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Love for the Creator and Love for the Created Beings

To “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” is the general law of the universe.

The General and the Particular

Baal HaSulam writes: This statement is one of the most famous and quoted utterances. It is oftentimes rephrased into another expression: “Anything that you hate, do not do to your friend.”

However, this is incorrect. While the expression, “Anything that you hate, do not do to your friend” speaks only about the restriction not to harm your neighbor, the commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” implies much more: you have to do only good to others.

Although this phrase is well known, let us find out if we interpret its meaning correctly.

When we speak about the “general laws of the universe,” the word “general” points to a sum of particulars, which in their combination form this “general.” In this case, the law, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” indicates that the correction of man’s six hundred and twelve egotistical properties makes up the property, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

In other words, the law “Love thy neighbor as thyself” includes all of our properties. If we have achieved it, then we have corrected ourselves completely.

At first glance, it is difficult to understand how this precept can be “general” for all the corrections that the Divine Providence obliges us to complete by sending us suffering.

The suffering that the Creator’s rule sends to us pushes us towards correction. We are obliged to correct our desires. In all, we have 613 of them: 248 desires of bestowal and 365 desires of reception (Ramach Eivarim and Shasa Gidim), Galgalta Eynaim (GE) and AHP. The last desire includes the rest of 612 desires and is called “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

This means that by correcting all of my 612 desires, I have to be focused on the attainment of the property called “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” That is to say, I cannot correct even the smallest single egoistical desire of mine and make it similar to the Creator unless it is fulfilled with this intention.

This can be easily understood because in any case the Creator treats all desires with the intention to bestow absolute goodness upon it. Naturally, man has to act in the same way with regard to all of his desires. The final correction includes all the particular corrections.

But how does the property, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” (i.e., the property that determines my attitude towards all created beings) determine the person’s attitude to the Creator? One may say that on the whole it is similar to the Creator. Theoretically, I treat all of humanity the same way the Creator does, with absolute love. However, this is my attitude towards them. What does it have to do with my attitude towards the Creator? He and I treat humanity similarly. Why should our interrelation change, why should we become closer or farther apart? How does it affect the distance between us?

We are leaving this question (Why do I become closer to the Creator and merge with Him by treating created beings with love?) for the time being. It is based on the equivalence of properties, but Baal HaSulam moves on to another question. He explains that the only method for attaining the state of correction is the study and use of Kabbalah.

Since the wisdom of Kabbalah is a method of man’s correction and elevation to the level of the Creator, it is clear that the purpose of this science is to lead us to a state where we will be able to fulfill the commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Consequently, whoever studies Kabbalah should clearly understand that he learns the method of attaining love for his neighbor and nothing else. At first, it seems to him that he studies something theoretical and attains the higher worlds, but gradually a person begins to realize that the correction has to be made within.

This correction concerns only other people and the method is intended for this single purpose. By altering his attitude towards others, a person changes his attitude towards the Creator. By attaining love for others, he attains love for the Creator and merges with Him. The science of Kabbalah was given to us only for that purpose.

While pointing to the precept, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” Kabbalah wishes to say that the entire universe was created according to this law, and only our world is functioning in accordance with the opposite property of “love for oneself.”

Kabbalah does not speak about our world; it describes what happens in the spiritual worlds, i.e., in man’s corrected desires. The science of Kabbalah does not work with uncorrected desires because a different law rules there, the law of self-love. Kabbalah operates with the data and formulas of “love for thy neighbor.”

In other words, nature is divided into two parts: self-love and love for others. Accordingly, there are sciences that we have developed on the basis of our egoistical property, which tell us about self-love and there is another science called Kabbalah, which explains what it means to love thy neighbor.

If man in this world wishes to exist in harmony with the general law of the universe, he is bound to change and adapt himself to it.

To change means to become congruous to this law. If we wish to feel what can be felt only in corrected desires: all the worlds, the universe and finally the Creator Himself and the world of Infinity, we have to correct our desires. If we do so, we will feel love for others. This property will enable us to feel and merge with the Creator.

