Inapoi la pagina 1990 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link
What Is, “A Ladder Is Set on the Earth, and Its Top Reaches Heaven,” in the Work?
Article No. 9, Tav-Shin-Nun, 1989-90
The Zohar says (VaYetze, Item 52), “‘And behold, a ladder was set up on the earth.’ What is a ladder? It is a degree upon which all other degrees depend, meaning the Nukva [Aramaic: female], who is the gate to all the degrees. (And in Item 53), See there, “‘And behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.’ Those are the appointees of all the nations, who are ascending and descending on this ladder. And when Israel sin, the ladder is lowered down and those appointees ascend. When Israel improve their actions, the ladder rises and all the appointees come down, and their governance is cancelled. Everything depends on this ladder.”
We should understand all the above in the work: 1) Why does everything depend on the ladder, that if Israel sin, the ladder is lowered down, and when Israel improve their actions, the ladder ascends? 2) What does it mean when it says that the ladder ascends or descends? What does this teach us in the work?
It is known that man should try to achieve the degree of Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, which is equivalence of form. When a person is rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator, see in the essay “A Speech for the Completion of The Zohar,” “Now we can understand the merit of one who has been rewarded with cleaving unto Him once more. It means that he has been rewarded with equivalence of form with the Creator by inverting the will to receive imprinted in him through the power in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds]. This was the very thing that separated him from His Essence and turned it into a will to bestow. It follows that one is just like the organ that was once cut off from the body and has been reunited with the body: It knows the thoughts of the rest of the body once again, just as it did prior to the separation from the body. The soul is like that, too: After it has acquired equivalence with Him, it knows His thoughts once more, as it knew prior to the separation from Him. Then the verse, ‘Know the God of your father’ comes true in him, as then one is rewarded with the complete knowledge, which is Godly knowledge. Also, one is rewarded with all the secrets of the Torah, as His thoughts are the secrets of the Torah.”
In order for a person to be able to achieve equivalence of form, and since this is a very difficult matter because it is against the nature that the Creator created, as we learned that in order for the creatures to enjoy the delight and pleasure that He wants to give them, which was the reason for the creation of the world, since He desires to do good to His creations, and without desire and yearning a person cannot enjoy, therefore, the core of creation, which He created existence from absence, is the will to receive for oneself. This is in oppositeness of form from the Creator, whose desire is to bestow upon the creatures. For this reason, the correction was Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment, where a person must first believe in the Creator, and then we can speak of working for the sake of the Creator and not for one’s own sake.
There are many measures in the work of faith. As he writes in the “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot” (Item 14), there is partial faith and there is complete faith. Hence, man’s main work in order to be able to annul himself and accept the burden of the kingdom of heaven depends on the extent to which he appreciates the greatness of the Creator. This is as it is written in The Zohar, that fear should be primarily because He is great and ruling. This means that a person should observe Torah and Mitzvot in order to serve a great King. Hence, man’s primary work is to work to be rewarded with complete faith, for only then, if one knows he has a great King, the body will annul before Him and he will have great pleasure in serving a great King.
In The Zohar, this work is regarded as a person having to do the holy work in order to “raise the Shechina [Divinity] from the dust.” It is written in the Selichot [prayers for forgiveness], “I remember God and I weep when I see every city built on its foundation, and the city of God lowered to the netherworld.” The “city of God” is the kingdom of heaven and is in utter lowliness among the creatures. Naturally, when it is lowly, how is it possible to work for a lowly king? But if the king is a great king, there is a desire, according to the importance and greatness of the king, so there are people who want to serve him and annul their self-benefit in order to benefit the king.
Now we can understand that man’s work is primarily to achieve faith that he has a great King. This is regarded as the Shechina being in Gadlut [greatness/adulthood]. It follows that man’s work is to “raise the Shechina from the dust.” Then, all his actions can be in order to bestow. If a person does not work in Torah and Mitzvot in order to raise the Shechina from the dust, and the kingdom of heaven is as important as dust, the SitraAchra [other side] can control the quality of Israel, and they force a person to work for a foolish old king and not for the King of all Kings.
It follows that man’s primary work is on the intention and the purpose—what a person wants to gain from engaging in Torah and Mitzvot. The answer to this is that a person’s main work with the evil inclination, which comes from the control of the SitraAchra, is lack of faith in the greatness of the Creator. In the words of The Zohar, this is called “to raise the Shechina from the dust,” as our sages said, “Habakkuk came and established then on one: a righteous shall live by his faith” (Makot 24).
