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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

The Klipa [Shell/Peel] that Precedes the Fruit

Article No. 30, Tav-Shin-Mem-Vav, 1985-86

In the portion, Balak, The Zohar writes (item 15), “If you say that so the Creator wished—to give the birthright to Israel, and this is improper, come and see: Esau was a Klipa [shell/peel] and Sitra Achra. It is known that the Klipa precedes the marrow, hence he came out first. Once the Klipa has emerged and was removed, the marrow was found. The first foreskin, which is Esau, is outside. Hence, he came out first. The covenant, which is the most precious, meaning Jacob, appeared next. Therefore, Esau’s early emergence does not regard is birthright, for he is Klipa and foreskin, completely worthless compared to the marrow and the covenant. He only came first for the reason that the Klipa precedes the fruit.”

We should understand why he needs to answer. After all, our sages have already answered this question (introduced by RASHI in the beginning of the portion, Beresheet [in the beginning]): “Rabbi Yitzhak said, ‘The Torah should have begun from, ‘This month is to you…’ which is the first Mitzva [commandment] that Israel were commanded. What is the reason that it begins with Beresheet? It is because ‘He has made known to His people the power of His works, to give them the inheritance of nations,’ so that should the nations of the world say to Israel, ‘You are robbers, for you have conquered the lands of seven nations,’ they will tell them, ‘The whole earth is the Creator’s. He has created it and given it to whom He chooses. At His will he gave it to them, and at His will He took it from them and has given it to us.’’”

The same applies with the birthright. First He gave it to Esau, then He took it from Esau and gave it to Jacob. We cannot say that birthright is not the same as lands because a land can be sold and given, while birthright is about facts, meaning the one who was born first is called “firstborn,” and it cannot be changed. And yet, we see that birthright can also be sold, so we can say that it can be taken from one and given to another. Otherwise, how could Jacob buy his birthright from Esau, as it is written, “and he sold his birthright to Jacob”?

From this we see that birthright is similar to a land, which can be given. Thus, what does this answer that he gives here imply to us, that since a Klipa precedes the fruit, being born first does not count as having the birthright.

To understand the matter we must first know what is a Klipa, what is marrow, and what is the foreskin, for he calls Esau by the name “foreskin.” First we must state what is the purpose of creation, and afterwards we will be able to explain what is primary and what is not secondary, so as to know the matter of fruit and Klipa, which must precede the fruit. What is that necessity, which implies that it cannot be otherwise?

It is known that the purpose of creation is to do good to His creations. For this reason, He has created a creature, so that this creature can receive the delight and pleasure that He wants to give them. That creature is called “will to receive in order to receive.” It follows that we can only speak of something that has a desire to receive, or else it is not regarded as a creature of which we can speak, for a creature is called Kli [vessel], and there is no light without a Kli. This means that we can speak of light only when it is clothed in a Kli.

However, there isn’t this Kli, called “desire to receive delight and pleasure,” “reception,” once the correction called “equivalence of form” has been made, so as not to have the bread of shame. It is known that there is shame when one must receive something, as our sages said, “Chrome gorges for the sons of men.” When a person is compelled to receive from people, his face changes and become as chrome. This is why there was the correction called “Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment,” to receive pleasure only with the intention to bestow.

It therefore follows that we should discern two things: 1) This most important is the Kli, called “desire to receive the delight and pleasure.” Without this desire there is nothing to speak of. However, the SitraAchra and the Klipot [pl. of Klipa] extend from this discernment. The order of the cascading of the worlds comes to us as root, meaning that from this point extends open expansion with all the evil. It is as the ARI said, that the Tzimtzum is the root of judgment, meaning that by this there was a Tzimtzum not to receive in order to receive, but only in order to bestow. The order was as explained in The Study of the Ten Sefirot (Part 1), that initially, the Tzimtzum was voluntary, meaning that there still wasn’t the prohibition on receiving. But afterwards there was a prohibition on receiving, but there was still no one who wanted to receive in order to receive. That is, there was still no one who wanted to breach the prohibition of the Tzimtzum. However, through TzimtzumBet [second restriction], a new thing was born—someone who wanted to receive in order to receive, though there were still no Klipot.

