Inapoi la pagina 1991 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link
What Is, “An Ox Knows Its Owner, etc., Israel Does Not Know,” in the Work?
Article No. 42, Tav-Shin-Nun-Aleph, 1989-91
It is written, “An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger; Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” We should understand what is the question, for he says that the ox knows, and the donkey knows its master’s manger, but Israel do not. That is, man certainly has more brains than a beast, so he asks, Why does Israel not know and “My people does not understand” who is the Provider and Giver of nourishments to the created beings?
We could say that “The ox knows its owner” is not like Israel. The ox and the donkey see who feeds them, unlike Israel, and the people of Israel do not see who is their Provider, and they must only believe that the Creator gives them all they need.
In other words, the people of Israel must believe that the Creator nourishes and provides for the world. So what is the question, Why do the ox and the donkey know who provides for them and Israel do not know? If Israel could see the Creator giving them food, like the ox and the donkey, they would be like the ox and the donkey, with the same knowledge as those of the ox and the donkey. But we must believe what is written, “You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing,” for this can be only by faith and not by knowledge like the ox.
Therefore, we should understand what is the question, “Why does Israel not know?” First, we must understand why He gave faith to man. That is, anyone who has some brains understands that if the Creator wants people to observe the Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds], if man could see His Providence openly, and would not have to believe that the Creator leads the world with a guidance of good and doing good, but rather each one would see His Providence, then the whole world would be servants of the Creator and would observe the Torah and Mitzvot with love.
Open Providence is as it is written (“Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot,” Item 43), “If, for example, the Creator were to establish open Providence with His creations in that, for instance, anyone who eats a forbidden thing would immediately choke, and anyone who performed a commandment would discover wonderful pleasures in it, similar to the finest delights in this corporeal world. Then, what fool would even think of tasting a forbidden thing, knowing that he would immediately lose his life because of it? Also, what fool would leave any commandment without performing it as quickly as possible?”
So why did the Creator not do this, but did everything in a manner that we must believe, and not by way of knowing? Baal HaSulam said that we must believe that the Creator is almighty. So why did He choose that we would go specifically by the way of faith and not by the way of knowledge? It must be that the Creator understood that the way of faith is better in order to ultimately achieve the purpose of creation, and this is why He gave us the way of faith.
Concerning faith, there are many interpretations. That is, each one has his own meaning. But in truth, any meaning of faith that a person chooses is called “faith.” This is as is presented in the “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot” (Item 14), “‘He whose Torah is his trade,’ we should interpret that the measure of his faith is apparent in his practice of Torah because the letters of the word Umanuto [his trade] are the same [in Hebrew] as the letters of the word Emunato [his faith]. It is like a person who trusts his friend and lends him money. He may trust him with a pound, and if he asks for two pounds he will refuse to lend him. He might also trust him with one hundred pounds, but not more. Also, he might trust him with all his properties without a hint of fear. This last faith is considered ‘whole faith,’ and the previous forms are considered ‘incomplete faith,’ but rather as ‘partial faith.’Similarly, one allots oneself only one hour a day to practice Torah and work out of the measure of his faith in the Creator, and the third does not neglect even a single moment of his free time without engaging in Torah and work.”
According to the above, we see that every Jew has the quality of faith. Yet, why did the Creator choose specifically the way of faith? It is because as said above, the way of faith is the most successful for a person to thereby achieve the purpose of creation, meaning to receive the delight and pleasure that He had in the thought of creation, which is “His desire to do good to His creations.”
However, we should understand what are the ways that one can follow in order to achieve the completion of the goal. The answer is that man must perform the correction of creation. This means that the vessels of reception that the Creator created in the creatures, this desire is in oppositeness of form from the Creator, whose desire is to bestow. Hence, man should correct himself by obtaining the desire to bestow. This is called the “correction of creation,” and this is all of man’s work, to achieve Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, which is the meaning of “equivalence of form.”
Hence, if it were revealed that the guidance by which the Creator leads the world is in a manner of good and doing good, it would be utterly impossible for man to choose, meaning to observe Torah and Mitzvot in order to bestow. Rather, another reason would compel him to observe Torah and Mitzvot, which is the punishment, meaning out of self-benefit and not because of the commandment of the Creator, as said in the “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot.”
Hence, His guidance is concealed and man must believe, and then there is room for choice. In other words, there is room to say that he works in order to bestow. That is, a person engages in Torah and Mitzvot although he still does not feel any taste in Torah and Mitzvot, meaning the taste of Torah and the taste of Mitzvot cannot be said to be the reason that obligates him to observe them, since he still does not feel any flavor.
But with corporal pleasures, where the pleasure is known and not believed in, the pleasure that a person sees in something compels him to receive the pleasure. For this reason, if the pleasure in Torah and Mitzvot were revealed—that there is the real pleasure, as the ARI said, that corporeal pleasures have no more than the holy sparks that fell into the Klipot [shells/peels], which is only a “thin light”—if the pleasure in Torah and Mitzvot were revealed, the creatures would certainly be compelled to observe Torah and Mitzvot out of self-benefit.
