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What Is, “He Who Is Without Sons,” in the Work?
Article No. 35, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988-89
Our sages said (Masechet Nedarim 64), “Any person without sons as regarded as dead.” The Zohar(Pinhas, Item 92) writes, “A man without sons is called ‘barren,’ and his wife is called ‘barren.’ Likewise, Torah without Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds] is called ‘barren.’ For this reason, we learn that it is not the learning that is most important, but the act.” Also in The Zohar (Item 91), it says, “The Torah is called ‘a tree,’ as it is written, ‘It is a tree of life for they who hold it.’ Also, man is a tree, as it is written, ‘For man is the tree of the field,’ and the Mitzvot in the Torah are as fruits.” In other words, since the Torah and man are called “tree,” therefore, as a tree that does not bear fruit is akin to a barren person, who begets nothing, so man and the Torah are called “barren” if they have no sons.
We should understand this. We can understand that a man and a tree who do not bear are called “barren.” But if a person learns Torah but does not observe the Mitzvot of the Torah, why is the Torah called “barren”? Why is it the fault of the Torah if a person does not want to observe the Mitzvot in the Torah? In this regard, he references what our sages said, “Great is the learning that leads to action.” This means that the Torah should lead to action, and if it does not, it is as though the Torah is to blame for not leading to action. Thus, it is as though the fault does not lie with the person, but with the Torah. Can this be?
To understand the above said, we should first understand the whole issue of Torah and Mitzvot that the Creator gave us, and for which we bless Him for this gift, as we say, “Who has chosen us from among all the nations and has given us His law [in Hebrew: Torah].” We understand the matter of Torah in two ways, as it is written in The Zohar (“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” “General Explanation for All Fourteen Commandments and How They Divide into the Seven Days of Creation”): “The Mitzvot in the Torah are called Pekudin [commands/deposits], as well as 613 Etzot[counsels/tips]. The difference between them is that in all things there is Panim [anterior/face] and Achor [posterior/back]. The preparation for something is called Achor, and the attainment of the matter is called Panim. Similarly, in Torah and Mitzvot there are ‘We shall do’ and ‘We shall hear.’ When observing Torah and Mitzvot as ‘doers of His word,’ prior to being rewarded with hearing, the Mitzvot are called ‘613 Etzot,’ and are regarded as Achor. When rewarded with ‘hearing the voice of His word,’ the 613 Mitzvot become Pekudin, from the word Pikadon [deposit]. This is so because there are 613 Mitzvot, and in each Mitzva [singular of Mitzvot], the light of a unique degree is deposited, and this is the Panim of the Mitzvot.”
Yet, we should know and understand the matter of Torah and Mitzvot in general, how “doing” pertains there, and what is the meaning of “hearing.” That is, if hearing is the most important, for what purpose does one need to begin the order of the work as “doers of His word,” which is called Achor? Why do we not begin with Panim, called Pekudin, right away? It seems as though this work is pointless.
It is known that there are two matters before us: the purpose of creation and the correction of creation. The purpose of creation is that His desire is to do good to His creations, meaning that the created beings will receive from Him delight and pleasure. For this reason, He created in the creatures a desire to receive pleasure. In order to calm the yearning that exists in the created beings, this Kli [vessel], namely the desire to receive delight and pleasure, comes from the Creator because He created it for His purpose, for without yearning for something, it is impossible to enjoy it. It is known that the whole pleasure from something can be received only according to the yearning for it. This is the measure of the pleasure, and it does not matter what a person wants, but the yearning for something makes it important.
Therefore, this Kli that comes from the Creator has completeness. That is, wherever a person sees that he can elicit pleasure from something, he promptly does all that he can to obtain the pleasure. But the Kli that the creatures must make is in oppositeness of form from the Kli of the Creator, and this is very difficult to do because it contradicts the quality of the Kli that the Creator created. A person cannot create this Kli, as our sages said, “Man’s inclination overcomes him every day, and were it not for the help of the Creator, he would not overcome it.”
The question is, If a person cannot overcome it, what must he do if only the Creator can give the overcoming over the evil inclination? The answer is that a person must begin the overcoming, meaning he must see that he has a desire to defeat the evil inclination. If a person has no desire to defeat it, how can he be given help? Help means that a person wants something that is difficult to obtain. Then it can be said that he is given help to obtain what he wants. But when a person has no desire, how can we say that we are helping him get something that makes him suffer? “Help” means that a person is given help so he will enjoy, not that he is given help so he will suffer.
For this reason, if a person truly wants to do the work of the Creator in Lishma [for Her sake], which is in order to bestow, he must want to do everything for the sake of the Creator. When a person truly wants to work for the sake of the Creator, the body begins to show its might, that it wants a person to do everything specifically for one’s own sake, and resists this work with all its might, presenting him with all the arguments of the spies that it is right. Then, if someone comes and helps him, that person will be happy with this help and will be very grateful for the help. Then it can be said that he is receiving help from above, as our sages said, “He who comes to purify is aided.”
