Inapoi la pagina 1991 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link
What Is, “And Abraham Was Old, of Many Days,” in the Work?
Article No. 08, Tav-Shin-Nun-Aleph, 1989-91
It is written in The Zohar (VaYeshev, Item 3), “‘A poor and wise child is better than an old and foolish king.’ ‘A wise child is better’ is the good inclination, which is a child from few days with man, since he is with man from thirteen years of age onward. ‘An old and foolish king’ is the evil inclination, called ‘King and man’s ruler in the world over people.’ He is certainly ‘old and foolish,’ since he has been with man from the day he is born into the world. Therefore, he is ‘an old and foolish king.’ But ‘a wise child is better’ is as it is written, ‘I was a youth and I grew old.’ This is a youth who is a poor child with nothing of his own. Why is he called ‘a youth’? It is because he has the resumption [renewal] of the moon, which is always resumed, and he is always a child.”
It appears from the words of The Zohar that “old” indicates the evil inclination, whereas the good inclination is called “a child.” If this is so, what is the meaning of “And Abraham was old, of many days”? What does it come to tell us when it says, “Abraham was old”? What merit is there to Abraham being old and of many days, for it seems as though the text is praising Abraham.
It is written in the “Introduction of The Book of Zohar” (Item 140) about the verse, “Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” It says there, “Prior to the end of correction, before we qualified our vessels of reception to receive only in order to give contentment to our Maker and not to our own benefit, Malchut is called ‘the tree of good and evil,’” since Malchut is the guidance of the world by people’s actions.
“Hence, we must receive the guidance of good and evil from the Malchut, as this guidance qualifies us to ultimately correct our vessels of reception.Often, the guidance of good and evil causes us ascents and descents, and each ascent is regarded as a separate day because due to the great descent that he had, while he doubted the beginning, during the ascent he is as a newly born child. Thus, in each ascent, it is as though he begins to serve the Creator anew. This is why each ascent is considered a specific day, and similarly, each descent is considered a specific night.”
Now we can interpret what we asked, Why does it say, “And Abraham was old, of many days”? What is the merit in Abraham being old? The answer is “many days.” That is, there is one who is old, which is one state that extends over a long period of time, and the prolonging turns this state into an old one. It is written about it in The Zohar, “Why is the evil inclination called ‘old’?” It says that it is because of the prolonged time, “since he is with man from the day one is born into the world.” In other words, there is no change in his situation and he has been the same since he was born. This is called “An old and foolish king.”
We should ask, But he is an angel, as it is written, “For He will command His angels over you, to keep you in all your ways.” The Zohar interprets that this pertains to the good inclination and the evil inclination. So how can we say that it is a fool?
The answer is that every angel is named after its task. Hence, since the evil inclination installs a spirit of folly in a person, as our sages said, “One does not sin unless a spirit of folly has entered him,” for this reason the evil inclination is named “fool,” accordingly. However, he always plays the same role—installing the spirit of folly in people. This is why he is called “An old and foolish king.”
However, in Kedusha [holiness], when a person begins to work on the path toward achieving Dvekut[adhesion] with the Creator, meaning that all his actions will be for the sake of the Creator, the person should first come to the recognition of evil, meaning to know the measure of the evil within him. It is as our sages said, “To the wicked, the evil seems like hairsbreadth, but to the righteous, it seems like a high mountain.” This is so because one is not shown more evil that exists within him than he has good, since the good and the bad must be balanced, for only then can we speak of choice, as our sages said, “One should always see oneself as half guilty, half innocent.” Hence, those who want to achieve the work of bestowal undergo ascents and descents, as said in The Zohar, which interprets “Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”
It follows that the quality of “old” in one who works in order to bestow is not in the sense that one state has taken a long time. Rather, he is “old” because he has had many days and many nights. This is why it says, “Abraham was old, of many days.” To interpret “many days,” “And the Lord blessed Abraham with all,” what is “with all”? Since he had many days, he must have had many nights in between, for if there are no nights in between, there cannot be many days. “The Lord blessed Abraham with all” means that the nights were also blessed with him. This is the meaning of “And the Lord blessed Abraham with all.”
According to the above, we should interpret the words “A wise child is better,” as it is written, “I was a youth and I grew old.” In other words, although “I” grew old, “I” remain a youth. This is so because the order of the work is that when a person should take upon himself faith above reason, since the body objects to this, this work is daily. In other words, each day a person must take upon himself faith, and it is not enough that yesterday he took it upon himself, as it is written (Deuteronomy 26:16), “This day the Lord your God commands you to do.” RASHI interprets, “Each day, they will be as new in your eyes, as if on that day you were commanded them.”
It follows that each day is its own discernment, since each day he is a youth and must begin anew the acceptance of the kingdom of heaven. This is as the ARI says (Shaar HaKavanot, p 61), “In each and every prayer, the Mochin enter, and after the prayer they depart. You should know that the matter is not as it seems, meaning that the Mochin that come are the ones that depart, and they are the ones that return with each prayer. The thing is that with each prayer new Mochin come.”
