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What Does It Mean that Oil Is Called “Good Deeds” in the Work?
Article No. 32, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988-89
It is written in The Zohar (Balak, Item 43): “‘The wise, his eyes are in his head.’ He asks, ‘Where else would man’s eyes be? Perhaps in his body or on his arm, as the wisest in the whole world told us?’ We learn that ‘One must not walk four steps bare-headed.’ What is the reason? It is because the Shechina [Divinity] is on his head, and any wise man, his eyes and his words are in his head. That is, on the same line. It stands on his head, which is the Shechina, and when his eyes are there, in his head, which is the Shechina, he should know that that light which burns on his head needs oil, since man’s body is the wick, and the light burns above the wick. King Solomon shrieked and said, ‘Let not oil be lacking on your head,’ since the light in his head needs oil, which is the good deeds. It is about this that he says, ‘The wise, his eyes are in his head,’ and not elsewhere.”
We should understand why if the Creator wants to give the light of the Creator to a person, the person needs good deeds, like the oil. That is, according to the amount of oil in the wick, to that extent the candle burns. In other words, in corporeality, we see that the wick can burn only according to the amount of oil in it. Yet, how does this relate to spirituality? Why is it that when there is a lack of good deeds, the Creator cannot give to a person, so the light will not stop from him? After all, the fact that the Creator gives light to a person is because of the purpose of creation, which is to do good to His creations. Thus, why does the Creator need the lower one to give Him good deeds?
To understand what we asked, If He wishes to give delight and pleasure to the created beings, why does He need them to give Him oil? The answer is that in order to achieve the completion of His works, there was the matter of concealment and hiding, so that His guidance will not be in open Providence. Only once the created beings correct their Kelim [vessels] from the will to receive for themselves and achieve equivalence of form, called “desire to bestow,” by this the matter of shame—which derives from the oppositeness of form from the Giver—will be corrected.
It therefore follows that although from the perspective of the Giver there is no cessation of abundance, but as it is written, “I the Lord do not change,” from the perspective of correction that was carried out in the first receiver, called Malchut de Ein Sof, this correction is derived, where as long as the lower one cannot receive everything in order to bestow, the light stops shining to the lower one. Therefore, in order for the light to shine on one’s head, he must do good deeds, meaning acts of bestowal. This will lead him to do everything in order to bestow, and then there will be a place where the light can be present permanently.
Now we can interpret what is written, “The wise, his eyes are in his head.” Baal HaSulam said that “wise” means that one who wants to be wise is already called “wise.” Accordingly, this means that one who wants to be wise should look in his own head, meaning believe that the Shechina is on his head, which is the reason why our sages said, “One must not walk four steps bare-headed.” We explained that man’s head means man’s mind, and the mind must not be revealed, meaning he should cover his mind and reason as though he has no reason and go above reason, for precisely above reason can he receive everything in order to bestow. In this way, a person can be rewarded with feeling that the Shechina is over his head, meaning above reason, by which he will come to feel.
This is as Baal HaSulam says, that when a person comes to feel that now he is in ascent, he should not say, “Now I do not need to believe that His guidance is in the form of good and doing good because now I feel that this is so.” By this he goes back within reason and promptly loses his degree, since he has flawed the faith above reason by saying that now he no longer needs to go above reason.
This is called falling once more into self-love, on which there was a Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment, for which the light departed from him and he remained in the dark. When it says, “His eyes are in his head,” it means he is looking at the Malchut [kingdom] of heaven in his head, which is precisely when his head is not revealed but covered, and he goes above reason. This is called “good deeds.” And what is the good deed? It is that he covers his head by going above reason.
It follows that man’s body is the wick that needs the light in his head, and the light shines as long as he has oil. When he has no oil, the light departs from the wick.
As was said above, “oil” means good deeds. As long as he adds oil, the candle burns, meaning that as long as he “covers his head,” meaning his feeling, that is, he is not taking this ascent—meaning that now he feels the light within reason—as support.
This means that now he has something on which to base his kingdom of heaven. It follows that now he no longer has oil, meaning good deeds, called “above reason.” Hence, the wick is quenched for lack of oil. This is the meaning of what we asked, “What does it mean that oil is called “good deeds”?
The answer is that good deeds are like the oil in the wick. When the oil runs out, the light stops. Likewise, when the good deeds stop, the light departs and descends once more to the place of lowliness.
