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What Is, “A Drunken Man Must Not Pray, in the Work?

Article No. 21, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988-89

Our sages said (Iruvin 64), “A drunken man must not pray. And if he prays, his prayer is an abomination.” This means that it is better if he does not pray because his prayer is an abomination. But what does “abomination” mean?

We find the word “abomination” in relation to incest, too. In general, “abomination” means something loathsome, as it was said, “You shall not eat any abomination,” “Come and see the evil abominations they are committing here,” etc. We should understand this in the work. Why is it better if he does not pray if he is drunk, since this is loathsome?

The Zohar asks (Shmini, Item 61) about the verse, “Do not drink wine or ale”: “Rabbi Hiya opened, ‘and wine makes man’s heart glad.’ He asks, If the priest should be happy and in illumination of the face more than everyone, why is he forbidden to drink wine? since there is joy and illumination of the face in it. However, in the beginning, wine is gladness and its end is sadness. And the priest should always be happy. Moreover, wine comes from the side of the Levites, since the Torah and the wine of Torah are from the side of Gevura, while the side of the priests is Hesed.”

It is also written there (Item 66), “For this reason, when a priest enters the Temple in order to work, he is forbidden to drink wine, since his actions are secretive and wine reveals secrets. This is why it is to raise the voice,” and this raising of the voice pertains to the Levites.

We should understand what is a priest in the work, what “The priest’s work is secretive” means in the work, and what is a Levite. Also, why do the Levites need to raise their voices, the opposite of the priests, and why wine is gladness in the beginning and sadness in the end, meaning what is regarded as “beginning” and what is regarded as “end”?

First, we need to know what is work. It is known that there are two manners in the work of the Creator: 1) Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], 2) not in order to receive reward. This means that he believes in the Creator, that He is the King of the world, and to the extent of his faith in the greatness of the Creator, so he feels that it is a great privilege to serve the King.

But with what can he serve the King that the King will enjoy? The answer is that we must believe that the Creator has commanded us through Moses how we can serve Him: He has given us Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds], as well as faith in the sages, to observe everything that our sages added to us, which is called Mitzvot de Rabanan [commandments of our great sages]. Also, He has given us customs to follow, which they have given us to observe. By observing all these, it is in order to bring Him contentment by observing the Torah and Mitzvot, and all of our pleasure is in having this great privilege, and from this we derive our entire life.

That is, since it is impossible to live without delight and pleasure, which extends from the fact that the purpose of creation was to do good to His creations, a desire and yearning to receive pleasure was therefore imprinted in the creatures, or else a person cannot exist in the world. For this reason, all the creatures, as soon as they are born, must receive pleasure.

The only difference between small and great is in the clothing. That is, the pleasure must be dressed in something. Hence, according to one’s maturing, the dresses for a person change accordingly. For example, a child enjoys games, and when he matures, he changes the dresses.

Likewise, a person begins to do the holy work in order to derive pleasure in observing Torah and Mitzvot. We must promise him a reward in return for his work, just as in corporeal work. Although a person derives great pleasure from rest, he relinquishes it and goes to work because the work will give him a reward, meaning things he will enjoy.

This pleasure, which he receives from the work, comes in two ways: 1) Payment, called “salary.” Through the salary, he will be able to buy things that will give him pleasure. 2) Some people work not in order to receive a salary for their work, but for respect. This is what they enjoy and what gives them fuel for work.

It is the same in the holy work. Some work in order to receive reward or respect for their work. In this, too, there are two manners: 1) The created beings will give them money or respect. 2) They want the Creator to give them money and respect, etc., in return for their work. As The Zohar writes, they want the Creator to give them the next world in return for their work. All this is called “in order to receive reward.”

However, those who want to work only in order to bestow, whose motivation is that they are serving the King, as The Zohar says (“Introduction of the Book of Zohar,” Item 191), “Fear, which is the most important, is when one fears one’s Master because He is great and ruling, the essence and the root of all the worlds, and everything is considered nothing compared to Him… And he will place his will in that place, which is called ‘fear.’”

Here, in this work, begins the main heaviness, since a person must muster motivation not from what is generally accepted, which the general public can understand, that he receives reward in return for work. That is, the work is in Torah and Mitzvot, but he receives the reward from something else, and only this, that he hopes to receive the reward, obligates him to work. That is, according to the reward he hopes to receive, he measures himself in the work, meaning how much effort to exert in the work, according to the reward he will receive.

But those who want to work for no reward at all, but in order to bring contentment to their Maker, their measurement is the greatness of the Creator. That is, to the extent that a person assumes the greatness of the King, to that extent he has the energy to work. It is written (“Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot,” Item 14), that there is partial faith, where each one has a certain measure of faith that determines how much effort he should put into the work of the Creator.

This is as he says in The Zohar about the verse, “Her husband is known at the gates, each according to what he assumes in his heart.” This means that each person has a measure of greatness of the Creator, and the greatness of the Creator in a person is according to what he assumes in his heart. That is, there is no measure to the greatness of the Creator so that one can have the real measure of the greatness of the Creator, as it is written, “His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another.” We learn that the matter of “one generation to another” in the work is in the same person, meaning each state is called a “generation.”

