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Article "Thou Hast Hemmed Me In Behind and Before" - Talk 3

Lesson Presented at Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education Center
Rav Michael Laitman, PhD
February 07, 2006
Lecturer: Michael Laitman, PhD

We are continuing to study Baal HaSulam’s article Thou Hast Hemmed Me In Behind and Before from the book Pri Hacham (Fruit of the Wise) Articles, page 103, from the section called “Power of Speech.”

The Power of Speech

But the Creator, when He innovated the act of creation, He disclosed only one part of this as it is written: “With the word of God the heavens were made”. He took fire and water and mixed them into a single carrier. The Creator imprinted the power of speech in man, to partner with Him in the act of creation; to also create through his speech the worlds from this discernment. Meaning, two opposites in the same carrier as another innovation in the world.

It means that there is this creature in which two innovations or opposite carriers can be combined in the same carrier. The carrier is the creature. The creature isn’t matter, it isn't flesh, it’s not the mind, it’s not our desire; the creature is that carrier in which two opposites can be combined.

We actually do not know what the carrier is. Of course it’s not some corporeal matter, it’s not a thought that we can imagine, or a desire that we could think of, or some force. Everything we could imagine is corporeal, even in the form of thoughts or desire or force, all the more so with matter. Rather, the carrier is something in which two opposites combine as one. It is not that they neutralize each other or that one overcomes the other, and thus it seems as though only one of them exists. It’s when both, by coming together, can coexist and complement one another so that each becomes even more conspicuous than before the connection.

This form is called spirituality. The act by which they are able to connect is called speech. The substance that comes out of it is called the twenty-two letters of the alphabet. The body that comes out of it comes from the five outlets of the mouth, of five groups of letters. From that, along with the Light of Ruach, that begins to work, five parts of the lungs and the whole Partzuf in its five primary parts; the inner Kelim, the outer Kelim, inner organs, outer organs, the brain, the liver, the heart, etc. are built.

We are talking about the spiritual Partzuf and, correspondingly, a replica in corporeality. Actually, we do not understand how one image goes through in order to create an image of another form. We don’t know how it works; we still don’t attain the connection, the formula of connecting the two.

Within us, i.e. those who are called people in this world, there is an ability to reach such a form, which is called a spiritual man, in whom there is the essence that contains the two opposites that join as one.

This is the way of the righteous who adhere to the Creator. From their speech the worlds were created with the word of God...

Worlds are the measure of concealment in which the spiritual creature builds this concealment over itself in order to protect itself and exist in that spiritual state. Otherwise, they would not be able to exist and will be canceled. The worlds are built by the individuals called the spiritual people who use this concealment around them as a defense system for their existence. Otherwise, their spiritual existence will be canceled.

…and the force that operates in the operated, because he had already imprinted in their mouth the twenty-two letters by which He created the world. I mean to say that they have this merit.

Of course they receive all the information from the outside. “From the outside” means from connecting the two opposites, from the willingness to connect two opposites correctly. In this way, they receive understanding, mind, the ability to build for themselves the inner reality and the outer reality.

Examples come from connecting two opposites. However, these examples become clarified when they already exist in something that is above them, which with respect to them is called Creator, who is like an example in which these examples exist.

Why do they exist in Him as well? Is He made of two opposites? Yes, because with respect to the lower one, He is made of two opposites, He is incorporated of the lower one with His desire to bestow.

All of that, the actions are not done in this world through mere speech. It is because of the descents of this world in its materialization.

There’s spiritual speech and there’s corporeal speech. In the corporeal speech, the corporeal creatures connect to one another. It’s the level of connection of people. In the spiritual speech, the connection is the Masach which stands at Peh (mouth) and from there, as we discussed, come the fiveoutlets of the mouth, the Zivug of the Hech and Garon (the palate and the throat) and all the discernments.

Hence nothing is revealed in speech only in the hands and legs. But in truth the Creator imprinted enough strength in the speech by which the whole action will be revealed as the operating force in the operated. And we too express with our mouth these twenty-two letters. But the Klipot cover and weaken that force and the Creator wanted to purify Israel from the Klipot.

