1. At the outset of my words, I find a great need to break an iron
wall that has been separating us from the wisdom of Kabbalah since the
ruin of the Temple to this generation. It lies heavily on us and arouses
fear of being forgotten from Israel.
However, when I begin to speak to anyone about this study, his first
question is: “Why should I know how many angels are in the sky, and what
their names are? Can I not keep the entire Torah in all its details and
intricacies without this knowledge?”
Second, he will ask: “The sages have already determined that one must first
fill one’s belly with Gmarah and Talmud. Thus, how can one deceive himself in
that he has finished the entire revealed Torah, and lacks only the wisdom of
Third, one is afraid that he will turn sour because of this engagement, as
there have already been incidents of deviation from the path of Torah because
of engagement in Kabbalah. Hence, why do I need this trouble? Who is so foolish
as to place himself in danger for no reason?
Fourth: Even those who favor this study only permit it to holy ones, servants
of the Creator. Not all who wish to take the Lord may come and take.
Fifth, and most importantly: “It is a conduct in our midst that when in doubt,
keep this: Do as the people do,” and my eyes see that all those who study Torah
in my generation are of one mind, and refrain from studying the hidden.
Moreover, they advise the ones who ask them that it is undoubtedly preferable
to study a page of Gmarah instead of this engagement.
2. Indeed, if we set our hearts to answer but one very famous question,
I am certain that all these questions and doubts will vanish from the horizon,
and you will look unto their place to find them gone. This indignant question
is a question that the whole world asks, namely, “What is the meaning of my
life?” In other words, these numbered years of our life that cost us so heavily
and the numerous pains and torments that we suffer for them, to complete them
to the fullest, who is it that enjoys them? Even more precisely, to whom do I
It is indeed true that historians have grown weary contemplating it and
particularly in our generation. No one even wishes to consider it. Yet the
question stands as bitterly and as vehemently as ever. Sometimes it meets us
uninvitingly, pecks at our mind and humiliates us to the ground before we find
the famous ploy to flow mindlessly in the currents of life as yesterday.
3. Indeed it is to resolve this great riddle that the verse writes,
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Those who keep the Torah and Mitzvot
correctly are the ones who taste the taste of life. They are the ones who see
and testify that the Lord is good, as our sages say, that He created the worlds
to do good to His creations, since it is the conduct of The Good to do good.
Yet, those who have not yet tasted the taste of life in observing Torah and
Mitzvot cannot feel and understand that the Lord is good, as our sages
say, that when the Creator created us His sole purpose was to benefit us. Hence,
we have no other counsel but to keep the Torah and Mitzvot correctly.
It is written in the Torah (Parashat Nitzavim): “See, I have set before thee
this day life and good, and death and evil.” It means that prior to the giving
of the Torah, we had only death and evil before us, as our sages say, that “The
wicked in their life are called dead.” This is so because their death is better
than their life since the pain and suffering they endure to attain their
sustenance is many times greater than the little pleasure they feel in this
However, now we have been granted Torah and Mitzvot and by keeping it
we acquire the real life, joyful and delightful to its owner. It is written,
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” The writing says in that regard, “See,
I have set before thee this day life and good,” which you did not have in
reality at all prior to the giving of the Torah.
The writing ends: “therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy
seed.” There is seemingly a double phrasing here, “choose life, that thou
mayest live.” Yet, it is a reference to life in observing Torah and
Mitzvot, which is when there is real life. However, a life without
Torah and Mitzvot is harder than death. This is the meaning of the
words of our sages, “The wicked in their life are called dead.”
The writing says, “that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed.” It means that not
only is a life without Torah joyless to its owner, but one also cannot delight
others. One finds no contentment even in one’s progeny, since the life of his
progeny is also harder than death. Hence, what tribute does he leave for them?
However, not only does one who lives in Torah and Mitzvot enjoys his
own life, but he is even happy to bear children and bequeath them of this good
life. This is the meaning of, “that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed,” for
one receives additional pleasure in the life of one’s progeny, of which he was
4. Now you can understand the words of our sages about the verse,
“therefore choose life.” It states: “I instruct you to choose the part of
living, as a person who says to his son: ‘Choose for yourself a good part in
my land.’ He places him on the good part and says to him: ‘Choose this for
yourself.’” It is written about this, “O Lord, the portion of mine inheritance
and of my cup, Thou maintainest my lot.” You placed my hand on the good fate,
to say: “This take for you.”
The words are seemingly perplexing. The verse says, “therefore choose life.”
This means that one makes the choice by himself. However, they say that He
places him on the good part. Thus, is there no longer choice here? Moreover,
they say that the Creator puts one’s hand on the good fate. This is indeed
perplexing, because if so where then is one’s choice?
Now you can see the true meaning of their words. It is indeed true that the
Creator Himself puts one’s hand on the good fate by giving him a life of
pleasure and contentment within the corporeal life that is devoid of content,
filled with torment and pain. One necessarily departs and escapes them when he
sees a tranquil place, even if it seemingly appears amidst the cracks. He flees
there from this life, which is harder than death. Indeed, is there a greater
placement of one’s hand by Him than this?
One’s choice refers only to the strengthening. This is because there is
certainly a great effort and exertion here before one purifies one’s body to be
able to observe Torah and Mitzvot correctly, not for himself but to
bring contentment to his Maker, which is called Lishma. Only in this
manner is one endowed with a life of happiness and pleasantness that come with
observing the Torah.
However, before one comes to that purification there is certainly a choice to
strengthen in the good way by all sorts of means and artifice. Also, one should
do whatever his hand finds the strength to do until he completes the craft of
purification and will not fall under his burden midway.
5. According to the above, you will understand the words of our sages in
the Talmud (Avot): “Thus is the path of Torah: Eat bread with salt, drink
little water, sleep on the ground, lead a sorrowful life, and labour in the
Torah. If so you do, happy you will be; happy in this world and happy in the
We must ask about their words: How is the wisdom of Torah different from the
other teachings in the world, which do not require this asceticism and
sorrowful life, but the labour itself is enough to acquire those teachings?
Even though we labour extensively in the Torah, it is still not enough to
acquire the wisdom of the Torah, except through the mortification of bread
with salt and a sorrowful life.
The end of the words is even more surprising, as they said, “If so you do,
happy you will be; happy in this world and happy in the next world.” This is
because it is possible that I will be happy in the next world. Yet, in this
world, when I mortify myself in eating and drinking and sleeping, and live a
sorrowful life, would it be said about such life, “happy in this world?” Is
this the meaning of a happy life in this world?
6. However, it is explained above that the practice of Torah and
Mitzvotcorrectly, in its strict condition, is to bestow contentment to
one’s Maker and not for self-gratification. It is impossible to come to that
except by way of great labour and exertion in purifying the body.
The first tactic is to accustom oneself to not receive anything for one’s
pleasure, even the permitted and necessary things for the existence of one’s
body, such as eating, drinking, sleeping and other such necessities. Thus, one
will disconnect himself completely from any pleasure that necessarily
accompanies the satisfaction in the fulfillment of one’s sustenance. At last,
one will come to live a sorrowful life in its literal meaning.
After one becomes accustomed to that and his body possesses no desire to
receive any pleasure for itself, it is now possible for him to engage in the
Torah and keep the Mitzvot in that manner too, in order to bestow
contentment upon his Maker and not at all for himself.
When one acquires that, one is imparted the taste of a happy life, filled with
goodness and delight without any blemish of sorrow, which appear in the practice
of Torah and Mitzvot Lishma. It is as Rabbi Meir says (Avot 86): “One
who engages in Torah Lishma (for Her name) is granted many things.
Moreover, the entire world is rewarding for him, the secrets of Torah reveal to
him and he becomes as a flowing spring.”
It is about him that the verse says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” One
who tastes the flavour of the practice of Torah and Mitzvot Lishma is
endowed with seeing the intention of creation for himself, that it is only to
do good to His creations, as it is the conduct of The Good to do good. Then he
rejoices and delights in the number of years of life that the Creator imparted
him, and the entire world is rewarding to him.
7. Now you will understand the two sides of the coin of engagement in
Torah and Mitzvot: On the one hand it is the path of Torah, meaning
the extensive preparation one must make to prepare the purification of his
body before he is actually granted keeping the Torah and Mitzvot.
IIn that state it is necessary that he will practice Torah and Mitzvot Lo
Lishma (not for Her name), but mixed with self-gratification. This is
because he has not purified and cleansed his body from the will to receive
pleasure from the vanities of this world. It is at that time that one must live
a sorrowful life and labour in the Torah, as it is written in the Mishnah.
However, after one completes the path of Torah, has already purified his body,
and is now ready to keep the Torah and the Mitzvot Lishma, in order to
bring contentment to his Maker, he comes to the other side of the coin. This is
the life of pleasure and great tranquility upon which was the intention of
creation “to do good to His creations,” meaning the happiest life in this world
and in the next world.
8. This explains the great difference between the wisdom of Torah and
the rest of the teachings in the world: Acquiring the other teachings in the
world does not benefit life in this world whatsoever. This is because they do
not even render mere gratification for the torments and suffering one undergoes
during one’s life. Hence, one needs not correct his body; the labour that he
gives in return for them is quite sufficient, as with all other worldly
possessions acquired in return for labour and toil.
However, the sole purpose of engagement in Torah and Mitzvot is to
make one worthy of receiving all the goodness in the intention of creation,
“to do good to His creations.” Hence, one must necessarily purify one’s body
to merit that Godly goodness.
9. This also thoroughly clarifies the words of the Mishnah, “If so you
do, happy you will be in this world.” They made this precision with deliberate
intention to indicate that a happy life in this world is only for those who
completed the path of Torah. Thus, the matter of mortification in eating,
drinking, sleeping and a sorrowful life that are mentioned here abide only while
during the path of Torah. This is why they insisted and said, “Thus is the path
When one completes this path of Lo Lishma in sorrowful life and
mortification the Mishnah ends, “happy in this world.” This is because you will
acquire that happiness and goodness in the intention of creation and the entire
world will be rewarding for you, even this world, and all the more so the next
10. The Zohar (Bereshit) writes about the verse, “And God said: 'Let
there be light.' And there was light.” In means that the acts of creation were
created in their full stature and form, meaning in their fullest glory and
perfection. Accordingly, the Light that was created on the first day came out in
all its perfection, which also contains the life of this world in utter
pleasantness and gentleness, as expressed in the words, “Let there be light.”
However, in order to prepare a place of choice and labour, He stood and concealed
it for the righteous at the end of days, as our sages say. Hence they said in
their pure tongue “Let there be Light for this world.” However, it did not remain
so but “and let there be Light for the next world.”
In other words, them who practice Torah and Mitzvot Lishma attain it only
at the end of days, meaning during the end of days after the end of the
purification of their body in the path of Torah. Then they are rewarded with that
great Light in this world too, as our sages say, “You shall see your world in your
11. However, we find and see in the words of the sages of the Talmud that
they have made the path of Torah easier for us than the sages of the Mishnah.
This is because they said, “One will always practice the Torah and
Mitzvot, even Lo Lishma, and from Lo Lishma he will
come to Lishma because the Light in it reforms.”
Thus, they have invented for us a new means instead of the penance presented in
the above Mishnah (Avot), which is the “Light in the Torah.” It bears sufficient
power to reform one and bring him to practice Torah and Mitzvot Lishma.
They did not mention penance here. Only that engagement in Torah and
Mitzvot alone can provide one with that Light that reforms so that one
may engage in Torah and Mitzvot in order to bring contentment to his
Maker and not at all for his own pleasure. This is called Lishma.
