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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

16. What Is the Day of the Lord and the Night of the Lord in the Work

I heard in 1941, Jerusalem

Our sages said this about the verse, “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! Wherefore would ye have the day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light” (Amos 5): “There is a parable about a rooster and a bat that were awaiting the light. The rooster said to the bat: ‘I await the light for the light is mine; but you, what need have you for light?’” (Sanhedrin 98,2). The interpretation is that since the bat has no eyes to see, what does it gain from the sunlight? On the contrary, for one who has no eyes, the sunlight only darkens more.

We must understand that parable, meaning how the eyes are connected to looking in the Light of God, which the text names “the day of the Lord.” They gave a parable in that regard about a bat, that one with no eyes remains in the dark.

We must also understand what is the day of the Lord and what is the night of the Lord, and what is the difference between them. We discern the day of people by the sunrise, but with the day of the Lord, in what do we discern it?

The answer is, as the appearance of the sun. In other words, when the sun shines on the ground, we call it “day.” And when the sun does not shine, it is called “darkness.” It is the same with the Creator. A day is called “revelation” and darkness is called “concealment of the face.”

This means that when there is revelation of the face, when it is as clear as day for a person, this is called “a day.” It is as our sages said (Psachim 2) about the verse, “The murderer riseth with the light, to kill the poor and needy; and in the night he is as a thief.” Since he said, “and in the night he is as a thief,” it follows that light is day. He says there, that if the matter is as clear to you as light that comes over the souls, he is a murderer, and it is possible to save him in his soul. Thus we see that regarding day, the Gemarah says that it is a matter as clear as day.

It follows that the day of the Lord will mean that Providence – how the Creator leads the world – will be clearly in the form of benevolence. For example, when one prays, his prayer is immediately answered and he receives what he has prayed for, and one succeeds wherever one turns. This is called “the day of the Lord.”

Conversely, darkness, which is night, will mean concealment of the face. This brings one doubts in the benevolent guidance and alien thoughts. In other words, the concealment of the guidance brings one all these alien views and thoughts. This is called “night” and “darkness.” Namely, one experiences a state where one feels that the world has turned dark on him.

Now we can interpret what is written, “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! Wherefore would ye have the day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light.” The thing is that those who await the day of the Lord, it means that they are waiting to be imparted faith above reason, that faith will be as strong as if they see with their eyes, with certainty, that it is so, meaning that the Creator guides the world in benevolence.

In other words, they do not want to see how the Creator leads the world in benevolence, because seeing is contradictory to faith. In other words, faith is precisely where it is against reason. And when one does what is against one’s reason, this is called “faith above reason.”

This means that they believe that the guidance of the Creator over the creatures is benevolent. And while they do not see it with absolute certainty, they do not say to the Creator, “We want to see the benevolence as seeing within reason.” Rather, they want it to remain in them as faith above reason.

But they ask of the Creator to impart them with such strength that this faith will be so strong, as if they see it within reason. It means that there will not be a difference between faith and knowledge in the mind. This is what they, meaning those who want to cleave to the Creator, refer to as “the day of the Lord.”

In other words, if they feel it as knowledge, then the Light of God, called “the Upper Abundance,” will go to the vessels of reception, called “separated vessels.” And they do not want this, since it would go to the will to receive, which is the opposite of Kedusha (Sanctity), which is against the will to receive for self-gratification. Instead, they want to be adhered to the Creator, and this can only be through equivalence of form.

However, to achieve that, meaning in order for one to have a desire and a craving to cleave to the Creator, since one is born with a nature of a will to receive only for one’s own benefit, how is it possible to achieve something that is completely against nature? For this reason one must make great efforts until he acquires a second nature, which is the will to bestow.

When one is imparted the will to bestow, he is qualified to receive the Upper Abundance with it, and not blemish, since all the flaws come only through the will to receive for oneself. In other words, even when doing something in order to bestow, deep inside there is a thought that he will receive something for this act of bestowal that he is now performing.

In a word, one is unable to do anything if he does not receive something in return for the act. One must enjoy, and any pleasure that one receives for oneself, that pleasure must cause him separation from the life of lives, by reason of the separation.

This stops one from being adhesive with the Creator, since the matter of Dvekut (Adhesion) is measured by equivalence of form. It is thus impossible to have pure bestowal without a mixture of reception from one’s own powers. Therefore, for one to have the powers of bestowal, we need a second nature, so one will have the strength to achieve equivalence of form.

In other words, the Creator is the giver and does not receive anything, for He lacks nothing. This means that what He gives is also not because of a want, meaning that if He had no one to give to, He would feel it as a want.

Instead, we must perceive it as a game. That is, it is not that when He wants to give, it is something that He needs; but this is all like a game. It is as our sages said regarding the mistress: She asked, “What does the Creator do after He has created the world?” The answer was, “He sits and plays with a whale,” as it is written, “There go the ships of the sea, and Leviathan (the sea monster), which You have formed to sport in it” (Avoda Zarah (Idol Worshiping), p. 3).

The matter of the Leviathan refers to Dvekut and connection (as it is written, “according to the space of each, with wreaths”). It means that the purpose, which is the connection of the Creator with the creatures, is only in sport; it is not a matter of a desire and a need.

The difference between a game and a desire is that everything that comes in the desire is a necessity. If one does not obtain one’s wish, one is deficient. However, in sport, even if one does not obtain the thing, it is not considered a lack, as they say, “it is not so bad that I did not obtain what I thought, because it is not so important.” This is so because the desire that one had for it was only playful, and not serious.

It follows, that the whole purpose is that one’s work will be entirely in bestowal, and he will not have a desire and craving to receive pleasure for his work.

This is a high degree, as it is implemented in the Creator. And this is called “the day of the Lord.”

The day of the Lord is called “wholeness,” as it is written, “Let the stars of the morning thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none.” Light is considered wholeness.

When one acquires the second nature, the will to bestow, which the Creator gives one after the first nature, being the will to receive, and now receives the will to bestow, then one is qualified to serve the Creator in completeness, and this is considered “the day of the Lord.”

Thus, one who has not acquired the second nature and can serve the Creator in the form of bestowal, and waits to be awarded that, meaning bestowal, meaning when one has already exerted and did what he could to obtain that force, he is considered to be awaiting the day of the Lord, meaning to have equivalence of form with the Creator.

When the day of the Lord comes, he is elated. He is happy that he has come out of the power of the will to receive for himself, which separated him from the Creator. Now one cleaves to the Creator, and considers it as having risen to the top.

However, it is the opposite with one whose work is only in self-reception. One is happy as long as one thinks that he will have any reward from his work. When one sees that the will to receive will not receive any reward for its work, one becomes sad and idle. Sometimes one comes to ponder about the beginning, and says, “I did not swear on this.”

Thus, moreover, the day of the Lord is attaining the power to bestow. If one were to be told that this will be his profit from engaging in Torah and Mitzvot, one would say, “I consider it darkness, not light,” since this knowledge brings one to darkness.

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