This means that although a person begins anew each day, it does not mean that he begins from the same place he began. Rather, “of many days” means that he has many new days. It follows that “I was a youth and I grew old.” That is, the old age is not from one state, because that state was prolonged. Rather, “old” in Kedusha means that he has had a long time of many resumptions, meaning that growing old came from being many days in a state of “youth,” meaning a child. Thus, the meaning of “I was a youth and I grew old” pertains only to the times of “youth”; from this he became old.
This is the meaning of the words, “This is a youth who is a poor child with nothing of his own.” In other words, all the work, which is only to bestow upon the Creator and not for his own sake, this work is against the body, where he wants to work specifically for his own sake and not for the sake of the Creator. At that time, a person sees that after each ascent, he immediately has a descent, and from this he gets the matter of “nights and days.”
This continues until a person decides that he is powerless to do anything, since he sees that everything he does in order to advance, he sees the opposite, that each time, he has more evil. At that time, he decides and says, “Unless the Lord builds a house, they who built it labored in vain.” For this reason, when a person is rewarded with the Creator giving him the desire to bestow, meaning that he has been rewarded with being able to do all his actions for the sake of the Creator, he sees that he is a “child.” That is, he has no more power than that of a child, meaning he has nothing of his own. In other words, he has achieved nothing by himself, but rather the Creator gave him everything.
At that time, he sees that the Creator gave him the descents, as well, and for himself, he has nothing. This is the meaning of “Why is he called ‘a youth’? It is because he has the resumption [renewal] of the moon.” In other words, as the moon has no light of itself except what it receives from the sun, likewise, when man is rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator, he sees that he has gained nothing by his own strength, but the Creator gave him everything, while he is always a “child.” In other words, in every situation, he is as a child, doing nothing, and having only what a child is given, while he himself cannot do anything. This is why one should always ask the Creator to give him the power to prevail in the work, and the person himself is completely powerless.
According to the above, we should interpret what is written (Genesis 15:6), “And he believed in the Lord and He regarded it to him as righteousness.” This seems perplexing. What is Abraham’s praise in that he believed in the Creator? After all, any person who had the revelation of Godliness and the Creator would speak to him would believe in the Creator. We should interpret that once Abraham saw that he had no power of his own to be rewarded with anything in Kedusha, since the will to receive is the ruler, as it is written, “an old and foolish king,” and he was powerless to emerge from its governance and be rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator, this is why it is written in general, “And he believed in the Lord and He regarded it to him as righteousness.”
In other words, the fact that Abraham could be rewarded with faith is only charity from the Creator; the Creator gave him charity and delivered him from the governance of the old and foolish king, who objects to faith above reason. Av-Ram [high father] means that he wanted to go specifically above reason, which is regarded as “the herdsmen of Abraham’s cattle” (as written in Article No. 1, Tav-Shin-Nun-Aleph).
But the whole body resists it. Hence, when the Creator gave him the power of faith above reason, Abraham regarded it as having been rewarded with faith, as it is written, “And he believed in the Lord,” meaning what he could believe in the Lord, to Him, to the Creator. “As charity,” that the Creator gave him charity by giving Abraham the power of faith.
However, in the order of the work, we see that there are ascents and descents. During an ascent, when one feels the importance, when he feels that he is close to the Creator and has some feeling of the importance and greatness of the Creator, and wants to annul before Him because he feels a little bit of love of the Creator and wants to annul before Him as a candle before a torch, in that state he does not remember that he ever suffered a state of descent. Moreover, he does not want to remember that there is such a thing called “a state of descent,” and he yearns for his state of ascent to be permanent.
But in the end, he suffers a descent. Sometimes, he falls into such a lowly state that he says that there is no way he will ever be able to do something for the sake of the Creator. When it occurs to him that we must work and observe Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds] for the sake of the Creator, so why do I not want to do this, he gives himself a true answer, in his opinion, that there is nothing to reply to this, since man, meaning the will to receive within man, is the ruler during the descent, and it says that it is willing to do everything for the sake of the Creator, but on condition that I will know what my will to receive will gain from this.
In other words, he is willing to work for the sake of the Creator but on condition that his self-benefit will profit from this. It follows that during the ascent, if he looks at the descents that he receives each time, he is impressed with how such a thing can be—that there will be such a difference between ascents and descents, as the gap between heaven and earth. In other words, during the ascent, he thinks that he is already in heaven, that he no longer has any connection to corporeality, and that from this day forth, his only engagement in the world will be that which concerns spirituality. He even becomes upset with the Creator for giving him corporeality, to engage in worldly matters and that he must dedicate time and effort to these things, to obtaining corporeality.
At that time, a person does not understand for what purpose the Creator created this. The whole corporeal world seems to him redundant. But along with all the good calculations, he suddenly suffers a descent and falls to the ground. Sometimes, during the descent, he loses consciousness altogether and completely forgets about spirituality. Sometimes, he does remember that there is such a thing as spirituality in the world, but sees that this is not for him.
