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He Who Rejoices on Holidays

174. Rabbi Shimon opened and said: “He who rejoices on holidays and does not give a part to the Creator, the evil eye hates and slanders him, removes him from this world, and brings him many miseries.”

We have already said (item 68) that the impure forces (egoistic spiritual forces within man that know of and hence desire the pleasures hidden in the Creator’s Light) consist of male and female parts. The male part brings less harm than the female. It leads man to transgressions such as lying in the name of the Creator, as though it inspires man to observe the Mitzvot (commandments), but not in complete purity (with the sole purpose of pleasing the Creator). Instead, it causes man to also add a touch of personal benefit and selfish enjoyment, as it is written: “Eat not the bread of an ill-willer, nor desire his treats; for as one reckons within himself, such is he: ‘Eat and drink,’ he shall say to you; but his heart is not with you” (Mishley, 23:6-7).

Since the male impure force has absolutely no intentions to bestow, the commandment remains devoid of fear and love (without a heart). Yet, since the male impure force has already caught man in its net, it gains power to make a Zivug with its female half (the impure Nukva), which is a bitter and evil impure force that lies in the name of the Creator, and, upon seducing man, captures his entire soul.

Hence, The Zohar says that the evil eye hates and slanders man, and removes him from this world by provoking him to fail to observe the Commandment of rejoicing on a holiday (the reception of Ohr Hochma, joy on a higher degree) – so that this joy would not be for the sake of the Creator. It is as though he eats alone and does not share his food with the needy, which leads to the male impure force making a Zivug with Nukva and capturing man’s soul.

175. The Creator’s role is to cheer the poor, according to His ability. For the Creator appears on the holidays so as to look at His broken Kelim. He comes to them, and He sees that there is nothing to rejoice in, and He weeps for them, and ascends Above to destroy the world.

To understand this passage and the angels’ objections, one must first understand the words of the sages (Midrash Raba, 86): “When creating the world, the Creator asked the angels: ‘Shall we create man in our image (Tzelem) and likeness?’ And the four angels (forces, properties) of creation gave their answers:

Mercy said, LET US CREATE, for he creates Hassadim, mercy. Truth said, LET US NOT CREATE, for he is all falsehood. Justice said, LET US CREATE, for he dispenses justice. Peace said, LET US NOT CREATE, for he is all enmity.”

What did the Creator do? He took truth and concealed it in the ground, as it is written: “cast down truth to the ground” (Daniel, 8:12). Our entire purpose in the study of the Torah and Mitzvot lies in that, thanks to them, as the Talmud says (Psachim, 50, 2): “From Lo Lishma (intentions for oneself) man comes to Lishma (intentions for the Creator’s sake).”

And since man is born with such insignificant desires and powers, he is unable to immediately engage in the Creator’s Mitzvot for the sake of pleasing the Giver of these Mitzvot, for as it is said: “Man is born akin to a wild ass” (Iyov, 11:12). Due to his egoistic nature, he is unable to make any inner movement or action if it is not for his own benefit.

Therefore, the Creator allows man to begin observing the Mitzvot solely for his own sake, seeking personal benefit. Yet, in spite of this, his actions attract spiritual light to him. And then, with the help of the received Light, he comes to observe the Mitzvot for the Creator’s sake, in order to please Him.

This is exactly what Truth presented when it objected to man’s creation and said that he is all falsehood. After all, how can man be created to study the Torah and observe Mitzvot in a state of absolute falsehood, i.e., “for oneself?”

However, Mercy said, “Let us create,” for man performs merciful deeds. Although the Mitzvot of mercy, which man observes (even if mechanically) initially “for his own sake,” are mere external actions without the intention of bestowal, with their help he gradually corrects his intentions until he becomes capable of observing all the Mitzvot “for the Creator’s sake.” Hence, there exists an absolute certainty and guarantee that through his efforts, man will achieve the goal – altruistic actions “for the Creator’s sake.” And that it is okay to create man.

