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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

Letter No. 1


To my friend.

It is now noon and I have received his letter from the eighth of the first month, and your beggar’s complaints against me is an accepted prayer, as it is written in The Zohar.

I have already proven to you in my previous letters that while you reproach me for not writing, it is your own languor you should be reproaching. Note, that you have not written a word to me in more than two months, while I wrote you four letters in that time.

If, as it is written, that does not satiate the lion, “for one higher than the high watcheth, and there are higher than they.” As fierce answer is required, I shall answer you that everyone believes in private providence, but do not adhere to it at all.

The reason is that an alien and foul thought cannot be ascribed to the Creator, who is the epitome of the “Good that doeth Good.” However, only to the true workers of God does the knowledge of private providence open, that He caused all the reasons that preceded it, both good and bad. Then they are cohesive with private providence, for all who are connected to the pure, are pure.

Since the Guardian is united with its guarded, there is no apparent division between bad and good. They are all loved and all clear, for they are all carriers of God’s vessels, ready to glorify the revelation of His uniqueness. It is known by instinct, and to that extent they have knowledge from the end that all the actions and the thoughts, both good and bad, are the carriers of God’s vessels. He has prepared them, from His mouth they’ve come, and at the end of correction it will be known to all.

However, in between it is a long and threatening exile. The biggest trouble is that when one sees some wrongful action, he falls from his degree, clings to the famous lie, and forgets that he is like an ax in the hand of the cutter. Instead, one thinks of oneself as the owner of this act and forgets the reason for all consequences from whom everything comes, and that there is no other operator in the world but Him.

This is the lesson. Although one knows it at first, still, in a time of need, one does not control this awareness and unites everything with the cause, which sentences to a scale of merit. This is the entire reply to his letter.

I have already told you face to face a true parable about these two concepts, where one teaches of the other. Yet, the force of concealment overpowers in between, as our sages said about those two jokers before the rabbi, who were amusing all those who were sad.

A parable about a king who grew fond of his servant until he wanted to raise him above all the ministers, for he had recognized true and unwavering love in his heart.

However, it is not royal comportment to raise one to the highest level all at once without an apparent reason. Rather, the royal comportment is to reveal the reasons for all with great wisdom.

What did he do? He appointed the servant a guard at the city gate, and told a minister who was a clever joker to pretend to rebel against the kingship, and wage war to conquer the house while the guard is unprepared.

The minister did as the king had commanded and with great wisdom and craftiness, pretended to fight against the king’s house. The servant risked his life and saved the king, fighting devotedly and bravely against the minister, until his great love for the king was evident to all.

Then the minister took off his cloths and there was great laughter for he had fought so fiercely, and now realized that there was only fiction here, not reality. They laughed most when the minister told of the depth of the imaginations of his cruelty and the fear he had envisioned. Every single item in this terrible war became a round of laughter and great joy.

However, he is still a servant, he is not scholarly. How can he be raised above all the ministers and the king’s servants?

Then the king thought in his heart, and said to that minister that he must disguise himself as a robber and a murderer, and wage fierce war against him. The king new that in the second war he would display wondrous wisdom, and merit standing at the head of all the ministers.

Hence, he appointed the servant in charge of the kingdom’s treasure. The minister now dressed as a ruthless killer and came to loot the king’s treasures.

The poor appointee fought fearlessly and devotedly, until the cup was filled. Then the minister took of his cloths and there was great joy and laughter in the king’s palace, even more than before.

The details of the minister’s tricks aroused great laughter, since now the minister had to be smarter than before because now it is evidently known that no one is cruel in the king’s domain, and all the cruel ones are but jokers. Therefore, the minister used great craftiness to acquire clothes of evil.

Yet, in the meantime, the servant inherited “wisdom” from after-knowledge, and “love” from fore-knowledge, and then has been erected for eternity.

It is true, that all the wars in that exile are a wondrous sight, and everyone knows in their kind interior that it is all a kind of wit and joy that brings only good. Still, there is no tactic to ease the weight of the war and the threat on oneself.

I have spoken of that at length to you face to face, and now you have knowledge of one end of this parable, and with God’s help you will also understand it on its other end.

The thing you most want to hear me speak of is one to which I cannot answer anything. I have also told you a parable about this face to face, for “the kingdom of the earth is as the kingdom of the firmament,” and the true guidance is given to the ministers.

Yet, everything is done according to the king’s counsel and his signature. The king himself does no more than sign the plan that the ministers devised. If he finds a flaw in the plan, he does not correct it, but places another minister in his place, and the first resigns from office.

So is MAN, a small world, behaving according to the letters imprinted in him, since kings rule the seventy nations in him. This is the meaning of what is written in the Sefer Yetzira (Book of Creation): “He crowned a certain letter.”

Each letter is a minister for the time being, making evaluations, and the King of the world sings them. When the letter errs in some plan, it immediately resigns from office, and He crowns another letter in its place.

This is the meaning of, “Each generation and its judges.” At the end of correction, that letter called Messiah will rule and will tie all the generations to a crown of glory in the hand of God.

