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8.01 Baal HaSulam,

Letter No. 57

There is no happier state in man’s world than when he finds himself despaired with his own strength. That is, he has already labored and done all that he could possibly imagine he could do, but found no remedy. It is then that he is fit for a wholehearted prayer for His help because he knows for certain that his own work will not help him.

As long as he feels some strength of his own, his prayer will not be whole because the evil incli- nation rushes first and tells him, “First you must do what you can, and then you will be worthy of the Creator.”

It was said about this, “The Lord is high and the low will see.” For once a person has labored in all kinds of work, and has become disillusioned, he comes into real lowliness, knowing that he is the lowest of all the people, as there is nothing good in the structure of his body. At that time, his prayer is complete and he is granted by His generous hand.

The writing says about this, “And the children of Israel sighed from the work, etc., and their cry went up.” It is so because at that time they came into a state of despair from the work. It is as one who pumps into a punctured bucket. He pumps all day but does not have a drop of water to quench his thirst.

So were the children of Israel in Egypt: Everything they built was promptly swallowed in its place in the ground, as our sages said.

Similarly, one who has not been rewarded with His love, all that he has done in his work on purifying the soul the day before is as though completely burned the next day. And each day and each moment he must start anew as though he has not done a thing in his entire life.

Then, “The children of Israel sighed from the work,” for they evidently saw that they were unfit to ever produce something by their own work. This is why their sigh and prayer were complete, as it should be, and this is why “Their cry went up,” since the Creator hears the prayer, and He only awaits a wholehearted prayer.

It follows from the above that everything, small or great, is obtained only by the power of prayer. All the labor and work to which we are obliged are only to discover our lack of strength and our lowliness—that we are unfit for anything by our own strength—for then we can pour out a whole- hearted prayer before Him.

We could argue about this, “So I can decide that I am unfit for anything, and why all the labor and exertion?” However, there is a natural law that there is none so wise as the experienced, and before one tries to actually do all he can do, he is utterly incapable of arriving at true lowliness, to the real extent, as said above.

This is why we must toil in Kedusha [holiness] and purity, as it is written, “Whatever you find that your hand can do by your strength, that do,” and understand this for it is true and deep.

I revealed this truth to you only so you would not weaken or give up on mercy. Although you do not see anything, for even when the measure of labor is complete, it is the time of prayer, but until then, believe in our sages: “I did not labor and found, do not believe.”

When the measure is full, your prayer will be complete and the Creator will grant generously, as our sages instructed us, “I labored and found, believe,” for one is unfit for a prayer prior to this, and the Creator hears a prayer.

8.02 Baal HaSulam,

Shamati, Article No. 209, “Three Conditions in Prayer”

There are three conditions in prayer:

  1. Believing that He can save him. Although he has the worst conditions of all his contem- poraries, still, “Will the Lord’s hand be too short to save him?” If it is not so, then “the Landlord cannot save His vessels.”
  2. He no longer has any choice for he has already done all that he could but saw no cure to his plight.
  3. If He does not help him, he will be better off dead than alive. Prayer means “lost in the heart.” The more one is lost, so is the measure of his prayer. Clearly, one who lacks luxuries is not like one who has been sentenced to death, and only the execution is missing, and he is already tied with iron chains, and he is standing and pleading for his life. He will certainly not rest or sleep or be distracted for even a moment from praying for his life.

 8.03 Baal HaSulam,

Shamati, Article No. 20, “Lishma [for Her sake]”

In order for a person to obtain Lishma, one needs an awakening from above, as it is an illumination from above and it is not for the human mind to understand. Rather, he who tastes, knows. It is said about this, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Because of this, upon assuming the burden of the kingdom of heaven, one needs it to be in utter completeness, meaning only to bestow and not at all to receive. If a person sees that the organs do not agree with this view, he has no other choice but prayer—to pour out his heart to the Creator to help him make his body consent to enslaving itself to the Creator.