The cause of all suffering in the world lies in our opposition to this general law. We are created in such a way that we enjoy everything that refers to the Creator because the Upper Light created Malchut (us) so that it enjoys all that relates to the Upper Light. If it is not filled with the Light, it suffers.

Therefore, if we want to feel good, we have to be filled with the Upper Light or, in other words, to be similar to it. We suffer because we are opposite to the Light.

At the outset, we need to understand what the phrase “as thyself” means. The literal meaning is to love your fellow creature exactly as much as you love yourself. In this case, the instruction becomes totally unrealizable.

Even if the statement read, “Love your neighbor as he loves you,” very few people would be able to fulfill it in full measure. It would nevertheless be acceptable. However, it is utterly impossible to love your neighbor as yourself!

Even if there were no one else in the world except your friend, it would still be impossible, to say nothing about the world teeming with people. Provided that the person begins to love everyone as he loves himself, he will have no time at all for himself. Yet in his love for himself, he satisfied his own needs constantly, completely and willingly.

We are created in such a way that we must constantly seek fulfillment. If, at the same time, I have to love others, I am obliged to stop thinking about myself. A person cannot love two objects simultaneously; only one can dominate his desire.

Desire always seeks either to be fulfilled with something or someone or to fulfill someone with something. It is always precisely oriented; hence one cannot love oneself and simultaneously (all the more equally) love others.

If this is so, why then is it said, “love thy neighbor as thyself”? Does it mean that I have to stop loving myself and start loving another? Are these two desires opposite, antagonistic or can I love others and myself at the same time? Perhaps, I should hate myself before I can love others?

We know that in our world one can either love oneself or another. A person cannot simultaneously think about himself and his neighbor. If that is impossible, how can I know what it means to “love thy neighbor as thyself”? For example, I wish to do something for someone and at the moment I do not feel self-love. How can I love this someone as myself?

We need to solve this problem: does love for another destroy self-love or, to the contrary, the more I love others, the more I love myself? Maybe out of love for myself I will begin to understand how important it is to love others? It seems utterly unrealizable in our world because I cannot simultaneously satisfy someone’s needs if I fulfill my own desires.

However, the person has neither desire nor sufficient reason to satisfy the needs of society. Even if he had such a desire, he would find it impossible to implement the literal meaning of the instruction, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Why is the general law of the universe so impractical?

Is it possible that there is a law that created the entire universe (including us) and we are unable to observe it? How can it be? This means that we simply do not know how we can observe this law. It turns out that the problem lies not in the law’s impracticability, but in our ignorance of how to observe it. Surely, if we received proper instruction, we would be able to do it.

That is to say, we suffer because the ability to observe this law is incorporated in us. Unless we were able to observe it, we would naturally have been free from suffering. Therefore, Baal HaSulam writes:

Yet one cannot possibly think that the statement exaggerates because we were given a warning: “Do not add to this law or deduct from it.” Moreover, they said that man should put the needs of his friend before his own.

For example, one person has a pillow and another does not. It is prohibited not to use the pillow at all; one should give it to his neighbor. Does it mean that you should satisfy your neighbor’s needs while you remain in distress? Is that called love? This may be love for a friend, but how about yourself? “Love thy neighbor as thyself” implies that you have to love another more than you love yourself. However, the law unequivocally asserts, “Do not add or deduct from it.” So how can I give someone and leave nothing for myself?

It is now extremely difficult for us to understand this general law of the universe that includes all of these conditions. In the process of realization of all of its 612 constituents, man gradually begins to grasp its true meaning.

There are other examples as well. The Jerusalem Talmud (treatise Kiddushin) says that buying a slave is like buying a master and proceeds explaining: “If he has but one pillow and he lays on it himself and does not give it to his slave, he does not observe the rule, “Because he is happy with thee.”

He has to give it to his slave and lie on the ground. This means, “buying a slave is like buying a master.” In other words, everyone in the world should be more important to me than myself. Not only is it difficult to understand how this law should be observed, but also its very definition is incomprehensible.

Here several questions arise. In accordance with the aforesaid, none of us fulfills what Kabbalah demands. Moreover, by delving into particulars, we forget about the general. It is written: “When you fulfill the Creator’s wish, others will be poor and not you.” But where will the poor come from, if everyone grants the Creator’s desires and observes the rule, “Love thy neighbor as thyself?”

