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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

What Are Revealed and Concealed in the Work of the Creator?

Article No. 19, Tav-Shin-Mem-Zayin, 1986-87

The writing says (Micah 6:8), “He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Here in this verse we see two things revealed before us: 1) “To do justice,” where we see that He does justice. 2) “Love mercy,” where we see that He loves mercy. How do we know this? We see that He does mercy. He must certainly love it or He would not do mercy. And one thing that was said here is concealed, as it is written, “and to walk humbly with the Lord your God.”

We need to understand the meaning of walking humbly. In the literal, it is interpreted that the two above-mentioned things—doing justice and loving mercy—should be in concealment, so no one will see his good deeds. But what does this mean in the work?

It is known that there are the acts of Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds] and the intention of the Mitzvot. In the actions, everyone is equal; there is no difference between a great righteous and an ordinary person, since it was said about the practicing Mitzvot, “Do not add and do not subtract.” We do not say that the righteous has two mezuzahs [text from the Torah placed on the right hand doorpost], one on the right side of the door and on the left side. Rather, the difference between great and small is only in the intention.

In the intention we should also make two discernments: 1) to aim that now he is performing the Mitzvotof the Creator, 2) aim for the reason that makes him observe the Mitzvot of the Creator.

However, in this regard we should make several discernments: 1) He is observing the Mitzvot of the Creator for by this, people around him will respect him and so forth. It follows that what compels him to keep the Creator’s Mitzvot is people and not the Creator. That is, if there were no people around him, he would not observe the Mitzvot of the Creator.

And in this discernment, too, we should discern whether he is doing this out of coercion. That is, a person who desecrates the Shabbat [Sabbath] might work for a religious person. The rule is that if he can force him not to desecrate the Shabbat, the rule is that he must force him. For example, if he does not observe the Shabbat, he will fire him from the job. If he has no place else to work, he will certainly promise him that he will not desecrate the Shabbat.

It turns out that he is observing the Mitzvot of his boss, meaning he follows the commandments of the giver of the work, and he has no connection with the Creator. However, in terms of the law, we see that this, too, is regarded as observing Mitzvot. Otherwise, why would he need to force him to observe Mitzvot?

It turns out that this servant is only working out of coercion. It is as we said (Article No. 29, Tav-Shin-Mem-Vav) that Maimonides said (Hilchot De’ot, Chapter 6), “In matters of above, if he did not revert in concealment, he is shamed in public. He is despised and cursed until he repents.” It follows that he is observing the Mitzvot because the public is forcing him.

Concerning the reason that people are compelling him, we should discern whether he enjoys performing that Mitzva or not. When he performs the Mitzvot because he is respected and so forth, he enjoys observing the Mitzvot. But if he is observing Torah and Mitzvot because of coercion, he always yearns to come out of that exile so he will not suffer from the Torah and Mitzvot, which is to him as “will pass on his own will, and will not be killed” by the people compelling him to observe the Torah and Mitzvot.

It therefore follows that one who observes because of respect from people can observe the Torah and Mitzvot gladly. But one who observes coercively, cannot be in happiness. Rather, he sits and waits for an opportunity to escape from this exile, since he is not observing the Mitzvot of the Creator because he wants to observe what the Creator said, but he must observe because people on the outside are chasing him, and he cannot suffer greater torments than the torments of observing Mitzvot. For this reason, this manner is worse than the first.

It follows that there are two discernments in aiming to observe Torah and Mitzvot: 1) out of fear and coercion, 2) out of love, when he is happy when he observes Torah and Mitzvot.

There is also another discernment in the reason that makes him observe Torah and Mitzvot. It is called “walking humbly.” This refers to the actions—so everything he does, no one sees or hears of his good deeds, and he does everything in concealment. In terms of the intention, it is certainly hidden from the eye of every living thing.

But in the intention, there are two discernments to make: 1) He is observing Torah and Mitzvot and there is nothing here that is because of people, since no one knows about his work. Rather, the reward that the Creator pays for listening to Him is the reason compelling him to observe Torah and Mitzvot.

This manner is regarded as believing in the Creator and believing in reward and punishment. Thus, the reward and punishment is the reason compelling him to engage in Torah and Mitzvot. We can call this manner “working Lishma [for Her sake],” meaning for the Creator and not for people to respect him.

This is certainly clean work, which is entirely for the Creator: 1) With respect to actions, he does not want anyone to see his good deeds so they will reward him for it. 2) With respect to intention, he does not require people to pay him anything for this work in Torah and Mitzvot. Rather, he wants the Creator to pay his reward for his work.

However, this manner of walking humbly is still incomplete, although it is more important than the two prior manners, which is when people compel him: 1) the first is because of fear and coercion, 2) the second is because of love.

