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Who Needs to Know that a Person Withstood the Test?

Article No. 28, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988-89

The Zohar says (BaMidbar, Item 7), “When the Torah and the tabernacle were erected, the Creator wished to count the armies of the Torah, how many armies are in the Torah, in ZA, and how many armies are in the tabernacle. …For this reason, Israel, who are the armies of ZA and Malchut, are counted, so they are known by them.”

We should understand this matter, to know that the Creator wanted to count Israel in order to know how many armies there are. Who needs to know? Is it the Creator? But everything is revealed and known to Him. Does He need to actually count them below in order to know the number? Thus, for whose need can we say that the Creator said to count Israel in order to know the number of the armies of ZA and Malchut, as it is written, “the Creator wished to count the armies of the Torah, how many armies are in the Torah”?

Baal HaSulam asked a similar question concerning what it says in regard to Abraham: “And He said, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him, for now I know that you fear God.’” He asked, Did the Creator not know that Abraham feared God before the test? Thus, what does “for now I know” mean? He said that “for now I know” means that you know that you fear God, since you withstood the test.

Still, we should understand for what purpose a person should know that he fears God. This can give him satisfaction in the work, since what else is there to do in the world, as our sages said (Berachot33), “Rabbi Hanina said, ‘Everything is in the hands of God except for the fear of God.’” This means that the Creator does everything, and all that man needs to do is fear God, as was said, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but fear?” Thus, why does one need to undergo a test in order to know that he fears God? It would be better if he did not know whether he fears God, and this would make him need to increase the holy work so as to come to be God fearing.

We see that our sages said (Berachot 61b), “Raba said, ‘One should know in one’s soul if he is a complete righteous or not.’” Here, too, there is the same question: Why does one need to know one’s state, since knowing this will give him satisfaction, so what is the benefit in the work from knowing this?

To understand all this, we must remember the two tenets we have in the holy work: 1) The purpose of creation is to do good to His creations, namely for the created beings to receive delight and pleasure. Before we achieve this state, of receiving delight and pleasure, we have not achieved completion, meaning the purpose of creation. 2) The correction of creation. It is known that in order not to have the bread of shame, meaning for the creatures to feel unpleasantness upon reception of the delight and pleasure, the Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment were made, so they would not feel the delight and pleasure in the purpose of creation, and would be able to work for the sake of the Creator and not for their own sake. This would remove the shame from man because everything he enjoys in the world would not be for his own sake, but because the Creator wants the creatures to enjoy in the world, and this is the only reason they enjoy. For themselves, meaning to enjoy because they want to enjoy, they do not want this and relinquish all the pleasures in the world.

That is, he does not want to receive anything for his own sake, but in everything, he thinks that if receiving the pleasure and enjoying will bring contentment above, only then does he receive the delight and pleasure. Otherwise, he relinquishes it. This is called the “correction of creation,” meaning that the purpose of creation is received in a clothing, and this clothing does not let the shame come in when the pleasure is received. That clothing is called “desire to bestow.”

Now we can understand what is fear in the work. It was said about fear, “Everything is in the hands of God but fear of God.” But why is it not in the hands of God? As we learn, we attribute everything to the Creator, that the Creator gives everything to the created beings. Not giving does not belong to the Creator, since His will is to do good to His creations.

Since the meaning of fear is as it is written in the “Introduction of The Book of Zohar” (Item 203), “Fear means that he is afraid that he will decline in bringing contentment to his Maker.” For this reason, he avoids asking the Creator to impart upon him delight and pleasure, as it might not be for the Creator’s sake, but for his own, which is regarded as the abundance going to the Klipot[shells/peels]. It follows that fear not to receive pertains to man, meaning that man does not want to receive, for fear that it will not be for the sake of the Creator. This work pertains to man. That is, we attribute not receiving in order to receive to the lower ones, since from the perspective of the Creator, He only bestows.

This is called the name HaVaYaH, where there are no differences, as it is written, “I the Lord [HaVaYaH] do not change.” Rather, He always wants to give. For this reason, fear, where he is afraid to receive, belongs to the creatures, and this is all of their work. All the corrections in the world concern this point—correcting ourselves in order to come to a degree where we do not receive anything for our own sake, but as our sages said, “All your works will be for the sake of heaven.”

Now we can interpret this awareness—that he has fear of God. A person should know this in order to want to go and ask the Creator to give him the light of Torah, where there is the real pleasure, called “His will to do good to His creations.” He sees for himself that he has already been through several trials and have endured them because he already has fear of heaven, meaning that he is already certain of himself, that anything he receives will be in order to bestow. Otherwise, he would not have withstood his tests because the only reason a person cannot withstand a test is because he is immersed in his will to receive for himself. But a person who has already departed from receiving pleasures for his own sake, and in every pleasure, he first examines what contentment this will bring to the Creator, then he receives the pleasure.