Yet, if a person did not begin this work, two things are missing: 1) He thinks that he does not need help, that he can do this if he wants to, that he is a man. Therefore, he has no need for help. It follows that he has no Kli for the light. 2) If he did not exert in order to achieve the state of “All your works will be for the sake of heaven,” then he does not even want to be given the strength not to work for his own sake but for the sake of the Creator. Instead, he wants to work for his own sake. If he hears that by observing Torah and Mitzvot he will have nothing for his own sake, he regards it as a curse, not as a blessing.
For this reason, he must begin this work on his own. Then, he gradually acquires a desire that it is worthwhile to work for the sake of the Creator, and the procession of ascents and descents begins for him. That is, once he sees that it is worthwhile to work for the sake of the Creator, and once he surrenders to the argument of the body, which asks, “What is this work for you?” Working for the sake of the Creator. Through the ascents and descents, he begins to understand the benefit in working in order to bestow, and what he loses if he cannot emerge from self-love.
When a person overcomes and does not escape the campaign, but overcomes and increases his prayer that the Creator will help him and give him the help required to be able to emerge from receiving for himself, then he needs great overcoming to believe that the Creator will help him. That is, he must believe that everything he sees, that it is harder to emerge from the control of the receiver, and sees that each time, he begins to see that his evil is worse than that of others, at that time he must say that now the Creator will certainly help him because “Now I have come to know the truth, that without the Creator’s help, it is impossible.”
All the actions he contemplated doing so as to help him emerge from the control of the receiver did not help him. On the contrary, the receiver grew stronger and shows greater resistance to the work in order to bestow. At that time, a person must overcome and not yield to the counsel of the spies, but overcome above reason that the Creator will help, as our sages promised us, “He who comes to purify is aided.”
However, from where can one receive the strength to overcome so he can have faith in the sages? This is only by the power of the Torah. It is as our sages said, “The Creator said, ‘I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice.’” That is, through the Torah, he receives the power to overcome during the war, when he must acquire Kelim [vessels] of darkness so that afterwards he will have the discernment, “As the advantage of the light from within the darkness.” It follows that the Torah sustains him during the work until the Creator knows he has Kelim that are suitable to receive the light, and then he is rewarded with 613 Pekudin.
However, during the work, while he still has spies, the Torah and Mitzvot are called 613 Etzot, meaning 613 counsels how to be saved from the spies. Hence, when a person engages in Torah and Mitzvot, he should aim that the reward he wants for his work will be the strength to fight against the spies.
It follows that he wants the Torah to give him this reward. If he does not receive this strength, then the Torah is like a tree that does not bear fruit, or a person who has no sons. In other words, the Torah did not beget for him the sons, which are the powers to fight against the spies. When the Torah does give him this strength, it is called “a tree that bears fruit,” and it is like a person who has sons.
By this we will understand what we asked, Why is man like a tree? It means that both must yield fruit. And as the tree must be given what it needs in order for it to bear fruit, which is called “tilling the land,” so man must give himself the nourishments he needs in order to be able to achieve the goal, called 613 Pekudin [deposits], meaning to observe Torah and Mitzvot with the aim that the light in it will reform him.
Thus, we need action, which is to turn the will to receive for oneself, which is man’s tool of action, into vessels of bestowal. This is called “turning the vessels of reception into vessels of bestowal.”
This is called “action.” That is, since man is unable to do this action, then as the Creator gave us vessels of reception, He should give us vessels of bestowal. However, “there is no light without a Kli,” as said above, “there is no filling without a lack.” For this reason, a person must work and execute all the tactics at his disposal in order to satisfy that need. To the extent of his work, he receives a need for the Creator to help him in this. At that time the Creator gives these tools of action called “vessels of bestowal.” This is done through the Torah and Mitzvot, since “the light in it reforms him.”
This is the meaning of what is written, “Which God has created to do.” As Baal HaSulam said, “created” means something new, existence from absence. This refers to the will to receive, which is something new because before He created it, there was no concept of reception in reality. It follows that the Creator created the will to receive, and the creatures must turn it into a desire to bestow. This is the meaning of “do,” to make of it a desire to bestow.
Yet, we cannot change the work of creation, and if the Creator created it in such a way that the will to receive is what operates, how can it be changed? The answer is that man must seek advice how to come to the desire for it. This is called “doing.” Although we said that a person cannot do this, but the Creator Himself must do this, since we cannot change the work of creation, it is still named after the person.
We can understand this through what Baal HaSulam said about the verse, “will give wisdom to the wise.” He asked, “It should have said, ‘will give wisdom to the fools.’” He replied that “wise” is he who seeks wisdom although he still does not have it, for a fool does not seek wisdom, as was said, “The fool will not desire wisdom.” For this reason, when a person seeks advice and tactics how to obtain vessels of bestowal, this is called “doing,” as was said, “to do.”
