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What Is the Assistance that He who Comes to Purify Receives in the Work?

Article No. 17, Tav-Shin-Nun, 1989-90

The Zohar asks (Exodus, Item 36), “Why is it written, ‘Come unto Pharaoh?’ It should have said, ‘Go unto Pharaoh.’ What is ‘Come’? Moses was afraid of him. When the Creator saw that Moses was afraid of him, the Creator said, ‘Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt.’ The Creator, and none other, had to wage war against him, as you say, ‘I the Lord,’ which they explained, ‘I and not another.’”

This means that the answer to why it is written, “Come,” is because Moses could not defeat Pharaoh king of Egypt by himself, but the Creator waged war against him. In that case, why did He say to Moses, “Come,” if Moses could not defeat him but only the Creator? How does Moses help in this, and why is it written, “Come unto Pharaoh”?

We should also understand the words, “Come unto Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart that I may set these signs of Mine within him.” All the interpreters ask, Why after the first five plagues, the Creator took from Pharaoh the choice? And if the Creator took from him the choice, why is it Pharaoh’s fault that he did not obey the Creator?

The answer to this, says the writing, is “for I have hardened his heart.” And why did I harden his heart? It is not because he is at fault, but for another reason, as it is written, “that I may set these signs of Mine within him.” Because the Creator wanted to set His signs, He took from him the choice, so he will suffer plagues.

This is difficult to understand. Does the Creator, who created the world in order to do good to His creations, for the creatures to receive only good, can it be said that because He wants to show His signs, He hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so He would have an excuse to give the signs? It seems like one who benefits from his friend’s downfall.

It was said (Sotah 11) about the verse (Exodus), “And a new king arose, who did not know Joseph”: “Rav and Shmuel, one said, ‘truly a new one,’ and one said, ‘whose decrees were renewed.’” We should understand how this is interpreted when interpreting in the work, that Pharaoh is the evil inclination that is within man’s body. How can it be said that he is actually new, if the evil inclination is called “a foolish old king”?

The Zohar said that the reason is that since the evil inclination comes to a person as soon as one is born, as it is written, “Sin crouches at the door,” meaning that as soon as one is born, the evil inclination emerges along with him, whereas the good inclination comes to a person after thirteen years. Therefore, why does it say, “‘And a new king arose,’ truly new”? Instead, we should say that the foolish old king, who is the evil inclination, is not something new in a person. Rather, as soon as one is born, it is present, as it is written, “A wild ass’s colt, a man is born.” Thus, what does “truly new” mean?

To understand the above, we should know what is the work that was given to us in Torah and Mitzvot[commandments/good deeds]. That is, why do I need this work? We learned that the purpose of creation is because of His desire is to do good to His creations. Hence, why do we need to exert ourselves? Is receiving pleasure, this act of receiving pleasure, called “work”?

We see that reception of pleasure is considered a reward and not work. However, this is as we learned that in order for the creatures not to feel shame when they receive pleasure, since the branch wants to resemble its root, and as our root bestows upon the creatures, when one does something that is not in the root, he feels unpleasantness about it, so in order to correct this, so that when the creatures receive they will feel wholeness in the pleasure and there will be no flaw in the reception of the pleasure, there was a correction called Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment. That is, as long as the creatures have not obtained vessels of bestowal, they will not receive and will not feel the pleasure that the Creator wanted to give them.

Therefore, when engaging in Torah and Mitzvot, they still do not feel the delight and pleasure clothed in Torah and Mitzvot. This is why it is considered work, since the importance of the King is not yet revealed, that it is worthwhile to serve Him because of His importance and greatness. This is regarded as the Shechina [Divinity] being in exile in each and every one. Hence, if there is no importance, it is considered that the Shechina is in the dust, meaning that there is no flavor in this whatsoever.

Through the sin of the tree of knowledge, our sages said that the serpent came to Eve and cast filth within her. Baal HaSulam interpreted that the serpent, which is the evil inclination, cast filth in her, meaning let her understand, “This-what.” That is, the serpent cast a flaw in Malchut, who is called “Eve,” and said, “This-what,” that you are working for the kingdom of heaven.

