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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

The Importance of a Prayer of Many

Article No. 7, 1985-86

It is written in The Zohar, VaYishlach [And Jacob Sent], (p 13, Item 45 in the Sulam Commentary), “Come and see. Rabbi Shimon said, ‘A prayer of many rises before the Creator and the Creator crowns Himself with that prayer because it rises in several manners: One asks for Hassadim [grace], another for Gevurot [strength], and another for Rachamim [mercy]. It consists of several sides—the right side, the left side, and the middle. And because it consists of several sides and manners, it becomes a crown and is placed on the head of the Righteous One who lives forever, meaning Yesod, who imparts all the salvations to the Nukva, and from her to the entire public. And come and see, Jacob consisted of all three lines; this is why the Creator wanted his prayer, for it was in utter completeness—of all three lines, like a prayer of many. This is why it is written, ‘Then Jacob was very much afraid and distressed,’ since the Creator made it this way for him, so he would pray because He craved his prayer.”

We see in the words of The Zohar that it interprets a prayer of many as a single person, saying that Jacob consisted of all three lines. But in all the places where it writes about a prayer of many, it literally means that many pray, as our sages said (Berachot, p 8a), “Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai, ‘Why is it written, ‘And I, my prayer is a time of good will unto You, O Lord.’’ When is it a time of good will? When many pray.”

This means that many pray together, literally. Also, we should understand what The Zohar says, that “A crown is placed on the head of the Righteous One who lives forever.” What does it mean that it becomes a crown on the head? A crown means the crown of the king, like the crown of the kingship. And what does it mean that the crown on his head is made of the prayer? What makes us understand the importance and greatness of a prayer? Since he wishes to reveal to us the importance of the prayer, he tells us, “Know that the crown for the king is made of the prayer.”

It says that it is called Yesod and that it gives all the salvations to the Nukva, and from her to the entire public. We should understand why the crown is made specifically on Yesod, since it is known that we pray to Ein Sof, so what does it mean that a prayer of many becomes a crown specifically on Yesod? And also, why does it say that Yesod imparts to the Nukva, and from the Nukva to the public?

Baal HaSulam explained the matter of a prayer of many as a person praying for the many; this is called “a prayer of many.” This is why a prayer of many is called “a time of good will.” When a person prays for himself, he has slander and question whether his prayer is truly worth acceptance. But when he prays for the public, it becomes irrelevant to scrutinize him and to see if he is worthy of his prayer being answered, since he is not asking for anything for himself, but only for the public.

This is why it was said that a prayer of many is called “a time of good will” and his prayer is answered. And according to what is explained in several places in the Sulam Commentary, a prayer of many relates to Malchut, who is called “the assembly of Israel” or “the Holy Divinity.” She is called “many” because she contains all the souls. And since Divinity is in exile, we ask about the exile of Divinity, which is sometimes called “Divinity in the dust,” since all those names indicate to us the content of the purpose of creation, which was in order to do good to His creations.

It is known that for Him to reveal the perfection of His deeds, there was the first restriction. This means that in a place where there is only a Kli called “receiving in order to receive,” the upper bounty will be hidden from that place. The abundance comes only to a place where it is possible to aim in order to bestow. And since by nature man is born only to receive, in that place that he sees, his receiver—called “self-love”—cannot receive. Instead, he must do everything for Divinity, meaning for Malchut, for only by that will His glory appear in Malchut. This is so because only when the Creator can appear to the lower ones will His glory be seen. It was written that the place where the Shochen [dweller] appears is called Shechina [“dwelling,” but also “Divinity”].

This is called, “Let His great name be magnified and sanctified,” since the name of the Creator, who is called “The Good who does good,” appears in the world. This is so because everyone obtains the purpose of creation called, “To do good to His creations,” since now there is a Kli that is fit for reception, being the intention to bestow, called Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator.