Peace also asserted that man is all “enmity;” hence, he can observe the Mitzvot “for the Creator’s sake” only if it also brings him personal benefit. However, due to such mixed intentions and actions, man exists in constant conflict with the Creator, for it seems to him that he is great and righteous, and he utterly fails to see his shortcomings. In other words, he is completely unaware that all his work in the Torah and Mitzvot is exclusively for his own benefit.

And because he feels this way, he fills up with anger and resentment towards the Creator: why does the Creator not treat him as it befits one so perfectly righteous? It follows that he alternates between states of peace and conflict with the Creator. That is why Peace objected to the creation of man.

However, Justice said that man should be created, for he dispenses justice. By observing the Mitzva (singular for Mitzvot) of giving charity to the poor, even with the intention “for oneself,” he gradually acquires the property of “bestowal,” learns to act “for the Creator’s sake,” and merits eternal peace with Him.

After the Creator heard these opinions, He agreed with the angels of Mercy and Justice, and cast down Truth to the “ground.” By this, He allowed man to begin observing the Mitzvot with the intention “for oneself,” despite its falsehood.

It follows that the Creator cast Truth down to the ground because He had accepted the claims of Mercy and Justice, that thanks to the Mitzva of giving charity to the poor, man will ultimately come to Truth, i.e., work for the Creator’s sake, and Truth will rise from the ground.

The only creation created by the Creator is Malchut de Malchut, egoism, and it can only be corrected by “instilling” the Creator’s properties of Bina or mercy into it. Yet, if these properties are opposite, how can such a thing be accomplished? After all, in the spiritual world, distance is proportionate to the difference in properties. So how can Malchut be united with Bina?

To this end, the Kli was broken: the spiritual, altruistic desire lost its screen and became egoistic. Yet, it retained sparks of the Light, and these sparks exist within egoistic desires. This is why egoistic desires have power over us.

These sparks of the Upper Light are the source of various pleasures and love, for Light is pleasure. And since these particles of Light are clothed in impure garments and exist under the rule of the impure forces, man starts perceiving these feelings of love and delight as being inherent in the impure forces, as though these egoistic garments contain pleasures, and such is their property. And he associates the properties of love and pleasure with the impure forces, failing to understand that the impure forces draw him solely with the spiritual spark that has fallen into them.

However, as the impure force is very appealing, it lures man into all kinds of transgressions, such as theft, robbery, and murder. At the same time, it gives us the desire to observe the Torah and Mitzvot for our own sake. Even if we start observing them not “for the Creator’s sake,” but “for ourselves,” (for our own benefit, to fulfill our base aspirations, according to the desires of the broken, egoistic Kelim-vessels), we gradually come to the intention “for the Creator’s sake,” and merit the goal of creation – to receive all the pleasure that was prepared for us back in the Thought of Creation – “to delight man.” Thus, the impure forces destroy themselves, but that is exactly the purpose for which the Creator conceived and created them.

The Zohar says that the Creator appears on these holidays to look at all the broken Kelim. On holidays, when man observes the Mitzva of rejoicing because of the great Light that he receives from the Creator, the Creator appears to look at His broken vessels, by which man is given an opportunity to observe the Mitzvot not “for the Creator’s sake.” The Creator comes and looks at how well these broken vessels have fulfilled their mission to bring man to observance of the Mitzvot with the intention “for the Creator’s sake.”

However, the Creator comes to them and sees that there is nothing to rejoice in. He weeps over them, for He sees that nothing spiritual (altruistic) was created from the broken vessels, that man has yet to correct even a single broken vessel (egoistic desire). In other words, there’s not one vessel that was intentionally broken by the Creator that has brought man to the intention “for the Creator’s sake,” and he rejoices on holidays solely for his own pleasure.

So the Creator weeps and regrets breaking the vessels, for He broke them and cast Truth to the ground only for man’s sake, to give him an opportunity to start working in falsehood (in the intention “for oneself”) and gradually come to Truth, to the intention “for the Creator’s sake.” Yet, when He sees that man has not changed at all in his aspirations for selfish pleasure, it is as though the vessels were broken in vain, and so He weeps for them.

