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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

Concerning Joy

Article No. 19, Tav-Shin-Mem-Vav, 1985-86

The Mishnah says (Taanit, 26), “From the beginning of Av we diminish joy. From the beginning of Adar we increase joy. If he is deliberating with idol-worshippers, let him judge it on Adar.” We should understand the meaning of increasing joy and diminishing joy. After all, joy is a result of some reason that caused him joy, and we can only diminish or increase the reasons. Therefore, we should know which reason will bring us joy.

Our sages, who told us to increase joy, referred to joy of Kedusha [holiness]. Accordingly, we should consider to which reason they told us to refer so it would bring us joy of Kedusha. We should also understand what they said, “If he is deliberating with idol-worshippers, let him judge it on Adar.” After all, we are in the land of Israel, and there are several towns where there is not even one gentile. And even if we find a gentile in town, what should be the deliberation with him?

It seems that judging the idol-worshippers on Adar is a perpetual custom and not an incidental matter. That is, if there is a rare incident where Israel is deliberating with a gentile he will go and judge him on the month of Adar. Therefore, we need to understand to which idol-worshippers they are referring that they are deliberating with.

We see that there is an order of two manners in our prayers: 1) an order of songs and praises to the Creator, 2) an order of prayers and litanies. We also see that the two are opposite. This is so because naturally, when someone asks one’s friend to give him something, the extent of the request depends on the extent of his need for it. If the thing he is asking his friend for is something that touches his heart and necessary, to the extent of the necessity for the matter he tries to do everything he can to obtain what he is seeking.

Accordingly, when a person prays to the Creator to grant his wish, he should see that his prayer is from the bottom of the heart, meaning to feel his deficiency. To the extent of his feeling his prayer can be more sincere. Thus, his prayer will not be as lip-service but rather from the bottom of the heart.

To feel his deficiency, he must see the truth, to see that he has a great lack and he is an empty Kli [vessel] as far as matters of Kedusha are concerned. When he feels that he is the worst person in the world, he can say that his prayer is honest because he feels that his deficiency is the greatest in the world and there is no one who is like him.

Opposite that is the second discernment in the order of our prayer, meaning psalms, songs, and praises. We see that usually, the amount of gratitude that one gives to another is measured by the benefit he has received from his friend. For example, when someone helps another obtain something small that he needed, the gratitude is small, as well.

But we see that if someone gives someone a job when jobs are hard to find, he has been jobless for months and is indebted to the grocery store, and the store owner has already told him he must stop selling groceries, he has given up on searching for loans to provide for his necessities, and he suddenly meets a person whom he wanted to ask for a loan, but that person offers him a job with good conditions and tells him, “Why look for loans? I’ll give you a job. I heard that you are trustworthy, so although I have many workers, I don’t have anyone I can trust. I will pay you well so you can pay your debts quickly, so why should you need a loan from me?”

We can picture the gratitude he would give to this person. He does not need to thank him verbally because his whole body thanks him, as it is written, “All my bones shall say.” If we picture a person who was sentenced to life imprisonment, and another person came and liberated him, what gratitude would all his organs give to his savior?

It follows that if one wishes to give high praise to the Creator so it becomes as “All my bones shall say, ‘Lord, who is like You, Who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him,” then one should picture oneself as the happiest person in the world, if he wishes to give great praise to the Creator. Otherwise, if he feels that something is still missing, that he wants the Creator to help him, then the gratitude he gives to the Creator will not be as “All my bones shall say.”

Therefore, we see two complete opposites in the order of our prayer, which brings up the question, “What can one do when he sees that they are so remote from one another? Normally, we see the oppositeness in many things. One example is the order of lights that illuminate in the Kelim [vessels]. It is known that there is an inverse relation between Kelim and lights. In the Kelim the big and fine Kelim appear first. That is, Keter appears first and the Sefira [sin. of Sefirot] Malchut appears last. In the lights it is the opposite: the small ones appear first: first Malchut and finally Keter. It is known that when we speak from the perspective of the Kelim we say that the order is KHBZON, and when we speak from the perspective of the lights we say that the order is NRNHY.

Another example is that Baal HaSulam said that we see oppositeness in the order of man’s work. On the one hand, our sages said (Avot, Chapter 4), “Be very, very humble.” On the other hand they said, “And his heart was high in the ways of the Lord.” That is, if he really humbles himself before each and every one he will not be able to overcome those who mock his walking in the path of the Creator, since he humbles himself before everyone. Instead, at that time he should say, “And his heart was high in the ways of the Lord.” That is, he should not be impressed by anyone who tells him, “This work that you took upon yourself fits skillful and brave people, who are accustomed to overcoming obstacles and received good upbringing. That is, since they were little they have been accustomed to giving the work of the Creator the prime importance. But you are not like that. You should settle for being an important landlord, meaning see that your children learn Torah and the work of the Creator, and then you will be an important landlord and your daughters will marry disciples of Torah. It is inappropriate for you, middle aged man, to begin to walk in the path of the work that leads to Torah Lishma [for Her sake], and completely not for self-benefit. Get off this path and do not pine for matters beyond your level.”