This is not so when one observes Torah and Mitzvot not because he feels any flavor in it. Rather, sometimes he performs the acts of Torah and Mitzvot by coercion, even though the body objects to this. Yet, we should ask, Why does one force oneself and overcomes the will to receive, which wants rest? The person says that this is the whole difference between man and beast. A beast has no brains; only the pleasure determines what to do or not to do.
But man, who was born with reason, no longer looks at the pleasure as the basis, meaning that this is his guide and where there is more pleasure, this is where he should go. Rather, a person always thinks that he must walk on the path of truth, meaning that the measurement of the work is the truth. He walks on this path and does not look at the sensation of pleasure, that this is his guide. Instead, a person always thinks about the truth, whether what he is about to do now will truly yield a good thing for him.
For this reason, when one takes upon oneself the kingdom of heaven, called “faith,” when one wants to engage in Torah and Mitzvot for the sake of the Creator, and he wants to bring contentment to his Maker, a person does not regard the thing he is doing, but he regards the truth. In other words, since the Creator gave us Torah and Mitzvot, we want to do His will so as to delight Him, by observing His Mitzvot.
Therefore, when, for example, a person wears a Tzitzit [a mandatory Jewish fringed undergarment], he does not look at whether the body will enjoy his wearing the Tzitzit, especially when he is careful to wear a very fine Tzitzit, as our sages said (Shabbat 133), “This is my God, and I will praise Him. Adorn yourself before Him with Mitzvot. Make for Him a handsome Sukkah [Tabernacles Feast booth], and a handsome Lulav [Tabernacles Feast palm branch], and a handsome Shofar [ram’s horn to blow in], a handsome Tzitzit, a handsome book of Torah.”
However, a person always looks at how he can please the Creator. That is, he understands with this mind that the fact that the Creator gave us the commandment to love the Creator is not because the Creator needs our love. Rather, everything that the Creator has commanded us to do and to observe His commandments is only for our sake. In other words, by this, a person will achieve the purpose of creation, which is to do good to His creations.
But a person knows that he has a nature called “will to receive” for his own sake and not for the sake of others. This makes it difficult for him to say, although he understands that man is not like a beast, that we can say that specifically where one feels that he will receive pleasure, there he can exert to obtain the pleasure. However, if one is told that he should love the Creator, a person can understand this only when he sees the greatness and importance of the Creator, then we can speak of love.
But when a person does not see the importance of the Creator and must believe, here begins man’s work, meaning work that pertains to the quality of man and not to the quality of beast, for the matter of faith belongs to man’s work, and not to the work of a beast.
However, the measure of faith should be the same as the measure of knowledge that the beast has. Otherwise, this is still not regarded as “faith,” if there is a difference for him between faith and knowledge.
In other words, man should be like a beast: As the beast knows only what it sees, so man should go with faith, as a beast does with knowing. Otherwise, what is the difference between man and beast? Thus, faith should be as knowledge.
According to the above, we should interpret what we asked about what is written, “An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger; Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” How does he compare Israel to an ox and a donkey? After all, the ox and the donkey see who feeds them, whereas Israel do not see and must believe, so where is the similarity?
The answer is that the main difference between man and beast is that a beast has no knowledge. Therefore, among the beasts, the sensation of pleasure is all that determines whether or not to perform an action. But for man, who has brains and knowledge, he should not consider the pleasure in the matter but rather the truth in the matter.
Therefore, when we are given faith, as it is written, “and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses,” when He gave us this work, Israel should be in a state of knowing, meaning faith, which Israel must take upon themselves as knowing is for beasts.
There is a question regarding this: Why must faith in Israel be the same as knowing is for beasts, as this is their basis? And also, why does Israel “not understand,” meaning that their faith is not like knowledge?
It is written, “My people does not understand.” “My people” means “ordinary people,” whereas “Israel” is already a higher degree, as it is known that Israel has the letters of Li-Rosh [lit. I have a head]. This is why he says, “Israel does not understand.” Why? Because “My people does not understand.” When they were “My people,” to understand the measure of faith that they must obtain, they thought that partial faith was enough for faith. Hence, they settled for little and thought of themselves as “Israel,” although they were still not rewarded with “complete faith,” so that it is similar to knowing in beasts.
It follows that the order of the work should be that a person should achieve faith that is as knowing. In other words, a person begins to understand that we must do everything in order to bestow contentment upon one’s Maker. Therefore, when one walks on this path, when he sees that the body does not enjoy the thing he wants to do, he should say to his body, “I am not going to do something that you will enjoy; I am going to do something that the Creator will enjoy. Therefore, what you are asking of me, to avoid doing this until you agree, you do not count as far as the thing I am doing for the sake of the Creator.”
But the body asks, “What will you get out of working for the sake of the Creator?” meaning “What pleasure will you derive from this?” After all, one does not do anything without reward, so “What is the reward that you hope to receive in return for this?”
