Inapoi la pagina 1989 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link
What Does It Mean that the Ladder Is Diagonal, in the Work?
Article No. 10, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988-89
The verse says (Genesis 28:12), “He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” We should understand what it implies that the ladder must stand diagonally, for we see that if a ladder stands upright, it is impossible to climb it. RASHI brings the explanation of our sages in the following words, “Rabbi Elazar said in the name of Rabbi Yosi Ben Zimra, ‘This ladder stands in Beer Sheba, and the middle of its slant reaches opposite the Temple.’” This means that the ladder had to stand diagonally. What does this tell us in the work? Also, we should understand the question of the interpreters, “Why does it say, ‘Angels of God ascending’ and then ‘descending’? It should have been written the other way around.”
To understand all this, we must first understand what is work in creation, which we are given in the observance of Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds]. After all, the purpose of creation was to do good to His creations. Thus, why do we need this work, as it is written, “I labored and found, believe; I did not labor but found, do not believe.” Why this labor and what does it add to us in the purpose of creation, which is to do good to His creations?
According to what is written in (the beginning of) the book Tree of Life, in order to “bring to light the perfection of His deeds,” there was the correction of the Tzimtzum [restriction]. That is, concealment and hiding were placed in the place of Malchut, who is called “receiving in order to receive,” and in the place of the will to receive, called Aviut [thickness], there was the correction of the Masach[screen]. This means that one will not receive more than one can receive with the aim to bestow. This is what causes us work, and why our sages said specifically, “I labored and found, believe.”
But what is labor? By nature, man is born with a will to receive for his own sake. Since there was a Tzimtzum and concealment on that Kli [vessel], and one needs to work in order to bestow, because this contradicts nature, it is labor, since it is hard work. Therefore, if someone says that he is working for the Creator but feels no effort, it must be that he is working for his own sake and not for the sake of the Creator. When someone works for the sake of the Creator, the sign is that the body, called “will to receive,” resists it. This is why it is so difficult to work in order to bestow by ourselves, to the point that we must have the Creator’s help. It was said about this, “Man’s inclination overcomes him every day. Were it not for the help of the Creator, he would not be able to overcome it.” It follows that this work is considered that we must work for the sake of the Creator.
But we need to work for the sake of the Creator not really for His sake, as though the Creator needs man’s work. Rather, this fits into the perfection of His deeds, for by a person working for the sake of the Creator and not for one’s own sake, he becomes fit to receive the delight and pleasure without any shame, which is called “bread of shame,” since he receives with the intention to bestow, and not to receive for his own sake.
However, in the order of the work, when a person must achieve the degree of Dvekut [adhesion], as it is written, “and to cling unto Him,” a person cannot ascend on one leg, but needs two legs—right and left. It is as our sages said (Sotah 47), “The left should always push away and the right pull near.” We should interpret that on one hand, a person should see that he is being pushed away from the Creator, meaning see how far he is from Dvekut with the Creator, called “to bestow,” and that he is immersed in self-love.
And the more he wants to increase the work of bestowal, the more he sees that he is retreating, meaning that the evil within him is intensifying with each day. Finally, he decides that it is impossible that he will be able to be freed from self-love, and says that unless the Creator helps him, he is lost. He says, “Now I do not need to believe that the Creator helps.” Rather, now, when he is rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator, he will say that he sees within reason that the Creator helped him.
This is as it is written (Psalms 127), “Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor in it in vain.” There is nothing he can do but ask the Creator to help him emerge from the control of the will to receive.
Sometimes, he does not even have the strength to ask of the Creator to help him. This is called the “left leg,” when he is walking on the path of seeing how full of faults and corruptions he is. As it is known, “Left,” in the work, means something that requires correction. This is called “The left should always push away.”
The other leg is called “right,” since something that does not require correction in the work is called “right.” That is, a person must know that he has a great privilege in being among the servants of the King. That is, he must believe that the little time that he can give of his work that he does for his own needs, to engage in Torah and Mitzvot, which is called “the work of the Creator,” he does not say that this is out of his own strength that he wants to work in the holy work. Rather, the Creator gave him a thought and desire to have some grip on Torah and Mitzvot, and he is happy that he has been rewarded with the privilege of doing some service for the King.
He thanks the Creator for this because he sees that many people in the world do not have such a privilege, and he feels that he is close to the Creator. This is the meaning of “and the right pulls near,” meaning that the right leg is that he feels himself close to the Creator.
