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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

What Is “He Who Defiles Himself Is Defiled from Above” in the Work?

Article No. 26, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988/89

It is written in The Zohar (BeHaalotcha, Item 67), “What is ‘Or on a far off road’? It is because a person who defiles himself is defiled from above. Thus, he is on a far off road from that place and road to which the seed of Israel adhere, for he has clung to a far off road, has moved away from approaching you, Israel, referring to the Sitra Achra [other side], which is far from Kedusha [holiness]. Rabbi Yitzhak said, ‘It is written, ‘If he is defiled for a soul or on a far off road.’ This means that they are two things.’ Rabbi Yosi said, ‘Here, when it says ‘defiled for a soul,’ it means before he has been defiled from above. And here, when it says, ‘on far off road,’ it means that it is after one has been defiled above and fell to a far off road, which is the Sitra Achra.’ This means that on both, the Kedusha of above will not be on them and they will not do the Passover when Israel do it.”

Also in The Zohar (BaHar, Item 46), it says, “‘His kingship rules over all.’ For this reason, the Shechina [Divinity] is called ‘an offering to the Lord,’ ‘a burnt offering to the Lord.’ Everything should be sacrificed to the Lord and to His Shechina. Afterward, the Shechina imparts to all, as it is written, ‘And gives prey to her household.’ Even food for animals, and even for dogs, she imparts everything, in order to fulfill, ‘And His kingship rules over all.’”

We should understand why one who defiles himself is defiled from above. Why is it man’s fault that he is defiled from above? Why is he punished with not being able to do the Passover, which The Zohar says is the meaning of the words, “If he is defiled for a soul or on a far off road”? He is “defiled for a soul” before he is defiled from above, and “on a far off road” after he has been defiled from above, and neither will do the Passover when Israel do it.

We should understand this. If he has defiled himself, he can no longer do the Passover offering, so for what purpose is he defiled from above? Also, why is he defiled from above if Tuma’a [impurity] that is done from above is not his fault?

Therefore, we should understand the following: 1) For what purpose is he defiled from above if he cannot make the Passover offering because he is impure? 2) Why is he defiled, since choice is something that a person makes, and when he is defiled from above, this Tuma’a does not come to him by choice? 3) We should also understand what The Zohar writes about the verse, “His kingship rules over all,” that the Shechina [Divinity] imparts nourishments to all—to animals and beasts, and even to dogs and donkeys, which are the Klipot [shells/peels]. Why must the Shechina provide them with nourishments, as they are her adversaries and enemies of the Kedusha?

To understand the above, we must first know what are Kedusha and Tuma’a in the work. In actions, Tuma’a and Tahara [purity] are clear, as it is written in the Torah or what our sages added concerning Tuma’a, Kedusha, and Tahara. But in the work, what is the meaning of Tuma’a, Tahara, and Kedusha?

First, we must always remember our two tenets, that all the conducts in the world follow, and from which we have conducts in the work of the Creator, which often seem to be conflicting.

1) The purpose of creation, which is His will to do good to His creations, and for which He created in the creatures a desire and yearning to crave pleasures. This is called “will to receive for himself.” All creations, which are called “existence from absence,” emerged with this nature, meaning with this desire that was created, which is considered a lack that the creatures yearn to satisfy. This Kli [vessel] comes to a person without work, since we attribute this Kli to the Creator, and we have no work expanding the Kli, but wherever this desire (sees or feels) that it has some pleasure to receive, it promptly runs there with all its energy. It seems as though it is going to satisfy the Creator’s will, meaning what the Creator wants—that the creatures will enjoy the pleasure He wants to give them.

2) The correction of creation, so as not to feel shame upon the reception of the pleasures. It is known that this happens because every branch wants to resemble its root. Hence, a correction was made that from the perspective of his will to receive, a person wants to decline and not receive any pleasure. Instead, he comes to receive the pleasures because the Creator wants the creatures to receive delight and pleasure, as this was the purpose of creation. Then he will not feel shame because now there is equivalence of form, meaning that as the Creator wants to bestow, so the creatures want to bestow upon Him, so He will enjoy that “He said, and His will was done,” and only because of this they want to receive delight and pleasure.

