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What Is “For Lack of Spirit and for Hard Work,” in the Work?

Article No. 16, Tav-Shin-Nun, 1989-90

It is written in The ZoharVaEra (Item 65), “Rabbi Shimon said, ‘For lack of spirit’ means that the Yovel [Jubilee], which is Bina, had not finished yet to give them rest and freedom. And the last spirit, which is Malchut, still did not rule the world, to instill upright laws in the world. Hence, there was lack of spirit. And which spirit is it? It is Malchut, who was unable to save Israel. This is the meaning of ‘for lack of spirit.’”

We should understand the meaning of “hard work” and “lack of spirit.” In other words, what is the connection between hard work and lack of spirit, in the work? We should also understand what Rabbi Shimon interprets about lack of spirit with regard to Malchut, what is the connection to hard work?

It is known that the order of the work in the work of the Creator is that a person should work to provide himself with Kelim [vessels] in which he will be able to receive the delight and pleasure that the Creator contemplated giving to the creatures. It is known that the reason for the creation of the worlds was His desire to do good to His creations. Because of this, He created in the creatures a desire and yearning to receive delight and pleasure. In the desire and yearning for the pleasure, we measure the taste of the pleasure, meaning that to the extent of the yearning for something from which he thinks he will receive pleasure, so is the measure of enjoyment. For this reason, smallness or greatness of the pleasure of a person are measured by the measure of the yearning for the pleasure in that thing.

Accordingly, from where do the discernments of the recipients of the pleasure come? After all, they were all created with a desire to receive for themselves, so who makes one feel little pleasure, and another, great pleasure? That is, what fool would want to receive little pleasure where he can receive much pleasure? But because the Creator wanted “to bring to light the perfection of His deeds,” meaning that doing good to His creations means complete giving, meaning that when he receives the delight and pleasure, he will not feel any unpleasantness, namely shame, as it is written, “One who eats that which is not his, is afraid to look at his face,” hence, the Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment on the vessels of reception was installed, which are Kelim [vessels] that man was created with them by nature.

In other words, there are two matters about this: 1) We cannot receive any abundance of Kedusha[holiness] in these Kelim, 2) As long as one has not acquired vessels of bestowal, he does not see the delight and pleasure found in Kedusha, and he cannot perceive the taste of pleasure, except the tiny illumination that was given to the Klipot [shells/peels] so they can exist. Out of these sparks that fell into the Klipot come all the corporeal pleasures.

This is revealed to all, meaning that the pleasure is revealed, namely that each one can taste these pleasures with the vessels of reception, which want to receive pleasure for their own benefit. Conversely, the delight and pleasure of Kedusha, where there are the majority of pleasures that He wanted to impart upon the creatures, this is hidden from the vessels of reception. This is called “ Tzimtzum and concealment.”

Therefore, two things emerged from this correction—that it is possible to receive the pleasures of Kedusha only to the extent that he has acquired vessels of bestowal: 1) A person must believe that the majority of delight and pleasure that the Creator wants to give to the created beings is found in Kedusha. 2) We must work against nature and not receive anything for our own sake, but only for the sake of the Creator.

This induces a distinction of degrees. That is, no person is like another, since with regard to what comes from the Giver, everyone is the same, as the ARI says, “Before the emanations were emanated and the creatures were created, the simple, upper light had filled the whole of reality. And there was not beginning or end, but everything was simple light.” Yet, afterward, after the correction to receive only in vessels of bestowal was done, a proliferation of worlds took place, meaning many discernments according to the intention that one can aim in order to bestow. This is called proliferation of Masachim [screens], and by this, a distinction of degrees took place.

This is as our sages said (Shabbat 152), “Each and every righteous is given a section according to his glory.” This is so because there is a difference on the part of the Kelim of the receiver, meaning the Kelim that the receiver should make, which are called “vessels of bestowal,” meaning to receive in order to bestow. Vessels of reception for one’s own benefit come from the Emanator. A person does not need to work on these Kelim, since the Creator created him with such Kelim. Hence, the created beings’ only work is to obtain vessels of bestowal.

According to the above, we know what is man’s work: It is work only to obtain vessels of bestowal. That is, a person should come to a state where everything that does not concern the benefit of the Creator does not interest him. Instead, his only desire is to come to a state where he can bring contentment to his Maker. Hence, when a person begins the work, he begins in Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], meaning for his own sake. Afterward, he begins to understand that the fact that he is working Lo Lishma is only a Segula [remedy/power/quality] by which to achieve Lishma [for Her sake], as our sages said, “From Lo Lishma, we come to Lishma, since the light in it reforms him,” and he believes that in the end he will achieve Lishma.

Afterward, a person goes another step forward and begins to exert. He does things that will bring him to Lishma, meaning he begins to understand that one must take actions and intend that these actions will bring him to the level of Lishma, and he calculates to himself how much he has already been rewarded with the matter of Lishma.

At that time, he begins to see the truth—how far he is from the work of bestowal. With each time, he sees more how immersed he is only in self-love. He sees that each day he is regressing, and then his work, where he wants to work in order to bestow, is called “hard work.”