In the words of The Zohar, faith is called Malchut, and Malchut is called “fear.” This is as our sages said, “What does the Lord your God ask of you? Only to fear Him.” This means that a person must know that in order to advance in the work of the Creator, he does not need anything other than fear, which is called “faith.” This is as our sages said (Berachot 6), “Any person in whom there is fear of heaven, his words are heard.”
Literally speaking, this is difficult to understand. After all, there were many righteous in Israel, so why did He not reform them? After all, he who has fear of heaven, his words are heard. But in the work we should interpret that the words were said about an individual with respect to himself, when he sees that everything he tells his body, it does not want to obey him. He does everything he can but he cannot overcome the body. Then, our sages tell him that what he needs in order to be able to take control of the body is only one thing: fear of heaven, for only when he has fear of heaven, his words will be heard by his body.
According to the above, we should interpret the words of The Zohar, where we asked about the meaning of the words, “What is a ladder? It is a degree upon which all other degrees depend, meaning the Nukva [Aramaic: female], who is the gate to all the degrees.” The answer is that a ladder, which is the Nukva, refers to the kingdom of heaven, which is called “faith” and “fear of heaven.” That is, all the degrees with which a person can be rewarded depend only on the ladder, as she is the gate to all the degrees. In other words, everything depends on the faith one has. That is, there is a difference between one who has only partial faith or complete faith. It follows that everything depends on the ladder, meaning the kingdom of heaven, which is the whole basis of Kedusha, and the gate to all the degrees.
This is the meaning of what he says about the verse, “‘And behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.’ Those are the appointees of all the nations, who are ascending and descending on this ladder. And when Israel sin, the ladder is lowered down and those appointees ascend.” This means that if Malchut, who is the holy Shechina, is lowered because of the sins—and “sins” means that they work only for their own sake and not for the sake of the Creator—they each cause separation at the root of his soul.
In other words, where they should have created unification through work in Torah and Mitzvot, they cause separation. That is, all those “appointees of the nations of the world,” whose wish is only to receive for themselves, ascend in their importance. This is why they govern, for the important one rules.
Therefore, when the people of Israel engage in bestowal, they cause an awakening from below that the Kedusha will be revealed. That is, Malchut, in the sense that she wants to be united with the Creator, will ascend, and the SitraAchra, which is reception for oneself, will naturally descend from prominence.
This is called, “All the appointees come down, and their governance is cancelled. Everything depends on this ladder.” This means that everything depends on the greatness of the faith, which is called a “ladder.” This is why he says, “When Israel sin, the ladder is lowered.” It means that they cause the Shechina to be lowered, which is regarded as the ladder being lowered down, and the SitraAchra and the Klipot [shells/peels] ascend in importance. This means that everything pertaining to self-love ascends in importance, and everything pertaining to the benefit of the Creator, a person feels as a taste of lowliness and unpleasantness, and he cannot do anything that pertains to the benefit of the Creator. This is regarded as the ladder being lowered.
“When they improve their actions, the ladder ascends.” That is, through an awakening from below, they cause the rising of the Shechina from the dust, and all the appointees descend. That is, all the thoughts, desires, and actions pertaining to the SitraAchra, meaning everything that has to do with self-reception, seems to him as lowly and loathsome, and despicable to engage in such matters, which pertain to self-reception.
According to the above, it follows that the ladder is like scales: If one pan goes up, the other pan comes down. For this reason, if there are good deeds, meaning that they engage in a manner that the actions will rise up to the Creator, this is regarded as the ladder ascending, meaning that to him, the kingdom of heaven is in ascent. At that time, the other pan, which belongs to self-reception, namely the opposite of Kedusha, descends. That is, the appointees of the nations of the world descend. In other words, they descend from the value of being worthwhile to work for. This is considered that the quality of Israel in a person controls them, meaning the thoughts and desires of the nations of the world, which are regarded as self-reception.
At that time, all of a person’s concerns are how to bring contentment to the Creator. When thoughts of self-reception come to him, the governance of faith, which is the ladder, promptly cancels them. Therefore, all of man’s work is to aim what he does so that it will yield faith, to believe in the greatness of the Creator. From this he will achieve the goal, as this is the gate to all the degrees that a person wants to achieve.
