Inapoi la pagina 1991 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link
What Is “A Lily Among the Thorns,” in the Work?
Article No. 22, Tav-Shin-Nun-Aleph, 1989-91
It is written in The Zohar (Ki Tissa, Items 31-32), “‘As a lily among the thorns, so is my wife among the daughters.’ The Creator wished to make Israel similar to what is above, so there would be one lily in the earth that is like the lily above, which is Malchut. And the fragrant lily, finer than all the lilies in the world, is only one that grows among the thorns. This one smells as it should, which are seventy souls, and brought them among the thorns, which are the Egyptians. At that time, the lily blossomed among them. When the Creator wished to pick out the lily from among them, the thorns dried out and were thrown away and were corrupted until they were regarded as nothing.”
We should understand what it implies to us in the work when a person must be similar to the upper lily, and why specifically when one is among the thorns, he is regarded as more select and finer than the rest of the people, as it is written, “This is why seventy souls went down to Egypt, so as to become finer.”
Baal HaSulam said, Why is Malchut called “a lily”? It is because a person can assume the burden of the kingdom of heaven only by overcoming the will to receive in him, since it comes and asks a person when he wants to work in order to bestow, meaning for the sake of the Creator and not for himself, “What is this work for you?” That is, “What will you get out of wanting to work for the sake of the Creator?”
It is written in the Passover Haggadah [narrative], “The answer is, ‘Blunt his teeth.’” This means that we must not argue with it, but blunt its teeth, meaning we have to overcome it by force. That is, when it comes with its questions (we must remember that it comes with these questions precisely when one wants to work in order to bestow; then there is room to ask “Why?” But when a person works in order to receive reward, this wicked one has nothing to ask), we must not reply or contemplate what to answer it. Instead, we must know that it is a waste of time to want to find answers to its questions. Rather, when it comes and asks, a person should immediately treat it with force and overcome it with force, and not by arguments.
Since each time, even once a person has overcome it, it is still not impressed by it, and each time a person wants to do something for the sake of the Creator it comes with its questions, there are numerous “blunt its teeth” here. This is why Malchut is called “a lily.” In other words, when a person wants to be rewarded with the kingdom of heaven, called “faith,” he must undergo a process of many “blunt its teeth,” which is why Malchut is called “lily.” He said that this is the meaning of “To the victor on lilies,” meaning that the victory comes specifically through lilies.
According to the above, we can interpret the meaning of “as a lily among the thorns,” and why it is that specifically when she is among the thorns, she is finer than other lilies. We should know what thorns are in the work. In corporeality, the thorns prick the lily, but what does this imply in the work? It means that when the wicked comes and asks “What is this work for you?” with these questions, it pricks man’s thoughts and heart, and makes a person suffer. As thorns prick in corporeality, so the questions prick the person.
He suffers torments, meaning that these questions distance him from the work, since one cannot always overcome his questions and he begins to see that he is declining from the Kedusha [holiness], since normally, these questions come during an ascent, when a person understands that it is worthwhile to work in order to bestow.
But suddenly, he comes with his questions and one must overcome it. At that time, a person comes and asks for help from the Creator to help him, since he sees that by himself, he cannot overcome it. It follows that he always needs heaven’s mercy.
As it is written in The Zohar, the help that comes from above is regarded as a soul that he receives each time. This is regarded that the help he receives from above is light that gives one the power to overcome the evil in him. It was said about this, “He who comes to purify is aided.”
By this we can interpret the words “As a lily among the thorns,” and a lily that is more fragrant and finer than all the other lilies in the world is only one that grew among the thorns. In other words, because she is among the thorns, they prick her, meaning the kingdom of heaven. When a person takes upon himself to work in order to bestow, this is called “a lily.”
At that time, the wicked comes with his questions of “What is this work for you?” and pricks the kingdom of heaven in his heart. Each time, he must overcome and pray and ask for help. By this, the lily becomes fragrant, for fragrance is as it is written, “And they smelled in the fear of the Creator,” which is finer than all the lilies in the world, who have no thorns to prick them. Those lilies are not as fine as the lily that is among the thorns.