12. Nevertheless, we must question their words. After all we have found
a few students whose practice in the Torah did not help them to come to
Lishma through the Light in it. Indeed, practicing Torah and
Mitzvot in Lo Lishma means that one believes in the Creator and
in reward and punishment. He engages in the Torah because the Creator commanded
the practice, yet associates his own pleasure with bringing contentment to his
If after all one’s labour in the practice of Torah and Mitzvot he will
know that no pleasure and self-benefit came to him through this great exertion
and strain, he will regret having made all these efforts. This is because one has
initially tortured oneself thinking that he will enjoy his exertion. This is
called Lo Lishma.
Nonetheless, our sages also permitted the beginning of the practice in Torah and
Mitzvot in Lo Lishma because from Lo Lishma he comes
to Lishma. Indeed, there is no doubt that if this student has not
acquired faith in the Creator and in His Torah, but still dwells in doubt, it is
not about him that our sages say “from Lo Lishma he will come to
Lishma.” It is not about him that they said that by engaging in it “the
Light in it reforms.”
The Light in the Torah shines only to those with faith. Moreover, the measure of
that Light is as the measure of the force of one’s faith. Yet to those without
faith it is the opposite for they receive darkness from the Torah and their eyes
13. Sages have already presented a nice allegory about the verse, “Woe
unto you that desire the day of the Lord! Wherefore would ye have the day of the
Lord? It is darkness, and not light.” A parable about a rooster and a bat that
were waiting for the Light. The rooster said to the bat: “I await the Light for
the Light is mine, but you, why do you need the Light?” (Sanhedrin 98; 72).
Clearly, those students who were not endowed with coming from Lo Lishma
to Lishma because of their absence of faith did not receive any Light
from the Torah. Thus, in darkness they walk and shall die without wisdom.
Conversely, those who were imparted complete faith are guaranteed in the words of
our sages that because they engage in the Torah even Lo Lishma the Light
in it reforms them. They will be imparted the Torah Lishma, which brings
a happy and good life in this world and in the next world, even without the prior
affliction and sorrowful life. It is about them that the verse writes, “Then
shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord, and I will make thee to ride upon the
high places of the earth.”
14. Concerning such a matter as the above, I once interpreted the saying
of our sages, “He whose Torah is his trade.” The measure of his faith is apparent
in his practice of the Torah because the letters of the word Umanuto
(his trade) are the same (in Hebrew) as the letters of the word Emunato
It is like a person who trusts his friend and lends him money. He might trust him
with one dollar, and if he asks for two dollars he will refuse to lend him. He
might also trust him with one hundred dollars, but not more. Also, he might trust
him and lend him half his property but not his whole property. Finally, he might
trust him with his entire property without a shred of fear. This last faith is
considered “complete faith”, but the previous forms are considered “incomplete
faith”. Rather it is partial faith, whether more or less.
Similarly, one allots oneself only one hour a day to practice Torah and work out
of the measure of his faith in the Creator. Another allots it two hours,
according to the measure of his faith in the Creator. The third does not neglect
even a single moment of his free time without engaging in the Torah and the work.
Thus, only the faith of the last one is complete since he trusts the Creator with
all his property. The previous, however, their faith is still incomplete.
15. Thus it has been thoroughly clarified that one should not expect that
the Torah and Mitzvot in Lo Lishma will bring him to
Lishma except when one knows in one’s heart that he has been granted
faith in the Creator and in His Torah appropriately. This is because then the
Light in it reforms and he will attain “the day of the Lord,” which is all Light.
The sanctity of faith purifies one’s eyes to enjoy His Light until the Light in
the Torah reforms him.
However, those without faith are as bats. They cannot look at the Light of day
because the daylight is inverted for them to a more terrible darkness than the
darkness of the night, as they are only fed in the darkness of the night.
In this manner, the eyes of those without faith are blinded to the Light of God
and hence the Light becomes darkness to them. For them, the potion of life is
turned into a potion of death. It is about them that the writing says, “Woe unto
you that desire the day of the Lord! Wherefore would ye have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light.” Thus, first one must make one’s faith complete.
16. This answers yet another question in the Tosfot (Taanit P. 7): “He
who practices Torah Lishma, his Torah becomes a potion of life for him.
He who practices Torah Lo Lishma, his Torah becomes a potion of death
for him.” They asked, “Yet, they said, ‘One will always practice the Torah and
Mitzvot, even Lo Lishma, and from Lo Lishma he will
come to Lishma.’”
According to the explained above, we should divide it simply: One who engages in
Torah because of the Mitzva to study the Torah and believes in reward
and punishment, despite associating self-pleasure and benefit with the intention
to bring contentment to his Maker, the Light in it will reform him and he will
come to Lishma.
Conversely, one who studies not for the sake of the Mitzva to study the
Torah because he does not believe in reward and punishment in that measure,
enough to labour so for it, but exerts only for his own pleasure, his Torah
becomes a potion of death for him. For him, the Light in it is turned to
17. Hence, the student pledges prior to the study to strengthen himself
in faith in the Creator and in His guidance in reward and punishment, as our
sages have written, “Your landlord is liable to reward you for your work.” One
should aim one’s labour to be for the Mitzvot of the Torah, and thus he
will be imparted the pleasure of the Light in it. His faith will strengthen and
grow through the remedy of this Light, as they said, “It shall be health to thy
navel, and marrow to thy bones” (Proverbs 3, 8).
Then one’s heart shall rest assure that from Lo Lishma he will come to
Lishma. Thus, even one who knows about himself that he has not acquired
faith can hope so through the practice of Torah.
If one sets one’s heart and mind to acquire faith in the Creator through that
means, there is no greater Mitzva than that, as our sages said,
“Habakkuk came and stressed only that: “the righteous shall live by his faith”
Moreover, there is no other counsel than this, as it is written: Rabbi said:
“Job wished to rid the entire world of judgment. He said before Him: Oh Lord,
Thou hath created the righteous, Thou hath created the wicked, who holds you
RASHI interprets there: “Thou hath created righteous by means of the good
inclination; Thou hath created wicked by means of the evil inclination. Hence,
there is none that is saved from Thine hand, for who holds you down? Coerced are
the sinners.” And what did the friends of Job reply? “Yea, thou doest away with
fear, and impairest devotion before God” (Job 15, 4), the Creator has created the
evil inclination, He has created for it the spice of Torah.”
RASHI interprets there: “Created the Torah, which is a spice that abolishes
‘thoughts of transgression,’” as they said (Masechet Kidushin): ‘If thou cometh
across this villain, pull him to the Beit Midrash (seminary). If he is
hard, he will soften. Hence not coerced are they, for they could save
18. Clearly, they cannot rid themselves of the judgment if they say that
they received that spice and still have thoughts of transgression, meaning that
they are still in doubt and the evil inclination has not melted. This is because
the Creator who created us and gave the evil inclination its strength, evidently
knew to create the remedy and the spice that are liable to wear off the power of
the evil inclination and eradicate it altogether.
If one practices Torah and fails to remove the evil inclination from himself, it
is either that he has been negligent in giving the necessary labour and exertion
in the practice of Torah, as it says, “I have laboured but have not found, do not
believe,” or perhaps one did put in the necessary labour, but has been negligent
That means that while practicing Torah they did not set their mind and heart to
draw the light in the Torah which brings faith in one’s heart. Rather, they have
been absent minded about the principal requirement demanded of the Torah, namely
the Light that brings faith. Moreover, although they first aimed for it, their
minds went astray during the study.
Either way one cannot rid oneself of the blame by arguing coercion for our sages
strictly state: “I have created the evil inclination, I have created for it the
spice of Torah.” If there had been any exceptions in that, then Job’s question
would have remained valid.
19. Through all that has been explained thus far I have removed a great
complaint about the words of Rabbi Chaim Vital in his introduction to Shaar
HaHakdamot (Gate to Introductions) by the Ari and the introduction to the Tree of
Life. He writes: “Indeed, one should not say, ‘I shall go and engage in the
wisdom of Kabbalah before he engages in the Torah, the Mishnah and the Talmud.’
This is because our sages have already said, ‘One should not enter the
PARDES unless he has filled his belly with meat and wine.’”
This is like a soul without a body. It has no reward or act or consideration
before it is connected inside a body when it is corrected in the Mitzvot
of the Torah, in 613 Mitzvot.
Conversely, when one is occupied with the wisdom of the Mishnah and Babylonian
Talmud and does not give a share to the secrets of Torah and its concealments as
well, it is like a body that sits in the dark without a human soul, God’s candle
that shines within it. Thus, the body is dry and does not draw from a source of
Hence, a wise disciple who practices Torah Lishma should first engage in
the wisdom of the Bible, the Mishnah and the Talmud, as long as his mind can
tolerate. Afterwards he will delve in knowing his Maker in the wisdom of truth.
It is as King David commanded his son Solomon: “know thou the God of thy father
and serve Him.” If that person will find the matter of the study and scrutiny
heavy and difficult, he is better off leaving his hand off it, once he tested his
luck in this wisdom, and engage in the wisdom of truth.
It is written: “A disciple who has not seen a good sign in his study within five
years, will also not see it (Hulin p. 24). Thus, every one whose study is easy
for him must dedicate a portion of one or two hours a day to study the Halacha
(Jewish code of laws) and explain and interpret the questions in the literal
20. These words of his seem very perplexing because he says that before
one succeeds in the study of the literal one should already engage in the wisdom
of truth. This contradicts his former words that the wisdom of Kabbalah without
the literal Torah is as a soul without a body, having no deed, consideration and
The evidence he brings from a disciple who did not see a good sign is even more
perplexing, for have our sages said that because of that he should abandon the
study of Torah? Certainly, it is in order to warn him to examine his ways and try
with another Rabbi or another section, but he must certainly not leave the Torah,
even the revealed Torah.
21. It is even more difficult to understand both in the words of Rabbi
Chaim Vital and the Gmarah, because it is implied in their words that one needs
some specific merit to attain the wisdom of Torah. However, our sages said
(Midrash Raba): “The Creator said unto Israel: ‘Regard, the whole wisdom and the
whole Torah is an easy thing: any one who fears Me and observes the words of the
Torah, the entire wisdom and the entire Torah are in his heart.’” Thus we do not
need any prior merit here; only by the virtue of fear of God and observing the
Torah is one granted the whole wisdom of the Torah.
22. Indeed, if we examine his words they will clarify before us as pure
heavenly stars. The text, “he is better off leaving his hand off it, once he
tested his luck in this wisdom,” does not refer to luck of wit and erudition.
Rather, it is as we have explained above in the interpretation “I have created
the evil inclination, I have created for it the spice of Torah.”
It means that one has delved and exerted in the revealed Torah and still the evil
inclination is in power and has not melted at all. This is because he is still
not delivered from thoughts of transgression, as RASHI writes above in the
explanation to “I have created for it the spice of Torah.”
Therefore he advises him to leave his hands off it, and practice the wisdom of
truth for it is easier to draw the light in the Torah while practicing and
labouring in the wisdom of truth then in labouring in the literal Torah. The
reason is also very simple: the wisdom of the revealed is clothed in external,
corporeal clothes, such as stealing, plundering, torts, etc. Hence it is hard and
heavy for any person to aim his mind and heart to the Creator during the study so
as to draw the Light of the Torah.
It is even more so for a person for whom the study itself is heavy and arduous.