It turns out that as a result, we must work before we obtain the vessels of bestowal, where through the vessels of bestowal we can receive the delight and pleasure that the Creator wanted to give to the created beings. It follows that when we say that there is work in observing Torah and Mitzvot, it does not mean that observing the Torah and Mitzvot is work, but that the work is while observing Torah and Mitzvot before we can direct them in order to bestow. Then there is work, since we are placed under the rule of the evil and the serpent, as was said, that the serpent cast filth and blemished.

For this reason, we are under the rule of the rule of the will to receive for ourselves, at which time the delight and pleasure in Torah and Mitzvot are not revealed. And this is all the work—to obtain vessels of bestowal, for only through vessels of bestowal are the Tzimtzum and concealment that were placed on Torah and Mitzvot removed, for the delight and pleasure are not revealed in vessels of reception.

Hence, at that time we are given the Torah and Mitzvot to observe as an advice and Segula [remedy]. That is, we must aim, while observing Torah and Mitzvot, while we still cannot aim, that they will be in order to bestow, that these 613 Mitzvot that he observes will bring him the ability to achieve Lishma [for Her sake]. In the words of our sages, this advance is called Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], meaning that by observing Lo Lishma, he will come to Lishma because “the light in it reforms him.”

It follows that when a person sees that he cannot do everything in order to bestow, what should he do so as to come to be a giver? Our sages advised us that he should learn Lo Lishma, meaning in order to receive. This is the only advice by which he will achieve Lishma. There is no other advice. In the words of The Zohar, this is called “613 Eitin,” meaning 613 counsels.

These are his words (“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” “General Explanation for All Fourteen Commandments and How They Divide into the Seven Days of Creation,” Item 1): “The Mitzvot in the Torah are called Pekudin [Aramaic: commands/deposits], as well as 613 Eitin [Aramaic: counsels/tips]. The difference between them is that in all things there is Panim [anterior/face] and Achor [posterior/back]. The preparation for something is called Achor, and the attainment of the matter is called Panim. Similarly, in Torah and Mitzvot there are ‘We shall do’ and ‘We shall hear.’ When observing Torah and Mitzvot as ‘doers of His word,’ prior to being rewarded with ‘hearing the voice of His word,’ the Mitzvot are called ‘613 Eitin,’ and are regarded as Achor. When rewarded with ‘hearing the voice of His word,’ the 613 Mitzvot become Pekudin, from the word Pikadon [deposit]. This is so because there are 613 Mitzvot, where in each Mitzva [singular of Mitzvot], the light of a unique degree is deposited.”

We therefore see that there are two times in observing Torah and Mitzvot: 1) During the preparation, regarded as “doers of His word.” At that time, it is called “work,” since he has not been rewarded with hearing, as then a person is still under the governance of receiving in order to receive, the state on which there was a Tzimtzum and concealment where the delight and pleasure are concealed from the Torah and Mitzvot, and a person must observe the 613 Mitzvot as counsel, meaning that by this he will be able to be rewarded with vessels of bestowal.

At that time, when he has these Kelim, the Tzimtzum and concealment will depart from him, and he will obtain the delight and pleasure, which was the purpose of creation—to do good to His creations. At that time, the 613 Mitzvot are called “613 Pekudin,” where in each Mitzva, the light that pertains to that Mitzva is deposited.

Then, there is no more room for work because he has already been rewarded with working for the sake of the Creator and not for his own benefit. This is as the Sayer of Duvna says, when he explained the verse, “You did not call upon Me, Jacob, for you labored in Me, Israel.” He said that if a person says that he has labor in observing Torah and Mitzvot, it is a sign that “You are not working for Me,” says the Creator. This is the meaning of “You did not call upon Me Jacob.” The sign that you are not working for the sake of the Creator is that you say that you have labored in observing Torah and Mitzvot, since when a person works Lishma, the concealment and Tzimtzum are removed and he begins to attain the delight and pleasure that exist in Torah and Mitzvot, which are called “613 Pekudin.”