The Klipot were born after the breaking of the vessels that occurred in the world in the world of Nekudim, but there was still no structure of them. Rather, at that time the Klipot were called “Vav and a dot,” and there was still no structure of worlds in them. Only after the sin of Adam HaRishon with the tree of knowledge, when the Levushim [dress/ clothing] fell into the Klipot, the Klipot received the structure of four worlds like the Kedusha [holiness/sanctity], and they are called “the four worlds ABYA de [of] Tuma’a [impurity].” This is the matter presented in the “Introduction to the Book of Zohar” (item 29): “Know that our work during the seventy years of our days is divided in four:

The First Division is to obtain the excessive will to receive without restraints, in its full, corrupted measure from under the hands of the four impure worlds ABYA. If we do not have that corrupted will to receive, we will not be able to correct it. Thus, the will to receive imprinted in the body at birth is insufficient. Rather, it must also be a vehicle for the impure Klipot for no less than thirteen years. This means that the Klipot must dominate it and give it of their lights, for their lights increase its will to receive, for the fulfillments with which the Klipot provide the will to receive only expand and enhance the demands of the will to receive. If one does not overcome it through Torah and Mitzvot, and purifies the will to receive to turn it into bestowal, one’s will to receive expands throughout one’s life.

The Second Division is from thirteen years onward. At that point, the point in the heart, which is the posterior of the Nefesh of Kedusha [holiness], is given strength. Although it is dressed in his will to receive at birth, it only begins to awaken after thirteen years, and then one begins to enter the system of the worlds of Kedusha, to the extent that one engages in Torah and Mitzvot. The primary aim of that time is to obtain and intensify the spiritual will to receive. Hence, this degree, which comes past the thirteen years, is deemed holiness. This is considered the holy maid who serves her mistress, which is the Holy Shechina [Divinity], since the maid brings one to Lishma [for Her sake] and he is rewarded with the instilling of the Shechina. And the final degree in this division is that he will fall passionately in love with the Creator, as the poet says, ‘When I remember Him, He does not let me sleep.’”

Now we can understand what is Kedusha and what is Klipa. Kedusha comes from the words Kodesh le Hashem [dedicated to the Creator]. It means that it does not belong to us, meaning that it does not belong to our domain, but that we dedicate it to the Creator. That is, he takes it out from the domain of laypeople and admits it into the domain of Kedusha. However, it cannot be said that he admits it into the domain of Kedusha if it was not previously in his domain, and then it can be said that he has taken it out from his own domain and admitted it into the domain of Kedusha.

Therefore, a person must first be in the domain of the Klipa until the age of thirteen years, as it is written in the “Introduction to the Book of Zohar,” at which time he feels that he has his own authority because the Klipa, called “will to receive in order to receive,” is called “disparity of form,” which separates him from the Creator. This matter of vessels of reception that one acquires while being under the domain of the Klipa until the age of thirteen years lets him feel that he is the landlord, meaning that he can do whatever he wants because he does not feel any other authority but his own.

For this reason, when he is told, after thirteen years, that now is the time when you must annul your authority, that there is only the authority of the Creator, he begins to think and contemplate, “Why do I need to annul my authority and say that only the Creator is the landlord and I am His servant, and I have no possession, but as our sages said, “He who buys a servant buys his master.” That is, I need to serve the Creator so as to bring Him contentment.

At that time, man’s body, called “will to receive,” makes a strong argument: “First I must believe that there is a connection between the Creator and the creatures, and then I must see that it is worthwhile to believe that the Creator is the owner. But for this I must annul my authority and see only that there is contentment to the Creator. What is my gain in this?” However, he understands—once he believes that there is a connection between the Creator and the creatures—meaning that all He wants is to do good to His creations, and all that he needs to see in this state is how the Creator serves him. That is, the Creator is the servant and man is the owner. He is the owner and the Creator must serve man, for man is the master and the Creator is the slave.

