Inapoi la pagina 1990 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link
What Is Half a Shekel in the Work 2?
Article No. 20, Tav-Shin-Nun, 1989-90
The verse says, “When you count the heads of the children of Israel to number them, each one of them shall give a ransom for his soul to the Lord, when you number them, and there shall be no plague among them when you count them. This is what they shall give: half a shekel in the shekel of holiness. The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, to make a contribution to the Lord, to make atonement for your souls.”
We should understand what specifically a half shekel implies to us in the work, and not a quarter or a third of a shekel, where the whole point is to know the number of Israel. What does specifically the half imply to us? Also, why does it say, “The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less”? Even a small child understands that if we take from someone less or more we will not know the number of Israel. And also, what is the meaning of “there shall be no plague among them”?
It is known that the purpose of the creation of the world was because He desires to do good to His creations. However, in order for this doing good to be complete, meaning not to have any shame in it while receiving the delight and pleasure, a correction took place, called Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment. This means that before a person can aim his actions to be in order to bestow, they will not feel the delight and pleasure unless when they engage in Torah and Mitzvot in order to bring contentment to the Creator.
Afterward, when he has vessels of bestowal, the delight and pleasure found as a deposit in Torah and Mitzvot will be revealed. At that time he will receive the delight and pleasure that was in the thought of creation, and for which He created the world.
Since man was created by nature to yearn only for his own benefit, from where can one work on the intention to bestow upon the Creator? This is regarded as a person exerting himself in all kinds of works so as to please the Creator, since then the body asks, “What will you gain if the Creator enjoys”? You should do things so you will enjoy, and why did our sages tell us, “All your works should be for the sake of the Creator?” How can we do something against nature?
The body also asks, “Why should the Creator mind if the creatures work for themselves, meaning that they will enjoy? After all, His desire is to delight His creations.” It follows that on one hand, man can enjoy life, meaning work for his own sake, which is natural. On the other hand, it is said that man should not go according to the nature with which he was born, but should work for the sake of the Creator.
And as much as we may explain with all kinds of answers, the body cannot understand this. Although sometimes the body agrees that it is worthwhile to work for the sake of the Creator, in practice, when the body faces something it will enjoy and it must give it up because it will benefit only the Creator, the body chooses its own benefit and relinquishes the benefit of the Creator.
Therefore, we get two things out of this: 1) Since we must believe in the words of our sages that we must do everything for the sake of the Creator although the body does not understand it after all the explanations we give to it, our sages said, and so did Maimonides determine in practice (Hilchot Teshuva, Chapter 10), “Therefore, when teaching little ones, women, and uneducated people, they are taught to work only out of fear and in order to receive reward. Until they gain knowledge and acquire much wisdom, they are taught that secret little-by-little.”
The question is, What is, “Until they gain knowledge and acquire much wisdom”? That is, what is “wisdom” and what is “much wisdom,” so we will know how to determine when we are permitted to reveal to him that secret little-by-little.
At the beginning of man’s work, we must say to the body that it is worthwhile to relinquish corporeal pleasures, which are only a “tiny light” compared to the delight and pleasure found in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds]. It follows that to the extent that he believes and faith illuminates for him, the body agrees to replace a small pleasure with a big one. As in corporeality, when a person makes his effort, the reward he acquired for his work and gives it in order to obtain nourishments to sustain his household, since he has more pleasure when he buys groceries for his household with the money he earned through the labor.
Also, to the extent that faith illuminates for him and he feels that it will give him more pleasure to engage in Torah and Mitzvot, he can relinquish corporeal pleasures in order to obtain greater pleasures. However, sometimes a person gets a descent in the faith that he will be rewarded. At that time, it is difficult for him to concede corporeal pleasures. However, if he watches over himself and is in a good environment, the body does not resist this work because this is not considered against nature, since he says that he will receive a greater reward, meaning greater pleasure from observing Torah and Mitzvot. It follows that this reason is a strong reason that can compel a person to relinquish the corporeal pleasures that the Torah forbade, and all in order to receive greater pleasures.
2) Since man has to come to a state where “All your works should be for the sake of the Creator,” meaning against nature, and this is for the purpose of the correction of creation, which is for the creatures to be able to receive the delight and pleasure without shame, a correction was placed where one must aim that all his enjoyment will be only for the sake of the Creator. That is, that the Creator will enjoy the creature’s pleasure, since this was the purpose of creation. However, sometimes the body feels that it is impossible that with the same intellect and understanding he had when he began to do the holy work, he is constantly in the same intellect and is making no progress, but only in quantity.
When he begins to ask about this, this is regarded as what we asked, What is “wisdom” and what is “much wisdom”? “Wisdom” means that he already observes Torah and Mitzvot. “Much wisdom” means that he wants to understand the meaning of Torah and Mitzvot, to what state it should bring a person. This is called “intention,” which is to aim while observing Torah and Mitzvot, that it should bring him to some degree. This is called “much wisdom.” At that time they begin to reveal to him this secret, meaning what is the work Lishma [for Her sake]. In other words, they begin to let him see that he must work not in order to receive reward, but completely for the sake of the Creator.
