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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

What Are Commandments that a Person Tramples with His Feet

Article No. 33, Tav-Shin-Mem-Vav, 1985-86

It is written in the portion, Ekev [Because]: “And it shall come to pass that because you listen … the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy that He has sworn to your fathers.” RASHI interprets “And it shall come to pass that because you listen”: “If you keep the light Mitzvot [commandments] that a person tramples with his feet. You will listen and the Lord will keep, etc., will keep His promise.”

We should understand the Creator’s stipulation: “If you keep the light Mitzvot, I will keep the promises I have given to the fathers. Otherwise I cannot keep them.” Surely, the conditions that the Creator wants are not similar to a flesh and blood king, who presents stipulations in favor of the giver. Surely, here they are in favor of the creatures, meaning that otherwise they cannot receive what he has promised. Therefore, we should understand the condition of light Mitzvot.

To understand the condition we must first understand the promise that the Creator promised the fathers. Clearly, this does not pertain to corporeality, for the promise was certainly for the Creator to give the people of Israel that they will be rewarded with the purpose of creation, called “doing good to His creations,” which is that the souls will obtain the root of their souls, regarded as the five parts of the soul, called NRNHY.

In order for the souls to obtain what has been prepared for them to receive, and in order not to feel the bread of shame while receiving the delight and pleasure, we were given the work called “work of bestowal.” This means that first, one must accustom himself in this work. In order to have room for choice, meaning to be able to choose the intention with which he observes Torah and Mitzvot, there had to be a Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment, for then there is room for choice.

However, if the pleasure were revealed then he would have to observe Torah and Mitzvot in order to receive. He would do everything to satisfy his self-love because it cannot be said that he does everything in order to bestow, since when there is disclosure of light, the pleasure is greater than all the corporeal pleasures.

In corporeality we see a rule: The smaller the pleasure—in order to relinquish the pleasure—the less work there is. Also, it cannot be said that the pleasure he receives is with the intention only to bestow if he cannot relinquish it. That is, he must be certain that if he cannot aim to bestow he will be willing to give up the pleasure. Therefore, the smaller the pleasure the easier it is to give it up.

This is why we were given the concealment on the taste of Torah and Mitzvot and were given a taste for corporeal pleasures. We must believe in the words of the holy Zohar that every delight and pleasure that exists in corporeal things is only a thin light, meaning a very faint light compared to the light of the pleasure that is dressed in Torah and Mitzvot. For this reason, there is a reality where one exercises on corporeal pleasures and afterwards he can come out of the Tzimtzum and concealment to some extent, for he can already choose and say that he is receiving this delight and pleasure only because he wants to bestow.

Afterwards, if he passes the trial and receives the small discernment he has attained in the work of the Creator, he is given a bigger degree on which to aim to bestow. Thus he goes from degree to degree until he attains all his NRNHY from the root of his soul. And the NRNHY that a person attains is the 613 ways of the Torah, which are the 613 Mitzvot in the Torah and the seven Mitzvot of our great sages, which, in Gematria, are 620 names that one can attain.

It is written in the book, A Sage’s Fruit: Letters of Baal HaSulam (Letter no. 17): “It is written in Tree of Life, ‘The worlds were created only to disclose the names of the Creator.’ Thus, you see that since the soul came down to clothe this filthy substance, it could no longer cleave to its root, to its own world, as it was in its root before it came to this world. Rather, it must increase its stature 620 times more than how it previously was in the root. This is the meaning of the entire perfection, the entire NRNHY up to Yechida, for which Yechida is called Keter, implying the number 620.”

Now we can see what is the promise that the Creator has promised to the fathers, and how it is possible to attain such wholeness. That question is asked from two sides:

1) The need for this great wholeness. We know that there is no light without a Kli [vessel], meaning no filling without a lack. This brings up the question, “How can we have this feeling that we need to obtain the NRNHY?” According to what we explained, all the corporeal pleasures that the whole world is chasing are nothing more than a tiny spark compared to the pleasure in Kedusha [sanctity], and when one is rewarded with having even a tiny illumination of Kedusha he will feel great satisfaction with it. So who will tell him that he is still deficient to the point that he must obtain the light of Yechida, or he will feel that he has not yet achieved wholeness? Who will notify this to him?

2) How can one overcome such great pleasures and say that if he cannot aim the reception of these pleasures to the Creator then he gives up the pleasures? From where will he find such strength? After all, we see that even in corporeal pleasures, of which we said that they are but a thin light, sparks that have fallen into the Klipot, it is difficult to overcome them and say that we relinquish these pleasures if we cannot aim in order to bestow. And since concerning corporeal pleasures we see that they divide into great pleasures and small ones, it is all the more so in spirituality, where there are many degrees and discernments. So the question is from where will one take such great powers to overcome?