It turns out that since by nature the creatures are only about reception in order to receive, and since they cannot work in order to bestow without overcoming their nature, they cause Malchut to remain in the dust, meaning they cannot see her merit. This means that they cannot see what she can receive from the Creator because everything is hidden due to the restriction.

However, we need some introspection. That is, we should believe what our sages tell us, that all the pleasures in corporeal delights are but a tiny candle compared to the pleasures that exist in spirituality. As it is written in the Sulam Commentary (“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” p 173), “This is the meaning of the breaking of the vessels that preceded the creation of the world. Through the breaking of the vessels of Kedusha [holiness] and their fall into the separated BYA, holy sparks fell along with them to the Klipot [shells], from which came the pleasures and love of every kind into the domain of the Klipot, which pass them on for man’s reception and for his delight.”

It therefore follows that the majority of pleasures are in Kedusha, while we see the contrary, that in corporeality everyone sees things that can be enjoyed. But in the toil in the Torah and Mitzvot [commandments], it is impossible to tell a person to engage in Torah and Mitzvot without promising him reward for his work. This is because while one engages in keeping the Mitzvot, he finds it completely tasteless, but when he is promised a reward and he believes it, he can work in Torah and Mitzvot because he will be rewarded.

This is not so when he engages in corporeal things such as eating, drinking, money, honor, etc.. A person does not ask, “Why must I deal with these mundane matters?” since where one feels pleasure, he doesn’t ask about the purpose of receiving the pleasure. All he can think about while receiving the pleasure is how to enhance the pleasure in quantity and quality. God forbid that one should ever contemplate the matter of reception of pleasure, meaning, “Why do I need to receive pleasure?”

Sometimes, a person receives pleasure from something for which he did not pay a thing. Although it gives him much pleasure, the question still arises in him, “What is the purpose of that pleasure?” For example, a pleasure that costs no money is the pleasure of rest. There is no need to buy this pleasure, for one receives it free of charge. Still, many times a person asks himself, “What will I gain by enjoying this rest?”

But when a person experiences true delight and pleasure, the purpose of this delight never even occurs to him. And if it does happen that he should contemplate the purpose of this pleasure that he’s enjoying now, it is a sign that the pleasure he is feeling is not real pleasure, since he can still contemplate its purpose. This is a sign that there is a deficiency in that pleasure, and where there is deficiency, he can contemplate a different purpose than what he is feeling now.

From all the above, it follows that the majority of good taste and pleasure in life are found in Torah and Mitzvot, since this is where the upper light is deposited. It is written about it in the Sulam Commentary (“Introduction of The Book of Zohar, p 242, “Visions of the Ladder,” Item 1), “When one is rewarded with listening to the voice of His word, the 613 Mitzvot become Pekudin, from the word Pikadon [deposit]. This is so because there are 613 Mitzvot, and in each Mitzva a light of a unique degree is deposited, which corresponds to a unique organ in the 613 organs and tendons of the souls and the body. It follows that while performing the Mitzva, one extends to the corresponding organ in his soul and body, the degree of light that belongs to that organ and tendon. This is considered the Panim [face/anterior] of the Mitzvot.”

It follows that by keeping Torah and Mitzvot, the purpose of creation—to do good to His creations—becomes revealed. However, he says in the Sulam Commentary that this comes specifically after one is rewarded with keeping the Torah and Mitzvot in the form of “Listening to the voice of His word.” But when he keeps Torah and Mitzvot in the form of “That fulfill His word,” before they are rewarded with listening, the Mitzvot are called Eitin [tips/counsels], and they are regarded as Achor [back/posterior]. It means that the upper light that belongs to that Mitzva is still not shining in them, but they are regarded as counsels by which to come to the light of Panim, which belongs to the Mitzva.

And all the work and the strengthening that one needs to overcome his desire and thought, which obstruct him from going on the path of truth, apply only when he is in Achoraim [back], in the form of “That fulfill His word.” This is so because in that state, he still doesn’t feel the upper light that is clothed in Torah and Mitzvot. Hence, he does everything because he believes it is a great privilege to be rewarded with engaging in Torah and Mitzvot, even when he doesn’t feel its importance but does everything with faith above reason, for this is man’s purpose—to achieve Dvekut with the Creator—and he does everything to achieve it. As a result, he observes everything and makes great efforts wherever he can, and his sole intention is to achieve wholeness.

