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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

Letter No. 2


To my flesh and blood ... the exalted and glorified.

Now I have come to reply to your letter from the 33rd of the Omer Count [Lag BaOmer] along with your letter from the 15th of Sivan, which I received yesterday, and for which I refrained from replying to your letter from Lag BaOmer, as I had hoped you would inform me of the order of fixed names between us by which to disclose the thoughts in our hearts. However, I received the argument, “I do not know” ... and for which now, too, I will not be able to elaborate, due to my fear that you would misunderstand. I will therefore await a third letter; perhaps I will be able to discern a clear way by which to let you know that which is in my heart and I will not miss the target.

I regret the long time that I had disappointedly spent in vain in three long letters—the first from the 22nd of Shvat, in which I wrote a good poem for the work, which begins:

Indeed, let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth; all my bones are dried of oil.

And from the work of the Lord is every potion.

And the life of all, in Him shall it be believed.

Another letter from the tenth of Adar, in which I interpreted a bewildering Midrash [commentary/interpretation]: “A hegemon asked one of the members of the house of Selini. He said to him: ‘Who will take the kingship after us? He brought a clean piece of paper, took a pen and wrote on it, ‘And after that came out his brother,’ etc. They said, ‘Look, old words from the mouth of a new one, who is old.’’” I had explained the wondrous truth in these words.

A third letter was from the third day of VaYikrah [a portion of the Torah], in which I explained the dispute between the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel considering “How to dance before the bride,” as well as a truthful and pertinent poem that begins:

Do know to whom is the signature.

It is a question for all the people of the world.

And for the burning fire/As a wrongdoing man or as a rebellious woman.

I find no flaw in them that should have caused their loss, except that you might have misunderstood them due to lack of clarity between us. Therefore, it is a great commandment to break this iron wall that stands between us, where one does not understand the language of the other, as in the generation of Babylon.

And what you have proven lengthily in your letter, to evidently show that the foundations of our love are based on “concealed love,” and concluded from it what you consider a clear conclusion—that there is no fear at all regarding all the questions I had asked you, and these are your words, verbatim:

“However, I have no fear at all for your question of me regarding you, or of you regarding me. They are all annulled and nullified, and you too should not fear at all or look at the façade, but rather at the internal revealing of the heart, as a lover who hides the myriad thoughts rushing through his heart, and makes a loaf, good and strong, to repel all the pickles, piquant foods, garlic, and onion. By that request I do not mean to increase the love or revoke it, for the love stands in its place, perfect and whole, completely unchanged, on which there is nothing to add or subtract.

“However, so that you would not be sorry needlessly, and why and what for? And by your sorrow you will add to mine, and you certainly do not want me to be sad, I have therefore hinted those two hints for you, for they are true and simple,” thus far your words.

What shall I do if I cannot lie even when the truth is bitter? Therefore, I shall tell you the truth: I am still uncomfortable with all your lofty words. If that pains you, truth is still my most beloved. It is written, “Love your friend as yourself,” “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your friend,” so how can I leave you with a “sweet thing” if it isn’t real? This is truly loathed by me and I shall vomit it and utterly repel it.

Especially, regarding the most important matter, called “love,” which is the spiritual connection between Israel and their Father in heaven, as it is written, “And You shall bring us, Our King, to Your great name Selah in truth and love,” and as it is written, “Who chooses His people, Israel, with love.” This is the beginning of salvation and the end of correction, when the Creator reveals to His creations—which He has created—all the love that was previously hidden in His heart, as you well know.

This is why I must disclose to you the flaws that I had tasted in your two dainties: the first reason from the threefold string that is far more valuable than worldly love of friends. You were very wrong in this parable, comparing and equating rudimentary, spiritual love with love of friends that is conditional—revoked when the matter is revoked. In the other reason you added insult to injury to support our love by the natural love of equivalence that is present with us to a great extent.

I do wonder, “Abraham’s master. You have supported the lesson without a source,” that our love is rudimentary and everlasting, dependent on the love of natural equivalence, which can be nullified, and “when the supporter fails, the supported falls.”

But I am at one, and who can turn me? And I shall tell you, if you are a story teller, do not compare the “rudimentary, spiritual” love to love of friends that is dependent on any reason that is to be ultimately cancelled, but rather to the love between father and son, which his also rudimentary, unconditional.

Come and see a wondrous custom in this love. It seems that if the child is an only child to his father and mother, the child must love his father and mother even more, for they display toward him more love than parents who have many children.

