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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)


Remembering and Forgetting, Keeping and Losing

During the exile, considered “the female world,” the work is in keeping. And one who flaws one’s work might lose what he is given. And Dvekut (adhesion) in this world is by the force of keeping, and the adornment of the force of keeping is by the elevation of the emotion, as well as the elevation of his wholeness and the strength of his Dvekut.

However, in the future, there will be no fear of loss and theft, for death shall be swallowed up forever. And here, the work is limited to “remembering.” And although accordingly, one form should have sufficed, the nature of the body is to grow tired of the same form. Hence, forms must be dressed and undressed one at a time, so the body will appear to have a different form every time, to increase the desire. This is similar to blocking the horse’s eyes while it is circling the grindstone, so as not to tire it.

This is most profound and grave, since it is simple: His will from the servant is the most praiseworthy. Also, it is known that the closer the work is to nature, the better it is. The rule is that if one of the two lovers’ love increases to a complete and utter measure, meaning “natural and complete,” the whole force of love will quench in the other.

And although his reason will evidently show the lover’s measure of love, his ability to love his friend in return will not grow at all. Moreover, according to the sensation of the totality of the lover, the sense of love will gradually die out in him, for he will not fear him, as his love is absolute. For this reason, the measure of spirituality, the love in the nature of the loved subject, will be annulled and corrupted.

Indeed, His will is to proclaim His love, yet allow room for “expanding the boundaries of love.”

These two are opposites, since when his love becomes known, it acquires a mandatory form, like perfect and natural love. Hence, there is zero room for work, to expand the love, since the complete and loyal lover is dissatisfied with the reward of the loved one in return for his love, as it is written, “If you are right, what will you give him?”

Moreover, when the loved one feels that his lover has a desire to love him in return for some reward, that place becomes deficient. This is so because when there is a desire for reward, his love changes when the reward is absent. Thus, the love is not absolute. For this reason, it is not complete and natural, but conditioned, and when the condition is cancelled, the love is cancelled, as in, “a vision of peace, and there is no peace.”

It is evidently known that the damned does not cleave to the blessed, as it is written, “Will give wisdom to the wise. And the servitude in adding and expanding the wholeness does not relate at all to one who is deficient, but to the truly complete worker. And to the complete worker, it seems that he has no room for work at all.

This is the meaning of the “remembering,” such as when one tells one’s loving friend: “Here is a bag full of gems, to show my love.” In this way, the loved one strains to accurately count the sum of gems, in order to reveal the love in his own heart, too. In this way, the love itself does not change at all when his work is not counted, since he already has it.

However, to return some reward to the one who loves him, he touches the gems extensively in order to be rewarded with always showing the great measure of the love. In this way, the feelings of love always reach from one to the other and multiply, while the essence is not changed.

This is the meaning of adopting different combinations. Although the essence is the same, to not lose or corrupt even a tiny spark of the potential divulgence of the “hidden forces that always exists in the matter,” it appears in new combinations each time, which the corporeal eye has never seen. By that, the matter tastes a new flavor and harnesses itself to suffer and return always and forever. This is similar to many meals, from which the matter is satisfied and wishes to duplicate that form many times, or to couplings, since new flavors are always available for it.

Now you understand the association of matter in a body and soul. Due to the matter, in which “forgetfulness” is rooted, and even worse, by quenching any kind of absolute love, by that it gives the soul room for mandatory work, meaning to return in different combinations every time. Otherwise, the flaw will reach the soul, as well, because of the mask in the roots of matter. And even though the love itself is perfect and complete, it is seemingly covered due to the matter. And by being compelled to return and repeat, the additions increase beyond the fund, and the boundaries of love wondrously expand.

Now you understand the meaning of “the third generation may enter into the assembly of the Lord.” In the first generation there was the Klipa (shell) of the Egyptian, as though the place was too narrow. This is because although the lover and the loved one are in the desirable wholeness, they lack the room in which to expand and multiply, since due to the suction of matter, the soul must disclose the love in matter, too.

There is no solution for it except to evidently show his love, with great work and great force, since the matter has no other language but emotions. Hence, to the extent of his emotions, his love finds itself compelled to return reward with sublime work and great force. Therefore, when the soul feels His complete and utter love, unconditioned by anything, the work of the matter falls entirely, for “One does not pay for nothing.” This is a law in the corporeal nature (for making room, etc.); hence, at that time, the substance strains with its gratitude and subjugation according to its feelings, meaning repeatedly praising and thanking.