Specifically by way of feeling the force of creation as seemingly negative for attaining the spirituality, the bestowal, we demand strength from the higher force, the Creator. That force comes and helps build these twenty-two letters. Every time we turn to the Creator it is the same action because any new form is built through the twenty-two letters.

Question: When Baal HaSulam writes about Klipot that weaken us, is he talking about our work?

Whom do they weaken? The Klipot weaken that force. Which force? The force of the twenty-two letters with which we want to build our existence, “…as the operating force in the operated, And we too express with our mouth… [the same] twenty-two letters.”

If I’m in a state where I can already work this way, then I feel that I am getting help when I get stuck with questions and misunderstandings, which is called Klipa. This is Klipa working as “a helpmate opposite him:” I see, where I do not understand, where I have troubles, where I am weak, where I am confused.

There are positive discernments by which I progress. But I progress even more through negative discernments. These might be such negative discernments that I run away from them. I can’t stand against them either because I am weak or because I have to do it, once I understand what they are and who they are. This could be a deliberate escape, a voluntary act: I did not have to escape, but I do. Or perhaps I escape for another reason.

It is also possible that these are questions that stand before a person and a person along with these questions comes to understand, with wisdom, with prayer, that he can’t do anything against them, as it is written: “Pharaoh brought the sons of Israel closer to our Father in heaven,” The biggest Klipa is called Pharaoh, and the Klipa guards the Kli, helps the Kli grow. It means that it is a force that detains the Kli from breaking into all kinds of desires, which the Kli still cannot use.

“This hurts, this is bad, this is wrong, this hits me;” if I didn’t feel these things using all these possibilities, negativities and disabilities, I wouldn’t be hit before I reach them. I’d been beaten up terribly by getting into them. If it hadn’t been for the pain like when I am being burned by something or something stabs me, if I didn’t suffer pain, I’d be putting my body into that painful state. This way I immediately feel it, I feel that it hurts, so I stay away from it.

Hence Klipot nevertheless keep the fruit from entering into exterior desires called Klipot. It helps not to get into them and use them. By what do they do it? They do that by hurting, by weakening and bringing despair. But if I see that it is pain and despair, I skip over that sensation. It’s not so much a question of the sensation, but it’s a Tikkun by which I acquire strength to get into these desires and use them correctly. Then the pain goes away. It’s just a sign that I can now use these desires, which I previously could not.

So either the pain stops me, or I find the Masach and Aviut, the strength to overcome, the understanding and the intention to use it correctly. Then this pain does not hurt me any more because I found the right way to advance to the goal through appreciating it more than the pain. This is as if I put out the pain. The Klipa becomes a help and participates in building the Kli. That’s how it is every time. There is no substance of Klipa and substance of Kedusha (sanctity). The same Klipot become sacred.

Question: Is the whole work of discernments in the work now or in the spiritual work past the barrier?

Of course, it’s in the spiritual work past the barrier. However, even before we have a so-called work in preparation in which we have all those modes that exist in the work above the Machsom. All these forms are within the will to receive, with all the values within the will to receive, within the ego. But within the ego, we also have desires to bestow, to love, to give, to contribute and a person might dedicate his own life, give his life too. But still when we research it, we see that all the calculations are egoistic.

The actions are not made in this world through mere speech and this is because of descents of this world in materialization. Hence, nothing appears in the speech but only in the hands and the legs. But in truth, the Creator imprinted enough strength in the speech by which every act or the whole action will be revealed, because the force that operates in the operated and we too express with our mouth the same twenty-two letters.

What is Baal HaSulam trying to say? How can we understand what he is writing about?

We are in our degree, which is merely a desire to enjoy. By participating with our strength, with our understanding, we build (twenty-two letters). What does it mean twenty-two letters? We acquire wisdom in them, the wisdom of how to use speech in the connection between us. Through the connection between us we come to the disclosure of actions that can appear in speech. In other words, through them a higher degree begins to appear. We progress toward it; it isn't something that actually appears.

What is the benefit from being in the corporeal world? The benefit is that, with respect to spirituality, we are like existence from absence, where we can, specifically by being in the corporeal world, create the spiritual reality, the spiritual world, the spiritual us, similarly to the way the Creator created existence from absence—our substance, our reality and us. Meaning, we have to resemble the Creator, until we complete the whole act of resembling Him, by being in the sensation of this world.