However, this Kli, called “receiving in order to bestow,” is the complete opposite of the Kli called “will to receive for oneself,” which we attribute to the Creator, who created it existence from absence. Hence, if we want to work only for the sake of the Creator and not for our own sake, it is hard work, since we must fight against the Kli that the Creator created.

From this work come all the lacks we learn about, such as the departure of the lights, the breaking of the vessels, Kedusha, Tuma’a, Sitra Achra [other side], and Klipot. Also, all the names we see explained in The Zohar and in books of Kabbalah extend only from the correction of creation.

This is so because we attribute the Kelim of the correction of creation to the creatures, as it is written in the beginning of Tree of Life, and as he explains in The Study of the Ten Sefirot, that the first will to receive, called Malchut de Ein Sof, said that she does not want to receive in order to receive, but in order to bestow.

Naturally, if we want to go against the nature that the Creator created, which is the opposite, it comes to us by hard work. In the upper worlds, this caused the departure of the lights and the breaking of the vessels, and then the Klipot emerged and the distance between Kedusha and Tuma’a was made.

Kedusha is called “equivalence of form.” This is the meaning of Dvekut [adhesion], as it is written, “You will be holy for I am holy.” This means that as the Creator wants only to do good to His creations, the creatures should also want to be on a degree of doing good to the Creator and not to themselves.

It follows that before we achieve the correction of creation and while still immersed in self-love, a person cannot receive the delight and pleasure, and the Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment that occurred are on him. That is, we must say that all the concealments we suffer are because such is the order of corrections, that by this, all the creatures will arrive at the end of correction, meaning that all the Kelim that emerged with the quality of receiving for themselves will be corrected into working in order to bestow. Naturally, they will be able to receive the delight and pleasure. It follows that then, at the end of correction, there will no longer be a need for the Tzimtzum and the concealment. This is the meaning of the words, “And your Teacher will no longer hide Himself.”

It follows that remoteness and closeness are that if a person does everything in order to bestow, he is close to Kedusha, as was said, “You will be holy.” If he does everything for his own sake, he is far from Kedusha.

Accordingly, we should ask, If the delight and pleasure cannot shine in vessels of reception because of the Tzimtzum that took place, how will the created beings exist in the world before their vessels of bestowal are corrected? From where can the creatures derive pleasure? for without pleasure, it is impossible to live, since such was the order of creation.

Therefore, we learn that promptly after the Tzimtzum, when there was the departure of the light, Reshimot [recollections] remained in order to sustain the Kelim. The first Kelim from which the light departed are called Kelim de Igulim [vessels of circles], and the Reshimo [singular of Reshimot] that remained of the light sustains the Kelim. Yet, this can be said only about the Kelim of Kedusha, as was explained that in the Partzufim of Adam Kadmon the Reshimot remained in the Kelim after the departure of the lights.

Conversely, in the world of Nekudim, where the Kelim fell to the Klipot after the departure of the lights, we learn that the Reshimot remained in the place of Atzilut, since the Reshimot, which are parts of the light, cannot enter the Klipot. Rather, only sparks fell into the Kelim to sustain them. That is, the Kelim that fell into the Klipot, and all of their vitality, is only because sparks of Kedusha fell into them. From this comes all the vitality of the Klipot, as the ARI interprets, only a “slim light,” called “very thin light” compared to what is found in the Kedusha, is all the vitality that fell into the corporeal world.

In other words, all the life and the corporeal pleasures that the entire world chases in order to obtain, since they feel that this is their entire life, are but a very thin light compared to the spiritual pleasures, and on the spiritual pleasures was the intention to do good to His creations, called “the purpose of creation.”