This is called “for now I know that you fear God,” meaning a person already has this awareness. At that time, that state is called “bestowing in order to bestow.” Afterward, when he has acquired this degree of fearing God, which is called “man’s work,” a person should go forward and ask the Creator to give him the delight and pleasure that He wishes to give to the created beings, since he wants to impart pleasure upon the Creator, and his pleasure is in carrying out His thought—that the creatures receive from Him delight and pleasure. This is all of his delight. For this reason, a person needs the awareness.

Now we can interpret what we asked about what The Zohar says, “When the Torah and the tabernacle were erected, the Creator wished to count the armies of the Torah, how many armies are in the tabernacle.” We asked, Who needs to know this? Does the Creator not know even without actually counting? The answer is the same as with Abraham, “for now I know,” meaning that the Creator knows that now Abraham, too, knows that he fears God.

Likewise, we should interpret similarly, meaning that the people of Israel needed this awareness so as to know to which degree they now belong, whether to the quality of the Torah or to the quality of the tabernacle. He says there that Torah and tabernacle pertain to ZA and Malchut, meaning the “unification of the Creator with His Shechina [Divinity].” This is why The Zohar says, “how many armies are in the Torah,” meaning to know to which degree they belong, “how many armies are in the tabernacle,” meaning how many of them belong to the Shechina. It follows that the whole point of counting is only for man to know. But as for the Creator, He certainly knows everything without actually counting.

It follows that the most important is for man to know to which state he belongs. It is as Rabba said, “One should know in one’s soul if he is a complete righteous or not.” It is all in order for man to know whether he is on the right track, meaning knows what he must do in order to achieve the goal for which he was created, as was said, “so we will not toil in vain.”

In order to understand how an ordinary person can be taken after the general public, and in order for one to have the strength to emerge from what is accepted by the general public and become an individual worker, meaning to understand what he must do individually, and how to be extremely careful, how to be saved from having to work only for his own benefit, I will present here a story by The Seer of Lublin, presented in the book Talks of Life (p 34).

“The Rabbi of Mogalitza once said that when the Rabbi of Lublin was confined in his room on the eve of Shabbat [Sabbath] before the Kiddush [the beginning of the Sabbath], the rabbi suddenly opened the door and the house was full of great rabbis and sages from his greatest disciples. The rabbi turned to them and said, ‘It is written, ‘and repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them.’ The translation is, He pays His enemies with good deeds that they do in this world in order to lose them from the next world (explanation: The Creator pays His enemies for good deeds that they did in this world in order to lose them, so they will not have the next world). Therefore, I ask you, I can understand that if a wicked man is taken after money, fine, he is paid much money. And if the wicked man takes after respect, he is given great respect. But if the wicked man wants neither respect nor money, but rather loves degrees or wants to be a rabbi or a teacher, how is he paid? The good deeds he did in this world—to remove him from the next world (explanation: How are those people who did good in this world paid so they will not have the next world?). Indeed, one who wants to be a rabbi or a teacher is given this from above, and one who loves degrees is given degrees so he will lose the next world.’ Promptly, he shut the door.” Thus far the story.

This story shows that there are people who think that they are complete because they relinquish lusts and respect. They look at people who are immersed in lusts or pursuit of honor as unworthy of looking at, much less speaking with them. That is, they see people observing Torah and Mitzvot[commandments/good deeds] in order to satisfy their will to receive, though certainly it is permitted lusts, or they would not be regarded as doing good deeds, and also those who observe Torah and Mitzvot in order to receive respect, while they, meaning those who want high degrees or to be a rabbi or a teacher, probably think that they want this for the sake of the general public.

The Seer of Lublin said about them that they are those who hate the Creator. However, since they do engage in Torah and Mitzvot, the Creator rewards them according to what they want, meaning according to what they pray to the Creator to give them. It follows that the Creator fulfills their wishes. However, they must know that what they are receiving is because the Creator is fulfilling their wish, but they must know that by wanting the Creator to grant their wishes, they lose the next world since by this they become haters of the Creator, as it is written, “and repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them.” Thus, they must know that by receiving what they want, meaning by His fulfilling their wish, they will thereby lose the next world.

There are two things to understand here: 1) Why if they are rewarded in this world, they must lose the next world? After all, our sages said (Berachot 8a), “Great is he who enjoys his labor more than he who fears God.” And concerning one who fears God, it is written, “Happy is the man who fears the Lord.” Concerning one who enjoys his labor, it is written, “If you eat through your own labor, happy are you in this world and happy are you in the next world.” We therefore see that one who is rewarded in this world does not have to lose the next world. Thus, why, concerning those who hate the Creator, if he receives reward in this world, we say that he is losing?

2) We should understand, if he observes Torah and Mitzvot, which is called “good deeds,” why is he regarded as hating the Creator?

