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What Is the Meaning of the Purification of a Cow’s Ashes, in the Work?

Article No. 23, Tav-Shin-Nun-Aleph, 1989-91

RASHI interprets, “This is the statute of the law”: “Because Satan and the nations of the world taunt Israel, to say, ‘What is this Mitzva [commandment/good deed] and what is its reason,’ therefore, it is written about it, ‘It is a statute, a decree before Me; you have no permission to doubt it.’ ‘And have them take for you’: It will always be named after you. ‘A red cow’: This can be compared to the son of a maidservant who soiled the king’s palace. They said, ‘Let his mother come and clean up the feces.’ Similarly, let the cow come and atone for the calf.”

We should understand what the matter of the burning of the cow, whose ashes purify, implies to us in the work. Also, we should understand the matter of answering those who ask questions about the point of this red cow. Normally, when someone asks a question he receives an answer that the asking person can accept. Yet, here he asks, what is the point of the cow, and the answer is “statute,” “decree.” Is this answer acceptable? And we should also understand why he says that it is a statute and then gives the allegory about the cow, “Let his mother come and clean up her son,” which implies that there is already a reason for it, which is that the mother will clean up her son.

We should understand all this in the work. It is known that the purpose of creation is to do good to His creations, and this is why the Creator created in the creatures a desire and yearning to receive pleasure. However, in order for the creatures not to feel shame while receiving delight and pleasure, since if they are ashamed, the pleasure will be incomplete, there was a correction that a person does not receive the delight and pleasure for man’s own pleasure, meaning in order to enjoy the King’s gift. Rather, it is to the contrary—it is for the Creator to enjoy His will being done by their receiving pleasure from Him. In other words, since the Creator wants to do good to His creations, he observes the commandment of the Creator. Otherwise, for himself, he would relinquish the pleasure. It follows that there is no matter of shame here since everything he does is for the sake of the Creator and not for his own benefit.

However, Baal HaSulam gave another explanation concerning why we must do everything in order to bestow, since by nature, when a person is in high spirits and enjoys life, he has no need to make efforts and obtain more than he has, if the property that he has gives him complete satisfaction. Hence, since spiritual pleasures satisfy a person, and even the smallest degree in spirituality provides more satisfaction than any corporeal pleasure, a person would be content with little and would have no need to obtain the NRNHY in his soul.

But when a person works in order to bestow, when all his work is only in order to bring contentment to his Maker, it follows that when one obtains some spiritual degree and takes that pleasure because the Creator will enjoy it, he cannot say, “Master of the world, I do not want a higher degree than I have, since all the pleasures I am receiving are only because I want to please You, and I have given you plenty of pleasures already, and I do not want You to enjoy too much; I have given You enough, and I do not want to give You any more.”

We should know that when one receives in order to bestow, he receives a continually greater taste in bestowing contentment upon his Maker. As a result, a person cannot say, “I do not want to receive any more pleasures because I am settling for little.” It turns out that working for the sake of the Creator causes one to have to receive a higher degree each time, since he cannot say to the Creator, “I have already given You plenty of pleasures and I cannot give You any more.” This is why we must work in order to bestow.

There is another explanation why we must work in order to bestow: It is because of disparity of form. In spirituality, equivalence of form is called “unification,” Dvekut [adhesion], and disparity of form causes “distance” and “separation.” And since the main thing that one should strive for in life is to cling unto Him, since man should depict to himself that there is nothing more important in the world than to be in the King’s palace, through equivalence of form, as our sages said about “cling onto His attributes,” “As He is merciful, so you are merciful,” by this a person enters the King’s palace and is rewarded each time with speaking with the King.

It follows that on the whole, there are three reasons why we need to work for the sake of the Creator and not for our own sake. It is written about it, “Blessed is our God, who has created us for His glory.” We should understand why we thank the Creator for creating us for His glory and not for ours, since it makes sense that if He had created us for our glory, all creations would have blessed Him. Yet, the verse says that we must thank Him for creating us for His glory. What is our benefit in this?

The answer is that we must know that the Creator does not need us to give Him anything; the whole purpose of creation is only for the sake of the created beings, as it is written, “His desire to do good to His creations.” In order for the creatures to be able to receive the abundance for the three above reasons, for they can prevent the purpose of creation from being fully achieved, 1) because of shame, 2) in order for man not to settle for little, but each one should obtain the NRNHY in his soul, 3) because of Dvekut, which is equivalence of form, one should work in order to bestow, like the Creator.

It follows that the Creator created us and gave us the Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds] by which we can come to do everything in order to have the glory of the Creator. It follows that when we bless Him for creating us for His glory, it means that He has guided us and gave us the means by which to be able to work for His glory. By this we can achieve the purpose of creation, called “His desire to do good to His creations.” This is as our sages said, “The Creator said, ‘I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice.’” These are the means by which we can come to do everything for His glory. This is why we thank Him for it and say, “Blessed is our God, who created us for His glory.”