And according to the above mentioned, the matter grows weary of the first combination and the first flavor, and this causes him diminution of sensation, and hence diminution of gratitude, until he stops even this tiny work. And since he remains without work, and sees the absolute love, he places the Klipa of the Egyptian from the perspective of the Upper One.

Subsequently, in the second generation, there was the exact same Klipa as in the first generation, with the added Klipa of the Edomite, meaning to not return or repeat at all, as was the custom in the first generation, which, nonetheless, had a good reason to disclose the feeling from the gratitude.

But “the third generation that are born unto them may enter into the assembly of the Lord,” for in the third generation that place is revealed. That is, in the holy Atik, the ark-cover was regarded as the mercy seat, and the two were sensed together. This means that making a place for work promptly reveals a great measure of the light of love, that henceforth he will know that prevention of returning a reward prevents the light of love. For this reason, he exerts on until he finds the return of the reward even when he is in a state of wholeness, for he must, against his will, resolve the riddle from the whole, and there is none who is whole. And henceforth, he is a tool ready for work.

We could say that there is room for the complete worker to serve in other bodies to complement them, for this is not completeness in Nature, for Nature mandates revealing, meaning the actual returning of the reward, so he will not be dependent upon the view of others, and lest he will not be found, etc. But one who finds servitude in himself is always serving God, and never rests. And to that extent that light of His love is always endless, never ending.

Two Points

Two points to each aspiration: one in absence, and the other from satiation onward. The difference between them is that the aspiration that stems from fear of absence—while soaring to the highest levels, to the choicest—still, when weary, he settles for the poorest of the poor, and eats to satiation, and to cover Atik so it will not be absent. But the aspiration that stems from the point of satiation, meaning that he will not be deficient whatsoever without it, at that time he is not content with little whatsoever, and aspires only to the choicest in reality. And if it is not in that measure, but is rather ordinary, he will not want to work and toil for it at all.

For example: One who is leaning toward playing music is deficient until he acquires it. He will not rest until he has acquired a certain measure of ability to play. And even if he is told that he has no hope of becoming a renowned musician, but only a common one, he will still not give up his aspiration and will settle for less, exerting to at least acquire the little he can acquire. But one who has no inclination toward playing music to begin with, and feels no hunger for this knowledge, should a musician approach him and tell him that he should exert over this lore, he will reply to him even before he has completed his question, “I have no doubt that I will not achieve greatness in this teaching, and to be a common player, is the world deficient without me?”

Indeed, it is embedded by His providence over man that any aspiration that emerges after the point of satiation will not be desirable except for the choicest at that time.

By that you will understand a profound matter, that although the generations are declining in value, they are expanding in desired deficiency and the final correction. It is so because the first generations, who were as people, they themselves had a great and awful deficiency in the prevention of Godly works. For this reason, their aspiration to serve Him emerged from their deficiency. Hence, they did not expand in their aspiration, for fear of losing it entirely, and they were happy and content with the little they attained. This is why they had small and short movements in their work, for because of their recognition of the great value, they settled for little.

This is the meaning of the declining merit of the generations until they arrived at the final shrinkage in our generation, when authors’ wisdom is foul and they who fear sin are loathed. In that state the crowd feels content and are not obliged to God’s work at all, nor feel any lack in its absence. Even those who do engage in work, it is merely out of habit. They have no thirst or aspiration to finding any speck of knowledge in their work.

And should a sage tell them, “Come, let me teach you wisdom, to understand and to instruct in the word of God,” they will promptly reply, “I already know that I will not be as Rashbi and his friends, and let things stay as they are, and I wish I could observe the literal in full.” However, it is said about them, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth grow blunt,” for they engage in Torah and Mitzvot (commandments) that are unripe, and their children’s teeth will grow utterly blunt, and they wonder why they need this work. It is for you, and not for Him, and you, too, blunt its teeth. This is the form of our generation, with which we are dealing.

But with what is written and explained above, you will understand that in this melting pot we can be very hopeful because henceforth, each learned one whose heart is yearning for the work of God will not be at all among those who are content with less, since the point of his aspiration does not emerge from absence, but from the point of satiation. For this reason, all who come to cling to the Torah and Mitzvot will not settle for anything less than being the first in the generation, meaning to actually know his God. He will not want to waste his energy on the work of common folk at all, but only on the choicest—true nearness to God, and to know in his mind that the Creator has chosen him.