How can he remember the Creator during the study, since the scrutiny concerns
corporeal matters and cannot come in him simultaneously with the intention for
Therefore he advises him to practice the wisdom of Kabbalah, as this wisdom is
entirely clothed in the names of the Creator. Then he will certainly be able to
aim his mind and heart to the Creator effortlessly even if he is the slowest
learner. This is so because the study in the issues of the wisdom and the Creator
are one and the same, and this is very simple.
23. Hence he brings good evidence from the words of the Gmarah: “A
disciple who has not seen a good sign in his study after five years, will also
not see it.” Why did he not see a good sign in his study? Certainly, it is only
due to the absence of the intention of the heart; not because of any lack of
aptitude, as the wisdom of Torah requires no aptitude.
Instead, as it is written in the above study: “Regard, the whole wisdom and the
whole Torah is an easy thing: any one who fears Me and observes the words of the
Torah, the entire wisdom and the entire Torah are in his heart.”
Of course one must accustom oneself in the Light of Torah and Mitzvot
and I do not know how much. One might remain in waiting all his years. Hence the
Braita warns us (Hulin 24) not to wait more than five years.
Moreover, Rabbi Yosi says that only three years are quite sufficient to attain
the wisdom of the Torah. If one does not see a good sign within that length of
time, one should not fool himself with false hopes and deceit, but know that he
will never see a good sign.
Hence, one must immediately find himself a good tactic that will succeed in
bringing him to Lishma and to be granted the wisdom of the Torah. The
Braita did not specify the tactic, but it warns not to remain seated in the same
situation and wait longer.
This is the meaning of what the Rav says, that the surest and most successful
tactic is the engagement in the wisdom of Kabbalah. One should leave one’s hand
entirely from engagement in the wisdom of the revealed Torah since he has already
tested his luck in it and did not succeed and he should dedicate all his time to
the wisdom of Kabbalah, where his success is certain.
24. This is very simple for these words have no connection to the study
of the literal Torah in any thing that one must actually practice, for “it is not
the ignorant who is pious, and a mistaken learning makes for evil, and one sinner
destroyeth much good.” Hence, one must necessarily repeat them as much as it is
necessary to not fail in one’s practice.
However, here it speaks only of the study of the wisdom of the revealed Torah, to
explain and scrutinize questions that arise in the interpretation of the laws as
Rabbi Chaim Vital deduces there himself. It refers to the part of the study of
the Torah that is not performed de facto, not to the actual laws.
Indeed, it is possible to be lenient and study from the abbreviations and not
from the origins. However, this too requires extensive learning since one who
knows from the origin is not like one who knows from a brief scan of some
abbreviation. In order to not err in that, Rabbi Chaim Vital says at the very
outset of his words that the soul only connects to the body when it is corrected
in the Mitzvot of the Torah, in 613 Mitzvot.
25. Now you shall see how all the questions that we presented in the
beginning of the introduction are complete folly. However, they are the obstacles
that the evil inclination spreads in order to hunt innocent souls, to dismiss
them from the world robbed and abused.
Examine the first question, where they imagine that they can keep the entire
Torah even without the knowledge of the wisdom of Kabbalah. I say to them:
Indeed, if you can keep the study of Torah and the observance of the
Mitzvot correctly, Lishma, meaning solely in order to bring
contentment to the Maker, then it is said about you, ‘One’s soul shall teach one.’
This is because then all the secrets of the Torah will appear before you like a
lush spring, as in the words of Rabbi Meir in the Mishnah (Avot), and you will
need no assistance from the books.”
However, if you are still engaged in Lo Lishma learning, but hope to
merit Lishma by this means, then I ask you: “How many years have you
been doing so?” If you are still within the five years, as the Tana Kama says,
or within the three years, as Rabbi Yosi says, then you still have time and can
Yet, if you have been engaged in the Torah Lo Lishma for more than three
years as Rabbi Yosi says, and five years, as the Tana Kama says, then the Braita
warns you that you will not see a good sign in this path you are taking! Why
delude your souls with false hopes when you have such a near and sure tactic as
the study of the wisdom of Kabbalah, as I have shown the reason above that the
study in the issues of the wisdom and the Creator Himself are one?
26. Let us also examine the second question, which is that one must
fill one’s belly with Mishnah and Gmarah. Everyone agrees that it is indeed so.
Yet, this is all true if you have already been endowed with learning
Lishma, or even Lo Lishma, if you are still within the three
years or the five years. However, after that time the Braita warns you that you
will never see a good sign again, and so you must test your success in the study
27. We must also know that there are two parts to the wisdom of truth:
The first, called the “secrets of Torah”, should not be exposed except by
implication, and from a wise Kabbalist to a disciple who understands in his own
mind. Maase Merkava and Maase Bereshit also belong to that
part. The sages of the Zohar refer to that part as “the first three Sefirot,
Keter, Hochma, Bina, and it is also the Rosh (Head) of the
The second part is called the “flavours of Torah”. It is permitted to disclose
them and also a great Mitzva to disclose them. The Zohar refers to it as the
“seven lower Sefirot of the Partzuf” and it is also called the
Guf (Body) of the Partzuf.
Every single Partzuf de Kedusha (of holiness) consists of ten
Sefirot. These are called: Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura,
Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut. The first three Sefirot are
considered the “Rosh of the Partzuf” and the seven lower
Sefirot are named the “Guf of the Partzuf”. Even the
soul of the low Adam also contains the ten Sefirot in their
above names and every single Sefira, both in the Upper and in the lower.
The reason that the seven lower Sefirot which are the Guf of
the Partzuf are called “flavors of Torah” is as the meaning of the
verse, “and the palate tasteth its food.” The Lights that appear under the First
three, namely the Rosh, are called Taamim (flavors) and
Malchut of the Rosh is called Hech (palate).
For this reason they are called Taamim of Torah. It means that they
appear in the palate of the Rosh, which is the source of all
Taamim, which is Malchut of the Rosh. From there down
it is not forbidden to disclose them. Quite the contrary, the reward of one who
discloses them is immeasurable and boundless.
However, these first three Sefirot and the seven lower Sefirot
expand both in the general and in the most particular segment that can be
divided. Thus, even the first three Sefirot of the Malchut at
the end of the world of Assiya belong to the section of the “secrets of
Torah” which are not to be disclosed. Similarly, the seven lower Sefirot
in the Keter of the Rosh of Atzilut belong to the
section of the “Taamim of the Torah” and are permitted in disclosure,
and these words are written in the books of Kabbalah.
28. You will find the source of these words in the Mishnah (Psachim), as
it is written (Isaiah 23): “And her gain and her hire shall be holiness to the
Lord; it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her gain shall be for them that
dwell before the Lord, to eat their fill, and for stately clothing.” What is
“stately clothing”? This is what covers things that Atik Yomin covered.
What are those? The secrets of the Torah. Others say, this is what reveals
things that Atik Yomin covered. What are those? The flavours of the
RASHBAM interprets: Atik Yomin is the Creator, as it is written, “and
Atik Yomin sits.” The secrets of the torah are Maase Merkava
and Maase Bereshit. The meaning of “Name” is as it is written, “this is
My name for ever.” The “clothing” means that He does not give them to any person,
only to those whose heart is anxious. “This is what reveals things that Atik
Yomin covered” means covering the secrets of the Torah that were first
covered and Atik Yomin disclosed them and gave permission to disclose
them. One who discloses them attains what he said in this verse.
29. Now you can see the great difference between the secrets of Torah,
where all who attain them receive this great reward for covering them and not for
disclosing them, and the opposite with the Taamim of the Torah, where
all who attain them receive this great reward for disclosing them to others.
There is no dispute about the first opinion, rather only examination of the
different meanings between them. The Lishna Kama states the end, as it says
“stately clothing”. Hence they interpret the attainment of the great reward for
covering the secrets of Torah.
Others say it states the beginning that reads, “eat their fill” meaning the
Taamim of the Torah, as it is written, “and the palate tasteth its food”
because the Lights of Taamim are called eating. Hence they interpret the
attainment of the great reward mentioned in the text regarding one who discloses
the Taamim of the Torah though both think that the secrets of the Torah
must be covered and the Taamim of the Torah must be disclosed.
30. Thus you have a clear answer about the fourth and the fifth
questions in the beginning of the introduction that you find in the words of our
sages and also in the holy books that it is only given to one whose heart is
anxious. It refers to that part called “the secrets of the Torah” which is
considered the first three Sefirot and Rosh. This is only given
to concealed ones and under certain conditions, but in all the books of Kabbalah,
in writing and in print, you will not find even a trace of them because those are
the things that Atik Yomin covered, as it is written in the Gmarah.
Moreover, do say if it is possible to even think and picture that all those holy
and famous righteous which are the greatest and best in the nation, such as Sefer
Yetzira (Book of Creation), Sefer HaZohar (the Zohar), and the Braita of Rabbi
Ishmael, Rabbi Hai Gaon, and Rabbi Hamai Gaon, Rabbi A. from Garmiza and all the
Rishonim (first ones) through the RAMBAN and Baal HaTurim and the Baal Shulchan
Aruch through the Vilna Gaon and the Ladi Gaon and the rest of the righteous may
their memory be blessed.
From them we received the entire revealed Torah and by their words we live and
know which act to perform so as to be fancied by the Creator. All of them wrote
and published books in the wisdom of Kabbalah. There is no greater disclosure
than writing a book because the writer does not know who reads the book. It is
possible that utterly evil will scrutinize it. Hence, there is no greater
uncovering of secrets of Torah than that.
We must not doubt the words of these holy and pure, that they might infringe even
the slightest thing written and explained in the Mishnah and the Gmarah that are
forbidden to disclose, as written in Masechet Hagigah.
Rather, all the written and printed books are necessarily considered the
Taamim of the Torah, which Atik Yomin first covered and then
uncovered, as it is written, “and the palate tasteth its food.” Not only are
these secrets not forbidden to disclose, on the contrary, it is a very good deed
to disclose them (as written in Psachim 119).
One who knows how to disclose and discloses them, his reward is plentiful. This
is because in disclosing the Lights to many, particularly to the many, depends
the coming of Messiah soon in our days Amen.
31. There is a great need to explain once and for all why the coming of
the Messiah depends on the study of Kabbalah in the masses, which is so prevalent
in the Zohar and all the books of Kabbalah. Laymen have already discussed it
futilely and it has become unbearable.
The explanation of this matter is expressed in the Tikkunim (corrections)
of the Zohar (Tikun No. 30). Abbreviated translation: When the Holy
Divinity went into exile, this spirit blows upon them who engage in the Torah
because the Holy Divinity is among them. They are all as hay eating beasts, every
grace that they do, for themselves they do it. Even all of those who do study the
Torah, every grace that they do, for themselves they do it. In that time, spirit
leaves and never returns. This is the spirit of Messiah.
Woe to them that make the spirit of the Messiah leave and never return. They
make the Torah dry and do not want to delve in the wisdom of Kabbalah. These
people cause the sprouting of the wisdom, which is the Yod ( ) in the name
HaVaYaH ( ), to depart.
The spirit of the Messiah leaves, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of wisdom
and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and
of the fear of the Lord.” “And God said: 'Let there be Light.'” This is the Light
of love, the love of Mercy, as it is written, “I have loved thee with an
It is said about that, “if ye awaken, and if ye stir up love, until it please…”
then it is love not in order to receive reward. This is because if fear and love
is in order to receive reward, it is a handmaid… “a handmaid that is heir to her
32. We shall begin to explain the matter of the Tikkunim of the
Zohar from toe to head: He says that the fear and the love one has in the
practice of Torah and Mitzvot in order to receive reward, meaning while
hoping for some benefit from the Torah and the work, this is considered the maid.
It is written about her, “a handmaid that is heir to her mistress.”