Baal HaSulam said that when he comes into a state of ascent, meaning that he feels that it is worthwhile to work in order to do everything in order to bring contentment to his Maker, he should not say, “Now I have a basis on which to build the kingdom of heaven, since now I no longer need to go above reason.” Rather, he should say, “Now I see that I must go specifically above reason, and the evidence of this is that specifically by going above reason, the Creator brings me closer and loves me.”
How does he know that the Creator loves him? Baal HaSulam said a rule about this: If a person has love for the Creator, he should know that it is because the Creator loves him, as it is written, “The Lord is your shade.” “Therefore, from here on I take upon myself to go only above reason, for in this way I see that the Creator brings me closer.” Thus, he does not relate to the ascent as a basis, that because now he feels, he wants to be a worker of the Creator. Rather, he takes this ascent as proof that the way of the Creator is specifically above reason, and henceforth, he will try to go only above reason.
Accordingly, we can understand what The Zohar says (Balak, Item 71), “‘And it shall come to pass that when you eat from the bread of the earth you will raise a contribution to the Lord’ was said about the sheaf of the “wave offering.” Why “wave”? Is it a wave because the priest would wave it up? How does it concern us if he waved up or lowered down? We said that Tnufa [waving] means Tnu-Peh [give-mouth], which are the letters of Tnufa [in Hebrew]. It means, “Give glory to the Lord your God, since Peh is glory, meaning Malchut, which is called “glory,” which should be given to the Creator. For this reason, we must raise her, since there is glory to the upper one, ZA, only when Israel establish this glory, which is Malchut, and give it to the King of Glory. This is the meaning of Tnu-Peh, “give glory.” This is certainly elevating, meaning raising Malchut to ZA.
Waving implies work. That is, although the literal meaning is that we must raise the sheaf, as it is written, “the sheaf of the wave offering,” but The Zohar asks what this comes to teach us in the work. It explains about this that we must raise the kingship to the Creator, for Peh [mouth] is called kingshipand Peh is also called “glory,” as it is written, “Give glory to the Lord your God.” Thus, we must give the Peh, which is the kingship [Malchut], to the Creator.
We should understand what it means that we must give the kingship to the Creator, and what it means that they should give the Peh, meaning glory, to the Creator. When we speak about observing Torah and Mitzvot individually, meaning in order to thereby achieve Dvekut with the Creator, which is equivalence of form, namely relinquish self-benefit and do only that which benefits the Creator, this work is called “Shechina [Divinity] in the dust,” or “Shechina in exile.”
In other words, when a person works for his own benefit, meaning to receive reward for his work, he has fuel to work because he considers the reward. But when a person wants to work not in order to receive reward, the body asks, “What is this work for you?” Therefore, at that time, this work tastes like dust to him. Although he overcomes and observes the Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds], he works with great efforts since the body does not enjoy it.
Conversely, if a person says to the body, “If you ask me why I observe Torah and Mitzvot,” the person should say, “Until now, I worked for you. Now I have come to realize that we must work for the sake of the Creator. Since I cannot fight, as you are stronger than I, as it is written, ‘And redeemed him from the hand of he who was stronger than him,’ therefore, I want to observe Torah and Mitzvot and I believe in our sages who said, ‘The light in it reforms him,’ that by observing Torah and Mitzvot, I will be able to overcome you. Therefore, I ask that you will not disturb me, or I will not be able to annul you.”
Clearly, what does the body answer? There is the known rule, “He who comes to kill you, kill him first.” Naturally, the body does what it can. It brings him many bad thoughts, to the point that he cannot overcome it.
What should one do when he sees that he cannot overcome it by himself? His only choice is to believe in our sages, who said, “He who comes to purify is aided.” That is, at that time he must pray to the Creator to help him from above so he will have the strength to defeat his body.
For what should one ask for the Creator’s help? He cannot defeat the evil in him, called “will to receive for his own sake,” because the Shechina is in the dust. In other words, since there is a natural law that the small annuls before the great as a candle before a torch, a person cannot work for the sake of the Creator because the King is not important in his eyes. This is called “Shechina in the dust.”
It follows that he asks of the Creator to raise the Shechina from the dust. In other words, the Shechina is called “kingdom of heaven,” and its value is the same as that of dust. It is as we say in the blessing for the food, “The Merciful One will raise for us the fallen hut of David,” where the “hut of David” means the kingdom of heaven, which is lying in the dust. We ask the Creator to raise the kingdom so that we can see its importance, and not as it appears to us, that it is lying in the dust, which is why we cannot annul the evil in us.
