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What Is, “Praise the Lord, All Nations,” in the Work?
Article No. 25, Tav-Shin-Nun, 1989-90
The writing says (Psalms 117), “Praise the Lord, all nations; laud Him, all the peoples, for His mercy has prevailed over us, and the truth of the Lord is everlasting, Hallelujah.” We should understand why all the nations must praise the Creator, since it is written, “for His mercy has prevailed over us.” It would seem that it should be to the contrary, that by being merciful with the people of Israel, the nations should be angry with the Creator. Yet, here the writing says, “Laud Him, all the peoples, for His mercy has prevailed over us.” Can this be?
We should interpret this according to the work. When we speak of one person, since every person is a small world, as it is written in The Zohar, there is the quality of the “nations of the world” in a person, and there is the quality of “Israel,” and the Israel in a person is in exile under the rule of the nations of the world.
In other words, it is known that Israel means Yashar-El [straight to the Creator], that he wants all his actions to be directly to the Creator, meaning that everything will be for the sake of the Creator. However, the thoughts of the nations of the world are only about their own benefit, as it is known that each nation has its own lust. They govern the Israel within him and do not let Israel do what Israel must do. Instead, each time, each and every nation imposes its lust on a person so he will do as it wishes. This is called “the people of Israel being in exile.”
However, we should know and believe that everything that a person can receive in vessels of reception is not more than a tiny light compared to the light of the pleasure that is clothed in spirituality, which is received in vessels of bestowal. And yet, our sages said a rule: “One does not die with half one’s wishes in one’s hand.”
That is, there is not a person in the world who can say that he is the happiest person in the world, according to the rule, “One who has one hundred wants two hundred.” Hence, there is not a person in the world who is carefree, at rest, or at peace. Rather, each and every one has his own deficiency, as it is written, “Envy, lust, and honor bring one out of the world.”
It follows that in the end, every person suffers because he cannot satisfy his deficiencies. But one who is rewarded and receives from the Creator vessels of bestowal, in these Kelim [vessels] he receives the delight and pleasure that the Creator has prepared for the created beings, and then a person lives in a world that is all good. It is as our sages said (Avot, Chapter 6:1), “Rabbi Meir says, ‘Anyone who engage in Torah Lishma [for Her sake] is rewarded with many things. Moreover, the whole world is worthwhile for him.’”
In other words, he sees how the world is worthwhile for him, since when a person receives everything in vessels of bestowal, which is equivalence of form, called Dvekut [adhesion], which is called Lishma, the delight and pleasure that is found in the thought of creation called “His desire to do good to His creations” is imparted upon him to the extent of His ability.
This is as described in the essay Matan Torah [“The Giving of the Torah”] (Item 6), “Our sages tell us that the world had not been created but for the purpose of observing Torah and Mitzvot. That is, the aim of the Creator from the time He created His creation is to reveal His Godliness to others. This is because the revelation of His Godliness reaches the creature as pleasant bounty that is ever growing until it reaches the desired measure. And by that, the lowly rise with true recognition and become a chariot to Him, and to cleave unto Him, until they achieve their final completion.”
It therefore follows that when a person is rewarded with vessels of bestowal, he is rewarded with the delight and pleasure that were in the thought of creation. This is called, “When the Lord favors a man’s ways, even his enemies make peace with him.” Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi interprets, “This is the serpent” (Jerusalem Talmud, Terumot 8:3). The serpent is the evil inclination, who is the appointee of the seventy nations. As was said, the quality of the nations of the world in one’s body cause him not to be able to be rewarded with the delight and pleasure.
It therefore follows that when a person receives delight and pleasure, the vessels of reception are also mitigated by his using the vessels of reception in order to bestow. Therefore, they, too, receive the delight and pleasure. This is called “When the Lord favors a man’s ways,” which is when he works only for the sake of the Creator, called “engaging Lishma.” Then, he is rewarded with many things, as said in the words of Rabbi Meir.