However, we should understand why the Creator gives us these descents. That is, first, one must believe that the Creator gives us these descents, and then a person asks for what purpose the Creator gave me these descents. In other words, when one believes that the Creator is sending this to him, the descents come to a person after he had a state of ascent and he asked the Creator to bring him closer to Him, and he believes that the Creator hears a prayer.
But what did he receive in return for his prayer? He thought that after the prayer he would receive an ascent to a higher degree than the state he was in during the prayer. But in the end, he sees that the Creator has given him a worse state than he was in before he prayed to the Creator. The answer is as Baal HaSulam said, that there is the matter of “as the advantage of the light from within the darkness.” He said that a person cannot appreciate the importance of the light, and to know how to keep it, unless from within the darkness. At that time, a person can discern the distance between the light and the darkness.
We should interpret his words with an allegory. When one gives a present to a friend, which is worth 100 shekels in the eyes of the receiver, the receiver is happy with the fact that his friend appreciates him and sends him a gift, and he accepts it with great joy. However, if the recipient finds out afterward that the gift is worth 10,000 shekels, we can understand how the recipient would be happy now, and how his love for the giver of the gift would be established in his heart, and how he would keep the gift from being stolen
The lesson is that when a person receives an awakening from above, when the Creator brings him closer to Him, the person feels some importance in feeling that he is speaking with the Creator, but a person cannot accept the real joy from this nearing, since he still cannot appreciate the greatness and importance of the Creator so as to receive the delight and pleasure from the Creator speaking to him.
The reason is as said above, “as the advantage of the light from within the darkness.” Since a person does not suffer because he is far from the Creator, he cannot appreciate the greatness and importance of a situation where he is close to the Creator, and he also cannot appreciate the suffering of being away from the Creator, if he never felt what it means to be close to the Creator. For this reason, the order of the work walks on two legs—right and left, as our sages said (Sotah 47), “The left should always reject, and the right pull nearer.”
“Right” means wholeness. During the ascent, when a person feels that now he is close to the Creator, he has vitality and joy, and he lives in a world that is all good. Afterward, it is desired above that he will feel the importance of the Creator bringing him closer to Him, so he can enjoy and be happy, not as one appreciates it as in the allegory, as worth 100 shekels. Therefore, when he suffers a descent and feels suffering from being in a descent, although during the descent he does not always feel that he is in a descent, meaning if he has descended from his level and does not suffer because he fell, it is not considered a descent, for who knows that he has fallen if the person does not feel it?
Rather, this is like a person who was injured in a road accident and does not feel that he has fallen under the car, since he is unconscious. Who does know that he has fallen under the truck? only people on the outside. But what does he feel from other people seeing that he is unconscious?
It is the same in spirituality when he suffers a descent. It is known above, but once a person recovers, he realizes that he is in a state of descent, and then begins a new procession and he is given from above another ascent, and then another descent. From this, a person acquires the distinction between light and darkness. Also, from this, a person acquires letters by which to appreciate it when the Creator brings him closer, and by this he will know how to keep himself from dropping anything into the Klipot [shells/peels], meaning into his vessels of reception, since he knows what he is losing because “as the advantage of the light from within the darkness.” This is the meaning of descents and ascents that a person has to go through these state.
One who is clever and wants to save time does not wait until he suffers a descent from above. Rather, while he is in an ascent and wants to acquire the importance of the state of closeness to the Creator, he begins to depict to himself what is a state of descent, meaning how he suffers from being far from the Creator compared to how he feels now that he is close to the Creator. It follows that even during the ascent he learns from the discernments as though he were in a state of descent. At that time, he can calculate and discern between an ascent and a descent.
At that time he will get a picture of the advantage of the light over darkness, since he can create a depiction of how he was back in the state of descent, and thought that the whole matter of the work of bestowal does not belong to him, and how he suffered from these states when he wanted to escape the campaign, and only from one place he could get some relief, meaning only from one hope, that he thought, “When will I be able to go to sleep?” for then he would escape from all the states of impatience, when he felt that the world has grown dark on him.
Now, during the ascent, he sees everything differently. At that time, he wants to work only for the sake of the Creator, and he has no concern for his own benefit. From all those calculations that he will do during the ascent, it follows that now he has a place where he can discern between light and darkness, and he does not need to wait until he is given from above a state of descent.
According to the above, we should interpret what our sages said (Shabbat 152), “I search for what I did not lose.” RASHI interprets, “I search for what I did not lose out of old age, I walk bent, swaying, and I seem as though I seek something that I lost.” We should understand this in the work, what it comes to teach us. An old man is considered wise, meaning he wants to be a wise disciple.
As Baal HaSulam said, the Creator is called “wise,” and His manner is bestowal. When a person wants to learn from His ways, meaning to also be a bestower, that person is called “a student of the Wise.” That person does not wait until he suffers a descent and then comes to ask to be elevated again, meaning that he lost his state of ascent and he asks to be lifted up once more. Instead, before he loses the state of ascent, he searches as though he has already lost it. By this he saves time. It follows that as far as descents are concerned, there is room for man to rise and receive a place to discern the advantage between light and darkness.
Inapoi la pagina 1991 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link