Here, however, the reason is only that the Creator compels him. Yet, since he wants reward in return for his work, by this he becomes separated from the Creator due to disparity of form. For this reason, his work is still incomplete.

Complete work means that he works in concealment, his intention is that only the Creator compels him to engage in Torah and Mitzvot, and other people have no grip on his work. At the same time, he is working not in order to receive reward, but only for the Creator. This is regarded as wanting to adhere to the Creator, as in, “As He is merciful, so you are merciful.”

This means that all his work is in order to bestow, and he derives great satisfaction from the privilege of serving the King. From this he derives pleasure and joy, and he has no other need to be given anything. Rather, when he observes Torah and Mitzvot in utter simplicity and cannot aim any intentions, he settles for this as though he can serve the King with an important service.

It is like a person working for the king as a cleaner compared to one who is the king’s minister and advises the king wherever the king needs his help. There is certainly a great difference from the king’s cleaning man, both in salary and in the respect of the king’s minister.

The lesson is that there is certainly a difference between one who is serving the king when he has been rewarded with “The secrets of Torah are revealed to him and he entertains himself with the King,” and one who is a commoner, observing Torah and Mitzvot without any understanding of the intellect of the Torah. Rather, he is happy that he has been privileged with observing the King’s Mitzvot, which He has given to him. He enjoys this more than any worldly pleasure, since the pleasures of this world seem to him as though they are serving the body, which is flesh and blood. But when he engages in utter simplicity, which is the simplest work, like a cleaner in the King’s house, but says, “At the end of the day, whom do I want to please? The King.” He does not want to serve himself, called “will to receive for his own sake,” but his intention is that the Creator will enjoy his work.

It follows that a person should receive pleasure, since without pleasure a person cannot work. Because of the nature that the Creator has created, according to the thought of creation, which is His desire to do good to His creations, a desire and yearning to receive pleasure are imprinted in us.

However, there are great differences regarding the things from which we can receive pleasure. That is, pleasure is called “light,” and there is no light without a Kli [vessel]. It follows that the pleasure that one wants to receive is placed in some Kli. This means that there are pleasures clothed in corporeal pleasures, such as lust. Yet, in lust, too, there are several discernments to make. It is likewise with respect, and one can also derive pleasure from learning knowledge. Every person can derive pleasure from the Kelim [vessels], which are generally called “lust,” “respect,” and “knowledge.”

However, there is a fourth degree, which is serving the Creator. Baal HaSulam said in the “Introduction to The Book of Zohar” that there are four degrees called SVAS (still, vegetative, animate, and speaking): 1) “Still” is called “lust,” 2) “Vegetative” is called “honor,” 3) “Animate” is called “knowledge,” and 4) “Speaking” is called “serving the Creator.”

It follows that each one must receive pleasure, except there is a difference from which clothing a person can derive delight and pleasure. In this we should distinguish one from the other. For this reason, it turns out that the beginning of man’s work on the path of truth is to achieve the degree of “walk humbly with your God.”

That is, his work is in concealment, where no one has any contact with his Torah and Mitzvot because he is concealed from people. However, there is another thing that should be here: “Walk humbly with your God.” “With” means in Dvekut [adhesion]. His work should be in Dvekut with your God and not in separation. This is so because specifically when he works not in order to receive reward, but entirely to bestow, he has equivalence of form, called “Dvekut with the Creator.” But if his intention is to receive reward from the Creator for his work, then he is deemed a receiver, and the Creator is the giver. It follows that there is no Dvekut with the Creator here, but to the contrary, there is separation, for he is in oppositeness of form from the Creator.

By this we will understand what we asked, “What is the meaning of ‘Walk humbly with your God’?” The literal meaning is that here is the beginning of the work called Lishma. It is as Rabbi Meir said, “He who learns Torah Lishma [for Her sake], henceforth, he is rewarded with many things and the secrets of Torah are revealed to him, and he becomes like a springing stream.”

It therefore follows that we should distinguish between the work of the general public and the work of the individual.

The work of the general public refers to the whole of Israel, who learn Torah as a practice. In other words, in actual fact. There are seventy nations in the world, and there are good people with good qualities, and there are the opposite: wicked. In other words, in the world in general, there are many people. There, the order of the work is that the act is what matters. It is impossible that they will mind the intention, to make it Lishma. Instead, they are told, “From Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], we come to Lishma.”

Also, their work does not need to be in concealment. Instead, the order is that each one tells his friend how much good deeds he has and how much time he dedicates to Torah and work. This is so on purpose, and there are two benefits from it: 1) It benefits the teller, since when he sees that someone is envious of him, it motivates him to work. That is, he has the power to work for others because he thinks that his friend will respect him for his work. It follows that this gives him fuel for work.

The reason is that anyone who makes any effort must have reward in return for it. The reward can be in money or in respect. That is, sometimes, the act that he does makes people respect him. This is already regarded as reward, like money. That is, some people work for respect, and respect pertains precisely to where there are people who see his actions.

