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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

228. Fish before Meat

I heard on Adar 1, February 21, 1947, Tiberias

The reason we eat fish first in a meal is that fish are given free, without preparation. This is why they are eaten first, as they do not require preparation, as it is written, "We remember the fish, which we were wont to eat in Egypt for nothing." And The Zohar interprets "for nothing" as without Mitzvot, meaning without preparation.

And why don’t fish require preparation? The thing is that we see that a fish is only considered Rosh (head); it has no hands or legs. A fish is discerned as “Josef wanted a fish and found a Margalit (gemstone) in its flesh.”

Margalit means Meragel (spy), and a fish means that there is no negotiation there. This is the meaning of the absence of hands and legs. And “halved” means that through the rise of Malchut to Bina, each degree has been halved, and by this division, a place was made for the Meragelim. Thus, the whole negotiation was only over the Meragelim, as the whole Torah extends from here. And this is the meaning of the Margalit hanging on his neck, and that all who were sick would look at it and heal immediately.

However, there is no reward in the discernment of the fish alone, except that it is free, as it is written, "which we were wont to eat in Egypt for nothing." "An open eye, which never sleeps, needs no guarding," since the issue of the fish is considered Hochma (wisdom) and Shabbat, which precede the Torah.

And the Torah means negotiation. This is the meaning of "I could not find my hands and legs at the seminary," meaning that there was no negotiation. "For nothing" means without negotiation, and "Torah" is called "the next world," discerned as "satiated and delighted," and that the satiation does not quench the pleasure, as it is the pleasure of the soul. However, in the discernment of "the Shabbat that precedes the Torah," considered Hochma, it comes to a state of Guf (body), and the Guf is a boundary, where the satiation quenches the pleasure.

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