You are here: Kabbalah Library Home / Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The Rabash) / Writings of Rabash / Shlavey HaSulam (Rungs of the Ladder) / 1986 / Concerning Respecting the Father
Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

Concerning Respecting the Father

Article No. 5, Tav-Shin-Mem-Vav, 1985-86

It is written in the holy Zohar (Vayera, item 141): “Rabbi Shimon started and said, ‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master.’ ‘A son honors his father’ is Isaac with respect to Abraham. He asks, when did he honor him? ‘When he tied him at the altar… and he did not resist doing his father’s will. ‘And a servant [honors] his master” is Eliezer with respect to Abraham. When he sent Eliezer to Haran, who did there all that Abraham wished, he honored him, as it is written, ‘And the Lord has blessed my master.’ And it is written, ‘He said: ‘I am Abraham's servant,’’ to honor Abraham. Indeed, a man who brings silver and gold and gems and camels, and who is respectable and handsome, did not say that he was Abraham’s beloved or his kin. Rather, he said, ‘I am Abraham's servant,’ to raise Abraham's merit and honor in their eyes.”

(In item 145) He says, “This is why it is written, ‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master.’ And you, Israel, My sons, it is a disgrace for you to say that I am your father or that you are My servants. ‘If I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is the fear of Me?’”

We should understand the words of the holy Zohar when it says that “The Lord says, ‘And you, Israel, My sons, it is a disgrace for you to say that I am your father.’” This implies that we need to tell someone that the Creator is our father, but we cannot say it because we are ashamed. So we must know to whom are we to say that He is our father. We must also know what the shame for which we are unable to say it, as it is written, “It is a disgrace for you.”

This is generally perplexing. After all, each day we say, “Our father, our King.” And during the Eighteen Prayer we say, “Return us, our Father, to Your law,” so to whom else are we to say that the Creator is our father and we are ashamed to say it, and for which the Creator is angry and says, “If I am a father, where is My honor?”

We should interpret this: We need to say that “The Lord is our father” relates to the Creator. We always say, “Our Father, Our King,” and for this the Creator is angry: how are you not ashamed to say to Me that I am your father while you show Me no respect, as it is said, “If I am a father, where is My honor?” That is, the Creator says it is a disgrace for you to call Me “Our Father,” and I see that to you, My honor is in the ground, which is called “Shechina [Divinity] in the dust.” Thus, how are you not ashamed to call Me “Our Father”?

“And if I am a master, where is the fear of Me?” You say that you are all servants of the Creator, but I do not see that you have fear, meaning the fear of heaven that you should take upon yourselves. A servant is one has no authority of one’s own, as our sages said, “He who has bought a slave has bought his Rav.” Rather, he is annulled before the master, and all that he receives from the master is only so he can serve the master and not for himself.

But I see that you are taking the opposite rout. That is, you want Me to serve you, meaning that I will satisfy your self-love, and all you are coming to ask of Me is how to increase your authority. That is, you are the masters and I am your servant, and you walk around all day with complaints about Me that I owe you and that if you could receive from Me by force you certainly would.

What did the Creator do so they would not receive by force? He did something small: He created darkness in the world, called “concealment,” in case the creatures are unwilling to be servants and work for Him, called “receiving in order to bestow contentment upon one’s Maker,” as our sages said, “cleave on to His attributes.” It is known that as long as one is in vessels of reception, the more one receives, the worse one is, meaning farther from the Creator. Therefore, He has made a great correction that when the vessels of reception govern a person he does not see anything of Kedusha [holiness] from which he can derive pleasures.

Rather, he sees only those pleasures that he can see, called “pleasures of separation.” It is as the holy ARI says, that the Klipot [shells/peels] were given a slim illumination for all the corporeal pleasures so they may exist. This light of corporeality is all that we can see as having pleasure. But over spirituality lies a cloud of darkness that covers all the spiritual pleasures. Thus, they do not receive by force when the landlord does not want to give because they see no pleasures. Hence, those whose wish is only self-love flee from any true thing where there is delight and pleasure because darkness covers the earth.

For this reason, a person cannot begin to work Lishma [for Her sake] right away, but must begin in Lo Lishma [not for Her sake]. In Lishma, which is the true way, the body must flee from this work, as every kind goes to its kind. Since man was created with vessels of reception in order to receive, when he sees a thought, word, or action that does not yield anything for his vessels of reception he promptly flees from them because this is not his kind. His kind is the nature in which he was created—receiving in order to receive, and not to give anything.