Do not say that if Lishma [for Her sake] is a gift from above, what good is one’s overcoming and efforts, and all the remedies and corrections that he does in order to achieve Lishma, if it depends on the Creator? Our sages said about it, “You are not free to rid yourself of it.” Rather, one must give the awakening from below, and this is considered “prayer.” Yet, there cannot be a real prayer if he does not know first that without prayer it cannot be obtained.

Therefore, the acts and remedies he does in order to obtain Lishma create the corrected Kelim

[vessels] in him that want to receive the Lishma. Then, after all the actions and the remedies he can pray in earnest since he saw that all his actions did not help him whatsoever. Only then can he make an honest prayer from the bottom of his heart, and then the Creator hears his prayer and gives him the gift of Lishma.

8.04 Baal HaSulam,

Shamati, Article No. 18, “My Soul Shall Weep In Secret – 1”

When concealment overpowers a person and he comes to a state where the work becomes tasteless, and he cannot picture or feel any love and fear, and he cannot do anything in Kedusha [holiness], his only counsel is to cry to the Creator to have mercy on him and remove the screen from his eyes and heart.

Crying is a very important matter. It is as our sages write: “All the gates were locked except for the gates of tears.” The world asks about this: If the gates of tears are not locked, what is the need for the gates at all? He said that it is like a person who asks his friend for some necessary object. This object touches his heart, and he asks and begs him in every manner of prayer and plea. Yet, his friend pays no attention to all this. And when he sees that there is no longer reason for prayers and pleas then he raises his voice in weeping.

It is said about this: “All the gates were locked except for the gates of tears.” That is, when were the gates of tears not locked? Precisely when all the gates were locked. It is then that there is room for the gates of tears, and then we see that they were not locked.

However, when the gates of prayer are open, the gates of tears and weeping are irrelevant. This is the meaning of the gates of tears being locked. Thus, when are the gates of tears not locked? Precisely when all the gates are locked, the gates of tears are open since one still has the choice of prayer and plea.

This is the meaning of “My soul shall weep in secret,” meaning when one comes to a state of concealment, then “My soul shall weep,” because one has no other option. This is the meaning of “All that your hand and strength can do, do.”

8.05 Baal HaSulam,

Shamati, Article No. 1, “There Is None Else Besides Him”

It is written, “There is none else besides Him.” This means that there is no other force in the world that has the ability to do anything against Him. And what one sees, that there are things in the world that deny the upper household, the reason is that this is His will.

This is deemed a correction called “the left rejects and the right pulls closer,” meaning that what the left rejects is considered a correction. This means that there are things in the world that, to begin with, aim to divert a person from the right way, and by which he is rejected from Kedusha [holiness]. The benefit from the rejections is that through them a person receives a complete need and desire for the Creator to help him since he sees that otherwise he is lost; not only is he not progressing in the work, he even sees that he regresses. That is, he lacks the strength to observe Torah and Mitzvot [commandments] even Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], for only by genuinely overcoming all the obsta- cles, above reason, can he observe the Torah and Mitzvot. But he does not always have the strength to overcome above reason; otherwise, he is forced to deviate, God forbid, from the way of the Creator, even from Lo Lishma.

And he, who always feels that the shattered is greater than the whole, meaning that there are many more descents than ascents, and he does not see an end to these states, and he will forever remain outside of holiness, for he sees that it is difficult for him to observe even in the slightest bit, unless by overcoming above reason. But he cannot always overcome, so what will be in the end?

Then he comes to the decision that no one can help but the Creator Himself. This causes him to make a heartfelt demand that the Creator will open his eyes and heart and truly bring him closer to eternal Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator.

8.06 RABASH,

Article No. 626, “Anything that the Merciful One Does, He Does for the Best”

Avid [Aramaic: do] comes from the word Avud [Hebrew: lost], for the Ayin and Aleph are inter- changeable. In other words, when a person comes to a state where he is truly lost, when he does not see how he can exist in the world or that he has anything to hold on to, and he has exhausted all the tactics and ideas, and sees that after all the labor and exertions, everything is lost, he must brace himself and say, “Everything that the Merciful one does is for the best.”

