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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

What Is, “Warn the Great about the Small,” in the Work?

Article No. 28, Tav-Shin-Nun, 1989/90

Our sages said (Yevamot 114a), “Say, and you said, to warn the great about the small.” RASHI interprets this as follows, “Say to the priests, sons of Aaron, and you said these two sayings, ‘Why warn the great about the small? So they will not be defiled.’”

We should understand the novelty about warning the great about the small. When speaking of the work, at which time we speak of one body, what does warning the great about the small imply? That is, who is the small when we learn within one body, and who is the great when it comes to tell us that we must warn the great about the small?

It is known that the labor and the work that we must give in Torah and Mitzvot is because we are born with a nature that we want to receive for ourselves. Therefore, in everything we do, and which the will to receive enjoys, we cannot speak of labor. It is as we see in our world, that a person is never unhappy when he is hungry but has a nice-smelling meal, and say that now he is going to do hard work and great labor in that now he is going to eat, since where there is pleasure, we cannot speak of work and labor.

Accordingly, we should understand this, since the Torah is called “For they are our lives and the length of our days.” So, why is it said that a person must labor in the Torah? Is there anyone who does not want to live and enjoy life? It is written about it, “Who are nicer than gold and from much fine gold, and sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Therefore, why is it considered “labor” when we observe Torah and Mitzvot?

The answer is that if the pleasure in Torah and Mitzvot were revealed to all, the whole world would certainly observe Torah and Mitzvot. This is as it is written in the “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot” (Item 43), “If, for example, the Creator were to establish open Providence with His creations in that, for instance, anyone who eats a forbidden thing would immediately choke, and anyone who performed a commandment would discover wonderful pleasures in it, similar to the finest delights in this corporeal world. Then, what fool would even think of tasting a forbidden thing, knowing that he would immediately lose his life because of it, just as one does not consider jumping into a fire? Also, what fool would leave any commandment without performing it as quickly as possible, as one who cannot retire from or linger with a great corporeal pleasure that comes into his hand, without receiving it as quickly as he can?Thus, if Providence were open before us, all the people in the world would be complete righteous.”

We should therefore ask, Why is Providence not revealed, but we must believe in reward and punishment? Would it not be better if everything were revealed? The answer is that since we must achieve Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, which is equivalence of form, because of it, we must do everything for the sake of the Creator, meaning in order to bestow contentment upon the Maker. If the reward and punishment in Torah and Mitzvot were revealed, it would be impossible to work for the sake of the Creator, since the pleasure would force a person to observe Torah and Mitzvot.

We see that when a pleasure is revealed in corporeality, although it is only a pleasure that is a “tiny light” compared to the pleasure in Torah and Mitzvot, how difficult it is for a person to say that everything he does is in order to bestow, or he would relinquish the corporeal pleasures if he could not aim in order to bestow upon the Creator.

Therefore, with the great pleasures found in Torah and Mitzvot, it would certainly be impossible to be able to say that if he cannot aim in order to bestow, he gives them up. Hence, this correction was done that before a person can say about the small pleasures in corporeal things that he accepts them only on condition that he can aim to bestow, he is placed under Tzimtzum [restriction] and concealment where he does not see any pleasure. Rather, he must believe that this is so. That is, a person must believe that the Creator leads all creations with a guidance of The Good Who Does Good.

This is as it is written in the article (Shamati, No. 40, “Faith in the Rav, What Is the Measure,” 1943), “One should depict to oneself as if one has already been rewarded with whole faith in the Creator, and already feels in his organs that the Creator leads the whole world in the form of ‘The Good Who Does Good,’ meaning that the whole world receives from Him only good.”

According to the above, it follows that when a person engages in faith in the Creator, he should dedicate some time to depicting how he would feel if he were rewarded with being near the Creator, and he would see with his own eyes the delight and pleasure extending to him and to all creations, how high spirited and elated he would be.

This depiction requires continuation—that his faith will be as knowing and seeing, meaning that the measure of the faith should be like seeing and knowing. This is a lot of work because this is a path of truth, and it is as it is written, “truth and faith,” meaning that for his faith to be true, it is specifically like this depiction, that he must believe in the measure of the greatness of the faith as though he saw it, that he was believing with his eyes.

In other words, to the same extent that he was inspired when he saw, so should be his excitement when he does not see, but only believes that this is so. This is why it is called “faith in the path of truth.” That is, his faith is true as though he knew this. This is called “true faith,” or as it is written, “truth and faith.”

And since the whole basis should be built on faith, and at the same time we were given intellect and reason to understand everything with the intellect we have, it follows that faith is against our nature, for we can follow the intellect and not be stupid, doing things mindlessly. It follows that on one hand, we teach a person to walk according to the intellect and behave this way with one another, but when a person begins to observe Torah and Mitzvot, he is told that although he should follow the intellect, between man and the Creator we were given faith. That is, we must believe in the sages and follow this path, although it contradicts the intellect, as it is written, “And they believed in the Lord, and in his servant Moses.” In other words, we must believe what the sages said to us and not look at our intellect.

