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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

What It Means that We Should Raise the Right Hand over the Left Hand, in the Work

Article No. 18, Tav-Shin-Nun-Aleph, 1990/91

The Zohar asks (Yitro [Jethro], Item 1), “‘And Aaron raised his hands.’ It writes ‘His hands’ without a Yod [in Hebrew], which means one hand, since he had to raise the right over the left.” This means that if the right is above the left, it indicates that the right governs the left. Hence, it is regarded as one hand.

We should understand what are “right” and “left” in the work, and that we must raise the right over the left.

It is known that “right” means wholeness, meaning that a person feels about himself that he is a complete person and is not deficient in corporeality or spirituality, since he is content with little. For this reason, this person can be grateful to the Creator for completing all his needs, and for behaving with him with the quality of mercy. That is, he sees that he does not deserve all that he has, and when he looks at other people, he sees that they have far less than he, and he says that he certainly does not deserve more than the rest of the people. That person is always happy and can be grateful to the Creator for what He has rewarded him, and he feels that the Creator loves him and he loves the Creator. He is always high spirited because the Creator loves him, and he always wants to cite psalms and praises to the Creator. And the more he thinks about the Creator, the more he enjoys, since he feels that He is a soulmate and this gives him high spirits, and he has no concerns over deficiencies, and he feels that he lives in a world that is all good. He always yearns to speak with the one who loves him, meaning he always feels the Creator’s love, and he regards other people in his surroundings as pitiful, since he sees that they are all living a sorrowful life, appreciating meaningless matters as though they were the most important thing in their lives. And since they cannot be satiated, they have nothing with which to be happy. He has nothing in common with them because when he begins to speak with them, they do not understand him. He cannot do anything for them other than to ask for mercy for them.

However, we should know that a person should also walk on the left line. “Left” means criticizing one’s actions, whether or not they are fine. That is, on one hand, he is content with little. But on the other hand, he needs to see what he is doing for the purpose of creation, for His desire to do good to His creations was not about being content with little. Rather, He wants to give to the created beings abundant delight and pleasure, and in this respect, he sees that he is bare and destitute. At that time, he has no other choice but to pray to the Creator to bring him closer and give him vessels of bestowal. Through them, he will be rewarded with Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator and will also be rewarded with the Torah as in “The Torah, and the Creator, and Israel are one.” But as long as he has not received the vessels of bestowal, and he sees how immersed he is in self-love and is inherently incapable of emerging from this governance, but only the Creator can help him in this, and he sees more, that not only did he not advance in the work, he regressed! And sometimes, he comes to a state where he wants to escape the campaign.

It follows that this left is truly opposite from the right, called “wholeness.” At that time, he should ask, “What should I do?” That is, since now he sees that the one line he had before, meaning wholeness, now that wholeness is regarded as “right,” since there cannot be “right” if there is no “left,” it follows that this “left” has made for him the previous situation of wholeness as “right,” and now he has “right” and “left.” That is, each one contradicts the other.

However, we must know that a person can walk forward only on two legs, and not on one leg, as the ARI says (in the poem “I will Sing the Praises”), “Right and left, and in between a bride.” We should interpret that through the “right” and the “left,” we are rewarded with the bride, who is called “The installing of the Shechina [Divinity].” But a person cannot walk on one leg.

Therefore, a person should raise his hands, meaning both hands, where raising a hand means raising the hand to look what he has in the hand, meaning what he has acquired from all the work that he engages in the work of the Creator. However, a person must know that when he looks at the left hand and sees how far he is from the Creator, it causes him separation from the Creator, since when he sees that he is not all right, in that state he is regarded as “cursed,” and “The Blessed does not cling to the cursed.” For this reason, one must shift to the right line, where a person works in a state of wholeness.

However, wholeness cannot be built on a lie, but on truth. Hence, when a person raises the left hand and sees there that he is full of faults, how can he then say that he is a complete man and thank the Creator for his good situation?

The answer is that by being content with less and saying, “I am happy that I have some grip on the work, even though it is Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], and even though he cannot overcome and labor as befits one who wishes to serve the King, and he thanks the Creator for rewarding him with grip in the work, to the extent that he appreciates it, to that extent he is considered a complete person. However, he should know that this “right,” that he is content with little, is after he walked on the left line. Then it can be said that he is content with little, meaning that the left made him see how full of faults he is, so when he is content with little, it is considered complete because he appreciates small things in the work as important. From this, he can ascend because he is saying the truth by being content with less. Conversely, one who has only one line is not regarded as being content with little. Rather, he thinks of himself as complete and not as settling for little.

This is similar to a person having guests and giving each of them 300 grams of bread. There are people there who are used to eating 200 grams of bread, and there are people there who are used to eating 400 grams of bread. Certainly, we cannot say that those who are used to eating 200 grams of bread settle for little, that they should suffice for the little bread that they are given, since for them, 100 grams of the bread are already redundancies. Rather, only those who are used to eating 400 grams of bread can be said to suffice for less, since they need more but have none. Then it can be said that they suffice for little and are thankful to the landlord for the bread that he has given them, as though the bread filled their entire need.

