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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

Letter No. 16

1925, Warsaw

To my soul mate, may his candle burn forever:

I received your letter yesterday and I enjoyed it because I saw that you want to do as I wish, after all. Regarding your first question, your words are very confused. It is a profound matter, and I am preoccupied now, but I will nevertheless elaborate a little on the matter; perhaps you will understand and accept it from now on.

I have already said in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that prior to making a Mitzva [commandment], one must not consider private Providence at all. On the contrary, one should say, “If I am not for me, who is for me?” But after the fact, a person must reconsider and believe that it was not by “My power and the might of my hand” that I made the Mitzva, but only by the power of the Creator, who contemplated so about me in advance, and so I had to do.

It is likewise in worldly matters because spirituality and corporeality are equal. Therefore, before one goes out to make one’s daily bread, he should remove his thoughts from private Providence and say, “If I am not for me, who is for me?” He should do all the tactics applied in corporality to earn his living as do others.

But in the evening, when he returns home with his earnings, he must never think that he has earned this profit by his own novelties, but rather that even if he stayed all day in the basement of his home, he would still have earned his pay, for so the Creator contemplated for him in advance, and so it had to be.

And although the matters look the contrary on the surface, and are unreasonable, a person must believe that so the Creator has determined for him in His law, from authors and from books.

This is the meaning of the unification of HaVaYaH Elokim. HaVaYaH means private Providence, where the Creator is everything, and He does not need dwellers of material houses to help him. Elokim in Gematria is HaTeva [the Nature], where man behaves according to the nature that He instilled in the systems of the corporeal heaven and earth, and he keeps those rules as do the rest of the corporeal beings. And yet, he also believes in HaVaYaH, meaning in private Providence.

By that he unites them with one another, and “they became as one in his hand,” and thus he brings great contentment to his Maker, and brings illumination to all the worlds.

This is the meaning of the three discernments—commandment, transgression, and permission. The commandment is the place of holiness, the transgression is the place of the Sitra Achra, and permission is neither a commandment nor a transgression. Rather, it is the place over which the holiness and the Sitra Achra fight.

When a person does permitted things but does not dedicate them to the holiness, that entire place falls into the domain of the Sitra Achra. And when a person grows stronger and engages in permitted things to make unifications as much as he can, he returns the permission into the domain of holiness.

Thus, I have interpreted what our sages said, “It follows that the physician has been given permission to heal.” That is, although the healing is certainly in the hands of the Creator, and human tactics will not move Him from His place, the holy Torah still informs us, “And shall cause him to be thoroughly healed,” to let you know that it is permitted, that this is the place of the campaign between commandment and transgression.

It follows that we ourselves are obliged to conquer that “permission” under the holiness. But how is it conquered? When a person goes to a doctor, and the doctor prescribes him a medication that has been tried and tested a thousand times, and after he has taken the medication he is cured, he must believe that without the doctor, the Creator would still cure him, for his life has been entirely preordained. Thus, instead of singing and praising the human doctor, he thanks and praises the Creator, and by so doing conquers the permitted under the domain of holiness.

It is likewise in the rest of the matters of “permission.” By that he expands the boundaries of holiness so that the holiness expands to its fullest measure, and he suddenly sees himself and his full stature standing and living in the palace of holiness. Indeed, the boundaries of holiness have so expanded that it reached his own place.

I have explained all the above-said to you several times already because this issue is an obstacle to several people who have no clear perception of private Providence, and “a slave feels comfortable with a life without a master.” Instead of work, he wishes to trust even more, and desires even more to revoke the questions from his faith, and acquire supernatural proofs.

This is why they are punished and put themselves to death, for since the sin of Adam HaRishon onward, the Creator has devised a correction to this sin in the form of unification of HaVaYaH and Elokim, as I have explained.

This is the meaning of “By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread.” It is human nature that what one obtains through one’s own efforts, it is very hard for him to say that it is the Creator’s gift. Thus, he has room for work, to exert in complete faith in private Providence, and decide that he would come to it even without his work. By that, that transgression is mitigated.

Therefore, once you knew and wrote that Nature is a condition from the Creator, why do you settle once more for occasionally breaching the condition of “it came to pass” in favor of “it will come to pass.” One who breaches the Creator’s requisite will certainly fail because he does not unite HaVaYaH and Elokim, and “One who says, ‘I will sin and repent,’ is not permitted to repent.”

Also, why the experiments when there are practical actions? I also understand how you come to think that there is no need to establish private Providence, and I have already warned you about it many times.

And what you wrote about the sentence, to regret the continuation of the flesh, it is certainly a must. If you are a strong man, throughout the day and always you will not find stains during the examination. That is, you, too, helped a little to this completion.

It is all the more so at a time of anger, as well as during envy and feelings of pride and so forth. All these are stains that come from the creation of ideas that there are my power and the might of my hand in my possessions and property. However, it takes great craftsmanship to avoid falling into negligence in the work because of it, for he will not be able to move the good inclination over the evil inclination and say, “If I am not for me, who is for me,” etc., as it is written, “And the fool is boasting and confident.” However, as I have written above in the name of the Baal Shem Tov, all the above are fixed, irrevocable laws; they are eternal.

We need to understand that His thoughts are not our thoughts. When it comes to the Creator, there is no issue of oppositeness in reality; it is all an evaluation of our five senses.

We should also understand that all the letters and the combinations are desired by us, but in the upper one, everything includes two forms—contentment and anger—which surround every incident in the world. Contentment includes rest and all its pleasures, and anger includes all the power of movement. Every ... and every movement ... renewal of creation, which is the meaning of “Maker of light and creator of darkness”...

Yehuda Leib

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