However, in reality, it is not so. On the contrary. If the parents become extremely attached to their children by their love, the children’s love is then greatly decreased and diminished. Sometimes it even becomes apparent among children of this sort of love that “the feeling of love has quenched entirely in their hearts.” This is a custom that is of the laws of Nature and is applied in the world. Check it and find.

The reason for it is simple: The father’s love for his son is rudimentary and natural. As the father wishes for his son to love him, the father also wishes for his father to love him. That craving in their hearts causes them constant, incessant fear. That is, the father is very much afraid that his son will hate him in any extent, even the slightest of the slightest, and the son, too, fears that his father might hate him in any extent, the slightest of the slightest.

This “constant fear” causes them to display good deeds between each other. The father always exerts to show his love in actuality to his son, and the son, too, constantly exerts to show his love in actuality to his father, as much as he can. In this way, the feelings of love multiply in both their hearts, always, until one prevails over the other in good deeds to a great, and complete extent. In other words, the fatherly love of the father appears to the son in full, such as to which there cannot be addition or subtraction.

Upon reaching that state, the son sees in his father’s heart, “absolute love.” I wish to say that the son has no fear whatsoever that his love will diminish, nor has he hope that his love will grow. This is called “absolute love.”

Then, slowly, the son grows idle in displaying good deeds before his father. To the extent of the diminution of good deeds and displays of love in the son’s heart toward his father, to that very extent the sparks of “rudimentary love” that has been engraved in the son’s heart by Nature quench. A second nature is made in him, close to hatred, for all the good deeds that his father does with him are low and little in his eyes compared to the obligation of “absolute love” that has been stamped in his organs. This is the meaning of the words, “I am not worthy of all the mercies, and of all the truth,” and delve deeply in it, for it is profound and long.

And since it is always my conduct to praise Nature’s systems, which the Creator has imprinted and set up in our favor all the days, I will tell you the reason for instilling that boundary. It is not that He has ill will, God forbid. On the contrary, it is all the multiplication in spirituality, for the main thing desired of the servants of the Creator is Dvekut [adhesion], and there is no Dvekut unless from love and pleasure, as it is written, “And bring us closer, our King, to Your great name Selah, in truth and love.” With what love did they say? With complete love, since the complete cannot be on the deficient, and complete love is “absolute love,” as said above.

Therefore, how can there be multiplication in the desired Dvekut, which rises and is obtained by all the adventures that have come upon them? This is the meaning of the Creator clothing a soul in the body and in the murky matter, which finally found out that it needs to actually display love, and the deficiency of the display of love in his own heart, for the nature of the substance is to promptly quench any feelings of love that it has already acquired.

In this manner, “the complete is over the complete,” and there is absolute knowing in complete and absolute love on the part of the intellect. And yet, more love can be added, and if he does not add love, he will certainly subtract and all the possessions he has already acquired will certainly quench. This is the meaning of, “And the land shall not be sold for ever,” and it is an unbreakable law.

Therefore, moreover, if you feel our love as complete, you must now begin to perform actual actions, “to display love” due to the fear of cooling that rises out of the feeling of absolute love, negating any fear. In this way the desire and the love increase twofold. This is called, “multiplication.”

My words are said by seeing, and “a judge has only what his eyes see,” and no scrutiny and doubt will repeal my words. If you do not feel my words in your heart, it is due to being troubled with your own loss. But when you find the loss and the trouble is removed, then look into your heart and you will find it vacant from any feeling of love, due to the lack of actual actions to display the love, and this is clear. Even now, the shackles of our love are being very slightly shaken due to “lack of fear” because of the knowing that is in absolute love.

But hear me out and you will always be happy, for there is none so wise as the experienced. Therefore, I shall advise you to evoke within you fear of the coolness of the love between us. And although the intellect denies this depiction, think for yourself—if there is a tactic by which to increase love and one does not increase, that too is considered a flaw.

It is like a person who gives a great gift to his friend. The love that appears in his heart during the act is unlike the love that remains in the heart after the fact. Rather, it gradually wanes each day until the blessing of the love can be entirely forgotten. Thus, the receiver of the gift must find a tactic every day to make it new in his eyes each day.

This is all our work—to display love between us, each and every day, just as upon receiving, meaning to increase and multiply the intellect with many additions to the core, until the additional blessings of now will be touching our senses like the essential gift at first. This requires great tactics, set up for the time of need.

This is the meaning of the words, “In those days they shall say no more, ‘The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are made blunt ... any man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall become blunt.” That is, as long as they did not come to know it—that a display of love is required—they could not correct their father’s sin, which is why they said, “The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are made blunt.”