However, when a person is told that he must know that the truth is that the Creator is the landlord and we, creatures, have no say in the world, and whether we accept His kingship over us or we are secular who do not want to assume His kingship, nothing helps us. He does what He wants, and the creatures must obey His orders against their will, as our sages said (Avot, Chapter 3), “Man’s debt is collected whether knowingly or unknowingly.”

It follows that even if one does not agree to what he is being told, the fact that he does not want to believe does not change reality—that the Creator is the landlord and does what He wants. However, a person cannot see the truth, and this is why we do not want to believe.

But when a person does not believe it he cannot take upon himself to be a servant of the Creator, meaning believe that the Creator is the master and we are His servants. Rather, this applies specifically to those with faith.

However, this is not real faith. There is a type of people who believe that the Lord is the Creator and that He has created the world with a purpose called “to do good to His creations.” They also believe that the Creator has commanded us through Moses to observe the Torah and Mitzvot, which He has given us. But we can believe all this for profit, meaning that He will pay us for exerting in the work of keeping Torah and Mitzvot. Also, they have what to rely on, as our sages said (Avot, Chapter 2, 16), “If you learned much Torah, you are given a great reward. You can trust your landlord to pay for your work, and know that the reward of the righteous is in the future [implying end of correction].”

We therefore see that there is the matter of believing in the Creator and in His law, and keeping every single Mitzva, slight or serious. However, it is all measured by profitability, which is in order to receive reward, called LoLishma [not for Her sake].” However, we must remember what our sages said, “From LoLishma one comes to Lishma.” Thus, this is already regarded as a degree of Kedusha. But when one is told, after thirteen years, that now is the time when you must annul your authority and say that there is no other authority in the world, and you are only as a slave serving the master not in order to receive reward, the body resists it. At that time begins the main work, since it is against nature.

Therefore, a person must believe above reason and tell his body: “You must know that you cannot work in bestowing contentment upon the Creator without any reward, since you were born with a nature of will to receive, and that nature is necessary, for only this is the whole creation, as it is known that only the will to receive, called “craving and desire to receive pleasure” is called “existence from absence.”

It therefore follows that we are called “creatures” precisely pertaining to the will to receive, which we can call “creation.” That desire is found in all the degrees and worlds of Kedusha. However, in Kedusha, that will to receive is corrected with a correction of intention to bestow. It follows that the basis is the will to receive, and the difference between Kedusha and Tuma’a and between life and death is only in the intention.

This means that if the reception is in order to bestow, it is called Kedusha, since it is equivalence of form. Equivalence of form is called Dvekut, as our sages said about the verse, “And to cleave unto Him.” They interpreted, “cleave unto His attributes: as He is merciful, so you are merciful,” and for this reason he is adhered to the life of lives. It follows that life extends to him from above.

But if he cannot place the intention to bestow on the act, then he is in disparity of form from the Creator, since He is the giver, and the creatures want to receive. For this reason, they are separated from the life of lives, and naturally have only death. This is called Klipa, although it comes in the basis of creation. Otherwise, if there is no will to receive there, there is no one to speak of. And yet, if there is no correction of bestowal over it, it is called Klipa, Sitra Achra, “the angel of death,” etc.

According to the order of correction, we see that first there must be a desire and craving to receive the pleasures, and then we say that we must know that we must not receive with the intention of self-love. And although there is a great desire to receive the pleasure, we must still overcome the lust and work with ourselves in such a way that we want to receive the pleasure provided we can aim that the reception we will be receiving now is only because the Creator wants me to receive the pleasure, and this is why I am receiving, since I want to please the Creator.

He has already cancelled his own authority, meaning he does not want to receive anything inside the Kli called “self-love.” But since the Creator wants him to receive, he says, “Now I want to receive delight and pleasure because the Creator wants it, and I want to satisfy the Creator’s will.” Therefore, now he receives the delight and pleasure.