Precisely on two legs can we go up and up, and reach the King’s palace. By this we can interpret what is written, “and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven.” That is, the ladder, by which we climb up to the King’s palace, has two ends. 1) “A ladder was set on the earth.” This is the left line, called “earth.” One should see that he is placed in worldliness, immersed in self-love, as in, “the left pushes away.” Then there is room to pray from the bottom of the heart, for then one looks within one’s reason at how he cannot do anything for the sake of the Creator, and only He can deliver him from the governance of the evil in him. It is said about this, “Were it not for the help of the Creator, he would not be able to overcome it.” 2) It is written, “its top reaching to heaven.” The other end of the ladder is in “heaven,” as though he has complete wholeness because he is content with his lot, in the little bit of contact that he has with the work of the Creator. He feels that he is happy with this, since it is a great privilege to be rewarded with serving the King and speaking with Him even one moment a day; this is enough for him to be in high spirits, and he thanks the King for this and praises Him.
It follows that this ladder, on which we climb up to the King’s palace, stands diagonally. That is, the bottom of the ladder, which is “a ladder set on the earth,” is not really down, like a ladder standing upright, or it would be impossible to climb it, as we see in corporeality. This shows that even in corporeality the ladder must stand diagonally, and the slant indicates that “above” is not really above.
And likewise, “below” is not really “below.” Rather, as was said, when “its top reaches to heaven,” when one walks on the right line, which is wholeness, it is not the end. Rather, he must also walk “on the earth,” meaning to see that he is still on the earth. And when he is walking “on the earth,” which is the left, he must also know that he needs to walk on the right, as well, which is called “its top reaching to heaven.” That is, although both states are contradictory and opposite, they are not that far off from one another, creating a long distance to walk from one end to the other. That is, we must walk on both lines, and this is called “a slant,” meaning it shows that we must walk on two lines.
This extends from the correction called Tzimtzum Bet [Second Restriction], which is the association of the quality of mercy with judgment, as our sages said, “First, He created the world with the quality of judgment,” called “straight line, where there is above and below, called ‘high importance,’ which is the purest, and is considered the Sefira Keter, the purest, where there are no lacks. Below means of low importance, the thickest, considered the Sefira Malchut, which is the will to receive. He saw that the world could not exist, so He associated with it the quality of judgment.” Since Malchut of the quality of judgment, called “will to receive,” is the root of the created beings, it was difficult to invert her into working in order to bestow. This is called “the world could not exist.”
As he says in the “Preface to the Wisdom of Kabbalah” (Item 58), “‘He saw that the world cannot exist’ means that in this way, it was impossible for Adam, who was to be created from this Behina Dalet [Fourth Phase], to acquire acts of bestowal. This is why He ‘put Midat Ha Rachamim [quality of mercy] first and associated itwith the Midat HaDin [quality of judgment].’ The Emanator raised Midat Ha Din, which is the concluding force made in the Sefira Malchut, and elevated it to Bina—Midat HaRachamim. He associated them with one another, and thereby enabled Adam’s Guf [body], which emerged from Behina Dalet, to be integrated with the quality of bestowal, too.”
It follows that specifically by the ascent of Malchut to Bina, the world can exist. The ARI calls the ascent of Malchut to Bina, “a diagonal line.” He says that this is the meaning of what is written (in The Study of the Ten Sefirot, Part 6), “After the Tzimtzum itself placed one Parsa [partition], which is the meaning of ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and let it divide between water and water.’”
This is the meaning of the [letter] Aleph [א], for the line of the Aleph is diagonal, as he says (in The Study of the Ten Sefirot, Part 6), “The connection of two points in the Tzimtzum is the line of the Aleph, like this [א]. And the first quality of each degree is a Yod [‘], over the line from above, which includes Keter and Hochma of the degree, as in “upper water,” like this Yod [‘].” Thus, the association of the quality of mercy with judgment is called “a diagonal.”
This is the root, and why in the corporeal branch, too, we climb up a ladder only when it stands diagonally, regarded as Tzimtzum Bet. When the ladder stands upright, regarded as “the quality of judgment,” it cannot exist.
However, we should know that the two extremes are regarded as “two writings that deny one another until the third writing comes and decides between them.” That is, the two lines are needed, for by both, we achieve the middle line, for there cannot be a middle line unless there are two lines before it. Therefore, when there is a dispute, it can be said that “the third one comes and decides between them and makes peace.” But if there is no dispute, there is no need to make peace. That is, if we want to have peace, we must first produce a dispute, or there is no room for peace.
Yet, the question is, Why do we need peace? It would be better, so we understand, if there were no dispute and no need for peace. This is common sense.
The answer is that since we have these two opposites in our nature, it follows that this dispute is the reality, for nature has made us this way. That is, from the perspective of the purpose of creation, we have a nature that the Creator gave a desire to receive delight and pleasure. And from the perspective of the correction of creation, we must go in the opposite direction, namely to bestow, like the Creator, “As He is merciful, so you are merciful.”
