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What Is “He Who Has a Flaw Shall Not Offer [Sacrifice]” in the Work?
Article No. 25, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988-89
It is written in The Zohar (Emor, Item 41): “‘Whosoever he be of your seed throughout their generations who has a blemish.’ Rabbi Yitzhak said, ‘The reason is that he is flawed, and one who is flawed is unfit for serving in the holy.’ We established that one who is flawed has no faith in him and that flaw testifies of him. It is all the more so with a priest, who must be more complete and full of faith than anyone.”
We should understand this: According to this, if a person is born with some defect, does he have a choice to achieve faith in the Creator or does he have no choice and must remain without faith? What should that person do if he is told, “First you must go to the doctors to see if they can heal you from your flaw, and then you can come to learn about faith.” Can this be?
The thing is that we learn everything from the perspective of branch and root. This is the revealed part in the Torah, that all the work of Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds] were given to us by way of branch and root. But when speaking of the hidden, meaning the intention and not the action, we interpret everything with regard to the work. Thus, that which is called “flaws or defects” does not pertain to the act, but to the aim.
We should know from where the flaws and defects in spirituality extend. They come to us because of the shattering that took place, when sparks of Kedusha [holiness] fell into the Klipot [shells/peels]. Through these sparks, the Klipot gained the power to remove a person from the work of the Creator, by giving him pleasures when he engages in order to receive pleasure, and a person cannot relinquish the pleasure he receives in Kelim [vessels] of self-benefit and work for the sake of the Creator.
When he engages in matters of bestowal, a person feels in all those actions that they have no flavor or fragrance. When he overcomes and does perform acts of bestowal, this work is not with all the organs. That is, not all the organs agree to this work. It follows that he is flawed. That is, when he works with the aim to bestow and wants to work only for the sake of the Creator and not for his own sake, even after all the overcoming, there are still some organs that disagree with this work. It follows that he is missing organs, which is called “flawed” in the holy work.
All this, meaning that the organs do not agree with his work, is because they feel that there is a flaw in the work of bestowal. Thus, they themselves, meaning the workers themselves, say that there is no wholeness in this work, but that it is completely flawed. In such a state, how can it be said that there is wholeness in the work, when they themselves say that there is a blemish in the work? And how can work with flaws be given to the Creator?
In corporeality, this is like a person who gives a gift to a king and wants to show him that he is a loyal subject. Yet, his heart is not with him. That is, he has organs that ask him, “What will you get out of working for the king? Do you think that the king will pay you for working for him devotedly?” It follows that the person himself says that this work is flawed. It is as it is written (Midrash Rabbah, Nasso 13), “Woe unto that dough whose baker testifies that it is bad.”
However, we should ask, Why does the person himself say that he is flawed? The answer is that he lacks faith. If the person truly had faith in the Creator, that He leads the world as The Good Who Does Good, and believed in the greatness of the Creator and His importance, it would not be possible that that man would have any resistance in him. This is so because we see in our nature that the small one annuls before the great one like a candle before a torch; it has no freedom of choice. As long as it has not been established in his heart that He is great, there is choice, meaning to choose and say that He is great—either by himself, since he attains that He is great, or by others, who tell him He is great and he follows their view. Afterward, he has no freedom of choice not to annul, but he is drawn like a candle before a torch. Then he considers it a great joy if he can serve the great one and he has no greater pleasure than this.
It therefore follows that anyone who has a flaw in the work, his work is flawed. Why is it flawed? It is because he has no faith in the Creator—that He is the King of the world and leads the world as The Good Who Does Good. Otherwise, he would not have a flaw at all, since all the organs would agree to serve the great King. But since he has no faith in the greatness of the King, his work for the sake of the King is flawed.
That is, since his work is tasteless, a person cannot do it with all the organs. It follows that there are several flaws in his work. Either an organ is missing, or it functions not as it functions with something that is tasteful.
Thus, what can one do when he sees that he is flawed? His only work is to ask the Creator to give him the power of faith, to have the strength to believe in the greatness of the Creator, meaning that in everything he does in Torah and Mitzvot, he should aim that through his actions that he does as an “awakening from below,” the Creator will give him the power from above to believe in His greatness with all his heart. At that time there will be wholeness in the things he does.
That is, there will be thought, speech, and action in his work, since in anything that is complete there are three discernments: 1) the act, 2) the thought, where through the act the Creator will give him the power of faith in the greatness of the Creator, 3) speech, meaning prayer, since the thought causes him to pray to the Creator, which is called “speech and prayer.” To the extent of attainment of the lack of faith, so the prayer is measured, since the lack that a person feels and wants the Creator to satisfy his lack, this is called a “prayer.” However, when a person sees with his mind that he has already prayed to the Creator but the Creator still did not help him, he loses the power of prayer.