But in order for man to achieve this degree, regarded as “His only desire is to bestow contentment upon the Creator,” here begins the real work, since there are two discernments to make in matters of work: 1) The act. It is difficult for us to relinquish pleasures, regardless of the kind of pleasure. Take, for example, the pleasure of rest. When a person must go to work in order to receive a salary, he goes to work in construction or in a factory, so it is certainly difficult to relinquish the pleasure of rest. But since he will suffer more if he has nothing to eat, he relinquishes rest and takes upon himself labor, since by this he will achieve a greater pleasure.

In what is it great? He gains two things here: not suffering from not having anything to eat, or the suffering of shame when he has nothing to wear. Also, he will have the pleasure of eating and the joy of having nice clothes. This is not so when he relinquishes the pleasure of rest but does not suffer at not having rest, although we can say that when he relinquishes rest he feels suffering of sleep, besides missing the pleasure of sleep. Also, when he works, we can say that in addition to relinquishing the pleasure of rest, he also has the suffering of movement. It is especially so when one is doing physical work—he suffers during the work, as well.

However, this suffering is no like the suffering that one feels when he is hungry, or when he must go be with people in a place of celebration, such as a briss [circumcision ceremony] or a wedding, and he has nothing to wear. This makes it easier for him to give up the rest and assume the trouble of labor, since we see what everyone does—giving up rest and going to work. Thus, the suffering from not having must be harder.

The same applies when a person is told, “Give up the rest and start working in Torah and Mitzvot.” He immediately asks, as in corporeality: “What will be my reward for giving up rest? I want to see the profit.” Maimonides says about this (end of Hilchot Teshuva): “Your reward will be in this world and in the next world, and you will be saved from affliction and from every misfortune.” At that time he can believe what he is told and keep Torah and Mitzvot in practice for the Creator. That is, by keeping Torah and Mitzvot, he is aiming to what the Creator has commanded us through Moses, and return we will receive reward for our labor and toil of relinquishing many pleasures that the Torah has forbidden us. In return, we are receive reward, just as those who work in a factory or in construction, because we are paid.

The same thing applies in spirituality. That is, we work for the landlord. It is not that he is the owner of some factory. Rather, we believe that he is the owner of the entire world, and we work for Him. We are told, “Give up the job you have for a small company that pays you very little, and work for the big boss, the owner of the world.”

However, this brings up the question: Why is everyone not working for the owner of the world?” The answer is simple: they do not see the instantaneous reward. Rather, they must believe in the reward. They must believe that in the end they will be paid, and this is why not many people want it. Because normally, people work for a guaranteed reward and not for a questionable one, there is a big difference between corporeality and spirituality. However, we must know that the only difference is in that here in spirituality, the reward is not instantaneous, but we must believe. This is the only difference.

However, we see that people come and want to keep Torah and Mitzvot, although the whole time until they came they were among secular people, and they come and say that they want to repent. When they are asked about the reason that they want to change the way that they were used to, they say that they no longer find meaning in life, meaning in self-love. Because he (a person) does not have anything to receive and put into them (in his desires of self-love), since he has nothing to give them (to the desires of self-love), therefore he wants to keep Torah and Mitzvot.

He has heard that one can receive pleasure form Torah and Mitzvot, so he will have something with which to delight his will to receive. That is, he constantly see that he should nourish the will to receive with corporeal pleasures; he has no need to change his way. But if he hears that there is a matter of faith, and that there is a master who leads the world, who did not create the world for no reason, but rather for some purpose, and the goal is called “to do good to His creations,” when he hears this, if he if dissatisfied with corporeal pleasures since he cannot find the meaning of life in them, for which it is worthwhile to live and suffer in the world, since each one is suffering according to his degree, so when he hears that there is a place where there is something that illuminates something in life, then he can come out of the corporeal pleasures, although we said above that in corporeal pleasures he does not need to believe. But in spirituality, he is in doubt, and must believe that in the end, the glory will come, meaning that in the end he will receive reward. But since he is dissatisfied with corporeal pleasures he can shift to the side of Kedusha and observe Torah and Mitzvot.

However, when one is immersed in corporeal lusts and finds satisfaction in them, even if temporary and then he sees that he has no satisfaction, he is already as an infant captured by the idol-worshippers, powerless to emerge from their control.