This is seemingly perplexing for it is written, “One will always practice the
Torah and Mitzvot, even Lo Lishma,” and why does “the earth
doth quake?” In addition, we must understand the correlation of the engagement
in Lo Lishma specifically to the handmaid, and also the parable that she
inherits her mistress. What is the inheritance here?
33. You will understand the matter with everything that is explained
above in this introduction that they did not permit the study in Lo
Lishma but only since from Lo Lishma one comes to Lishma,
since the Light in it reforms. Hence, engagement in Lo Lishma is
considered a helping handmaid, who performs the ignoble works for her mistress,
At last, one will come to Lishma and will be imparted the inspiration of
Divinity. Then the maid, which is the engagement in Lo Lishma, will also
be a holy maid, for she supports and prepares the holiness, though she will be
considered the world of Assiya of the Kedusha (holiness).
However, if one’s faith is incomplete and he engages in the Torah and in the work
only because the Creator commanded him to study, then we have seen above that in
such Torah and work the Light does not appear. This is because one’s eyes are
flawed and like a bat turn the Light into darkness.
Such a study is no longer considered a holy maid since he will not acquire
Lishma through it. Hence, it comes to the dominion of the maid of the
Klipa (shell), which inherits these Torah and work and takes them for
Hence “the earth doth quake,” meaning Holy Divinity, called earth. It is so
because those Torah and work that should have come to her, as possessions of the
Holy Divinity, that evil handmaid robs and lowers them to be a possession of the
Klipot (shells). Thus, the handmaid is heir to her mistress.
34. The Tikkunim of the Zohar interpreted the meaning of the
oath, “if ye awaken, and if ye stir up love, until it please.” The precision is
that Israel will draw the Light of the Upper Hesed (Mercy), called “Love
of Mercy”. This is what is desired, which is drawn particularly by the engagement
in Torah and in Mitzvot not in order to receive reward. The reason is
that the Light of the Upper Wisdom is extended to Israel through this Light of
Mercy, appearing and clothing in this Light of Mercy that Israel extends.
This Light of Wisdom is the meaning of the verse, “And the spirit of the Lord
shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of
counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah
11). It is said about the King the Messiah: “And He will set up an ensign for the
nations, and will assemble the dispersed of Israel, and gather together the
scattered of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” This is because after
Israel extend the Light of Wisdom through the Light of Mercy the Messiah appears
and assembles the dispersed of Israel.”
Thus, everything depends on the practice of Torah and the work Lishma
which can extend the great Light of Mercy where the Light of Wisdom clothes and
extends. This is the meaning of the oath, “if ye awaken, and if ye stir up.” It
is so because the complete redemption and the assembling of the dispersed is
impossible without it since so are the pipes of holiness arranged.
35. They also interpreted “and the spirit of God hovered over the face
of the waters.” What is “the spirit of God”? During the exile, when Israel were
still occupied in Torah and Mitzvot Lo Lishma, if they are in this way
because from Lo Lishma one comes to Lishma, then Divinity is
among them, though in exile since they still have not reached Lishma.
This is written when Divinity is in concealment. However, they are bound to
attain the revelation of Divinity, and then the spirit of the King the Messiah
hovers on the engaging and awakens them to come to Lishma, as it is
written, “the Light in it reforms.” She aids and prepares for the inspiration of
Divinity, which is her mistress.
However, if this learning in Lo Lishma is not suitable to bring them to
Lishma, then Divinity regrets it and says that the spirit of man that
rises upward is not found among the disciples of the Torah. Rather, they suffice
in the spirit of the beast that descends downward, engaging in Torah and
Mitzvot only for their own benefit and pleasure.
The engagement in the Torah cannot bring them to Lishma and the spirit
of the Messiah does not hover on them but walks away from them and will not
return. The impure maid robs their Torah and inherits her mistress since they are
not on the way to come from Lo Lishma to Lishma.
Even though they do not succeed through the practice in the revealed Torah
because it does not have the Light and it is dry because of the smallness of
their minds, they could still succeed by engaging in the study of Kabbalah. This
is because the Light in it is clothed in the clothing of the Creator, meaning the
Holy Names and the Sefirot. They could easily come to that form of
Lo Lishma that brings them to Lishma and then the spirit of God
would hover on them, as it is written, “the Light in it reforms them.”
Yet, they have no wish at all for the study of Kabbalah and hence they cause
poverty, loot, ruin, killing and destruction in the world, because the spirit of
the Messiah leaves, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of wisdom and
36. We learn from the words of the Tikkunim of the Zohar that
there is an oath that the Light of Mercy and love will not awaken in the world
before Israel’s acts in Torah and Mitzvot will be with the intention to
not receive reward and only to bestow. This is the meaning of the oath, “I adjure
you, O daughters of Jerusalem.”
Thus, the length of the exile and affliction that we suffer depends on us and
waits for us to merit the practice of Torah and Mitzvot Lishma. If we
only attain that, the Light of love and Mercy that has the power to extend will
immediately awaken, as it is written, “And the spirit shall rest upon him, the
spirit of wisdom and understanding.” Then we shall attain the complete
It has also been clarified that it is impossible that the whole of Israel will
come to that great purity except through the study of Kabbalah. This is the
easiest way, adequate even for commoners.
However, while engaging in the revealed Torah it is impossible to attain except
for a chosen few and after extensive labour, but not for the majority of the
people (for the reason explained in item 24). This thoroughly explains the
irrelevance of the fourth and fifth questions in the beginning of the
37. The third question which is the fear that one will turn sour, well
there is no such fear here. This is because the deviation from the path of God
that occurred in the past was for two reasons: Either they broke the words of
our sages with things that they were not to disclose, or because they perceived
the words of the Kabbalah in their superficial meaning, meaning as corporeal
instructions, breaching “Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image.”
Hence, indeed until this day there has been a fortified wall around this wisdom.
Many have attempted and began to study and could not continue for lack of
understanding and because of the corporeal appellations. Thus I have laboured
with the interpretation “Panim Meirot and Panim Masbirot” to interpret the great
book “Tree of Life” by the Ari, to make abstract the corporeal forms and
establish them as spiritual laws above time and space. Accordingly, any novice
can understand the matters, their reasons and explanations with a clear mind and
great simplicity, no less than one understands Gmarah through the interpretation
38. Let us continue to elaborate on the practice of Torah and Mitzvot
Lishma. We must understand that name, “Torah Lishma”. Why is the
desirable and whole worship named so, Lishma, and the worship that is
undesirable is named Lo Lishma?
The literal meaning implies that one who engages in Torah and Mitzvot to
aim his heart to bring contentment to his Maker and to himself should have been
referred to as Torah Lishmo (for His Name) and Torah Lo Lishmo
(not for His Name), meaning for the Creator. Why then is this defined by the name
Lishma and Lo Lishma, meaning for the Torah?
There is certainly something more to understand here than the aforementioned
since the verse proves that Torah Lishmo, meaning to bring contentment
to one’s Maker is still insufficient. Instead, the study must be Lishma,
meaning for the Torah. This requires explanation.
39. The thing is that it is known that the name of the Torah is “Torah of
Life”, as it is written, “For they are life unto those that find them” (Proverbs,
4; 22), “For it is no vain thing for you; because it is your life” (Deuteronomy
32; 47). Hence, the meaning of Torah Lishma is that the practice of
Torah and Mitzvot brings one life and long days, and then the Torah is
as its name.
One who does not aim his heart and mind to the aforesaid, the practice of Torah
and Mitzvot brings him the opposite of life and long days, meaning
completely Lo Lishma, since its name is “Torah of Life”. These words are
explained in the words of our sages (Taanit 7, 71) “He who practices Torah
Lo Lishma, his Torah becomes a potion of death for him; and he who
practices the Torah Lishma, his Torah becomes a potion of life for him.”
However, their words require explanation regarding how and through what does the
Torah become to him a potion of death? Not only is his work and exertion in vain
and one receives no benefit from his labour and strain, but the Torah and the
work themselves become for him a potion of death. This is indeed perplexing.
40. We must first understand the words of our sages (Megillah 6, 72), who
said: “I have laboured and found - believe. I did not labour and found – do not
We must ask about the phrase “laboured and found”: they to contradict each other.
“Labour” refers to work and exertion that one gives in return for any desired
possession. For an important possession one makes great efforts and for a lesser
possession one makes a lesser effort.
Its opposite is a “find”. Its conduct is to come to a person absentmindedly and
without any preparation in labour, toil and price. Hence, how does it say,
“laboured and found”? If there is effort here it should have stated, “laboured
and purchased” or “laboured and acquired” etc. and not “laboured and found”.
41. The Zohar writes about the text “and those that seek Me earnestly
shall find Me” and asks: “Where does one find the Creator?” They said that the
Creator is found only in the Torah. Also, regarding the text “Verily Thou art a
God that hidest Thyself” that the Creator hides Himself in the Holy Divinity.
We must thoroughly understand their words. It seems that the Creator is hidden
only in corporeal things and conducts and in all the futilities of this world,
outside the Torah. Thus, how can you say the opposite, that He hides Himself only
in the Torah?
There is also the general meaning that the Creator hides Himself in a way that He
must be sought. Why does He need this concealment? In addition, “All that seek
Him shall find Him” which we understand from the text “and those that seek Me
earnestly shall find Me.” We must thoroughly understand this seeking and this
finding, what are they and why are they?
42. Indeed, you should know that the reason for our great distance from
the Creator and that we are so prone to transgress His will is for but one reason.
It became the source of all the torment and the suffering that we suffer and for
all the sins and the mistakes that we fail in.
Clearly, by removing that reason we will be instantly rid of any sorrow and pain.
We will immediately be granted adhesion with Him in heart, soul and might. I say
that that preliminary reason is none other than the “lack of our understanding in
His providence over His creations,” it is that we do not understand Him properly.
43. For example, Let us assume that the Creator conducts open providence
with His creations in this manner: Anyone who eats a forbidden thing will
immediately suffocate and anyone who performs a Mitzva will immediately
find a wonderful pleasure in it such as the finest delights in this corporeal
world. What fool would even contemplate tasting a forbidden thing, knowing that
because of it he will immediately lose his life, as one does not consider jumping
into the fire?
Also, what fool would leave any Mitzva without performing it as quickly
as possible, as one who cannot retire from or linger with a great corporeal
pleasure that comes into his hand without receiving it as swiftly as he can?
Thus, if providence were open before us, all the people in the world would be
44. Thus you see that all we need in our world is open providence. If we
had open providence all the people in the world be completely righteous. They
would also cleave to Him with absolute love for it would certainly be a great
honor for anyone of us to befriend and love Him with our heart and soul and
cleave to Him without losing a minute.
However, it is not so and a Mitzva is not rewarded in this world.
Moreover, those who defy His will are not punished before our eyes, but the
Creator is patient with them.
In addition, we sometimes think the opposite, as it is written (Psalms 73):
“Behold, such are the wicked; and they that are always at ease increase riches.”
Hence, not all who want to take the Lord may come and take. Instead we stumble
every step of the way, until – as our sages wrote about the verse – “I have found
one man out of a thousand. A thousand go into a room and one comes out to teach.”
Thus, understanding His providence is the reason for every good, and the lack of
understanding is the reason for every evil. It turns out that this is the whole
axis that all the people in the world circle, for better or for worse.
45. When we closely examine the attainment of providence that comes to
people’s sensations we find four kinds there. Each and every kind receives a
special providence by the Creator. Thus, there are four kinds of attainment of
providence here, though in fact, they are but two: concealment of the face and
revelation of the face, but they are divided into four.