It is written in The Zohar, in the Idra Zuta (Item 135), “As the actions that the lower ones do, so it appears below, for better or for worse.” These are its words: “The Eynaim [eyes] of the ZA are Providence of reward and punishment. At times he is revealed, and at times he is concealed. When the lower ones improve their actions, they are rewarded with attaining His Providence (meaning that His Providence is in the form of good and doing good), and he is awake and will not slumber or sleep. If they worsen their actions, Providence is concealed and they say, ‘The Lord will not see, and the God of Jacob will not understand.’ This is regarded as sleep, as in ‘Their God is asleep.’ This is so because when they worsen their actions, they make the left line prevail over the right, and then the eyes are concealed from them and they say, ‘The Lord will not see.’ Hence, they do not keep themselves from them and they are unafraid to sin. This is the meaning of what he says, ‘They are asleep and not asleep. To the wicked, they are asleep, and to the righteous, they are not asleep.’”
We see that His guidance is in a state of rest from the perspective of the upper one, as it is written (Lamentation 3), “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” Thus, everything depends on the work of the lower ones. This is why it says, “As the work that the lower ones do, so it appears below, for better or for worse.” This means that a Mitzva [singular of Mitzvot] induces a Mitzva. That is, if they improve their actions, meaning if the lower ones do good deeds, meaning that their intention is to benefit the Creator, this is certainly considered a Mitzva and induces another Mitzva. Namely, they feel that the Creator bestows upon them only good. This is called “open Providence.” In other words, they see the delight and pleasure they are receiving from the Creator, and then everyone stands and praises the Creator.
But if the lower ones worsen their actions, meaning that each one is concerned only with doing things that yield self-benefit, then a transgression induces a transgression. In other words, they say that Providence is not in the form of good and doing good, and feel only the concealment of the face. They say that the Creator does not hear a prayer, since they asked Him many times but were not answered. Therefore, they say “The Lord will not see, and the God of Jacob will not understand,” since the transgression they committed before—wanting to do everything in order to receive for themselves—causes a concealment of the face.
But one says to oneself, “I see that I have already prayed many prayers that the Creator will give us the desire to bestow, meaning that we ask the Creator to give us a desire to want to do everything in order to bestow, so we are not asking that the Creator will help us so we can work for our own sake, but rather that we can work for the sake of the Creator. So, why is He not answering our prayer? Thus, how can we say that He hears the prayer of every mouth?”
However, we must believe above reason that the Creator does hear the prayer of every mouth. And within reason, if a person wants to understand the order of the work, he must say that from above he has been notified what is for the sake of the Creator and not for his own sake. That is, he was given from above the feeling of what is not for his own sake. When a person feels this, that he should leave nothing for himself, he sees he cannot do this, since as long as a person does not know what is not for his own sake, he asks the Creator to help so that he will be able to work for the sake of the Creator and not for his own sake.
But when he receives from above the feeling of what it means to do everything only for the Creator, the person does not want the Creator to give him this power, and he resists with all his might. Therefore, when a person begins to ask the Creator to give him the power to overcome the will to receive, a person still does not have the full power of resistance of the body, since he still does not know what is “entirely for the Creator.”
Therefore, when his prayer is answered from above, what is the answer? The answer comes from above in that they show him so he will know what he is asking, as though there is no deceit here, so he will later be able to say, “I did not know what I was asking.” For this reason, a person must know that the Creator does hear the prayer. And the reason he sees that now he is worse than before he prayed for the power to overcome the will to receive, this is the answer from above to his prayer.
Therefore, one should not say that his prayer is not heard. Rather, one should say that the answer that comes from above is not what one understands, but what they understand above concerning what is for his best to know. In other words, a person must know how far he is from bestowal, and that all the organs of the body object to this. The person is asking of the Creator for something that there is not one element in the body that will agree to the request that he is making of the Creator. And at that time, a person sees something new that he did not know before he began to ask of the Creator to be given strength to overcome the body, so he will be able to do things only for the sake of the Creator, and not for his own sake.
This new awareness that the person attains is that he sees that the body does not agree to such a prayer to cancel the will to receive for himself. Thus, the question is, Why does a person sometimes want to cancel the will to receive for himself? That is, many times he sees that when he asks the Creator to give him vessels of bestowal, the whole body resists, and his prayer is only lip-service, meaning only empty words. Yet, he sees that there are times when he can pray wholeheartedly. The answer is that this is already the answer to the prayer, meaning that the Creator gave him the strength to pray for this with all his heart. Therefore, a person must be hopeful that the Creator will bring him closer.
Inapoi la pagina 1990 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link