By this we will understand why the Kedusha must give nourishments to the Klipot, for otherwise they will not be able to exist, since the desire to do good to His creations causes that if the creatures have no delight and pleasure at all, they cannot exist and must die. Since man is born with an inherent nature to receive only for his own sake, he is under the control of the Klipot. At that time, it is impossible to receive vitality from the Kedusha. Hence, even when he begins to engage in Torah and Mitzvot, he must begin in Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], or else from where will he have life? Therefore, the Kedusha gives nourishments to the Klipot so the Klipot will have life and nourishments, which sustain the creatures while they are under their control.

Only through the reforming light in Torah and Mitzvot, when they achieve Lishma [for Her sake], meaning when they can work in order to bestow, then the concealment and hiding called Tzimtzum depart from them. Then, they can receive their vitality from the Kedusha, where the real pleasures are revealed, and not as they received, only a “slim light” of Kedusha, but real light of Kedusha.

By this we will understand what we asked about what The Zohar says, “And His kingship rules over all,” that the Shechina imparts nourishments to all, to animals, beasts, and even to dogs and donkeys, which are the Klipot. We should understand for what purpose the Shechina should sustain them.

Since it is impossible to exist without light and pleasure, and there is no other power in the world that can sustain them, as it is written, “There is none else besides Him,” hence, the Shechina sustains them and gives them nourishments so as to sustain them. The Shechina imparts the nourishments to each one according to his degree, as he says, “Although all the offerings are to the Lord, of them he gives to the dogs, which are the disqualified offerings, which he gives to Samel, who is called a dog, and some of them are as “ministering angels” and some of them are as “humans.”

This means that the Shechina imparts nourishments to each one according to his quality. There are people who are as “humans,” there are those who are as “pure beasts,” and there are those who are as “dogs.” The Shechina imparts nourishments to all. However, according to one’s efforts to ascend on the rungs of Kedusha, so is the abundance he receives. That is, if a person comes to a degree where his only pleasure is in serving the King, he receives abundance suitable for Kedusha. If the person can work only in order to receive for himself, he receives according to his merit.

For this reason, those who wish to walk on the path of truth but cannot overcome the will to receive for oneself, but want nourishments so they can overcome it, they receive from Kedusha, which is called “the light in it reforms him.” They receive nourishments according to their preparation. That is, they receive vitality in being able to perform acts of bestowal.

Conversely, those who are still as “dogs”—as it is written in The Zohar, that they howl as dogs Hav-Hav [Give, Give]—must receive vitality within the vessels of self-benefit.

This is not so with people who want to exit self-love. Sometimes they receive nourishments, meaning vitality, from wanting to work in order to bestow, but when they do not appreciate the nourishments they received with the vessels of bestowal, they are given some lust that they crave and they begin to think about the pleasure of the lust. At that time they completely forget about the spiritual work and suffer an immediate descent until they no longer feel the situation they are in. In truth they are in a state of unconsciousness, meaning that they do not recognize that there is the matter of spirituality, in which they previously engaged with all their hearts, but suddenly they have completely forgotten about it.

Finally, they recover and begin to feel that they are in descent. However, it is as though they were in a car accident and were left unconscious. When they recover, they see that they are in a hospital.

Likewise, a person who was walking on the path toward achieving the aim to bestow was suddenly hit by some passion, which entered his heart and he became unconscious. That is, he fell into the corporeal world. After some time, he recovers, meaning that he heard a clarion from above that he is not all right.

The matter of the passion is not the same for everyone. Sometimes, a person is encountered by a thought that it would be better for him to work for his own sake and not for the sake of the Creator. When this thought hits him, it is called a “road accident,” if he did not see the danger in advance, while he still had time to overcome the thought so it would not penetrate his heart. However, the form of the passion is not the same for everyone. In each person, the passion dresses in a different form. Even within the same person, not all times are the same, and each time, the passion dresses in a person in a different way, all according to the time.

