Letter No. 36

Eve of Sukkot, October 9, 1957, Manchester

To the friends in the Holy Land, may they live forever,

This week, I received two letters from… and regarding his question… I will answer privately.

In general, our sages said, “Anyone who is idle with the eulogy of a sage should be buried in his life” (Shabbat 105). We should ask, “Why does he deserve such a harsh punishment?” we should know that idleness always stems from absence of deficiency. Only there is there idleness. But where there is a deficiency, there are always movements in order to seek advice how to satisfy the lack. This is why specifically one who does not feel any lack in the departure of the sage, it is apparent in the eulogy of the sage—when he is idle in the eulogy of the sage.

The question is, “Why does he not feel the lack in the departure of the sage?” It must be said that during the sage’s life he also did not receive anything from the sage, so he does not feel any lack upon the sage’s departure.

This is why he should be buried in his life, meaning during the sage’s life. It is not necessarily now that he is not alright, as he is idle in his eulogy. Rather, back then he was already not alright. This is why “buried in his life” means during the life of the sage.

However, there is a cure to all this. Conversely, “One who degrades a wise disciple, there is no cure to his plight” (Shabbat 119). In other words, if he does not settle for being idle with the eulogy of a sage, but says that he is standing on the same degree with the sage, in connection, there is no greater degradation to a wise disciple than this, and our sages said, “There is no cure to his plight.” Instead, he keeps falling lower and lower until he shows to everyone his true form, meaning that his Torah becomes to him a potion of death.

My general answer is that the festival of Sukkot explains all the questions, even the hardest and worst, for it is known that Sukkah is the “shadow of faith,” and with respect to the judgment, its shade must be bigger than its sun.

It is also known that the sun implies knowing, and the moon implies faith. It is as our sages said, “Israel count by the moon, and the nations of the world count by the sun.” That is, each time we see the sun, and that it is more than the shade, we must cover more so that the shade will be more than the sun.

And if one is rewarded and does not add shade on his own, there is mercy on him from above and the sun is covered for him. But then a person becomes angry because he understands otherwise. According to the person’s reason, if he has sun, he wishes to have more sun, but “My thoughts are not your thoughts,” and he is given more shade.

And if a person overcomes the shade, he is given “a sun,” and then he must add shade. If he does not add, he is given shade from above, and so forth until he is rewarded with eternal Dvekut (adhesion).

However, we must exert excessively to receive the shade and say it is a holy shade, that all this shade came from above and not from the Sitra Achra, that it was given so he would be able to assume faith. At that time it is called “shadow of faith” and it is holy, as in, “The ways of the Lord are straight, the righteous walk in them and the wicked,” etc.

This is the meaning of making the thatch from the waste of barn and winery. Baal HaSulam explained that Goren (barn) comes from the words Ger Anochi (I am a foreigner), and Yekev (winery) from the words, Nokev Shem Hashem (puncturing the name of the Lord). To interpret the words of Baal HaSulam, the thatch is the shadow of faith, called “faith above reason.” This is opposite to reason, for reason brings him into waste, to barn, and to winery.

That is, from the perspective of reason, the way the corporeal eyes see it, there is room for waste of bаrn and winery. This in itself makes a shadow, and he sits under it. That is, he makes for himself a seat out of all those lowest and worst things, and through the waste observes the Mitzva (commandment) of Sukkah.

Most importantly, he derives joy from this Mitzva because faith above reason is called “joy of Mitzva.” It follows that all the quandaries and questions that exist in reality are corrected in the Sukkah, for without them it is impossible to make a thatch.

And one must be a good guest in this regard and say, “All that the landlord has done, he has done only for me.” That is, one must say with the mouth that everything that is happening in the world—that there are people who suffer and are mistreated—is only so that I can receive the good, meaning to keep faith. Even though I see the bad in people, it is in order to be able to assume the burden of the kingdom of heaven.

Moreover, it is to say that others will suffer pain only so I can receive. In truth, it is hard to say this. But if a person works specifically in order to bestow contentment upon his maker, then he himself is completely inconsequential. Instead, everything is only for the Creator. At that time, if the person does not stand in the middle, then everyone can say that when he says, “The landlord has troubled himself only for me,” meaning so that I could continue with the work of faith, is only for the Creator and not for himself.

When a person is concerned with pleasures, it is difficult to deceive oneself and say that the whole world was created only for him. But when a person is concerned with the sake of the Creator, it is not so difficult to believe, since the self is completely inconsequential.

It follows from all the above that the thatch, called “shade,” is made specifically from the waste of barn and winery. This is the meaning of what we say in the prayer inside the Sukkah, “And to take refuge from current and torrent.” It means that faith saves a person from all the harm doers, since harm doers are alien thoughts and alien views, and faith is built specifically on waste. Only in this way is there refuge from current and torrent; otherwise one flows with the currents of the world.

The torrent is something that sustains the earth, since people who are still are nourished only by reason, and only reason sustains them. Where reason does not reach, they cannot hold out, and this reason keeps these people still.

But one who wishes to be as the vegetative must not accept this reason as support, since that torrent is unsuitable for one who wishes to walk on the path of truth. And if a person fails and takes support from that reason, he will immediately suffer a descent and a fall to the bottom of hell.

