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What Is the Meaning of “Reply unto Your Heart”?
Article No. 14, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988-89
It is written in The Zohar (VaEra, Item 89): “Rabbi Elazar started and said, ‘Know this day and reply unto your heart that the Lord, He is God.’ He asks, ‘It should have said, ‘Know this day that the Lord, He is God,’ and in the end, ‘And reply unto your heart,’ since knowing that the Lord is God qualifies him to reply so to the heart. And if he has responded to his heart, he certainly has knowledge. Also, it should have said, ‘Reply unto Libcha’ [your heart with one Bet] instead of Levavcha’ [‘your heart’ with a double Bet].”
He replies that Moses said that if you want to insist on this and know that “The Lord, He is God,” then “reply unto your heart.” Know this: Your heart [with a double Bet] means that the good inclination and the evil inclination that dwell in the heart were mingled with one another and they are one, meaning in both your inclinations, turning the bad qualities of the evil inclination into good. At that time, there is no longer a difference between the good inclination and the evil inclination, and then you will find that “the Lord, He is God.”
We should understand what is it about knowing this, that if we know that “The Lord, He is God,” we come into “Reply unto your heart,” which is Rabbi Elazar’s question. We should also understand the answer he gives when he says it is impossible to come to know that “The Lord, He is God,” before we are rewarded with “Reply unto your heart.” What is the connection that one depends on the other, meaning that specifically when he serves the Creator with the evil inclination, too, we can come to know this?
To understand this, we must first present the matter of the purpose of creation and the matter of the correction of creation. It is known that the purpose of creation is to do good to His creations. This means that the Creator wants all creations to receive delight and pleasure. Before they receive this, the perfection in the purpose of creation is not apparent, since there are still discernments in the world that did not attain the delight and pleasure.
For this reason, the perfection of the purpose of creation is apparent specifically when everyone attains the delight and pleasure. This is called, as the ARI says, that “Before the world was created, He and His name were one,” as it is written in The Study of the Ten Sefirot. This means that the delight and pleasure that He wished to impart upon His creations, there was a Kli [vessel] there, called Malchut deEin Sof [Malchut of Infinity], which received the light. The light, called “He,” and the Kli, called “His name,” were one, meaning there was no disparity of form. This is the purpose of creation.
Afterward came the matter of the correction of creation, as the ARI says, that “To bring to light the perfection of His deeds, He restricted Himself.” He interprets there, in Ohr Pnimi [Baal HaSulam’s commentary on the ARI], that in order to avoid the shame, since disparity of form causes separation between the receiver and the Giver, and likewise, all things that are not present in the root, cause unpleasantness in the branches, hence, through the Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment that were made, the lower ones were given a place to correct their vessels of reception so they work in order to bestow.
At that time, there will be equivalence of form between the receiver and the Giver, and then all the light that He wished to bestow upon His creations will be revealed among the lower ones, and it will once again be “The Lord is One and His name is One.” This means that the delight and pleasure that were revealed in the world of Ein Sof in vessels of reception, that light will be revealed in vessels of reception that are corrected into working in order to bestow.
Two things extend from this: 1) The will to receive, which extends from the purpose of creation, since His desire is to do good to His creations. Hence, He created in the creatures a desire and yearning to receive delight and pleasure. The bad, called “evil inclination,” whose quality is only to receive for its own sake, derives from this discernment. 2) The desire to bestow, which extends from the Tzimtzumand the concealment that were made in order to achieve the correction of creation. It is called the “good inclination,” since through the desire to bestow we achieve equivalence of form, which is Dvekut [adhesion], by which we receive the delight and pleasure that He wishes to give to His creations, and then the purpose of creation will be achieved in full.
Thus, when a person wants to begin the holy work, to work and toil in order to receive reward, that his reward will be Dvekut with the Creator, meaning that all his works will be for the sake of the Creator, at that time the body, which was born—because of the purpose of creation—with a desire to receive for itself, resists with all its might. It yells, “But the purpose of creation is to do good to His creations, and the Creator does not need the lower ones to give Him anything!
“Therefore,” he asks, “Why should I exert to make everything for the sake of the Creator without any reward? After all, this is the purpose of creation! If it were true that we must work for the sake of the Creator and not for our own sake, then why did He create within us a desire to receive for ourselves? Instead, He should have created in us a desire to bestow, then all the creatures would work for the sake of the Creator.
“Instead, you are trying to say that since He desires to do good to His creations, He created in us the will to receive, and then He wants us to work for the sake of the Creator. It is great suffering if we want to annul self-reception and revoke our entire selves, leaving nothing within us for our own benefit.”
