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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

Letter No. 10

1925, Warsaw

To the disciples, may the Lord be upon them:

...I terribly regret the dwindling organs that external circumstances overcame them from joining you. May the Creator give them strength so they can join us, and the Creator will be with them.

I understand that you are not engaged in unifications of mind and heart as I would like you to be. Still, do what you can and the salvation of the Lord is as the blink of an eye. The most important thing before you today is the unity of friends. Exert in that more and more, for it can recompense for all the faults.

It is said, “An exiled disciple, his rav [teacher] is exiled with him.” This was perplexing to our sages, for how can there be slandering in the Torah and work of the disciple to the point of expelling him from the Creator’s domain, especially once he has clung to a true teacher? They explained that when the disciple descends, it seems to him that the rav has descended, too. And because it is so, it really is so, meaning that he can enjoy his rav only to the extent that he assumes in his heart. Therefore, all he has is a low and inferior rav, as much as he gauges him. Thus, his rav is exiled with him.

The exile in Egypt begins with the words, “And a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” That is, a new ruling appeared in the minds of each and every one, a newly made ruling because they fell from their previous degree. We have said that “an exiled disciple, his rav [teacher] is exiled with him,” so clearly, they did not know Joseph. In other words, they attained him according to what they gauged in their hearts.

Therefore, they depicted the image of Joseph as they themselves were. Because of it, they did not know Joseph and the enslavement began. Otherwise the righteous would certainly protect them and exile or enslavement would not be depicted to them at all.

Their enslavement in Homer [mortar/plaster] and Levenim [“bricks,” as well as “white”] is explained: Mortar is the iniquity of the Hamor [donkey] by which one is sentenced for the thought. The bricks (white) is the repentance, when they are granted upper mercies and temporarily obtain Upper Light from the faith of the holy fathers, and are whitened from their iniquities. However, it was not permanent, so they were incarnating and coming into every work of the field, meaning continuation of hard work that concerns the rest of the Mitzvot [commandments, corrections].

Our sages said, “The intermediate, both judge them.” This is why that Klipa is called Pharaoh, with the letters Peh-HeyReish- Ayin [initials of Peh Ra (bad mouth)]. That is, the Malchut in Mochin is called Peh [mouth], meaning it is a resolution and consent to not break His word, and all that comes out of His mouth will be done.

In the exile in Egypt, the ruling was that of the abovementioned bad mouth, and they reverted back to evil. Thus, although they were rewarded with some upper illumination form the first nine, it could not be absorbed in the Guf [body] because of the bad mouth, the opposite of “ Peh of Kedusha [holiness].” That is, the back of the neck was blocking the abundance that comes down from the Rosh [head], and sucked out all the abundance that began to come down for Israel. This is why no slave could escape Egypt, since Pharaoh put a great charm over the openings of Egypt.

By that we understand the verse, “And I know that the king of Egypt will not give you leave to go, except by a mighty hand.” Through Moses, His servant, the Creator announced that no mighty hand or powers in the world would help with this evil Klipa because it surrenders only to the Creator. This is the meaning of “I and not a messenger,” and the meaning of “And I will put forth My hand, and strike Egypt ... And I will grant this people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians...”

Now we shall interpret the enunciation of redemption and Moses’ mission. It is written, “And Moses answered and said, ‘But they will not believe me’ ... for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” Interpretation: Because the mouth of Kedusha was in exile, as in “for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue,” Moses, the faithful shepherd, argued before the Creator, “But they will not believe me.” Even if I tie Israel to me and bring down some bestowal for them, the Klipa of Pharaoh sucks it out and robs it from them. And although they are attached to me, they will still not listen to me. That is, while the Pharaoh Klipa has dominion, a mouth and speech, still, if they believed in the faithful shepherd properly, the children of Israel would be able to listen to Moses, who is above the mouth and speech. If they strengthened themselves in that, they would certainly be saved from the Pharaoh Klipa.

This is what Moses, the faithful shepherd complained about to the Creator, “They will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you,’” as explained above, “And a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” Upon their descent into matter [substance], they will also deny the greatness of Moses, the faithful shepherd, so how was it possible for Moses to redeem them from that evil and strong Klipa?

Therefore, the Creator gave three signs for Moses to show before the children of Israel, and taught him to arrange these signs before them one at a time. The Creator also promised him that He would help him from heaven, so he can show it to them, after which the children of Israel will accept these signs from him and come to listen to Moses, and then he will be able to redeem them from that bitter exile.

Now I will explain the three signs. The first sign is the turning of the scepter into a serpent, and the serpent into a scepter. The second sign is that by taking out his hand not from his bosom, it was as leprous as snow. And when he took out his hand from his bosom, it returned to being as his flesh. The third sign is that by spilling the water of the Nile on the land it turned into blood.

Now I will interpret how He showed them to Israel: In the hand of the redeemer was a scepter, which is the faithful shepherd. He is holding the scepter to steer the white of Israel to their father in heaven. If he throws it to the ground, it means that the children of Israel are taking His scepter to do with it as they wish (Artza [to the ground] is like Ratzon [desire]). “And it turned into a serpent” means that their sin seemed to them like animals.

