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What Is the Help in the Work that One Should Ask of the Creator?

Article No. 35, Tav-Shin-Mem-Het, 1987-88

Our sages said (Kidushin), “Rabbi Yitzhak said, ‘Man’s inclination is renewed upon him every day.’ Rabbi Shimon Ben Levi said, ‘Man’s inclination overcomes him every day and seeks to put him to death. Were it not for the help of the Creator, he would not overcome it, as was said, ‘God will not leave him in its hand.’’” They also said (Shabbat 104), “He who comes to purify is aided.”

We should understand what is the assistance that one should ask to be given from above. Clearly, where one feels weakness, there he needs reinforcement. It is like a child who has difficulties understanding, so his father tries to hire someone and pay him to help his son be on par with the rest of the children at school. Or, he knows that his son is not very virtuous, so he speaks to the overseer of the seminary to encourage him and strengthen him so he does not lose spirit over his virtues being unlike those of the rest of the children, and he always fails in them and feels inferior because of it.

Likewise, in the work of the Creator, we should say that where a person sees that he is weak, he needs to ask for help from above on that part, as our sages said, “He who comes to purify is aided.” From the words of our sages, who said, “He who comes to purify,” it seems as though all the weakness in the work is specifically on purity, that only this is out of man’s hands and he needs help.

Yet, our sages promised that he who comes to purify and sees that he cannot overcome, they said about it that he should not be scared off and run from the campaign, nor should he pay attention to his inability to achieve purity. Instead, a person should believe that the Creator will help him.

However, we should also understand why the Creator did this, as this is unclear because there is a contradiction here. On one hand, we are told, “He who comes to purify.” This means that the person must begin the work on purity. Yet, afterward, they said, “Were it not for the help of the Creator, he would not overcome it.” This implies that man does not have the option of defeating his evil, as our sages said—without the help of the Creator, he would not overcome it.

This means that the Creator did not give man the strength to overcome the evil. Rather, it is precisely the Creator who gives him the power to overcome. Thus, what is the benefit from the fact that man must begin? Instead, he could say, “My work is worthless anyway. I cannot overcome, so why should I even begin the work? I’ll wait until the Creator gives me from above the strength to overcome, and then I will begin to work. Why should I work for nothing?” The person understand that either the Creator gives him the strength to overcome the evil, or the Creator begins the work and finishes it, as we have already said in previous essays.

The answer is that since “There is no light without a Kli [vessel], no filling without a lack,” a person must begin the work on purity because there is a known rule that we must not forget, that there is an order to the work, which is opposite from the view of landlords. Rather, it is the view of the Torah: The work on purity belongs specifically to those who study Torah, and those who study Torah are precisely those who want to achieve the level of the Torah. Our sages said about it: “The Torah exists only in he who puts himself to death over it.”

The explanation of “puts himself to death over it” is that he annuls his self, which is self-love. He wants to achieve Dvekut [adhesion], which is equivalence of form. This is called “purity,” when he purifies himself from the vessels of reception for himself. This is called “puts himself to death over it.”

This is as it is written, “Purify our hearts to serve You in truth.” The purity of the heart will be that our work will be in truth, meaning in order to bestow contentment upon his Maker. A lie means that a person says that he is working for the Creator, when in fact he is working for his own benefit and not for the sake of the Creator. “Learners of Torah” are those who understand that it is worthwhile to attain the Torah, since the Torah cannot be where there is separation, and self-benefit separates man from the Creator. Hence, they want to annul their own authority and be rewarded with Dvekut[adhesion] with the Creator, and with the Torah, which is called “the names of the Creator.” She is also called “to do good to His creations,” and this “doing good” is the Torah.

This is the wholeness that man must achieve because this was His thought. (We say so because “By Your actions we know You.”) For this reason, they said that this is the purpose of creation, “to do good to His creations.” As long as one has not achieved this, it is considered that he has not achieved completion.

However, we should understand why it is implied the help comes specifically on purity, why they do not talk about observing Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds] in general and the study of Torah in general, and no explicit emphasis on “Were it not for the help of the Creator.”

On one hand, the words, “Man’s inclination” imply that the inclination overcomes the observance of Torah and Mitzvot in general, and the Creator helps him. On the other hand, they say, “He who comes to purify is aided.” This means that he receives help precisely on purity.

In truth, man needs the Creator’s help in all the things. However, we should determine in the work, between work of the general public and work of the individual. The work of the individual is that all their actions are only in order to bestow, and not for their own sake. This is truly against nature, for the Creator created creation to yearn to receive delight and pleasure, for the pleasure to be from satisfying their lack with delight and pleasure.

In the upper worlds, this is called “the world of Ein Sof [infinity/no end].” It means that the will to receive did not put an end on the abundance, such as to say, “I don’t want to receive due to equivalence of form.” There was still no such thing. Instead, we learn that afterward, this correction was done by the lower one: When the lower one wanted equivalence of form, there was a prohibition that it is forbidden to receive upper abundance in vessels of reception. Afterward, through special corrections, there was a matter that the light of pleasure will shine in vessels of reception, too.

There are many discernments in this. On one hand, The Zohar says that there is a “slim light,” which is a thin light that shines within the Klipot [shells/peels]. Only because of the sin of the tree of knowledge, many sparks fell into the Klipot, and from them ABYA of Klipot were made. As a result, we discern three discernments in our work: 1) Mitzva [commandment/good deed], 2) permission/option, 3) transgression.

