You are here: Kabbalah Library Home / Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The Rabash) / Writings of Rabash / Shlavey HaSulam (Rungs of the Ladder) / 1984 / Can Something Negative Come Down from Above
Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

Can Something Negative Come Down from Above

Article No. 15, Tav-Shin-Mem-Dalet, 1984

An explanation on what was said in article no. 14 about the words in The Zohar, Pinhas (item 78) “If Israel were rewarded, it would come down like a lion of fire to eat the offerings. If they were not rewarded it would come down there like a dog of fire.” It was asked about it, “How can something negative come down from above?” We understand that what comes from above is to do good. When something not positive comes, what correction comes out of it, that we can say that it came from above like a dog of fire? After all this is not positive.

We should understand this with an allegory. A person who had a sick son went to the doctor, who gave him a medicine. However, this didn’t help his son. Friends advised him that since there is a great professor here, although he charges a lot of money it is worthwhile seeing him because he is a great expert. When they came to him, he examined the sick child and said that his son was dangerously ill, and named the child’s illness.

The man paid him the price they agreed on in advance, and when he returned to his home he told his friends, “You advised me to go see this great expert and that it’s worthwhile to pay him a lot of money. But in the end, what did the great expert do? He said that my son has a worse illness than the doctor who is not an expert told me. Was it worthwhile for me to pay so much money, so he would tell me that my son has such a terrible illness? After all, why do I go to a doctor? To heal the patient, not to say that my son has a terrible disease.

The friends told him that according to the great expert’s diagnosis of his precise illness, now we know how to cure him. Curing the illness does not require a great doctor because we already know which medicine to prescribe to every illness. The important thing is to know what is the real illness. It turns out that the large sum you pay a great expert compared to a doctor who is not an expert is to determine precisely what is the illness.

It turns out that determining the flaw, which is considered negative, is nonetheless positive. That is, knowing the illness is actually a correction because now he knows what to correct. It turns out that knowing the illness is part of the healing of the illness, since it is impossible to heal the illness if he is not known the cause of the illness. Therefore, when a dog of fire comes down, the image of the dog indicates that the lower ones are under the rule of self-love, which Zohar calls Hav!, Hav! [bark, but also “give”]like a dog, it is considered positive, for now we know what to correct, that all you need is to correct the vessels of reception.

It turns out that the image of the dog of fire that comes down from above comes for the purpose of correction, not for the purpose of corruption. Therefore, this, too, is regarded as positive and not as negative. Everything that comes from above, though it seems like a flaw to the lower one, when the lower ones examination they see that it is all for their sake, so they will know what they must correct in themselves.

An explanation to article no. 14 (1984) concerning the corporeal will to receive, which is only half a degree of the will to receive. When he receives the spiritual will to receive, he is complemented with the complete will to receive. It therefore follows that when he has a corporeal will to receive, he is not as bad, so why does he need to receive the spiritual will to receive, to be worse? Therefore, I would say that it is better to stay in the corporeal will to receive. Why should I exert to obtain the spiritual will to receive and become worse? And why should one enter a place of danger that he may not be able to correct? Therefore, it is certainly better to stay with the corporeal will to receive meaning that all of his passions will be only for corporeal things and not desire spirituality at all.

It is written inn the “Introduction to the Book of Zohar” (item 29): “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, for one cannot correct that which is not in him.”

Thus, we have no choice but to do things that will bring us the attainment of the spiritual will to receive. But that, too, is not easy. A person may obtain the spiritual will to receive because it depends on the measure of faith. That is, a person must first believe that there is spirituality, and it is more important than any corporeal pleasure, to the extent that it is worth relinquishing corporeal pleasures in order to obtain spiritual pleasures. Hence, this is a lot of work, and not everyone can obtain it.

And yet, this is still regarded as bad, meaning that he has obtained a corrupt will to receive. This is the meaning of from Lo Lishma [not for Her sake] one comes to Lishma [for Her sake]. That is, first one must achieve the degree of Lo Lishma, and then it is possible to correct it to Lishma, for it is impossible to intend where there is no action. Once there is an act, it is possible to try to make the act follow the right path called “for the Creator.”

According to the above, it turns out that we have four general discernments in man’s work, which he needs in order to achieve the completeness for which he was created. 1) Receive in order to receive 2) bestow in order to receive; 3) bestow in order to bestow; 4) receive in order to bestow.

The first discernment, receiving in order to receive, is the first degree, and the creatures were born with this discernment. That is, they understand nothing more than self-love. They have no interest in doing anything good to anyone, and are totally immersed—according to the nature with which they were born—in the will to receive only for themselves. The whole world is in this state, and there is no difference from one to another.

The second discernment is bestowing in order to receive. This is a degree that transcends the majority of the people, who are used to doing things only in order to receive, while that person performs an act of bestowal. However, he must explain why he wants to be different from the rest of the world, meaning to do things contrary to the nature with which he was born. At that time he tells his body: “Know, that by performing an act of bestowal, you will receive more pleasure.” He lets his body understand that it is worthwhile to believe that it will pay off. If the body believes it, it lets him work to the extent that it believes that it will pay off to cancel acts of self-reception and perform acts of bestowal. This is called Lo Lishma, of which our sages said, “From Lo Lishma we come to Lishma.”

