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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

What Is the Prohibition to Teach Torah to Idol-Worshippers in the Work?

Article No. 31, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988/89

It is written in The Zohar (Hukat, Item 2): “It is written there, ‘But Zot [This] without the addition of the Vav, is the statute of the Torah,’ which is Malchut, called ‘Statute,’ and comes from ZA, who is called ‘Torah.’ Yet, not the Torah itself, which is ZA, but only the judgment of the Torah, the decree of the Torah, which is Malchut. Conversely, ‘This is the Torah’ is to show that all is in one unification, to include the Assembly of Israel, which is Malchut, in the Creator, so all will be one.”

We should understand why The Zohar calls Malchut by the name “statute.” That is, why must Malchut be only a law, without intellect, as RASHI interpreted, “‘This is the statute of the Torah,’ since Satan and the nations of the world count Israel to say, ‘What is this Mitzva [commandment/good deed] and what point is there to it?’ Hence, it is written about it, ‘It is a statue, a decree before Me; you have no permission to doubt it.’”

Thus, when is it considered a law? Only when the nations of the world ask, “What is this Mitzva”? and we must answer them. What is the answer? A law, a decree.” This implies that man upholds the law precisely when they ask “Why?” Then it can be said that he is observing the Mitzva because of a law. Otherwise, there is nothing that shows that he is observing this Mitzva because it is a law.

We should also understand this: Would it not be better had this Mitzva been clothed in intellect? That is, it would be easier to observe the Mitzva. Why does the Creator want it to be as a law, which is harder to observe the Mitzva? After all, there is a rule, “The Creator does not complain (comes with libel) against His creations” (Avoda Zarah 3).

We should understand why He wants this Mitzva as a law. When speaking of the work, we must discern two things: 1) the practice, 2) the intention.

In the corporeal world, we see that a person looks mainly at the reward. That is, if a person works for an employer who gives him the work and tells him, “I want you to work for me, but you haven’t the brains to understand why I need this work. You may think that it would be better for me if I did not need to command you to do the things that I am commanding you, but I cannot explain to you why I need you to do these things for me. In return, tell me how much you earn working for other people, with whom you do understand why you are working, and since I want this job, I will pay you ten times more than you would earn with others.”

Certainly, many people would jump on such a job, since they are all looking at the reward and the salary, since he is paying ten times more. For example, the usual pay is $1,000 a month, and he will pay $10,000. Certainly, with such a job, he will not say that they are working above reason, that their job is called “a law,” since it is within reason that it is worthwhile to do this job, as it is common sense that the main reason that a person works is for the pay. Hence, one who pays more, there you need to work. This is called “within reason.”

What do the created beings call “above reason”? When one must work without any pay or reward, this is called “above reason.” This is so because of the purpose of creation, which is to do good to His creations, meaning for the creatures to receive delight and pleasure, which is called “desire to receive for oneself.” That is, everything he does will be for the sake of the creature, for so was His wish. For this reason, when a person is told that he must work without reward, it is called “above reason,” which is against the intellect, meaning against the purpose of creation.

Then, when a person is told that he must work in order to bestow, there immediately comes the question of the wicked: What is this work for you, that you are not caring for your own benefit but for the benefit of the Creator? Clearly, we must provide a reasonable answer, since he is making a straightforward argument, saying “You want to go against nature!” But what did our sages say about what to answer? “Blunt his teeth,” meaning there is no answer to this, only a law.

When we want to overcome him and say that it is worthwhile to work for the King, he becomes smarter and begins to ask the question of wicked Pharaoh, who says, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?” It follows that there are two just arguments here. And according to what Baal HaSulam said, it is only one argument, except he wants to remain in self-love, and therefore argues like a wise one. That is, “In truth, I am a mighty man, not one of the ordinary folk, who cannot overcome. However, I don’t know the Creator. If the Creator were revealed to me and I would not have to believe in Him, I would immediately work for the sake of the Creator.”

It turns out that he is in pride. That is, he wants to remain in self-love, and therefore makes the argument of the wise one, that he is not like other people who cannot overcome, who are like little children who want what they see and have no power to overcome and see if this is good for them or not. “I, on the other hand, am what is called ‘a man,’ and I can control myself. But if the Creator wants me to work for Him, He shouldn’t hide Himself so we can’t perceive Him and must only believe in His Providence. This doesn’t make sense.”