When he obtains “much wisdom,” he begins to understand that in Torah and Mitzvot there is what was said, “For it is your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations.” However, there is concealment on it. At that time he is told that this is true, there is a concealment on it for the purpose of correction, since the purpose is for man to achieve Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, and this is obtained by equivalence of form, regarded as “all his actions should be in order to bestow.”
Here is where man begins to be a servant of the Creator. In the work, “serving the Creator” means that he is working for the sake of the Creator and not for his own sake. At that time, the work he does, meaning the fact that he wants to work for the sake of the Creator and not for his own sake, is the beginning when a person begins to enter the exile, under the rule of the will to receive for himself.
Also, he has no hope of emerging from this exile unless with heaven’s mercy. That is, the Creator Himself should deliver him from exile, as was in Egypt, where it is written (in the Haggadah [Passover narrative]), “And the Lord brought us out from Egypt, not by an angel, but the Lord Himself.” However, the fact that a person feels that he is in exile under the rule of the will to receive for himself, a person cannot feel this at once, meaning when he begins to work to come out of its control.
Rather, this Kli is called “a lack,” meaning a need to overcome his vessels of reception. A person does not acquire this at once, but it requires time and effort. Then, over time, there is room for a person to feel that he cannot emerge by himself, but time causes a person a need and suffering, to feel how good it would be if he could emerge from exile, and bad when he is in exile.
For this reason, a person is given ascents and descents, and he must believe that both the ascents and the descents come to him from above. At the same time, during the work, he should say, “If I am not for me, who is for me?” When a person comes to a state where his lack is complete, this is considered that he has a Kli [vessel] to receive the filling, to satisfy his lack. Then comes the time when the upper one fills his Kli.
It is known that there is no light without a Kli, as there is no filling without a lack. Accordingly, a complete thing is called “light and Kli,” which divides into two halves: The first half is the Kli, namely the lack. The second half is the light, namely the filling.
It follows that when a person prays to the Creator to satisfy his lack, it is called “half,” meaning making a lack, which is the Kli, for the Creator to satisfy his lack. This is as our sages said (VaYikra Rabbah 18), “A prayer makes half.” We should interpret that a prayer is when a person prays to the Creator to satisfy his lack. This is already regarded as “half,” meaning the first half, which is in one’s hand. The second half is in the hands of the Creator, meaning that the Creator must give the light, and then there will be a complete thing.
However, there are many interpretations to light and Kli. If we are to define a Kli, we can say that it is a lack, and it does not matter what is lacking. For example, sometimes a person feels that he is lacking a Kli to receive abundance, since the abundance cannot reach a Kli that cannot aim in order to bestow. Since he feels that he is under the control of the will to receive for himself, it follows that he lacks a Kli that can receive abundance.
It follows that he is not praying to receive abundance. Rather, he is praying to be given a Kli called “desire to bestow.” Thus, in this case, “a prayer makes half” means the prayer made half a Kli, and the Creator should give the other half of the Kli. It follows that these two halves are actually a complete Kli and not light.
On the other hand, we should say that the lack is in man’s hands. This is called “the first half of the Kli.” And the filling of the Kli, meaning having the desire to bestow, considered the “second half of the Kli,” is regarded as light, since the desire to bestow that the upper one gives him is a filling for a lack, and any filling is called “light” with respect to the lack.
According to the above, we should interpret what we asked, What does the half a shekel imply to us? for the Torah said specifically half: “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less.” The thing is that we should interpret the words “When you count the heads of the children of Israel to number them,” we should interpret the meaning of “heads” as it is written, “May we be the head and not the tail,” meaning that they will be regarded as Israel, which are the letters Li-Rosh [a head to me].
This is the meaning of “each one shall give a ransom for his soul.” That is, a person must come out of exile, which is called “a ransom for his soul” from the hands of the Sitra Achra [other side]. This is why it is written, “This is what everyone who is numbered shall give,” meaning those who feel that they are breaking the commandments of the Torah because they are placed under the governance of the will to receive. Half a shekel means that they must pray that the Creator will deliver them from exile.
“A prayer makes half” means that the Kli and the desire for something are regarded as half, meaning that by this they will have a complete thing, meaning that they will be rewarded with the “shekel of holiness.” That is, they will have a half shekel, which is the Kli, and the Creator will place the light on this, at which time it is called “a complete thing.” This is the meaning of the words “This is what everyone who is numbered shall give,” meaning those who feel that they are breaking the commandments of the Torah and want to pay a ransom for their souls so that their souls will enter Kedusha [holiness], meaning that they will have the strength to do everything for the sake of the Creator.
They must give half a shekel, meaning a prayer. That is, they must pray and not stop praying until they have a complete measure of lack and desire to emerge from the exile, where they are placed under the control of the will to receive for themselves. By giving their half, they will be rewarded with the shekel of holiness, where the other half, which is the filling for the prayer, will be together the shekel of holiness, meaning it will be one complete shekel of Kedusha.