In other words, the Creator brought upon him all those states of being lost, and they are for the best. That is, through them he has come to a state where he is at the lowest degree, and by this he will be able to rise up, as it is written, “The Lord is high and the low will see,” for there is no greater lowliness than when one feels completely lost.

This is the meaning of “Everything that the Merciful one does, He does for the best.” Afterward, when he begins to work once more and correct his actions, and makes repentance from love, he says, “This, too, is for the best,” meaning the states when he was lost, and there is no greater transgression than a person coming to a state of being lost.

When he repents from love, he sees that this, too, is for the best, that from the bad itself, the good was done. It follows that there is a difference between “Everything that the Merciful one does” and “this, too, is for the best.”

8.07 RABASH,

Article No. 38 (1990), “What Is, ‘A Cup of Blessing Must Be Full,’ in the Work?”

A person needs great mercy in order not to escape the campaign. Although he uses the counsels that our sages said, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice,” but the person says that he has already used this advice several times to no avail.

He also says that he has already used the advice “He who comes to purify is aided,” and it is as though all the counsels are not for him. Thus, he does not know what to do. This is the worst state for a person, meaning he wants to escape from these states but has nowhere to run. At that time he suffers torments at being between despair and confidence. But then a person says, “Where will I turn?”

At that time, the only advice is prayer. Yet, this prayer is also without any guarantee, so it follows that then he must pray to believe that the Creator does hear a prayer, and everything that one feels in these states is to his benefit. But this can be only above reason, meaning although the mind tells him, “After all the calculations, you see that nothing can help you,” he should believe this, too, above reason, that the Creator can deliver him from the will to receive for himself, in return for which he will receive the desire to bestow.

8.08 RABASH,

Letter No. 9

One who sees one’s lowliness sees that he is treading the path leading to the work Lishma. This gives one room for real prayer from the bottom of the heart, when he sees that no one will help him but the Creator himself, as Baal HaSulam interpreted concerning the redemption from Egypt, “I, and not a messenger,” for everyone saw that only the Creator Himself redeemed them from the governance of evil.

And when rewarded with the work Lishma there is certainly nothing to be proud of because then one sees that it is only God’s gift, and not “my power and the might of my hand,” and there is no foreign hand that can help him. Therefore, he feels his lowliness—how serving the king is an immeasurable pleasure, and without His help he would not agree to it. Indeed, there is no greater lowliness than this.

8.09 RABASH,

Article No. 16 (1985), “But the More They Afflicted Them”

“And the children of Israel sighed because of the labor, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God because of the labor. And God heard their groaning.”

We should be precise about the words “because of the labor” being written twice. We should explain that all the sighs were from the labor, meaning that they could not work for the Creator. Indeed, their suffering was from not being able to make the work that they were doing be for the Creator, due to the Klipa of Egypt. This is why it is written, “Because of the labor” twice.

  1. All the sighs were not because they were lacking anything. They lacked only one thing, meaning they did not wish for any luxuries or payment. Their only lack, for which they felt pain and suffering, was that of not being able to do anything for the Creator. In other words, they wished that they would have a desire to give contentment to the Creator and not to themselves, but they couldn’t, and this afflicted them. This is called “wanting to have some grip in spirituality.”
  2. The second “Because of the labor” comes to teach that, “And their cry came up unto God,” that God heard their groaning, was because their only request was work. This comes to imply to the other “because of the labor.” It turns out that the whole exile that they felt was only because they were under the rule of the Klipa of Egypt and they could not do anything to make it only in order to bestow.

8.10 RABASH,

Article No. 2 (1991), “What Is, ‘Return, O Israel, Unto the Lord Your God,’ in the Work?”

The Creator heals the brokenhearted. The thing is that it is known that the essence of man is the heart, as our sages said, “The Merciful one wants the heart.” The heart is the Kli [vessel] that receives the Kedusha from above. It is as we learn about the breaking of the vessels, that if the Kli is broken, everything you put in it will spill out.

