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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

19. What Is the Creator Hates the Bodies, in the Work

I heard in 1943, Jerusalem

The Holy Zohar says that the Creator hates the bodies. He said that we should interpret it as referring to the will to receive, called Guf (Body). The Creator created His world in His glory, as it is written, “Every one that is called by My Name, and whom I have created for My glory, I have formed him, yea, I have made him.”

Therefore, this contradicts the body’s argument that everything is for it, meaning only for its own benefit, while the Creator says the opposite, that everything should be for the Creator. Hence, our sages said that the Creator said, “he and I can not dwell in the same abode.”

It follows that the primary separator from being in adhesion with the Creator is the will to receive. It is apparent when the evil comes; meaning, the will to receive comes and asks, “Why do you want to work for the Creator?” We think that it speaks as humans do, that it wants to understand with its intellect. Yet, this is not the truth, since it does not ask for whom one is working. This is certainly a rational argument, as this argument awakens in one with a reason.

Instead, the argument of the wicked is a physical question. That is, it asks, “What mean you by this service?” In other words, which profit will you have for the exertion you are making? It means that it asks, “If you are not working for yourself, what will the body, called ‘the will to receive for oneself,’ get out of it?”

Since this is a bodily argument, the only reply is a bodily reply, “He blunted its teeth, and had he not been there, he would not have been redeemed.” Why? Because the will to receive for itself has no redemption even at the time of redemption. This is because the matter of redemption will be when all the profits enter the vessels of bestowal and not the vessels of reception.

The will to receive for itself must always remain in deficit, since filling the will to receive is actual death. The reason is, as we have said above, that creation was primarily for His glory (and this is an answer to what is written, that His wish is to do good to His creatures, and not for Himself).

The interpretation will be that the essence of creation is to reveal to all that the purpose of creation is to do good to His creatures. This is specifically when one says that he was born to honor the Creator. At that time, in these vessels, the purpose of creation appears, which is to do good to His creatures.

For this reason one must always examine oneself, the purpose of one’s work, meaning if the Creator receives contentment in every act that one performs, because he wants equivalence of form. This is called “All your actions will be for the Creator,” meaning one wants the Creator to enjoy whatever one does, as it is written, “to bring contentment to his Maker.”

Also, one needs to conduct oneself with the will to receive and say to it, “I have already decided that I do not want to receive any pleasure because you want to enjoy. This is because with your desire I am forced to be separated from the Creator, since disparity of form causes separation and distance from the Creator.”

One’s hope should be that since one cannot break loose from the dominion of the will to receive, he is therefore in perpetual ascents and descents. Hence, one awaits the Creator, to be rewarded with the Creator opening his eyes, and to have the power to overcome and work only to benefit the Creator. It is as it is written, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after.” That, meaning the Holy Shechina (Divinity). And one asks (Psalms 27:4), “that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”

The house of the Lord is the Holy Shechina. And now we can understand what our sages said about the verse, “And ye shall take you on the first day,” the first to count the iniquities. We must understand why is there joy if there is room for an iniquity-count here? He said that we must know that there is a matter of importance in the labor, when there is a contact between the individual and the Creator.

It means that one feels that he needs the Creator, since, in the state of labor, one sees that there is no one in the world who can save him from the state he is in but the Creator alone. Then one sees that “There is none else besides Him,” who can save him from the state he is in, and from which he cannot escape.

This is called having close contact with the Creator. If one knows how to appreciate that contact, meaning that one should believe that then he is in adhesion with the Creator, meaning that one’s entire thought is of the Creator, meaning that He will help him. Otherwise one sees that he is lost.

However, one who is awarded private Providence, and sees that the Creator does everything, as it is written, “He alone does and will do all the deeds,” he naturally has nothing to add, and in any case, one has no room for prayer for the Creator’s help. This is because one sees that even without one’s prayer the Creator still does everything.

Hence, at that time one has no place to be able to do good deeds since one sees that everything is done without him by the Creator anyhow. Thus, in that state one has no need for the Creator to help him do anything. Thus, at that time one has no contact with the Creator, to need him to the extent that he is lost if the Creator does not help him.

It follows that he does not have the contact that he had had with the Creator during the labor. He said that it is like a person who is between life and death, and asks of his friend to save him from death. How does one ask of one’s friend? One certainly tries to ask one’s friend to have mercy on him and save him from death with every power at one’s disposal. He certainly never forgets to pray to one’s friend, since one sees that otherwise he will lose his life.

However, one who asks of one’s friend for luxuries that are not so necessary, the pleading is not so much in adhesion with his friend to give him what he asks for to the point that his mind will not be distracted from asking. You find that with things that are not related to life-saving, the pleading is not that adhesive with the giver.