There are two discernments in providence of concealment of the face, which are: a
single concealment, and concealment within concealment. There are also two
discernments in the providence of revelation of the face, which are: providence
of reward and punishment, and eternal providence.
46. The verse says: (Deuteronomy 31: 17): “Then My anger shall be kindled
against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from
them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall come upon them;
so that they will say in that day: Are not these evils come upon us because our
God is not among us? And I will surely hide My face in that day for all the evil
which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.”
When you regard these words you will find that in the beginning it states “Then
My anger shall be kindled... ...and I will hide My face,” meaning one concealment.
Afterwards it states “and many evils and troubles shall come upon them... ...And
I will surely hide My face,” meaning double concealment. We must understand what
is this “double concealment”.
47. We must first understand what is the meaning of the “face of the
Creator” about which the writing says, “I will hide My face.” It can be thought
of as a person who sees his friend’s face and knows him right away. However, when
he sees him from behind he is not certain that in his identity. He might doubt,
“Perhaps he is another and not his friend?”
So is the matter before us: Everyone knows and feels that the Creator is good and
it is the conduct of the good to do good. Hence, when the Creator bestows upon
His creations everyone knows and recognizes Him since He behaves according to His
name, as we have seen above regarding open providence.
48. Yet, when He behaves with His creations the opposite from the above
mentioned, meaning when they receive suffering and pain in His world, this is
considered the posterior of the Creator. It is so because His face, meaning His
complete attribute of goodness is entirely concealed from them, and this is not
a conduct that suits His name. It is like one who sees one’s friend from behind
and might doubt and think, “Perhaps he is another?”
The writing says, “Then My anger shall be kindled... ...and I will hide My face.”
During the anger people are afflicted troubles and pains. It turns out that the
Creator hides His face, which is His utter benevolence and only His posterior is
apparent. In that state, great strengthening in His faith is required in order to
beware of thoughts of transgression since it is hard to know Him from behind.
This is called “One Concealment”.
49. However, when troubles and torments accumulate to a great extent it
causes a double concealment, which the books name “Concealment within
Concealment”. It means that even His posterior is unseen, meaning they do not
believe that the Creator is angry with them and punishes them but ascribe it to
chance or to nature and come to deny His providence in reward and punishment.
50. However, before that, when the writing speaks only from the
perspective of one concealment, the text ends: “Are not these evils come upon us
because our God is not among us?” It means that they still believe in providence
of reward and punishment.
They also say that the troubles and suffering come to them because they do not
cleave to the Creator, as it is written, “these evils come upon us because our
God is not among us.” It is considered that they still see the Creator, but only
from behind. For that reason it is called “One Concealment”, meaning only
concealment of the face.
51. Now we have explained the two facets of the perception of concealed
providence that people feel, “one concealment” and “concealment within
concealment”. One concealment relates only to the concealment of the face while
the posterior is revealed to them. It means that they believe that the Creator
gave them the affliction as punishment.
Even though it is hard for them to always know the Creator through His posterior
side, which brings them to transgress, even then they are regarded as “incomplete
righteous”. This means that these transgressions are like sins because they come
to them as a result of the accumulation of the affliction, as they generally
believe in reward and punishment.
52. Concealment within concealment means that even the posterior of the
Creator is hidden from them, as they do not believe in reward and punishment.
These transgressions of theirs are considered sins. They are considered “complete
evil” because they rebel and say that the Creator does not watch over His
creations at all, and turn to idolatry, as it is written, “in that they are
turned unto other gods.”
53. We must know that the whole matter of the work in keeping Torah
and Mitzvot by way of choice applies primarily to the two aforementioned
facets of concealed providence. It is said about that time (Avot): “The reward is
according to the pain.”
Since His guidance is not revealed it is impossible to see Him but only in
concealment of the face, meaning from behind, as one who sees one’s friend from
behind and might and doubt and think he is another. In this manner one is always
left with the choice to keep His will or break it.
The troubles and the pains that one receives bring him to doubt the reality of
His guidance over His creations, whether in the first manner, which is a mistake,
or in the second manner, which is a sin.
Nevertheless, one is still in great pain and labour. The writing says about this
time: “Whatsoever thy hand attaineth to do by thy strength, that do”
(Ecclesiastes 9). This is so because one is not granted the revelation of the
face, which is the complete measure of His goodness, before he exerts and does
whatever is in his power to do; the reward is according to the pain.
54. When the Creator sees that one has completed one’s measure of
exertion and finished everything he had to do in strengthening his choice in
faith in the Creator, then the Creator helps him. It is then that one attains the
open providence, which is the revelation of the face. Then he is rewarded with
complete repentance, meaning he cleaves to the Creator once more with his heart
and soul and might, as he is naturally drawn from the perspective of the
attainment of the open providence.
55. These above attainment and repentance come to a person in two
degrees: The first is the attainment of providence of absolute reward and
punishment. Besides attaining the reward for every Mitzva in the next
world in utter clarity, he is also rewarded the attainment of the wondrous
pleasure in immediate observing of the Mitzva in this world.
In addition, besides attaining the bitter punishment that extends from every sin
after one’s death, one is also rewarded with the sensation of the bitter taste of
every transgression while being very much alive.
Naturally, one who is imparted this open providence is certain that he will not
sin again as one is certain that he will not cut in his flesh and cause himself
terrible suffering. In addition, one is certain that he will not neglect a
Mitzva without observing it the instant it comes to his hand, as much as
one is certain that he will not neglect any worldly pleasure or a great profit
that comes into his hand.
56. Now you can understand what our sages said: “How will one know that
he has repented? When He who knows all mysteries will testify that he will not
turn back to folly.” These are seemingly perplexing words, for who would rise to
the heaven to hear the testimony of the Creator? Also, before whom should the
Creator testify? Is it not enough that the Creator Himself knows that the person
repented and will not sin again?
From the explanation, the matter becomes quite clear: Indeed, one is not
completely certain that he will not sin again before he is awarded the above
attainment of reward and punishment, meaning the revelation of the face. It is
this revelation of the face by the Creator that is called “testimony” since one’s
salvation into this attainment of reward and punishment itself is what guarantees
that he will not sin again.
It is therefore considered that it is the Creator who testifies for him. It is
written: “How will one know that he has repented?” In other words, when will one
be certain that he has been endowed complete repentance? For that one is given a
clear sign: “when He who knows all mysteries testifies that he will not turn back
to folly.” Thus, when one attains the revelation of the face, one’s own salvation
testifies that he will not turn back to folly.
57. This above repentance is called “Repentance from Fear”. One returns to
the Creator with his heart and soul until He who knows all mysteries testifies that
he will not turn back to folly. However, that certainty that he will not sin again
is because of one’s attainment and sensation of the terrible punishment and wicked
torment that come with the transgressions. Because of that one is sure that he will
not afflict himself horrible anguish.
However, at last, these repentance and certainty are only because of the fear of
the punishment that extends from the transgression. It turns out that one’s
repentance is only for the fear of punishment. Because of that it is called
“Repentance from Fear”.
58. With this we understand the words of our sages that “One who repents
out of fear, his sins become mistakes.” We must understand how this happens.
According to the above (item 52) you can thoroughly understand that the sins one
makes extend to him from the reception of providence through double concealment,
namely concealment within concealment. It means that one does not believe in
providence of reward and punishment.
However, one concealment means that he believes in providence of reward and
punishment, yet because of the accumulation of the suffering he sometimes comes
to thoughts of transgression. Even though one believes that the affliction came
to him as a punishment, he is still like that person who sees his friend from
behind and might doubt and think that he is another. These sins are only mistakes
since as a whole he does believe in providence of reward and punishment.
59. Hence, when one is granted repentance from fear, meaning a clear
attainment of reward and punishment until he is certain that he will not sin
again, the concealment within concealment is entirely corrected in him. This is
because now he evidently sees that there is providence of reward and punishment.
It is clear to him that all the suffering he had ever experienced were a
punishment from His providence for the sins he had committed. In retrospect, he
made a grave mistake.
However, it is not entirely so, but they become sins. It means that it is like
the transgressions he made in one concealment when he failed because of the
confusion that came to him because of the multitude of torments that drive one
out of one’s mind. These are only regarded as mistakes.
60. Yet, in this repentance he did not correct at all the first
concealment of the face that he had had before, but only from now on after he
has attained the revelation of the face. In the past, however, before he has
been awarded repentance, the concealment and the mistakes remain as they were,
without any change or correction whatsoever. It is so because then too he
believed that the troubles and the suffering came to him as punishment, as it is
written, “Are not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?”
61. Therefore he is still considered a complete righteous because he who
is rewarded the revelation of the face, namely the complete measure of His
goodness, is called “righteous” (item 55). This is so because he justifies His
providence as it really is, meaning that He is utterly good and wholesome with
His creations, that He is good to the good and to the evil.
62. He is also called “intermediate” since after he attains repentance
from fear he also becomes qualified to attain repentance from love through his
wholesome engagement in Torah and good deeds. Then one attains being a “complete
righteous”. Hence, now that one is intermediary, between fear and love, he is
named “intermediate”. However, before that he was not completely qualified to
even prepare himself for repentance from love.
63. This thoroughly explains the first degree of the attainment of the
revelation of the face. This means the attainment and the sensation of providence
of reward and punishment in a way that He who knows all mysteries will testify
that he will not turn back to folly. This is called “Repentance from Fear”, when
his sins become as mistakes. It is called “incomplete righteous” and also
64. Now we shall explain the second degree of the attainment of the
revelation of the face, which is the attainment of the complete providence, true
and eternal. It means that the Creator watches over His creations in the form of
“Good that doeth good to the good and to the bad”. Now one is considered
“complete righteous” and “repentance from love”, when one is granted the turning
of his sins to virtues.
This explains all four aspects of the perception of providence that apply in the
creations. The first three, meaning double concealment, single concealment and
attainment of providence of reward and punishment, are but preparations by which
one attains the fourth aspect. This is the attainment of the true, eternal
65. Nevertheless, we must understand why the third aspect is not enough
for a person, namely the providence of reward and punishment. We said that he
has already been rewarded with He who knows all mysteries testifying that he will
not sin again. Hence, why is he still called “intermediate” or “incomplete
righteous”, whose name proves that his work is still not desirable in the eyes of
the Creator and there is still a flaw and blemish in his work?
66. First let us scrutinize what the interpreters asked about the
Mitzva of love of God. How did the Holy Torah commit us to a
Mitzva that we cannot keep? One can coerce and enslave oneself to
anything, but no coercion and enslavement in the world will help with love.
They explain that when one keeps all 612 Mitzvot correctly the love of
God extends to him by itself. Hence, it is considered possible to keep since one
can enslave and coerce oneself to keep the 612 Mitzvot correctly and
then he will also attain the love of God.
67. Indeed, their words require elaborate interpretation. Ultimately, the
love of God should not come to us as a Mitzva, since there is no act and
enslavement on our part in it. It rather comes by itself after completing the 612
Mitzvot. Hence, we are quite sufficient with the commandment of the 612
Mitzvot, and why this Mitzva was written?
68. In order to understand that we must first acquire genuine
understanding in the nature of the love of God itself. We must know that all the
inclinations, the tendencies and the properties instilled in one to serve one’s
friends with, all these tendencies and natural properties are required for the
work of God.
