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The Ninth Commandment

233. The ninth Mitzva is to show mercy to the needy and supply them with food, as it is written: “LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE, AFTER OUR LIKENESS,” and this man will consist of two parts, male and female. IN OUR IMAGE refers to the rich; AFTER OUR LIKENESS refers to the poor.

234. For from the male side, they are rich, but from the female side, they are poor. And as they are united together, merciful to each other, and help each other, so below should the rich and the poor be united as one, and should share with each other, and show mercy to one another.

235. We this see in the book of King Shlomo (Solomon): he who shows mercy to the poor with all his heart, his image never differs from that of Adam, the first man. And since he was created in the image of Adam, he therefore governs all the creatures on earth by his image, as it is written: “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth” (Beresheet, 9:2), all fear that image, existing in him. For this Mitzva, to show mercy to the poor, is the most important of all the Mitzvot for elevating man to the image of Adam.

236. How do we know this? From Nebuchadnezzar. Even though he dreamt a dream, as long as he had mercy upon the poor, that dream did not come true. However, as soon as he started looking badly upon the poor, his image changed at once, and he distanced from people. Hence, it is written, “LET US MAKE MAN.” It is said in the form as it was said of charity in another verse. Therefore, “MAKE” – is the same as charity.

The rich and the poor correspond to the male and the female principles, to ZA and his Nukva. However, there is nothing here that hints at the obligation of the rich to be merciful to the poor and provide for his needs. But this instruction differs from the rest in that in all the others, the Creator’s command is separated from the action that follows it, as it is written, “AND THE CREATOR SAID: ‘LET THERE BE LIGHT.’ AND THERE WAS LIGHT;’” and also, “AND THE CREATOR SAID: ‘LET THE WATERS BE GATHERED…’ AND IT WAS SO;” and so on in all the Mitzvot.

And none of the other Mitzvot contain the Creator’s instruction mixed with action. This is so because the entire creation originated from AVI, where Aba spoke and Ima acted – Aba gave the Light to Ima, and after he gave it to her, he started acting on it himself. For only with the property of Aba could creation not have manifested in action, as there are no boundaries in creation, in which actions could be revealed.

Hence, Aba issues a command that designates the passage of Light from him to Ima. However, since this is merely a command, and not an action (like a force instead of an action), the future tense is used. The same language is used in the description of man’s creation: “AND THE CREATOR SAID: ‘LET US CREATE MAN.’” Note that the plural form is used: “LET US CREATE.”

Before the creation of the world of Atzilut (called the world of correction), an action known as Shevirat HaKelim (the breaking of the vessels in the world of Nekudim) took place in the spiritual worlds. It is written: “The Creator kept creating and destroying worlds, until He created this world (Atzilut), and He told it to stop spreading below the boundaries in which it was created” (Beresheet Raba, 3:7).

The breaking of the vessels was essential, for it was the only opportunity to mix the egoistic properties (desires) with the altruistic ones; after all, distance in the spiritual is determined by the disparity of properties (desires). And that is why egoism and altruism are infinitely remote from each other. Yet, if this is so, how can egoism possibly be corrected? How can such properties or even notions of the existence of altruistic desires be introduced to man?

So then, to allow egoistic desires to be corrected, the Creator performed the breaking of the vessels – the striking impact between opposite desires, egoistic and altruistic. It is called “striking,” for it is impossible to unite these desires by any means other than an “explosion.”

As a result of this explosion, the altruistic, pure Kelim (desires) penetrated the egoistic, impure ones, and gave man an opportunity for free will and self-correction. After the destruction of the pure Kli and the descent of its parts into impurity, the world of Atzilut was formed.

Out of all the mixed desires, the world of Atzilut selected only altruistic ones, attached them to itself, corrected them and filled them with Light. Out of these corrected parts, it made the worlds BYA with everything that exists within them.

These corrections of the broken and mixed Kelim by the world of Atzilut are depicted in the first chapter of the Torah, which speaks of creation. It uses the instructions of exposing and separating the egoistic Kelim from the altruistic ones, as, for instance, in the following verses: AND THE CREATOR DIVIDED LIGHT FROM DARKNESS; THE CREATOR DIVIDED WATERS FROM DRY LAND; THE CREATOR DIVIDED DAY FROM NIGHT, and so forth. All these examples speak of the separation of the pure forces from the impure ones, of good from evil. And all that diverged became part of the pure system.