And He rises Above, to destroy the world – meaning, He ascends so as to stop the Light’s descent and thereby destroy the world. The world and creatures can exist only if they receive the Creator’s Light (even if unconsciously). However, if man’s state and selfish actions cannot lead him to the intention “for the Creator’s sake,” the Light itself becomes detrimental to him, for in pursuit of this Light, man sinks ever deeper into egoistic desires (impure forces) and growing dependency on egoism. Therefore, it is more desirable and beneficial for man to stop feeling pleasure in his impure desires, so that it would not destroy him completely and prevent him from sinking into such powerful egoistic desires that, having become a slave to their pleasures, he would never be able escape them and attain the spiritual

176. The members of the assembly then appear before the Creator and say: “Master of the world, You are called merciful and forgiving, send Your mercy upon Your sons.” He answers them: “Have I not done so, when I created the world based on mercy? As it is written, ‘The world is built by mercy’ and the world is established upon it. However, if they do not show mercy to the poor, the world will be destroyed.” The Heavenly angels then say to Him: “Master of the world, here is a man who had eaten and drunk to his heart’s content, and could have been merciful to the poor, but did not do anything.” The prosecutor appears, receives permission, and persecutes that man.

The exalted souls, called “the members (or the sons) of the assembly” begin praying for the lower ones, so the Creator would have mercy on His sons and not discontinue the flow of Light descending onto them. They do everything within their power to justify man’s state of being, and say that as long he observes his Mitzvot in faith, he is called “the Creator’s son,” and hence deserves the Creator’s mercy, as a son deserves the mercy of his father.

The Creator replies to them that He created the world by the property of mercy, and the world stands on this property alone. In other words, man will not be corrected by the Creator’s Light as long as he disdains the poor, for the world’s creation was the result of the Creator’s agreement with the angel of Mercy, which states that due to man’s merciful deeds, the world will be able to exist and will gradually come to the intention “for the Creator’s sake.” But now, since people are not showing mercy, there will be no correction.

Then the Supernal angels said, “Master of the universe, here is a man who had eaten and drunk, and had his fill, and could have been merciful to the poor, but did not give them anything.” In this case, the angels begin to accuse man, instead of defending him, even the angels of Mercy and Justice. And all those who did not wish to create an egoistic man with desires “for oneself,” but agreed to it only because they assumed that by deeds of mercy and justice he would escape his egoism “for one’s own sake” and achieve the altruistic property “for the Creator’s sake.” Now, they, too, turn against man.

And if man is unable to acquire the intention “for the Creator’s sake,” the angels repent and regret at having agreed to his creation, and they now accuse him before the Creator. And after it becomes clear that man will not achieve the altruistic property “for the Creator’s sake” by observing the Mitzvot, he is passed into the hands of the prosecutor.

177. There are none greater in our world than Avraham, who acted with mercy toward all creatures. It is written of the day that he prepared a feast: “The child grew and was weaned, and Avraham made a great feast on the day that Yitzchak was weaned.” So Avraham prepared a feast and invited all the leaders of that generation. It is well known that at every feast, the supreme prosecutor is about, watching. And if there are any poor people in the house, he leaves that house and does not return there. However, if the prosecutor enters a house and sees rejoicing without the poor – without having first shown mercy to the poor – he ascends Above and brings accusations against the host of that feast.

178. Because Avraham was the leader of his generation, the prosecutor descended from Heavens and stood at the door of his house, disguised as a poor man. And nobody so much as looked at him. Avraham was attending to kings and ministers, and Sarah was feeding all of their children, for they did not believe that she had born a child, but rather claimed that Yitzchak was a foundling, whom they had bought at the marketplace. This is why they brought their children with them, and Sarah nursed them in front of all. And the prosecutor stands at the door. Sarah said: “The Creator has made laughter for me” (“For anyone who hears will laugh on account of me” (Beresheet, 21:6). The prosecutor ascended at once and stood before the Creator, and said to Him, “O Master of the world, You have said that You love Avraham, and here he had prepared a feast, but had not given anything to You nor to the poor, had not sacrificed even a single pigeon for Your sake. And Sarah says that You have laughed at her.”