But once they have come to that awareness, they were promptly rewarded with correcting their father’s sin, and any flaw that they find, they will know that they will sin with displaying love, as was said above. Therefore, each day will be as knew in their eyes, as on the first time. To the extent of the display of love on that day, they will draw the light until it is sensed. And should they feel only a little, it is due to eating the unripe fruit of that day because on that day they did not display love sufficiently, and ate prematurely. This is why it lessened in their senses, for it is not as on the first time.

The words are primarily a law for the Messiah, but it also applies to this world, since by strengthening the heart to display love between him and his Maker, the Creator instills His Divinity on him in remembrance, as in, “In every place where I mention My name, I will come to you and bless you.”

When the remembrance increases by the actual work, the desire and longing increase, “And spirit draws spirit and brings spirit,” and so forth. Finally, the remembrance increases and grows by the craving, and ascends in good deeds, for “All the pennies join into a great amount,” and this is the meaning of “Behold, this one comes and His reward is with Him, and His work is before Him.”

I have been lengthy about it although the intellect is short in studying. However, it takes great length for that intellect to be imprinted in the organs.

And yet, this is all the awakening from below—that the speed of the correction during the corrections, and the measure of multiplication after the end of correction during the work on the desirable side, depends on the extent to which it is possessed.

You should not doubt my words, for otherwise “the proselyte is above and the citizen is below,” for the measure of love is volitional, dependent on the heart; it is not intellectual. Therefore, how can it be displayed at the top of all the intellectual degrees, as I have elaborated on?

But all who taste and see that the Lord is good witness all those things, since we are dealing with Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator here, and His uniqueness includes all the discernments in the world. Still, there is no doubt that there is nothing corporeal about His uniqueness, and therefore no step outside of an intellectual object.

For this reason, all who are rewarded with cleaving unto Him grow wiser, as they adhere with simple intellect. During the Dvekut, the worshipper is adhered to the worshipped by the mere strength of displaying his will and love. But in Him, the will, intellect, and knowing are in simple unity, without any difference of form, as in the laws of corporeality, and this is simple. Therefore, obtainment of the disclosure of His love is the very blessing of the intellect.

Come and learn from the complete Worker (complete even in awakening from above). Ask your elders and they will tell you that the complete one is complete in everything, and has complete knowledge in the “blessing in his future.” And yet, it does not weaken him at all because of it—from the labor in Torah and the searching.

On the contrary, none exert in the Torah and in searching as much as he. It is for a simple reason: His labor is not so much to bring the good future to himself. Rather, all his labor is in the form of displaying love between him and his Maker. This is why the feelings of love grow and multiply each day until the love is complete, in the form of “absolute love.” Afterwards, it leads him to double his wholeness in the form of awakening from below.

And by the way I will clarify for you the meaning of the charity for the poor, which is so praised in The Zohar, the Tikkunim, and by our sages: There is an organ in man with which it is forbidden to work. Even if the smallest of the small desires to work with it still exists in man, that organ remains as afflicted and as stricken by the Creator. It is called “poor,” for its entire sustenance and provision are by others working for it and pitying it. This is the meaning of the words, “Anyone who sustains a single soul from Israel, it is as though he sustains an entire world.” Since the organ depends on others, it has no more than its own sustenance.

And still, the Creator regards it as though he sustained an entire world, that this itself is the entire blessing of the world and everything in it, multiplied and completed solely by the force of that poor soul, which is sustained by the work of other organs.

This is the meaning of “And He took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens...’ and he believed in the Lord and reckoned it to him as righteousness.” That is, by taking him outside, there was some desire to work with this organ, hence He forbade him the work.

It was said, “Now look toward the heavens.” At the same time he was given the promise of the blessing of the seed. These are tantamount to two opposites in the same subjects, since all his seed, which is to be blessed, necessarily comes from this organ. Thus, when he is not working, how will he find a seed?

This is the meaning of “And he believed in the Lord,” meaning that he accepted those two receptions as they were, both the complete prohibition on the work, and the promise of the blessing of the seed.

And how did he receive them? This is why he concludes, “And [he] reckoned it to him as righteousness,” meaning as the form of charity [same word as “righteousness” in Hebrew] for a poor who is sustained by the work of others.

This is the meaning of the two sayings of our sages: One [person] thought that the Creator would treat him with righteousness, meaning keep and sustain him without work, and one thought that Abraham would act with righteousness toward the Creator. Both are the words of the loving God, for prior to the correction, that organ is in heaven, and the charity is counted for the lower one. At the end of his correction it is not in the heaven, and then the giving of the charity is counted for the upper one. Know and sanctify for it is true.

Yehuda Leib

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