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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

Letter No. 25

1927, London

To my soul mate, may his candle burn forever:

...What you wrote, that you don’t understand the innovations in the Torah that I wrote to you, they should have been clear to you. When you straighten out the way you work you will understand them for certain. This is why I wrote them to you.

You explained about “sins becoming as merits to him,” that when one repents before the Creator he evidently sees that the Creator forced him into all his iniquities, and yet he willingly gives his soul to correct them as though they were his own iniquities. By that the sins become as merits. But that still does not hit the center of the target because in the end, you turn the coercions into merits, but not iniquities.

You also strayed further from the way by interpreting the sin of Adam HaRishon, condemning his soul to forced exile, and making the coercion a mistake. And what you explained, that it makes no difference whether the baby makes himself dirty or is made so by his father’s deeds, for in the end he is dirty and must wash, I wonder, How did dirt come out of purity?

Your last words are sincere, that because you went into a place that is not your own, and due to your habit to cloak yourself with clothes that are not your own, you did not understand my words, which are aiming precisely and only for you. I wish these words were enough for you to stop wandering in others’ fields, as it is written in The Zohar, “One must not look where he should not.”

Regarding what you wrote—that I seem to speak in riddles—it is written, “The needs of Your people, Israel, are numerous.” There is no time that is like another, much less those who go from door to door, to and fro, but the doors won’t open. There is end to the changes in their situations. While I write words of Torah, or by heart, I say them so they will furnish for at least a few months, so they will be understood in the good times in time. But what can I do if the good times are few, or the broken is more than the corrected, and my words are forgotten?

Of course, the human intellectual mind will not examine my words at all, for they are said and are constructed from the letters of the heart.

And concerning your imagination that you entered and didn’t know how to come out because you grew tired of examining the matter, I will tell you that in general, one who repents from love is rewarded with complete Dvekut [adhesion], meaning the highest degree, and one who is ready for sins is in the netherworld. These are the farthest two points in this entire reality.

It would seem that we should be meticulous with the word “repentance,” which should have been called “wholeness,” except it is to show that everything is preordained, and each and every soul is already established in all its light, goodness, and eternity. But for the bread of shame, the soul went out in restrictions until it clothed in the murky body, and only through it does it return to its root prior to the Tzimtzum [restriction], with its reward in its hand from all the terrible move that it had made. The reward in general is the real Dvekut, meaning that she [the soul] got rid of the bread of shame because her vessel of reception has become a vessel of bestowal, and her form is equal to her Maker, and I have often spoken to you about that.

By that you will see that if the descent is for the purpose of ascending, it is regarded as ascension and not as a descent. Indeed, the descent itself is the ascent because the letters of the prayer themselves are filled with abundance, and with a short prayer, the abundance is small for lack of letters. Our sages have said, “If Israel had not sinned, only the Five Books of Moses and the book of Joshua would have been given to them.”

What is this like? It is like a rich man who had a young son. One day, the rich man had to travel far away for many years. The rich man feared that his son would waste his wealth by poor judgment, so he exchanged his properties for gemstones, jewels, and gold, and built a cellar deep in the ground, where he hid all the gold, the gemstones, and the jewels. But he also put his son in there.

He summoned his loyal servants and ordered them to keep his son from leaving the cellar until his twentieth birthday. Each day they were to bring down to him every food and drink, but absolutely no fire or candles. They were also to check the walls and seal every crevice so that no sunlight would penetrate. For his health, they were to take him out of the cellar each day for one hour and walk him through the city, but carefully watching that he doesn’t run away. On his twentieth birthday, they were to give him candles, open a window for him, and let him out.

Naturally, the son’s affliction was intolerable, especially when he would walk outside and see all the boys eating and drinking merrily on the street, without any guards or fixed hours, while he was imprisoned with few moments of light. And if he tried to run, he would be beaten mercilessly.

But he was most upset when he heard that his own father had caused him this affliction, for they were his father’s servants, executing his father’s orders. Naturally, he deemed his father the cruelest of all the cruel that ever lived, for who has heard of such a thing?

On his twentieth birthday, the servants lowered down to him a candle, as his father had commanded. The boy took the candle and began to look around. And lo and behold, what did he see? Sacks filled with gold and every royal delight.

Only then did he understand that his father is truly merciful, and that all his trouble was only for his own good. He immediately understood that the servants would certainly let him out of the cellar, and so he did. He came out of the cellar, and there was no guarding, no cruel servants. Instead, he is a noble man, wealthier than the wealthiest people in the land.

But in truth, there is nothing new here, for it becomes revealed that he was so very wealthy to begin with, but in his perception he was poor and destitute, oppressed in the pit all his days. Now, in a single moment, he has gained tremendous riches and rose from the deep pit to the top of the roof.

Who can understand this allegory? One who understands that the “sins” are the deep cellar with the careful watch to not let one out. I wonder if you understand it.

It is simple: The cellar and the careful watch are all “privileges” and the father’s mercy over the son. Without it, it would have been impossible for him to be as wealthy as his father. But the “sins” are actual sins and not mistakes. They are also not forced by Divine decree. Rather, before he regained his wealth, that feeling dominated in the full sense of the word. But once he has regained his wealth, he saw that all these were the father’s mercies, and not at all his cruelty.

We need to understand that the entire connection of love between the father and his only son depends on the recognition of the father’s compassion for the son regarding the cellar and the darkness and the careful watch, because the son sees in these mercies of the father a great exertion and profound wisdom.

The holy Zohar also spoke about it, saying that one who is rewarded with repentance, the holy Divinity appears to him like a softhearted mother who hasn’t seen her son for many days, while they made great efforts and experienced ordeals in order to see each other, because of which they both were in great dangers. But in the end they came into that longed-for freedom and were rewarded with seeing one another. Then the mother fell on him, kissed him, and comforted him and spoke softly to him all day and all night. She told him about the longing and the dangers on the roads that she experienced until today, how she had always been with him, and that Divinity never moved, but suffered with him in all the places, but he couldn’t see it.

These are the words of The Zohar: “She says to him, ‘Here we slept; here we were attacked by robbers and were saved from them; here we hid in a deep pit, and so forth. What fool would not understand the great love and pleasantness and delight that burst out of these comforting stories?”

In truth, before we met face to face it felt as suffering that is harder than death. But as the word Nega [affliction] is because the Ayin [the letter] comes at the end of the word, but during the telling of comfort-stories the Ayin is in the beginning of the word, making it Oneg [delight/pleasure]. However, they are two points that illuminate only once they are in the same world. Now imagine a father and son who have been anxiously waiting for each other for days and years. When they finally see each other, the son is deaf and mute, and they cannot enjoy one another at all. It follows that the essence of the love is in royal delights.

Yehuda Leib

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