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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

Letter No. 39

1927, London

To the famous Hassid, may his candle burn:

Regards to you.

I must inform you that I just received a very distressing letter about my sacred pamphlet being handed over to the external ones, to abuse it as they please. Now you will understand my stern warning to keep a secret, and why I have not sent the pamphlet until now. This is what I feared, so I wanted to first send the pamphlets to the MARAN, and to the Rav.

Indeed, that which I dreaded came to me, and the hands of illiterate have betrayed me, doing what I did not order, after my stern warning to not disclose my secret to any person, whomever he may be. And now they have defamed me in the eyes of the generation and have failed me on the path of my exalted work to bring contentment to my Maker. Who can forgive this to them? Heaven will testify to my labor in all my strength to extend His holiness to that generation.

And yet, the Sitra Achra always finds her people, doers of her missions, setting obstacles before me wherever I turn to benefit others. Thus far are my words, and “those who are with us are more than those who are with them,” and the Creator does not deprive me of my reward. Bit by bit, I pave the way, at times less, at times more, but always with profit (reward), until I am rewarded with taking down all the enemies of the Creator, with the help of His great and terrible name.

And you, don’t fear the fear of fools. Those who slander, my little finger is bigger then their waste. So the Creator desired, and so He made me, and who will tell Him what to do and what to act? The merit of my law is greater than the merit of their fathers. Similarly, the contemporaries of Prophet Amos defamed him and said that the Creator had no one on whom to instill His Divinity but that stutterer, as it is written in the Psikta [a Midrash].

However, it is written, “A truthful lip shall be established forever, and a lying tongue is only momentary,” for in the end, the truthful people are the winners. Amos remains alive and existing forever, and who has heard or knows what had happened to his adversaries?

So it is here. The sayers can harm only their own kind, so it follows that the storm swirls on the head of the wicked, the truth lives on and does not weaken by all the lies. Instead, it grows even stronger by them, like a sown field that is strengthened by the manure and dung that are thrown in. With the Creator’s will, the blessing of the field increases and multiplies by them.

I still don’t feel the harm that will reach me from them concerning the dissemination of my teaching, so I don’t know how to calculate my way to instill light and save it from their evil. And yet, it is certain that if I feel any harm, I will take my revenge against them, as is the law of Torah, and I will contend forcefully with them. I will do all that is within my power to do, as it is the Creator I fear, and there is no other force but Him.

As a rule, you should know that it is not for my own need or my own glory that I have composed the book. Rather, it is only for His sake, for I noticed great confusions in the writings of the ARI because the ARI did not write or arrange them by himself, in the full depth of this sublime wisdom. When Rav Chaim Vital heard and wrote the words, he was still not in the degrees of wholeness necessary for attaining those words at their root. He was young then, thirty years old when studying with the ARI, as it is written, in Gate to Reincarnations (Gate 8, p 49). It writes, “Now, in the year, 1571, and I am twenty-nine...” Then, on Passover he was already serving the ARI, and the Rav [ARI] fell ill on July 21, 1572. The next Tuesday, on the Fifth of Av [July 25, 1572], he passed away.

You therefore find that at the time of his demise he [Chaim Vital] was only thirty, and the ARI lived thirty-eight years, as it is known, and he wrote some more there (Gate 8, p 71).

At the time of his passing, Rav Chaim Vital was not at his [the ARI’s] side. These are his words verbatim: “Rav Itzhak HaCohen told me that at the time of my teacher’s passing, when I came out of his room, he (Rav Itzhak HaCohen) entered and cried before him saying, ‘Is this the hope that we all hoped in your life—to see great good, Torah, and wisdom in the world?’ He replied to him: ‘If I found even one complete righteous among you, I would not be taken away prematurely.’ While saying it, he asked about me (about Chaim Vital). He said, ‘Where did Chaim go? Has he left me at such a time?’ He was very saddened. He understood from his words that he had some secret to pass on to me, so he (Rav Itzhak HaCohen) said to him: ‘What shall we do from now on?’ He (the ARI) replied: ‘Tell the friends on my behalf that from this day on they will not engage at all in this wisdom that I taught, for they did not understand it properly. Only Rav Chaim Vital shall engage in it, alone, in a whisper, and in hiding.’ He (Rav Itzhak HaCohen) said, ‘But is there no hope at all?’ He said, ‘If you merit, I will come to you and teach you.’ He replied to him: ‘How will you come and teach us if you are now departing from this world?’ He replied, ‘You have no knowledge of the concealed, of how my coming to you will be,’ and he promptly passed away.”

I have elaborated in copying the words of Rav Chaim Vital’s book, Gate to Reincarnation, so you may see that the ARI forbade Rav Vital to teach what he had learned to others because at the time, he did not sufficiently understand what he had heard from the ARI. This is why he wouldn’t even arrange the writings he had heard from his teacher, and his successors arranged them, the third generation—Rav Yaakov Tzemach and Rav Shmuel Vital.