However, the still can keep them and do not suffer any falls. This is why they always seek reason, to support their work. In order not to fail in this reason, which is called “torrent,” there is power in the above-mentioned thatch, as we say, “to take refuge from current and torrent.” This settles the questions, and may we be rewarded with the shadow of faith.

In order to understand the matter more clearly, I will copy for you an article from a letter of Baal HaSulam for you to delve in and nourish your souls. These are his words: “And by the way, I will clarify for you the meaning of the charity for the poor, which is so praised in The Zohar, the Tikkunim, and by our sages: There is an organ in man with which it is forbidden to work. Even if the smallest of the small desires to work with it still exists in man, that organ remains afflicted and stricken by the Creator. It is called ‘poor,’ for its entire sustenance and provision are by others working for it and pitying it.

“This is the meaning of the words, ‘Anyone who sustains a single soul from Israel, it is as though he sustains an entire world.’ Since the organ depends on others, it has no more than its own sustenance. And still, the Creator regards it as though he sustained an entire world, that this itself is the entire blessing of the world and everything in it, multiplied and completed solely by the force of that poor soul, which is sustained by the work of other organs.

“This is the meaning of ‘And He took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens ...’ and he believed in the Lord and reckoned it to him as righteousness.’ That is, by taking it outside, there was some desire to work with this organ; this is why He forbade him the work. This is why it was said, ‘Now look toward the heavens.’ At the same time, he was given the promise of the blessing of the seed.

“These are tantamount to two opposites in the same subjects, since all his seed, which is to be blessed, necessarily comes from this organ. Thus, when he is not working, how will he find a seed?

“This is the meaning of ‘And he believed in the Lord,’ meaning that he accepted those two receptions as they were, both the complete prohibition on the work, and the promise of the blessing of the seed. And how did he receive them? This is why he concludes, ‘And [he] reckoned it to him as righteousness,’ meaning as the form of charity [Tzedakah means both “charity” and “righteousness”] for a poor [person] who is sustained by the work of others.

“This is the meaning of the two sayings of our sages: One [person] thought that the Creator would treat him with righteousness, meaning keep and sustain him without work, and one thought that Abraham would act with righteousness toward the Creator. Both are the words of the loving God, for prior to the correction, that organ is in heaven, and the charity is counted for the lower one. At the end of his correction it is achievable, and then the Tzedakah is counted for the upper one. Know and sanctify for it is true.” Thus far his words.

I ask that each of you will write to me the meaning of the above words of Baal HaSulam, for it is a wonderful article.

And now let us arrange the work of the winter, which is the time of working during the long nights. Thus far I have been speaking from the perspective of the left, called “the left rejects.” This requires a lot of work and toil to overcome all the obstacles and all the alien views and thoughts. However, we should also engage in the right, as our sages said, “Make your Torah (teaching) permanent and your work temporary.” Torah is regarded as right, which is wholeness. A person should regard himself perfect with virtues and noble qualities. He should adapt the works in Torah and Mitzva as is suitable for a whole person as much as one can.

However, one must not regret it if one is unable to complete one’s will. That is, if a person wishes to do plentiful good deeds and study of Torah, but cannot, he should not regret it but be happy while working in the right. He should be content with whatever he can do, and praise and thank His name for being able to do a small service to the King. Even a minute a day or a minute in two days should be to him like finding a great treasure.

And even if it is a simple deed, meaning without vitality, he should still try to be happy and derive vitality from being allowed to serve the King. This is how he should be during the study, meaning whole. This is regarded as Torah, which is right, as it is written, “On His right was a fiery law.” For every opportunity, one must praise the Creator.

I heard from Baal HaSulam that with the praise and gratitude one gives to the Creator for nearing the Creator, one draws the light of His holiness below. A person should feel whole, and then he is regarded as blessed, and the blessed clings to the blessed. But when a person regards himself as cursed, the cursed does not cling to the cursed, as our sages said.

Therefore, you must regard yourselves as whole while performing Torah and Mitzvot (commandments). At that time you must not find any flaw in you, as it is written, “Anyone in whom there is a flaw shall not approach.” This is called “Torah,” meaning wholeness.

But only Torah is also not good, as our sages said, “He who engages only in Torah, it is as though he has no God,” as it is said, “And many days to Israel without a true God” (Avoda Zara 17).

“Days” is regarded as wholeness, meaning Torah. “Many” means that he engages only in Torah, and then he is “without a true God.” It is so because in the left, specifically this work guides on the path of truth. This is the meaning of “It is good to study Torah together with conducts, for toiling in both mitigates iniquity,” and “Any Torah without work is eventually annulled and induces iniquity.”

You might ask, “Why does Torah alone not only does not mitigate, but induces iniquity?” The reason is that if we do not walk on the path of truth, we remain as, “If they are not rewarded, a potion of death.” And that work, discerned as the kingdom of heaven, only this discernment is regarded as work and labor. This is why our sages said that specifically toiling in both mitigates iniquity. But “Do little work and plentiful study; make your Torah permanent and your work temporary,” because most of the day, a person must walk on the right, and a little bit of the day in the work of purity in mind and heart.

I will end my letter with hope that we will be rewarded with eternal Dvekut with His name.

Baruch Shalom

Son of Baal HaSulam

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