And the Children Struggled within Her

Article No. 9, Tav-Shin-Mem-Hey, 1984-85

“And the children struggled within her.” According to RASHI’s interpretation, “Our sages explained it as running, when she would pass by the doors of Torah of Shem and Ever, Jacob was running and wiggling to come out. When she passed by doors of idol-worship, Esau was wriggling to come out.”

Baal HaSulam said that this is the order of the work. The beginning of the work is called Ibur [impregnation], when a person begins to work on the path of truth. When he passes by the doors of Torah, the Jacob in a person awakens and wishes to walk on the path of Torah. When he walks by the doors of idol-worship, the Esau in a person awakens to come out.

We should interpret his words. Man consists of vessels of reception by nature, called “self-love,” which is the evil inclination, and also consists of a point in the heart, which is his good inclination. When he begins to work in bestowal, it is regarded as Ibur, form the word, Avra [passed]. This is why he experiences ascents and descents and is unstable. He is influenced by the environment and is unable to overcome.

For this reason, when one moves to an environment where people engage in work that is alien to us, meaning self-love, the self-love in a person awakens and comes out from concealment to disclosure, and takes control over the body. At that time one is unable to do anything except that which concerns his receiver.

When he passes through an environment where people engage in work of bestowal, the Jacob in him awakens and comes out from concealment to disclosure. At that time works of bestowal govern the body. That is, at that time, when he looks back and sees how before he has reached the state he is in he was so immersed in self-love, he cannot understand how can one be so low and derive satisfaction from such base things that are inappropriate for an adult to build his house among lowly and despicable desires and thoughts. He is insulted by these desires thoughts where his house once was.

But later, when he passes by the doors of idol-worship, meaning when he comes to an environment that engages in self-love, the Esau in him reawakens and wriggles to come out. This continues in the worker repeatedly, day after day. One who works harder may go through these changing states each and every hour.

“And she said, ‘If it is so, then why me?’ And she went to inquire of the Lord.” RASHI interprets “And she went to inquire” to mean Shem’s seminary, to inquire the Lord so as to tell her what shall become of her. And what was the reply? The verse says, “The Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples will be separated from your abdomen, and one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.’” RASHI interprets “one people shall be stronger than the other” to mean that they will not be of equal greatness; when one rise, the other falls. He also says, “She is laid waste ; Tzor is filled only by the ruin of Jerusalem.”

To understand the Creator’s answer to her, as it is written, “The Lord said to her,” we need to explain that it was said that these two forces must exist, as it is known that the creature is the vessel of reception, called Esau. But afterwards comes the second force, called Jacob, which is the desire to bestow. Each wants to rule alone, and this is the struggle between Esau and Jacob.

This is why RASHI interpreted, “When one rises the other falls; Tzor was filled only by the ruin of Jerusalem.” That is, she was told that we must clearly know—either the will to receive governs, or the will to bestow governs. They cannot both exist together. Therefore, we must decide once and for all that it is not worthwhile to dwell in abominable and lowly thoughts and desires.

Then, when one sees that one cannot overcome one’s will to receive, it is regraded as seeing that he is nothing, worthless, except that then he sees that even though he has already realized that the will to receive is the harm-doer, he still cannot overcome it. This is why specifically then he sees that he needs heaven’s mercy, that without His help it is impossible to come out of the governance of the will to receive.

This is the meaning of what our sages said (Kidushin 30), “Man’s inclination overcomes him every day. Were it not for the Creator’s help, he would not overcome it.” This pertains specifically to one who has begun the work and has done everything he could. At that time he does not need to believe that only the Creator can help him because now he sees that there is no tactic or ploy that he has not tried, and nothing helped him. Only the Creator helped him.

Only then can he understand that only the Creator helps. Thus, what is the difference between him and another? As He helped him, he can also help others. For this reason, there is no reason to be proud over others, since it is not his strength. But those who have not begun the holy work, which is only to bestow and not to receive, they do not see that only the Creator helped them. Instead, they say, “My strength and the power of my hand has done this riches.” Naturally, they have something with which to boast over others who are not working as they do.