We see that the evil inclination is called “enemy” [hating], as it is written, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him bread.” We should understand why the evil inclination is man’s enemy. On the contrary, he advises man to commit transgression not in order for man to torment himself, but in order for him to enjoy himself. It follows that one who brings joy to a person should certainly be called “loving,” so why is it called “hating”?

We must believe in our sages, who said that all of our work in this world is to be rewarded with Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator. That is, He wishes to give delight and pleasure to the creatures, which is called “the purpose of creation.” Yet, this is impossible to give us before we correct our will to receive to work in order to bestow, or we will feel shame.

Therefore, we need Dvekut, called “equivalence of form,” meaning that all the delight and pleasure we want to receive from the Creator is not for our own sake, since we want to annul our authority and to have (only) one authority: the authority of the Creator. Then we will have the real pleasure, in that “He said, and His will was done,” meaning that the will of the Creator was fulfilled completely, meaning that the creatures can receive what the Creator wants to give them, namely the delight and pleasure.

It follows that the evil inclination incites a person not to work for the sake of the Creator but for one’s own sake, and thereby harms a person. This is why it is called “evil inclination.”

Now we can understand the question, Why is it that when one observes Torah and Mitzvot and does good deeds—and the evidence that they are good deeds is that the Creator rewards him for the good deeds—yet he is called an “enemy of the Creator,” as it is written, “and repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them”? This is so because although he does good deeds, it is not because he loves the Creator, but because he believes that the Creator will reward him for this. He does not work and observe Torah and Mitzvot because he loves the Creator, but because of his own benefit.

However, we must understand, 1) Does one who works for another and aims for the reward and does not work for him or does and observes his commandments out of his love for him, should he therefore be regarded as his enemy? We can only say that he does not work for him for love, but because that person loves himself. But why is he regarded as an enemy of the Creator? What makes him the Creator’s enemy if he is working for his own sake?

2) What is the meaning of the commandment to love the Creator? Does He want us to love Him? Does He need our love? Is He deficient and this is why He has commanded us to love Him, as it is written, “And you shall love the Lord your God”? The answer is that He has commanded us to love Him for our sake. That is, loving Him will make us observe Torah and Mitzvot. In other words, we observe Torah and Mitzvot because we want to please Him, to give Him contentment, for it is the nature of those who love that the love obligates them to want to bring them contentment.

It is like parents’ love for their children. They want their children to enjoy and try to give to the children because they love them, so they will enjoy life. The lesson is that they observe Torah and Mitzvot because of their love for the Creator. Naturally, they want nothing in return. Thus, they will not receive all the delight and pleasure that the Creator wants to give them in the vessels of reception, but in the vessels of bestowal. That is, they receive the delight and pleasure because they know that the Creator enjoys it, that the purpose of creation, to do good to His creations, is carried out, as He wants it. In other words, there is wholeness in their receiving the delight and pleasure and there is no shame in them.

It follows that one who observes Torah and Mitzvot for a reward, meaning that he wants a reward, is considered the Creator’s enemy because he obstructs the Creator, delaying what the Creator wants—to give to the created beings, as this is the pleasure of the Creator, and that person delays carrying it out because the Kli [vessel] and clothing are missing there, which remove the shame upon reception of the abundance. This is why he is considered an enemy of the Creator.

A person should believe the words of our sages, who said, “He who comes to purify is aided.” This means that once a person has come to purify, meaning feels that he is in Tuma’a [impurity] and is still far from Kedusha [holiness], he should say that this awareness comes from above. That is, the fact that he came to purify is because he received help from above and was notified that he is far from Kedusha.

This means that he should appreciate this awareness and say that this is called “revelation from above,” when he was notified that he should feel about himself unpleasantness in that he is far from Kedusha. Normally, a person has no concern for lack of Dvekut with the Creator. A person might feel a lack about anything, and hurt because he does not have it. But to feel pain at being far from the Creator, although a person is remote, he does not notice it because he has more important worries whose absence he feels.

Only sometimes does he feel that he is beginning to feel shame that he is in such a lowly state. Before this, although he was previously in that state, too, he did not notice it. At that time, a person should believe that this came to him from above, as in “He who comes to purify is aided.” In other words, why has he now come to purify and cannot tolerate his state of lowliness? He should say that this came to him from above.

However, a person must not say, “I’ll wait until this awareness comes to me from above, and then I’ll think that I should purify myself.” Baal HaSulam said about this, that before the fact, a person should say, “If I am not for me, who is for me?” meaning that only I can help myself, if I brace myself and do things that lead to Dvekut. Afterward, meaning after the fact, a person should say that everything comes from above and he must not say, “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.”

We therefore see that on one hand, a person should say that from all the tests that the person has withstood, he should know that on the one hand, he is a mighty man, as was said, “for now I know that you fear God,” meaning that the person is the mighty one. On the other hand, he must say, “The Creator helped me.” But from whichever side, he sees that he has withstood the test. Knowing this gives one confidence that now he can demand of the Creator to let him go and achieve the goal.

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

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