In order for a person who begins the work of the Creator not to flee from the work of bestowal because this is not his kind, we must begin with Lo Lishma. That is, he keeps the Torah and Mitzvot [commandments] that the Creator has commanded us in return for reward from Him for our work. This is so because we could work only for corporeal things, to make money and gain respect, and enjoy rest. We relinquish obtaining money, honor, and other lusts that the body requires of us to do, and which would delight us, and instead keep the Torah and Mitzvot that the Creator has commanded us.

We see that we when we demand something of the body, that it will relinquish the pleasures it thinks it can enjoy, it asks, “What will you get out of it?” That is, “These new works you want to do, will they give you greater pleasures? If not then why do you need to change your work-place? You are used to working for this landlord but now you want to work for the Creator because He needs your work? Will He pay you a higher salary, meaning more pleasures? Will you enjoy more than in the work you are already used to?”

We should say to it: “Until now we had small gains, meaning imaginary pleasure, but now you will make great profit and your pleasure will be real pleasure because the Creator wishes to give you a spiritual reward. However, without work it will be bread of shame, which is why we were given Torah and Mitzvot, and we must believe that He will certainly pay us for relinquishing our needs, from which we could enjoy, in return for a real reward, which is a spiritual reward.

And although we do not know yet what is spirituality, we nonetheless believe it is a great thing compared to which all the corporeal pleasures are as a tiny candle, as explained in the words of the ARI, who says that due to the breaking of the vessels and the sin of the tree of knowledge, sparks fell into the Klipot in order to sustain them, so they would not be cancelled as long as they are needed. But the majority of the delight and pleasure is found in the worlds of Kedusha. Therefore, it is worthwhile for us to work in Torah and Mitzvot by which we will be rewarded with the next world in return for our work in Torah and Mitzvot.

However, once a person has begun the work of the Creator and wants to know the real work, he is told, “If I am a master, where is the fear of Me?” That is, the proper way is for the servant to work only for the landlord and not at all for himself. Yet, you are working only in order to be rewarded with the next world; you want reward for your work. The slave works without any reward, and the landlord provides his needs for him only so the servant will be able to work for Him, but the servant has no property that can be said to belong to the servant. Rather, there is only one authority there—the authority of the landlord.

Indeed, all our work in Torah and Mitzvot should be in order to achieve equivalence of form, which is Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator. Engaging in Torah and Mitzvot is not as we thought before—that the Creator wants us to keep His Torah and Mitzvot and He will later pay us for this. Rather, the Torah and Mitzvot we were given to keep is because we need it! That is, by keeping Torah and Mitzvot we will receive the light of the Torah, and through that light we will then be able to achieve equivalence of form because the light in it reforms him.

Thus, what is the reward we should ask for in return for the body’s work? It is that we relinquish the needs of the body for the purpose of keeping Torah and Mitzvot. It is impossible to work without reward, since it immediately asks, “Why are you relinquishing the pleasures that you can enjoy? What will you gain?”

The answer is that all our gain is that we are rewarded with serving the Creator. This is very important because it is true, meaning that he will be rewarded with clinging to the King of Kings. But when all the pleasures he has are built on taking every delight and pleasure into serving himself, and receiving pleasure in clothes of reception pertains to animals and not necessarily to humans, the highest of all creature, so he enjoys the same dresses that animals enjoy. This is unbecoming of him.

Rather, all the dresses where man wants to receive pleasure should be garments of vessels of bestowal. That is, it is impossible to work without pleasure, but he measures his pleasures in how much he can bestow upon the King. That is, if he wishes to know how much work he receives from his work he should not measure how much he enjoys his work, meaning how much pleasure he derives from serving the King. Rather, he should measure by actions, meaning how much he wants the King to enjoy his work. It follows that all of his importance is in that he is serving the King.

It follows that if one wants to test if he is advancing in the work he should do it in two ways: 1) by looking at the reward he hopes to receive from the Creator. If he is receiving a greater reward each day then the gauge is the vessels of reception. 2) How much he enjoys delighting the Creator, and all his reward is that he is bestowing upon the Creator. For example, if he is serving the greatest man in the country, he enjoys it. But if he is serving the greatest in the generation he certainly enjoys it more. Therefore, he wants the Creator to be greater and more important in his eyes each day. This is the real measurement.

Back to top
Site location tree