Until the end of correction, it is impossible to fully rid oneself of the impure forces. Hence, however hard even the most exalted righteous may try to observe the Creator’s Mitzvot in purity of their altruistic intentions, without any touch of personal benefit, the impure forces can nonetheless accuse them and find faults in their observance of the Mitzvot.

Therefore, the Creator prepared another opportunity for the righteous to silence the prosecutor – by bribing him with a certain portion of holiness and purity, thus silencing him. This way, the prosecutor is reluctant to accuse a righteous one and does not want him to disappear, for then the prosecutor, too, will be deprived of his part of holiness, the Light that he receives as the righteous one observes each Mitzvot.

Hence, the need for external hair in Tefillin (phylacteries), scapegoat rite, red heifer, and so forth. (The Zohar, Emor, p. 88). From this we see how extraordinary, multifaceted, and complex this world is created, how impossible it is to judge human deeds and the Upper Governance by external manifestations, as they are seen by us, and how “entangled” and inseparably intertwined all the connections between the pure and impure forces really are.

Even when we look at our great leaders-Kabbalists, we see how much they’ve suffered, how they were forced to submit to the will of petty rulers or ignorant masses, and how persecuted they were – those who were closest to the Creator! Everyone feels these obstacles, even those who are just beginning on their spiritual journey.

But here, in the example of Avraham, The Zohar does not speak about an ordinary prosecutor, for Avraham had surely given food to all the poor, as he had always done even before he invited his distinguished guests to his table. But this prosecutor demanded his share of holiness, of the Light. However, Avraham did not wish to give anything of holiness to impurity. Rather, he wanted to overcome its power and push it away from himself completely. This is why the prosecutor ascended Above and accused Avraham.

The Zohar tells us that the prosecutor was not really poor, but only disguised himself as such, and demanded to be treated at Avraham’s festive table. Avraham felt that this was an impure force that assumed the image of a poor man; hence, he refused to give it anything.

This is why it is written: “He did not sacrifice even a single pigeon,” for in accordance to the sacrificial rites (rejection of egoistic parts, of man’s “I”), only two pigeons are offered, which symbolize the two combined points in Malchut: the property of Malchut that was corrected by the property of mercy, Bina. This common point contains both the properties of restriction and mercy, but the property of restriction is concealed, whereas the property of mercy is revealed (item 122).

Without this combination of Malchut’s properties with those of Bina, called the “mitigation” or “sweetening” of Malchut, the world (Malchut) cannot exist, i.e., receive the Creator’s Light. Therefore, it is necessary to offer precisely two baby pigeons. One of them was sent by Noah from his Ark, never to return (Beresheet, 8), for one pigeon designates the property of restriction in Malchut that is unmitigated by Bina’s property of mercy. And since Noah could not correct anything in her, the pigeon never returned to him (The Zohar Shlach, p. 52).

The prosecutor’s claims and complaints concerning Avraham’s feast on the day when Yitzchak was weaned stem from his demand to receive his share, the corrections of the part of Malchut that cannot be corrected until Gmar Tikkun (the end of correction). And this is the property of the restriction within Malchut, with which the world cannot exist; hence, it must be concealed. This property is the pigeon that did not return to Noah.

Man was not entrusted with the task of correcting his Creator-given primordial egoism, for it is impossible to alter what the Creator had made. However, man can hide his Malchut, hisegoism (refrain from using it), and instead act by receiving his desires from Bina. This is why a combination of the properties of Malchut (egoism) and Bina (altruism) was formed in man – to let him make the effort and conceal the properties of Malchut,and act only according to the properties of Bina.