And he sees that after all the efforts and prevailing when he wishes to overcome the obstructers that stand against him, he is still standing on the outside, since Dvekut means equivalence of form, and he still did not move an inch from self-love, which is an opposite act from Dvekut with the Creator. In that state, he goes to pray to the Creator to enlighten him so he can raise Divinity from the dust. This means that the kingdom of heaven—as she appears to a man when he wants to work only for her, to disclose the glory of heaven in the world—tastes like dust in that state. And he sees that everyone is like him, disrespectful toward the glory of heaven because they cannot appreciate her importance. This is called “a prayer of many,” meaning that he prays for the collective.

Two discernments must be made: 1) Malchut is called “many” because she contains all the souls. 2) A prayer of many, when he prays for the collective, means that the collective will be rewarded with the importance of Torah and Mitzvot, that they will be rewarded with 613 deposits that the upper light shines in each and every Mitzva.

It follows that at the end of the day, the two discernments of “many” become one. This means that he prays for the public to be rewarded, for the greatness and importance of Malchut—who is called “many”—to be seen, which occurs when everyone is rewarded with vessels of bestowal. At that time, the 613 Mitzvot will be revealed, as in “Listening to the voice of His word,” at which time the 613 Mitzvot are called 613 deposits.

The above-mentioned means that a prayer of many is not rejected when one prays for the collective. The collective is called “the whole of Israel,” and the collective is called “the Holy Divinity.” And since the collective comprises several discernments, The Zohar says that the reason why the prayer of the collective is accepted is that there is wholeness in it. It writes, “And the Creator crowns Himself with that prayer because it rises in several manners, since one asks for Hassadim, another for Gevurot, and another for Rachamim.”

We should understand why a prayer must consist of all of them. The rule is that all the discernments that we discern in spirituality are revelations that should be disclosed for the purpose of correcting the lower ones. It follows that the matter of three lines that we say—that perfection means that the three lines are revealed there—means that the Creator wishes to give to the lower ones abundance so they can use them and there will not be any flaw there. This is unlike how it was in the world of Nekudim where there was the breaking of the vessels because there was no correction of lines there, as the holy Ari says.

In other words, when the upper one gives some abundance to the lower one, he wishes that the abundance that the lower one receives will benefit the lower one. But if the Kli where the abundance should go is imperfect, all the bounty will go to the external ones. This is the issue with the breaking of the vessels—that the bounty went outside of Kedusha [holiness]. For this reason, the bounty is not poured out to the lower ones, and it is considered that the prayer was not accepted.

And here comes the matter of correction of lines in the collective. It means that the many, which is Malchut, consists of the collective. In other words, there is a correction called “three lines” by which the abundance remains in Kedusha and does not go to the external ones. Hence, such a prayer can be accepted, meaning that she can be given abundance.

The Zohar interprets about that, “Because Jacob consisted of three lines,” since Jacob is called “the middle line,” which includes the right and the left. This is why the Creator wanted his prayer, for it is in utter completeness, comprising all three lines, like the prayer of many. In other words, there are no delays on the part of the Creator in imparting the abundance below, since His desire is to benefit His creations. However, it is as though He waits for the vessels of reception of the lower ones to be fit for reception.

Thus, when there is a proper Kli on the part of the lower one—meaning that the prayer is the Kli that is fit for reception—it must be on the condition that the abundance will not be lost, meaning that the abundance will not go to the external ones, to the Klipot. This is why there is a correction on the Kli of Malchut that she should transfer the bounty to the lower ones, and this correction is called, “correction of lines.”