Before they approached his scepter, their sin was considered still. After they brought themselves to his scepter, it became an actual serpent until “And Moses fled from it” (according to what Israel gauged in themselves, as in “Who did not know Joseph”).

Afterwards, when Moses came to save them from the serpent’s bite, he gripped the serpent by its tail and not by its head because when a false redeemer comes to save Israel, he grips the serpent by its head, to break the serpent’s head, as so is the way of all snake-catchers.

But a real redeemer actually grabs it by its tail (according to the secret that that serpent bends its head and strikes with its tail, which I already interpreted for you), “And it became a scepter in his hand,” for then it really works in their hearts to turn them to a scale of merit. And once the children of Israel receive that sign, the Creator gives him permission and authority to show them the second sign.

I have already interpreted for you the words of our sages, “Will sacrifice him to His will.” How “to His will? He is forced until he says, ‘I do.’” This is so because when discussing the thought, the filth of the serpent will be corrected through the offering that atones for the thought.

And yet, making the offering should be with love and fear, and one who needs a sacrifice can toil out of fear, but not out of love, so the offering is disqualified for lack of love. Our sages say about that, “He—the Creator—is forced, as in “My sons defeated Me,” for the Zivug of one who works out of fear is called “forced.” “Until he says” means the Creator. He will reveal to Him his desire and will say to Him, “I do want,” in this work. Thus it becomes apparent that there was no coercion to begin with, but an actual Zivug with love and friendship.

This is the meaning of “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” In the opening of the mouth, upper Hochma appears because at that time, when the Klipa of “bad mouth” parts from the Kedusha, the “mouth of Kedusha” comes out. This is the meaning of opening the mouth wide, and there are no more evil occurrences to break his word because “He who knows the mysteries will testify about him that he will not return to folly.” Promptly, he is rewarded with upper Hochma because the disclosure of law and judgment always come together. This is the meaning of “She opens her mouth in wisdom.”

And once he has reached the disclosure of Hochma, with which he was rewarded only through his prior labor in his Zivugim [couplings], coercively, it turns out that were it not for the tongue of Nukva, in which there is the quality of labor, he would not have been rewarded with anything. Thus it becomes apparent that to begin with, even the forced Zivugim were really Zivugim of love and embrace. This is the meaning of “and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue,” specifically “on her tongue,” and not on another’s tongue.

Let us return to our topic that the first sign—that by Moses’ grip by its tail it turned into a scepter in his hand. This is the meaning of “repentance from fear,” as in “She opens her mouth in wisdom,” that from the time it is established below—and the Klipa is sent out and does not return—begins the root of disclosure of upper Hochma.

The meaning of the second sign is a root for repentance from love. When he brought his hand into his bosom, with upper faith, the law of Hesed appears on her tongue, and not on another’s.

Scrutinize the words because indeed he must take his hand out of his bosom because “bosom” is “I, and you will not have.” The taking out of the hand is the expansion of knowledge [ Daat]. If—when he takes out a hand for expansion of flavors [also reasons] of Torah and secrets of Torah—he remembers his root well, to not change its flavor [also reason], and knows the benefit of taking his hand out of his bosom. It follows that law and judgment are tied to one another as two friends that won’t separate. At that time the expansion flows in its ways properly.

By that you will understand the meaning of “And he put his hand into his bosom,” which is the acceptance of the law, “And took it out,” that he came to extend the expansion of Daat without strengthening to be adhered to the root, as well, which is the bosom. Then, “Behold, his hand was as leprous as snow.” It is translated in Yonatan Ben Uziel, “His hands were closed,” meaning that the fountains of bounty had closed, and there was no correction except to be strengthened once again. “And he put his hand back into his bosom,” accepting the law, and then, “when he took it out of his bosom, it returned to being as his flesh.” That is, the law accompanies and connects to the taking out of the hand, and law and judgment are connected. At that time the flow of life and abundance returns to its place.

This is the meaning of “And if it comes to pass that they do not believe ... to the voice of the first sign,” he will take out his hand not from his bosom. “And they will believe the voice of the latter sign,” since he will see that by taking his hand out of his bosom it regained its health.

The third sign is a profound matter. The Nile is the god of Egypt, and Pharaoh is the god of the Nile, as he said, “My Nile is to me, and I have made it.” We have already said that Pharaoh robbed to himself all the abundance that came down from the Rosh for Israel.

However, he gave to Israel the extract of the abundance that he robbed, and the extract given by Pharaoh is called “Nile.” This is what waters all who dwell in Egypt. It is called “bread of idleness,” for it does not require labor. This is why there was fear that the children of Israel would be blemished after the redemption of Egypt with the bread of the mighty, as it happened in the desert when they said, “We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt for free.” This is the correction, “And the water ... become blood upon the dry land,” for everyone will see that they were disqualified from the drink of Israel. Afterwards the blood of Passover and the circumcision blood came to them from that.

This is also the meaning of “She looks well to the ways of her household.” It means that the water of the Nile became blood upon the land, and then “And does not eat the bread of idleness.” This is a very deep subject, to be elaborated on elsewhere.

Yehuda Leib

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