The answer should be that we were given the Mitzva [sing. of Mitzvot] of faith, as it is written, “And they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses,” “so I believe that I am serving a great King, although I still have no feeling of the greatness of the Creator. Yet, I believe in His greatness and I enjoy serving a great King, and this is my pleasure. Therefore, all your questions can be only about faith—why I believe. But when I believe in complete faith, my faith is like knowing.”
We see that when we know of a person who is superior, such as a king or a high ranking minister, or someone who is famous, a great person, it is inherent in nature that we surrender before that great person. This has nothing to do with religion; it is a law of nature that it is a privilege for the small to serve the great. But in work, where greatness and smallness are not revealed and we must believe, there is work there because by nature, a person cannot do anything unless he sees and understands with his mind.
Hence, when one takes upon himself faith like knowing, he no longer needs to argue with the body, since he tells the body, “I see that you are telling me anything because you are saying only one thing, that you cannot accept the faith that I have taken upon myself. Therefore, with such an argument about faith, I have nothing to argue with you about. Therefore, I am telling you what I am doing now, and you disagree. Yet, I am not waiting for your consent, since to me, faith is like knowledge.”
It therefore follows that all of man’s work is to obtain the power of faith, since man is unable to defeat the evil in him by arguing, since in the external mind, the body is always right. Only if a person answers to the body with faith above reason can he defeat the body.
Therefore, one should prepare before he does something in Kedusha [holiness], that thanks to the act of Kedusha that he is going to do now, he will receive faith in return for the work. He should believe that he does not need anything other than faith in the Creator, and he can obtain faith when the Creator gives it to him by his doing things above reason, meaning by coercion. That is, many times, he should force himself and aim that thanks to the coercion he will be rewarded with faith in the greatness and importance of the Creator.
However, one should know that when he works in order to bestow, he has ascents and descents. This is so because through the ascents and descents, a person receives the ability and possibility to tell good from bad, for it is known that one cannot understand anything sufficiently if he does not have the opposite of what he has.
It is written about this, “as the advantage of the light from within the darkness,” meaning that we cannot recognize the importance of the light unless from within the darkness. He suffered and was tormented by the darkness, so when the light came, he knew how to appreciate it. Likewise, a person cannot appreciate the importance of the state of ascent unless he has descents opposite it. Only then can he appreciate the importance of the light, meaning the ascent.
Otherwise, it is like giving gems and jewels to an infant, and the infant does not know how to value them, and people come and take from him the good things, since the baby does not know why he needs to keep the jewels. Naturally, anyone who wants, takes from the children the good things.
Likewise, a person who does not know the value of Kedusha [holiness], if he is given some Kedushaso as to advance in the work, the Sitra Achra [other side] comes and takes it from him, since he is unable to understand that the little bit of Kedusha he has acquired requires care so that the Sitra Achra will not pull the Kedusha out of his hand.
Hence, when he has descents, he remains with Reshimot [recollections/memories] of what he had, and then he knows how to be careful so that the Sitra Achra will not pull it out of his hand. For this reason, a person believes that the Creator does everything, and there is no doubt that the Creator does everything for man’s sake, so the descents that he receives, he says that the Creator sent him these states for his own benefit.
This gives a person strength not to escape the campaign although he does not see that the Creator watches over him, meaning feels that the Creator helps him. Rather, not only is he not advancing in the work, but he has even regressed. Yet, if he believes that the Creator helps him by sending him the descents, then he no longer escapes the campaign.
Instead, he says that the Creator does help him, but not in a way that the person understands, meaning in ascents. Rather, the Creator helps him through descents. This is why this faith makes him stronger so he does not escape the campaign. Instead, he waits for the help of the Creator and prays that he will have the strength to continue the work until the Creator opens his eyes and he will be rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator.
According to the above, we should interpret what our sages said (Berachot 54), “One must bless on the bad as he blesses on the good.” This means that if one believes that the Creator leads the world in a manner of good and doing good, why does he feel that there is bad in him? It is as though the Creator is giving him evil. Therefore, our sages said that one should believe that this bad must be for the better.
In the work, we should interpret that we see that when one begins to work in a manner where “all his actions are for the sake of the Creator,” meaning that everything he does is because he wants to bestow upon the Creator and not for his own sake, at that time, he comes into states of ascents and descents.
When faith shines for him, he is in a state of ascent. That is, he understands that it is worthwhile to work only for the sake of the Creator. Afterward comes a descent, where thoughts come to him—“What will I get out of working for the sake of the Creator and not for my own sake?” Sometimes, the descent he suffers is so deep that he wants to escape from the campaign.
At that time, the question is, Why is it that before he began the work of bestowal, he was always in high spirits, and now he often feels that he is far from the work altogether and does everything by force? But there is a rule, “a Mitzva induces a Mitzva,” so why did he receive a descent?
The answer is that the fact that a person feels that he is in descent, called “a state of evil,” is also for his best, for specifically by both can he be rewarded with help from the Creator. This is the meaning of “One must bless on the bad.”
Inapoi la pagina 1991 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link