Thus, during an ascent, a person has a certain measure of greatness of the Creator. During a descent, a person has a different measure of greatness of the Creator. This is called “One generation to another.” This means that through these generations, meaning through the ascents and descents, when a person calculates how much he appreciates His greatness in those two states, and he strengthens himself in the work, by this he is later rewarded with “will praise Your works.” That is, he sees that even the states of descent were for better and not for worse.

This is so because a person can evaluate something only from its opposite, as was said, “As the advantage of the light from within the darkness,” as Baal HaSulam explains (Shamati, Essay No. 34, “As the Advantage of the Light from within the Darkness” [“The Profit of a Land”]). It follows that “One generation to another” means that from both together we come to the state, “will praise Your works.” Through these states, which are repeated every time, and there can be several states, called “generations,” each day, from all those “many generations” we achieve wholeness. However, it is provided we do not escape the campaign in the middle of the work.

Accordingly, we see that in order to have fuel to work in order to bestow and not receive any reward, but the work itself will be the reward, we must believe in Him, meaning believe in His greatness. We must make great efforts to obtain faith in the greatness of the Creator. Without faith in the greatness of the Creator, there is no power to work in order to bestow. That is, precisely when we feel the greatness of the Creator, a person is ready to work without any reward.

Instead, the work itself is the reward, since serving a great King is more valuable to him than any fortune in the world, compared to this service, that the Creator permits him to come in and serve Him. Hence, we must focus all our thoughts on how to come to feel the greatness of the Creator, and then everything follows that point.

It is known that when we begin the work, we must begin on the right line, called “wholeness.” That is, a person should try to believe above reason as much as possible, and say that although he can only do a small service in Kedusha [holiness], he should believe that it is very important and he does not have the brains to appreciate the importance of the matter.

This is as our sages said, “Walks and does not do, the reward for walking is in his hand.” This means that one should appreciate even a tiny contact with spirituality, in whatever manner. The Creator accepts everything and registers it under that person’s account, and penny by penny join into a great amount.

This is as it is written in Baal HaSulam’s essay, “The Order of the Work,” that we should address the work to the Creator and believe that He accepts our work, and it makes no difference how this works seems. That is, the Creator takes everyone into consideration if he does something in the work, and it makes no difference what aim a person has at the time, but the Creator takes everything into the account. For this reason, the person, too, should certainly think about everything that is something in the work of the Creator, and a person should derive delight and joy from everything, in that he has the privilege of having any contact with spirituality.

A person must give many thanks to the Creator for rewarding him with anything in spirituality, as was said, that even if he walks but does not do, the reward for walking is in his hand. Thus, one must thank the Creator for at least rewarding him with going to the synagogue. When a person thanks the Creator for this, and not merely thanks, but he should be happy with it, this is called “right,” wholeness, and this is the quality of Hesed [mercy], the right line.

In other words, he says that the Creator has dealt mercy with him by permitting him to do something in spirituality. This quality is called “priest,” meaning that he is regarded as doing the holy work.

When a person walks on the right line, he can always be happy, called “desiring mercy.” That is, he is content with his lot, with what he has, and does not slander the Creator. In other words, when a person is happy, there is no room for slander since when he is happy, he has no complaints to the Creator that He does not treat him as The Good Who Does Good. In that state, a person is regarded as “blessed.”

It is written in the essay, “Faith in His Rav [Teacher],” this is when a person can be awarded a high degree because “the blessed cling to the blessed.” But when a person slanders, even if he wants the Creator to give him spirituality and not corporeality, there is still no difference between them. Rather, when he has complaints and discontent with his situation, and he cannot say that the Creator treats him as The Good Who Does Good, this is considered slander, and the prohibition on slander is known to all.

Therefore, when a person walks on the right line and slanderous thoughts come to him, he should reject them and say that it is forbidden to listen to slander. He should do all that he can to repel and expel from himself all the bad thoughts that slander, although when these thoughts come to a person, they say, “We are not foreign thoughts. On the contrary, we want you not to deceive yourself, but to see that the state of your work is incorrect and fix it. Thus, we bring good thoughts about the person.”

At that time, he should say, “If you are saying this for my sake, why don’t you come to me when I am on the left line?” meaning when a person concludes that he should be walking and not standing in one state. “Right” means that he is content with little. But it is known that two are required, and to tell me where I am wrong.

“Instead, precisely when I want to walk on the right line, you come to me. Hence, I do not want to listen to you.” This is called “the wholeness of the right.” This quality is always in wholeness, since he is content with his lot, and is not interested in anything but to give many thanks to the Creator. This quality is considered a “priest,” and it is perpetual happiness.

However, this work is regarded as concealed, meaning it does not reveal its wholeness outward. This is called “covered Hassadim [mercies],” meaning that he cannot show its importance outward because he has nothing to show to the external ones, for they will immediately ask him, “What are you looking at? We see that you are happy and content with your lot, so do show us what you have, what possessions have you acquired in spirituality, for which you are happy.”