Thus, when one feels that he should ask of the Creator to save him from death, meaning from the state of, “The evil in their life are called dead,” the contact between the person and the Creator is close contact. For this reason, for the righteous, a place of work is to need the Creator’s help; otherwise he is lost. This is what the righteous crave: a place to work so they will have close contact with the Creator.

It follows that if the Creator gives room for work, these righteous are very happy. This is why they said, “first to the iniquity-count.” For them it is joyous to now have a place to work, meaning that now they have become needy of the Creator and can now come into close contact with the Creator. This is because one cannot come to the King’s Palace but for some purpose.

This is the meaning of, “And ye shall take you.” It specifies you. This is because everything is in the hands of God except the fear of God. In other words, the Creator can give abundance of Light because this is what He has. But the darkness, the place of dearth, this is not in His domain.

Since there is a rule that there is fear of God only from a place of dearth, and a place of dearth is called “the will to receive,” it means that only then is there a place for labor. In what? In that it resists.

The body comes and asks, “What mean you by this service?” and one has nothing to answer to its question. Then one must assume the burden of the Kingdom of Heaven above reason as an ox to the burden and as a donkey to the load without any arguments. Instead, He said and His will was done. This is called “you,” meaning this work belongs precisely to you, and not to Me, meaning the work that your will to receive necessitates.

However, if the Creator gives one some luminescence from Above, the will to receive surrenders and annuls like a candle before a torch. Then one has no labor anyhow, since one no longer needs to take upon himself the burden of the Kingdom of Heaven coercively as an ox to the burden and as a donkey to the load, as it is written, “ye that love the Lord, hate evil.”

It means that the love of God extends only from the place of evil. In other words, to the extent that one has hatred for evil, meaning that one sees how the will to receive obstructs one from achieving the completeness of the goal, to that extent one needs to be imparted the love of God.

However, if one does not feel that one has evil, one cannot be granted the love of God. This is because he has no need for it, as he already has satisfaction in the work.

As we have said, one must not be angry when he has work with the will to receive, that it obstructs him in the work. One would certainly be more satisfied if the will to receive had been absent from the body, meaning that it would not bring its questions to man, obstructing him in the work of keeping Torah and Mitzvot.

However, one should believe that the obstructions of the will to receive in the work come to him from Above. One is given the force to discover the will to receive from Above because there is room for work precisely when the will to receive awakens.

Then one has close contact with the Creator, to help one turn the will to receive to be in order to bestow. And one should believe that from that extends contentment to the Creator, from one’s praying to Him, to draw him near by Dvekut (Adhesion), called “equivalence of form,” discerned as the annulment of the will to receive to be in order to bestow. The Creator says about that, “My sons defeated Me.” That is, I gave you the will to receive, and you ask of Me to give you a will to bestow instead.

Now we can interpret what is brought in the Gemarah (Hulin p. 7): “Rabbi Pinehas Ben Yair was going to redeem the captive. He came across the river Ginai (the name of the river was Ginai). He said to Ginai, ‘Divide your waters, and I will pass in you.’ It told him: ‘You are going to do the will of your Maker, and I am going to do the will of my Maker. You, perhaps do, perhaps not do, while I certainly do.’”

He said that the meaning is that he told the river, meaning the will to receive, to let him through it and reach the degree of doing the will of God, meaning to do everything in order to bestow contentment upon his Maker. The river, the will to receive, replied that since the Creator created it with this nature of wanting to receive delight and pleasure, it therefore does not want to change the nature in which the Creator had created it.

Rabbi Pinehas Ben Yair waged war on it, meaning he wanted to invert it to a will to bestow. This is called waging war on the creation, which the Creator had created in nature, called “the will to receive,” which the Creator had created, which is the whole of creation, called “existence from absence.”

One must know that during the work, when the will to receive comes to a person with its arguments, no arguments and no rationalities help with it. Though one thinks that they are just arguments, it will not help one defeat one’s evil.

Instead, as it is written, “He blunted its teeth.” This means to advance only by actions, and not by arguments. This is called that one has to increment powers coercively. This is the meaning of what our sages wrote, “He is coerced until he says ‘I want.’” In other words, through persistence, habit becomes a second nature.

One must especially try to have a strong desire to obtain the will to bestow and overcome the will to receive. The meaning of a strong desire is that a strong desire is measured by the proliferation of the in-between rests and the arrests, meaning the cessations between each overcoming.

Sometimes one receives a cessation in the middle, meaning a descent. This descent can be a cessation of a minute, an hour, a day, or a month. Afterwards, one resumes the work of overcoming the will to receive, and the attempts to achieve the will to bestow. A strong desire means that the cessation does not take him a long time and he is immediately reawakened to the work.