Now we will explain the rest of the words of The Zohar, which we asked about what it said. It writes, “And because it consists of several sides and manners, it becomes a crown and is placed on the head of the Righteous One who lives forever, meaning Yesod, who imparts all the salvations to the Nukva, and from her to the entire public.”

We asked, “But do we not pray to Ein Sof?” Thus, what does it mean that the prayer of many becomes a crown specifically over Yesod? The thing is that the order of the imparting of the bounty that comes to Malchut is called Yesod. This means that all of the first nine Sefirot give their essence to Yesod, and he is called “all.”

It follows that we always speak from the perspective of the giver and the receiver of the bounty, who is called Malchut. Thus, since the Emanator wishes to bestow and waits for the lower ones to give the proper Kelim for reception of the abundance, when the prayers go up—when the prayers are arranged in such a way that is fit for acceptance—they are called “a Kli for reception of the abundance.” It follows that the Kli rose to the giver, and since the general giver is Yesod, it is considered that the prayer rose to Yesod.

Accordingly, this follows the rule, “The act below awakens the act above.” It means that upon the awakening of the lower ones, who wish to draw near to the Creator and be rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator, they ask for the Creator’s help. It is as our sages said, “He who comes to be purified is aided” (Zohar, Noah, p 23, and in the Sulam Commentary, Item 63). If a person comes to purify, he is aided with a holy soul and he is purified, sanctified, and he is called “holy.”

Thus we see that when a man wishes to improve his actions, he causes a Zivug above, by which abundance is poured below. This is called raising MAN, meaning causing a deficiency above. But we should understand how we can say that the lower ones cause a deficiency above. And we should also know the meaning of “deficiency.” It is known that a Kli is called “a deficiency,” meaning that if there is a deficiency, there is room to place the filling there and fill the deficiency.

There are no delays in bestowing on the part of the Emanator, for His wish is to do good. The reason why we see that there is concealment of the light is because the lower ones have no Kelim to receive the abundance. Hence, when the lower one awakens to purify himself but lacks the strength, he asks the Creator to help him. Then this deficiency rises, so now the upper one has a Kli for giving him abundance, and this is called raising MAN.

It follows that when the prayer, which is a deficiency—what the lower one seeks for his deficiency to be satisfied—rises to the giver, and the giver is called Yesod, who bestows upon the assembly of Israel, called Malchut—it becomes a crown on His head. This is so because a crown means Keter [crown], indicating to the King’s crown, meaning the importance of the king. This means that when there is disclosure of His light, everyone recognizes the importance of the Creator.

However, during the concealment of the face, Divinity—the place where the King appears—is called “exile” and “dust.” This is so because no taste is discerned in spirituality, but the Torah and Mitzvot seem to taste like dust to them. And all this is because the lower ones do not have the Kelim to receive the abundance. And because of that, His glory is desecrated among the nations, meaning that before a person is rewarded with the discernment of being Jewish, he is similar to the nations, as it is known that each person is a small world and consists of all seventy nations, as well as of Israel.

But then, during the concealment, when the upper bounty cannot appear to the lower ones because they do not have the proper Kelim, whatever illumination they are given will go to the Klipot. Because of that, the upper abundance had to be hidden from them. This is called, “The crown has fallen from our head,” meaning that the importance of the Creator is desecrated.

But when a person comes to purify, when he wishes for the Creator to bring him closer and give him the vessel of bestowal by which to be rewarded with Dvekut, all the upper bounty that will be revealed will be in order to bestow. In other words, he wishes to be given strength from above to have the ability to always be in Kedusha, which is Dvekut.

Then a crown is made of his prayer, the King’s crown, since then the importance of the King is recognized. And this is the meaning of what The Zohar says, that the prayer “Becomes a crown and is placed on the head of the Righteous One who lives forever, meaning Yesod, who imparts all the salvations to the Nukva, and from her to the entire public.” This is so because through the prayer, the upper abundance is given to the lower ones, at which time the delight and pleasure are revealed. This is called “a crown,” the King’s crown, the importance of the King.

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