By this we will understand what we asked, If the purpose of creation is to do good to His creations, from where does the work in Torah and Mitzvot come to us? The answer is that in order not to have shame, the concealment and Tzimtzum were made. It follows that the delight and pleasure are not revealed in vessels of reception.

Hence, there is work: 1) because we must work against our nature, for we were born with a desire to receive for our own sake, 2) for by making the Tzimtzum, we must work on what is important, meaning we must work on going above reason, and we must believe that there is a leader to the world, who watches over the world as The Good Who Does Good.

These two things cause man labor and work, and require great overcoming in order for man not to escape the campaign in the middle of the work. This is so because when a person does something, he must see progress in the matter. If he sees no progress, he says that this is not for him, since he sees that he is not succeeding. This causes him to want to escape the campaign he is in.

But the truth is that there are two kinds of assistance from above, meaning that without help from above we cannot attain it: 1) the Kli [vessel], meaning the lack. That is, a lack to know what is the real lack, so as to know for what to ask for help from above.

In other words, often, a person is lacking something for which he becomes sick. The doctors give him medicines but it does not help him because he is not sick with what the doctors think he is. It turns out that he comes to a doctor, who prescribes him a medicine, but the medicine does not help him, and all the doctors have already discouraged him that he may stay with the illness for the rest of his life.

But finally, a professor comes along and says that he is sick and tormented because there is a substance deficient in his body, and this is why they cannot cure him, while he says that he is suffering from something that causes him the illness and the suffering. Therefore, I will give him a cure according to the substance that I think is deficient in his body, and he will be well right away. Afterward, they saw that he was completely healed.

It follows that first, one must know what he is missing so he can observe Torah and Mitzvot. A person might think of many things, and for each thing, he receives a medicine, but it does not help him because the reason why he cannot walk on the path of truth is not what a person thinks. It follows that he is praying to the Creator to help him, to give him filling what he thinks, but what he thinks is not the truth. Hence, a person is not healed from the control of the evil inclination.

For this reason, first, a person receives help from above to know the illness from which he is suffering. That is, he thinks he is deficient of something quantitative, meaning he needs more time to learn, and more brains, talent, etc., and for this he prays that He will help him. However, in truth, a person is deficient in quality, to know that the main lack within him is that he has no importance to feel that there is the Upper Guidance. In other words, he is lacking faith that the Creator leads the world in a manner of The Good Who Does Good. If he could really feel this, he would rejoice that he is receiving from the Creator delight and pleasure, and he would not want to part from the Creator for one moment, for he would know what he loses by turning his thought to other things.

So if he does not think that this is what he is lacking, but that he is lacking other things, which are not important in the work, then the first assistance that a person receives from above is to know his evil, his main obstructor for which he cannot be a true servant of the Creator. This help must come first, and afterward it is possible to make corrections, to correct them. That is, a person must come to a state where he knows that he needs only two main things, which are “mind” and “heart,” that this is all he must strive to obtain. Hence, the first assistance that a person receives from above is this lack.

However, this cannot be revealed in him at once, but gradually. According to his work when he exerts in the work to achieve the truth, to that extent he receives assistance from above. Once he has obtained the real Kli, meaning the real lack that he needs, then is the time when he receives the real filling that is suitable for the Kli. It therefore follows that a person receives from above both the light and the Kli, meaning the need, called “lack.”

In other words, what he is lacking hurts him. Yet, not everything that one does not have is considered a lack. For example, a person who has abundance and is enjoying life, when a person comes to him and asks him, “Why are you so happy? I see that my neighbor’s son, whose parents are very wealthy and respected, and yet I saw him suffering. That is, I saw him walking with a tormented expression. I asked him, ‘My friend, what is it you need? Your parents are very wealthy, so tell me, what is it you need? Are you unwell?’ So he replied, ‘I was supposed to get my doctor’s diploma, for which I labored many years, but I failed the tests, and I am sad that now I do not have a doctor’s diploma.’” Can it be said that any person who does not have a doctor’s diploma regrets it?

