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The Desire To Receive Pleasure

Since the Creator always remains in the state of absolute rest, we, as His creations, also strive to attain the state of rest in order to reach that which is desired. The Creator has created two forces for the sake of our development: the force that pushes us from behind – the suffering that forces us to escape from the unbearable state we are in; and the force of attraction, which draws us by the pleasures anticipated ahead.

But only the combination of these two forces, rather than each one of them separately, can advance us. Therefore, under no circumstances should we complain that the Creator has endowed us with laziness, thus implying that it is the fault of the Creator that it is so difficult for us to start advancing.

On the contrary, the fact that we are lazy means we do not impulsively and thoughtlessly follow every little temptation in life, but instead evaluate whether the object of temptation is worth the effort needed to follow it. And we do not attempt to escape suffering immediately. First, we attempt to assess the purpose of any suffering we have received, and learn how to avoid it in the future, as suffering coerces us into action and motion, which we are trying to resist.

In all situations in life, we would prefer to use our entire egos. However, people around us prevent us from acting in this manner. The rules of social conduct are built on everyone’s tacit agreement to use egoism in a manner that causes others minimal damage.

This arrangement results from the fact that we expect to receive maximum benefit from any social contact that we engage in. For instance, the seller would prefer to receive money without parting with the object of sale. On the other hand, the buyer would like to receive the goods for free. An employer dreams of free laborers, while the laborers want to get paid without working.

Our desires can be measured only by the degree of suffering resulting from the absence of the desired. The greater the suffering from a lack of the desired, the greater the desire for that object.

It is said: "The Creator desires to dwell in lowly creations." Our goal in life, as well as the purpose of creation, is to create in ourselves the right conditions for the Divine to dwell within us.

Idol worship (avoda zara) is the adherence to the egoistic desires of the body. In contrast, spiritual work (avodat Hashem, avodat haKodesh) follows from the adherence to altruistic desires or goals, if desires do not yet exist.

”Spiritual attachment” results when the qualities of two spiritual objects are completely similar. “Spiritual love” is the feeling of complete attachment of two opposite qualities: a human being and the Creator. If human beings do not have the desire to regain the power to return to rule their own desires, then they have attained true love of the Creator, rather than a mere subordination to Him.

The congruence of qualities implies that just as the Creator experiences joy from having a positive influence on His creations, so human beings experience joy from recognizing that it is possible to give something back to the Creator.

The return, teshuva, implies our return, while living in this world, to the spiritual state of existence at the time our souls were created, that is, to the state of the first Adam prior to his Fall.

We have two sources of action and two beginnings: the intellect and the heart, the thought and the desire. Both should undergo a transformation from their egoistic foundation into an altruistic one.

All our pleasures are experienced through the heart. Therefore, if we can refuse any earthly, or selfish, pleasure, then we deserve to receive the real pleasures from Above, because we no longer use our egoism.

On the other hand, the intellect does not receive pleasure from understanding what it is doing. If we can engage in a particular action from sheer faith, rather than from our own understanding, and can proceed contrary to the arguments of reason (go “above reason”), then we have eliminated egoism in the mind and can follow the Creator’s reason, rather than our own understanding.

The Light of the Creator permeates all creations, including our world, even though we do not feel it.

This Light is called “the Light that invigorates the creation.” It is due to this Light that the creations and the worlds exist. Without it, all life would cease, and the material dimension of the world would disappear.

This life – giving Light displays its effect in various material "garbs" of the objects and in different phenomena of our world that take place before our eyes. Everything that surrounds us, including ourselves and the crudest of the creations, is nothing else but the Light of the Creator.

We perceive it as many objects, since we respond to the outer shells, to the garb of the Light. In reality, it is the one and only force that acts within each one of the creations – the Light of the Creator.

The majority of people do not perceive the Light of the Creator, but only the external garb. There are people who perceive the Light of the Creator, but only in Kabbalah.

But there are also those who see the Light of the Creator in everything that surrounds them. This latter group perceive that everything surrounding us as the Divine Light, which emanates from the Creator and fills everything with itself.

The Creator decided to place a human being in this world so that the human being would rise spiritually from the depth of the original state to the level of the Creator, and thus become like the Creator. For this reason the Creator created the quality of egoism – the desire to receive pleasure.

In the beginning of creation, the Light (pleasure) filled the entire created expanse (egoism). It also completely filled all kinds of desires to receive pleasure. These were created as part of the conceived egoism.

Then, the Creator restricted the progression of Light and concealed it. In place of the Light, which existed in the creation, in the desire to receive pleasure, and in egoism, there came pain, emptiness, darkness, sorrow, and everything else imaginable when pleasure is absent.