By this we will understand what we asked, What does it tell us when it says, “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less”? Even a small child understands that if we want to know the number of something, everyone must give the same amount. We should interpret this in the work. The Torah is telling us a great thing here: We should know that to the Creator, great and small are equal, as it is written (“All Believe”), “Who is equal and equalizes small and great.”
This means that a person thinks that he is rich in good deeds, therefore he deserves the help of the Creator, and he does not need to pray so much for the Creator to satisfy his wish. Therefore, if he has prayed, to the extent of his virtues, the Creator should have promptly granted his wish. And if the Creator does not help him right away, according to his understanding, he stops praying and says that the rest of the people, who are inferior to him, must pray a lot for the Creator to help them. Therefore, he escapes the campaign.
This is why it is written, “The rich shall not give more.” This means that the rich should not think that he is praying too much, according to his understanding. Rather, there is a certain measure of lack and need, and precisely by praying a lot, a person receives a greater lack than he has. That is, a great light requires a great lack, meaning to have a feeling of lack in that he is in exile under the governance of the will to receive and he cannot come out.
As long as he does not have true suffering, it is still not considered a true lack so as to be called “a prayer that counts as half a shekel.” We must know that in the work, a prayer is a lack, meaning that which a person feels in his heart that he lacks, this is called “a prayer,” and not what he utters with his mouth. This is as our sages said, “A prayer is work in the heart,” meaning that which the heart feels it is lacking. To the extent that his heart feels a lack because of what he does not have, by this is the size of the prayer measured.
Concerning the shekel, The Zohar explains that this concerns the balance scales on which we weigh the deficiencies and fillings, since they are regarded as light and Kli. Hence, the light can come only to its proper Kli, since the lack for the filling is in the heart. For this reason, the light, too, comes to the feeling in the heart, and it has nothing to do with what the mouth says while he is praying.
It therefore follows that when a person gives his half in prayer, which is a sense of deficiency in the heart, the Creator will give the light, which is Kedusha. Out of both the lack and the light, will be one shekel of holiness. This is the meaning of the words “half a shekel,” since then this half is still not holiness. But when the Creator gives him the light as in “The light in it reforms him,” the two halves are shekel of holiness, as it is written, “in the shekel of holiness.”
Now we can understand the words, “And the poor shall not give less.” That is, one who feels that he is poor in virtues and good qualities, and he is poor in the sense that he has a weak character, when he prays for the Creator to help him and give him the power to overcome the bad in him and to be able to work in order to bestow, he sentences the Creator to the side of merit when the Creator does not grant his prayer, since he is poor.
Thus, what should he do? Only escape the campaign and say that this path is only for the rich. The writing warns us about this, “The poor shall not do less.” Rather, “Each one of them shall give a ransom for his soul,” to emerge from the exile and be rewarded with redemption. To the Creator, everyone is equal, as it is written, “And all believe that he is easy to please, equal and equalizes small and great.”
In other words, for the part of the Creator, there is no discrimination. Rather, He answers everyone. However, everyone should come to feel the lack, to know what they are lacking and to pray for this. And the prayer itself increases the lack and the pain at being far from the Creator. When a person does all the prayers he should do, he receives the other half of the shekel, which at that time is all holiness, as it is written, “in the shekel of the holiness.”
Then “there shall be no plague among them.” This means as it is written, “The wicked in their lives are called ‘dead,’” as presented in The Study of the Ten Sefirot, that it is because the will to receive is in disparity of form from the Creator, and disparity of form creates separation. Hence, they are separated from the Life of Lives. This is why they are called “dead.” It follows that through the prayer, which is the half shekel that a person must give, if the giving is complete the Creator gives the other half, meaning the light. By this, a person can already work in order to bestow. This is regarded as being rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator, to adhere to the Life of Lives.
It therefore follows that there are two manners that cause a person to escape the campaign even when he enters the work of being adhered to the Creator. Once a person begins to walk on the path of truth, he is shown from above his lowliness, meaning that the more he overcomes, the more hardening of the heart he receives from above, because as it is written, “That I may set these signs of Mine within him.” This means that by this, there will be room for the revelation of the light of Torah, called “letters,” and this reforms him. That is, since there is no light without a Kli, through the hardening of the heart, the lack appears sufficiently, and the Creator knows when the measure is sufficient, when the Kli is completed.
Therefore, sometimes a person escapes the campaign when he sees that he has already prayed a lot in his opinion, but the Creator does not notice him. At that time, sometimes a person sentences the Creator to the side of merit for not granting his prayer, and says that it is because he has a poor character in every way, in virtues, and in good qualities, etc.
It was said about this, “The poor shall not give less,” meaning that a person should not belittle himself and say that the Creator cannot help a lowly person such as him, for it was said about this, “The Lord is high and the low will see.”
And sometimes, a person leaves the campaign because he knows that he is rich, meaning he has much Torah and many good deeds, and he knows that he is superior to others. Therefore, when he asks the Creator to help him be able to do everything in order to bestow, why is the Creator not granting him, for he knows that he has already given many prayers for it. Therefore, he says that the Creator does not want to answer him, and therefore he runs.
And yet, a person must always overcome.
Inapoi la pagina 1990 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link