Rather, as said above, not everything that one does not have is considered a lack. A lack is everything that a person wants, but does not have. This is called “a lack.” For this reason, when we want to measure the intensity of the desire, we measure it according to the suffering one feels at not having what he yearns for.

It therefore follows that the first assistance that the upper one gives to the lower one is the awareness what he should obtain. The suffering from not having obtained it is regarded as the upper one giving the lower one the Kli. Then, when the lower one has a real need, the upper one gives him the second assistance, namely the light and the filling of the lack.

By this we will understand what we asked, If the Creator knew that Moses could not fight and defeat Pharaoh king of Egypt by himself, but the Creator Himself, as it is written, “I and not a messenger,” why did he say to Him, “Come unto Pharaoh”? This implies that together with Moses, the Creator can help. But the Creator said, “I and not a messenger,” so how does Moses help us here? Why is it written, “Come unto Pharaoh”?

It means that a person must begin to walk on the path of the Creator and achieve the truth, meaning to be rewarded with Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator. Then, if he advances in the walk, the person receives the first assistance—the sensation of the lack, to know what he is lacking. Subsequently, he grasps that he is lacking only two main things: “mind” and “heart.” And along with it, he receives suffering at not having them. In other words, he feels the need for this. At that time, if the person does not work by himself, it cannot be said that he is suffering from not having it. Only the need for something, if one labored to obtain something, can it be said that he has a need for it to the point that he is suffering from not having it.

This is why it is written, “Come unto Pharaoh.” It indicates two things: 1) The person himself should exert, such as the allegory about the doctor, who labored many years to study medicine and finally failed and did not get the doctor’s diploma. Then it can be said that he is suffering from not having what he wants.

But if he did not exert, it cannot be said that he is suffering from not achieving what he wants, since the labor one puts into something awakens the desire, so he will not escape the campaign because he is sorry about all the efforts he had put into the matter, and he always thinks, “Perhaps I will finally obtain what I want.” It follows that by working, even though he cannot obtain it, the labor he exerts each time invokes the yearning for the matter.

It follows that there are two forces here:

1) Man’s power, who must toil not in order to obtain the matter, but in order to have a strong desire to obtain the matter. It follows that man’s work is required in order to obtain the need for the Creator’s help. This is called “a complete desire.” In other words, it is not that man’s work causes the obtainment of the matter, but rather the obtainment of the lack and need for the matter, and in order to know what he is lacking. For this, he receives help from above, by seeing each time, that he is more deficient and cannot emerge from the governance of Pharaoh. This assistance is called “for I have hardened his heart.” It follows that the hardening of the heart is required in order to have a real need for a real thing.

2) At the same time, we must have the Creator’s help, to give the light, as it is written, “I and not a messenger.” This means that since by nature, the will to receive for oneself—called “a foolish old king”—controls a person, and man’s ability to change nature is only in the hands of the Creator, meaning that He made nature, and He can change it, and this is called “the exodus from Egypt,” which was a miracle. This is why it is written, “Come,” meaning both of them together, as we say, “Come together,” likewise, the Creator and Moses.

Now we can understand what we asked, Why is it written, “For I have hardened his heart that I may set these signs of Mine within him”? We said that it seems as one who benefits from his friend’s downfall. That is, the Creator made him wicked so He would show His signs. According to the above, the meaning of “set these signs of Mine” refers to the light, for the light is called “letters.” It follows that He made him wicked, meaning deficient, so he would have a complete Kli to receive the light. This means that the letters are not for the sake of the Creator, but for the sake of the created being.

By this we will also understand what we asked, what is “And a new king arose,” since he is an old king? The answer is that each time, his decrees are renewed. That is, each time, the evil inclination is made anew, because “I have hardened his heart.” It follows that “Anyone whose desire is great, his inclination is greater than him.”

Inapoi la pagina 1990 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link

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