Likewise, if the heart is broken, meaning the will to receive controls the heart, abundance cannot enter there because everything that the will to receive receives will go to the Klipot [shells/peels]. This is called “the breaking of the heart.” Hence, a person prays to the Creator and says, “You must help me because I am worse than everyone, since I feel that the will to receive controls my heart, and this is why nothing of Kedusha can enter my heart. I want no luxuries, only to be able to do something for the sake of the Creator, and I am utterly incapable of this, so only You can save me.” By this we should interpret what is written (Psalms 34), “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” That is, those who ask the Creator to help them so their heart will not be broken and will be whole.

8.11 RABASH,

Article No. 37 (1991), “What Is the Torah and What Is The Statute of the Torah, in the Work?”

When he wants to do everything for the sake of the Creator and not for his own sake. Here the body resists with all its might, since it argues, “Why do you want to put me and my domain to death? You come to me with having to work only for the sake of the Creator and not for one’s own sake, which is truly annulment of the will to receive from everything. You tell me that our sages said, ‘The Torah exists only in one who puts himself to death over it,’ meaning to put to death all the domain of self-benefit and care only for the benefit of the Creator, and before this, a person cannot be rewarded with the Torah.” Yet, a person sees that it is unrealistic that he will have the strength to go against nature.

At that time, one has no choice but to turn to the Creator and say, “Now I have come to a state where I see that unless You help me, I am lost. I will never have the strength to overcome the will to receive, as this is my nature. Rather, only the Creator can give another nature.”

A person says that he believes that this was the exodus from Egypt, that the Creator delivered the people of Israel from under the governance of Egypt, as our sages said (in the Passover Haggadah [story/narrative]), “And the Lord brought us out from Egypt, not by an angel, and not by a messenger, but the Creator Himself; I am the Lord, it is I and not another.”

Now, he, too, sees that only the Creator can deliver him from the governance of the will to receive and give him a second nature.

8.12 RABASH,

Article No. 19 (1985), “Come unto Pharaoh – 1”

We should pay attention to “Come unto Pharaoh” and believe through the worst possible states, and not escape the campaign, but rather always trust that the Creator can help a person and give him, whether one needs a little help or a lot of help.

In truth, one who understands that he needs the Creator to give him a lot of help, because he is worse than the rest of the people, is more suitable for his prayer to be answered, as it is written, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Therefore, one should not say that he is unfit for the Creator to bring him closer, but that the reason is that he is idle in his work. Instead, one should always overcome and not let thoughts of despair enter his mind, as our sages said (Berachot, 10), “Even if a sharp sword is placed on his neck he should not deny himself of mercy,” as it was said (Job, 13), “Though He slay me, I will hope for Him.” We should interpret the “sharp sword placed on his neck” to mean that even though one’s evil, called “self-love,” is placed on his neck and wants to separate him from Kedusha by showing him that it is impossible to exit this authority, he should say that the picture he sees is the truth.

However, “He should not deny himself of mercy,” for at that time he must believe that the Creator can give him the mercy, meaning the quality of bestowal. That is, by himself, it is true that one cannot exit the authority of self-reception. But from the perspective of the Creator, when the Creator helps him, of course He can bring him out. This is the meaning of what is written, “I am the Lord your God, who took you out from the land of Egypt to be your God.

8.13 RABASH, Article No. 12 (1985),

“Jacob Dwelled in the Land Where His Father Had Lived”

One must believe that the Creator has created the world with benevolence, and the evil in his body removes him from all the good. That is, when he comes to learn Torah, he finds it utterly tasteless. And also, when he comes to perform some Mitzva [good deed/correction], he finds it utterly tasteless because the evil inclination in his body has the power not to let him believe in the Creator above reason by taking out every flavor. Whenever he begins to approach something spiritual, he feels that everything is dry without any moisture of life.