To begin with, they were only created and imprinted in a person because of their
final function, which is the ultimate purpose of man, as it is written, “he that
is banished be not an outcast from him.” One needs them all so as to complement
oneself in the ways of the reception of the abundance and to complement the will
This is the meaning of, “Every one that is called by My name, and whom I have
created for My glory” (Isaiah 43; 7), and also “The Lord hath made all things for
His own purpose” (Proverbs 16; 4). However, in the meantime man has been given a
whole world to develop and complete all these natural inclinations and attributes
by engaging in them with people, thus yielding them suitable for their purpose.
It is written, “One must say: The world was created for me.” This is because all
the people in the world are required for an individual since they develop and
qualify the attributes and inclinations of every individual to become a fit tool
for His work.
69. Thus, we must understand the essence of the love of God from the
properties of love by which one person relates to another. The love of God is
necessarily shown in these attributes since to begin with they were only
imprinted in humans for His name. When we observe the attributes of love between
man and man we find four attributes of love, one atop the other, meaning two that
70. The first is “Conditional Love”. It means that because of the great
goodness, pleasure and benefit that one receives from one’s friend, one’s soul
clings to one’s friend with wondrous love.
There are two measures in that: the first is that before they’ve met and began to
love each other, they caused harm to one another. However, now they do not want
to remember it for “love covereth all transgressions.” The second measure is that
they have always done favors and helped one another and there is no trace of harm
and detriment between them.
72. The second is “Unconditional Love”. It means that one knows the
virtue of one’s friend to be sublime, beyond any imaginable measure. Because of
that his soul clings to him with endless love.
Here too there are two measures: the first is before one knows every conduct and
deed of one’s friend with others. At that time this love is considered “Less than
This is because one’s friend has dealings with others that, on the surface, seem
to be detrimental to others out of negligence. In this manner, if the lover saw
them, the merit of one’s friend would be entirely blemished and the love between
them would have been corrupted. Yet, since he has not seen these dealings, his
love is still whole, great and most wonderful.
73. The second attribute of conditional love is the fourth attribute of
love in general, which also comes from knowing the merit of one’s friend. Yet, in
addition to that, one now knows all his dealings and comportment with every
person, none missing. One has checked and found that not only is there not a
trace of flaw in them, but his goodness is greater than anything imaginable. Now
it is “Eternal and Complete Love”.
74. Note, that these four attributes of love between man and man also
apply between man and God. Moreover, here, in the love of God, they become
degrees in the form of cause and consequence.
It is impossible to acquire any of them before one acquires the first attribute
of conditional love. After it is completely acquired, that first attribute causes
one to acquire the second attribute. After one has acquired the second attribute
to the fullest it causes him to acquire the third attribute. Finally, the third
attribute to the fourth attribute, eternal love.
75. Hence the question arises: How can one acquire the first degree of
love of God, being the first degree of conditional love, which is love that comes
through the multitude of goodness one receives from the loved one, when there is
no reward for a Mitzva in this world?
Moreover, according to the above, one must go through the first two forms of
providence by way of concealment of the face. In other words, His measure of
goodness, that the conduct of the good is to do good, is concealed at that time
(item 47). Therefore, at that time one experiences pain and suffering.
Nevertheless, we learn that all the practice of Torah and the work out of choice
is conducted primarily during that time of concealment of the face. If so, how
can it be that one will be awarded the second attribute of conditional love,
being that the loved one has always done only wondrous and plentiful good and
never caused any harm, and even more so when he attains the third or fourth
76. Indeed we dive in deep waters here. At the very least, we must fish
out a precious gem from this. For that purpose let us examine the words of our
sages, “You shall see your world in your life and your end to the life of next
We must understand why they did not say, “You will receive your world in your
life,” only “see”? If they wanted to bless they should have blessed wholly,
meaning to acquire and receive one’s world in one’s life. We must also
understand why a person should see the next world in his life, at least his end
will be the life of the next world. Moreover, why did they place this blessing
77. We must first understand how is this seeing of the next world in
one’s life? Certainly, we cannot see anything spiritual in corporeal eyes. It is
also not the comportment of the Creator to change the laws of nature. This is
because the Creator originally arranged these conducts in this manner as they are
the most successful for their purpose. Through them one comes to cleave to Him,
as it is written, “The Lord hath made all things for His own purpose.” We must
therefore understand how one sees one’s world in one’s life?
78. I shall tell you that this seeing comes to a person through the
opening of the eyes in the Holy Torah, as it is written, “Open Thou mine eyes,
that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” It is about this, that the
soul is sworn before it comes to the body (Nida p. 30), and “Even if the whole
world says you are righteous, be as a wicked in your own eyes,” specifically in
your own eyes.
This means that as long as you have not been awarded the “opening of the eyes” in
the Torah, regard yourself as wicked. Do not fool yourself with your publicity in
the entire world as righteous.
Now you can also understand why they placed the blessing “You shall see your
world in your life” at the beginning of all the blessings. It is because prior to
that, one is not even awarded the property of “Incomplete Righteous”.
79. We have yet to understand, if a person knows within himself that he
has already kept the whole Torah and the whole world agrees with him in that, why
is that not enough for him at all? Instead, he is sworn to continue regarding
himself as wicked. Is it because that wondrous degree of opening his eyes in the
Torah is missing in him that you compare him to a wicked?
80. Indeed the four measures of people’s attainment of His providence
over them have already been explained. Two of them are in concealment of face,
and two are in disclosure of face.
Also, the reason for the concealment of the face from the creatures has been
xplained, which is to deliberately give people room for labour and to engage in
His work in Torah and Mitzvot through their choice. This is because that
increases the contentment of the Creator from their work in His Torah and
Mitzvot more than His contentment from His angels above, who have no
choice and whose work is compelled.
81. Despite the above praise for concealment of face, it is still not
considered wholeness, but only “transition”. It is the place from which the
longed for wholeness is attained.
This means that any reward for a Mitzva that is prepared for one is
acquired only through one’s labour in Torah and good deeds at a time of
concealment of the face, when he engages out of “choice”. This is so because then
one feels sorrow in his strengthening in one’s faith in keeping His will, and
one’s reward is measured only according to the pain one suffers from keeping the
Torah and the Mitzva. Hence it is written, “The reward is according to
82. Hence, every person must experience that transit period of
concealment of the face. When it is completed, one is awarded open providence,
meaning the revelation of the face.
Before one is awarded revelation of the face and although he sees the posterior
side, he cannot refrain from ever committing a sin. Not only is one unable to
keep all 613 Mitzvot because love does not come by coercion and
compulsion, but one is not even complete in the 612 Mitzvot. This is
because even one’s fear is not fixed as it should be.
This is what it means that the Torah equals 611 in Gimatria (and any
Gimatria is the posterior side), that one cannot even observe 612
Mitzvot correctly. This is the meaning of “He will not always contend.”
In the end one will be awarded the revelation of the face.
83. The first degree of the revelation of the face is the attainment of
the providence of reward and punishment in utter clarity. This comes to a person
only through His salvation, when one is awarded the opening of eyes in the Holy
Torah in wonderful attainment and becomes “a flowing spring” (Avot 86). In any
Mitzva in the Holy Torah that one has already kept of his own choice,
one is granted seeing the reward of the Mitzva in it, destined for him
in the next world and also the great loss in transgression.
84. Even though the reward is not yet in one’s hand since the reward for
a Mitzva is not in this world, the clear attainment is quite sufficient
for him from now own, in order to feel the great pleasure while performing each
Mitzva. This is so because “All that is about to be collected is deemed
For example, take a merchant who made a deal and gained a large sum. Even though
the profit will come to his hand after a long time, if he is certain beyond doubt
that the profit will come to his hand in time, he is as happy as if the money has
come to him immediately.
85. Naturally, such providence testifies to him that from now on he will
cleave to Torah and Mitzvot with his heart and soul and that he will
retire from the sins as if escaping from a fire. One is not yet a complete
righteous because he has not acquired repentance from love. Yet, his great
adhesion in the Torah and good deeds helps him to slowly be granted repentance
from love, meaning the second degree of the revelation of the face. Then one can
keep all 613 Mitzvot wholly and become a complete righteous.
86. Now we thoroughly understand what we asked concerning the oath, that
the soul is sworn before it comes to this world: “Even if the whole world says
you are righteous, be as a wicked in your own eyes.” We asked: Since the whole
world agrees that one is righteous, why must one still consider oneself wicked?
Does he not trust the entire world?
We must also add concerning the phrase, “Even if the whole world says.” What is
the connection between this and the testimony of the entire world? He should have
sworn him, “Even if you know for yourself that you are righteous.”
Yet, the most perplexing is that the Gmarah states explicitly (Brachor 61) that
one must know in one’s soul if he is righteous or not. Thus, there is an
obligation and possibility to be a genuinely complete righteous.
Moreover, one must delve and know this truth. If this is so, how is the soul
sworn to always be wicked in its own eyes, and never know the actual truth, when
our sages have obligated the opposite?
87. The words are very precise indeed. As long as one has not been
awarded the opening of eyes in the Torah in wondrous attainment, sufficient for
him for clear attainment of reward and punishment, he certainly cannot consider
himself righteous. This is because one necessarily feels that he lacks the two
most comprehensive Mitzvot in the Torah, namely Love and Fear.
It is unimaginable that one will attain complete fear before he is awarded
complete and clear attainment in providence of reward and punishment in a way
that “He who knows all mysteries will testify that he will not turn back to
folly” due to his great fear of punishment and the great loss from transgressing.
This refers to the attainment of the first degree of revelation of the face that
comes to a person by the opening of eyes in the Torah. It is all the more so with
love, which is completely beyond one’s ability since it depends on the
understanding of the heart and no labour and coercion help here.
88. Hence the oath states, “Even if the whole world says you are
righteous.” This is so because these two Mitzvot, love and fear, are
given only to the individual. No one else in the world can distinguish them and
Hence, since they see that he is complete in 611 Mitzvot, they
immediately say that he probably has the two Mitzvot of love and fear as
well. Since human nature compels one to believe the world, one might fall into a
For that reason, the soul is sworn to that before it even comes into this world,
and may it do us good. Nonetheless, it is the individual himself who must
certainly question and know in his heart if he is a complete righteous.
89. We can also understand what we asked: How can even the first degree
of love be attained when there is no reward for a Mitzva in this world?
Now it is clearly understood that one does not need to actually receive the
reward for the Mitzva in his life.
Hence their precision “You shall see your world in your life and your end in the
next life.” It indicates that the reward for a Mitzva is not in this
world, but in the next world.
Yet, in order to know, to see and to feel the future reward of the Mitzva
in the next world, one must really know it for certain while in this life,
meaning through the wonderful attainment in the Torah. Then one still attains
conditional love, which is the first degree of the exit from concealment of the
face and the entrance to the revelation of the face. One must have that in order
to keep Torah and Mitzvot correctly in a way that “He who knows all
mysteries will testify that he will not turn back to folly.”
90. One attains the second degree of revelation of the face by
straining to observe Torah and Mitzvot in conditional love. It comes to
one by knowing the future reward in the next world by way of “all that is about
to be collected is deemed collected.” This is regarded as His guidance of the
world from His eternity and truthfulness, meaning that He is good to the good
and to the bad.
In that state one attains unconditional love and the sins become as virtues for
him and from then on he is called “Complete Righteous” since he can keep the
Torah and Mitzvot with love and fear. He is called “Complete” since he
has all 613 Mitzvot in completeness.
91. This answers what we asked: One who attains the third measure of
providence, namely providence of reward and punishment when He who knows all
mysteries already testifies that he will not turn back to folly is still
considered “Incomplete Righteous”. Now we thoroughly understand that one still
lacks one Mitzva, namely the Mitzva of love. Of course one is
incomplete since he must necessarily complete the number 613 Mitzvot,
which is necessarily the first step on the threshold of perfection.