It turns out that he is clothing the self-love in a garment of pride. That is, his will to receive for himself causes him to be proud. In other words, everything that a person says, that he does not want to believe, is really that he does not want to annul his will to receive for himself.

Baal HaSulam said about this that we must believe that this path of faith above reason, and also the fact that we must work for Him and not for our own sake, is not because the Creator wants all those things for His own sake. Rather, it is all for man’s sake. In other words, the Creator’s desire to give to the created beings delight and pleasure, and to have in this complete delight, meaning that they will not to feel any shame while receiving the delight, He has given us an advice: to work for Him. By this we will be able to receive delight and pleasure and will not feel any unpleasantness while receiving the delight.

For this reason, in order not to feel shame, we were given another thing, called “faith above reason.” “If Providence were revealed,” as he says in the introduction, “it would be utterly impossible to do anything for the sake of the Creator. Rather, everything would have to be for one’s own sake,” if the pleasure in Mitzvot [plural of Mitzva] were revealed more than in corporeal pleasures. We see how difficult it is to relinquish corporeal pleasures and to say, “I will receive the pleasure only when I can aim for the sake of the Creator. Otherwise, I do not want to receive the pleasure.”

With the flavors of Torah and Mitzvot, we must believe what the ARI says, that because of the breaking, holy sparks fell into the Klipot [shells/peels]. The Zohar calls it “slim light,” meaning a small illumination from the Kedusha [holiness]. From this come all the pleasures in the corporeal world.

By this we can calculate that if it is difficult to make a choice over small pleasures and say that he is careful not to receive the corporeal pleasures only for the sake of the Creator, meaning he is willing to relinquish every single pleasure he receives if he cannot aim for the sake of the Creator, how difficult it is, it is much more so if the delight and pleasure clothed in Torah and Mitzvot were revealed. Then the creatures would not be able to choose to do everything for the sake of the Creator, but would receive the delight and pleasure for their own sake.

Therefore, in order for the creatures to be able to correct themselves, in order to have Dvekut [adhesion] and equivalence of form while receiving the delight and pleasure, there was the Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment. Then, if the delight in Torah and Mitzvot is not revealed and a person observes Torah and Mitzvot because of faith, meaning that he chose Torah and Mitzvot not because he derives pleasure from Torah and Mitzvot, since the delight and pleasure is still not revealed, since before a person corrects his vessels of reception, so everything he does will be for the sake of the Creator and not for his own sake—on that person there are still concealment and hiding. At that time, there is room for choice, meaning to choose and see if he is working for his own sake or for the sake of the Creator.

Conversely, if the reward and pleasure were revealed, the created beings would be compelled to remain in a state of receiving for themselves, since they would not be able to retire from Torah and Mitzvot because of the open Providence. It is as he says (in the “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot,” Item 43), “If, for example, the Creator were to establish open Providence with His creations in that, for instance, anyone who eats a forbidden thing would suffocate on the spot, and anyone who performs a Mitzva would discover such wonderful pleasures in it, like the finest delights in this world. Then, what fool would even contemplate tasting a forbidden thing, knowing that he would immediately lose his life because of it, just as one does not consider jumping into a fire?Also, what fool would leave any Mitzva without performing it as quickly as possible?” It follows that this matter of faith, and this matter of work in order to bestow and not for one’s own benefit are all for man’s sake.

According to the above, we can understand the question we asked, Why were we given the order of the work by way of faith above reason? It makes sense that if the Creator were to give us the work in Torah and Mitzvot within the reason and the intellect, it would be easier to do the holy work, and the Creator does not complain against His creations, so why did He do this?

The answer is that only by way of concealment and hiding is it possible for the created beings to achieve wholeness, meaning to receive the delight and pleasure in wholeness, meaning not to feel unpleasantness while receiving the pleasures. Therefore, it turns out that precisely when we can go with our hearts and minds toward the Creator, precisely this way is the most successful, and not as everyone thinks, that if the Creator gives us the work in the intellect, meaning to have open Providence, from this the created beings will achieve wholeness. We can say about this, as it is written, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts.”