Indeed, in our generation we do not find true workers except for those chosen few who have already been endowed with a Godly soul, a part of God above. It is as the poet wrote, “My knee is pure, extending from cistern streams / the name of the one who chooses you, to walk before Him / etc., ...You are before Him as are all who stand before Him / who approach the Lord. My knee, you know the will of the likeminded / the name of knowing your will, and paying each moment.”

But they who have not attained this honorable and exalted merit have no love or fear at all in the work. This was not so in previous generations whatsoever, since the servants of the Creator did not aspire for such a high level at all, and each one served the Creator as he understood.

By that you will understand that the correction actually began prior to the reception of the Torah, in the generation of the desert. This is why there was a great awakening in that generation, “It is our wish to see our king,” as it is written in the Midrash (interpretation). But then they sinned, meaning settled for a messenger, saying, “You will speak to us and we will listen, and let God not speak to us lest we will die.”

This is the meaning of the breaking of the tablets and all the exiles. But in the generation of the Messiah, this matter will be corrected because that awakening will return, and when they attain Him, they will no longer sin because they have already suffered doubly for all their sins.

The desired goal is none other than the choicest. This is the meaning of “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” This will be the first condition for all who begin the work.

My words do not relate to those who settle for working and laboring to benefit people, and much less so for satisfying their contemptible cravings. Rather, it is for those who feel that it is not worthwhile to toil for people, but only for the Creator.

It is so because there are many factions to judgment day: 1) to satisfy material passions, 2) to benefit people, 3) to improve their own knowledge, or that of others. But all these are forces of concealment of the face, for they are all as nothing compared to the merit of the Creator, of course.

Attaining a True Thing

There is a spiritual substance, on which the letters of the prayer are carved. The substance is the whitest of white parchment. It is also called “white fire,” meaning that it is as though that white color comes by fire and turns into fire, crushing and sitting with all its might.

The letters are sparks of fear and love. That is, the deficiency of fear and love are evident and sensed. This is the meaning of the black fire, since that color seems as though it is more deficient and sunken than the rest of the colors. For this reason, in the very beginning, that was the sight.

Initially, the white parchment was seen, which is sufficiently processed with power and with whiteness. This is the meaning of the disclosure of the crown and its glow in Assiya. The meaning of Assiya is the parchment, as in, “And the foreskin she shall not borrow from her neighbor,” in one who “has been joined together.” The disclosure of the crown is the true revealed love, up to Duchra (male) of Arich Anpin, and the shattering is the letters of the fear. Understand that this is truly the book of heaven.

Know that it is true from every angle. For this reason, a man will not truly attain something for which he has no lack, or which is not truly deficient. For this reason, any attainment that comes as a mere extra is not regarded as true attainment, since he is not deficient without it. Hence, there is falsehood in the labor, in the exertion for it as though for something that he truly needs.

This is why external teachings are false wisdom. That is, the work to attain it must be under a complete condition, as though for something that he truly needs and finds. But when he has found and obtained it, he sees that he was not at all deficient without it. Hence, it is a lie and falsehood.

This is not so with the wisdom of serving the Creator. On the contrary, he does not know at all how to sense its absence in its true form. Only when he finds it does he see how deficient he was without it. This is why it is true attainment from every angle.

It is similar to one who pays for an object twice its value. He sighs because his friend had cheated him, and that purchase is false and fraudulent, since the imagination was fooling him.

But regarding the intentions, it is not the doctor who should be asked, but the patient, for he needs sanctity and purity in the work of the Creator, in order to intend, and the intentions will be preparations for his soul for installment of sanctity. Also, we need not ask if the Torah is good, or if morals are good, or if “in all your ways you shall know Him,” since the doctor can ask the patient about all that. If he is not in pain then he is certain of his healing, so the patient is the one who knows. This is the meaning of what is written in The Zohar: “A man must not look where one shouldn’t,” meaning that looking does not make him feel sanctity and purity.

Accepting Our Sages as Reliable Witnesses

There are two kinds of servitude—one for the light, and the other for the Kelim (vessels)—as it is impossible to speak or to understand degrees in the lights, much less say that one will be rewarded some light, for there is no such thing as part in spirituality, and “a vow that has been slightly broken is broken in its entirety.”