92. With all the above said we will understand what they have asked: How
did the Torah compel in the Mitzva of love when this Mitzva is
not even in our hands to engage in or even somewhat touch? Now you see and
understand that it is about this that our sages warned us, “I have laboured and
did not find, do not believe,” and also, “Let one always engage in Torah and
Mitzvot in Lo Lishma because from Lo Lishma one comes
to Lishma” (Psachim 59). Also, to that the verse testifies, “those that
seek Me earnestly shall find Me” (Proverbs 8).
93. These are the words of our sages (Megillah p. 6): “Rabbi Itzhak said,
‘If a person tells you, ‘I have laboured and did not find,’ do not believe; ‘I
did not labour and found,’ do not believe; ‘I laboured and found,’ believe.’”
This phrase seems to contradict itself because labour relates to possession, and
a find is something that comes without labour at all, absentmindedly. He should
have said, “I laboured and bought.”
However, you must know that this term “find” that is mentioned here relates to
the verse, “those that seek Me earnestly shall find Me.” It refers to finding the
face of the Creator, as it is written in the Zohar that He is only found in the
Torah, meaning one finds the face of the Creator by labouring in the Torah.
Hence, our sages were precise in their words and said “I laboured and found,
believe,” because labouring is in the Torah and finding is in the discovery of
the face of the Creator.
They deliberately refrained from saying, “I laboured and won, believe,” or “I
laboured and bought.” This is because then there would be a place to err in that
the words that the winning of the possessing relate only to the possession of the
Torah. Hence, they made the precision with the word “found”, indicating that it
refers to another thing besides the acquisition of the Torah, namely the
revelation of the face of His providence.
94. That settles the verse: “I did not labour and found, do not
believe.” It seems puzzling, for who would think that the Torah can be won
without having to labour for it? Since the words relate to the verse, “those that
seek Me earnestly shall find Me” (Proverbs 8; 17), which means that anyone, small
or great, who seeks Him finds Him immediately. This is what the word “seek”
One might think that this does not require so much labour and even a lesser
person, unwilling to make any effort for it will also find Him. Our sages warn
us in that regard to not believe such an explanation. Rather, the labour is
necessary here and “I did not labour and found, do not believe.”
95. Now you see why the Torah is called “Life”, as it is written, “See,
I have set before thee this day life and good” (Deuteronomy 30; 15), “therefore
choose life,” and also “For they are life unto those that find them” (Proverbs
4; 22). This extends from the verse, “In the light of the king's countenance is
life” (Proverbs 16), since the Creator is the source of all life and every good.
Hence life extends to those branches that cleave to their source. This refers
to those that have laboured and found the Light of His face in the Torah, that
have been imparted opening their eyes in the Torah in wonderful attainment. They
have been imparted the revelation of the face, meaning the attainment of the
true providence, fitting for His name, “Good”, and that the conduct of the Good
is to do good.
96. Those that won can no longer retire from keeping the Mitzva
correctly as one cannot retire from a wonderful pleasure that comes into one’s
hand. They also run from transgression as one runs from a fire.
It is said about them: “But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive
every one of you this day.” His love comes abundantly to them in natural love
through the natural channels prepared for one by the nature of creation.
This is because now the branch cleaves to its root correctly and life is poured
to him abundantly and incessantly from its origin. It is because of this that
the Torah is called “Life”.
97. For that reason, our sages warned us in many places concerning that
necessary condition in the practice of Torah, that it will be specifically
Lishma, in a way that one will be awarded life through it for it is a
Torah of life. For this task it was given to us, as it is written, “therefore
Hence, every person must set his mind and heart to labour in the torah during
the practice so as to find “the light of the king's countenance” in it, the
attainment of open providence, called “light of countenance”. Any person is fit
for it, as it is written, “those that seek Me earnestly shall find Me.” It is
also written, “I laboured and did not find, do not believe.’
Thus, one needs nothing in this matter except the labour alone. It is written,
“Anyone who practices Torah Lishma, his Torah becomes a potion of life
for him” (Taanit 7; 71). It means that one should only set one’s mind and heart
to attain life. This is the meaning of Lishma.
98. Now you can see that the question the interpreters asked about the
Mitzva of love, saying that this Mitzva is out of our hands
since love does not come by coercion and compulsion, is not at all a question.
This is because it is in our hands entirely. Every person can labour in the
Torah until he finds the attainment of His open providence, as it is written,
“I laboured and found, believe.”
When one attains open providence the love extends to him by itself through the
natural channels. Thus, one who does not believe that he can attain that through
his efforts, for whatever reason, he is necessarily in disbelief with the words
of our sages.
Rather, he thinks that the labour is not enough for each person, the opposite
of the verse, “I laboured and did not find, do not believe.” It is also against
the words of the verse, “those that see Me shall find Me”; specifically those
that “seek”, whomever they are, great or small. However, it is certainly the
labour that he needs.
99. From the above said you will understand the meaning of, “Any one
who practices Torah Lo Lishma, his Torah becomes a potion of death for
him” (Taanit 7; 71), and the verse, “Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself,”
that the Creator hides Himself in the Torah.
We asked: It seems reasonable that the Creator is hidden in this world, outside
the Torah, not in the Torah itself, which is only the place of the disclosure.
We asked further still: This concealment that the Creator hides Himself so as
to be sought and found, why should I?
100. From this you can thoroughly see that this concealment that the
Creator hides Himself so as to be sought is what the concealment of the face
means. He conducts it with His creations in two ways: one concealment and
concealment within concealment.
The Zohar tells us that we should not even consider that the Creator wants to
remain in providence of concealed face from His creations. Rather, it is like a
person who hides himself on purpose so that his friend will seek and find him.
Similarly, when the Creator behaves in concealment of face with His creations
it is only because He wants the creatures to seek the disclosure of His face
and find Him. In other words, it is because there would have been no way or
outlet for people to attain the light of the King’s countenance had He not first
behaved with them in concealment of face. Thus, the whole concealment is but a
preparation for the disclosure of the face.
101. It is written that the Creator hides Himself in the Torah.
Regarding the matter of the torments and pains one experiences while in
concealment of face, one who possesses few sins and has done little Torah and
Mitzvot is not like one who has extensively engaged in Torah and good
deeds. The first is qualified to sentence his Maker to a scale of merit,
meaning to think that the torments came to him because of his sins and
scarceness of Torah.
For the other, however, it is much harder to sentence his Maker to a scale of
merit. This is because in his mind, he does not deserve such harsh punishment.
Moreover, he sees that his friends, who are worse than him, do not suffer so,
as it is written, “the wicked; and they that are always at ease increase
riches,” and also, “in vain have I cleansed my heart.”
Thus, as long as one has not attained providence of revelation of the face, the
multitude of his Torah and Mitzvot make his concealment of face much
heavier. This is the meaning of the Creator hiding Himself in the Torah.
Indeed, all that heaviness that he feels by the Torah are nothing but
proclamations by which the Holy Torah itself calls him. It awakens him to
hurry and give the required sum of labour in order to endow him with the
revelation of the face immediately, as God wills it.
102. This is why it writes that all who learn Torah in Lo Lishma
the Torah becomes a potion of death for them. Not only do they not come out from
concealment of face to disclosure of face since they did not set their minds to
labour and attain it, the Torah that they accumulate greatly increases their
concealment of face. Finally, they fall into concealment within concealment,
which is considered death, being completely detached from one’s root. Thus,
their Torah becomes a potion of death for them.
103. That clarifies the two names the Torah is called by: the “revealed”
and the “concealed”. We must understand why we need the concealed Torah, and why
the entire Torah is not revealed?
Indeed there is a profound intention here. The concealed Torah implies that the
Creator hides in the Torah, hence the name “the Torah of the hidden.” Conversely,
it is called “revealed” because the Creator is revealed by the Torah.
Therefore, the Kabbalists said and so we find in the prayer book of the Vilna
Gaon that the order of the attainment of the Torah begins in the
concealed and ends in the revealed. This means that through correct labour where
one first delves in the Torah of the hidden, he is thus granted the revealed
Torah, the literal. Thus, one begins with the concealed, called Sod
(secret), and when he is granted, he ends in the literal.
104. It has been thoroughly clarified how it is possible to attain
the first degree of love, being the conditional love. We learned that even though
there is no reward for a Mitzva in this world, the attainment of the
reward for the Mitzva exists in worldly life nonetheless. It comes to a
person by opening the eyes in the Torah and this clear attainment is completely
similar to receiving instantaneous reward for the Mitzva.
Hence one feels the wonderful benefit contained in the thought of creation, which
is to delight His creatures in His full, good and generous hand. Because of the
abundance of benefit that one attains, wondrous love appears between a person and
the Creator. It pours to one incessantly by the same ways and channels through
which natural love appears.
105. However, all of this comes to a person from the moment he attains
onwards. One does not want to remember all the torment caused by the providence
in concealment of face that one had suffered before he attained the above
disclosure of face, since “love covereth all transgressions.” Nevertheless, it is
considered a great flaw, even when compared to love among people, much less
concerning the truthfulness of His providence, since He is Good that doeth good
to the good and to the bad.
Therefore, we must understand how one can attain His love in that regard, that he
will feel and know that the Creator has always done him wondrous good since the
day he was born onwards; that He never caused him an ounce of harm. This is the
second attribute of love.
106. We need the words of our sages in order to understand that. They
said, “one who repents from love, his sins become as virtues.” It means that not
only does the Creator forgive his sins, each sin and transgression that one had
made is turned into a Mitzva by the Creator.
107. After one attains the enlightenment of the face in the amount that
each sin he had committed, even the deliberate ones, is turned and becomes a
Mitzva for him, one rejoices with all the torment and affliction that he
had ever suffered since the time he was placed in the two attributes of
concealment of the face. This is because it is them that brought one all these
sins that have now become Mitzvot by the illumination of His face who
performs wondrous wonders.
Any sorrow and trouble that drove him out of wits, where he failed with mistakes
as in the first concealment, or failed with deliberate sins as in double
concealment, has now become a cause and preparation for keeping a Mitzva
and the reception of eternal and wondrous reward for it. Therefore, any sorrow
has turned for him into a great joy and any evil to wonderful good.
108. It is similar to a tale that the world tells about a Jew who was a
house trustee for a certain landlord. The landlord loved him dearly. Once, when
he went away, he had left his business in the hands of his substitute, who was an
What did he do? He took the Jew and struck him five times in front of everyone
to thoroughly humiliate him.
When the landlord returned the Jew went to him and told him all that had happened
to him. His anger was kindled greatly. He then called upon the substitute and
commanded him to give the Jew immediately a thousand coins for every time he had
The Jew took them and went home. His wife found him crying. She asked him
anxiously: “What happened to you with the landlord?” He told her. She asked:
“Then why are you crying?” He answered: “I am crying because he only beat me five
times. I wish he’d beaten me at least ten times since now I would have had ten
109. Now you see that after one has been awarded repentance of the sins in
a way that the sins become as virtues, one is then imparted love with the Creator
in the second attribute where the loved one never caused any harm or even a
shadow of harm. Instead, He performs wondrous and plentiful good always and
forever. Thus, the repentance from love and the turning of the sins into virtues
come as one.
110. Thus far we have only examined the two degrees of conditional love.
Yet, we must still understand how one is awarded to come in the two attributes of
unconditional love with one’s Maker.
For that, we must thoroughly understand what is written (Kidushin p. 40): “One
must always regard oneself half guilty and half pure. If he performs one
Mitzva, happy is he, for he has sentenced the world to a scale of merit.