What is this world? It is a kind of sensation that exists in us. Then we understand who we are. What we now think of ourselves as us, (in that sense), we actually don’t exist. This sensation is also false. Along with our world, it later on becomes annulled as "absence." When there is existence from existence, this absence just disappears.

All of that— Klipot, the obstructions, in this world and the Klipot, the obstructions, in the spiritual world—is built in order to help us connect two opposites in one subject and on the border between them, where we put Masach and Ohr Hozer, the twenty-two letters, a so-called speech, from there to build the creature.

Question: We define corporeality as in order to receive and spirituality as in order to bestow…

No! In order to receive and in order to bestow is all spirituality. In order to receive is Klipa; in order to bestow is Kedusha.

Question (cont.): Why not define spirituality as a state in which two opposites connect into one and corporeality as a state where one is always under the control of one of the contradictions?

Because spirituality is not that the two of them come together. Spirituality is what comes out of that connection, the coefficient, the result that is at a higher degree still. Spirituality is resemblance to the Creator. It’s not the substance of creation, the Masach and the Returning Light, the Inner Light and the Surrounding Light. This is not spirituality yet. Of course these are discernments that don’t exist in our world but they are just derivatives.

We, the spiritual us or the spiritual person (from the word Edame - will be like the Creator) is something that comes as a result of joining two opposites. It’s the middle line as we call it, which doesn’t exist in nature whatsoever. It is as if the right line and the left line exist. But actually even they disappear, and all that’s left afterwards is just the middle line, similarity to the Upper One.

Question: Where does t he force, the ability to sustain the two opposites come from? Is that the preparation of the creature or it comes from above?

It’s all the Creator’s work. The creature just has to be alert to what goes through it in saying (with respect to what, that's also a question), “if I am not for me, who is for me?” and “There is none besides Him,” joining the opposite things together. It is actually our work of preparation.

But the Klipot cover and weaken that strength and the Creator wanted to purify Israel from the Klipot so he gave them Torah and Mitzvot by which they come closer to His Sanctity. Then Shehina, (Divinity,) speaks from their throats in purity and then with their speech they perform actions.

This means that there are contradicting forces: Klipot, correspondingly Torah, Mitzvot, actions made in working between them. Through them, meaning by this work and combination in Kedusha and Klipa these twenty-two letters appear, which is called “the Shechina speaks from their throats.” What comes out of it is the revelation of the Creator. That’s the whole correction.

Correction is not that we actually correct anything. Correction is that by arranging these discernments, something new is made in us. This is called the image of the Creator. In the right or the left lines, there is no image of the Creator; it’s a result of combining them. It’s like talking about the embryo, the creating force, detaining force. You have to have contradicting forces to give us, to make the image of the embryo. Can there be only one force? No, there will be no image.

In corporeality it’s like a stone which is full of matter and then a sculptor comes and carves it, creating a deficiency in it, thus creating from the two an image. But in spirituality you don’t even have that image in the eyes of the sculptor, in the right line. It is born out of combining two forces, because this image doesn’t come from the sculptor, it is something a person has to discover.

A person looks for the way that can be in me with respect to the Creator, so that I am like Him. It’s not that I am the Creator or that I can take the form from Him, but I learn it through joining these two opposites. It’s hard to explain. That’s why in these places we normally use and all kinds of other languages. These are things that you can’t really express.

The blessing of the righteous

This is the meaning of the blessings of the righteous who with their utterance disclose immediately more than a simple man can disclose in his hands and legs. Because a simple man who wants to do good to his friend gives money to his friend and makes him rich. Still he does not know if it will exist in him for a long time.

What is Baal HaSulam saying? The righteous speaking and their words are worth more than somebody who gives money or helps? The doctor comes and gives me medicine; a rich friend comes and helps me exist? What is it about the words of the righteous? It’s that the correction of the world comes only through inner correction of the Kelim, which is called the speech of the righteous, the blessings of the righteous.

Only on this degree can there be correction, not from the actions of body and flesh, from which no correction ever comes, only corruption. The correction is on a spiritual level, where I can really compare contradicting things and elevate them to the level of Godliness. As much as I try to do good to others and to the Creator with my hands and legs, or when I think that I am doing good to the Creator through my speech, all those physical actions, such things do not exist in spirituality, in eternity. That is what it means. Please read it again.

