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What Is, “The Righteous Become Apparent through the Wicked,” in the Work?
Article No. 15, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988-89
It is written in The Zohar (Shemot [Exodus], Item 370), “‘My Beloved is mine and I am His, He pastures among the lilies.’ As the lilies have thorns in them, the Creator leads His world with righteous and wicked. As the lilies would not persist without the thorns, the righteous would not be distinguishable without the wicked.”
This implies that we need the wicked just so that the righteous will be distinguishable. The question is, Who needs this distinguishing? This cannot be said with regard to the Creator, as He knows all the secrets. With regard to the world, it is written, “Walk humbly with the Lord your God,” meaning a person should hide his actions from people. Thus, it means with regard to the person himself.
The question is, Why does one need to recognize the righteous through the wicked? Why do I need this distinction? That is, what does knowing and distinguishing between righteous and wicked do? Is it not enough that he does what the righteous do, but he also needs to know the distinction in the righteous specifically through the wicked, as though otherwise it is impossible to be righteous?
It known that in the work, everything is said within one body. That is, both the wicked and the righteous are within the same body. Therefore, the question is, For what purpose are wicked and righteous required in the same body, as The Zohar says, that “the Creator leads His world with righteous and wicked”? Since every person is a small world, it would probably be better if He led His world only through righteous. Why do I need the wicked? The answer is that it is in order for the righteous to be distinguishable. Thus, we need to understand the benefit in distinguishing the righteous through the wicked, meaning what we gain by this distinction.
The thing is that it is known that there is the practice of Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds], and the intention of Mitzvot, meaning what one wants for one’s work when exerting in Torah and Mitzvot. We learned that there are two manners of reward in this: 1) Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], 2) Lishma[for Her sake].
Lo Lishma means that one should be rewarded for his work both in this world and in the next world. As The Zohar says, this work is not considered the essence, as The Zohar says (“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” Item 190): “Fear that is Lo Lishma is not the main fear.” (In Item 191) It says, “The main fear is that one should fear one’s Master because He is great and ruling, and all is regarded as nothing before Him, and he should place his will in that place, which is called ‘fear.’”
From this it follows that there are two kinds of intentions while performing actions, both in learning Torah and in performing Mitzvot. The work of the general public is in order to receive reward, and the work of individuals is for the sake of the Creator, and their reward is if they can serve the King. That is, their whole pleasure, which gives them fuel so they can work in order to bestow, is to feel that they are bringing contentment to the King and are praising and thanking the King for giving them the thought and desire to work for Him and not to receive any other reward for their work.
They say that in order to receive reward, “We do not need to feel the greatness of the King. Rather, we need to consider the greatness and importance of the reward we will receive if we observe the Torah and Mitzvot.” But the Creator can stay for them at the same level of greatness and importance as He was for them at the beginning of their work.
However, if their intention is to bring contentment to the Creator, then if they want to increase the work, they must increase the greatness of the Creator, since to the extent of His greatness, to that extent they can annul before Him and do everything they do only for the sake of the Creator. It is as The Zohar says about the verse, “Her husband is known at the gates,” each according to “what he assumes in his heart.”
Therefore, in order to have fuel to work, those who want to work for the sake of the Creator must try each day to exert to obtain faith in the greatness of the Creator, since the greatness of the Creator is what compels them to work for Him, and this is all the pleasure they derive from their work.
Hence, those people who sometimes think that they can settle for the measure of faith in the Creator that they have, and think that they are already righteous and do not need to increase the faith in the greatness of the Creator, when the Creator behaves with them as righteous, meaning gives them some nearing, and they receive a desire and yearning and taste in the work, they think that they are already complete people who do not lack faith, to believe in the greatness of the Creator. They have no need to advance, except in actions. But the greatness of the Creator that they have is enough for them. This is regarded as the Creator behaving with them as with righteous.
Therefore, in order for a person to progress on the path of the Creator, to be rewarded with all his work being for the sake of the Creator, and now he feels that he is in a state of ascent, what more should he do? For this reason, the Creator leads His world with wicked. That is, at that time the Creator gives him thoughts of wicked—that it is not worthwhile to work for Him, but only for himself. By this, he suffers a descent and thinks that the descent he has received is not because it was given to him so he would advance in the path of the Creator, to be rewarded with knowledge of Kedusha[holiness]. Rather, he thinks that he regressed because he cannot work in the manner of individuals, but needs to work like the general public. And since he has departed from the general public, he is left empty handed from here and from there, since he cannot return to the general public.