At that time he has no choice but not to be impressed with them and keep the words of our sages, “Let him not be ashamed before the scoffers.” It follows that then he must go by the way of pride. But on the other hand, he must keep “Be very, very humble.” However, according to the rule, “There are no two opposites in one carrier,” how can both be in one person? There are many other examples of two opposites in the work of the Creator, but there can be two opposites in one carrier in two times, meaning one at a time.

The root of the matter is as it is written in the “Introduction to the Book of Zohar” (items 10-11), “How is it possible that the chariot of impurity and Klipot [shells/peels] would emerge from His holiness, since it is at the other end of His holiness?”

He says there: “This will to receive, which is the very essence of the souls by creation, is Tuma’a [impurity] and Klipot. This is so because the disparity of form in them would separate them from Him. And in order to mend that separation, which lies on the Kli [vessel] of the souls, He has created all the worlds and separated them into two systems, which are the four worlds ABYA of Kedusha, and opposite them the four worlds ABYA of Tuma’a. He imprinted the desire to bestow in the system of the ABYA of Kedusha, removed the will to receive for themselves from them, and placed it in the system of ABYA of Tuma’a.”

He also says there: “How will those two things, which are opposite in form from one another, be corrected? For this reason, the reality of this corporeal world was created, meaning a place where there is a body and a soul, and a time of corruption and a time of correction. For the body, which is the will to receive for itself, extends from its root in the Thought of Creation, through the system of the worlds of Tuma’a, and remains under the authority of that system for the first thirteen years. This is the time of corruption. Afterwards begins the time of correction, which is after thirteen years. By engaging in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds], when he engages in order to bestow contentment upon his Maker, he begins to purify the will to receive for himself imprinted in him, and slowly turns it to be in order to bestow.”

It turns out that as soon as the creature is created, he consists of two opposites: 1) vessels of reception, 2) vessels of bestowal. There is no greater oppositeness than this. These two opposites come in one carrier, but one at a time, and it seems as though there is a middle line that contains both of them: 1) the will to receive, 2) the will to bestow.

The middle line contains both of them when the will to receive is included in the will to bestow, called “receiving in order to bestow.” It follows that the two forces are included in this middle line, meaning reception and bestowal together.

Accordingly, the answer to our question, “How can there be in man’s work complete wholeness and deficiency in utter lowliness in the same carrier?” is that this can be in two times. That is, one needs to divide the order of one’s work into two ways: 1) One way will be on the path of “right,” called “wholeness.” This is so because when one begins to turn, one should first turn to the right, called “wholeness,” and then to the left. It is so because man can walk specifically on two legs, whereas on one leg you cannot speak of walking.

“Right” means wholeness because when one comes to take upon oneself the work of the Creator, the order is that one should assume the burden of the kingdom of heaven “as an ox to the burden and as a donkey to the load.” The “ox” refers to the mind, called “ox,” form the verse, “Let the ox know its owner,” referring to faith above reason.

A “donkey” refers to the heart, called “donkey,” as in “and a donkey, its master’s crib,” referring to self-love. Therefore, when saying, “to work in order to bestow contentment upon one’s maker,” he regards it as a load, and he always wants to throw off his shoulders. He is always searching what he can eat from this work, meaning what pleasure his will to receive might derive.

When he takes upon himself this work he says, “I should see for myself, meaning always check if I am not deceiving myself that I am on the right path, that it is the proper one, meaning keeping Torah and Mitzvot because of the commandment of the Creator and not for any other reasons. However, I am keeping the words of our sages, who said, ‘One should always engage in Torah and Mitzvot, even if Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], since from LoLishma he will come to Lishma [for Her sake].’ Thus, why should I think whether I am keeping Torah and Mitzvot with all the intentions so that everything will be for the Creator?

“However, I have a great privilege that the Creator has given me a thought and desire to keep something in Torah and Mitzvot. According to the rule, with something important we do not regard the quantity but the quality. Rather, even if it is a small amount, if the quality is what matters, even something small of high quality is very important. For this reason, since the Creator has commanded us through Moses to keep Torah and Mitzvot, then I do not care how much I can keep it. Rather, even if I have the worst and foulest intentions, in the act I do observe as much as my body permits.