At that time it follows that the difference between good and bad is not so great, since his good is also built on a basis of self-love. And although he engages in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments], the struggle between Jacob and Esau is still not apparent then, and naturally, he does not need help from above to save him from the will to receive, have mercy on him, and give him the Kli [vessel] of the desire to bestow, since he sees that by nature he cannot work in order to bestow.

This is so because he does not think that one needs to work in Torah and Mitzvot in order to be awarded Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, and the matter of bestowal does not interest him at all. Therefore, it cannot be said that when one rises, the other falls.

However, when one wishes to walk on the path of bestowal, this is when the matter of “struggling” begins. Afterwards, one should do what one can, and then he comes to a state where he sees the truth—that he cannot help himself. Afterwards he sees that he has no choice, and he needs heaven’s mercy. Then the words of our sages, “He who comes to purify is aided,” come true.

We should understand what, “And the older shall serve the younger,” comes to tell us. We should interpret that it is not enough that he has been rewarded with the good inclination being the ruler, and the evil inclination being powerless to resist it, which is regarded as being able to serve the Creator only with the good inclination. Rather, one needs to achieve the degree of wholeness, as our sages said, “‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,’ with both your inclinations,” where the evil inclination is also used to serve the Creator. This can be interpreted only in a manner that first we need to know what is the evil inclination.

We must know that the essence of the evil in us is the will to receive, from which all the bad things come to us, namely bad thoughts and desires. The will to bestow brings us all the good things, which are our good thoughts and desires. Therefore, when the good inclination governs a person, namely the desire to bestow, upper abundance pours upon us from above, meaning that by this, abundance of Hassadim [mercies] comes from above.

However, we must know that this is only the correction of creation. That is, to have equivalence of form, we must aim everything for the Creator, so we will have equivalence of form, called Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator. However, the purpose of creation is to do good to His creations, meaning for the lower ones to receive delight and pleasure from the Creator, and not to bestow upon Him contentment, as though the Creator needs the lower ones to give Him something.

Therefore, when the creatures wish to receive something from the Creator, they must use their vessels of reception, which is the evil inclination. Otherwise, who will receive the pleasure? The receiver of the pleasure is only the craving for that thing. The craving for pleasures is called “will to receive.” It follows that at that time one must use the evil inclination, but with a correction placed on it, called “in order to bestow.” It follows that then he serves the Creator with the evil inclination, too.

The evil inclination is called “older” because it was born first. Likewise, when a person is born the evil inclination comes first, and the good inclination comes after thirteen years. Therefore, when a person works with the will to receive in order to bestow, it is considered that he loves the Creator with all his heart, meaning with both his inclinations. This is the meaning of the verse, “and the older shall serve the younger,” meaning that the will to receive, called “older,” will serve the younger, meaning serve the desire to bestow upon the Creator.

It follows that the desire to bestow will be the ruler. Sometimes the desire to bestow uses vessels of bestowal, called “vessels of Jacob,” and then it is regarded as serving the Creator with the good inclination. Sometimes it uses the vessels of reception, and then it is regarded as serving the Creator also with the evil inclination. All this was said to her in Shem’s seminary, as it is written, “The Lord said to her.”

By this we will understand what Ben Zoma said (Avot de Rabbi Natan, Chapter 23), “Who is the hero of heroes? He who turns his enemy into his friend.” In Masechet Avot (Chapte 4), “Ben Zoma says, ‘Who is a hero? He who conquers his inclination.’”

We should understand the difference between referring to a “hero” when he says, “Who is a hero? He who conquers his inclination,” and the interpretation he gives to “hero of heroes,” when he says “He who turns his enemy into his friend.”

According to the above we should interpret the words of Ben Zoma, that a hero means “and one people shall be stronger than the other,” as RASHI interpreted, “When one rises, the other falls.” This is called a “hero,” who has surrendered the evil in him, and only the good inclination governs, meaning that he is serving the Creator only with the good inclination.

A “hero of heroes” is regarded as “and the older shall serve the younger.” This means that the “older,” meaning the evil in him, “will serve the younger,” namely serve the desire to bestow. At that time he will be serving the Creator also with the evil inclination, and then he keeps the verse, “With all your heart,” meaning with both your inclinations.

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