According to the above, we can interpret what we asked, Why is Malchut called a “statute,” as it is called “the statute of the Torah”? The Zohar says there that Malchut is called “the statute of the Torah,” and not the Torah itself, the decree of the Torah, which is Malchut, but we must include Malchut and the Torah in one unification.

We asked, Why is Malchut called “statute”? The answer that Malchut is called the “kingdom of heaven,” which is faith, to believe in the Creator, that He watches over the world with a guidance of good and doing good.

When a person begins to introspect, he sees that he is full of faults. Thus, how can the body understand that these are all bestowals? Although we are given the prayer for the bad states that we feel, whether in corporeality or in spirituality, but afterward, meaning after the prayer, when a person prayed but his prayer was not answered, if he sees that he is in utter lowliness, whether in corporeality or in spirituality, at that time he needs to overcome and say that the name of the Creator is The Good Who Does Good.

This is a lot of work, since he has no rational answers to the questions that the body asks. Instead, he must say, “I take upon myself the burden of the kingdom of heaven above reason and say that such is the decree of the Creator.” Our sages said about this, “Since the nations of the world count Israel to say, ‘What is this Mitzva and what is its taste?’ What should we reply? ‘I have set a law, a decree before Me, and it is forbidden to doubt it.’”

This is why the kingdom of heaven is called a “statute.” However, it is the law of the Torah and not the Torah itself. That is, in order to be rewarded with the Torah, we must take upon ourselves the rules that the Torah has given us. Otherwise, it is impossible to receive the Torah. When a person takes upon himself the kingdom of heaven, he is called “Israel,” since through the kingdom of heaven that a person takes upon himself above reason, he exits self-love, and then he is able to receive the Torah herself.

Otherwise, if he was still not rewarded with vessels of bestowal, all the Torah that he takes will go to the Sitra Achra [other side] and not to Kedusha. That is, that light of Torah, which is the delight and pleasure that the creatures must receive, will go to the Klipot. This is why there was the Tzimtzum and the concealment, so that everything would enter the Kedusha. Hence, precisely when a person is rewarded with being Israel, when he has already been rewarded with the kingdom of heaven, namely that in everything he does, he has no other thought but to bestow contentment upon his Maker, then he can be given the Torah.

It therefore follows that in the work, the prohibition on teaching Torah to idol-worshippers means that it is impossible to learn Torah as long as one is in a state of idol-worshipping, when he is still immersed in self-love. That is, faith above reason, called “kingdom of heaven,” which is a statute, is a way to emerge from self-love and thereby be rewarded according to the order of the work that is given when a person wants to take upon himself the kingdom of heaven in mind and heart. At that time a person is rewarded with the quality of “Israel,” meaning that all his actions are only for the sake of the Creator. Then is the time when he can receive the Torah, and the Klipot cannot suck from the Kedusha.

By this we can interpret what our sages said (Hulim 89), “The world exists only for one who restrains himself during a feud.” We should understand why if a person does not restrain himself but replies to the other during a feud, because of this the world cannot exist. In the work, this means that the “world” is the person himself, as it is written in The Zohar, “Every person is a small world in and of itself.” Therefore, this means that when a person begins to quarrel with the body and wants to obey what our sages said, “One should always vex the good inclination over the evil inclination,” and RASHI interpreted that he should make war with it, called “the war of the inclination,” meaning when a person demands of the body to do everything for the sake of the Creator, this infuriates the evil inclination as he wants to annul its authority altogether, and everything a person does, he wants it all to be for the sake of the Creator, at that time, the body comes to him with just arguments that the body is making rational arguments.

But if a person wants to live, meaning he wants to achieve the complete wholeness and observe the will of the Creator, whose desire is to do good to His creations, meaning to be rewarded with the light of Torah, which is the delight and pleasure in the thought of creation, at that time it is forbidden to answer the body with rational arguments, meaning to say that he is going within reason, since within reason must be in order to receive. Instead, he restrains himself during the feud and tells it, “From the perspective of the intellect, you are correct, but I am going above reason.”

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