This is so for two reasons: 1) Now he sees what “in order to bestow” means. A person must believe in our sages, that the fact that now he sees what is “for the sake of the Creator,” he did not know its true meaning. Rather, as we explained about the words of The Zohar about the verse, “Or make his sin known to him,” he asks, “Who made it known to him?” And he replies, “The Creator.” We should interpret that when a person feels how far he is from the work of bestowal and that he is immersed in self-love, this is a revelation from above. Now, this work becomes harder, meaning that once he was notified from above the meaning of “for the sake of the Creator and not for his own sake,” now his work has become harder.

However, a person thinks that now he has become worse than when he began the work in order to bestow, as though he himself has become worse now. At that time, a person must believe that this is not so. Rather, he advanced toward the truth by the Creator notifying him his real situation. It follows that through the work, when he began to do this work, which now seems to him as hard work, it is because the Creator has turned to him because now he is in a better state than when he was still not involved in work of bestowal.

However, the second reason why now it has become harder for him is that normally, when a person wants to learn a profession, he goes to a craftsman to learn the profession that he thinks is good for him. If the craftsman sees that he is not progressing after some time of learning with him, the craftsman tells him, “This profession is not for you; it is too difficult; go look for another occupation that is easier for you, and from this you will make a living.”

Therefore, in the work of the Creator, when a person begins to do the work of bestowal, and thinks that according to the order of the work, each day there should be progress, he says that it is worthwhile to continue with this work of bestowal because he is certain to learn this profession of knowing how to do everything only for the sake of the Creator.

But when he sees that after some time of exerting in this job, not only did he not progress, but he even regressed, his body tells him, “You are wasting energy in this occupation; this job is not for you. This job requires special skills and a brave heart. Go and find another occupation like everyone else, and do not be an exception.”

It follows that this is called “hard work,” since in any work, when he wants to exert and walk on the work of bestowing, the body does not let him work by resisting him with just arguments.

And indeed, within reason, it is absolutely right. It follows that the slander he hears from his body makes the work heavy on him, which is why it is called “hard work.”

However, a person should believe that in truth, he is making progress, and the reason he sees that each time he is more immersed in self-love and that now he is worse off—meaning in a state of lowliness that is worse than when he began the work of bestowal—is because “For I have hardened his heart.”

In other words, the Creator shows him each time what it means not to work for one’s own benefit but only for the sake of the Creator, by the Creator letting a person know the meaning of not working for himself. By this one sees how this is truly against nature. Since man was created with a desire to receive for his own sake, and now he wants to do something that is against nature, this is why it is called “hard work.”

Yet, the question is, Why does the Creator notify him the truth that a person is unable to work against nature? This is because, as it is written, “that I may place these signs of Mine within him.” That is, by revealing all the bad within a person, the Creator can give help, as our sages said, “He who comes to purify is aided.” And since what is given from above is a complete thing, a person must have a complete Kli [vessel], meaning a complete lack, called a “complete Kli” in which the whole of the light may enter.

It follows that the Creator reveals the bad to a person in order to help him. That is, since there is no light without a Kli, when the bad is not revealed to the fullest, he still does not have a complete Kli. We can interpret “complete Kli” to mean “complete desire for His help,” since as long as the evil is not revealed, a person sometimes says that if he overcomes, he will certainly be able to achieve the work of bestowal. Also, sometimes he says that the Creator cannot help him, either. Hence, when a person exerts in the work of bestowal, the powers he has invested do not let him escape the campaign, and each time he gets a greater need for the help of the Creator. It follows that the hard work itself was the cause that he would cry out to the Creator to help him.

This is similar to what is presented in The Zohar (Beresheet Bet, Item 103), “There are two ways in the corporeal and spiritual afflictions he had prior to repenting:

  1. All that the Creator does, He does for the best. He sees that were it not for the terrible pains that he had suffered for being immersed in the nature of reception for himself, he would never have been rewarded with repentance. Therefore, he blesses for the bad as he blesses for the good, since without the bad he would not have been rewarded with the good. It follows that all that the Merciful One does, He does for the best, meaning they induce good.
  2. That, too, is for the best. Not only did the evils that were done induce good, but the evils themselves have been inverted into good through very great lights that the Creator illuminated through all those evils until they were inverted into good.”

Therefore, we see that specifically when all the bad is revealed, there is a complete Kli in which a complete light can shine. From the above, we see why the Creator hardened his heart, meaning that the heart, called “desire,” resisted the work of bestowal more forcefully each time. The reason is that we need hard work, for only through the suffering of hard work, these sufferings induce an outcry to the Creator with a complete desire that He will help him emerge from the rule of Pharaoh king of Egypt. That is, specifically from the state of lowliness, when a person feels that he is worse off than all other people, it pushes him to cry out to the Creator with all his heart to help him.

However, in that state, there are many ups and downs. That is, sometimes a person cannot believe that the situation he is in comes from the Creator, meaning that the Creator has turned to him and hears his prayer, when a person asks that the Creator will help him out of the exile he is in under the rule of self-love.