Therefore, the entire act of creation is contained in the depiction of the first day of creation, in the words, LET THERE BE LIGHT, as this is when Light was separated from darkness. This is because, on the whole, purity is called “Light” and impurity is called “darkness.” And all the other definitions of purity and impurity are only particular names designating their various manifestations.

The world of Atzilut made only a partial correction: it only separated altruistic desires from egoistic desires, Light from darkness, and thus created the system of creation, described in the beginning of the Torah. However, this does not complete the correction, as darkness and impurity are simply detached from participating in creation, but remain utterly uncorrected. They are simply separated as an entirely unnecessary part, and this completely defies the perfection of the Creator, who created everything (including darkness) for His final goal. Moreover, correction ends specifically with the correction of darkness, as it is said: “Night shines as day; darkness as Light.” (Tehilim,139:12).

To correct this, man was created containing everything, and consisting of all the properties of creation: from the absolute goodness to total evil. This enables man to execute the correction and achieve complete perfection. In other words, he must turn evil to good, bitter to sweet, and darkness to Light. As a result, death will disappear forever, and the Creator will manifest as the King of all creation.

Hence, there is a great difference between the description of man’s creation and that of all the other creatures and parts of creation. Here, the action itself was mixed with the instructions, for the instructions, descriptions come from Ima,not from Aba, who said, LET US CREATE MAN – together with Malchut of the world of Atzilut.

The reason for this is that Malchut includes everything, for she also gives the Light of sustenance to the impure forces to keep them from disappearing from the world, as, like all the other elements of creation, the impure forces cannot exist without Light, and immediately disappear. It is written in this regard: “HER FEET DESCEND TO DEATH,” for the impure forces receive a tiny spark of Light to sustain their existence.

This is why Malchut is called Assiya (action), for she spreads and rules in the whole of creation. She is also called “darkness,” for she shines with a spark of Light, to sustain the darkness and evil.

Hence, when Ima unites with Malchut and their properties mix, she receives the properties of darkness, of which it is said: “LET US CREATE MAN IN OUR IMAGE, AFTER OUR LIKENESS,” for Light is called “image,” and darkness is called “likeness.” Indeed, after Ima mixes with Malchut, these two forces, IMAGE and LIKENESS, appear in her as well. As a result, man, who was created by her, contains these two forces – IMAGE and LIKENESS, too.

From the phrase, LET US MAKE, it follows that Ima consists of two parts, male and female. Although Ima is a male part (giving is a male property), she is connected to Malchut. Besides, the male property suggests the presence of Light, while the property of Nukva (the female part) is poverty and darkness.

And since Ima accepted Malchut as her partner with the purpose of creating man (accepted the properties of Malchut), she is now filled with poverty and darkness. It follows that man consists of the properties of Ima (wealth and Light), as well as of the properties of Malchut (poverty and darkness).

And it is this precise combination of the properties of Ima and Malchut that enables man to correct Malchut, fill her with Light, and spread spiritual purity and holiness throughout the entire earth (Malchut). It is written that at the end of correction, “the Creator and His Name shall be one,” for the darkness in Malchut will be transformed into Light, as in the male part, HaVaYaH. Everything will be as one in the male property, as it is said, “There will be no poor in your nation.”

This Mitzva says that as Ima united with Malchut so as to correct her, which is why Ima includes Image and Likeness, man needs to correct his qualities in order to correct the parts of darkness within him. To this end, he must diminish his properties, just like Ima, and give his part (charity) to the poor Malchut, who is deprived of Light. He must show mercy to the LIKENESS (poverty) within him, and provide it with everything it needs.

By observing this Mitzva, man receives IMAGE and LIKENESS from Ima, the Upper Light that was received by Adam, created in IMAGE and LIKENESS. This is why he has the power to rule over all the animals in the world (all of his animal desires) to such an extent that no impure force (desire) remains within him, which he cannot defeat and correct.

The Zohar gives the example of Navuchadnetzar (Nebuchadnezzar): although the Supreme verdict with regard to him was reached, his dream did not come true as long as he was merciful to the poor. However, as soon as he allowed his evil eye to look badly upon the poor, the sentence was immediately executed, and his image changed (those who are interested can turn to the Book of Daniel). Thus we see that this Mitzva is greater than all the others, and that it can overrule the Supreme verdict made against man.

“Charity” signifies the union of Bina and Malchut. Similarly, the story about the marriage of Rut (Ruth) the Moavite, King David’s grandmother (Malchut), and Boaz, who was merciful to her (this marriage started Israel’s Royal Dynasty), describes the correction of Malchut by Bina (See Megilat RutThe Book of Ruth).

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