When the person began his work, he was told—and he believed what he was told—that the Torah is a Torah of life, as it is written, “For they are your life and the length of your days,” and as it is written (Psalms 19), “More desirable than gold, than much fine gold, and sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.”

But when one consider this and sees that the evil inclination is to blame for everything, and strongly feels the bad that it is causing him, then he feels on himself what is written (Psalms 34) “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” That is, that verse was said about him.

At that time he looks at what the verse says afterwards, “but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” At that time he begins to cry out to the Creator to help him because he has already done everything that he could think of doing, but nothing helped, and he thinks that “Everything that you find within your power to do, that do,” was said about him. At that time comes the time of salvation—the salvation of the Creator delivering him from the evil inclination—to the extent that from this day forth the evil inclination will surrender before him and will not be able to incite him into any transgression.

8.14 RABASH,

Letter No. 28

I have already written you that there are mitigated judgments. To understand this in the prepara- tion to entering the Creator’s palace is that sometimes a person feels that he is in a state of lowliness, meaning that he has neither Torah nor work, and also thoughts of worldly vanities and so forth. At that time one becomes despaired saying, “‘And I to serve my master’ must have been said about someone else.”

Rather, to people of high degrees, who have been born with good and upright qualities and a good mind, and desire and craving to persist with the study of Torah, and their only engagement since their arrival in the world, their minds and hearts are only about Torah and work. But a man of my value, I belong in the cowshed, and the verse, “For it is not a vain thing for you, for it is your life and the length of your days,” was not said about me.

Sometimes there is mitigation during the awakening of the lowliness, and a person sees that “I did not know how immersed I was in transient things and my idle matters. I did not pay attention to being as one should be. And the psalm that is said, ‘Will be glorified in me for He desires me,’ I too should be saying that psalm because all of Israel have a part in the next world, as in ‘He stood and concealed it for the righteous in the future.’

“But now that I am far from the whole thing, I must not despair and only trust the Creator, that ‘You hear the prayer of every mouth.’ ‘Every’ means that even though my mouth is not as proper as it should be, the thirteen qualities of mercy are bound to awaken on me, as well.

“From this day forth, I hope to be going forward, though I have already said this many times and in the end remained in my lowliness.” At that time he replies that there are “world,” “year,” “soul,” and these three must be united in same time, place, and soul together.

For this reason, he says, “It is now certainly the time for me to come out of all these bad states, and ‘one who comes to purify is aided,’” and he promptly begins the work with renewed vigor and strength.

8.16 RABASH,

Article No. 19 (1985), “Come unto Pharaoh – 1”

To keep from losing what he is given, one must first make great efforts, for something that comes to a person through labor causes him to keep the thing and not lose it. But during the exertion, when a person sees that the work is still far from finished, he sometimes escapes the campaign and falls into despair. At that time he needs great strengthening, to believe that the Creator will help him, and the fact that help has not arrived is because he has not given the required quantity and quality of labor for preparing the deficiency in order to receive the filing, as it is said (“Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot,” Item 18), “And if one practices Torah and fails to remove the evil inclina- tion from himself, it is either that he has been negligent in giving the necessary labor and exertion in the practice of Torah, as it is written, ‘I have not labored but found, do not believe,’ or perhaps one did put in the necessary amount of labor, but has been negligent in the quality.”

8.17 RABASH,

Article No. 34 (1991), “What Is Eating Their Fruits in This World and Keeping the Principal for the Next World, in the Work?”

When one sees that it is hard to get what he wants, he escapes from the work. He says, “I believe that there are people who have been rewarded and to whom the Creator gave the desire to bestow. But this was because they were more gifted than I am. But a person like me, with worse qualities than others, has no chance of meriting this.” Hence, he escapes the campaign and begins to work like the general public.