In order for one to be able to work in order to bestow, meaning to do things not for his own benefit, we were given work in mind and in heart. “In mind” means that one should go above what the mind and reason obligate him to do. This is called “above reason,” meaning that he believes although his intellect and reason disagree with what he wants to do. That is, we were given the Mitzva [sing. of Mitzvot] of faith above reason, which says that what reason tells us to do, we do not obey, and the faith, where we are commanded to believe what the Torah says, this is what we do, and we say that faith is of the utmost importance, and what reason and intellect obligate us to do are of inferior importance. Certainly, we should follow the one who is more important, and this is called “faith above reason.”

But in faith, too, we should make three discernments:

1) For example, if a person gives to his friend $1,000, and the person accepts it, and he is completely sure and believes, since this man is my friend, and a meticulous person, so if he gives the money, there must be $1,000 there, and there is no need to count. This is called “faith below reason.” In other words, he believes him because his reason does not object to what he believes, meaning there is no contradiction between believing him and the reason. It follows that to him, faith is below reason, and the reason is more important. That is, he believes him because reason does not object. However, if this is in contrast to reason, he will probably not believe. This is still not regarded as faith above reason.

2) He tells him, “Here is $1,000.” The receiver counts it three times and sees that there is the stated amount there and says to the giver, “I believe you that there is that amount here, as you say.” Certainly, this does not count as faith.

3) He counts the $1,000 three times and sees that one dollar is missing, but he says to the giver, “I believe you that there is $1,000 here. Even though the reason and the intellect say that there is less here, he says that he believes. This is called true “above reason.” However, maintaining faith above reason, meaning saying, “I annul my reason, and the fact that I counted three times does not matter, but I believe with faith above reason,” meaning that the faith is more important than the reason, this is hard work.

By this we will understand that the faith that one should have in the Creator where he annuls his reason and what it tells him, by saying, “My reason will be as annulled as the dust of the earth,” this is considered that he annuls his view from before the view of Torah. This called “the work of the mind.”

Also, there is the work of the heart. The heart is called “desire.” Since man was created with a nature of desire to receive for one’s own sake, meaning to enjoy life, when he is told that he should work for the sake of the Creator, it is against nature, so why is this needed? A person needs to do everything for the sake of the Creator for the three above reasons, and this is why it is special work, for by this a person knows that the fact that he wants to do everything for his own sake, since man was born with a nature of will to receive for himself, he must divide his work in two manners: 1) in the mind, which is that one should pay attention to the state of his faith. Yet, in faith, a person can work in order to receive reward, meaning to observe Torah and Mitzvot because it will later reward him, meaning that he will have benefit for himself from this, and he will therefore remain separated.

Hence, there is another special work called “heart,” which is “love of others.” If he works only on love of others, he will still remain outside of Kedusha [holiness], since love of others is not the purpose of creation, for the purpose of creation is to do good to His creations, meaning for the creatures to receive from the Creator the delight and pleasure. But if they have no faith, how can they receive anything from the Creator when they have no faith in the Creator? Hence, the work must be in two ways.

However, Baal HaSulam said that the fact that we must go with faith, and the Creator does not let us serve Him by the way of knowing, is also in order for the work not to be for one’s own sake, since if He were revealed to the creatures and they would not need faith, it would be impossible to do anything for the sake of the Creator. We can see how difficult it is to receive corporeal pleasures only in order to bestow, and it is much more so with spiritual pleasures, for in a spiritual pleasure, even a small bit has more pleasures than corporeal pleasures, so he will certainly not be able to receive in order to bestow. Hence, there is work in two ways: 1) in mind, 2) in heart.

Accordingly, we should interpret what we asked, What is the meaning of the purification of a cow’s ashes, in the work? Our sages said, “Because Satan and the nations of the world taunt Israel, to say, ‘What is this Mitzva?’” the answer is that this is why he wrote about it, “It is a statute.” We asked, What is the answer that can be accepted, since they are asking why this is so, and it makes sense that we must answer so that the one who is asking will understand why. But what is the answer? “It is a statute, a decree before Me; you have no permission to doubt it.”

The thing is that since the order of the work is that we must begin the work in the mind, meaning take upon ourselves faith above reason, therefore, if the nations of the world do not ask, What is this Mitzva? but only that he takes upon himself faith, that he believes above reason, this is regarded as faith of the first kind, which we said above was like a person who gave him $1,000 and he believes him that the sum is as stated and does not count them.

But when they come and ask, What is this Mitzva and what is its reason, it is similar to faith of the third kind, of which we said that it is when he does count them, and his counting falls short, yet he believes him above reason, meaning he cancels his reason and intellect before the giver. This is called “faith above reason.” Hence, precisely when the nations of the world in one’s body ask what is this Mitzva and what is its reason, since the body feels no taste in that which is above the intellect and reason, hence, the true and correct answer is to reply to the body that he believes that these questions were sent to him from above so that now he will be able to observe the Mitzva of faith above reason. Hence, the correct answer is specifically because it is a statute and decree. At that time, it is forbidden to give the body reasonable answers about why he wants to work for the benefit of the King.