But since this contradicts our reason, we have ups and downs. That is, at times we can believe the words of the sages and depict before us the depiction of truth and faith, meaning that his faith is truly faith, namely that there is no intellect there but everything is against our reason, what we understand. This is why it is called “true faith” or “simple faith,” since there is nothing to understand there but everything is above reason.

Hence, it is beyond man’s power to always be on the same degree. Rather, he ascends and descends, as our Baal HaSulam said, Why is assuming the burden of the kingdom of heaven called Emuna [faith]? It comes from the word Oman [craftsman], Omenet [nanny], who raises the child slowly until she rears him. Therefore, when working on the basis of faith, until we are rewarded with permanent faith, there is the matter of “partial faith.”

For this reason, during the work there are ups and down. That is, sometimes a person might depict the greatness and importance of Torah and Mitzvot, and of the greatness and importance of the Giver of the Torah. In other words, when he can depict to himself the greatness and importance of the Giver of the Torah, he feels that he is in a state of ascent. In other words, he feels that he is above the corporeal world. He sees people who follow corporeal things as beasts and animals who settle for nourishments that suffice for the animate level. But for himself, he feels that he can receive sustenance only from what suits the “speaking” level. As is written in the introductions, the whole merit of the speaking level in man is that he is fit to receive the sensation of Godliness, and this does not pertain to the animate level.

However, afterward, he descends once more from his state and falls into the multiple authorities. That is, now he is in his own authority, and not as before. Therefore, during the ascent, when he feels that there is no one in the world but the authority of the Creator, and he himself does not merit a name, since he wants to annul before Him unconditionally, therefore, during the ascent, a person is in the singular authority, and during the descent, he is in multiple authorities, meaning he already has two authorities.

However, sometimes when a person falls into a state where he is worse than two authorities, since when a person says that there are two authorities, at least he believes that there is a Creator to the world, which is one authority. That is, the Creator is the host, and He does what He wants, but there is another authority, meaning that man, too, is a landlord and does in the world what he wants. At that time, the person wants the Creator to serve the person according to his wish, meaning that the Creator should be at man’s service and the Creator will serve man according to man’s command.

However, even worse is when one does not believe that there is a Creator and a leader to the world, at all. It follows that for this person, there is nothing more than his own, singular authority. However, a person sees that many people have this view, and they all say that they are their own landlords. In other words, each one does what he needs and does not care about other people. If sometimes someone does something good for another, it is because he expects his friend to return him a favor and not be ungrateful.

This is as it is written in The Zohar and in the “Preface” [to the Wisdom of Kabbalah] (Item 57) about the verse, “The mercy of the nations is a sin,” “Since all that they do, they do for themselves.” In other words, they will probably receive something in return for the favor. At that time, “authority of many” means “many individuals.”

It follows that this is not regarded as “two authorities,” meaning the Creator’s authority and man’s authority, and the person still believes in the authority of the Creator. But when a person falls into the authority of many, of many individuals, he does not incorporate the Creator at all, and this is certainly the worst state.

It follows that before one is rewarded with permanent faith, which is a gift of God, and not within man’s hands, he is always in ascents and descents. At that time a person needs heaven’s mercy in order not to escape the campaign. At that time, the order of the work can be only during an ascent, meaning when he is in the domain of Kedusha [holiness].

At that time, a person must work and pay attention to the state he was in during the descent. That is, during the ascent, he can calculate and see the difference between light and darkness, as it is written, “As the advantage of the light from within the darkness.” In other words, at that time he can observe what our sages said (Avot, Chapter 2:1), “Consider the cost of a Mitzva [commandment/good deed] compared to its reward, and the reward for a transgression compared to its cost.”

In other words, during an ascent, a person understands that reception for oneself is considered a transgression, meaning it removes him from the Creator, and there is no transgression greater than this. But during a descent, a person cannot understand that if he does not aim to bestow, it is considered a transgression and that he should have the strength to believe that we must do everything for the sake of the Creator. Rather, he only believes what is written, that a person should observe the 613 Mitzvot that the Creator commanded us through Moses to do. But he will certainly not commit a transgression, breaking what is written in the Torah.

Rather, sometimes a person is angry at why the Creator treated us this way, forbidding us so many things. That is, a person says that if the Creator had asked him about observing the Mitzvot [plural of Mitzva], he would have asked Him not to be so strict and forbid so many things that he covets. Nevertheless, he observes the Mitzvot.

But during the ascent, a person is angry at the opposite: Why did the Creator make us do such things that are necessary, like eating and drinking? It would be better if He did not create them at all and we would not have to do them.

It follows that during the ascent, he wants to have fewer pleasures in the world, and during the descent, he is angry that the Creator forbade us many things that we would enjoy had the Torah not forbade them. We therefore see that there are ascents and descents when a person wants to be rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator. Therefore, we should call the time of descent, a “state of Katnut [smallness/infancy],” and the state of ascent, a “state of Gadlut [greatness/adulthood].”