When one is able to completely reject the use of his egoism and is guided only by the properties of Bina, he will achieve a state called “the end of his correction.” Correction is made during the 6,000 years, i.e., along the degrees of the 6,000 consecutive actions.

Then, man’s Mashiach (Messiah/savior), the Upper Light, comes to him and transforms all of man’s egoism (the primordial nature that he was rejecting during the 6,000 years) into altruism. Then, one’s egoistic properties serve for the reception of the Light of pleasure for the Creator’s sake, and he no longer needs to refrain from using them.

The property of Malchut, with which man cannot work for the Creator’s sake until his final correction, is referred to as “restriction.” Using the properties of Malchut herself remains forbidden until she is completely corrected through gradual purification by the properties of Bina during the 6,000 years. Alternatively, Malchut is called “strictness” or “judgment,” for this restriction is also the source of all punishments and prohibitions.

Avraham could not correct this property of restriction in Malchut,i.e., receive the Light and fill Malchut entirely. Hence, he received nothing in this part, and that is exactly the way he treated the prosecutor, who ascended at once and began to accuse Avraham before the Creator, claiming that Avraham failed to correct anything in Malchut’s property of restriction with his feast. This property of restriction is called “poor,” for it does not receive Light; hence, it constitutes the essence of Malchut, her egoism.

Since the Creator mitigated the restrictive property of Malchut with the property of mercy, and mixed Malchut with Bina for the sole purpose of giving the world an opportunity to exist, the Light that is received thanks to the property of mercy is defined as the part of Light belonging to all the world’s inhabitants. This part helps Malchut become corrected. Since the Creator created Malchut in order to personally fill her with Light, she is regarded as His personal part.

As a result of a miracle of nursing the babies that were brought to Sarah, Avraham received all the Light that exists in the property of mercy, and began to doubt his ability to correct the poor part of Malchut. This part receives nothing (for it cannot be used during the 6,000 years) and constitutes the Creator’s personal part.

Therefore, the prosecutor ascended, accusing Avraham of not giving to the poor, i.e., not giving to the part of the Creator, Malchut de Malchut herself,which no man can correct by himself, as even Noah was unable to do so. And he gave nothing to You nor to the poor, and sacrificed not even a single pigeon for Your sake.

And Sarah says that You have laughed at her. Sarah is the part of Bina that shines in Malchut. With the words: “Any who hears will laugh on account of me” (Beresheet, 21:6), Sarah - Bina gave Malchut such powerful Ohr Hassadim that Malchut stopped feeling her egoistic desires, felt the perfection of altruism, and temporarily acquired the properties of Bina, while under the influence of Ohr Hassadim.

However, there emerges fear that due to such a sense of perfection and absence of sufferingfrom unfulfilled desires, the absence of the feeling of deficiency, Malchut would remain uncorrected. Such a state is similar to the following description of Adam’s state in the Torah (Beresheet, 3:22): “Lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever.” In other words, he must not stop feeling his own nature nor forget the fact that he is obliged to correct his defect in the “Tree of Knowledge.” And that is why Adam was cast down into a place that is suitable for correction, the lowest possible egoistic place, called our world.

179. The Creator said to him: “Who in the world is like Avraham?” And the prosecutor did not leave from there until he had consumed the entire fare. So the Creator decreed that Yitzchak is to be sacrificed. And He said that Sarah shall die from grief for her son. The cause of this grief is that he did not give anything to the poor.

Yitzchak’s sacrifice was aimed at the correction of Malchut, to compensate for what Avraham could not correct at his great feast in honor of Yitzchak’s weaning. Sarah’s death was the result of the great Light that she passed to Malchut, saying: “The Creator has made laughter for me,” alluding to the Light that obstructs the correction of Malchut.

Malchut and gives her the sensation of perfection prevents her from correcting herself. Hence, the Creator stopped it. This is the significance of Sarah’s death, for Sarah constitutes the Light of Bina that enters Malchut. Thus, all that the Torah speaks of is but the essence of the process of Malchut’s correction, until her correction is completed.

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