As our sages said (Sukkah 45), “Anyone who mingles for the sake of the Creator with another thing is uprooted from the world.” This means that if one does everything for the sake of the Creator but mixes into it some for himself, this is called “another thing,” and he is uprooted from the world, meaning from the next world. In other words, he cannot be rewarded with the reward one receives for man’s work in Torah and Mitzvot.
It therefore follows that we cannot understand that His desire to do good to His creations has given us suffering in working for Him. Why does He need us to suffer when we must relinquish our will to receive? Therefore, when we work coercively and exert to overcome the will to receive in us, and we say to our bodies, we do not need to be smart.
Instead, we must believe in the sages who teach us that we must observe the Torah and Mitzvotwithout anything in return, but as they said (Avot, Chapter 1:3), “He would say, ‘Be not as slaves serving the rav [great teacher] in order to receive reward, but be as slaves serving the rav not in order to receive reward.’”
This means that we must believe that the Creator is not deficient or needs us to work for Him. Rather, we must believe that the fact that we must work for Him is for our sake. That is, by this we will achieve the purpose of creation—that the lower ones will receive delight and pleasure. However, this work is for the purpose of correction of creation.
Yet, since it is against reason, a person does not agree to it, and must constantly overcome, since every overcoming works only for a time, and each time he must overcome anew. This state is called “judgment,” meaning that a person is still under the control of the Tzimtzum and judgment that took place so as not to reveal the light of His face, so all would feel how the Creator leads the world with a guidance of delight and pleasure.
Instead, each one sees how the quality of judgment is present in the world, since each one feels lacks both in corporeality and in spirituality. At that time, a person says that the world is conducted by the name Elokim [God], which is the quality of judgment. And yet, a person must believe that in truth, everything is mercy, but for the time being, he must feel this way, since everything follows the path of correction, where specifically by this it will be possible to achieve the purpose of creation, which is delight and pleasure.
Now we can understand what we asked about the connection between “Reply unto your heart” and the awareness that “The Lord, He is God.” Before a person achieves the degree where all his works are for the sake of the Creator, called “in order to bestow,” a person cannot see that everything that happens in the world is the Creator behaving with the world as the good who does good.
Instead, he must believe that this is so and say as it is written, “They have eyes and see not.” Instead, he sees that the governance of the world is through the quality of judgment, called Elokim. But afterward, when he is rewarded with vessels of bestowal, which correct his vessels of reception to work in order to bestow, this means that he can work for the Creator with the evil inclination, too, since the evil inclination is called “the will to receive for one’s own sake,” from which derives all the evil that we see in the world. This also applies between man and man, as all the wars, thefts, and murders in the world stem from the will to receive for one’s own sake.
When he corrects the desire to receive pleasure so as to work in order to bestow, he receives equivalence of form. He receives Dvekut with the Creator, and the Tzimtzum and concealment that are present in the world depart from him. At that time he sees only good, and that everything he felt prior to being rewarded with Dvekut were only corrections, which brought him to equivalence of form. It follows that what he thought, that the governance of the world is with the quality of judgment, called Elokim, he sees that it is mercy, called HaVaYaH [the Lord].
By this we should interpret the connection of “Reply unto your heart” to “The Lord, He is God.” Before we are rewarded with replying to the heart, when it was in disparity of form and remoteness of place, since a receiver for himself is in disparity of form from the Giver, which is called “remoteness,” it follows that equivalence of form is regarded as returning the receiver to the Giver. This is called “Reply unto your heart” [in Hebrew, Hashivota means both “return” and “reply”].
At that time he sees that everything he thought, that the world was conducted by judgment, which is Elokim, now he sees that HaVaYaH [the Lord] is Elokim [God]. That is, it becomes revealed that to begin with, everything was with the quality of mercy, as it is written, “For the Lord, He is God.” However, before one is rewarded with returning the heart, called “equivalence of form,” we think that everything is the quality of judgment, called Elokim.
Accordingly, we should interpret what they ask, Why if the Creator wanted to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt, He sent Moses to ask and beg him to permit the people of Israel to come out of Egypt? We see that He had made miracles there to our fathers in Egypt, meaning that all the plagues that struck Egypt, the people of Israel suffered none of the plagues. So why did the Creator not bring out the people of Israel against Pharaoh’s will?
In the literal, there are many answers, but we will interpret this in the work. It is known that every person is a small world, comprising seventy nations and the people of Israel, namely the quality of Israel in him, which is regarded as Yashar-El [straight to the Creator]. This means that everything he does is all for His sake. This quality is in exile among the Klipot [shells/peels], which are the seventy nations. Mitzrayim [Egypt] means that they Meitzerim [afflict/make narrow] the Israel in him, and Pharaoh King of Egypt is the quality that rules and controls the people of Israel. The Creator wants man’s body to make a choice, meaning that the evil within man will surrender, that the general will to receive in him will make room to emerge from the governance… (the rest is missing).
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