However, there is a difference between money and respect from the perspective of the giver. Where one works for money, he does not care who gives the money. The giver can be a common person, but if he pays a higher price than a respectable person, in monetary payment, it is not the giver’s personality that determines if the work is worthwhile, but the sum of money determines the place of the work.

This is not so with one who works for respect. Here, the giver is precisely the one who determines. If the giver is a distinguished person, it is not so difficult to work for respect. However, this depends on the level to which the person is regarded by the public as an important personality.

It therefore follows that it is difficult to serve the Creator not in order to receive reward, and a person expects some return. It is not enough for a person to serve the King because he lacks the faith in the greatness of the Creator, since otherwise, it is natural that the small one annuls before the great one, when a person is accepted by the public as a great personality.

For this reason, when a person can no longer feel the greatness of the Creator, he must work in Lo Lishma. This is why a person engages in Torah and Mitzvot in order for people to respect him. However, this is so only where he is in an environment that respects servants of the Creator. When one is among secular people, he certainly works in concealment so as not to receive contempt from them instead of respect.

However, once a person has crossed the stage of the general public, if a person awakens and wants to come out of the general public, meaning be to enslaved to the public, meaning that according to what the general public determines as the work of the Creator, this is what he can observe.

But what is not accepted by the public, and he feels that the work of the general public is not the final stage, but he has an inner drive that there is the issue of work that pertains specifically to individuals, where each individual contains the collective, then the matter of Lishma begins to be revealed to him. It is as Maimonides says (end of Hilchot Teshuva), “Until they gain more knowledge and acquire much wisdom, they are shown that secret bit by bit. They are accustomed to this matter calmly until they attain Him and know Him, and serve Him with love.”

It follows from all the above that there is the wholeness of the action and the wholeness of the intention. Once a person keeps the wholeness of the action, which pertains to the general public, then begins the work on the wholeness of the intention. This is when one must try to make the cause compelling him to observe Torah and Mitzvot be the Creator, since he wants to bestow upon the Creator because he believes in the greatness and importance of the Creator.

For this reason, he regards it as a great merit if he succeeds in serving the King. This work is called “concealed work.” Here, the work is primarily on the intention, which is not revealed to anyone. That is, not a single person in the world can know the reason that compels his friend to work in Torah and Mitzvot.

But in the work of the general public, called Lo Lishma, this is the revealed work, which is the practical part. This means that their wholeness is in the action. However, they were not given work on the intention, to make the intention whole, as well, meaning Lishma. Instead, they are taught to engage in Torah and Mitzvot Lo Lishma, as Maimonides says.

It is written in The Zohar (Nasso, Item 50): “‘The concealed things belong to the Lord our God’ are fear and love, which are in the mind and in the heart. These are the Yod-Hey. ‘And the revealed things belong to us and to our children,’ meaning the Torah and the Mitzva [singular of Mitzvot], which are in the externality of the Guf [body] and the Rosh [head]. This is the Vav-Hey. The meaning of the matter is that no one knows if a person fears the Creator or loves Him, since it is something that is revealed only between him and his Maker.”

But a person who engages in Torah and engages in practical Mitzvot, this is revealed to everyone, since here the Creator has made it that he should engage in Torah openly, and eyes to look at it and ears to hear it. The Creator has also made man hands, legs, and a body with which to perform Mitzvot.

It is known that the name HaVaYaH comprises five worlds, called AK and ABYA. The tip of the Yod consists of AK. They contain five Partzufim called Galgalta, AB, SAG, MA, and BON. These comprise five Sefirot: Keter, Hochma, Bina, ZA, and Malchut. This means that each and every Behina [discernment] is included in one letter in the name HaVaYaH.

The Zohar says about the verse, “This is My name forever, and this is My remembrance to all generations,” “My name” with Yod-Hey [in Hebrew] is 365 in Gematria, which implies to the 365 negatives [commandments not to perform certain actions]. “My remembrance” with Vav-Hey [in Hebrew] is 248 in Gematria, implying the positive Mitzvot [commandments to perform certain actions].

Baal HaSulam explained why the negatives are implied in Yod-Hey, which imply Hochma and Bina, and why the positive Mitzvot, which are certainly things with which to serve the Creator, are at a lower degree and are implied only in the Vav-Hey. He said that in the world of Tikkun [correction], it is in order to prevent another breaking of the vessels, since the reason for the breaking was that there were great lights in small vessels.

Hence, a correction was made that only small lights would shine, called “lights of VAK.” And because it is forbidden to extend lights of GAR, and GAR is called Yod-Hey, which are Hochma and Bina, it is nonetheless necessary to extend lights of VAK. For this reason, the lights of VAK are implied in the name Vav-Hey. Therefore, the positive Mitzvot are in Vav-Hey, which is VAK, but the lights of GAR, which are forbidden to extend, are called “negative Mitzvot,” meaning that it is forbidden to extend.

