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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

87. Shabbat Shekalim

I heard on Adar 26, March 7, 1948

On Shabbat Shekalim (name of weekly portion), when he began the Kidush … he said, “There was a custom among the Admorim (rabbis, heads of congregations) in Poland, that all the rich men would come to their rabbis on Shabbat Shekalim, to receive Shekalim (coins) from their rabbis.”

And he said that it implies that there cannot be obliteration of Amalek without Shekalim. This is so because before one receives Shekalim, there is still no Klipa (shell) of Amalek. Rather, when taking Shekalim, the great Klipa called “Amalek” arrives, and the work of obliterating Amalek begins. However, prior to that, there is nothing to erase.

And he added an explanation to it, concerning what the Sayer of Kuznitz said about what is said in the closing prayer: “You have separated man from the beginning and You will recognize him to stand before You.” The sayer asked about it: “How is it possible to stand without a Rosh (head, but also beginning)? It means that he has separated the Rosh from the man, and how can such a thing be?” The explanation is, “When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel,” by which we extend the discernment of Rosh. If we give the half Shekel, through it we are awarded the Rosh.

And he later asked … “Why does he prepare for the Kidush more drinking that eating? This is not the right order, since the order should be eating more than drinking, as drinking comes only to complement the eating, by way of ‘And thou shalt eat and be satisfied, and bless.’ However, it is not so when drinking is more than eating.” And he interpreted that eating implies Hassadim (mercy) and drinking implies Hochma (wisdom).

And he said further, that the Shabbat prior to the month of Adar contains the whole of the month of Adar. Hence, “when Adar enters, there is much gladness.” And he said that there is a difference between a Shabbat and a good day. Shabbat is called “love,” and a good day is called “gladness.” The difference between gladness and love is that love is an essence, and gladness is only an outcome, born off some cause. The cause is the essence, and the outcome is only a progeny of the essence. Hence, Shabbat is called “love and good will” and a good day is called “gladness and joy.”

He also explained concerning what Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai replied to his wife, that I was like a minister before the King, and he, Rabbi Hanina Ben Dosa, like a slave before the King; this is why he could pray. It seems as though it should have been the opposite—that the minister would have more strength to induce his opinion on the King, and not the slave.

However, a “minister” is one who has already been awarded private Providence. In that state, one sees no room for prayer, since everything is good. But a slave is one who is at the degree of reward and punishment, and then he has room to pray because he sees that he has more to correct.

And he adds an explanation from an article that is presented (Baba Metzia 85a). It is written there that a calf was being led to the slaughter. It went, put its head in the rabbi’s lap and wept. He told it, “Go, this is what you were made for.” They said, “Since he does not pity, suffering shall come upon him.”

“This is what you were made for” means private Providence, that there is nothing to add or to subtract, since there the sufferings, too, are considered merits. This is why he extended sufferings upon him.

And the Gemarah says that he was rid of the suffering through an act, by saying, “and His mercies are over all His works.” One day, the rabbi’s maid was sweeping the house. There were rat young there, and she was sweeping them away. He told her, “Leave them!”, it is written, “and His mercies are over all His works.” Since he attained that a prayer, too, remains in eternity, he now had room for prayer. This is why the sufferings departed from him.

At the end of Shabbat, he said an interpretation about what the Holy Zohar says about the verse, “For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto Himself.” Who chose whom? And the Holy Zohar replies, “The Lord chose Jacob” (Beresheet, 161b). And he said that the question of the Holy Zohar is if the Creator chose Jacob. It follows that Jacob did not do anything, but all was under private Providence. And if Jacob did choose, it means that Jacob is the doer, meaning an issue of reward and punishment.

And he replied that in the beginning, one should begin on the path of reward and punishment. When he completes that phase of reward and punishment, one is rewarded with seeing that everything is under private Providence, that “He alone does and will do all the deeds.” However, before one completes one’s work in reward and punishment it is impossible to understand private Providence.

And on Sunday night, after the lesson, he explained the matter of Jacob’s cunningness, that it is written about Jacob, “Thy brother came with guile.” There was certainly no issue of falsehood here. Otherwise, the text would not say about Jacob, the “elect” patriarch, that he was a liar.

Rather, the guile means that when one performs an act of wisdom without intending for wisdom, but to educe some benefit that he needs, and sees that it cannot be obtained directly, hence, he performs an act of wisdom, to obtain the needed thing. This is called “wisdom.”

This is the meaning of the verse, “be guile with reason,” meaning wisdom through reason. This means that the wisdom he wants to obtain is not for wisdom’s sake, but for another thing, which forces him to extend wisdom. In other words, he must extend to complement the Hassadim.

This is because before the Hassadim obtain Hochma, they are discerned as Katnut (smallness). However, afterwards, when he extends Hochma, but still prefers Hassadim to Hochma, it is apparent that the Hassadim are more important than Hochma. This is called Gar de Bina, which means that he uses the Hassadim because of a choice.

This is the meaning of Hochma through Daat, that Hochma appears in the form of Vak in YESHSUT. And in AVI, Hochma appears by improving the Hassadim and remaining in Hassadim. However, although Bina is considered “delighting in mercy,” its choice of Hassadim is not apparent because of Tzimtzum Bet, where there is no Hochma. However, in Gadlut (adulthood), when Hochma comes, the Hassadim that she uses are because of choice.

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