Question: What is your attitude towards the notion of “natural love”?

By “natural love” do you mean parents’ love for their children? There is no other natural love of which I know. Love for friends is not part of my nature. The word “natural” implies that it is in my Reshimot.

There is natural self-love in my Reshimot that is based on all 612 egoistical desires. If I find out how I can apply these 612 desires in love for others, I will be able to love my neighbor as myself. To that end I will have to correct all of my desires. Instead of my own desire I will feel the desire of another and I will treat it as if it were my own.

As in the example with a pillow, I will have to give it to my neighbor. This is called, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” “As thyself” serves as an example: you wish to take everything and give nothing to anyone. Now you give everything to others and receive nothing. That is the true meaning of “as thyself.” Since my natural self-love makes me desire everything, I have to love others in the same way – give them everything.

Now the expression “Love thy neighbor as thyself” becomes clearer. I have to prefer others to myself because previously I preferred myself to others.

Question: The law “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is the general law of the universe. What does it mean, “the general law of the universe”?

This is the general condition of the Kli in the state of Gmar Tikkun (Final correction). All the souls are united in one general system and completely filled with the Creator. Together they form this picture perceived by the created beings. This state is called the Final correction. There is only one law in this state: all the souls are interconnected and completely merged with the Creator.

What are the particular laws then? They function at the lower levels of the partial observance of this general law. That is all.

In principle, every Partzuf (spiritual object, the state of the soul) possesses all 613 properties. The soul’s attitude towards others is based on these properties because it perceives other souls as a whole entity also consisting of 613 properties. The particular and the general are equal as in a holographic picture.

Suppose I am at level 40. I feel 40 of my smallest desires corrected and through them I look at others. In other words, being at level 40 means that my good attitude towards others is based on the proportion 613/40.

It turns out that my attitude towards others is always based on my whole Kli. I perceive all as a whole Kli. However, there are parts in my perception of myself and others that are concealed from me and those that are more or less revealed.

Therefore, I always work within my 613 desires. Their number is constant. However, I work consciously, semi-consciously or unconsciously (like a baby) with some of them. A baby shakes its arms and legs totally unaware of them. It does not yet feel its body. Very gradually it begins to feel its limbs and to use them.

The same applies to us. We have everything and our reality surrounds us. Yet we only partially activate our desires and perceive others in them. Although all the organs of a fetus developing inside the mother’s womb grow simultaneously, they manifest irregularly with regard to the observer. For example, its arms, legs, and head seem to grow faster at certain periods than the rest of its body. In reality, however, the entire organism develops harmoniously in all of its parts.

The same goes for our attitude towards others. No matter how I treat another person at different moments, I perceive him (perhaps without realizing it) through all of my 613 desires, sensations.

Question: A master is obliged to give his pillow to his slave; this is his act of bestowal. Is it still considered bestowal if the slave takes the only pillow away from his master? Does the slave observe the rule “Love thy neighbor as thyself” by doing so?

What the person who receives does at the same time is a totally different matter. This does not relate to the issue, hence we do not consider it here. We speak about love for thy neighbor and how one can bestow to others. You ask me if love thy neighbor is realized, when one receives from another. If this reception is for the sake of bestowal, then yes, this act is equivalent to bestowal.

Question: Ancient philosophers who wanted to work on themselves (stoics) chose their friends among people whom they hated. They believed that this way they can correct themselves, others and nature.

The problem lies in understanding what the object of correction is. My inner egoistical desires are the object of correction. They can be corrected and made altruistic only in an appropriate s ociety because such a society impresses the Creator’s greatness upon me. Consequently, my attitude towards my partner is based on one single condition: he has to enhance my inner sensation of the Creator’s greatness.

It does not matter what qualities this person has, similar to mine or opposite. He can be the most wicked person in the world with regard to his innate properties. That is the way he was born. If he aspires to the Creator, i.e., if he understands that in order to get closer to the Creator he has to glorify Him in his eyes, then he is my partner in the society that will create necessary conditions for my spiritual advancement.