It is like a person who wants to break a big rock. He takes a big hammer and hammers many times all day long, but they are weak. In other words, he does not hammer the rock in one swing but brings the big hammer down slowly. After that he complains that this work of breaking the rock is not for him, that it must take a hero to have the ability to break this big rock. He says that he was not born with such great powers to have the ability to break the rock.

However, one who lifts this big hammer and strikes the rock in a big swing, not slowly but with a great effort, the rock immediately surrenders to him and breaks down. This is the meaning of, “like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces.”

Similarly, in the holy work, which is to bring the vessels of reception into Kedusha (Sanctity), we have a strong hammer, meaning words of Torah that give us good counsels. However, if it is not consistent, but with long intermissions in-between, one escapes the campaign and says that he was not made for this, but this work requires one who was born with special skills for it. Nevertheless, one should believe that anyone can achieve the goal, though he should try to always increment one’s efforts in overcoming. And then one can break the rock in a short time.

We must also know that for the effort to make contact with the Creator, there is a very harsh condition here: the effort must be in the form of adornment. Adornment means something that is important to a person. One cannot work gladly if the labor is not of importance, meaning that one has joy at now having contact with the Creator.

This matter is implied in the Citron. It is written about the citron, a fruit of the citrus tree [1], that it should be clean above its nose. It is known that there are three discernments: A) Adornment, B) Scent, and C) Taste.

Taste means that the Lights are poured from Above downward, meaning below the Peh (Mouth), where there are the palate and the taste. This means that the Lights come in vessels of reception.

Scent means that the Lights come from below upward. This means the Lights come in vessels of bestowal, in the form of receiving and not bestowing below the palate and the throat. This is discerned as, “and he shall smell in the fear of the Lord” said about the Messiah. It is known that scent is ascribed to the nose.

Adornment is beauty, discerned as above one’s nose, meaning scentless. It means that there is neither taste nor smell there. Thus, what is there by which one can survive? There is only the adornment in it, and this is what sustains him.

We see about the citron that the adornment is in it precisely before it is suitable for eating. However, when it is suitable for eating, there is no adornment in it anymore.

This comes to tell us about the work of the first to count the iniquities. It means that precisely when one works in the form of “And ye shall take you,” meaning the work during the acceptance of the burden of the Kingdom of Heaven, when the body resists, then there is room for the joy of adornment.

This means that during this work the adornment is apparent. This means that if he has gladness from this work, it is because he considers this work as adornment, and not as disgrace.

In other words, sometimes one despises this work of assuming the burden of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is a time of a sensation of darkness, when one sees that no one can save him from the state he is in but the Creator. Then he takes upon himself the Kingdom of Heaven above reason, as an ox to the burden and as a donkey to the load.

One should be glad that now he has something to give to the Creator, and the Creator enjoys him having something to give to the Creator. But one does not always have the strength to say that this is a handsome work, called “adornment,” but he despises this work.

This is a harsh condition for one to able to say that he chooses this work over the work of whiteness, meaning that he does not sense a taste of darkness during the work, but then one feels a taste in the work. It means that then he does not have to work with the will to receive to agree to take upon himself the Kingdom of Heaven above reason.

If one does overcome oneself, and can say that this work is pleasant when he now keeps the Mitzva (Commandment) of faith above reason, and he accepts this work as adornment, this is called “A joy of Mitzva.”

This is the meaning of the prayer being more important than the response to the prayer. This is because in prayer one has a place for labor, and he needs the Creator, meaning he awaits heaven’s mercy. At that time one has a true contact with the Creator, and then he is in the King’s Palace. However, when the prayer is answered, he has already departed the King’s Palace since he has already taken what he had asked for and left.

Accordingly, we should understand the verse, “Thine oils have a goodly fragrance; thy name is as oil poured forth.” Oil is called “The Upper Light” when it flows. “Poured forth” means during the cessation of the abundance. At that time the scent remains from the oil. (Scent means that a Reshimo (Reminiscence) of what he’d had remains nonetheless. Adornment, however, is called so in a place where there is no hold at all, meaning even the Reshimo does not shine).

This is the meaning of Atik and AA. During the expansion, the abundance is called AA, which is Hochma (Wisdom), meaning open Providence. Atik comes from the (Hebrew) word VaYe’atek (Detachment), meaning the departure of the Light. In other words, it does not shine; and this is called “concealment.”

This is the time of rejection to clothing, which is the time of the reception of the King’s crown, which is considered Malchut (Kingdom) of Lights, regarded as The Kingdom of Heaven.