The blessing of righteous

That’s the meaning of the blessings of the righteous who disclose more with their words than a simple man can discover with his hands and legs. Because a simple man who wants to do good to his friend…[This means that he tries on this corporeal level to give absolutely everything, to be an altruist.] …gives money to his friend and makes him rich. [So what?] Still he doesn’t know if it will exist in him for a long time. [As experienced as we are, we see that we only get more enemies, and people are more depressed and more hungry.]

But the complete, who wants to be good to his friend, gives him blessing in his mouth, meaning some short words of richness and immediately the act of richness appears over his friend.

Does his friend see it? That’s the question concerning the correction of the righteous on him. But what is done in a spiritual world, the act itself is immediately (realized). It’s not that I do something in a spiritual degree and it expands to those I want. But just like we see with the mother, Bina who wants to give to the lower ones contains them first within herself and then performs the act. The act of the righteous in spirituality contains from the very beginning all the Kelim, and the act itself is actually the correction, which he gives them.

This exists in spirituality for eternity, whereas all the help in our world doesn’t follow that same direction as spirituality, actually brings corruption. Those who want to correct anything in this world will have to worry only about the necessity of everyone and the rest is only for spiritual correction. That is why “without flour there is no Torah.” And that “saving life he rejects everything but only saving life,” nothing more than that.

How are we awarded that, how do we win that? Through Torah and Mitzvot meaning by doing His will the form becomes similar to the Maker.

Which is called keeping Torah and Mitzvot, meaning the measure to which a person makes himself similar to Godliness.

But in truth the whole matter of Torahand Mitzvot that connect to a person is also from the above kind meaning two opposites in the same carrier. This is the essence of the desire because in the Torah the Creator created the world.

From the beginning through the Light, through the attribute of bestowal everything was created. The attribute of bestowal is in all of matter and we only need to discover it from within matter. The concealment is only on us who can’t discover it.

And the operating force in the operated

This is a purpose of the knowledge that we will not know, meaning when these two opposites join into one body in one’s mind. Then he is wanted by the Maker and he is called a wholesome man.

Question: Since the sentence is very confusing: "when these two opposites join into one body in one's mind"…

What do you mean body? Someone’s mind enters my flesh?

Question (cont.): What is mind with respect to the body?

In spirituality mind or reason is what connects, let’s say, Hochma and Bina. It’s the average discernment between them and connecting these two opposites into one. From this mind in particular, as we learn, the body of the Partzuf, the HaBaD, is made, because the spiritual Partzuf is built of the unification of two opposites.

It seems clear to me, but it is hard to express these things with intellectual discernments, rationally. Here is a sensation that can be conveyed to another who has spiritual discernments with respect to these, but if he doesn’t have them, it’s a problem.

Question: Baal HaSulam talks about blessings and righteous. He doesn’t refer to people on the street.

We have said that the blessings of the righteous are what comes out of the Peh of the spiritual Partzuf, which is called a blessing because this act is in acquiring resemblance of the Creator greater than before. In this act, the righteous contains all the other souls. This is called blessing them, promoting them toward the same act.

If he works with his hands, legs and physical mouth, nothing will come out except corruptions. These corruptions too gradually disclose themselves as corruptions and then a person comes to correction, not directly but indirectly.

Question: Can I look for the attributes close to those of the righteous within myself (there aren't many of them) and compare them with my other attributes, by trying to decide which ones prevail?

Are you asking how to find the righteous within yourself? You have to try, in the group, to operate yourself according to the advice of Kabbalists. If you know and keep this intention that you don’t just do it according to your intellect, but according to the advice of Kabbalists; that you realize, wherever you are, what they recommend—this is called using 613 councils of the Torah.

You knowingly are doing it only because they so commanded, and only because they know that by this you advance toward bringing contentment to the Creator. Meaning, according to the councils and the goal that they determined, you, being in the middle, only carry out. You only want to have the ability to perform. If there is understanding, let it be there. You’re willing to do everything, you just perform.

