Letter No. 72

April 26, 1965

Hello and all the best to my friend,

I ask that you will please write me often about how you and your family are doing, about your health and provision, for I become very worried if I don’t hear from you.

Raban Gamlier would say, “Anyone who did not say these three things on Passover, did not fulfill his duty. These are: Pesach [Passover], Matza [unleavened bread], and Maror [bitter herb].” We should interpret what this means in ethics. It is known that the order of the work is that one should begin, and then comes help from above. It is as our sages said, “Man’s inclination overcomes him everyday and seeks to put him to death, and were it not for the Creator’s help, he would not have overcome it.” This means that only when one wants to work he receives help from above.

However, there is a rule that one receives help only when he needs help, meaning when he sees that he cannot do it alone. Otherwise the request for help is not a genuine request because he knows that he can do it all alone, but he is lazy, and the lazy receive no help, as only those who long for the Creator receive help, as our sages said, “Be as fierce as a leopard, as light as an eagle, run like a gazelle, and as strong as a lion.”

Therefore, the order is that the beginning is a state of Matza, from the words Matza and Meriva [quarrel], as it is written, “When they strove with the Lord,” and as our sages said, “One should always vex the good inclination over the evil inclination, as it is said, ‘Be angry, but do not sin.’” RASHI interprets, “Make war with the evil inclination.

When a person makes war with it each day, but sees that it has still not moved an inch, but on the contrary, it has grown worse, he begins to feel bitter. This is called Maror [bitter herb]. It is as the holy ARI wrote, that at the time of redemption, Israel stood at forty-nine gates of impurity, and then the Creator appeared to them and redeemed them.

This is truly hard to understand: How can it be said that before Moses and Aaron came to the people of Israel as messengers of the Creator, they were no so deep in gates of impurity, but only after Moses and Aaron came and they saw all the signs and tokens that were in Egypt, they fell so deep into the gates of impurity? The thing is that everything depends on the sensation. One cannot feel the true reality itself, as our sages said, “one does not see one’s own faults,” and “one learns Torah only where one’s heart desires.” Therefore, he cannot see the truth as it truly is. Rather, being able to see the truth is help form above.

Therefore, before Moses and Aaron came, they did not see the truth. But afterwards, when they saw all the signs, they were awarded seeing the truth as it is. That is, they saw that they were at the lowest degree, at the forty-nine gates of impurity.

And then they were rewarded with redemption. That is, after they felt the bitterness, they were able to make a real prayer over their situation. It follows that the Maror, too, is help form the Creator, meaning by Moses and Aaron, and the signs and tokens that the Creator had shown them.

And then they were rewarded with Pesach [Passover], meaning that the Creator passed over the houses of the children of Israel. This is the meaning of “skipping,” called “skipping over the degrees.”

Normally, one who learns some wisdom adds gradually. But here it was the opposite—each time they would descend lower into impurity, and only when they saw their real state they could ask of the Creator for real prayer, and then the Creator helped them.

This is the meaning of Pesach, Matza, Maror, which go together. Otherwise, it is impossible to be awarded redemption. The letters of Golah [exile] and Geulah [redemption] are the same [in Hebrew], and the only difference between them is the Aleph. This shows us that only when one feels the exile does the Aleph, which is the Champion of the World, is revealed to him.

By that we will understand what our sages said: “What is Maror? Hassah [lettuce]. And why is it called Hassah? Because the merciful one Has [had mercy] on us.”

This is difficult to understand, since we understand that an intimation that the Creator had spared us should have been with something sweet, and not with something bitter. But as said above, in order for one to receive help from the Creator, he must first feel the bitterness of the situation, and it is impossible to feel bitterness because “one does not see one’s own fault.” Only through help from the Creator can one see one’s true state. This is why there is the intimation of Maror—that the merciful one had mercy on us and showed us our true state, which is bitter, and then we can be awarded salvation and redemption.

May the Creator send us the complete redemption soon.

From your friend who wishes you and your family peace, health, and much contentment, Amen.

Baruch Shalom Ashlag

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