And although I am incapable of overcoming the desires of the body, I am still glad that at least I have the strength to keep the commandments of the Creator in some way because I believe that everything comes by Providence. That is, the Creator has given me the desire and strength to observe Torah and Mitzvot, and I thank Him for this because I see that not everyone have been given this privilege of observing the Mitzvot of the Creator. He should say that he cannot even value the greatness and importance of keeping the Creator’s commandment even without any intention.

We can compare it to a child who does not want to eat, who derives no pleasure from eating, so the parents force the child to eat whether he wants to or not. And although the child has no pleasure, in the end, even by coercion, it helps the child, as well, so he can live and grow. However, it would certainly be better if the child wanted to eat by himself, meaning if he enjoyed the food. But even without pleasure and completely by coercion it still benefits the child.

We should say likewise in serving the Creator. Even if we keep Torah and Mitzvot by coercion, meaning we force ourselves to keep and our bodies resist anything that is of Kedusha [holiness], still, the act he performs does its thing, and by this he can come to a state where he has a desire to observe. At that time, all the things he did are not in vain. Rather, everything he did enters Kedusha.

We can interpret this with what our sages said about the verse, “He will sacrifice it before the Lord according to his will” (Arachin, 21). “Our sages said, ‘Will sacrifice it’ indicates that he is forced. But it is written, ‘according to his will.’ How is this so? He is forced until he says, ‘I want.’”

This means that the words “before the Lord, according to his will” bewildered our sages. It means that everything he does with regard to bringing himself close to the Creator is not regarded as an act if he does not want to work for the Creator, which is called “according to the Lord’s will.” Instead, that person is still unable to do things to benefit the Creator, which means that his deeds are worthless, as though he has not done anything because they are still not according to the Creator’s will.

However, it is written, “He will sacrifice it.” This means that he is forced, meaning even by coercion. That is, when he does not want to work for the Creator it is still called “sacrifice.” But this is perplexing, since he does not want to sacrifice the offering to the Creator, so the beginning of the verse contradicts its end.

They said about this: “He is forced until he says, ‘I want.’” That is, this follows the rule that our sages said, “One should always engage in Torah and Mitzvot even LoLishma, since from LoLishma he comes to Lishma(Pesachim 50b). This means that by subjugating himself each time although the body does not agree to work for the Creator because where he does not see self-gratification he cannot do a thing.

Still, he does not notice the body’s complaints and says to his body: “Know that even by force, you are doing the Creator’s commandments. It will not help you to resist the work. It is said that practical Mitzvot have the power to bring one to Lishma.” This is the meaning of “He is forced,” meaning that he forces himself and does not listen to any logic and reason that the body tries to explain to him, but tells it, “In the end he will achieve Lishma.” This is the meaning of “until he says, ‘I want.’” That is, from LoLishma we come to Lishma, which is called “I want.”

Therefore, each time he remembers while performing some act of Kedusha, great joy immediately awakens in him that he was rewarded with having some contact with matters that the Creator commanded him to do. Although he knows that everything he does is LoLishma, he is still profoundly happy since our sages have promised us that from LoLishma we come to Lishma.

He is even happier because our sages said, “He who repents from love, sins become for him as merits, and he who repents from fear, sins become for him as mistakes.” It follows that when he is rewarded with working Lishma, all the Mitzvot he had performed LoLishma will enter Kedusha and will be as important as though he had performed them Lishma.

Thus, even while he is still working LoLishma, it is as important to him as though he is working Lishma. That is, he thinks that everything he does is certainly more important than sins and are bound to be corrected into being good, and he regards everything he does, even the smallest thing, as a great Mitzva [commandment]. It is as our sages said (Avot, Chapter 2), “Be careful with a lesser commandment as with a greater one, for you do not know the reward for the commandments.”

For this reason, when he calculates the works he is doing, whose Mitzvot he is observing, and when he says some words of Torah, he tells himself, “Whose Torah am I learning?” And when he blesses for pleasure, such as before drinking or before eating bread, he thinks, “To whom am I speaking now?”

It turns out that then he is in utter wholeness, and that wholeness begets joy because at that time he is adhered to the Creator, just as he assumes that he is speaking to the Creator, who is good and does good. Naturally, he receives joy from the root, for the root of all creations is the Creator, who is called “the good who does good.”

Our sages said, “Good to him and does good to others.” This means that at that time he can believe that the Creator is doing good to him and to everyone. This means that then he can believe above reason that this is really so, even though he concludes with his external intellect that he does not see the good in completeness.

