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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

Jacob Went Out

Article No. 10, Tav-Shin-Mem-Hey, 1984-85

“Jacob went out.” According to RASHI’s interpretation, “It should have written only ‘Jacob went to Haran.’ Why does it mention his exit? It says that the exit of a righteous from a place leaves an impression. When the righteous is in town, he is its splendor, he is its brilliance, he is its majesty. When he exits it, its splendor exits, its brilliance exits, and its majesty exits.” Thus far his words.

We should understand the above in the work. What is a righteous, and what is the impression that a righteous makes upon his exit?

We should interpret that the Creator is called “righteous,” as it is written, “The Lord is the righteous, and I and my people are the wicked.” This means that when a person is close to the Creator, meaning feels that the Creator is close to him, he feels how the Creator does him good. At that time he feels good taste in Torah and in prayer, and in all his engagements, he feels that the Creator is close to him. Whatever he does, he does it with joy and elation.

Afterwards he comes into a descent, feeling tastelessness in the study of Torah and good deeds. However, he is left with the impression that he had during the ascent, when he felt good taste in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments], and was in a state of joy. That remaining impression make him long to return to the previous state. That is, after some time he awakens through the impression left in him, so as to seek advice how to return to the state he had, which was called a “state of ascent,” while now he feels his lowliness—how remote he is from anything spiritual.

This brings up the question, “Why did he get this descent? Who is gaining by this?” Or, perhaps it came to him as a punishment, for now he must correct himself for his sin. However, he does not know what was the sin for which he has descended from the state of ascent he was in. Thus, he does not know what to correct. It follows that on the one hand he does not see any deficiency in himself that could have caused him a descent, so he is compelled to say that it came from the Creator. This begs the question, “What did He gain from lowering him from his degree?”

By this we can interpret what our sages said, “The exit of the righteous from the place leaves an impression.” During the ascent it is regarded as the Creator being present in the place, meaning in the body. At that time He causes him the sensation of excitement from Torah and Mitzvot. But he could not give that importance—that the Creator is in him, as it is written, “I am the Lord, who dwells within them, in the midst of their impurity—to appreciate it, to know who is in him and pay the due respect. Thus, they could never help him receive a higher degree, since he was satisfied with the work.

Therefore, he was lowered from heaven so as to know once more how to appreciate it, since from above they raised him and brought him closer, but he did not value it. If you should ask, “Why must one value his state of ascent?” It is as I heard from Baal HaSulam, that there is no distinction of degrees in the light. Rather the matter of Gadlut [adulthood/greatness] and Katnut [infancy/smallness] depends on the attainment of the Kelim [vessels]. According to the vessels’ attainment of the light, so is the measure of the light. This is why he said that if a person receives something from above, and has the sense to value it, to that extent the illumination grows for him and he does not need a greater light at all. Rather, by himself, by appreciating (the illumination), it grows and illuminates for him each time on a higher degree.

It follows that the whole sin for which he fell from his degree was that he did not value his condition and was content. It therefore follows that he would have had to stay in this degree forever. Therefore, the descent he had received was for his own good, so as to give him the ability to ascend in the degrees of holiness.

Therefore, “The exit of a righteous from a place leaves an impression. When the righteous is in town, he is its splendor, he is its brilliance, he is its majesty,” means that all the importance was in it, but he did not know how to appreciate its value. Hence, “its splendor departs, its brilliance departs, and its majesty departs.”

It follows that “The exit of a righteous from a place leaves an impression.” He should know that when the righteous was in town, he did not pay attention to appreciating it: its splendor, its brilliance, and its majesty.” Instead, he turned, meaning that he did not have the importance of all the abovementioned degrees of importance.

This is called “leaves an impression,” meaning that it had to be imprinted in him that the exit of the righteous from the place was because of the turning, meaning that in fact, all the degrees were there, but he did not notice it because he should have known that there are no changes in the light, but everything depends on the Kelim [vessels]. It follows that we can say that this departure was not due to a sin, but so as to allow him to rise in the degrees of holiness.

We should also interpret regarding the abovementioned verse, that the exit of a righteous from the place leaves an impression refers to a person, for when the righteous is in town, it means that a person can justify Providence. Then, when he overcomes the state he is in and says, “There is no doubt that the Creator, who is good and does good, is behaving benevolently with me. However, He wants me to feel as I do.” It follows that he is justifying Providence. At that time he immediately sees the importance of the work of bestowal and above reason. This is called, “When the righteous is in town, he is its splendor, he is its brilliance, he is its majesty,” for then he (sees) all the virtues.

“When he departs from there” means that he has departed from justifying Providence and wants to see everything within reason. At that time he feels no taste in the work in order to bestow. And then, “its splendor departs, its brilliance departs, and its majesty departs,” and he falls once more into self-love. In other words, at that time he knows nothing but work that is built on a basis of within reason.

This is regarded as the “exit of the righteous from the place leaves an impression.” It means that only then, through the exit of the righteous, when he thinks, “Now that I feel good taste in the work, I no longer need to work above reason,” it causes him the exit of the righteous from the place. This creates in him an impression, so he will know how to keep himself from exiting the work of above reason from here on. As I heard from Baal HaSulam, when a person says, “Now that he has support and no longer stands between heaven and earth,” he must fall from his degree because then he flaws the discernment of above reason.

It therefore follows that precisely the departure of the degree he had leaves an impression on him so he will know how to be careful next time and will not blemish the faith above reason, but always justify Providence.