All of these three discernments apply in the act called “the practice of Mitzvot.” Also, there is a discernment of Torah in this, “a practice,” which is to know how to observe the Mitzvot. Also, there is Torah that is regarded as a practice, which is “the observing of Torah.”

However, there is also the intention, namely what is the reason for observing Torah and Mitzvot, meaning what compels him to observe Torah and Mitzvot. This intention divides into two discernments: 1) for the sake of reward, called “reward and punishment.” That is, the reward and punishment were said about the reward. In other words, if he observes Torah and Mitzvot, his reward will be that he receives in return for it good things. This, too, divides into two discernments: 1) reward in this world, that he will be happy, 2) that he will be happy in the next world.

Those two are called Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], since the reason he is observing Torah and Mitzvotis his own benefit. His exertion to engage in Torah and Mitzvot is in order to receive something good in return. That is, after his work, he will receive reward. Every single act that he does goes into his calculation, and afterward he is rewarded for every single act that he has done. Nothing is lost; everything is counted. He believes in the sages who said, “You can trust your landlord to pay for your work.”

This is called Lo Lishma, as was said in The Zohar (“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” Item 190): “Fear is interpreted in three discernments, two of which do not contain a worthy 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 he does not place the fear he fears of the Creator as the root, for his own benefit is the root, and the fear is the result of it. Then 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 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. That is, he should fear the Creator because He is great and rules over everything, and all the worlds He has created, upper and lower, are regarded as nothing before Him, for they do not add a thing to His essence.”

Accordingly, we see that there is a huge difference between the general public and the individual. That is, “individual” means that this work does not belong to the general public, but to individuals who have the inclination to the truth, who yearn to achieve the degree where “All your actions are for the sake of the Creator,” who want to serve the King because “He is great and ruling.” And the only reward they want is to serve the King, meaning to observe Torah and Mitzvot because the greatness of the Creator commits them to observe Torah and Mitzvot, and not for their own sake.

It follows that among those people, who want to work only Lishma [for Her sake], there is also reward and punishment, because our sages said about them, too, that man must believe in reward and punishment. Thus, what is the difference between reward and punishment in Lo Lishma, and reward and punishment for people who want to walk in Lishma?

The answer is that we must understand what is “reward” and what is “punishment.” Everyone knows that reward is a good thing and punishment is a bad thing. It follows that for people who work for their own benefit, “good” means that they receive for their work something that satisfies their will to receive, and they say that it is worthwhile to work in return for the good things he will receive. “Punishment” means simply that he says, “It is a shame that I did not engage in Torah and Mitzvotbecause I lost the reward and even suffered a punishment, meaning something that makes me suffer.”

Conversely, those who want to work for the sake of the Creator regard the time when they have the strength to work to bestow and not receive for themselves as a “reward.” And when they are immersed in self-love, they regard it as “punishment.” However, the reward and punishment do not pertain to the reward, as with those who work Lo Lishma. In the work Lishma, which is against our nature, is called “purity.” And since it is not within man’s power, our sages said about this, “Were it not for the help of the Creator, he would not overcome it.”

Conversely, in Lo Lishma, which is natural, there is no need to say, “Were it not for the help of the Creator, he would not overcome it,” since Lo Lishma is not against nature. That is, it is the work of the general public, called “one line,” who have no knowledge of anything but the reward of this world or the reward of the next world.

And since this pertains to self-love, meaning that they understand that it is worthwhile to relinquish pleasures in this world, which is a passing world, and in return to be able to eat “the wild ox and the whale,” for this reason, many people who work in one line can afflict themselves in this world in order to be rewarded with pleasures in the next world, which is an eternal world. Hence, they do not need the help of the Creator, for they see that they themselves are the workers, and when they look at the general public, they feel superior.

But when those who want to work in order to bestow look at the general public, they feel that they are worse and lower than them, since they feel the evil in them, which is the will to receive for themselves, who is the ruler, and they cannot emerge from self-love. They always look at the how much work they have exerted in order to be able to work in order to bestow, and they are always shown how far they are inherently removed from it. They see that they are dirty in every way and need purification.

Since they walk in two lines, they see the truth. Hence, in order for such a person not to escape the campaign, he is told the truth, that it is not within our power to defeat the evil inclination. Instead, “Were it not for the help of the Creator, he would not overcome it.”

This is why it was said in The Zohar, “He who comes to purify is aided.” They did not merely say that he is given help, since specifically in purity, a person sees that he is unable to walk on the path where all your work is for the sake of the Creator. It follows that he does not have to believe above reason that “Were it not for the help of the Creator, he would not overcome it,” since he sees the truth, that he is unable to emerge from self-love. For this reason, many times, a person falls into despair and needs great reinforcement to believe above reason that the Creator can help him emerge from self-love.

But those who walk on one line are completely opposite. A person sees within reason that he overcomes his evil inclination and does not need any help from the Creator in observing the Torah and Mitzvot. Rather, since our sages said, “Were it not for the help of the Creator, he would not overcome it,” he believes above reason that the Creator helps him. Yet, within reason, he knows that he has the power to overcome his evil inclination and he is not like other people in the general public, who are lowly. He feels superior to them.

It therefore follows that concerning the help of the Creator, there is a big difference between those who walk on one line, and those who walk on two lines. Those who walk on one line see that they are doing everything and do not see that the Creator needs to give the help. Rather, they believe above reason that the Creator has helped them.

However, those who walk on two lines see that they cannot do a thing. They must make great efforts for the help that the Creator gives, and they must exert and say that the Creator can help them. Then, when they emerge from the control of the inclination, they see within reason that the Creator helped them, and otherwise, they would be forever governed by the inclination.

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