The passion is like a bait. When we want to catch fish, we take the rod and hang on it some animal or a piece of meat. When the fish sees the meat, it sees the pleasure it can receive from it. And when it sees the pleasure, it has no other thoughts, and then it cannot conceive that by this, meaning if it bites into the bait, it will die, since the man will pull it out of the water so it will die. At that time, it has no interest in thinking about this.

Likewise, when a person sees some lust, it is a bait that lures him into receiving this passion, and then he has no time to think that by this he will die in the spiritual sense, that all the work he thought had to be done for the sake of the Creator, when he looks at the lust, it is a bait that pulls him out of the spiritual water where he lived. And as soon as he is pulled out of the spiritual water, he dies in spirituality and remains unconscious. In other words, he is unaware that he has already died in spirituality because he does not even remember that there is spirituality in the world, and he forgets about everything.

However, afterward, recovery comes to him from above, and he sees that now he is in a state of descent. That is, during the ascent, he looked at all the lusts as something separate from him, meaning that he was not attracted to them. He felt he had within the heart a rejecting force that he did not even want to think about them. But suddenly, he receives a direct relation to them, meaning that they become close to his mind and feeling, to the point that when he recovers, he does not understand how the relationship between them was created.

However, there is a rule: “When the upper one descends to the place of the lower one, He becomes like him.” That is, they become seemingly together, without any distance between them, as there were while the upper one was in His place above. Likewise, when the lower one ascends to the place of the upper one, he receives a common relation, as though he has always been in the place of the upper one. He receives distance from the state of the lower one (according to the rule: “When the lower one ascends to the place of the upper one, he becomes like Him”).

It follows that this bait is akin to “vision.” “Vision” is not necessarily with the eyes. Rather, “vision” is also thought, meaning the vision of the mind. In other words, if some sinful thought comes along, whether in the mind or in the heart, and there is a rule that “the eye sees and the heart covets,” so by seeing he will certainly come to covet. And although a person cannot be held accountable for seeing, meaning when some thought comes to a person, why is it his fault, or when he suddenly see with his eyes, what can he do?

Baal HaSulam explained about it, asking about what our sages said, “A person does not sin unless a spirit of folly has entered him” (Sotah 3). He asked, Why is a spirit of folly permitted to enter him so he would sin? Had the spirit of folly not entered him, he would not have sinned. Thus, why is it man’s fault that a spirit of folly has entered him? He replied that there is a rule that “the eye sees and the heart covets.” It follows that although seeing is not man’s fault, but if he does not repent the seeing, although he is as though misled in this, he must come to covet, and coveting is already a sin.

It follows that the fact that a spirit of folly entered him is a great correction for a person, so he will not blemish the Kedusha so much, since during the sin, he no longer feels the importance of Kedusha because the spirit of folly is already in him, and naturally, the Kedusha escapes from him. That is, had he repented the mistake right away, he would not have come to an actual sin, which is the coveting. And if he does not repent, the spirit of folly comes.

Now we can understand what we asked, Why is it that when a person defiles himself, he is defiled from above, as The Zohar says about the verse, “If he is defiled for a soul or on a far off road”? The answer is that it is because he defiled himself in the work. We should interpret—in vision. If he defiled himself and did not repent, he must be defiled from above, meaning that they let a spirit of folly enter him.

This is for man’s best, for when one works without reason, it is as though he works without an intention to sin, since he has no reason that we can say that he acted deliberately. Hence, being defiled from above is a correction, and naturally, there is no question why he is defiled, since by this they do him a favor. Naturally, whether he is defiled only by seeing, which is certainly considered a mistake, and all the more so afterward, when he is defiled by coveting, they already show that they are not close to Kedusha.

Although seeing was by mistake, still, there was no spirit of folly in him. But at the time of coveting, he already had the spirit of folly. Although we could ask, but when he is defiled from above, there are two things in him, meaning seeing and coveting. Perhaps he wants to say that even when he had the possibility to be one thing, he was already unworthy of nearing.

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