Now you can understand how I can interfere with your business of state, that have already… …kings and judges, and each must uncover what he has been assigned to uncover. The ferry of unification… … … he does not want to correct them, I will correct them (perplexed), but all will become clear through incarnations.

Because of that I yearn to hear all your decisions, in their every detail. This is because there is profound wisdom in every detail, and if I had heard some fixed orders from you, I would have been able to fulfill them and delight your heart.

Know, that it is very difficult for me to hear your language for you have no permanence in the names and their meaning. Hence, I will open an aperture for you in the value of the appellations and you will measure for me the sentence of your wisdom, and thus I will be able to follow your intention through.

I am to set the appellations as I have seen from all your letters to set between us permanently, and to know all that you write without any scrutiny, like signs on wine-jars.

We shall begin from the root of all roots, and reach the very end. Five degrees are marked in general: Yechida, Haya, Neshama, Ruach, and Nefesh. All these are put together in the corrected body.

Yechida, Haya, Neshama, are above time, and though found in a creature’s heart, they are as considered surrounding from afar. They do not come in a body during its correction, for in the hidden source too there is a root discerned: Rosh, Toch, Sof (respectively: Head, Interior, End).

The Rosh is the root for the Yechida; it is Ein Sof (infinity). There, even in its own place, its Light is undisclosed and every thing is nullified as a candle before a torch.

Afterwards, the root of the Toch, and it is the root for Haya. This is the meaning of the Light of Ein Sof, meaning the appearance of His complete Light. While in time, this Light is attained only as its sustenance, hence it is called “root for Haya”.

After that the root for the Sof, and it is the root for the souls. It is just as in the beginning, Ein Sof. Here, an Upper Veil spreads, and the time begins in the form of “six thousand years the world exists, and one is ruined.” This is called: Ruach, Nefesh, and their root is cleaved to the Neshama.

However, they also expand below as Light, which is a spirit of life, and commandment, which is the Nefesh. This Nefesh is the permanence, animating, the embracing force that strengthens the body in a permanent state by the force of females, imprinted in this Nefesh.

This Ruach blows the spirit of life and the Light of Torah in the image of the female. Its root explains the meaning of “and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” This pertains to the spirit that rises to the soul and receives life from it, in the Light of the King’s face, bringing this life to the soul, which at this time it is called “living soul”.

This is also the order in all the Zivugim (couplings) of the seven females of the Rosh, and the two below in the Nefesh. This is the meaning of “God places the lone ones in the house,” meaning when the force of the females appears, by “All glorious is the king's daughter within the palace.”

The primary corrections and the work is to reveal the forces of the soul, which The Zohar calls, “The Upper World.” This too belongs to the hidden source, as the root of the end, and any mating is for the appearance of one Light in the reality of the Upper World. This is the meaning of “We whose sons are as plants grown up in their youth,” meaning the conception in the Upper World. By the coupling… to the lower ones… so it came upon His thought, and the end of the beginning of the hidden source will be completed with all the Lights… the rest from the book of the treasure of knowledge.

The mind is the essence of man's soul, and the whole man. This is because in it he is entirely defined and what comes out of it is its clothes and those who serve it. Some are its branches, some are considered alien to it.

This force, though it is in his soul, he will still not see it; it is concealed from any living thing. Do not wonder about that, for the eye controls, and is the most important among all senses. Yet, one never sees oneself, but only feels one’s existence. Vision would have added no knowledge to them at all, and hence, nothing was created in vain, for they are sensations to them, and there is no need to add to the sensation.

There is also the mental power, which is the essence of man. It is not given in any discernment in the senses, for the sensation of one’s existence is quite sufficient, and no person will not suffice in one’s own existence and demand testimony to his senses.

The reason why there is no feeling without movement, meaning that sometimes the sensation stops and no essence is found in his essence, and then it is more like absolute awareness. It is a grave mistake to resemble the form of the essence of the mind to a form of concept gripped in diminution by the mind’s eye. This is utter falsehood, for this concept is like a light that emerges and operates. Its light is felt as long as it is active, until it ends its actions, and then its light vanishes.

From this you learn that the concept, sensed while active, is but a small and feeble branch of it. (The essential sensation is considered knowledge, for the power to sense is also a sense, a consequence, and does not need the essential feeling).

It is not at all like the essence, neither in quantity, nor in quality, like the beaten stone that shows sparkles of light that are renewed by the general embracing force in the stone, although in the form of the embracing force in it there is no light at all. Also, the mind’s essence is the general force in man, and various branches stem from it, as in heroism and power, heat and light, according to the laws of the operated action.

Although we refer to it as the “mind’s soul”, or the “essence of the soul”, it is because the mind is also a branch of it, the most important one, since “One is praised according to one’s mind.”

Since one does not give that which he does not have, we thus define it as mind, meaning, at least not less than the felt sensed mind, as it is a branch and a part of it. It reigns over all her branches and swallows them, as a candle before a torch. The mind does not connect in any action, but the various actions connect and become fixed in the mind.

One discerns that all of reality is but its servants, both in discipline, and in order to improve it, for they are all lost, while the mind in general evolves. Hence, all our dealings are only in the ways of the mind and its ambitions, and more than that is not necessary.

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