But a person should also pray for the ability to pray. He must believe in the sages and say, “What I see and what the mind obligates me is called “within reason.” Yet, I must believe above reason in what the sages said (Berachot 32), “Rabbi Hama Bar Hanina said, ‘If a person sees that he has prayed but was not answered, he must pray again, as it was said, ‘Hope for the Lord, be strong, brace your heart, and hope for the Lord.’’” It follows that without faith in the sages, a person cannot do anything on the path of correction, as it is known that “The view of landlords is opposite from the view of Torah.” Hence, a person cannot make ways in the way of the Creator, except that which is accepted among the servants of the Creator.
The main lack is that when a person engages in Torah and Mitzvot and the body does not resist him, meaning does not bring him foreign thoughts, in that state, a person does not think that faith is what he lacks in order to enjoy what he does as though he has obtained a great fortune in corporeality, for then he would certainly be very inspired and elated from obtaining something important that the whole world appreciates. What pleasure he would have then?!
If a person believes that he is serving a great King, why is he not elated now and full of joy over the matter of Kedusha in which he is engaging? The reason is that he lacks faith. For this reason, a person should not be content with little, since he is lacking what is essential, not a supplement. If a person does not pay attention to this, then he must remain in the state of “general public,” who work only in action. However, we must not forget that “An act without an aim is as a body without a soul.” Hence, a person must overcome and be unlike the rest of the workers, but rather join the servants of the Creator, who aim for the sake of the Creator.
Although we learn that a person should walk on the right line and say that he is not deficient, and he is happy with what he has, but on the right line, too, there should be great inspiration and elation because he is working for and serving a great King. Although he cannot value the magnitude of the importance of the Creator, he should still work on it, on being happy with settling for little as though it were a great thing. And the fact that he does not feel the great importance, for this, too, he thanks the Creator, for seeing that he has some grip on spirituality. For this, he gives great praise to the Creator.
Yet, in truth, the order is that he must shift from the right line, which is wholeness and settling for little, to the left, meaning to reflect on why he has no grip and why the Creator does not want to give him more grip on spirituality. There must be something missing here that should be corrected through good deeds, and not remain “poor in knowledge,” but make all kinds of efforts that the Creator will help him as He helps others who want to be considered servants of the Creator.
However, a person should be careful not to mix the lines with one another, or else he will not be able to see the actual reality of each line. Rather, once he sees the distances, he can go forward because now he can work on two legs. It is known that a person cannot walk on one leg, meaning that one leg is considered giving praise and gratitude to the Creator, which is the beginning. And the praise is in that he can believe, to some extent, that he is speaking to the Creator.
It follows that to the extent that he has some faith, he thanks the Creator. For everything he does, he thanks the Creator for rewarding him and giving him the thought and desire to observe His commandments. For this, he is able to bless the Creator and thank Him for this.
As we should bless for each Mitzva [commandment/good deed], we should also bless the Torah. We should know that “blessing” means that we bless Him for this boon. One who does not bless Him for this, it is because he does not feel the Mitzvot as something important, worth blessing Him for it. That is, the gratitude He gives us is like the gift, as it is customary that to the extent of the gift, so is the extent of the thanks we give.
It therefore follows that before a person comes to perform a Mitzva and bless on it, he must first take upon himself faith above reason. That is, although he still does not feel the importance of Torah and Mitzvot, he should believe above his intellect that they are very important things. Because a person is still unfit to feel the greatness of Torah and Mitzvot, since there is a correction regarded as “avoiding the bread of shame,” for which there is a concealment on the Torah and Mitzvot, for this reason we must begin with work above reason and disregard our feelings. Rather, we must say, “They have eyes and see not.” To the extent that we overcome through faith in the importance of Torah and Mitzvot, to that extent we can give thanks. That is, the blessing that a person gives to the Creator depends on the measure of importance of Torah and Mitzvot.
According to the above, we should interpret what our sages said (Nedarim 81), “Why do wise disciples not yield wise disciples from their sons? Rabina said, ‘Because they do not bless in the Torah first.’”
We should understand how can it be said about wise disciples that they did not bless in the Torah first. After all, we see that when ordinary people come up to read the Torah [during service], before the leader of the prayer reads in the Torah, they say a blessing. But concerning wise disciples, our sages said that there are wise disciples who did not bless in the Torah first, and therefore their sons are not wise disciples.