By that you merit the Ohr Makif that then builds new Kelim. From the 613 councils, the Kelim are made, and the 613 deposits, the Lights come in. And when the spiritual Kelim and the Lights, the two opposites, meet, you connect them through the Masach, and you then acquire the Rosh (head) of the Partzuf, from the Peh (mouth) up. The Rosh of the Partzuf is similar to the Creator.

This is what is left eternally. Say AB, for example, leaves, its Rosh remains clothed over Galgalta. SAG leaves, its Rosh remains and clothes the SAG of Galgalta etc. From all these heads, this image is built from this world to the world Ein Sof.

Question: Is a person whose mouth and heart are equal, in spirituality?

No. Say, a baby. “You love your daddy and mummy?” He answers, “I don’t like daddy!” Baby's mouth and the heart are the same. Is he in spirituality? [Rav laughs]

All of the words, the verses, the sayings of our sages need spiritual scrutiny, since they spoke from the spiritual level. They didn’t say a single word about this world. What can they say about this world? What to do if your tummy aches, like some Kabbalists tell you? Everything pertains only to spirituality where we attain Godliness with respect to our world.

They don’t need to explain this world. Do they care how you do or do not live in this world for seventy years? They care how you live these seventy years of life here so that you attain spirituality. But is it to make this life a better one? Then what? You won’t die but stay? Is there any correction in that?

Therefore, they don’t say a single word about corporeality, only about how the person in this world attains spirituality. This is why all of their advice, in their verses and all kinds of sayings, you can only understand what they meant on a spiritual level.

When you draw them to corporeality, it just does terrible harm to yourself and to others. How can you interpret in corporeality directly what refers to spirituality? These are two opposite worlds; we don’t even understand that oppositeness. How is it opposite? It’s written: “I’ve seen an opposite world.” How is it opposite? What, is black there, is white here? No, what's big there is small here. So I see a regular guy on the street. Oh, he will soon die. Up there he’ll be really big! I have to measure opposite, right? No, so what?

Question: I am not done with the righteous.

I understand. You are looking within yourself.

Question (cont.): This is true. It takes a lot of time to understand that "everyone judges by his own defect." However, if you discover a certain attribute, outlook or image and define it as "righteous," it means that you have an inner discernment that allows you to determine that it is good, similar to bestowal. The question I have is about blessing. When you bless, do you give some greater importance to these attributes in you or you look for them outside?

What do you look for on the outside? I didn’t understand that ending. First of all, I don’t know what attributes you have in mind, and in general, what you are talking about. If I want to test, I test either what’s good or what’s bad in me according to what the doctor tells me. The psychologist tells me this, my wife tells me differently than what I think. Everyone says from his own angle what is good what is bad. So let’s first decide who says what’s good and what’s bad.

It says: “In your Light we shall see Light.” I have to take some advice, discernments, standards of Kabbalists and accordingly measure what is good about me, what is bad and in which degree everything is. How do I know? Where do I find this machine that I can put myself into? It tests me somehow and can bring me some tests results. I don’t have that now. How do I do it? I am willing. My life is precious to me; I want to do something with it. How would I do it?

They say, “Look, you don’t have a choice. If you want to know about yourself, you can only do it through the Light that Reforms.” How? There is a group, there is a guide, there is a book, and you have to use them. Use them by listening just like now you listen to the internet and television; by listening, not by reading. (If it is) not in the presence of a big group, then there should be something that influences you, some collection of people like yourself, who are looking. But you have to put over yourself means that bring the Upper Light, even in the way that you don’t feel it, but somehow it shines on you. You get something new. There are little fluctuations with respect to which you measure your life.

But it’s not as you say, “I see he is good or he is righteous, he is bad.” How do you measure? You were brought up. We don’t care where you come from because here you begin a new life, a new society, a new life. ”You are like a baby,” that’s what is written. But you have to make sure the Lights influence you. Otherwise, of course, you will go by your old discernments.

Where did you come from? Was it a religious environment?

Student's reply: From the market.

From the market? The market is fine because it’s as though there is nothing prior to that. You have less to get rid of.

Question: Is it possible to come to the state of unification of contradictions through wanting bestowal? Will working 100% in the direction of bestowal bring the balance between contradictions?

