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33. Receiving for the Sake of Giving

A correct (effective) way to address the Creator is composed of two stages. First, one must understand that the Creator is absolutely kind to all beings, without exception, and all His actions are benevolent, irrespective of how unpleasant they may appear.

Therefore, the Creator sends us only what is best for us, and fills us with all that is most necessary.

Thus, we have nothing to ask of the Creator. We should be content with what we receive from the Creator, regardless of the state we may be in. We must also be thankful to the Creator and must glorify Him: There is nothing that can be added to our personal state, because we should be happy with our lot.

We must always first thank the Creator for all that we have received in the past. Then, we can ask for the future. But if we feel a lack of something in life, then we are removed from the Creator to the same degree as our perception of deficiency. This occurs because the Creator is absolutely perfect, whereas we might see ourselves as unhappy.

Thus, when we begin to feel that what we have is the best that we could have, since this is precisely the state that the Creator has sent us, then we come closer to the Creator, and can ask for something for the future.

The state of "being happy with one’s lot" may arise in us simply by realizing that the circumstances of our lives are not a consequence of our own actions, but are sent by the Creator. This state may also arise because we realize that we are reading a book that deals with the Creator, with immortality, with the supreme goal in life, with the benevolent purpose of creation.

It also deals with the method of asking the Creator to alter our lives, as well as the realization that millions of other people in this world do not receive the opportunity to experience all these things. Thus, those who want to perceive the Creator, but have not yet been awarded this objective, should be content with their condition because it comes from the Creator.

Since these people still have unfulfilled desires (despite being content with what the Creator has decided to give them, and are thus close to Him), they become worthy of receiving the Light of the Creator, which will bring them full knowledge, understanding, and pleasure.

In order to separate ourselves spiritually from egoism, we must come to realize our own insignificance, the baseness of our interests, aspirations, and pleasures; we must also be aware to what extent we are willing to do everything just for our personal success, as well as, in all our thoughts, how we pursue only personal gain.

What is important when we feel our lowliness is that we recognize the truth: that personal gratification is more important to us than the Creator is, and if we do not see any personal benefit from our actions, we cannot carry these actions out, either in thought or in deed.

The Creator receives pleasure by giving pleasure to us. If we delight in the fact that it gives the Creator a possibility to delight us, then both we and the Creator coincide in qualities and in desires, because each is happy with the process of giving: The Creator gives pleasure, and we create the conditions to receive it. Each thinks of the other, but not of self, and this is what defines their actions.

But since human beings are born egoists, we are incapable of thinking about others, but only about ourselves. We can give only in the situation where we see immediate benefit from it, greater than the benefit being given away (as in the process of trade or bargaining). With respect to this quality, a human being is utterly distant from the Creator, and does not perceive Him.

This ultimate separation of a human being from the Creator – the source of all pleasures – is caused by our egoism, and is the source of all our suffering. Realizing this is known as “the realization of the evil,” because in order for us to be repelled from egoism by a hatred toward it, we must fully feel and recognize that it is all of our evil, the single most deadly enemy, that stands in the way of our being able to attain perfection, pleasure and immortality.

Thus, in all of our actions, be it the study of Kabbalah, or the observance of commandments, we must set as our goal the departure from egoism and the advance toward the Creator by virtue of coinciding in qualities. Only then will we be able to receive the same pleasure from altruistic acts as we received from our egoism.

If, with help from Above, we begin to receive pleasure from altruistic deeds, and in this we find happiness and our greatest reward, this state is known as "giving for the sake of giving" without any expected reward. Our gratification comes only from having the ability to do something for the Creator.

Once we have attained that spiritual level and wish to give something to the Creator, it becomes apparent to us that the Creator desires only one thing: to give pleasure to us. Then, we are ready to receive pleasure because such is the Will of the Creator. Actions of this nature are known as "receiving for the sake of giving."