For this reason, the nations of the world in a person’s body must also praise the Creator because they are now receiving delight and pleasure by a person being rewarded with vessels of bestowal, called “Kelim of Hesed [mercy].” This is the meaning of the words, “Praise the Lord, all nations; laud Him, all the peoples.” But why should they praise the Creator? “for His mercy has prevailed over us.”
That is, it is because the Kelim of Hesed overcame the vessels of reception. And who gave the power to make the Hesed prevail? Only the Creator gave this, as our sages said, “Man’s inclination overcomes him every day. Unless the Creator helps him, he cannot overcome it.”
It follows that the nations, too, should praise the Creator “for His mercy has prevailed over us.” We have been rewarded with the Creator’s mercy, and by this we now see “the truth of the Lord,” meaning the truth that the Creator watches over the world with a guidance of good and doing good, which is now revealed to all the nations.
It follows that man’s enemies, which is the evil inclination, called “enemy,” as it is written, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him bread,” referring to the evil inclination, as our sages said, that King Solomon would call the evil inclination by the name “enemy,” so he, too, will make peace with him. This is called, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with both your inclinations,” namely with the good inclination and with the evil inclination. When a person’s vessels of reception obtain the force to receive in order to bestow, at that time he serves the Creator with the evil inclination, too. That is, the evil inclination also loves the Creator, for it, too, receives delight and pleasure.
This is why it is written, “and the truth of the Lord,” as he interprets in The Study of the Ten Sefirotabout the seventh correction of the thirteen corrections of Dikna, called “and truth,” that it is called “and truth” because in this correction it becomes revealed to all that this is the truth, that such was the purpose of creation: to do good to His creations.
It therefore follows that in the work, we should interpret what The Zohar says, that all the nations have a minister over them, but as for the people of Israel, only the Creator governs them, for the people of Israel are the portion of the Lord, since the nations of the world receive for themselves, as it is written in The Zohar about the verse, “The grace of the nations is a sin, for all the good that they do, they do for themselves.” That is, everything they do is only for their own benefit.
This is called “seventy nations,” meaning “seventy rulers,” where each nation has a special lust. This is generally called “the evil inclination,” since it causes man to become separated from the Creator. This is regarded as the ministers ruling over the nations of the world. In other words, they do not feel that there is a Creator who leads the world.
Conversely, the quality of Israel, which means Yashar-El [straight to the Creator], feel that they are in the portion of the Creator, since all their actions are for the sake of the Creator and not for their own sake. This is considered that the Creator took the people of Israel to His portion, and no minister governs them. In other words, one who enters the quality of Israel says that only the Creator governs him, and no other force.
This means that both ascents and descents, the Creator does everything. This is as is said (in the Shabbat [Sabbath] Morning Prayer), “God, Master of all the deeds.” That is, everything that a person does, the Creator is the Operator. As Baal HaSulam said, before the fact, a person should say that it is all up to him, as our sages said, “If I am not for me, who is for me?” meaning that man does everything. But after the fact, he should say that the Creator does everything, for He is the Master of all the deeds.
According to the above, we should interpret what is written (Psalms 89), “The heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies is comparable to the Lord? Who among the sons of gods is like the Lord?” We should understand how this concerns us that the heavens are thankful for the work of the Creator, since the main thing we need to know is what we must do.
In the work, we should interpret that “heaven” and “earth” are two states in which man is: 1) In a state of ascent, it is considered that a person is in “heaven.” That is, as heaven is called “giver,” if a person is in a state of ascent, it means that then he wants to bestow upon the Creator. This is considered that all his works are for the sake of the Creator. 2) When a person is in a descent and falls to the earth, “earth” is the quality of reception. In other words, a person has fallen into a state where he cannot do anything unless it satisfies his will to receive. This is called “earth.”
According to the above, a person should believe that the Creator does everything. That is, once a person has overcome his will to receive and works only for the sake of the Creator, it is said, “The heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord.” That is, this act is truly a wondrous act, since by nature, man cannot do anything that is not for his own benefit. But now the Creator has raised him to heaven.
It is written, “And those people will thank,” those who are now in a state of “heaven,” will thank the Creator, since this work is done only by the Creator and not by man, for man is incapable of doing anything that does not concern his own benefit, since he was created with such a nature.
“Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones.” This means that faith, which is in the assembly, who now feel that they are holy, as it written, “You will be holy, for I am holy.” That is, as the Creator wants to bestow, so man should have a desire only to bestow, as it is written, “Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones,” that this, too, comes from the wonders of the Creator—that they have been rewarded with faith, and because of this they are regarded as an assembly of holy ones. There is a double meaning [in Hebrew].
It is written, “For who in the skies.” That is, one who is in the skies, who was rewarded with being in the heavens, meaning with the desire to bestow, called “heaven,” “is comparable to You?” This seems perplexing, because according to the literal meaning, the verse should say, “For who in the skies is comparable to the Lord.” Is there anyone who can make a mistake and say that someone will value himself similar to the Creator?
In the work, we should interpret that the writing tells us that one should not think that the overcoming, the work and labor that he has given, by this he became the quality of heaven—a giver. However, the person had nothing to do with it, that he helped the Creator be able to pull a person out of self-love into the desire to bestow for the sake of the Creator.
Afterward, the verse says about this: “Who among the sons of the gods is like the Lord?” In other words, those strong and mighty people should not think that the fact that they had the power to overcome their evil was by their own strength. Rather, everything came from the power of the Creator, as it is written, “Who is like the Lord?” able to overcome the evil without the Creator’s help.
Yet, it is written, “He who comes to purify is aided,” which implies that man’s work did help the Creator, creating a place to give help, so why is it said that everything is done by the Creator? We should interpret what our sages said, “He who comes to purify.” That is, if we see that the person came on his own to purify, which is an awakening from below, the answer to this is “He is being aided.”
That is, the fact that he has come to purify comes by assistance from above. Otherwise, he would not come to purify. It follows that the fact came to purify also comes from the Creator and not from the created being. This contradicts human reason, that on one hand, we say, “He who comes to purify,” which means that man can choose to do, and on the other hand, we say that the Creator does everything, so they contradict one another.
Maimonides writes in his interpretation on the Mishnah (Avot, Chapter 3:15), “Everything is expected; everything is revealed and known to the Creator in advance, and the permission is given. Nevertheless, man has the authority to choose the good or the bad. In other words, man has free choice. Knowing the Creator, that He knows everything in advance, does not obligate a person in any way. Although this is impossible according to our attainment and understanding, but the Creator’s knowing is not the same as our knowing. There is no similarity between them whatsoever, since He and His knowing are one. As we do not attain the existence of the Creator with our limited mind, so we do not attain His knowing.”
Thus, we see in the words of Maimonides that it is not in our attainment to understand the two above matters, which contradict one another. Baal HaSulam said that although they contradict one another, it is before a person is rewarded with private Providence. However, after he has been rewarded with private Providence, he can understand that this is not a contradiction. But with the external mind, it is impossible to understand this.
This means that there is a contradiction between reward and punishment and private Providence, but with regard to everything, we must go above reason and do both. As we see in the words of The Zohar (Tazria, Item 6), “‘For her price is far above pearls.’ He asks, ‘It should have said ‘worth,’ that it is harder to buy her than pearls, why does it say ‘her price’? He replies, ‘All those who do not adhere to her completely and are not whole with her, she sells them and turns them over to other nations. It is as you say, ‘And the children of Israel abandoned the Lord,’ and He sold them to the hand of Sisera. And then they are all far from those high and holy pearls, which are the secrets and the internality of the Torah, for they will have no share in them.’’”
It follows that here he speaks of reward and punishment. That is, in the work, we should interpret that when a person receives some awakening from above and does not know how to maintain that state of ascent, since he does not appreciate it as he should when the King calls on him to enter a little bit into Kedusha [holiness], at that time the Kedusha sells the person to other nations. That is, the thoughts and desires of other nations control him. It follows that on one hand, a person should say, “Everything is under Providence,” and on the other hand, there is reward and punishment. However, it is as in the words of Maimonides.
Inapoi la pagina 1990 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link