Unification of contradictions in our world too gives us new knowledge, new discernments. Anyone who researches to some degree, who wants to attain, says: "I know about this, I know about that, but I need something. What do I need? I need a connection, but I run around, I am confused, I don’t know; I am like a fool." All of a sudden, he doesn’t understand even what he had, what he is learning.

But then it becomes clearer. A new degree becomes clearer, a new perception, a new understanding; he controls. Previously he was only collecting within himself material from Above. Now he as if ascended and he lies over this matter, now he controls the matter from within. These are the states we go through in everything: in the study, in corporeality.

In spirituality it’s not exactly like that. In spirituality we acquire not by domination over these states, over matter of previous discernments. Rather, we come seemingly from the Guf (body) to the Rosh (mind). A new perception opens, not domination over previous information, but essentially a new perception. I attain Godliness. Previously I couldn’t; I didn’t have any connection to it.

Question: The level of the Rosh, attaining the Creator is the next degree, the result. We are at the level of implementation, the level of Guf. When a person is working in bestowal, when he is in charge of his exertion, does he come to the Rosh, to the balance? If he is working toward bestowal, does he build the Rosh out of the two contradictions?

No, this labor helps us only acquire more and more knowledge and connect more and more to the friends and by that, to keep the advice of Kabbalists in our degree, in preparation, in corporeality, in our ego, in our desire. By that we do not acquire spirituality directly. That has nothing to do with spirituality. It is completely wrong.

But these things, although they are wrong, (originate) in the will to receive and calculations of reception, they bring me to ‘I labored and found.’ I make a certain level of effort that I can at this degree and receive from Above a new spiritual discernment; it’s completely new. All my quests are like supports in this new degree, but it’s not that they in and of themselves build it.

Question: In the spiritual Partzuf we do see that there is a direct connection between a cause and consequence, between building the Masach, raising Ohr Hozer and acquiring Rosh. Why, with us, what we are doing is in one place and the mind is in another?

No, it just seems to us that the spiritual Partzuf is smooth, that from above downward there is no quest but only Reshimot, everything is clear and there’s no problem. We don’t see from the writings how all these things are above the desire, above calculation; that all the calculation in the Rosh is above the calculation in the Guf. The rejection, the Zivug de Aka'a and all of that are huge efforts to connect the two attributes of bestowal and reception.

No word in Talmud Eser Sefirot speaks of this, for it describes actions. These are voluntary actions against the desire. With respect to desires, what must precede the actions? It doesn’t talk about it. They talk about it in a factual manner, but not how to come to it. The Upper Light comes and hits the Masach; the Masach rejects it and then calculates. It tells you about cause and consequence, one, two, three, four. But how do you really accomplish this action spiritually?

It is not that there is a Host in front of me, I make the Host greater in my eyes than the food I have on the table and then I become ashamed of Him. That I should either revoke Him or run away or perhaps I should pay Him. Somehow pay in another way not with money, but to see whether He wants me to eat or not, let’s test Him. Then I would have to somehow end up receiving the food.

These are our calculations in this world. We don’t understand how to calculate; otherwise either the food is more important or the Host is more important. In my ego I see only the two of them and I calculate accordingly.

It is an example of Baal HaSulam. I try to calculate with the Host. I don’t want to eat and He says, “Please do. Why don’t you want it?” Is He great in my eyes or not? Am I ashamed, is it hurting my ego; is it not worthwhile for me? What is the motivation for all my actions? I don’t want it. If I don’t want it because it hurts my ego, then what? The Host is going to play with my ego? “No, please, I did it for you sweetheart, do me a favor, you know you like it,” and so on. Will He go in the direction that will help me be immersed in my ego and then I’ll say, “You love me so much? Of course I’ll eat.”

It’s the way we are with our mothers. I don’t calculate so as to please her. Let’s say I do, but when a child eats, he doesn’t have these considerations with its mother. He knows that there is love there from the very beginning. There is no problem about it. Put him into some other house, and he is shy to walk in, he doesn’t want anything, he'll just sit. Is he like that at home too? At home he screams.

So you want the Creator to be that way with us? You have to use this advice in great subtlety, with great observations in order to reach the Light that Reforms. From that we’ll get a different calculation. Otherwise at most, we’ll be left with the Host in order to gain in this world and in the next world.

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