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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

108. If You Leave Me One Day, I Will Leave You Two

I heard in 1943, Jerusalem

Every person is remote from the Creator with the reception in him. But he is remote simply because of the will to receive in him. However, since that person does not crave spirituality, but worldly pleasures, his distance from the Creator is one day, meaning a distance of a day, which means that he is far from Him in only one aspect — in being immersed in the will to receive the desires of this world.

However, when a person brings himself closer to the Creator, and dismisses reception in this world, he is then considered close to the Creator. But if he later fails in the reception of the next world, he is then far from the Creator because he wants to receive the pleasures of the next world, and also falls into reception of pleasures of this world, too. It follows that now he has become remote from the Creator by two days: 1) by receiving pleasures in this world, to which he has fallen again, and 2) since he now has the desire to receive the crown of the next world. This is because by engaging in Torah and Mitzvot he forces the Creator to reward him for his work in Torah and Mitzvot.

It turns out that in the beginning he walked one day and drew closer to serving the Creator, and afterwards he walked two days backwards. Thus, now that person has become needy of two types of reception: 1) of this world; 2) of the next world. Thus, he has been walking in the opposite state.

The advice for it is to always go by the path of Torah, which is to bestow. And the order should be that first one must be cautious with the two rudiments: 1) the making of the Mitzva; 2) the sensation of pleasure from the Mitzva. One should believe that the Creator derives great pleasure when we keep His commandments.

It therefore follows that one should keep the Mitzva in actual fact, and believe that the Creator derives pleasure from the lower one keeping His Mitzvot. And here there is no difference between a big Mitzva and a small Mitzva. That is, the Creator derives pleasure even from the smallest act that is done for Him.

Afterwards there is a result, which is the main goal that one should see to. In other words, a person should feel delight and pleasure in causing contentment to his Maker. This is the main emphasis of the work, and this is called “serve the Lord with gladness.” This should be the reward for one’s work, to receive delight and pleasure in having been rewarded with delighting the Creator.

This is the meaning of, “The stranger that is in the midst of thee shall mount up above thee higher and higher; … He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him.” The “stranger” is the will to receive (when beginning to serve the Creator, the will to receive is called “stranger.” And before that, it is a complete gentile).

“He shall lend to thee.” When it gives strength for work, it gives the strength by way of lending. This means that when a day in Torah and Mitzvot has passed, although it did not instantaneously receive the reward, it still believed him that afterwards, he would pay for the powers for the work that it has given him.

Hence, after the day’s work it comes and asks for the debt that he had promised it, the reward for the powers that the body gave him to engage in Torah and Mitzvot. But he does not give it, so the stranger cries, “What is this work? Working without reward?” Hence, afterwards the stranger does not want to give Israel the strength to work.

“And thou shalt not lend to him.” If you give it food and you ask that it will give you strength for work, then it tells you that it has no debt to pay you for the food that you are giving it. This is because “I gave you the strength for the work to begin with; and that was on condition that you would buy me possessions. Hence, what you are giving me now is all according to the previous condition. Therefore, now you come to me so I will give you more strength for the work, so that you will bring me new possessions.”

So the will to receive has grown clever, and uses its cleverness to calculate the profitability of it. Sometimes it says that it settles for little, that the possessions it has are enough, and hence it does not wish to give him more powers for the work. And sometimes it says that the way you are going in now is dangerous, and perhaps your efforts will be in vain. And sometimes it says that the effort is greater than the reward; hence, I will not give you strength to work.

Then, when one asks it for strength to walk in the path of the Creator, in order to bestow, and that everything will be only to increase the glory of Heaven, it says, “What will I get out of it?” Then it comes with the famous arguments, such as “Who” and “What,” that is, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?” as Pharaoh’s argument, or “What mean you by this service?” as the argument of the wicked.

All this is because it has a just argument, that this is what they had agreed between them. And this is called, “if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord,” then he complains because he does not keep the conditions.

But when you hearken unto the voice of the Lord, meaning right at the entrance (entrance is a constant thing because every time he has a descent he must begin anew. This is why it is called an “entrance.” Naturally, there are many exits and many entrances) he tells his body: “Know that I want to enter the work of God. My intention is only to bestow and to not receive any reward. You should not hope that you will receive anything for your efforts, but it is all in order to bestow.”

And if the body asks, “What benefit will you get out of this work?” meaning, “Who is it who receives this work, that I want to exert and toil?” Or it asks more simply: “For whom am I working so hard?”

The reply should be that I have faith in the sages who said that I should believe in abstract faith, above reason, that the Creator has so commanded us, to take upon ourselves faith, that He commanded us to keep Torah and Mitzvot. And we should also believe that the Creator derives pleasure when we keep the Torah and Mitzvot by way of faith above reason. And also, one should be glad at the Creator’s pleasure from one’s work.

Thus, there are four things here:

  1. Believing in the sages, that what they said is true.

  2. Believing that the Creator commanded to engage in Torah and Mitzvot only through faith above reason.

  3. That there is joy when the creatures keep the Torah and Mitzvot on the basis of faith.

  4. One should receive delight and pleasure and gladness from having been rewarded with pleasing the King. And the measure of the greatness and the importance of one’s work is measured by the measure of gladness that one educes during one’s work. And this depends on the measure of faith that a person believes in the above.

It follows that when you hear unto the voice of God, all the powers that he receives from the body are not considered receiving a loan from the body, which one should return, by way of, “if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord.” And if the body asks, “Why should I give you strength for the work when you promise me nothing in return?” he should answer, “Because this is what you were made for. What can I do if the Creator hates you, as it is written in the Holy Zohar, that the Creator hates the bodies.”

Moreover, when the Holy Zohar says that the Creator hates the bodies, this refers specifically to the bodies of the servants of the Creator, since they want to be eternal receivers, as they want to receive the crown of the next world, too.

And this is considered, “and thou shalt not lend.” This means that you do not have to give anything for the strength that the body gave you for the work. But if you lend it, if you give it any kind of pleasure, it is only as a loan, and it should give you strength for work in return, but not for free.

And it must always give you strength, meaning for free. You do not give it any pleasure and you always demand of it to have strength for the work, since “the borrower is servant to the lender.” Thus, it will always be the servant and you will be the master.

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