Only those who say that they want to escape from the work but have nowhere else to go, since nothing satisfies them, those people do not walk out from the work. Although they have ups and downs, they do not give up. This is as it is written, “And the children of Israel sighed from the work, and they cried, and their cry went up to God from the work.” In other words, they cried out from the work because they were not advancing in the work of the Creator, so they could work in order to bestow contentment upon the Maker. At that time, they were rewarded with the exodus from Egypt. In the work, this is called “emerging from the control of the will to receive and entry into the work of bestowal.”

 8.18 RABASH,

Article No. 23 (1989), “What Is, ‘If He Swallows the Bitter Herb, He Will Not Come Out,’ in the Work?”

When one begins the work, he begins with faith, but the body resists this work, and then comes a state of labor, when he must overcome the body and seek all kinds of counsels, as our sages said, “In trickery shall you conduct war,” since the body does not want to relinquish self-benefit. To the extent that he exerts, to that extent he begins to feel that he is incapable of doing anything since in his view, he has done everything he could. After the labor, he comes to know that only the Creator can help, and it is out of his hands. Then comes the third state—a prayer—and then the prayer is from the bottom of the heart, since it is utterly clear to him that no one can help him but the Creator.

However, even when he comes to know that the Creator can help him, and he understands that the real advice is only prayer, the body comes and makes him see that “You see how many prayers you have already prayed but you received no answer from above. Therefore, why bother praying that the Creator will help you? You see that you are not getting any help from above.” At that time, he cannot pray. Then we need to overcome once more through faith, and believe that the Creator does hear the prayer of every mouth, and it does not matter if the person is adept and has good qualities, or to the contrary. Rather, he must overcome and believe above reason, although his reason dictates that since he has prayed many times but still received no answer from above, how can he come and pray once more? This, too, requires overcoming, meaning to exert above reason and pray that the Creator will help him overcome his view and pray.

8.19 RABASH,

Article No. 16 (1985), “But the More They Afflicted Them”

When he begins to scrutinize the quality of the deficiency, he sees that he feels no pain, that he is seemingly unconscious, unfeeling. And although remoteness from the Creator means not having life, it doesn’t pain him that he has no life. Then he has no other choice but to pray to the Creator to give him some life, so he will feel that he is dangerously ill and needs to cure the soul.

And sometimes one comes to a state where he is in such a decline that he doesn’t even have the strength to pray for it. Rather, he is in a state of complete indifference. This is called “being in a state of still,” meaning he is completely motionless.

In that state, only his society can help him. In other words, if he comes among friends and does not criticize them in any way, testing if they, too, have the same obstructions and thoughts but have overcome them, or they just take no interest in introspection and this is why they can engage in Torah and Mitzvot, how can he be like them?

At that time, he cannot receive any assistance from society because he has no Dvekut [adhesion] with them at all, as they are too small to be his friends. Thus, naturally, he is not affected by them whatsoever.

But if he comes among his friends not with his head high, thinking that he is wise and the friends are fools—but rather tosses his pride away.

8.20 RABASH,

Article No. 5 (1988), “What Is, ‘When Israel Are in Exile, the Shechina Is With Them,’ in the Work?”

What is the meaning of “When Israel are in exile, the Shechina is with them”? As Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai said, “Wherever they exile, the Shechina is with them.” What is the benefit from this in the work, that he says about it, “How beloved are Israel by the Creator”?

We should interpret that when a person feels that he is in exile, meaning feels the taste of exile in the work and wants to escape from the exile, the meaning will be that a person must believe that wherever they are exiled, the Shechina is with them. That is, the Shechina let him feel the taste of exile. “With them” means that the Shechina is attached to them and they are not separated from the Shechina, that they should say that it is a descent. On the contrary, now the Shechina is giving him a push so he will climb the degrees of Kedusha [holiness/sanctity], and dresses herself in a garment of descent.

When a person knows and believes that this is so, it will encourage him so he does not escape the campaign or say that the work of bestowal is not for him because he always sees that he is in states of ascents and descents, and he sees no end to these states and falls into despair.

But if he walks in the path of faith and believes in the words of our sage, then he must say the opposite.

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