But now, through the calculations he does with his work in Torah and Mitzvot, when he is somewhat adhered to some extent to the Creator, he has the power to believe above reason that this is really so. Naturally, “truth will show its way.” The result of his thinking that now he is speaking to the Creator is a great awakening of joy, as it is written, “Majesty and splendor before Him, strength and joy are in His place.”

We should understand in relation to whom it was said that there is joy in His place. Certainly, all the names we mention are from the perspective of the creatures, meaning according to the perception of the creatures. However, in the Creator Himself, our sages said, “There is no thought or perception in Him at all.” Rather, everything is said only from the perspective of the creatures.

Therefore, this means that those who feel that they are standing before Him feel majesty and splendor, as well as those who think that they are standing in His place, since “place” means “equivalence of form.”

But there is another meaning, that interest is a mirror, as I heard from Baal HaSulam, that in the place one thinks, there one is. Thus, if a person thinks that he is standing and speaking with the King, then he is in the place where the King is present, and then he feels as it is written, “strength and joy are in His place.”

By this we can understand what we asked about what our sages said, “From the beginning of Adar we increase joy.” We asked, “Why increase joy?” That is, joy is a result of some reason, so what is the reason that could evoke the reason to bring us joy?

According to the above, it pertains to increasing advancement on the right line, called “wholeness.” When a person is in a state of wholeness it is called “equivalence.” That is, the whole, which is the man, is now adhered to the Whole, as it is written “The blessed adhere to the blessed, and the cursed does not adhere to the blessed.” Therefore, if one is in a state of criticism, called “left line,” he is in a state of “cursed,” and then he is separated from the Whole. For this reason at that time he can feel only darkness and not light, for only light brings joy.

However, we should understand why specifically on the month of Adar we should increase joy, and why can’t we be on the way of the right all year long? We should reply to this that since the miracle of Purim was on the month of Adar, when the light of the end of correction illuminated, as it is written in The Gate of Intentions (The Study of the Ten Sefirot, Part 16, p 1813, item 220), “Therefore, in the future [end of correction], all the holy days will be cancelled but the scroll of Ester [Purim].” The reason is that there has never been such a great miracle, not on any Shabbat or on any good day.

For this reason, the preparation for such a great light should be joy, which is the preparation to greet an esteemed guest, which is the light of the end of correction. Hence, by preparing through increasing joy, we extend the light called “the days of feast and merriment.”

This follows the rule that is written in the holy Zohar: “The act below awakens the act above.” That is, according to the work of the lower ones, the work above awakens. This means that when the lower ones engage in joy, in the same manner they extend light of joy downward, as it is written (Esther, 9:21), “And Mordecai wrote, to oblige them on those days when the Jews rid themselves of their enemies, and it was a month which was turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday, that they should make them days of feasting and rejoicing,” by which they will extend the light of the end of correction that illuminated then.

We should discern concerning the extension of the joy. We said that the reason for this is that at that time a person thanks the Creator for bringing him closer. It follows that when he gives thanks, he engages in bestowal because he thanks and praises the Creator for giving him a thought and desire to have some contact with spirituality.

But now he does not want the Creator to give him anything. Therefore, he is not asking anything from the Creator, and now his only aim is to give thanks to the Creator. It follows that now he has Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator because he is engaging in bestowal. Thus, by this, joy and wholeness are drawn to him from the Dvekut because now he is adhered to the Whole one. This is the meaning of increasing joy by this.

This is not so when he engages in litany, for a prayer that is from the bottom of the heart is full of deficiencies, since to the extent of the sensation of lack so is his prayer deeper. It follows that then he cannot be happy. Thus, the reason for the gladness is when he engages in praise and gratitude and not when he engages in examining deficiencies.

According to the above we can interpret what our sages said, “If he is deliberating with idol-worshippers, let him judge it on Adar.” This means that there is deliberation with a foreigner as though it is customary that Israel deliberate with foreigners. Does this belong to people who engage in Torah and work, and who do not engage in any work or trade?

In the work, we should interpret that this refers to the idol-worshippers that there are in all of Israel, meaning in one body. Those people who want to walk in the path of the Creator, their bodies resist them. It is as our sages said about the verse, “There shall be no foreign God in you.” They said, “What foreign God is there in man’s body? It is the evil inclination.” This is called “idol-worshippers,” since it resists being Israel. This is regarded as deliberating. And then, on the month of Adar, when they were rewarded with the miracle and there was joy and merriment to the Jews because they feared the Jews, and it was turned into the opposite—that the Jews governed their enemies—for this reason on this month one can sentence the foreigner within him, and he will certainly succeed on this month, for it is regarded as “turned to the contrary,” as it is written, “And the Jews governed their enemies.”