To understand the two above questions, 1) From where will he take the need for greatness, and 2) From where will he take the strength to give up the pleasures so he can be sure that the pleasures he is taking are only in order to bestow contentment upon his Maker, we should precede with the words of our sages (Kidushin, 30): “Rabbi Shimon Ben Levi said, ‘Man’s inclination overcomes him every day and seeks to put him to death,’ as it was said, ‘The wicked watches the righteous and seeks to put him to death, and if the Creator did not help him, he would not overcome it, as it is said, ‘The Lord will not leave him in his hand.’”

We said that there are two questions here:

1) If man has been given the evil inclination, why is he unable to overcome it, but the Creator helps him? After all, choice means that a person can overcome, but here it implies that one has no choice to overcome, but only with the Creator’s help. By himself, he cannot overcome it. This brings up the question, “Why did the Creator not give man the strength to overcome it?”

2) If man cannot overcome, why does it say that the Creator helps him? This means that a person must begin to overcome and see that he cannot overcome, and then the Creator helps him. Why does the Creator not help him as soon as the evil inclination comes to him? What does it add to us that a person begins the work, since he cannot prevail anyway?

Therefore, why does the Creator have to wait until a person begins the work and then the help arrives. What is the benefit from losing time by the Creator waiting for a person to begin the work? Who gains from this loss of time? After all, the Creator should have given the help as soon as the evil inclination comes to a person, before a person begins the work. Why should He wait for a person to start the work and then the Creator will help him?

The thing is, as we said in the previous articles, that the Tzimtzum and restriction were in order to correct the world. Otherwise there would not be any possibility for man to be able to even begin the work of overcoming self-love, since by nature, the will to receive controls him, and this is the axis of Creation. What comes afterwards is only a correction, to correct the will to receive.

It turns out that the will to receive is the main thing, and the rest of the things that come later are only to correct it. It follows that the will to receive remains, but corrections are added to it. However, who is the one who undergoes all the corrections? It must be the will to receive.

It is known that even when we say that there is a degree that wants the desire to bestow, it still means that it does not use the will to receive that there is in the degree, but overcomes its desire and engages in the desire to bestow. It follows that the corrections that one should do are only on his vessels of reception, meaning to place on it the intention to bestow. And since the greater the pleasure, the more difficult it is to give it up and say that if he cannot aim to bestow he does not want to receive the pleasure, therefore two things must be corrected here:

1) Aviut [thickness], meaning will to receive, so it is not too big, namely that the lower one cannot overcome. For this reason, he must be given smaller lust. Afterwards, when seeing that he can overcome a small pleasure, he is given a greater pleasure. If we see that he can overcome this pleasure, he is given a greater pleasure, etc., but how do we arrange it?

Therefore, man was given the work in faith above reason, which man slights, from the word “flippant” [in Hebrew]. This means that a person does not respect this work and considers the time he must serve with faith as a state of lowliness. That is, he understands that this work is for women and children, but not for intelligent and acute people.

Conversely, they must understand everything they see happening in the world, so it corresponds with their view and spirit. And when they need to do something but do not see that it is to their benefit, how can they agree to do things that are fit for fools, meaning people who do not scrutinize their thoughts or actions?

For this reason, they always try to avoid such matters. If they sometimes happen to work above reason because they have no choice, since reason is far away from them, they constantly wait for when they can be freed of such states. After all, it is unbecoming of us to live in the air, when the intellect does not understand everything he does as necessary for what he wants to achieve, and he wants to achieve a degree where he is among the prominent ones in the public.

When he looks at the public, how they engage in Torah and Mitzvot without any criticism, he says about them that they can observe everything enthusiastically and be meticulous with every detail because they have no sense of criticism. This is why they can be like that, with eyes closed. That is, if they had some brains they would be like me. That is, I observe Torah and Mitzvot but I see that this work is unworthy of me. However, I do not have a choice since otherwise I will have no connection with Judaism, and therefore for me everything will be forced and involuntary.

For this reason, as long as I forget that I am going above reason I can do everything like the rest of the people. But when I get the thoughts about the basis on which my Judaism is built, and I have to reply to my body that it is only as in, “The earth hangs on nothing,” I cannot overcome and say that the foundation of Judaism is based precisely on faith above reason. And specifically now I can keep the commandment of faith, since now I see that I have no basis. But usually, a person falls and lies under the weight of these questions.

Indeed, this is the question of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, who said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?” For this reason a person says that the path of faith that the Creator has given us to work on, this way will never succeed. And if the Creator had only listened to me He would have let us work on the basis of knowledge, and not on faith. Certainly many people would join in keeping Torah and Mitzvot. But in this way, of faith, there are many people who even though they began this work, they escaped from the campaign.

Baal HaSulam said that the Creator chose that we should walk in the path of faith not because man is of inferior degree, so he cannot be guided except by the path of faith. Rather, this is the most successful way. This is why the Creator has chosen this way, so they will take upon themselves the order of their work, by which they will be able to achieve the goal called “doing good to His creations,” so the creatures will receive delight and pleasure and will also be in complete Dvekut, meaning in equivalence with the Creator. And although the creatures do not understand it, this is the truth.