The literal explanation has many answers. But in the work, where we learn within one body, what are wise disciples and the sons of wise disciples in the same body? We should interpret that the blessing we must give first pertains to the intention. That is, they do not set their hearts on appreciating the Torah in order to bless the Creator for giving us a great gift. Naturally, the blessing they do—namely the thanks they give to the Creator for the gift—is not as it should be. It follows that they lack the importance of the Giver of the Torah.
This is the meaning in what was said, that they did not bless in the Torah first. “First” means that before they said the blessing, they did not think about the importance, and from this extends that their sons, meaning their understanding, is not that of wise disciples. That is, it is those who learn Torah and see that they have still not achieved the view of Torah, meaning understood that the view of Torah is annulment of the authority, meaning that they must understand that working for self-benefit is what they must annul, and they see that although they are learning Torah, they still do not understand that the body should annul its entire being and work only for the sake of the Creator.
This is as our sages said about the verse, “If a man dies in a tent.” They said, “The Torah exists only in he who puts himself to death over it.” The person asks, “What should I correct so as to come to this understanding?” They said that the reason is that “they did not bless in the Torah first.” That is, the blessing on the Torah that they gave to the Creator was not with all their hearts, since they did not grasp the importance of the Torah, meaning what the Torah should give us and for what purpose a person needs the Torah and Mitzvot.
When a person reflects on the benefit and the degree that the Torah and Mitzvot should bring him, then, according to the importance of the matter, he will bless the Creator. But a person who does not make the real calculation, although he blesses the Creator, “his heart is not with him,” since he cannot appreciate its importance.
Therefore, when he hasn’t the preparation, meaning he does not have the intention before him, to aim why he needs the Torah and Mitzvot, a person cannot achieve an understanding of a wise disciple. This is as Baal HaSulam said when he asked Why did they say, “wise disciple,” and not simply “wise”? It is because “wise” means the Creator, and one who learns from Him the quality of the Creator is called a “wise disciple.”
This is as our sages said, “Cling unto His attributes: As He is merciful, so you are merciful.” It follows that the question, “Why do wise disciples not yield wise disciples from their sons?” means that they should understand that the most important is that they will take upon themselves the work of bestowal and not for their own sake. This is called “a wise disciple.” This is why they said that the advice to a person who wants to yield sons who are wise disciples is to understand that we must work for the sake of the Creator. Prior to the blessing, he must aim for what he is blessing, meaning why he thanks the Creator. This is called “Because they did not bless in the Torah first.” That is, before they made the blessing, they did not pay attention to what the Torah and Mitzvot should bring him.
However, when he aims that the Torah and Mitzvot were given in order to cleanse people, as Rabbi Hanina Ben Akashia said, it follows that all the gain from Torah and Mitzvot is the cleansing. What comes after the cleansing, meaning what will they gain by receiving the cleansing? The answer is that we must believe in the purpose of creation, which is to do good to His creations, to the extent of His ability. Then, they will be rewarded with the delight and pleasure that a person cannot appreciate. As our sages said, this is regarded as “The eye has not seen a God besides You, will do for those who await Him.”
Now we can understand what we asked, What is the meaning of what The Zohar said, “A man in whom there is a flaw must not offer [sacrifice].” This is so because he is flawed, and a person who is flawed has no faith in him, and that flaw testifies to him. This is true for every person, but even more so for a priest. We asked about this, What can one do if he sees he has a flaw? Can he no longer have faith? Can it be said that there is a person in the world without freedom of choice although he did not commit any sin? Why is it his fault if he is flawed?
The answer is that when speaking of the holy work, meaning that his work will be in holiness, it is as it is written, “You will be holy for I am holy.” That is, everything they do will be for the sake of the Creator, is in order to bestow. This work begins in Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], as our sages said, “From Lo Lishma we come to Lishma [for Her sake].”
The reason why we must begin in Lo Lishma is as he writes in the book A Sage’s Fruit: “Since man is born with a Kli called ‘will to receive for his own sake,’ it follows that it is impossible to begin in order to bestow. Rather, we begin in Lo Lishma and “the light in it reforms him.” In order for a person to know that he does not need to stay in the state of Lo Lishma, there are flaws in his work when he wants to work for the sake of the Creator. At that time, not all the organs agree to this work. Therefore, we were given two lines to walk in, called “two legs.” Prior to this, he has flaws and defects, and all because he lacks faith. For this reason, one must ask of the Creator to give him the power of faith.
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