We must remember that one deliberates with one’s idol-worshippers because each one argues, “It is all mine.” Israel argues that the body was created only to be Israel and a servant of the Creator, and not for self-love, while the foreigner within him argues, “It is all mine,” too, meaning that the whole body was created with a desire to receive because the body needs to see only to its will to receive. Why should it think about wanting to bestow? It shows several proofs that it is right because this is what everyone does.

That is, it tells him, “Go see what everyone is doing. Is there anyone who is concerned with others while his own needs have not been satisfied? There are very few people, not more than a handful, whose needs have been satisfied completely, so they began to see to others’ well-being. However, even then they watch very carefully that their concern for others will God forbid not blemish their self-love. But you are saying, ‘It is all mine,’ meaning to completely avoid thinking about self-love. Instead, you want to use all your energy to serve others, and you excuse your desire to work for the friends, which is called ‘love of others,’ by telling me that this is not the end, but that you think that by engaging in love of others you will be able to achieve love of the Creator. That is, you want to be completely annulled before the Creator. But then, what shall become of the body, if you want to give your whole body to the Creator, to completely annul before Him? You tell me, how can I agree to this? This is very difficult to grasp. Therefore, I am forced to argue, ‘It is all mine,’ and not let you move one step forward.”

In that state, there is a big war because each one says that he is right. The Israel in him argues that since the Creator created us with the intention that His will is to benefit His creations, He certainly knows what is good for the creatures. That is, He understood that only by doing everything in order to bestow contentment upon the Creator they will have the strength to receive the highest degrees, called “revelation of Godliness,” which dresses in the inner mind and inner feeling in the heart. Thus, only in this way they will be able to receive all the delight and pleasure that the Creator wanted to give to the creatures.

This would not be so if they received with vessels of reception. Besides causing separation, there is the matter of being content with less. That is, we must believe what is written in the holy Zohar, that there is a faint light that shines in the Klipot [shells/peels] to sustain them. That is, all the pleasures in the corporeal world are as faint light compared to the delight and pleasure that is found in Kedusha [holiness].

In other words, even a small degree of Kedusha, such as Nefesh de Assiya, contains more pleasure than all the worldly pleasures. If one were to receive the abundance in the desire to receive for one’s own benefit, he would settle for this and would not be able to go and attain higher degrees because for self-gratification, this illumination of Nefesh de Assiya is satisfactory, and he would have no need to add anything to the pleasures he was enjoying.

However, when one is taught to work in order to bestow contentment upon one’s Maker, one cannot say, “I settle for what I have been granted,” since everything he receives is to benefit the Creator. Therefore, he cannot say, “I have enough, since I pleased the Creator by receiving a little upper light and it pleases the Creator so I do not want to receive anymore.”

It is forbidden to say, “I have enough because I already pleased Him by receiving this small illumination from Him.” Instead, one should try to bestow more and more contentment upon the Creator each and every time. And since each joy above is when the purpose of creation, which is to do good to His creations, actually reaches the lower ones—and this is what pleases above—hence, on the month of Adar, when the time of the miracle awakens—as it is written, “and it was turned into the opposite, that the Jews governed their enemies”—the time is ripe to awaken the foreigner within him. It is as our sages said (Berachot 5), “One should always vex the good inclination over the evil inclination,” as it was said, “be angry but do not sin.” RASHI interprets “vexing the good inclination” to mean making war with the evil inclination.

Here it means that on the month of Adar he can defeat the evil inclination, since then, when there was the miracle from above, it is as our sages said (Shabbat 88), “They observed and received.” They observed what they already received. RASHI interprets, “What Rabba said, that the generation received it in the days of Ahasuerus, was because of the love of the miracle that was done to them.”

But on the month of Av, the time of the ruin of the Temple, when we should mourn it, then the meaning of what our sages said “diminishing joy,” is the way in which we engage on the month of Adar—in the right, in order to awaken the miracle that appeared on the month of Adar. It is as our sages said, “For the love of the miracle they observed and received.”

But on the month of Av, when we must mourn the ruin of the Temple, we must work on the left line, meaning criticize our actions, that we must be in the path of Kedusha, which is in order to bestow, and how one is remote from bestowal.

When one thinks about this, he is in a state of remoteness from Kedusha and is immersed in self-love, where his whole basis for engaging in Torah and Mitzvot is in order to satisfy the will to receive with every possible satisfaction.

Therefore, when considering one’s lowliness he can awaken the pain of the ruin of Kedusha that there is in each and every one. And then the verse, “All who mourn Jerusalem is rewarded with seeing the comfort of Jerusalem” comes true.

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