This comes to teach us that one should not be alarmed when the wicked keeps coming to him and asks the question, “What is this work for you?” and he cannot overcome it. It is not as one sometimes thinks, that these thoughts come to him because he is unfit for the work of the Creator. On the contrary, the fact that the wicked comes to him is because from above, they want to help him attain upper Kedusha [holiness]. This is why he is given these disturbances, so as to have a need to ask for help.
Therefore, when one sees that he is unfit by nature to be able to work in order to bestow, his work at that time is to increase his prayers to the Creator to help him from above, so he can work in order to bestow.
Conversely, an ordinary lily—meaning other people, who observe Torah and Mitzvot[commandments/good deeds] in order to receive reward—although this is also regarded as a lily, meaning that the body does not agree to observe Torah and Mitzvot even in order to receive reward, and it requires labor and effort, since we must believe in reward and punishment, to which the body objects, but because it is not against nature, since his work is for his own benefit, the lily in his heart, which is called “kingdom of heaven,” is not regarded as feeling that there are thorns that prick her.
Therefore, although Lo Lishma [not for Her sake] is an important thing, this is called a mere “lily,” since she does not suffer pricks from the thorns. Therefore, he has no need to pray to the Creator to help him overcome. Naturally, he also does not extend Kedusha from above, by which he will receive help from above. For this reason, he is called a mere “lily.”
But a “lily among the thorns” is finer than all the other lilies in the world because the pricks, meaning the sufferings she suffers from the wicked, cause him to receive new powers from above each time, and by this his soul grows. This is why she is finer than all the lilies in the world.
It follows that one should be careful not to say when he sees the wicked always coming to him with questions called “thorns,” which prick the lily in his heart, he should not say that this is a sign that he is unworthy of this work of bestowal because it is not for him, since he sees that he hasn’t the strength to overcome the evil.
Rather, one should believe that every person has the strength to work and achieve Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, as our sages said, “One should always see oneself as half guilty, half innocent.” That is, according to the measure of the good within him, so is the measure of bad. Otherwise, a person cannot subdue the bad, as it is more than the good. We must believe in our sages, who said so, and it is so precisely so that one will be able to decide to the side of merit. Therefore, always, in whatever situation, the bad does not have more power than the good within him. This is why they said, “If he performs one Mitzva [sing. of Mitzvot], happy is he, for he has sentenced himself and the whole world to the side of merit.”
Accordingly, we should interpret what is written, “The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel.” We should understand what this implies to us in the work. We must know that we were given the choice, as it is written, “Behold, I have set before you today life and good, and death and bad, and you shall choose life, so that you and your descendants will live.”
It is known that choice means that a person can decide which is better for him. This can be said when both are equal and he does not know which to choose. At that time, we are given the commandment to choose, as our sages said, that one must see oneself as “half guilty, half innocent,” and then we can talk about choice.
This means that one who sees that he is not succeeding in the work and wants to escape the campaign since he sees that he cannot work for the sake of the Creator because he was born with worse qualities than others, and he also sees that he has a weak character and therefore hasn’t the strength to overcome the evil in him, the text teaches us about this that one has no more bad in him, but according to the measure of the good.
In other words, if a person sees that he has a weak character or worse qualities than another person, he must know that the bad in him does not have more power than the good in him; they are ever equal, fifty-fifty. Therefore, if he sees that one person has better qualities than his, he should not say that it is easier for him to work than for him, and this is why the other one is working. Rather, one should know that every person has bad according to the measure of the good that he has. Hence, if the other has better qualities, he also has worse qualities than the other, since the bad and the good are ever equal in strength.
The verse says about this, “The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, to give a donation to the Lord, to make atonement for your souls.” “The rich” means that even if one is rich in knowledge and good qualities, he will not give more than half a shekel because “half” means a lack, which one gives as a contribution to the Creator, so that He will satisfy his lack, as was said, that “a prayer makes half.” He cannot say that he gives more powers than half by having good qualities, but rather precisely half, for the above reason that corresponding to the good that he has, he also has more bad than another person. It follows that one never gives more than half.