However, even after such people take upon themselves the burden of Torah and Mitzvot, sometimes corporeal lusts awaken in them, and then the work is difficult for them. However, we must know that the fact that corporal lusts have awakened in them, meaning that they are beginning to feel flavors in them that they did not taste before, and also all those people who grew up with religious upbringing, who have been keeping Torah and Mitzvot since childhood, when they begin to work the work of bestowal there awakens in them greater taste for corporeality than when they first began to engage in work of bestowal. It is as our sages said (Sanhedrin, p 75b), “Rabbi Yitzhak said, ‘Since the day when the Temple was ruined, the taste of intercourse was taken away, and given to transgressors.’”

We should interpret “Since the day when the Temple was ruined” to mean when the Kedusha in man’s heart was ruined. “The taste of intercourse was taken away”: The term, “intercourse,” incorporates all the pleasures. “And was given to transgressors”: This is perplexing. Why do transgressors deserve to feel pleasure in corporeal things more than those who are not transgressors? It is as if they deserve the reward of feeling more pleasure than others for committing transgressions.

To understand this we need to see what is customary in the world. If a person can hire a person for a low salary, he will not pay him more. Indeed, every person strives to have workers who will work for them and do everything he asks while paying him less. It is irrelevant to say that he will pay him more than the worker asks for. It follows that when speaking of the work of the Creator, when the evil inclination comes to a person and tells him, “Work on the Mitzvot of the Torah,” the person tells it, “What will you give me?” Then the evil inclination tells him: “In return for obeying me I will give you, say two hundred grams of pleasure.” So he tells it, “For two hundred grams of pleasure I do not work to breach the Creator’s commandments.” Then the evil inclination must add another hundred gram until a person can no longer pass up such a delight and must obey the evil inclination.

It follows that to the extent that a person appreciates the sin, to that extent it is difficult for one to transgress the Mitzva. And since it is difficult to breach the Creator’s commandments, and there is a rule that for hard work you must pay well, hence, to the extent that it is difficult for him to commit the transgression, to that extent the evil inclination must give a great reward, meaning a great pleasure in return for the transgression. But when it is not so difficult to breach the Creator’s commandment, the evil inclination does not need to give him such a great reward.

It therefore follows that secular people, who do not keep Torah and Mitzvot at all, do not feel that they are committing any transgression, as our sages said (Yoma, 86b), “If a person commits a transgression and repeats it, it becomes to him as permitted.” Thus, the evil inclination does not need to give them a taste for transgression, since it is not difficult for them to transgress so as to need payment in return for breaching the Mitzvot. This is why they do not feel a great flavor in the transgression, since he always finds workers who want to work for him, so he does not need to pay them with great pleasures.

This is not so with people who do not wish to commit transgressions, who feel during the act that they are going to commit a transgression and it is difficult for them to do it. Because of it, the evil inclination must let them feel a great flavor in the transgression, or they will not listen to it and keep its orders. Hence, it must pay them with great pleasures.

By this we can interpret the words, “Since the ruin of the Temple.” That is, when there is no work of Kedusha in man’s heart, “the taste has been taken away,” meaning the general taste of pleasures, called “intercourse,” “and was given to transgressors,” meaning that as long as one feels that he is committing a transgression, he feels the flavor. But “If a person commits a transgression and repeats it, it becomes to him as permitted,” and the evil inclination no longer gives him pleasure, since he is working without any reward because he feels no heaviness in committing the transgressions.

Therefore, the orthodox have a big mistake in thinking that the secular enjoy corporeal pleasures. Because they are serving the evil inclination without any reward, since their whole vitality is their objection to religion and they do not have the pleasures that the religious think because the evil inclination does not reward for nothing.

Therefore, do not be surprised if a person sees that when he has begun the work of bestowal he has received more pleasure for corporeal lusts. It is not because he has suffered a descent. On the contrary, because now he does not want to receive in order to receive, but wants only to bestow, when the evil inclination comes to distract him from the work of bestowal it gives him a greater taste for corporeal pleasures so he will listen to it and will not be able to overcome its will to receive.