Each of those compilers did not have the complete writings of the ARI because six hundred pages from the writings were stolen while Rav Chaim Vital was alive. Out of those, Rav Yaakov Tzemach compiled the majority of Tree of Life, as well as some other compositions. Rav Chaim Vital ordered another part to be buried along with him in the grave, and so they did. He left a third part as inheritance to his son, Rav Shmuel Vital, from which the famous Eight Gates were compiled.

After a long time, Rav Yaakov Tzemach assembled a large group of students and they dug the third portion out of the grave. From them the first and next editions of Tree of Life were composed, as well as Perpetual Burnt-Offering, and other compositions.

You therefore see that each time, the compiler had only a third of all the writings, which together make up one entity and one structure. I wish it were enough, but since they had only a small portion of the writings, they did not understand the depth of the wisdom at that time, and they terribly confused the matters by not understanding how to arrange.

Know for certain that since the time of the ARI to this day, there has never been anyone who understood the method of the ARI to the fullest, as it was easier to attain a mind twice as great and twice as holy than the ARI’s than to understand his method, in which many hands fiddled—from the one who heard them through the first writer, to the last compilers, while they still did not attain the matters as they are in their upper root. Thus, each one inverted and confused the matters.

And now, by the Creator’s will, I have been rewarded with conceiving [impregnation of] the soul of the ARI, not because of my good deeds, but by a higher will. It is beyond me, too, why I have been chosen for this wonderful soul, which no one has been granted from his passing until today. I cannot elaborate on this matter because it is not my way to discuss wondrous things, but I did find it my duty to ease your mind because... before a flow of great waters from servants that burst out at their master and expel from their waters cast up mire and dirt, to fall under the work that their animate soul has worked, since they still did not completely understand how to separate it from the spiritual soul. You should know that one must not fear such forces, which spring forth only to wash away every holiness, and the Creator saves us from them.

I think you will believe me, as it has never been my way to fabricate or exaggerate, or pursue respect and gain a name among the fools, which, until today I have tolerated and had no desire to even fight with them.

To reinforce your not being confused by their armies of the Sitra Achra, I will give you a clear sign that we received from the ARI, by which to know who is a true righteous and who is not a true righteous, but is worthy of being righteous, for which he should be treated respectfully, too. Do you believe that we should cast lots [flip a coin] about it, to know who is serving the Creator and who is not? After all, the signs and the tokens do not determine in this matter, as is known among the Hassidim, so it is a lot that we need, God forbid.

Rather, know that Rav Chaim Vital asked the ARI that question, and it is explained in the book, Gate of the Holy Spirit, the seventh of the Eight Gates by the ARI, page 1. Here are his words, word for word: “The sign that my teacher gave me was to see if all his words come true, or if all his words are for the Creator, and he will not be wrong in even one of his words (relating to a letter that he learns from his friend who needs, etc., as it is known to those who know the wisdom of the hidden). He should also know the secrets of Torah and how to explain them, and then we can definitely believe in him.” Rav Chaim Vital ends with this sign, and these are his words, verbatim: “According to his words we can know and recognize his greatness and merit to the extent of his knowledge.”

The explanation is as previously written, that when a person is righteous and Hassid, and engages in Torah and prays intently, angels and holy spirits are created out of him. This is the meaning of “One who performs one Mitzva has acquired for himself one advocate.” The follies that come out from his mouth become a chariot to the souls of the first righteous, to go down to teach Torah to that man.

He also says there that if the Mitzvot [commandments] are incomplete, incomplete angels and spirits are made of it, which are called “tellers.” It is about that that he gave the abovementioned sign that if the Torah and Mitzvot are complete, he is rewarded with complete attainment and knows how to explain all the secrets of Torah. If he is lacking in it, meaning knows how to explain only some of them, his works are certainly incomplete.

Indeed, all those who can be my adversaries, it is because they do not even understand my words, so how can they be deemed complete righteous? Thus, I have given you a clear sign.

I’ve already written to you that my book needs no endorsements because I did not add even a single word to the words of the ARI, and I have also made an index for every single concept, showing their place in the writings of the ARI, and the ARI does not need the endorsement of our generation. I did that deliberately, seeing the ways of the Sitra Achra toward me in advance. My own work and additions in all those two commentaries are hardly recognizable. Thus, how will they hold out the campaign against this notebook? If they do have complaints about my studying and being more proficient in the writings of the ARI than they are, this is not an argument. They shouldn’t have spent their time on vanities; they had time to study the words of the ARI, and since they were idle, now they will eat their own flesh.

My regards to you and to ... and ... Tell him that all his ways are as this deed, whose intention is good but the deeds are not, and everything follows the act. But what can I do to him? He is my flesh and blood. Therefore, let him inform me in great detail the whole story and how it unfolded from beginning to end, and I will reply to him.

I also ask that you will let me know your thoughts about this letter, and more of what is happening between you, in great detail and elaborately, for I need to know all the details in order to maintain the shield, for the work of the Creator is no small matter.


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