It follows that precisely through the reply of statue and decree, he can advance in the work of the Creator. Although he sees that he cannot overcome the arguments of the nations of the world, he should believe above reason about that, too, that the fact that he cannot overcome is not because he has a weak character and this is why he cannot overcome, but rather that this is what is desired above—that he will not be able to overcome.

And the reason is specifically that by being unable to overcome, he now receives an opportunity to pray that the Creator will help him overcome. The benefit of this is that specifically through the help from above, it is possible to be rewarded with the NRNHY in his soul, since each time he receives help, it is by receiving an illumination from above. It follows that now he has an opportunity to be rewarded with the Gadlut [greatness/adulthood] of the soul because he has a need for the Creator to help him. It is known that The Zohar says, that His help is in giving him from above a soul.

Therefore, one should be careful when the body comes and asks, “Why must you exert in Torah and Mitzvot if you see that you feel no taste in them?” A person should not think of ways to answer intellectually, but rather tell the body, “I am thankful to you for approaching me with these arguments, since I am saying that reasonably speaking, you are correct, meaning that from the perspective of common sense, I should be sitting still. Yet, I am working above reason, and although you are not letting me overcome, I do want to overcome as much as I can. Therefore, I am asking for the help of the Creator so I can prevail over you. This must be the best opportunity, for by this I can be awarded entry into Kedusha and to do everything in order to bestow. It follows that the reply, “It is a statute, a decree before Me,” is the real answer in order for a person to advance in the work and achieve permanent faith, for the Creator to help him be rewarded with mind and heart.

According to the above, we can interpret what we asked, that on one hand, he says that a cow is a statute without any reason, but then our sages give a reason through the allegory about “the son of a maidservant who soiled the king’s palace. They said, ‘Let his mother come and clean up the feces.’ Similarly, let the cow come and atone for the calf.” Thus, they do give a reason for the red cow, and the answer is that the mother will come and clean up her son. This is the answer to the red cow being a statute without reason. It means that the sin of the calf was as it is written in The Zohar(“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” Item 14), “Those who sinned with the calf said about, ‘These [ELEH] are your gods, O Israel,’ since they blemished that clothing and the abundance went out to other gods.” This means that they wanted to receive the light of Hochma without a clothing of Hassadim, which is regarded as not wanting to accept the clothing of Hassadim, called “faith above reason.”

Hence, it is about this that the commandment of red cow comes, which is all statute and decree, entirely above reason, for this cow is called “mother,” and if he corrects the sin of not wanting to go with faith above reason, by this the sin will be corrected. It follows that there is no reason for the red cow itself. On the contrary, since the matter of the red cow is entirely above reason, this will correct what they wanted with the sin of the calf, that it will all be within reason, when they said, “These are your gods, Israel.” It follows that the matter of the red cow is completely above reason, which indicates the matter of faith, which purifies the impure, since Tuma’a [impurity] comes from the will to receive for one’s own benefit, and the correction of exiting the will to receive is by accepting the work of faith above reason, for then one asks for the help of the Creator and by this, he emerges from the rule of the will to receive. This is called “the exodus from Egypt,” for only the Creator Himself delivered them from Egypt, as it is written, “I and not a messenger.”

It follows that the meaning of a red cow, whose ashes purify, ash indicates something that was cancelled, such as after the burning of the cow, when only ashes remain, implying the annulment, once a person has annulled his reason and his will before the will of the Creator. At that time, a person is rewarded with the will of the Creator, which is to bestow. When a person has the desire to bestow, he is called “a pure man,” for he does not do anything unless it brings contentment to his Maker.

According to the above, we should interpret what is written (in Yotzer, for the portion, “Cow”), “to purify the impure, to defile the pure with saying, ‘holy.’” We should understand how there can be two opposites in the same subject. In the work, we should interpret that when one begins to prepare oneself to take upon himself faith above reason, he is immediately defiled. That is, before he began this work, when he worked in order to receive reward, he felt that he was righteous. That is, he saw that he was observing Torah and Mitzvot and did not find within him any flaw. Hence, he knew that he was pure and did not have any Tuma’a. He was only concerned about others—that they are not walking in the path of the Creator, and he wanted to give the faith, but they would not listen. But concerning himself, he knew that he had enough faith to dispense to several people, if they only wanted to receive.

But when he begins the work of bestowal and to believe in the Creator above reason, he sees the truth, that he is immersed in self-love and is devoid of faith. It follows that now he has become impure. This is called “to defile the pure.” But afterward, he is rewarded with “to purify the impure.”

Inapoi la pagina 1991 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link

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