He answers them, “I am content with my share.” But they tell him, “We see that you have nothing real in spirituality, yet you are still happy. Thus, you are fooling yourself.” And what is the truth? He says, “I am going above reason, so I have no need to answer the questions you are asking me within reason.”

However, we must know that “external ones” does not mean other bodies. Rather, the person himself consists of many thoughts, as it is written in The Zohar, “Man is a small world and consists of all the nations of the world.”

Now we will explain what is a Levite, why he raises his voice, contrary to a priest, whose work is secretive, meaning above reason. Since there is wholeness there, he can always be in gladness. The Levites are “left,” which is illumination of Hochma, and Hochma comes in vessels of reception. Conversely, Hassadim, which are regarded as a priest, come in vessels of bestowal.

Vessels of reception require constant guarding so they will not be taken after the Kelim [vessels] that engage in reception. Their guarding is that they also draw Hassadim, and these Hassadim look after the intention to keep it in order to bestow. This is called “receiving in order to bestow.” As soon as he is taken after the act, which is reception, he falls from his degree, since he becomes separated from Kedusha.

Hence, the work of the Levites is with a raised voice, meaning that illumination of Hochma shines there, called “revealing the Hassadim.” Revealing is called “raising the voice,” since it is revealed outward, in vessels of reception. This is why he says that in the beginning it brings joy, and its end is sadness.

We asked, What are the “beginning” and “end”? “Beginning” means when he is mingled with Hassadim. At that time he can use the Hochma, too. But in the end, when his Hassadim ends, as much as he was mingled with Hassadim, he remains with the core, meaning only with Hochma. At that time, it is impossible to use Hochma without Hassadim, and this brings him sadness because he always needs the clothing of Hassadim, but he does not have it.

Conversely, a “priest,” who must always be content, should walk only on the right line, which is Hesed, for “he desires Hesed [mercy],” and he is happy with his share and has no need for Gadlut[greatness, adulthood]. Naturally, he can always be in gladness.

This is similar to what was written (The Study of the Ten Sefirot, Part 14). It is written there that there are two discernments: 1) blessing, 2) freedom, which is carved. He interprets there in Ohr Pnimi [Inner Light] that “covered Hassadim are called ‘free,’” when he lacks nothing because he needs nothing. For this reason, he feels himself free, that he has no enslavement by something he needs to receive. It follows that he is enslaved to nothing.

This is so precisely when he is content with his share, and this is called a “priest,” whose work is secretive and he does not reveal what he has outwardly. That is, he does not need the possessions to be revealed outwardly, but believes above reason that everything he has is enough.

However, the Levites belong to the left, meaning Hochma, which is “the wine of Torah.” The Torah should actually be revealed because the Torah should be with knowledge, for Daat [knowledge] is called the “middle line,” which decides between right and left, meaning that he will not take more Hochma than he has Hassadim. If he wants to receive more Hochma than Hassadim, it is considered “drinking more wine than he can.” At that time he becomes “drunk” and loses his Daat, called the middle line, which weighs to see that he does not have more Hochma than Hassadim.

By this we should interpret what our sages said, “A drunken man must not pray. And if he prays, his prayer is an abomination.” That is, when he loses the Daat, which is the middle line, and he prays to be given more Hochma than Hassadim, this is called “abomination,” for it is loathsome because he prays to the Creator to give him Hochma without Hassadim, which will go to the external ones and not to Kedusha.

Accordingly, we should interpret what our sages said (VaYikra Rabbah 1:15), “Any wise disciple in whom there is no Daat, a carcass is better than him.” That is, he receives more Hochma than Hassadim. It follows that there is no middle line in him, called Daat, which decides between “right” and “left.” As was said, “a carcass is better than him,” meaning he is loathsome since there is no Daatin him, and he is considered a “drunk” who “drank more wine than he should,” meaning more than Hassadim. When he prays in this way to be given Torah, called “wine of Torah,” his prayer is an abomination, meaning that he is regarded as loathsome.

We can understand this as our sages said (Avot, Chapter 3), “Anyone whose wisdom is more than his actions, what is he like? a tree whose branches are many and roots are few, and the wind comes and uproots it.” That is, action is called “right,” Hesed, and he need not understand with his knowledge and intellect that it is worthwhile to do the holy work in order to bestow. Instead, he can go above reason, although the reason comes to him with Pharaoh’s questions, who asks, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice,” or the wicked man’s question, who asks, “What is this work for you?” To this he replies to them that he is going above reason. This is called “an act,” since he does not answer them with wisdom and intellect. Rather, he answers them that he is working in practice, and not in theory, and this is all of his joy, that he maintains faith above reason.

Afterward, when he is rewarded with Hochma, he does not want to use the Hochma as support, and say, “Now I no longer need faith because I have the intellect as a basis.” This is called “His knowledge is more than his actions.” However, he receives the Hochma because the Creator wants him to receive. He receives, but not for his own sake.

If he wants to receive Hochma more than his actions, this is called “drunk” and his prayer is an abomination. Thus, everything should be with reason, which is the middle line, so there is no more left than right.

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

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