Accordingly, we can explain the meaning of HaVaYaH that includes fear and love, which are Yod-Hey, and Torah and Mitzva, which are Vav-Hey. We will explain them one at a time.

1) Fear means that one should be afraid lest he will bring little contentment to his Maker, as it is written in the “Introduction of The Book of Zohar” (Item 203): “Both the first fear and the second fear are not for his own benefit, but only for fear that he will lessen bringing contentment to his Maker.”

Fear is the first Mitzva because it is impossible to truly believe in whole faith that he will not come into heresy before he has been rewarded with fear. It is as it is written in the “Introduction of The Book of Zohar” (Item 138): “It is a law that the creature cannot receive disclosed evil from the Creator, for it is a flaw in the glory of the Creator for the creature to perceive Him as an evildoer. Hence, when one feels bad, denial of the Creator’s guidance lies upon him to the same extent, and the superior Operator is concealed from him.”

Yet, when a person does all his works in order to bestow, at that time the Kelim are fit to receive the delight and pleasure, and then there is faith upon him because in that state, he attains the Creator as the good who does good. It is as it is written in the Sulam [Ladder commentary]: “Thus, it is no wonder that we are still unworthy of receiving His complete benefit. For this reason, His guidance of good and evil has been prescribed for us.” It follows that this is the root of faith by which we can be rewarded with permanent faith.

2) Love. Since through fear he is rewarded with delight and pleasure, at that time love appears. In love, too, we should discern between conditional love and unconditional love, as it is written in the “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot.”

3) Torah. This extends from fear, since precisely through fear we can obtain the desire to bestow, as our sages said, “The light in it reforms him.” For this reason, specifically through Torah we can come to fear and trepidation lest he will not be able to bring contentment to his Maker.

This is why the Torah is over the disclosure of fear. That is, if he is truly learning Torah on the path of truth and not for the sake of knowledge, and his intention in the Torah is to achieve fear. For this reason, the order of the work is from below upward. This is why the Torah, which is Vav of HaVaYaH, comes first, since through it he later achieves fear.

However, one who learns Torah with a different aim, not in order to achieve fear of heaven, this is not regarded as Torah, but as knowledge. It is as our sages said (Midrash Rabbah, Eicha Rabatti 2:17), “Should a man tell you, ‘There is wisdom in the nations,’ believe, ‘There is Torah in the nations,’ do not believe,” since Torah belongs to those who learn in order to achieve fear of heaven.

4) Mitzva. This is Hey of HaVaYaH, and extends from love, which is the first Hey of HaVaYaH. Because of this, performing the Mitzvot should be with love and joy of observing the King’s commandments. Here, too, we learn from below upward, meaning by a person exerting to observe the King’s Mitzvot with love, by an awakening from below that causes an awakening of above, where the Creator reveals His love for Israel, as it is written, “You loved us and wanted us.”

It follows that through Torah, fear appears, and through Mitzva, love appears. This means that a person should begin the order of the work from below upward: 1) first Mitzva, which is the last Hey of HaVaYaH, 2) then Torah, which is Vav of HaVaYaH, 3) then love, which is the first Hey of HaVaYaH, 4) and then fear, which is the Yod of HaVaYaH.

But in the order of bestowal that comes from above, fear appears first, then love, then a person attains love, and then he attains Torah, and then Mitzva.

However, the matter of the inclusion of the souls in the name HaVaYaH is specifically in the last Hey. It is as the holy ARI says, that the soul of Adam HaRishon is from the internality of BYA, and BYA emerged from Malchut of Atzilut, called “last Hey of the whole of Atzilut.” For this reason, Malchut is called the “Assembly of Israel,” as it includes within it all the souls.

And for this reason, man’s work belongs to Malchut. That is, by observing Torah and Mitzvot, they cause the unification of the Creator and His Shechina [Divinity], since Malchut is called “a vessel of reception for the upper abundance,” and the Creator is called “the Giver.” This is why there is no unification here, called “equivalence of form.” But when we engage here below in acts of bestowal, each one causes equivalence of form in the root of his soul, and this is called “unification,” like the Creator, who is the Giver.

It is as it is written in The Zohar (Nasso, Item 29): “The letter Hey is a confirmation of things.” The meaning of the matter is “Take with you things and return to the Creator. Certainly, when a person sins, he causes the Hey to move farther from the Vav, since Ben Yod-Hey, which is Vav, comprises Yod-Hey-Vav, and departed from the letter Hey. This is why the Temple was ruined and Israel were removed from there and were exiled among the nations. And this is why anyone who repents causes the Hey to return to the letter Vav, and redemption depends upon this.

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