For this reason, in that state, a person stands between heaven and earth, and feels that his situation is worse than that of the rest of the people. At that time, he can ask the Creator with all his heart, and pray as it is written, “Pardon me, O Lord, for I am wretched. Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed, and You, O Lord, how long?” That is, how long will I stay in a situation where I feel that my condition is worse than any other person, that I have no grip on spirituality.
For this reason, he has no other choice but to believe what is written, “For You hear the prayer of every mouth.” Baal HaSulam explained that a person must believe that the Creator hears the prayer of every mouth, meaning even the worst mouth in the world, of which there cannot be lowlier and worse in the world. Still, the Creator hears him, as our sages said, “He who comes to purify is aided.”
He interprets about this in The Zohar: “He is given a holy soul.” It follows that the Creator gives him the thoughts of the wicked so he will be able to ask the Creator to help him. Otherwise, he will remain in the state he was in at the beginning of his work, and will remain this way for the rest of his life.
By this we can interpret what we asked, What does it mean that were it not for the wicked, the righteous would not be distinguishable? We asked, in whom do the righteous need to be distinguishable, and what is the purpose of this distinction? The answer is that it is because the Creator leads His world with righteous and wicked. But in this regard, we should also ask, Why does He need to lead His world with righteous and wicked? Would it not be enough to carry out the purpose of creation, to do good to His creations, if He led the world only with the righteous? It makes sense that if He led His world only with the righteous, it would be easier to carry out the purpose of creation, which is to do good to His creations. Thus, what are the wicked for?
The answer to this is that were it not for the wicked, the righteous would not be distinguishable. This means that the wholeness and greatness of the righteous would not be apparent—the degree that they achieve. Instead, the righteous would remain in the degree of the beginning of their work, and they would not make any progress in the degree of the righteous. For this reason, in order for the merit and greatness of the righteous to be apparent, He had to lead His world with righteous and with wicked. By sending the righteous to a person, the Creator brings one closer to the work of the Creator.
The person, if he did not suffer a descent, would be compelled to remain this way throughout his life, and he would make no progress in the mind of the Torah, where the delight and pleasure contained in the purpose of creation are concealed. The merit of the righteous would not be apparent, since for what purpose would he need a higher level?
Indeed, we must know that the merit of the righteous is as our sages said (at end of Okatzin), “The Creator is destined to bequeath each and every righteous 310 worlds, as was said, ‘To endow those who love Me with wealth, that I may fill their treasuries.’”
Therefore, in order to have a need to achieve the degree of “righteous,” and for their merit to be apparent, He had to lead His world with righteous and with wicked. It follows that in order for the righteous to be evident, wicked are also required, since precisely by leading His world with wicked, too, He gives the thoughts and desires of the wicked to a person, just as He gives the quality of righteous to a person. That is, He gives him the desire for self-love.
But this is done on purpose, so that man would know that the Creator does not want him to remain in the state that he understood the work of the Creator according to his mind at the time, in the beginning of his work in the manner of the individuals, when he assumed to himself what was the degree of the righteous. If the Creator did not behave with him in the manner of the wicked, meaning gave him thoughts and desires that are against the mind and heart, he would think that he is already at the degree of righteous, and the degree of righteous would remain in him in utter lowliness, since he would know that he has nothing to add.
This is regarded as “the Creator leading His world with the righteous,” giving man only the degree of a righteous, without feeling any deficiencies, that the Creator should give him a higher level in understanding the meaning of “righteous.” This is regarded as the righteous not being distinguishable, as was said, that the merit of the righteous is that he should come to obtain 310 worlds. He would have no need for this.
It is impossible to give a filling if there is no lack, since the person will not be able to keep the Klipot[shells/peels] from taking it into their own authority. Only the Klipot can gain from this, and this will damage the Kedusha, as our sages said, “Tzor [Tyre] was built only out of the ruin of the Jerusalem.” Hence, precisely when there is a lack, and he is given a filling for the lack, he knows how to be careful so that no benefit comes from this to the external ones.
It follows that a person must have faith in the sages and how they guide us, to believe in their worlds. He should not say that the fact that he constantly suffers descents comes because he is unworthy of achieving wholeness. Rather, all the descents come to him from above! It is in order for man to have a need to obtain all the NRNHY of his soul. It requires great strengthening to say that the Creator sends him the descents so he would overcome and work coercively. This is called “He is coerced until he,” the Creator, “says, ‘I want,’” as Baal HaSulam explained.
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