By this we can interpret what we asked about the meaning of what our sages said, “Say, and you said, to warn the great about the small.” We asked, How can we speak within one person about “great” and “small”? According to the above, we should interpret that “great” or “small” does not refer to two bodies, since in the work we learn everything within one body. Rather, “great” and “small” should be interpreted in two times in a single subject, meaning one person at two times: 1) During the ascent, it is called “great.” 2) During a descent, it is called “small.”

By this we should interpret that when a person is in a state of ascent, he must pay attention and consider that he might come into a descent. And what is a descent? That is, who says that a descent is so bad? After all, he sees that there are many people who live and enjoy life although they are in a state of descent. Therefore, when he himself is in a state of descent, he is taken after them, and then he, too, enjoys life like they do.

However, we can say about the state of descent that this person had a road accident and he was hurt and he is unconscious. That is, he does not feel that he is in a state of descent. Rather, he enjoys the state he is in and does not feel a descent, since he has completely forgotten that there is spirituality in the world and we must strive to achieve Dvekut with the Creator. He forgot everything because of the accident he had, and therefore does not ache because he is in descent.

Therefore, when a person is in a state of ascent, he can think and fear that he might have a road accident. That is, now that he is exerting to advance to spirituality, that he will not fall from his degree in the middle.

But during a descent, he no longer remembers because he has no sensation of spirituality. He can know all this only at the time of Gadlut. Hence, the text tells us: “Say, and you said, to warn the great about the small.” In other words, during the Gadlut, which is the time of ascent, this is the time to be careful with Katnut, meaning not to come into a descent, called “small,” for only during an ascent can one think about the matter of Katnut, meaning about the reason he has come into Katnut, for one should know that there must be something that causes the descent.

This is as I had heard from Baal HaSulam (written in Shamati, No. 35, “Concerning the Vitality of Kedusha,” Tav-Shin-Hey), “Yet, we must also know that if one could sustain any luminescence, even a small one, but if it were permanent, one would already be considered whole. In other words, one would have been able to advance with this illumination. Hence, if one loses the luminescence, one should regret it.This is similar to a person who placed a seed in the ground so that a big tree would grow from it, but took the seed out of the ground right away. Thus, what is the benefit in the work of putting the seed in the ground? Moreover, we can say that he dug out a tree with ripe fruits out of the ground and corrupted them. That is, had he not dug out the seed, a tree with fruits would have grown out of the seed. Likewise, if one had not lost this tiny luminescence, a great light would have grown out of it. Therefore, he should regret having lost a great light.”

We therefore see that a person should keep himself with all kinds of precautions during the ascent. Then, even if he feels that he has a small sensation, if he does all that he can not to lose it, he will march forward every time.

This is the meaning of the words, “Say, and you said, to warn the great about the small.” That is, during the Gadlut, which is a time of ascent, he must make every calculation so as not to come into Katnut, meaning a descent. He must calculate what is the importance he has now, even a small connection to spirituality.

He must work with himself to believe that this feeling comes from above, meaning that at that time, the Creator is calling him, and to think how important it is that the Creator is calling him, and also, that if he can keep this small sensation permanently, he will certainly go forward, as in the allegory, that this ascent is regarded as only a seed that is placed in the ground, but that a big, fruit bearing tree will emerge from that seed.

It turns out that he must appreciate the state of ascent and depict to himself as though this is how he is looking at the purpose. That is, as though he already has a big fruit bearing tree—in what way would he guard the tree so people would not spoil this big tree? In this way, he should continue until he feels in his organs that he must always watch over the tree, and he even does things to hide the tree from people so they cannot cast an evil-eye on the tree.

Likewise, a person should keep this feeling that he has now in a state of ascent, so that strangers will not cast the evil eye on him.

Thus far, we have been talking about the importance of the ascent. However, this is only one side.

However, we should also think about the state of lowliness during the descent. This is called “looking at the other side that there is to think about.” In other words, only during an ascent can a person think about the lowliness of the state of descent. This is called “Warning the great,” meaning a state of Gadlut, “about the small,” the time of Katnut, meaning what he might lose if he comes to a state of descent, for only during an ascent can he calculate “as the advantage of the light from within the darkness.” This can be precisely when he has light. At that time, he can compare between light and darkness, but not while he is in the dark.

This is as our sages said (Avot, Chapter 5:1), “The world was created in ten utterances. But it could have been created with one utterance! However, in order to avenge the wicked, who are destroying the world, it was created in ten utterances, and to give a good reward to the righteous, who are sustaining the world, which was created in ten utterances.”

This is seemingly perplexing. We can understand “to reward the righteous,” so they will have a great reward. But “to avenge the wicked”? Why did He do so? After all, the Creator does not complain against His own creations! Why did He make it so there would be much suffering?

We should interpret that in the work, this means that a person should think what is the good that he might lose, and what is the bad that he might suffer, and from those whom he will come to need to keep the Gadlut, meaning the time of ascent. Otherwise, he will see what he can suffer from the state of descent. This is the meaning of “to warn the great about the small.”

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