It therefore follows that although faith is a slight and lowly matter, and we interpreted that slight comes from flippancy, meaning that it is not appreciated, it is still the way by which we can succeed in achieving the goal.

By this we will understand what RASHI interpreted, “If you observe the light Mitzvot [commandments] that a person tramples with his feet, You will listen; about this.” That is, he referred to faith, which a person tramples with his heels. You will listen about this and then you will have the Kelim [vessels/tools] to reach the goal.

This is what RASHI interpreted: “And keep; will keep his promise.” This means that the condition He has set is not for the sake of the Creator, as is the way of flesh and blood, who set conditions in favor of the giver. But with the Creator, the condition to observe the light Mitzvot aim for man’s sake, for precisely by this one can achieve wholeness and be rewarded with what has been prepared for him by the thought of creation.

Now we can explain what we asked:

1) Why does the Creator not help a person when the evil inclination overcomes him, but waits until a person begins the work to overcome, and then helps him, as our sages said, “if the Creator does not help him”? It is akin to a person carrying a heavy load that he does not have the strength to carry, so he asks for help and people come and help him. But when he does not ask for help, no one comes to help him. This can be said between man and man. But why should the Creator wait for a person to begin the work and cry out to the Creator to help him when the Creator knows that he cannot overcome the evil inclination by himself, since the Creator did not give him the strength for it?

2) What is the reason that the Creator did not give him the strength to overcome by himself, but seemingly told him, “I have given you the choice to overcome the evil inclination”? We should say that the Creator did give him the strength to overcome the evil, and at the same time we say that without the Creator’s help a person cannot overcome it. It follows that these two matters contradict one another.

We will understand these two questions with the two questions we asked:

1) When a person is rewarded with the smallest degree in spirituality, he feels in it greater pleasure than all the corporeal pleasures, as in the words of the ARI, that all the great pleasures we find in corporeal pleasures—which we see that the whole world is chasing these pleasures and receive through them satisfaction in their lives—all the pleasure in them extends from Kedusha, where through the breaking of the vessels and the sin of Adam HaRishon with the tree of knowledge, holy sparks fell into the Klipot [shells/peels]. The holy Zohar calls this light, “thin light,” which descended in order to sustain the Klipot. All the corporeal pleasures extend from this, and the smallest degree in spirituality, which is Kedusha, where the essence of the light is found, he is certain to derive satisfaction from this and will have no need for Gadlut [greatness/adulthood]. Thus, who will tell him that he needs Gadlut?

2) From where will he take such great powers that he will be able to receive the great pleasures in order to bestow, or else he will be willing to relinquish them?

It follows that since there is no light without a Kli, meaning no filling without a deficiency, for this reason a person must begin the work. When he wants to overcome the evil inclination but cannot, he becomes deficient. When he sees that he cannot overcome he asks the Creator for help. At that time the Creator can give the filling because he already has a Kli to receive the filling.

The reason that the Creator did not give him the strength to overcome by himself is that when a person has some filling, he settles for what he has. Then a person has no need to be rewarded with NRNHY of the soul by the Creator helping him, as it is written in the holy Zohar, “He who comes to purify is aided. And he asks, ‘With what is he aided?’ He replies, ‘With a holy soul.’ When he is rewarded he is given Nefesh. When he is rewarded more he is given Ruach.”

It follows that receiving help from above causes him to need to extend his NRNHY. That is, each time he wants to overcome his evil but cannot, the Creator helps him with a holy soul. But if the person could overcome by himself, from where would he have a need to ask the Creator to give him a higher degree than the one he has?

But now that he is asking the Creator to help him, he is not asking for degrees. Rather, he is simply asking the Creator not to be under the control of the evil. It turns out that the reason why a person wants the Creator to help him have the strength to aim in order to bestow and not be in the domain of the Sitra Achra [other side], but that he wants to be in the domain of Kedusha [holiness/sanctity], meaning that his only wish will be to bestow upon the Creator, and this is all he needs, and not any high degrees, but simply to serve the Creator and not himself, this is the force he asks of the Creator. When the Creator helps him, the holy Zohar says it with the help of a holy soul. Each help is through a soul that the Creator gives him. Therefore, by this he goes from degree to degree until he attains the completion of the soul, called NRNHY.

Now we understand what our sages said, “Man’s inclination overcomes him every day.” This brings up the question, “Why does he need to overcome the evil inclination every day if he has already received help from the Creator and has defeated it? Why does it need to come to a person once again? And for what purpose does it come each day?”

With the above we understand that since through the help he receives from the Creator, he receives a soul, then each overcoming, when a person wants to overcome and be purer, he thereby receives a soul. This is why these overcomings cause man to be able to attain the NRNHY of his soul.

And the second question, “From where will he take strength to overcome?” It is not by his own strength. Rather, this is the help that the Creator gives so he can overcome it. It follows that through one thing there is correction of two things.

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