It is written about it in the Holy Zohar, “The Holy Shechina said to Rabbi Shimon, ‘There is no place to hide from you’ (meaning there is no place where I can hide myself from you).” It means that even in the greatest concealment in reality he still takes upon himself the burden of the Kingdom of Heaven with great joy.

The reason for it is that he follows a line of a will to bestow, and thus he gives what is in his hand. If the Creator gives him more, he gives more. And if he has nothing to give, he stands and cries like a crane for the Creator to save him from the evil waters. Hence, in this manner, too, he has contact with the Creator.

The reason that this discernment is called Atik, and Atik is the highest degree, is that the farther the thing is from clothing, the higher it is. One can feel in the most abstract thing, called “the absolute zero,” since there man’s hand does not reach.

This means that the will to receive can seize only in a place where there is some expansion of Light. Before one purifies one’s vessels so as to not blemish the Light, one is unable for the Light to come to him in a form of expansion in the Kelim (Vessels). Only when one marches on the path of bestowal, meaning in a place where the will to receive is not present, whether in mind or in heart, there the Light can come in utter completeness. Then the Light comes to him in a sensation that he can feel the sublimity of the Upper Light.

However, when one has not corrected the vessels to be in order to bestow, when the Light comes to a form of expansion, the Light must restrict and shine only according to the purity of the Kelim. Hence, at that time the Light appears to be in utter smallness. Therefore, when the Light is abstracted from clothing in the Kelim, the Light can shine in utter completeness and clarity without any restrictions for the lower one.

It follows that the importance of the work is precisely when one comes to a state of naught, meaning when one sees that he annuls his whole existence and being, for then the will to receive has no power. Only then does one enter the Kedusha.

We must know that “God hath made even the one as well as the other.” It means that as much as there is disclosure in Kedusha, to that extent the Sitra Achra (Other Side) awakens. In other words, when one claims, “it is all mine,” meaning the entire body belongs to Kedusha, the Sitra Achra, too, argues against him that the whole body should serve the Sitra Achra.

Hence, one must know that when one sees that the body claims that it belongs to the Sitra Achra, and cries the famous questions of “Who” and “What” with all its might, it is a sign that one is walking on the path of truth, meaning that one’s sole intention is to bestow contentment upon one’s Maker. Thus, the primary work is in precisely that state.

One must know that it is a sign that this work hits the target. The sign is that he fights and sends his arrows to the head of the serpent, since it yells and argues the argument of “What” and “Who,” meaning, “What mean you by this service?” In other words, what will you gain by working only for the Creator and not for yourselves? And the argument of “Who” means that this is Pharaoh’s argument who said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?”

It seems as if the “Who” argument is a rational argument. It is a common conduct that when one is told to go and work for someone, one asks for whom? Hence, when the body claims, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice,” it is a rational argument.

However, according to the rule that the ratio is not an object in itself, but is rather a mirror of what is present in the senses, it appears so in the mind. And this is the meaning of, “And the sons of Dan: Hushim.” This means that the mind judges only according to what the senses let it scrutinize and devise some inventions and contrivances to suit the demands of the senses.

In other words, what the senses demand, the mind tries to provide their wish. However, the mind itself has no need for itself, for any demand. Hence, if there is a demand for bestowal in the senses, the mind operates according to a line of bestowal, and the mind does not ask questions, since it is merely serving the senses.

The mind is like a person looking in the mirror to see if he is dirty. And all the places that the mirror shows are dirty, he goes and washes and cleans, since the mirror showed him that there are ugly things in one’s face that need to be cleaned.

However, the hardest thing of all is to know what is considered an ugly thing. Is it the will to receive, meaning the body’s demand to do everything only for oneself, or is the will to bestow the ugly thing, which the body cannot tolerate? The mind cannot scrutinize it, like the mirror, which cannot say what is ugly and what is beauty, but it all depends on the senses, and only the senses determine that.

Hence, when one accustoms oneself to work coercively, to work in bestowal, then the mind too operates by lines of bestowal. At that time it is impossible that the mind will ask the “Who” question, when the senses have already grown accustomed to work in bestowal.

In other words, the senses no longer ask the question, “What mean you by this service” since they are already working in order to bestow, and, naturally, the mind does not ask the “Who” question.

You find that the essence of the work is in “What mean you by this service?” And what one hears, that the body does ask the “Who” question, it is because the body does not want to degrade itself so. For this reason it asks the “Who” question. It appears to be asking a rational question, but the truth is that, as we have said above, the primary work is in the “What.”

[1] In Hebrew, citrus is Hadar, from the word Hidur (adornment).

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