simple: What will happen if he is told of the bad in him if he cannot correct it? For this reason, in spirituality, a person is shown the evil very slowly, to the extent of his ability to work.

Accordingly, if a person does not have the revelation of evil to an extent that he has a Kli and a need that is fit to contain a soul, it is impossible to place a soul in half a Kli. It is like an embryo in its mother’s womb, as our sages said, “There are three partners in a person: The Creator, his father, and his mother. The father gives the white; the mother gives the red, and the Creator gives the soul.”

Clearly, everyone knows that if the father and the mother do their part, a half fetus might still be born. That is, if they do their part, the embryo might be born without a head, but only a body, or vice versa, it might be born with a head but no body. Do we want to ask the Creator to do His part, meaning to give a soul to half an embryo and this is how it will be born? Of course, no one is so foolish.

It is likewise in the work of the Creator. When a person begins the work, he first begins with the white. His father and mother are called the “parents.” They are the reason that a person will be born. The father is called “male,” meaning “wholeness,” and this is called “white,” where there are no lacks. That is, he is content with his lot and thanks the Creator for any contact he may have with the work of the Creator, for rewarding him and giving him a thought and desire to have some contact with the work of the Creator. It is as our sages said, “Walks but does not do, the reward for walking is in his hand.”

Afterward, he shifts to the left line, called “the mother’s red.” The mother is regarded as a female, a lack, criticizing his good deeds to see if they have the aim to bestow. At that time he sees the truth, that he is far from it. This gives him the need to pray that the Creator will bring him closer so he will be rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator. Then, a person expects, since he already has two lines and he already feels that he has a need and a Kli, so what else does he need? Only that the Creator will do His part, meaning give the soul.

However, if the father’s white and the mother’s red are still not worthy, since they have not been completed, and for example, they might produce only half a baby, the Creator certainly cannot do His part, which is to give the soul. For this reason, the Creator waits for the right and left lines to be completed, so it will be possible to create a complete thing. Then, the Creator gives the soul.

For this reason, a person cannot say that the Creator does not want to help. On the contrary, the Creator assembles each and every action until there is a complete measure, sufficient for the soul to shine in.

It is written about it in the book A Sage’s Fruit (Vol. 1, p 196): “It is written, ‘Take no rest, and give Him no rest until He establishes, and He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.’ So we rush our pleas above, knock by knock, tirelessly, ceaselessly, and do not weaken at all when He does not answer us. We believe He hears our prayer but waits for us, for a time when we have the Kelim [vessels] to receive the faithful bounty, and then we will receive a reply for each and every prayer at once, since ‘the hand of the Lord will not be short.’”

It follows that one should not say that he is praying every day but he is not receiving help from the Creator. Instead, he should believe that the Creator takes each prayer a person prays and adds it to the rest of the prayers that the person has prayed so far, and waits until the measure is full so it is fit to receive the soul from the Creator.

Also, we should make two discernments concerning the prayer in request for the Creator to help and give strength from above to overcome the evil: 1) A person asks the Creator to be able to admit the vessels of bestowal into Kedusha, meaning to have the ability to use them with the intention to bestow. 2) He asks that the Creator will give him the power to overcome the vessels of reception, too. This is considered that he can aim with the vessels of reception in order to bestow.

By this we should interpret what our sages said (presented in RASHI, VaYeshev), “We should also explain about it, ‘and [Jacob] sat,’ Jacob wanted to sit in peace; Joseph’s anger jumped on him. The righteous wish to sit in peace. The Creator said, ‘It is not enough for the righteous that they have what is set up for them in the next world; they also wish to sit in peace in this world.”

It is seemingly difficult to understand what they said, “The Creator said, ‘It is not enough for the righteous that they have what is set up for them in the next world; they also wish to sit in peace in this world.’” There is an explicit Mishnah (Avot, Chapter 6:4): “Such is the way of Torah: Toil in the Torah. If you do so, happy are you in this world and happy are you in the next world.” This means that there should be peace in this world, too.

We should interpret this in the work. It is known that Bina is called the “next world,” meaning a vessel of bestowal, since everything consists of two discernments: 1) what she receives, 2) what she gives. These are called “the quality of Malchut” and “the quality of Bina,” which are giving and receiving.

When a person begins the order of the work, he begins to sort out the best first. We begin to sort out and elicit the Kelim that are placed inside the vessels of reception, meaning that all the vessels—both of reception and of bestowal—fell during the breaking of the vessels into the Klipot [shells/peels], which are receivers, and in the terminology of Kabbalah, they are called Kelim de Panim [anterior vessels/vessels of the face] and Kelim de Achoraim [posterior vessels/vessels of the back].

For this reason, once the righteous have corrected for themselves the vessels of bestowal so as to have the intention to bestow, which is called “learning Torah Lishma [for Her sake],” this is regarded as “set up for them for the next world.” The righteous do not settle for this, but want to “sit in peace in this world,” namely that the vessels of reception, too, which are Kelim de Achoraim, called “Kelimof Malchut,” for Malchut is called “this world,” will also enter Kedusha, meaning that they will work in order to bestow.

This is the meaning of what he says, “Jacob wanted to sit in peace; Joseph’s anger jumped on him.” Joseph is called NHY, which are Kelim de Achoraim, the place of disclosure of Hochma, which are vessels of reception, regarded as “this world.” That is, the anger is that he still did not correct them so they will enter Kedusha. This is why he says, “It is not enough for the righteous,” etc.

Inapoi la pagina 1988 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link

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