The lesson is that when a person walks on one line, he suffices with whatever grip he has on the work and understands that he is whole, meaning that he does not need more. Instead, he sees that he is in a state of wholeness, while other people around him are inferior compared to him. It follows that he sufficed for less because he saw that he had more possessions than other people.

But when he raises his left hand, meaning looks at the value of his possession in the work and begins to understand that we must walk on the path toward achieving Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, called “equivalence of form,” he sees that he is far from it. So how can he be happy that he is serving the Creator, when he sees how immersed he is in self-love? Sometimes he falls into a descent where he sees that he is so low that he does not even want the Creator to help him emerge from the governance of the will to receive. Thus how is it possible to work in the right, called “wholeness,” and for this wholeness not to be built on falsehood?

The answer is that the person believes in faith in the sages and says that the sages told us that the order of the work is that a person should walk on the right line, meaning wholeness. Therefore, he grows stronger and observes the faith in the sages, who said, “Who is rich? He who is happy with his share.” In other words, he is content with little and says that he is grateful to the Creator for rewarding him with doing something in the work, although it is all Lo Lishma, but only for his own sake.

At that time, he does not want to work for the sake of the Creator, and yet he is content with his share even though it is Lo Lishma. Out of this joy, because he observes faith in the sages, he can be rewarded with achieving Lishma [for Her sake], meaning that the Creator will help him and give him the second nature called “desire to bestow.”

It follows that in order for one to be able to appreciate the work of Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds], it is only by being content with little. That is, a person must appreciate it if he has some small grip on spirituality, and regard it a as a fortune. Therefore, when one walks on one line, he still does not need to appreciate the little grip he has, since he does not feel that this is regarded as “little.” On the contrary, he feels more or less like a complete person and only sees that others are in lowliness. But he, thank God, feels that he is serving the Creator and he is happy about it and rejoices, and can thank the Creator for this. Hence, on one hand, one who walks on one line, it is very good, since he does not have complaints or demands to the Creator, and he is happy and high spirited.

For this reason, such people must not be told that there is any fault in their work, since there is a rule that it is forbidden to reveal a deficiency in one’s friend’s work if his friend does not feel the deficiency himself, or at least that his friend has revealed to him that he is dissatisfied with the work. Then it is possible to tell his friend the truth, that we must do the holy work in order to achieve Dvekut with the Creator. Otherwise, it is considered that a person is shown a lack while a person is capable of working only in the manner of the general public and not in the manner of individuals. It follows that we are giving a grip to the Klipot [shells/peels]. Hence, when he walks on one line he is fine. This is regarded that this person belongs to the “still of Kedusha [holiness].”

However, to be a “vegetative of Kedusha,” meaning to have progress in the work, requires that one walks on two lines, which are called “right and left.” We need the right because it is forbidden to reveal any deficiency, since where there is a deficiency in Kedusha, there is a grip to the Sitra Achra [other side], as the ARI says, “In Ibur [impregnation], we need the depicting force and the detaining force.” Ibur means that this is the beginning of man’s entrance into Kedusha. The depicting force shows the truth, meaning a depiction of the work, meaning if he has a good depiction about the situation he is in and the work shines for him, meaning what form he has when he looks at his work, whether he is in wholeness or not, whether he is working in order to bestow or does he want to nonetheless work in order to bestow.

The detaining force is considered that when the depicting force shows him the truth, that during Ibur, called “beginning of the work,” he certainly sees deficiencies and there can be a grip to the Sitra Achra [other side]. Therefore, there must be a detaining force so the fetus will not be aborted, meaning abortion to the Sitra Achra. In order to prevent an abortion although there is a lack, as the depicting force indicates what is form of this work, the detaining force is called “right” because he shifts to wholeness. That is, he believes in the sages who said that a person should be happy with his share, meaning whatever grip he has on Torah and Mitzvot he regards it as a great privilege, since he sees that there are people to whom the Creator did not give even the thought or desire for the little bit of grip that I have. This is called the “detaining force,” so he will not fall off from the work and will also be born later, meaning that from this work of keeping himself in Ibur at the beginning of the work, he will have two lines, right and left, and he will be rewarded with birth and with being in Yenika [nursing] of Kedusha. Thus, through the depicting force and the detaining force, a complete newborn will emerge in Kedusha.

