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What Is “For It Is Your Wisdom and Understanding in the Eyes of the Nations,” in the Work?

Article No. 36, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988-89

It is written (Deuteronomy 4:6), “So keep and do them, for it is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of the nations, who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding nation.’”

We should understand this, since we do not see that the nations of the world are saying that Israel is a “wise and understanding nation.”

Also, it appears from the text that specifically by “keep and do them,” the nations will see the wisdom and understanding in the people of Israel. Even within the people of Israel we see that the secular despise the religious for observing the Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds], so how can we say that the nations of the world will respect the people of Israel for keeping them and doing them?

We should interpret this in the work. It is known that in the work, the person himself is a small world consisting of all the nations in the world. Since each nation has its own specific lust, as it is known that there are seven qualities of Kedusha [holiness], and opposite them seven qualities of Tuma’a[impurity], and each quality consists of ten, thus, in general, there are seventy nations. Then there is Israel.

The seventy nations want to control the quality of Israel, since Israel want all their actions to be for the sake of the Creator, for Yashar-El [straight to the Creator] indicates that all his actions will be for the Creator. But the nations of the world in a person want specifically that everything they do will be only for their own sake. We call the evil inclination, “nations of the world,” and we call the good inclination, “Israel.”

The order of the work is that when a person wants to work only for the sake of the Creator, the evil inclination, which is the nations of the world, come and resist with all their might. Each one makes a person think that he should go its way, according to the root of the lust in each and every nation. They make a person think that they are correct through intellectual and reasonable arguments.

Each time they see that the person does not want to listen to them, they come with stronger arguments and clearer evidence that they are right. They are certain that according to the reasoning and arguments that they make a person understand, he will have nothing to reply to them. Hence, they are certain that they are the smartest in the world, since they see, according to their intellect and reason, that man’s mind, can only give them silly answers, and the answers will be dismissed before their intellect and reason. Then, naturally, the person will have to follow the path of the nations of the world and idol-worship, meaning do work that is foreign to us, to the Kedusha, since Kedusha means working for the sake of the Creator, while they want to work for their own sake. Their entire certainty lies in their intellect, that they are making sense.

Indeed, how can a person defeat his evil, even though his evil speaks with reason, wisdom, and knowledge, and know that they are the smartest in the world? They are so sure of their arguments and that man will stay with them, under their control, forever.

We must know that the power of Kedusha is faith above reason. That is, when they come with their arguments and show how correct they are, one should not tell them that their arguments are wrong. Instead, he should tell the nations of the world within him, “Know that everything you say is true. Reasonably speaking, you are correct, and I have nothing to reply to you. However, we were given the work above reason—that we must believe above reason that you are incorrect. And since the work on faith must be above reason, I thank you very much for your correct arguments that you have brought me, since it cannot be said that a person goes above reason unless he has reason and intellect. Then, it can be said that he is going above the intellect.

But when there is no reason, it cannot be said that he is going above reason. That is, “above reason” means that this path is more important than the path within reason. However, when there is no other way to tell him, “Walk in this path!” it cannot be said that he chooses the path of faith above reason. For this reason, precisely through the power of faith above reason is it possible to defeat the views of the nations of the world within man.

Now we can understand what we asked, What is the meaning of, “for it is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of the nations”? The writings says, “keep and do them.” We asked, What does “keep and do them” imply?

According to the above said, that all the power we have against the arguments of the nations, who come with sensible arguments that their way—within reason—is the path of truth, all we can reply to them is by way of faith above reason. Above reason means “doing,” since they are not given an answer within reason. When we answer not with reason, this is called “doers of His word.”

This is the meaning of “Man and beast You save, O Lord.” Our sages said, “Those who are as cunning in reason as men, and pretend to be as beasts.” That is, they go above reason as though they have no reason, and by this they defeat the nations of the world within them.

It is as it says (Midrash Rabbah, Ecclesiastes, p 12) about the verse, “I said to myself concerning the sons of men.” These are its words: “‘Concerning the sons of men,’ concerning words that the righteous say. And why did God create them? To clarify to them the measure of their righteousness, so they will see that they are beasts, to see and to show the nations of the world how Israel follow Him like a beast.”

We should understand why we need to show the nations of the world how Israel follow Him like a beast. According to the above, the nations of the world means the nations of the world within man’s heart. They must be shown that the fact that we want to work for the sake of the Creator and not for our own sake, we do not do this within reason, as you want to argue with us who is right. Rather, we do everything with faith above reason. We do this like beasts, without any rhyme or reason. Therefore, do not think that we will ever listen to your views because for us, everything is above reason.

We ask the Creator about this, that He will help us from above to overcome all the answers you require. Your questions are included in two questions, called “Who” and “What.” We believe with faith in the sages that we must seek the Creator’s help, and He will certainly help us, as our sages said, “He who comes to purify is aided.” That is, He will help us follow Him above reason, to show the nations of the world how Israel follow Him like a beast. This is the meaning of the works, “So keep and do them, for it is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of the nations.”

That is, your observing the action, which is the above reason, and by not veering off from this path, you will certainly succeed in emerging from the control of the nations of the world, and the nations of the world within you will annul before the Kedusha, as it is written, “And you will love the Lord your God with all your heart.” Our sages said, “With both your inclinations,” meaning that the evil inclination will also turn to good. It follows that his “nations of the world,” called “evil inclination,” will also be servants of the Creator.