It follows that those two extremes are in us. And what we say is that a dispute is required, as our sages said, “One should always vex the good inclination over the evil inclination.” As RASHI interpreted, “He should make war with it.” This means that one should reveal the evil in him. He does not produce evil through the dispute. Rather, the evil within us is concealed, and if light of Kedusha[holiness] enters there, the will to receive in us promptly awakens and receives everything for itself. This will immediately go to the side of Tuma’a [impurity] and Klipot [shells/peels].
For this reason, we must wage war, by which the evil will come out of its hiding and fight with the good inclination.
It follows that specifically through war it becomes revealed, since it wants to fight with the good inclination. When it shows its real face, the person sees what a “high mountain” it is and realizes that the only way is to ask the Creator to help him subdue the evil and to be able to work only with the aim to bestow.
By this we will understand the meaning of “two writings that deny one another until the third writing comes and decides between them.” The two ends of the ladder shows that they are opposite from one another. On one hand, it is “set on the earth,” indicating the lowliness, when it sees within reason how far he is from the Creator because he is immersed in self-love, which is disparity of form. On the other hand, “its top reaches to heaven,” as though he has complete wholeness and he is happy with his lot and is delighted as though he is in heaven and has no connection to worldliness. This is regarded as the ladder standing diagonally. This is the meaning of the words, “two writings that deny one another until the third writing comes and decides between them.”
This is the middle line. That is, those two lines engender a third writing, which is the Creator, called “middle line.” This is as our sages said (Nida 31a), “There are three partners in man: The Creator, his father, and his mother. His father sows the white; his mother sows the red; and the Creator places within him a spirit and a soul.”
We should interpret “his father gives the white.” His father is the first discernment in the work, the right line, which is wholeness. The second is the left line, meaning a lack. This is called “gives the red,” which is a lack. At that time, the Creator gives the soul and the spirit, for then the Creator gives him the required assistance, as said in The Zohar, “He is assisted by a holy soul.” This is called “the Creator gives the spirit and the soul.” This interprets what RASHI says, “This ladder stands in Beer Sheba, and the middle of its slant reaches opposite the Temple.” That is, the middle line is opposite the Temple, which is the Creator.
Now we should interpret why it is written, “And behold, angels of God were ascending” and then “descending.” It should have been written “descending” first, and then “ascending.” We should explain this in the work: Those people who want to work for the sake of the Creator and not for their own sake are called “angels of God,” meaning they came to this world as God’s messengers, meaning to serve God.
It is as our sages said (Sukkah 72), “They are messengers of a Mitzva [commandment/good deed].” And RASHI interpreted there, since they went to greet the head of the congregation, and one must greet one’s rav [great teacher] on foot, meaning that when we engage in Mitzvot [plural of Mitzva], we are “messengers of a Mitzva,” meaning messengers of the Commander. In other words, they came to the world to be the Creator’s messengers, and all of them must do and observe everything that the Creator has commanded to do, as it is written, “Which God has created to do.” It is explained in the Sulam [Ladder Commentary on The Zohar] (In “The Introduction of The Book of Zohar”), that “created” means existence from absence. This refers to the will to receive, which comes from the Creator. “To do” pertains to the created beings, meaning that they must work for the sake of the Creator. It follows that those who work for the sake of the Creator are called “angels of the Creator,” as was said, “messengers of the Creator.”
By this we should interpret what is written (Moed Katan 17a), “If the Rav is similar to an angel of the Creator, let them seek to learn from him. If he is not, let them not seek to learn from him. They ask about it, Must one who wants to learn from a rav first see the angel of the Creator and then, after he has seen the form of the angel of the Creator, this is the time to go seek a rav who is similar to an angel of the Creator?”
According to the above, we should interpret that if the rav teaches the disciples the work that must be done in order to bestow, meaning why a person comes into this world, to do God’s mission, to work for the sake of the Creator, that person is a messenger of the Creator and not a landlord in this world, but is a servant of the Creator. The meaning of “messenger of the Creator” is “angel of the Creator.” This is the meaning of “If the rav is similar to an angel of the Creator, let them seek to learn from him.”
Now we can understand why it is written, “and behold, angels of God were ascending” first. The reason is that in the work, being an angel of the Creator means to work for the sake of the Creator, which requires that we first ascend the ladder, called “right,” and called “its head reaches to heaven,” and then descend, which is the left, called “set on the earth,” and then again. This is called “ascending and descending.” Afterward, they are rewarded with the middle line, meaning that the Creator gives the soul, and then they are rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator.
Inapoi la pagina 1989 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link