But before he has begun the work of bestowal, when he engaged in corporeal lusts, he did not have such a great desire for corporeal lusts, since he was engaged in corporeal lusts without much pleasure. But now that he has begun the work of bestowal, if he does not feel a great taste, the evil inclination will not be able to do anything because he will not listen to it. It follows that to the extent that one moves away from self-love he begins to feel greater taste (in corporeal lusts), since otherwise he will not obey it (the evil inclination) at all.

It therefore follows that one need not be alarmed if in the middle of the work he receives a passion for corporeal lusts, even if previously he did not have such lusts. But now, because he needs to constantly correct the vessels of reception, it means that the greater the pleasure, the greater is his desire. When he corrects the desire, meaning overcomes it, he scrutinizes a desire called Kli, each time, by taking it out of the Klipot and admitting it into Kedusha. For this reason, each time he is given a greater lust.

However, each time he should pray to be given strength form above to overcome this Kli, called “desire.” This is called “correction of the Kelim at the root of his soul.” These Kelim that he must correct, (their correction) begins from the Kelim, meaning from a desire to receive corporeality, and finally comes to correcting the Kelim, meaning the desires for reception of spiritual things. And he must ask the Creator to give him the force of the Masach [screen] over all of them, meaning the assistance from above, as our sages said, “He who comes to purify is aided.”

Now we shall come to clarify what we asked, 1) about what the holy Zohar explains, that he gave the birthright to Jacob although Esau was born first. It explains that Esau is a Klipa, and this is why he came out first and Jacob came out next. It is so because the order is that the Klipa precedes the fruit. We asked, “But there is a simple answer, as RASHI presents in the beginning of the portion, Beresheet [In the beginning], as it is written, “‘He has made known to His people the power of His works,’ so that should the nations say, ‘You are robbers,’ they will tell them, ‘The whole earth is the Creator’s. He has created it and given it to whom He chooses. At His will he gave it to them, and at His will He took it from them and have given it to us.’” Thus, he adds another reason here.

2) Why must the Klipa precede the fruit? With the above said, it is simple: since the Creator created the world and Creation is only a Kli. It is known that the light is not considered Creation, but rather “existence from existence.” Therefore, it cannot be said that He first had to create a correction for Creation, before He has anything to correct. That is, first He created the Kli, called “will to receive,” and then a correction called “Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment” emerged on that Kli. Afterwards the nations of the world extended to the world, which is the will to receive in order to receive, namely a Kli without correction. A Kli without correction is called Klipa.

Therefore, it cannot be any other way because it is impossible to correct something that has not been born in the world. It follows that by saying “He created it” it means that He has created the world according to the applied order, meaning that first emerges a deficiency, and then it is possible to correct the deficiency. For this reason, according to the rule of root and branch, the a receiver in order to receive must emerge first, which is the opposite of the Creator, meaning disparity of form, called “nations of the world,” as it is written in the holy Zohar, “Among the nations of the world, all the good that they do, they do it for themselves.” This is called a “Klipa that precedes the fruit,” meaning that the Klipa is considered that which is unfit for eating because the abundance enters the vessels of reception after the correction of the Tzimtzum.

But afterwards comes the correction called “in order to bestow, which is regarded as Jacob. This is called a “fruit” because now there is a correction on the will to receive, to bestow contentment upon the Creator. Now it is possible to eat fruits since there is equivalence of form here between the light and the Kli, and then the Kli is rewarded with fruits. But concerning the Sitra Achra, the holy Zohar says, “Another God is sterile and does not bear fruit.” This is why it says that Jacob is called a “covenant,” where making a covenant means that there is equivalence between them. It is as it is written, “For it is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; it is a sign forever.”

It follows that that answer which Rabbi Yitzhak gave, because it is “the power of His works,” is the same answer that He has created it according to the order that the Klipa precedes the fruit. The branch and root come out, where the Klipa must come first, which is receiving in order to receive, and then emerges the correction, which is Israel or Jacob. It follows that when it says, “He took it from them and has given it to us,” it means to correct, since such is the order.

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