I do not choose him by any other qualities. However, if I choose a partner who hates to think about the Creator and despises all that I hold dear, I turn away from my goal. That is all there is to it.

We should not pay attention to any other qualities. They may be opposite to mine and hated by me. If this person feels the need to glorify the Creator and can project this need of his on me, I have to be closer to him. These are the conditions. Character traits are of no importance here.

Question: If I have to love my neighbor for this quality (aspiration to the Creator), why should I love him as myself?

I find me an environment of neighbors! They are called neighbors because together with me they aspire to the Creator. I have to get as close to them as I can to be impressed by their realization of the Creator’s greatness.

How can I get closer to them? Together with them I need to participate in the creation of a common Kli, which is possible only with the help of gluing our souls together (i.e., by mutual bestowal). This is called, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and it is the law of the common Kli. That is why I need to create it above all among my friends.

Question: What are 613 desires?

613 desires are actually 620. Every Partzuf includes them. They are like ten Sefirot, Ten Commandments or 613 corrections. It does not matter how one divides them. In principle, they are divided into RAMACH (248) desires that relate to the Galgalta Eynaim (i.e., the desires of the Partzuf above the Tabur or above the Chazeh, which stands in place of the Tabur in Tzimtzum Bet) and SHASA (365) desires below the Tabur or Chazeh. Ultimately, a person has to correct them all.

We speak about the general correction that includes the need to make Tzimtzum Aleph (First Restriction). After that RAMACH Eivarim (i.e., 248 desires of bestowal) should be singled out and grown at the degrees of Aviut 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. In other words, one should attain the complete Galgalta Eynaim. All of this is done in parallel with exposing the AHP (365 desires). First, these 365 desires are simply shut by Tzimtzum, but after the Galgalta Eynaim are attained the work with these AHP starts.

The Lev HaEven is singled out and isolated because nothing can be done with it. The book “Beit Sha’ar HaKavanot” (“The Gate of Intentions”) describes what Kelim can be selected from the AHP and how it should be done. There are Hash, Mal, Noga, Ohr, Klaf, and so on. We learn about the division of 365 desires into more inner and more outer ones and under what conditions some desires can be “attached” to the Galgalta Eynaim. This is followed by the AHP de Aliya. All of these things describe the correction of desires, the attainment of love for thy neighbor and bestowal (work for the sake of other Kelim).

While studying all this in “The Talmud Eser Sefirot” we do not repeat the words “love for thy neighbor” in every sentence. Yet it is quite clear that the property of bestowal is implied. Bestowal can only be directed to others. This is equivalent to bestowing upon the Creator. We have nothing to give to Him. His only desire is to bestow delight upon His created beings. This desire is exactly what we are obliged to realize in our work with created beings.

The Creator is unable to delight His creatures without our participation. We happen to be the voluntary executors of His desire. No creature can be fulfilled unless we do what we have to do. Everyone is between the Creator and the rest of creation. He urges us to realize His desire with regard to all the others creatures.

If a person could feel responsibility and importance in his state, he would naturally behave in a different way. Thus, the Creator realizes everything only through every one of us in accordance with everyone’s voluntary desire. The Upper Light cannot possibly fill everything and manifest in everyone without our desire.

Question: Can a person attain true love or will it always be an external action, i.e., a restriction, a screen imposed on self-love?

By attaining love for others with the help of the screen man increases his desires by 620 times (in fact, they are enhanced by 600000 times). His love for others reveals NaRaNHaY times more than he could achieve in his most exalted contact with the Creator. In other words, love for others enables us to increase the state of fulfillment and contact with the Creator infinitely (we simply use the number 620).

Correspondingly, egoism (the will to receive pleasure) will never disappear. It will remain the material of creation and whatever we build is built on this basis. There will always be Tzimtzum Aleph (First Restriction) and Ohr Hozer (reflected Light), and only in it will we exist, attain, and build. Otherwise creation would have ceased to exist. Creation is something that differs from the Creator; the black dot that appeared in the Creator’s Light. It cannot disappear, but its properties will ultimately become absolutely identical to the properties of the Light.

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