Likewise, “The poor shall not give less.” This means that one who is poor in knowledge and in good attributes, and he prevails and does not escape the campaign, the Creator helps him. He, too, should not say that he makes less efforts than another person, since he sees that he is poor in knowledge. Therefore, when the Creator helps him and brings him closer to Him, he should not say that he has given less than half the forces of the work in order to overcome the bad in him. Rather, he, too, gave half, since the bad in him was also not so powerful that it was said that the filling was more than the lack of the forces in the bad.
Rather, it is always fifty-fifty, as it is written, “The poor shall not give less than half a shekel.” That is, the good and the bad are always equal. Therefore, a person cannot say that he is incapable of this work, since he should give more powers than others. Rather, a person never gives more than half a shekel.
This is the meaning of what is written, “to give a contribution to the Lord.” That is, the contribution that one should give to the Creator is only half, meaning the lack that a person feels that the Creator will help give the filling. What is the filling? Answer: The filling is always that which a person needs. Hence, when one begins the work, he should obtain a lack for the Creator to help him have the desire to bestow, as this is the heart of the work, to obtain this desire.
It follows that half means the necessity for the matter, to feel how much he needs to obtain this desire, meaning to obtain suffering at not having the desire to bestow, to know the loss at not having the desire to bestow. To the extent that he knows what he is losing, to that extent he can feel how happy he would be if he had the desire to bestow.
By this he obtains half a thing, meaning the Kli [vessel] for the Creator to satisfy his lack by giving him from above a second nature called “desire to bestow.” This is the meaning of what is written, “half a shekel, to give a contribution to the Lord.” In other words, a person should know that he can only give half, as in “a prayer makes half.” One must know that he cannot give a full shekel, which is light and Kli, meaning the need for the desire to bestow, and to be able to do everything in order to bestow.
Rather, the half shekel belongs to man’s work, to give only the deficiency, while the filling belongs to the Creator. This is the meaning of what is written, “go give a contribution to the Lord, to make atonement for your souls.” In other words, by giving a contribution to the Lord, which is the half, the Creator gives the other half, called “desire to bestow,” which is a second nature, and by this a person makes atonement for his soul, by being able to do everything for the sake of the Creator.
Therefore, after one is rewarded with the Creator giving the desire to bestow, a person is rewarded with permanent faith, as it is written (“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” Item 138), that we must be thankful to the Creator for rewarding us with nearing Him. This is as it is written (Psalms 68:32-33), “Sing to God, kingdoms of the earth, sing praises to the Lord, Selah. To Him who rides upon the highest, ancient heavens; He will speak forth with His voice, a mighty voice.”
We should interpret that the “kingdoms of the earth” are those who have been rewarded with faith, called Malchut, and the quality of “Earth.” “Sing to God,” they should sing for the Creator awarding them with the quality of faith. Also, Malchut is called God, as it is written, “Sing praises to the Lord, Selah. To Him who rides upon the highest, ancient heavens; He will speak forth with His voice, a mighty voice.”
We should understand why they must sing to the Creator and thank Him. Does the Creator need flesh and blood to thank Him? The answer is that the created beings should know that all that they have is what the Creator gave them in order to thereby achieve the love of the Creator. Through love of the Creator, they will always be in Dvekut with the Creator, as it is written (“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” Item 138), that then they attain Him as doing good. And if they do not attain Him as doing good, then they must be under the governance of heresy, since “It is a law that the creature cannot receive disclosed evil from Him, for it is a flaw in the glory of the Creator for the creature to perceive Him as an evildoer, as it is unbecoming of the Complete Operator.”
