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Obtaining "lishma"

The Kabbalistic names, though they were taken from our world, signify completely different objects and actions in the spiritual world, unrelated to those of this world. It is true that the spiritual objects are the immediate sources of the objects found in this world [see "The Language of Kabbalah," part 1; "The Names of the Creator," part 3].

From this incongruence, and the dissimilarity of the spiritual cause and the effect found in our world, it can once again be seen how remote the spiritual objects are from our egoistic concepts. In the spiritual world, a name signifies a particular disclosure of the Creator’s light to a person through an action, which is assigned that particular name.

Similarly, in our world, every word discloses something not of the object itself, but of our perception of that object. The phenomenon or the object itself is completely outside the realm of our perception. It is an entity in itself, absolutely incomprehensible to us.

Undoubtedly, the object possesses forms and qualities absolutely different from those that can be detected by our instruments or senses. One can confirm this concept with the example of seeing an object through one’s vision vs. seeing one obtained through x-rays or heat frequencies.

In any case, an object and the perception of that object exist separately.

The latter arises out of the qualities of the person perceiving the object in question. Thus, the combination of the object (that is, of the true qualities of the object) and of the qualities of the one who perceives the object (the perceiver), give rise to a third entity: a depiction of the object formed by the perceiver. This is based both on the general qualities of the object itself, and on the qualities of the perceiver.

In the process of working with the spiritual Light, there are two distinct states of a person who wishes to receive and receives the Light: the perception and the qualities of a person prior to receiving the Light, and after receiving it.

There are also two states of the Light that fill the vessels-desires of a person: the state of the Light prior to coming in contact with the feelings and desires of the person, and the state of the Light after it has come into contact with the perceiver.

In a prior state, the Light is known as Simple Light, because it bears no connection to the qualities of the perceiver. Since all the objects, other than the Light of the Creator, desire to receive and to be gratified by the Light, there is no actual possibility to perceive, to examine, to sense, or even to imagine the Light outside of ourselves.

Thus, if we refer to the Creator as the Strong One, it is because at that moment we feel (one who truly feels!) His strength. But not having perceived any quality of the Creator, it is impossible to refer to Him by any name, because even the word "Creator" connotes the fact that a person perceived this particular quality of the Light.

However, if a person pronounces the names of the Creator (that is, enumerates His qualities), without having perceived these qualities through the senses, then this act implies that a person assigns names to the simple Light prior to sensing the meaning of these names in oneself, which is equal to lying, since a simple Light has no name.

Those of us who strive to ascend spiritually must avoid extraneous influences and protect personal convictions that have not yet matured, until we receive the necessary perceptions that can support us. The main defense and distancing must be aimed not at those people who are far from the Kabbalah, since they can only transmit indifference or utter, at most, negativity, indicating a great divergence from the state of the person involved in spiritual ascent. The defense must be aimed at the people who are supposedly close to the Kabbalah.

On the other hand, a beginner need not be concerned with the people who are far from Kabbalah, because it is evident that there is nothing that one can learn from them, and hence they do not pose a threat of spiritual enslavement.

Our egoism allows us to progress only when it feels fear.

Then, it pushes us into all kinds of actions, just to neutralize that feeling. Therefore, if a person could feel fear of the Creator, one could develop the necessary strength and the desire to work.

There are two kinds of fear: the fear of transgressing a commandment, and fear of the Creator. The first is a fear that prevents an individual from sinning, otherwise that individual would sin. However, if a person has no fear of sinning because all actions are carried out solely for the sake of the Creator, that person will observe all the commandments anyway, not out of fear, but because this is the Will of the Creator.

The fear of transgression (sin) is an egoistic fear, because it is prompted by the concern of doing harm to the self. Fearing the Creator is considered to be an altruistic fear, because it is prompted by a concern of not fulfilling the desire of the Creator, out of feelings of love.

But despite one’s tremendous yearning to fulfill all that brings joy to the Creator, it is nevertheless very difficult to observe the commandments of the Creator (actions that are desired by the Creator) because one does not see the necessity of fulfilling them.

The fearemanating from the feeling of love must be stronger than the egoistic fear. For instance, when one anticipates that one will be seen at the moment of committing a crime, or simply a transgression, that person experiences feelings of suffering and shame.

Similarly, a Kabbalist develops in the self a feeling of anxiety, that not enough is done for the Creator. This feeling is just as constant and as great as the egoist’s fear of punishment for obvious transgressions.

"A person learns only that which one desires to learn." ("A person learns only at the place where his heart desires.") Starting from this supposition, it becomes clear that a person will never learn to observe certain rules and norms unless that person desires it. But who wants to listen to moralizing, especially since, most often, one does not perceive one’s own shortcomings? How, then, can anyone, even the individual aspiring to self-correction, attain that goal?

A human being is created in such a way that there is only desire: to gratify the self. Thus people learn only for the sake of finding a means to satisfy their desires, and will not learn something that does not concern gratifying themselves, because that is our nature.

Therefore, in order that those who wish to approach the Creator can learn how to act "for the sake of the Creator," them must ask Him to grant them new hearts, replacing egoism with altruistic desires. If the Creator will grant this request, then wherever they learn, they will find ways of pleasing Him.

However, we will never perceive anything that is in contrast to our hearts, be it altruistic or egoistic, and will never feel obligated to something that will not please our hearts. But once the Creator alters the egoistic heart to an altruistic one, we will immediately realize our obligations, in order to be able to correct ourselves with the aid of the newly acquired attributes, as well as to discover that there is nothing more important in this world than to please the Creator.

In addition, the qualities that we had seen as our shortcomings will transform into virtues, because by correcting them we bring pleasure to the Creator. But those who are not yet ready to correct themselves will not be able to see their own shortcomings, because they are revealed to us only to the degree that we are able to correct them.

All human actions with respect to the gratification of personal needs, as well as all the work "for the sake of the self," disappear when one departs from this world. All that one cared about and suffered for vanishes in one moment.

Therefore, if we are able to evaluate whether it is worth it to work for something in this world and then lose it in the very last moment of our lives, then we may conclude that it is preferable to work "for the sake of the Creator." This decision will make us realize the necessity of asking the Creator for help, especially if we have invested a great amount of effort into observing the commandments with the anticipation of gaining some personal benefit from doing so.

One who did not toil greatly in the Kabbalah has a lesser desire to transform one’s actions into actions "for the sake of the Creator," since this person does not have such a great deal to lose, while the work of transforming the self requires great effort.

For this reason, a person must endeavor with all the means at one’s disposal to intensify efforts in the work, lishma, "not for the Creator’s sake,"because this will subsequently lead to the development of the desire to return to the Creator, and then to work, lishma, for His name.

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