Conversely, if the glory of heaven were revealed, the body would annul like a candle before a torch. This is the meaning of what we say in the Musaf [supplemental] Prayer: “For our sins, we have been exiled from our land and drew far off from our land.” That is, because of the sins, called “vessels of reception,” we have become “far off from our land.” Adama [land] comes from the words, “Adameh [I will be similar] to the Upper One.” Similar to the upper one means that the lower one, too, wants to be as a desire to bestow, like the upper one. He drew far off from it because he wants only to receive for himself.
For this reason, we ask of the Creator and say, “Our Father, our King, reveal the glory of Your kingship upon us soon.” That is, by the Creator revealing His glory to us, meaning raising the Shechina from the dust and glorifying Malchut [the kingship/kingdom], we will be able to annul our will to receive through the rule, “the small annuls before the great.”
Yet, the question is, Why must we ask the Creator to raise Malchut from the dust? Why does He not show the importance of Malchut on His own, but made it so that in our eyes, she is lying in the dust?
The answer is that if the glory of Malchut were revealed, we would not be able to make a choice, and everything would go into the vessels of reception. It would be utterly impossible to emerge from the control of the will to receive for oneself. But while there is concealment on the kingdom of heaven and we must accept the burden of the kingdom of heaven above reason, it is rooted in a person that there is a prohibition to receive abundance in vessels of reception. For this reason, a person begins to work not in order to receive reward, but because of the glory of the King. Hence, he asks the Creator not to hide Himself from the lower ones, but to “Reveal the glory of Your kingship over us” so we will have the strength to annul ourselves and work only because of the glory of the King.
Now we can understand the meaning of Tnufa, which he says means Tnu-Peh [give-mouth]. We should interpret what it means that the created beings must give a mouth to the Creator, which is Malchut. It means that the lower ones should take upon themselves the kingdom of heaven, meaning that they must elevate Malchut, which is lying in the dust, and say that she is not lowered and lying in the dust, but that her place is in heaven. This is called “the kingdom of heaven,” meaning that she is raised from the dust and placed back in her place, which is her important place—in heaven. Then, Malchut is called Peh.
It says, “Give glory to the Lord your God,” since Peh is glory, for there is no merit to the high King unless when Israel establish this glory, which is the kingship, and give it to the King of Glory.
That is, all our work is to aim all of our actions to raise the Shechina from the dust, meaning to raise Malchut. This means that we take upon ourselves the kingdom of heaven to make her respectable, to understand her merit, and that it is worthy to work for the sake of the Creator and not for our own sake.
Yet, this work is difficult because it is against nature. Hence, this work causes us many ascents and descents, until sometimes a person despairs and says, “This work is not for me,” and wants to escape the campaign since he sees no progress in the work. Moreover, he sees that he has regressed and not progressed, namely that now he is more immersed in self-love, and that before he began the work of bestowal, he was not so worldly.
It follows that now he sees that he has more evil. But the question is, What is the truth? Was all the effort he had put into achieving love of the Creator pointless and useless? According to the rule that our sages said, “One should always see oneself as half guilty, half innocent. If he commits one Mitzva[singular of Mitzvot], happy is he, for he has sentenced himself to the side of merit.” Thus, the question is, Once he has sentenced himself to the side of merit, how can he be half guilty, half innocent, since now he is mostly worthy?
We should answer according to what our sages said (Sukkah 52), “Anyone who is greater than his friend, his inclination is greater than him.” But why is he given a greater evil inclination? The answer is that each time a person subdues some evil and the evil enters the Kedusha [holiness], he is given a bigger portion of evil to correct. It follows that now that he has subdued the previous evil, he is given evil once again, and more of it. That is, according to the measure of the good, so he is given a measure of the bad.
Thus, according to the rule, “Anyone who is greater than his friend, his inclination is greater than him,” it means that the good and the bad are always of equal weight. It therefore follows that the evil is recognized only according to the extent of good that a person has obtained, and to that extent, the evil in him appears.
Accordingly, one who has only a little bit of good will have only a little bit of bad, for otherwise he will not be balanced and will not be able to make a choice, for the bad will be more than the good. For this reason, a person is shown the evil in him only to the extent of the good in him, meaning that a person is always in a state of half good and half bad.
It turns out that through descents and ascents, the evil is gradually corrected, and a person must always remember and believe what our sages said, “He who comes to purify is aided.” However, a person must give an awakening from below, and then he is rewarded with a Peh of Kedusha, as was said, “Give a mouth, give glory to the Lord your God.”
Inapoi la pagina 1989 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link