This is the meaning of what is written, “He will speak forth with His voice, a mighty voice.” In other words, the creatures must sing and thank Him for letting them hear the voice of the Creator. That is, by feeling that the Creator has given them the quality of Malchut, called “permanent faith,” by their feeling that it comes from the Creator, this adds to them the love of the Creator, as it is written, “He will speak forth with His voice.” And what will He say with His voice? Answer: “a mighty voice.” The RADAK interpreted that He will speak forth against the enemies with His voice, which is a mighty voice. It is known that in the work, the enemies are the will to receive that awakens each time to receive in order to receive. They are man’s enemies because they prevent a person from receiving the delight and pleasure.
Therefore, one should believe that the fact that one has been rewarded with faith in the Creator comes from the Creator. By this he is rewarded with the voice of the Creator subduing the enemies, meaning that the will to receive surrenders and in its stead comes the desire to bestow, and now he wants to work for the sake of the Creator. This comes from the voice of the Creator, as it is written, “The voice of the Lord is powerful” (Psalms 29:4). We should interpret that the voice of the Lord gives power to man to subdue the enemies.
This is the meaning of what is written (there), “Give strength to God.” The RADAK interprets “Give strength”—with words. Give Him the strength since His strength has done your vengeance against the enemies, and not by your own force.
We should interpret his words, “with words,” meaning they said that all the strength of the force, the Creator alone did it. That is, the fact that you see that your enemies, meaning the will to receive has surrendered before you, it is not man’s force, but only the force of the Creator. This is as the RADAK says, “His strength has done your vengeance against the enemies, and not by your own force.”
This is the meaning of what is written, “over Israel, His pride and His strength is in the skies.” As the RADAK says, “The pride and greatness of the Creator is seen and apparent over Israel, since He fights the enemies for them with pride and strength.” It is as The Zohar says, “When the Creator wished to pick out the lily from among them, the thorns dried out and were regarded as nothing.” That is, he did this by the might of the Creator, meaning surrendered all the enemies. In other words, the fact that the will to receive surrendered and now the desire to bestow governs the person, this is “over Israel, His pride.”
In other words, the pride and greatness of the Creator is seen and apparent over Israel, meaning that the desire to bestow controls, and this does not come by man’s power, but by the power of the Creator. This means that it is apparent that it came from the Creator in that His help comes by being rewarded with greater light each time, that His help, says The Zohar, is as “a new soul.” Thus, now it is evident that it came from the Creator.
We should interpret the reason that a person cannot achieve the vessels of bestowal by himself. The answer is that if a person could achieve vessels of bestowal by himself, he would be content with little and would feel himself as a complete human being. He would remain in his Katnut[infancy/smallness], since he would have no need to go forward because he really is doing everything for the sake of the Creator.
There is a rule that there is no light without a Kli, meaning a need. But when a person himself cannot obtain vessels of bestowal and must ask the Creator to help him, the person needs His help. By this, he receives from the Creator new help each time, and all her help is part of his soul. By this he is rewarded with receiving the NRNHY in the root of his soul.
A person must be cautious to take upon himself the burden of kingdom of heaven unconditionally. This is called “unconditional surrender.” That is, one need not say, “If the Creator gives me a good taste in Torah and prayer, I will be able to do the holy work. Otherwise, I cannot be a servant of the Creator.”
This is as it is written in The Zohar (Truma, Item 710), and we learned that this is the meaning of the verse, “‘Lift up a song for Him who rides through the prairies,’ which are Netzah and Hod, which are thighs. They do not bear fruit; it is all like the willows in the palm branch.”
It is known that the willows in the Lulav [palm branch used festively on Sukkot] imply that the work should be done in the manner of willows. Although the willows have neither taste nor smell, as Baal HaSulam said of what is written (in Hoshaana), “To entertain You with the willows of the brook.” That is, even if he feels no flavor in the work, and it is like the willows of the brook, devoid of taste or smell, during the work, they should be to man as great entertainments. This is called “unconditional surrender,” and this is the meaning of what is written, “rejoice before Him,” meaning be happy as though they have great attainments. This is the meaning of entertainment before the Creator, and thus we should believe.
Inapoi la pagina 1991 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link