(I wonder at the acting mind and the minister of the world together. One gives the power of birth in a seed of adultery in an adulterous, and one bestows stately buildings on false and fictitious foundations.) I am referring to Aristotle, who commanded that he be glorified upon his ascent to heaven for his invention of a false foundation that sufficed as a target for the arrows of his narrow mind, and for the exhaustion of all his spirit. This came to him because he saw in the books of Israel profound wisdom built on the foundations of Kabbalists, and he compared himself to them like a copycat, showing that his merit was as theirs, as he lied about himself. Had the prophecy been true, he would have been prepared for it.

But our way is not his way, and a Kabbalist does not leave a false foundation, as he had left his foundations. Rather, although our sages and their teachings have given us in Kabbalah, but in that, they are as faithful witnesses, eyewitnesses, and nothing more. Instead, they teach us the way by which they were awarded being eyewitnesses. And when we understand, our wisdom will be as theirs, and we will understand a true and real foundation, upon which there is a glorious, eternal building.

The reason for this conduct is that in all things there are a first substance and a first concept. Concerning worldly concepts, which are hidden and immersed in material descriptions, we attain by removing the form, meaning from the first concept to the second concept, and so forth until the desirable concept. For this reason, we come by the first concept very easily, as with the smallest part.

But this is not so with the heavenly. On the contrary, the first concept is the hardest to attain. It is called Nefesh de Assiya, and when we acquire the form of Nefesh de Assiya through Kabbalah—for attainment is denied of the fool from the heavenly, but through Kabbalah it is possible, through it we learn the heavenly wisdom. At that time we will have the right to attain the received foundation as the nature of the thing that is attained, and it will be possible to reconcile what is received as is natural with all concepts.

But the fictitious foundation of his fictitious wisdom cannot be attained, as “It is enough to come from judgment to be as the judged.” Thus, the whole building remains as a false building of eternal disgrace.

The Soul of the Proselyte

The pain that a severed organ feels is during the time of the judgment, the time of the severing. But subsequently, all the pain and deficiency remain in the whole body. Similarly, an organ feels pleasure when it is connected to the new body, but subsequently, the pleasure leaves it as though it has died and returns to the rest of the body. This explains the verse, “And that soul will be cut off from its people,” indicating that any pain and deficiency are only for the general public, as though it has been cut off from the people.

Likewise, the pleasure of the soul of the proselyte is only when it connects to the whole nation, the choice of the kind. But when it connects in full, the personal pleasure returns to the whole.

It is an intimation to what people say, “An old man and a child are equal,” meaning that one who begins with wisdom, with what is complemented by it, are equal to each other, except for the filling of wisdom, which serves his king and not himself. But the whole question is in the meantime, that it is work of the mind, entirely for oneself and for one’s own completion.

For example: The servants of the king, and the distinguished ministers of the king all serve the king. This is not so when they learn for their own completion: they work for themselves, like a house full of texts of wisdom and songs of praise. And then when they fall into the hands of the profligates, they only boast with superficial matter that is revealed on paper, and they use it for their contemptible needs ... losing a precious trait from themselves and from the whole world due to the worldliness in them, arousing contempt and wrath.

The heart aches even more when sages see with their own eyes the filthy ones come into the houses of the wisdom of Israel, and take their superficial matter from the words—meaning the beauty of the words—for the work of their hands: vain and sanctimonious allegories.

The orders of the wisdom are established on the foundations of true Kabbalah, attained by the knowledgeable. The form of wisdom is stripped into the work of a craftsman (and in my view were it not for this mirror they would not have had the nerve to fabricate foundations from their hearts), building wittiness on the foundations of falsehood and desolation, as did Aristotle and his company in heaven, and as ... do in corporeality. It is even more so with those who come with disclosed filth, making them targets for his arrows of stupidity, to boast before others as stupid as himself. They cannot be forgiven.

It is an evident example; no deficiency in the world is established in corporeality at all. Rather, every deficiency and wholeness is imprinted in spirituality. That is, in the beginning of wholeness that will be depicted in the world, He will have no need to change any corporeal incident, but only to bless the spiritual. For instance, we see that a man assumes great pains and jolts along the way to gain wealth, even by taking great risks. Then, against your will, the depicting power from the hope of fortune subdues him and turns the evil into great good, until in every bit of his soul he places himself in jeopardy for the sufficient preparation.

Therefore, it is not far at all if the Creator draws near—meaning the reward for the labor, as much as one can. He will not feel any agony or pain in the exertion.