By this we can interpret what is written, “It is not the learning that matters most, but the work.” The Zohar brings evidence that if he has no Mitzvot but only Torah, he is called “barren” and the Torah is called “barren,” since the Torah has no fruits, which are Mitzvot, and man has no sons. This implies what our sages said, “Any person without sons is regarded as dead.” When we speak of work, this will mean that one who has no Mitzvot is considered “barren,” as The Zohar likens him to the Torah, when it says “tree of life.” Also, “Man is a tree of the field” means that the Torah being called “barren” if he has no Mitzvot was said about the person. That is, a person must know that for him, the Torah is barren if the Torah he is learning does not lead him to Mitzvot. The Zohar says about this, “For this reason, we learn thatit is not the learning that is most important, but the act.” Hence, if the Torah does not have the Mitzvot of the Torah, the Torah is considered barren.
By this we can interpret what we asked, Why is the Torah called “barren” is a person has no Mitzvot? The Torah is called “barren” with respect to him because “it is not the learning that is most important, but the act.” That is, since the Creator said, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice,” it means that for a person to be able to defeat the evil in him, it takes the light of Torah. Thus, one who learns Torah but does not intend for the Torah to bring him the light, so he can do his actions for the sake of the Creator, which is against the evil inclination, for the evil in man wants to work specifically for one’s own sake, and resists with all its might to aim for the sake of the Creator, and it cannot be defeated. For this reason, the Creator has given us the counsel of the power of the Torah, meaning that the Torah should give us the strength, through the light in it, which reforms him.
This means that the Torah turns the bad in a person into good, meaning that through the Torah, he can obtain the vessels of bestowal. This is called “action,” as was said, “Which God has created to do.”
It therefore follows that if the Torah does not give the assistance it is meant to give, it is regarded that the Torah is barren in that person. And a person who receives the Torah without the assistance it is meant to give, both the person and the Torah are called “barren,” meaning they engender nothing.
Now we can interpret what our sages said (Nedarim 81), “Why do wise disciples not yield wise disciples from their sons? Because they do not bless in the Torah first.” The reason for this is very difficult to understand. We see that even simple landlords say the blessing of the Torah when they are invited for the reading of the Torah [on the Sabbath service]. They, too, say the blessing. So how can it be that wise disciples do not bless in the Torah first? According to the above-said, we should interpret learning Torah and not aiming why are they learning prior to the learning of Torah, meaning what they want to achieve in return for engaging in Torah, since nothing is done unless to bring them some benefit.
The answer is that they did not bless in the Torah first. That is, they did not have the initial intent that the Torah will bring them blessing, and blessing means bestowal. In other words, they did not intend for the Torah to give them Kelim of blessing, meaning vessels of bestowal. This is why their Torah cannot deliver sons that will be recognizable as wise disciples. Instead, the Torah they learn does not yield for them Mitzvot, which are acts of bestowal; they remain barren, and their Torah is barren.
In other words, these wise disciples who are learning Torah do not beget their sons, meaning the acts called Mitzvot, that it will be evident that they come from wise disciples, meaning that they are good deeds, called “acts of bestowal” that the light of Torah engendered. This is called “Wise disciples do not yield wise disciples from their sons,” meaning it is not evident by their actions that they had to be born by the light of Torah, which is called “wise disciple.” That is, they learn Torah and the light of Torah should yield actions, meaning that all his actions will be for the sake of the Creator and to be rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator, to adhere to the Life of Lives. Why do they not have it? It is because “they did not bless in the Torah first.” That is, prior to learning Torah, they did not aim their minds that they are going to learn in order to the light of Torah to bring them the Segula[remedy/power/quality] that it will reform them.
Accordingly, we can understand what our sages said, “Any person without sons as regarded as dead,” since sons are Mitzvot, meaning that all the Mitzvot he does are in order to bestow. This is called Dvekut with the Life of Lives. Naturally, if he has no vessels of bestowal, he is separated from the Life of Lives, and is therefore regarded as dead, as our sages said, “The wicked in their lives are called ‘dead.’”
Now we can understand what our sages said about the verse, “Zion, no one demands her, meaning that a demand is required.” This means that Zion is called Malchut [kingdom/kingship], meaning the kingdom of heaven. This means that all of one’s actions should be for the sake of the Creator and not for his own sake, as it is written, “I remember God and I moan when I see every city built on its ruins, and the city of God lowered to the bottom of the netherworld.”
That is, that which concerns his own benefit is fine, and everyone tries that this will be in utter completeness. But the “city of God,” which is the holy work, to work for the sake of the Creator, this work is one of lowliness.
This requires the light of Torah. That is, one who learns Torah, before he learns, he must demand of the Torah to give him this light so he can work for the sake of the Creator.
Inapoi la pagina 1989 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link