This is a springboard for moving from state to state—from a state of Lo Lishma to a state of Lishma, since with respect to the act they are the same. That is, you cannot discern and say that there is something to add to an act Lishma. Therefore, because in terms of the act they are the same, there is no work here as far as action. Rather, their entire work is in the intention. This means that they need only to think if the act they are performing is truly because of the commandment of the Creator, for the Creator commanded us to do Mitzvot [commandments] and we want to keep his Mitzvot because it is a great reward for us to serve Him, and He has also let us know how we can serve Him.

At that time comes the work of scrutiny if this is really so—that his sole intention in Torah and MItzvot is to bestow or he has other considerations, meaning considerations of self-love, and this is why he observes Torah and Mitzvot.

When he sees that he is still far from performing all his actions for the Creator, he needs a true scrutiny. There are many people who do not have that scrutiny of the truth, who think that they are really working for the Creator. Although they are not one hundred percent Lishma, they usually feel that this is Lishma, though there is still more to add concerning Lishma. However, the truth is that they do not have the true perception, either because of their nature or because they did not have a good teacher to show them way how not to deceive themselves.

Therefore, they cannot achieve Lishma because Lishma is called “truth,” and Lo Lishma is called “falsehood.” However, there should be a medium between truth and falsehood, so as to be a springboard from falsehood to the truth. The medium between truth and falsehood is a lie in truth. In other words, there is a lie but it is not really a lie because he is thinking of a lie that is true. That is, he is going by the path of falsehood, but thinks it is the truth. It turns out that it is not really a lie. However, if he knows that he is going in falsehood then he is going walking on the path of truth because he knows that it is actually a lie. At that time he has a springboard, for only then he can really come into the actual truth, meaning from truth of falsehood into truth of truth.

As long as one does not know that he is going by the path of falsehood, why should he change his way and go by another way, if he does not have the understanding that he is in falsehood? Only if he comes to know that he really is in falsehood he will be able to change his way and go by the path of truth.

It therefore turns out that if a person already has the path of truth he is going on the path of Lishma, though he is still half way through. For example, a person who wants to go to Jerusalem gets in a car and drives according to sign that says, “Jerusalem.” However, even when has travelled eighty or ninety percent of the way to Jerusalem, he is still not in Jerusalem. Only when he actually comes to Jerusalem can you say that he is in Jerusalem.

It is likewise in spirituality. If we say that Jerusalem is called “truth,” meaning Lishma, then before a person enters Lishma, which is the truth, we have to say that he is still in falsehood, meaning in Lo Lishma, which is called “falsehood.” Even when he has gone almost all the way and he is standing by the gate, called “truth,” which is Lishma, he is still outside. It turns out that a person cannot know if he has achieved Lishma before he is rewarded with entering Lishma.

But when can one know if he has already entered the degree of Lishma? What is the sign by which to know that now he is in the degree of truth?

We find the answer to this in the “Introduction to Talmud Eser Sefirot” (item 56): “By this you will understand what our sages said, ‘How is repentance? Until He who knows all mysteries will testify that he will not turn back to folly.’” This seems perplexing, for who can go up to Heaven and hear the Creator’s testimony? Also, before whom should the Creator testify? Is it not enough that the Creator Himself knows that the person has repented wholeheartedly and will not sin again? From what is explained, the matter is very simple. Indeed, one is not completely certain that he will not sin again before he has been rewarded with the above clarified guidance of reward and punishment, meaning the revelation of the face. That revelation of the face on the part of the Creator is called “testimony.” This is why he was given a clear sign, meaning “until He who knows all mysteries will testify to him.”

It turns out that when a person has achieved bestowal he is rewarded with the revelation of the face of the Creator. This is called He who knows all mysteries testifies about him that he has achieved Lishma. This is called the “third discernment,” bestowing in order to bestow, regarded as having achieved Lishma, which means that he has achieved the degree of truth. This came to him through the springboard which is to come from Lo Lishma to Lishma, but certainly with all the conditions that we have to abide by so as not to remain in Lo Lishma.

And after he has completed the degree of bestowing in order to bestow comes the fourth discernment, which is receiving in order to bestow. This is the degree of wholeness. This means that he has achieved a degree where he says, “I want to receive the light and pleasure because I know that I want to keep the purpose of creation, for the Creator created creation because He desires to do good to His creations.” Therefore, he wants to receive the delight and pleasure from the Creator, as this is His will.

For the reason of self-love, he has no desire or craving for this, since he has already achieved the degree of equivalence of form called “bestowing in order to bestow.” Therefore, now he wants to obey the Creator's will, which is His desire to do good to His creations.

We should know that there is the matter of the purpose of creation and the matter of correction of creation. The purpose of creation is to do good to His creations, meaning that the creatures will receive delight and pleasure. It turns out that the more they receive pleasure, the more the Creator enjoys. Therefore, one who is on a degree of completeness wants to always receive much delight and pleasure. As was explained, this is the purpose of creation—to do good to his creations.

But one who has achieved the degree of bestowing in order to bestow, which is Dvekut [adhesion] and equivalence of form, it is still only the correction of creation. This means that creation must come to a state where they received delight and pleasure, and after receiving all the pleasures they will still remain in bestowal. This is called “receiving in order to bestow.”

Back to top
Site location tree