Three Factions

The Torah is like an entire world, from which three factions enjoy in different ways. The first faction is the masses, who have not been prepared to make any form abstract, unless they have no desire for any form but the first substance from all that fills the world, which come directly to the senses and to the imagination.

The second form is one who has been prepared to be able to make the material form abstract, and to take and enjoy another form, close to spirituality, which is found beneath it. This is an emotional, intellectual delight, meaning from separate concepts imprinted in these material images.

The third form, to the third faction, is one who has been prepared to acquire general forms from separate concepts imprinted in both spiritual and corporeal forms. These tie a thread to a thread, and pull by pull they descend to the deep and rise to the heaven. This form is found after abstracting the abovementioned second form.

Similarly, three completions come from the Torah to the three abovementioned factions. The first faction is completed with the first matter. The second faction is completed by form, and the third faction is completed by inclusion, which is abstracting a form from a form, and a thread from a thread. Certainly, one who does not favor people more than matter, will certainly not be completed by the Torah more than his will and attainments. This is what Maimonides meant—that one must learn logic before the wisdom of truth.

However, from experience we know and see that there are indirect influence and power in the light in it, which can suddenly lift one above the first faction up to the degree of a man from the third faction. It follows that he works to obtain a needle, and obtains a house full of silver and gold.

This World and the Next World

There is no difference between this world and the next world, except that one is temporary and one is eternal. But there is no possession in this world, or in the next world, that is not a separate spiritual matter. Of course, the measure that one has acquired from this kind in the temporary one will remain his in the eternal one. This is the view of the whole ones, and Maimonides, too, admits it.

However, this cannot be disclosed to the public because they will not listen, and will not pay attention to the work of leaving that small portion to their crass imagination.

It is like a craftsman whose hearing is not influenced by any ordinary sound in the world, except for a great noise. But if all the musicians and singers came together they would provide for his hearing only a crass and noisy sound, and specifically unpleasant.

Likewise, it is impossible to speak to the public about anything spiritual except through a chaotic racket. Words of reason will not help them because their souls have not been prepared to enjoy forms that ride atop materialism. Hence, they cling only to the first image of creation that is near them, being the thickness in corporeality. For this reason, words of the next world also necessitate that fine expression be attached to this kind.

Therefore, it is forbidden to speak with them of the intellectual form in the substance of the eternal, for the substance would break, they would not attain that form, and will be denied of both. For this reason, I will make for them a special composition, to provide a general depiction that is close to the truth regarding the form of the Garden of Eden and Hell. Afterward, I will be able to speak of the remaining of the soul with the best among them.

Succinctly speaking, know that the form of this world is a separate, spiritual one, and is not thick or crass, except in relation to the material ones, but not in the form of the Creator. For this reason, he finds all those forms within him.

It follows that at the end of correction, precisely the crass matter will be gone, and the separate forms from these images—both from reality and from the order of existence of reality, such as eating and drinking—will all remain in eternity, since nothing is lost except the matters and their foundations.

But in the forms, there is no loss. They will not suffer at all from the ruin of their first matter, which has already done its part. And if you are one of true form, it is easy to understand how to take off the forms from the filthy materials in the world, such as adultery, gluttony, and self-love, as these forms will remain in spirituality in the form of a separate mind.

They will remain in two discernments: The first discernment is every form toward personal consideration. The second discernment is every form toward a general discernment.

These forms are forever called “carcasses of the wicked,” as it is written, “And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men who have rebelled against Me.” From that we can easily understand the forms of holiness. This is the reward and punishment, and it is felt by the owner in this world, too.

But after the stripping off of the abovementioned form, there is another abstraction, which is more general. It is called “the world of revival,” and “Neither has the eye seen,” meaning that even the prophets do not engage in Him, but each one who understands receives from a Kabbalist sage.

By that you will understand the words, “A transgression does not quench a Mitzvot (correction, good deed),” since the carrier brings both forms together into the spiritual world. In one he delights, and in the other he is judged. This is the meaning of, “The Creator does not deny the reward from any creation.”

And what Maimonides wrote, that there is faith only after the depiction of the operated in one’s soul, I wish to say that it is by virtue of the Godly gift, as He discerned regarding the attainment of the light from one another. This does not contradict what I have written.

Here I have explained the completion that comes to the abovementioned first and second factions. But as for what comes to the third faction, I have implied but did not explain.

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