Therefore, when a person has this faith, he does not escape from the campaign, meaning says that he sees that the Creator does not hear his prayer, so there is no one to pray to. Rather, he believes that the Creator does hear his prayer and the Creator has given him the awareness to know what lowliness one is in, that it never occurred to him that he would be so immersed in self-love.

Hence, each time he braces himself and does not move from praying to the Creator. He says, “The Creator must want a true desire to appear in me, which will deliver me from this exile.” Then, he does not stop thanking the Creator for revealing to him his true state.

Also, he stands and prays to the Creator, since he sees that the Creator hears a prayer, in that He showed him the evil, and He will certainly also help him out of the evil, which is called “redemption.” In other words, he believes that the Creator let him see that he is in exile and will certainly deliver him from exile.

However, at times there are descents where it is hard for him to believe that the Creator hears a prayer, since in the person’s eyes, he thinks that he has already prayed to Him far too much, and if the Creator hears what is being asked of Him, He should have helped me. And since I have not been saved from what I have been praying about, he says that the Creator does not hear his prayer. Perhaps He hears others, but what difference does this make, since what matters is what he feels, meaning whether he is happy or sad.

These descents induce within him thoughts about escaping the campaign and to say that this is not for him. But if he does not escape, he gets another ascent and he begins to think differently and forgets about all the decisions he had made. In this way, the procession of ascents and descents continues until a true need for nearing the Creator appears within a person, meaning that the Kli, called “desire,” has been completed in all of its correct form.

Yet, it is the Creator who knows when it is completed, and a person cannot know this. At that time, the Creator gives the help and delivers a person from exile.

Now we can understand what we asked about how The Zohar interprets the words “And Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel (meaning the annunciation of the redemption), but they did not listen to Moses for lack of spirit and for hard work.” He says, “Lack of spirit means Malchut, who was unable to save Israel.” We should interpret that the main work is in the Malchut, as the ARI says, that the exile in Egypt was that the view of Kedusha [holiness] was in exile. That is, the kingdom of heaven, that we must accept the burden of the kingdom of heaven because He is great and ruling, meaning not in order to receive reward, but that the work must be a great pleasure because one has been rewarded with serving the King because of the importance of the King, this was in exile.

In other words, the importance of Kedusha was not revealed. This is called “Shechina in the dust,” meaning that when a person should take upon himself to work for the sake of the Creator, this work is regarded as lowliness, since he finds in this no taste of importance. It follows that by Malchut being in the dust, which is something that is not important, this made it hard work.

This is called “lack of spirit,” meaning that Malchut, which is an important thing, meaning that one who serves the King is regarded as one “who sees the face of the King,” who sit first in the kingdom, among these people, it is not considered that they are dwelling with the King, and they are regarded as seeing the King’s face, sitting first in the kingdom, they regard it as hard work and we say that they have “lack of spirit,” meaning they are not high spirited.

However, when Malchut is in exile under the governance of the Klipot [shells/peels], they regard Malchut as dust, unimportant. This is called “lack of spirit,” when Malchut cannot give high spirits, as one should feel when dwelling with the King. It follows that “lack of spirit and hard work” are tied to one another. This means that if Malchut is in the dust, unimportant, this causes hard work, because something that is tasteless, each moment when one overcomes and works, this overcoming is very difficult, and a person cannot always overcome.

This is the meaning of what he says, “The last spirit, which is Malchut, still did not rule the world, to instill upright laws,” meaning that Malchut still did not have governance, so everyone would see that all the laws that come from her are upright laws, meaning that everything will be in accord and each one will feel Malchut, called “Providence,” as good and doing good, since the world follows Her leadership, as it is written, “And His kingship rules over all.” This was still not revealed.

This is the meaning of the words, “Hence, there was lack of spirit. And which spirit is it? It is Malchut, who was unable to save Israel.” This means that since this Malchut was still in exile, she could not save Israel. But when she is delivered from exile, it is to the contrary, she gives man the spirit so that he is high spirited.

Therefore, when Moses came and announced the annunciation of the redemption, they could not believe such a thing—that they would be delivered from the exile in Egypt, as it is written, “And I will bring you out from under the afflictions of Egypt, and I will save you from their work.” That is, they will not only have no hard work, but they will not have any work at all. This, they could not believe, that such a thing could be.

Had they believed it, then by the power of faith they would have come out from the exile. Malchut, which is called “spirit,” would have risen in importance, as it is written (Ecclesiastes 3), “Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, if it ascends upward? And the spirit of the beast, if it descends down to the earth?” We should interpret “the spirit of the sons of men” to mean that after he emerges from his beast and becomes a “man,” as our sages said, “you are called ‘man,’” the spirit, meaning Malchut, who is called “spirit,” ascends, rises in importance.

But the quality of spirit in a beast, when a person is in a state of beastliness, for him the spirit descends in importance. Hence, the people of Israel had to reveal their evil so they would have a complete lack, for then the complete help could come. This is why the children of Israel still did not hear.

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

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