In order to maintain in one a minimal desire to live, and to prevent suicide from lack of pleasure, the Creator endowed human beings with the desire to be gratified with a small portion of Light (ner dakik), This is enclosed in different objects of our world to which we aspire.

Therefore, subconsciously and automatically, we persist in the constant pursuit of the Light of the Creator, and are slaves to this natural aspiration. We must believe that the concealment of the Creator, and the feeling of hopelessness that results from the lack of pleasure, are purposely given to us by the Creator for our benefit.

If the Light of the Creator filled our egoism, we would lose the opportunity to exercise our free will, no longer able to act freely and independently. Instead, we would become slaves to the pleasure that fills us.

Only when separated from the Light of the Creator do we experience His concealment, causing us to perceive ourselves as entirely independent, self-sufficient beings. This allows us to make decisions with regard to our actions. But even this kind of independence demonstrates itself only in certain circumstances, because despite the fact that the Creator concealed Himself from us, we still possess egoism, which directs all of our thoughts and feelings.

Therefore, true freedom will arise only when: 1. An individual does not experience the bestowal of the Creator, and 2. An individual can act independently from the desires of the body.

An opportunity to exercise our free will exists only in the earthly life, which is precisely why we exist here.

Every individual must believe that there is nothing else in the world but the Creator.

One perceives in one’s "I" a certain degree of independence only because the Creator endowed our perception with egoism. However, if we were to rid ourselves of this quality, we would once again become part of the Creator.

We must believe that the Creator is concealed only because we cannot perceive Him, and that this concealment was designed only for our benefit. Thus, until we are ready to face the truth, we must believe that the truth is very different from the way we perceive it.

The truth can only be grasped gradually and only to the degree that we have been able to attain perfection. Hence, any spiritual work is possible only as long as the pleasure of the spiritual realm is concealed from us. Only then will we be able to say that our loathing towards the spiritual was purposely sent by the Creator, and that, in fact, nothing is more perfect than the spiritual.

If, contrary to feelings of gloom, depression and emptiness, and contrary to the arguments of reason, we can search for the perception of the Creator and proceed above our own reason in accordance with the principle of "faith above reason," then the Creator will reveal Himself to us, since in all states of being, we await that revelation.

A true desire to perceive the Creator is born in us in the manner described above, and this constitutes a necessary condition for the revelation of the Creator. The power of faith in the ability to perceive the Creator is measured by the depth of our spiritual fall, from which we can call out to the Creator.

However, we must understand that without proper preparation to perceive the Creator, we will unwillingly gain egoistic pleasure from experiencing such unworldly phenomenon. Thus, we must ask the Creator: 1. For preparation for the experience of higher pleasure. 2. For the necessary strength to retain faith above reason, even after the revelation of the Creator.

There are two kinds of obstacles deriving from the impure forces (klipot) that operate in us: restraint (ahizat klipot) and drawing nourishment (yenikat klipot). When we experience no pleasure from learning or from self-improvement, and advance forward with great difficulty, then the klipa demonstrates to us various shortcomings of the spiritual existence.

As a result, we feel that there is no value in the spiritual. Thus, the klipa receives an opportunity to hold us back from our studies, since we see no greatness in the spiritual. Such a state is known as “the revelation of the Creator in ashes” (shchinta be afra).

But if, with the power of the will, we persist in advancing, then we begin to receive the taste of working on ourselves. At that point, the klipa begins to feed off our spiritual accomplishments. It wants to appropriate everything that we have earned from our efforts (the pleasure from the spiritual).

The klipa achieves this goal by instilling in us the desire to continue to work, However, the motivation behind this work is personal pleasure, rather than the fact that this work is desired by the Creator. If we acquiesce to this tendency, then the entire pleasure is surrendered to one’s ego. This is known as “the drawing nourishment” of the klipot. In such a case, we must ask the Creator for help in withstanding the temptation of harmful thoughts.

In conclusion, at first we must ask the Creator to provide pleasure from the Kabbalah, and then we must implore Him that this pleasure should not be absorbed by egoism. The protestations of the body against the spiritual work, which brings no pleasure for the body and gives no assurance that a reward will follow in the future, is known as "a mean tongue."

In order to escape the temptation, we must pretend to be blind and deaf to the calls of the body, as well as to imagine that the Upper Light exists, but is invisible. Only then will the Creator open our eyes and ears to be able to perceive His Light, and be able to hear what the Creator is telling only to us.

The efforts that we allot to every task of perceiving the spiritual gradually add up to a sufficient quantity to form the vessel (kli) or the garment (levush) needed to receive the Light of the Creator – our spiritual souls.

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