Then, the nations of the world in man will see that once they, too, have been rewarded with the good, since all the wisdom—by which they could defeat the nations of the world and admit them into Kedusha—was faith above reason, called “do them.” That is, all the wisdom in the quality of Israel is specifically in acting like a beast, and this was their entire wisdom.

This is the meaning of the words, “who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding nation.’” That is, the nations of the world, too, once they have also been admitted into Kedusha, as in “with all your heart, with both your inclinations,” when the evil inclination, which are the nations of the world, also enters the Kedusha, then they see that all the wisdom that Israel had was that they heard the statutes, which is an act.

Then they are a wise and understanding nation, for all their wisdom was not as we think, that we will obtain wisdom only with inquiries and intellect. On the contrary, they were rewarded with wisdom precisely by following Him like a beast, meaning that precisely by “doing,” which is called “working above reason,” they were rewarded with wisdom. It follows that they are called a “wise and understanding nation” because they followed Him like a beast, and not with wisdom. This is all of the wisdom of the people of Israel.

Concerning doing, which is called “above reason,” we should interpret what it says (Midrash Tanchuma), “‘And it shall come to pass that because,’ as the verse says, ‘Why should I fear in the days of evil, the iniquity of my heels shall surround me (encircle me).’ Because there are light Mitzvotamong them, which people do not notice, but throw them under their heels, meaning that they are light, for this reason, David feared the day of judgment. He would say, ‘Lord of the world, I do not fear the grave Mitzvot; what I fear is the light Mitzvot.’”

We should understand the meaning of light and grave Mitzvot in the work. “Light” means that it is unimportant. The fact that a person should work above reason, a person finds no importance in the matter, and this work tastes like dust to him. It is called “Shechina [Divinity] in the dust.” That is, the fact that a person must take upon himself the burden of the kingdom of heaven above reason, this work is “in the dust.”

Yet, we must observe Mitzvot and do good deeds and learn Torah so the Creator will raise this work from the dust, meaning from its lowliness, as we pray—that the Lord will raise the Shechina from the dust, as it is written, “The Merciful One, He will raise for us David’s fallen hut.” The reason why she is in lowliness is the concealment that the Creator has made, so there would be room for choice, meaning so we will be able to work in order to bestow, called “Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator.” This is why we were given this work in the form of concealment of the face.

Hence, the heart of our work is to make for ourselves vessels of bestowal through the preparation we make during the work at the time of concealment. We have vessels of reception from the Creator, and on these Kelim [vessels], there was a correction not to use them because they cause separation as they are in oppositeness of form from the Creator. Hence, we were given Torah and Mitzvot by which we will be able to obtain the vessels of bestowal.

For this reason, all the slanderers and accusers appear over this work and say, “We agree to serve the Creator, but the goal you want to achieve through observing Torah and Mitzvot, to this we do not agree. They bring a person many arguments, meaning thoughts that make him think that this whole purpose is not worth working for. Hence, if a person does not agree to change the goal of obtaining vessels of bestowal, they do not let a person observe Torah and Mitzvot for this purpose, and anything a person does comes to him with great efforts.

As soon as a person forgets the goal and begins to work like the general public, meaning to receive reward for the work, he once again has the strength to respect it and to work with energy, since the purpose of the work is not against man’s will. But when a person begins to work and forgets the goal, and finally awakens once again and wants to work in Torah and Mitzvot in order to obtain vessels of bestowal, the arguments of the spies rise against him once again and make him feel the taste of dust in this work. Then it is difficult for him once more to move ahead. This is called “light Mitzvot,” meaning working with the aim of obtaining vessels of bestowal, namely for the sake of the Creator and not for one’s own sake. There is reason to fear in this work because he has many dissidents.

This is not so with “grave Mitzvot,” meaning that which is important to a person. That is, if a person works in order to receive reward, he regards it as a grave matter, since his self-benefit would lose if he did not observe the Torah and Mitzvot. But if the reward and the loss are for the sake of the Creator, this is not so important to a person.

For this reason, here a person slights because he introspects and says, “Since in any case, I will not lose a thing,” since he says that he will not receive anything for himself, for he says that the Torah and Mitzvot should be done primarily for the Creator and not for his own benefit, then who can benefit from his work? Only the Creator. By this, a person slights and belittles in this work. Hence, a person often tells himself, “I should not even bother exerting in the work. If it comes easy, I can work. But if I have a small disturbance, I have no power to overcome.”

The reason is that working Lo Lishma [not for Her sake] is not important, so it is not worth exerting over it. At the same time, what will he get out of working Lishma [for Her sake]? Therefore, usually, a person says that it is best to go to sleep and get some rest from all these things, as they bring him nothing but despondency and discontentment. This is called “light Mitzvot,” “which people do not notice, but throw them under their heels.”

David said about this, “Why should I fear in the days of evil, the iniquity of my heels,” the light Mitzvot that a person slights? That is, when we want to go in the work of bestowal, I fear this —perhaps I will not be able to observe them. In this regard, meaning regarding obtaining the vessels of bestowal, only the Creator can help. That is, as the Creator gave man the vessels of reception, we must ask Him to give the vessels of bestowal instead of the vessels of reception.

That is, just as a person enjoys working for his own benefit, so he will receive great importance and pleasure from working for the sake of the Creator. That is, he will feel that it is a great privilege for him to serve the King, and we obtain this by “keep and do them, for it is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of the nations.”

Inapoi la pagina 1989 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link

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