In the spiritual states, one’s intellect (reason, wisdom) corresponds to the light of wisdom (Ohr Hochma). One’s heart, desires, and feelings correspond to the light of mercy (Ohr Hassadim). Only when our hearts are ready to listen, can reason affect them. Ohr Hochma can illuminate only in the place where Ohr Hassadim is already present. If Ohr Hassadim is not present, then Ohr Hochma does not illuminate. Such a state is known as “darkness,” or “night.”

But in our world, that is, in an individual who still remains in the enslavement of egoism, reason can never hold domain over the heart, because the heart is the source of all desires. It, alone, is the sole master of the individual, whereas reason has no power to counter the desires of the heart.

For example, a person who wants to steal asks advice from reason, to determine how to carry it out. Thus, reason becomes the executor of the heart’s desires. On the other hand, if a person decides to do a good deed, once again reason helps, just like all the other parts of the body. Hence, there is no other solution but to cleanse the heart of egoistic desires.

The Creator intentionally shows a person that His desire is to have that person receive pleasure, in order to offer the person the possibility to become freed from the shame of receiving. One forms a strong impression that by receiving pleasures "for the sake of the Creator;" one truly pleases Him, That is, the person gratifies the Creator, rather than receives pleasure from Him.

There are three types of work done by a person in Kabbalah and the commandments. In each type there are good aspirations and evil ones:

1. One studies for one’s own sake, such as to become famous, so that those other than the Creator will pay honors and money for one’s efforts. For this reason, one publicly engages in the study of Kabbalah in order to receive a reward.

2. One studies for the sake of the Creator to gain reward from the Creator in this world and in the world to come. In such a case, in order that people should not see one’s work, all studies are done in private to avoid being given a reward for one’s efforts. The only reward sought is from the Creator. Such a student would fear that rewards from others would become a distraction from the intention to be rewarded only by the Creator.

These intentions of one doing spiritual work are known as "for the sake of the Creator" because one works for the Creator, and observes the commandments of the Creator, to receive the reward only from Him. This is like the first case, in which a person was working for the people, fulfilled people’s expectations by doing the work, and then demanded a reward for the performed tasks.

In both cases, the common dominator is the expectation and desire for a reward for work done. In the first case, one worked for people and expected reward for the work done. In the second, one worked for the Creator and expected a reward from Him.

3. After the first two stages, a person realizes the degree of enslavement to the ego. The body (desire to receive) then begins to inquire: "What type of work is this? Where is the reward for it?" But one does not receive an answer to this question.

In the first stage, egoism does not pose any questions because it sees the reward for the work done from others’ reactions. In the second stage, an individual can respond to egoism by stating that one desires a bigger reward than can be received from other people, that is, one desires eternal spiritual pleasures both in this and in the other world.

But in the third stage, when the Creator wants to bestow upon a person, one begins to realize the degree of one’s enslavement to egoism, and can make no reply to the body. And the fact that the Creator wants only to give leads one to wish to do the same, and this will be the reward for one’s actions.

A "reward" refers to that benefit which people desire to receive for our work. In general, we refer to it as “pleasure,” whereas by “work” we mean any intellectual, physical or moral exertion of the body. A reward may also come in the form of money, honors, fame, etc.

When we feel that we lack any strength to withstand the body, that there is no energy to perform even the lightest of tasks, because the body cannot make any effort without seeing some reward in return, then there is no other alternative but to turn to the Creator for help. We must pray for some supernatural power that would allow one to work against one’s nature and reason.

Thus, the most important problem is to believe in the fact that the Creator is able to help despite natural laws to the contrary, and that He is waiting for such requests. However, this decision can be reached only after one is completely disillusioned with one’s own abilities.

The Creator desires that each person choose what is right, and should distance himself from what is wrong.

Otherwise, the Creator would have made a human being with His own qualities, or, once having created egoism, He himself would have transformed it into altruism without the process of bitter exile from the state of Upper Perfection.

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