Accordingly, we should interpret what The Zohar says, that the reason why it is written about Aaron, “‘And Aaron raised his hands’ with a missing Yod [in Hebrew], which means one hand, it is because we must raise the right over the left.” We asked what this teaches us in the work. According to the above, we should interpret that the fact that a person should walk on the left, he should be careful that the right is always higher than the left. That is, while he is walking on the left and looks at the depiction of the work, whether or not it is complete, he should see that he can immediately return to the right, meaning that the right will always be of higher importance, and that he needs the left only in order to help the right, meaning to have room to always be in wholeness and on the path of truth. That is, he should be happy with his share, and this is called the “detaining force,” since we must be careful that the person does not use the left for long, since when one raises the left, he sees his fault. And according to the rule, where there is a lack in Kedusha, there is immediately a grip to the Sitra Achra. It follows that the person is placed under the Sitra Achra and should therefore remember that when he enters the state of “left,” he does not intend to remain in the left, but for the left to serve the right. It follows that then the left does not merit its own name because the aim is not only the left, for the purpose of the left, but that the left is required for the purpose of the right. For this reason, the left does not merit a name. This is regarded as having only one hand, since it is annulled before the right. This is why The Zohar says that “we must raise the right over the left,” and this is regarded as “his hand,” one, which is why it is written with a missing Yod.

According to the above, we should interpret what we say in the prayer, “How good are your tents, Jacob, Your dwellings, Israel.” It is known that Jacob is called Yod-Akev [Hebrew: Yaakov (Jacob), Yod-Akev (Yod-heel)], which means Katnut [smallness], heels, the end of Kedusha, as it is written in The Zohar, “That Yod that Esau threw to the back, Jacob took to the head.” We should interpret in the work that Yod is called Malchut, which is the kingdom of heaven, called “faith.” Esau does not want to use it; it is regarded as dust, something tasteless, which he considers dust. Rather, he wanted only to work in a manner that he will see what comes out from his work, what benefits he gets from his work. When he prays, he is willing to pray in a manner that he will receive what he is praying for immediately. When he is told, “You must believe that the Creator hears the prayer of every mouth,” meaning that a person must not say that the Creator hears only the prayer of an important person, but if an unimportant person prays, the Creator does not hear his prayer, this, too, is regarded as not believing that the Creator hears the prayer. This is as Baal HaSulam said, that one should believe what is written, “For You hear the prayer of every mouth of Your people Israel with mercy.” This means that anyone asking for the Creator’s mercy should believe that the Creator hears the prayer of every mouth, even if he is the lowliest.

It follows that if he says that the Creator does not hear every mouth, this is considered that he does not believe. Hence, even when a person sees that his prayer was not accepted, he should believe above reason, and this is called Yod, meaning the kingdom of heaven. A person should take upon himself this faith, the work that Esau threw to the back.

But Jacob placed it in the head. This is why it is Yod-Akev, where the Yod is before the Akev [heel], meaning that heel is considered “end” and “lowliness,” that which a person tramples with his heels. This means that it is something unimportant, and the person takes this as his head, meaning values it, and this is work where a person considers himself whole in that he has been rewarded with something. That is, in prayer, when he prays as much as possible, a person should depict to himself and believe as though he feels the existence of the Creator although he sees that the body is not impressed by what a person thinks.

Still, when he grows stronger and believes in the sages that this small contact that he has with spirituality, he appreciates it and believes in the sages that the Creator has more contentment from this work than from other works that a person thinks, that precisely when one thinks that the body agrees to the work, the Creator derives contentment from this. Yet, a person believes that precisely when one must use the above reason, this work is important to the Creator. Hence, he must work a lot in order to be able to appreciate work of lowliness, when the body disagrees with the work. This is so because when a person walks on the left and understands that he must achieve the degree of “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,” which our sages said, “with both your inclinations,” meaning that the evil inclination should also agree to be a servant of the Creator, and naturally, when a person sees that the body does not agree to the work, he says that in any case, there is no point to this work, so why should he exert for nothing? And yet, he believes that this is important work.

This is as Baal HaSulam said (Essay, “Faith in the Rav,” Tav-Shin-Gimel, 1943), that before a person is rewarded with the singular authority, meaning when he no longer has multiple authorities, which is two desires, meaning a desire to bestow, but he also wants to use the will to receive for himself, a person cannot know the importance of his work. That is, he might think that his work is in descent, when this is not the truth. Also, sometimes a person thinks of his work as an ascent, which is also not true. Instead, one must believe with faith in the sages, who said that one should walk on a path where he feels wholeness in the work even if it is of utter lowliness. However, we should also walk a little bit on the left, to the extent that it serves the right.

According to the above, we should interpret what is written, “How good are your tents, Jacob.” It means that one should see and try to appreciate and thank the Creator when he is inside the “tent of Yod-Akev,” meaning in a state of “heels,” which is the end of Kedusha, and say, “How good.” In other words, he does not have sufficient intellect to value this state and say that it is a good state, and thank the Creator. Afterward, by appreciating the “tent of Yod-Akev,” he will be rewarded with the “dwellings of Yashar-El [Israel],” where Israel is already regarded as Rosh [head]. It follows that through the degree of Yod-Akev, he will be rewarded with Gadlut [greatness] and the Rosh of the degree, called “Your dwellings, Israel.”

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