“And behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” The interpreters ask, “It should have said, ‘descending,’ and then ‘ascending.’” To understand this in the work we need to explain that the ladder implies a person: A person stands below, on the earth, but the man’s head reaches the heaven. That is, when a person begins to advance upward, he reaches the heaven, and he should not complain that the ladder is set on the earth.

However, first we need to understand what “on the earth,” means. We see that the earth is the lowest thing. And yet, we also see that all the stately buildings and wholesome fruits come specifically from the earth.

It is known that Eretz [earth] implies the will to receive, which is the foundation, since all of creation and all the bad that exists in the world extend from this desire, as it is known that all the wars, murders, and so forth are rooted in the will to receive. This is called “a ladder set on the earth,” for when a person first comes to the world, he is placed on the Eretz [earth], from the word Ertzeh [I will want], meaning I want to receive. This is regarded as lowliness, that there is nothing lower than that. However, “its top reaching to heaven.” That is, precisely through the ladder being set on the earth, I will want, for Ertzeh [“earth,” “I will want”] has two meanings: 1) from the word, Ertzeh, meaning “I want,” 2) from the word Eretz [land], which is regarded as lowliness.

It is known that the essence of creation is only the desire to receive, that in the beginning of creation only the will to receive immerged. Afterwards there were corrections, called “equivalence of form,” which means that the lower one, called “earth,” achieves equivalence with heaven, which is called the “giver.” We can interpret this as man, although he is in worldliness, can still correct, by his head—called “the end of the ladder”—reaching to heaven, namely being in equivalence of form with the heaven, which is regarded as receiving in order to bestow.

As in the beginning of creation, the receiver immerged first, and then was corrected in order to bestow, so is the ladder, which is akin to a person standing on the earth. The beginning is on the earth, and then he reaches heaven. This means that we should not be impressed when we see that man is full of worldliness and has no sparks of bestowal, and he cannot believe that it is realistic that his body will ever agree to work only in order to bestow. Instead, he should believe that it is the way and the order of the work that the Creator wants it specifically in this way—that a ladder will be placed on the earth with its top reaching to heaven.

By this we will understand what is written, “The angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” The interprets asked, “Angels are in the sky, so it should have been written there ‘descending’ and then ‘ascending.’” We should interpret that this refers to man, who is the emissary of the Creator, since an angel is called a “messenger.” These men, who are walking on the path of the Creator, are called “God’s angels.” First they ascend, by the ladder being set on the earth, and reach the top of the ladder, regarded as “its head reaching to heaven.” Afterwards they descend, meaning that all the ascents and descents are because there are two ends to the ladder: 1) “set on the earth,” meaning the place of lowliness, 2) but “its top reaching to heaven.”

This means that to the extent that he appreciates “its top reaching to heaven,” he can feel the lowliness of being “set on the earth,” and regret being in worldliness. But if he has no real clue about “its top reaching to heaven,” he has nothing to impress him about being in a state of descent.

It follows that to the extent that he ascends and “its top reaching to heaven,” he can appreciate the measure of lowliness of the descent. This is why it is first written “ascending”, and then “descending,” since one can feel that he is in a state of descent only to the extent that he feels the importance of reaching to heaven.

This is the meaning of “ascending” and then “descending,” since the ladder that one should climb in order to carry out his vocation—for he was sent to this world by the Creator—begins from the degree of “a ladder set on the earth with its top reaching the heaven,” meaning from the beginning of lowliness, which is the will to receive, which is his nature. “Its head” means that at the end of the ladder he should reach the heaven, which is only to bestow. This is called “heaven,” as earth is called “receiving,” and heaven is called “giving.”

We should also interpret ascending and descending as a person having to know that when he feels that he is in descent, such as when he engages in commerce or works at a factory, or simply walks on the street, and he suddenly wakes up from his sleep and finds himself in a state of descent, at that time he should know that knowing that he is in a descent has come to him from the ascent. This is called “ascending” first, and then “descending,” for if there were no ascent in degree, owing to the awakening from above, he would not come to feel this. However, he is being called upon from above.

It follows according to the above that our entire work is as “a ladder set on the earth with its top reaching the heaven.” That is, man’s ladder has two discernments, and with those two discernments he ascends on the ladder of the living.

1) From his perspective, the “ladder set on the earth,” which is the will to receive, is set on the earth, which is lowliness. Earth means receiving, Nukva [female], who receives from the heaven, where heaven is called “male,” giver. “Its head reaching to heaven” means that bestowal, called “heaven,” is to him the head, meaning important. To the extent that he regards bestowal as the head, he regards the earth, which is the will to receive, as “earth,” meaning lowliness.

2) He regards the Eretz, meaning Ertzeh [I will want], as the head, and heaven is regarded as lowliness.

Also, “angels of God” means that one who makes the calculation that he has come to this world on a mission from the Creator to correct corrections, is called “angels of God ascending and descending” on it. That is, they see the ladder of the living set on the earth, meaning that the will to receive is regarded as lowliness.

“Its top reaching to heaven” means that to him bestowal means heaven. That is, they are awaiting bestowal because the essence of their work is to bestow contentment upon the Creator, and this is what they regard as “head.” When they receive a desire with which they can bestow, they consider it elation, and this is what they wait for. Conversely, when they are placed under the rule of the earth, they feel lowliness, and are looking only to bestow upon the Creator.

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