If he commits one sin, woe unto him for he has sentenced the world to a scale of
Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, says: “Since the world is judged by its
majority, and the individual is judged by the majority, if he performs one
Mitzva, happy is he for he has sentenced himself and the entire world to
a scale of merit. If he commits one sin, woe unto him for he has sentenced
himself and the entire world to a scale of demerit. For this one sin that he had
committed, the world and he have lost much good”
111. These words seem puzzling from beginning to end. He says that one who
performs one Mitzva, immediately sentences to a scale of merit, for he
is judged by the majority. Yet, this refers only to those who are half guilty and
half pure, and Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, does not speak of those at all.
Thus, the essence is still absent.
RASHI interpreted his words as referring to the words, “One must always consider
oneself half guilty and half pure.” Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, adds that
one should also regard the world as though they are half guilty and half pure.
Yet, the essence is still absent, and thus, why did he change his words if the
meaning is the same?
112. It is even more difficult on the object itself, meaning for one to
see oneself as only half guilty. If one knows one’s many iniquities, will one
deceive oneself saying that one is only half this and half that?
The Torah states, “keep thee far from a false matter!” Moreover, it is written,
“one sinner destroyeth much good.” This is because one sin sentences the person
and the entire world to a scale of demerit. Thus, it is about a true reality, not
some false imagination by which a person should regard himself and the world.
113. Also perplexing: Can it be that there are not many people in each
generation who perform one Mitzva? Thus, how is the world sentenced to a
scale of merit? Does that mean that the situation does not change at all and
there is nothing new under the sun? Indeed, great depth is required here for the
words cannot be understood superficially at all.
However, this does not regard a person who knows his sins are many, to teach him
deception, that he is half this and half that. It rather relates to one who feels
and imagines himself as being completely and utterly righteous and finds himself
utterly whole. It is so because he has already been awarded the first degree of
love by opening his eyes in the Torah and He who knows all mysteries will testify
that he will not turn back to folly.
To him the writing shows the way and proves that one is not yet righteous, only
intermediate, meaning half guilty, half pure. This is so because one is still
short of one Mitzva from the 613 Mitzvot in the Torah, namely
the Mitzva of love.
The whole testimony of He who knows all mysteries that he will not sin again is
only because of the clarity in one’s attainment of the great loss in the
transgression. This is considered fear of punishment and is therefore considered
“repentance from fear”.
114. We also learned above that this degree of repentance from fear still
does not correct one, except from the time of repentance onward. Yet, all the
sorrow and the anguish one had suffered before he was granted the revelation of
the face remain as they were, uncorrected. In addition, the transgressions one
had made were also not entirely corrected, but remain as mistakes.
115. It is therefore said that such a person, who is still short of one
Mitzva, will regard himself as half guilty and half pure. It means that
one should imagine that the time when he was granted the repentance was the
middle of his years.
Thus, he is still half guilty, meaning in that half of his years that had passed
before he has repented. Then one is certainly guilty since repentance from fear
does not correct them.
It follows that he is also half pure, in that half of his years since he repented
onward. At that time one is certainly pure for he is certain that he will not sin
again. Thus, one is guilty in the first half of his years and pure in the second
half of his years.
116. One is told to think that if he performs one Mitzva, that
Mitzva that he lacks from the number 613, he will be happy for he has
sentenced himself to a scale of merit. It is so because one who is granted the
Mitzva of love by repentance from love is imparted, his sins being
turned to virtues through it.
Then, every sorrow and grief that he had ever suffered, before he has been
granted the repentance, is turned for him to wondrous, endless pleasure.
Moreover, one regrets not having suffered twice as much and more, as in the
parable about the landlord and the Jew who loved him.
This is called “sentencing to a scale of merit”, since all one’s emotions, the
mistakes and the sins, have become virtues. Thus, sentencing to a scale of merit
means that the whole cup that was filled with demerits has now been turned into a
full cup of merits. In the words of the sages, this inversion is called
117. It further warns us and says that as long as one is intermediate and
has not been granted the one Mitzva that is missing from the number 613,
one should not believe in oneself until one’s dying day. He should also not rely
himself on the testimony of He who knows all mysteries that he will not turn
back to folly, but one might still transgress.
Hence, one should think for oneself that if he sins once, woe unto him for he has
sentenced himself to a scale of demerit. One will then immediately lose all his
wonderful attainment in the Torah and all the disclosure of the face that he has
been granted, and he will return to concealment of face. One will sentence
oneself to a scale of demerit for he will lose all the virtues and the good even
from the latter half of his years. To that verse testifies, “one sinner
destroyeth much good.”
118. Now you understand the addition that Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi
Shimon, adds, and also why he does not bring the phrase of “half guilty and half
pure.” This is so because it speaks there of the second attribute and the third
attribute of love, while Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, speaks from the
fourth attribute of love, namely the eternal love. This is the disclosure of face
as it really is, Good that doeth good to the good and to the bad.
119. We learned there that it is impossible to attain the fourth attribute
except when one is thoroughly knowledgeable in all the dealings of the loved one
and how he behaves with others, none of them missing. This is also why the great
privilege, when one is granted with sentencing himself to a scale of merit, is
still not enough for one to attain whole love, meaning the fourth attribute. It
is so because now he does not attain His virtue as being Good that doeth good to
the good and to the bad, but only His providence on him.
Yet, one still does not know of His providence in sublime and wonderful manner
with the rest of the people in the world. Thus, we learned above that as long as
one does not know the dealings of the loved one with others until none of them is
missing, the love is not eternal. Hence, one must also sentence the entire world
to a scale of merit. Only then does the eternal love appear before him.
120. Rabbi Elazar says: “The world is judged by its majority and the
individual is judged by its majority.” Since he speaks of the entire world he
cannot say as it is written, that he will regard them as half guilty, half pure.
This degree comes to a person only when he is granted the disclosure of the face
and repentance from fear.
Yet, how is this said about the entire world when they have not been granted this
repentance? Thus, one must only say that the world is judged by its majority and
the individual is judged by its majority.
Interpretation: One might think that one does not become a complete righteous
except when one has no transgressions and has never committed a sin. Yet, them
that have failed with sins and transgressions no longer merit becoming complete
For that reason Rabbi Elazar, son or Rabbi Shimon, teaches us that it is not so.
Rather, the world is judged by its majority and so is the individual. This means
that after one is no longer considered intermediate, meaning after he has made
repentance from fear, he instantaneously attains the 613 Mitzvot and is
called “intermediate”. In other words, in half his years he is guilty, and in
half his years he is pure.
After that, if one adds but a single Mitzva, namely the Mitzva
of love, it is considered that he is mostly pure and sentences everything to a
scale of merit. Thus, the scale of transgression becomes a scale of merit too.
It turns out that even if one has a full scale of transgressions and sins, they
all become virtues. Then one is as one who has never sinned and is considered
This means that the world and the individual are judged by the majority. Thus,
the transgressions in one’s hand from before the repentance are not taken into
any account for they have become virtues. Accordingly, even “complete wicked” are
considered “complete righteous” after they are granted repentance from love.
121. Therefore, I shall say that if an individual performs one
Mitzva, meaning after the repentance from fear, since then one is short
of only one Mitzva, then “he is happy for he has sentenced himself and the entire
world to a scale of merit.” Not only does one sentence oneself to a scale of
merit by the repentance from love, but one is even awarded sentencing the entire
world to a scale of merit.
This means that one is awarded rising in wonderful attainments in the Holy Torah
until he finds how all the people of the world will finally be awarded repentance
from love. When they too will discover and see all that wonderful attainment that
he has attained for himself, they too will be sentenced to a scale of merit. Then
“sins will cease out of the earth and the wicked be no more.”
The people of the world themselves have not yet been granted even the repentance
from fear. Nevertheless, after an individual attains that sentencing to a scale of
merit, destined to come to them in clear and absolute attainment, it is similar
to “You shall see your world in your life,” said about one who repents from fear.
We said that one is impressed and delighted by it as though he had it instantly
since “All that is about to be collected is deemed collected.”
Also, here it is considered for that individual who attains the repentance of the
entire world precisely as though they have been granted and came to repentance
from love. Each and everyone of them sentenced their demerits to merits
sufficiently to know His dealings with every single person in the world.
This is why Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, says, “Happy is he for he has
sentenced himself and the entire world to a scale of merit.” From now on, one
thoroughly knows all the conducts of His providence with every single creation,
by way of disclosure of His real countenance, meaning Good that doeth good to the
good and to the bad. Since one knows that, one has therefore been granted the
fourth attribute of love, namely “eternal love”.
Like the verse, so Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, also warns that even after
one has sentenced the entire world to a scale of merit, one should still not
believe oneself until his dying day. Should one fail with a single transgression
he will immediately lose all his wonderful attainments, as it is written, “one
sinner destroyeth much good.”
This explains the difference in what Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, writes:
The writing only speaks from the second attribute and the third attribute of love;
hence it does not mention the sentencing of the entire world.
Yet Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, speaks from the fourth degree of love,
which cannot be depicted except by attaining the sentencing of the entire world
to a scale of merit. However, we must still understand with what we attain this
wonderful attainment of sentencing the entire world to a scale of merit.
122. We must understand what is written (Taanit 11; 71): When the public
is in grief one should not say, ‘I shall go to my house and eat and drink and
have my soul at peace.’ If one does that, the writing says about him, ‘And behold
joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking
wine--' Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die!'’ What does it say about
that? “And the Lord of hosts revealed Himself in mine ears: Surely this iniquity
shall not be expiated by you till ye die.”
Thus far regarding the attribute of intermediate. Yet, it is written about the
attribute of wicked, ‘Come ye, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with
strong drink; and tomorrow shall be as this day.’
What does it say about that? ‘The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to
heart, …that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.’ Instead, when
one grieves with the public, one is granted the consolation of the public.”
123. These words seem completely irrelevant. He wishes to bring evidence
from the text that one must pain oneself with the public. Hence, why should we
divide and separate the attribute of intermediate from attribute of wicked?
Furthermore, what is the precision that it makes regarding the “attribute of
intermediate” and “attribute of wicked”? Why does it not say “intermediate” and
“wicked”, why do I need the attribute?
Also, where does it imply that the writing speaks of an iniquity where one does
not pain oneself with the public? Still more, we do not see any punishment in the
attribute of the wicked, but in what is written, “The righteous perisheth, and no
man layeth it to heart.” If the wicked sin, what does the righteous do that he
should be punished, and why should the wicked cry if the righteous perisheth?
124. Yet, you should know that all these attributes, “intermediate”,
“wicked” and “righteous”, are not in special people. Rather, all three are found
in every single person in the world. These three attributes are discernible in
every person. During one’s period of concealment of the face. Before one attains
even repentance from fear, he is considered wicked.
Afterwards, if one is granted repentance from fear, he is considered intermediate.
If one is then granted repentance from love too, in its fourth measure, namely
eternal love, he is considered “complete righteous”. Hence, they did not say
merely intermediate and righteous, but the attribute of intermediate and the
attribute of wicked.
125. We should also remember that it is impossible to attain the above
fourth measure of love without first attaining the revelation of the face which is
destined to come to the entire world. That gives one strength to sentence the
entire world to a scale of merit, as Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon says.
We have already learned that the matter of the disclosure of the face will
inevitably turn every grief and sadness that came during the concealment of the
face into wondrous pleasures, until one regrets having suffered so little.
Hence, we must ask: When one sentences oneself to a scale of merit he certainly
remembers all the grief and pain he had had during the concealment of the face.
This is why it is possible that they will all be turned into wondrous pleasures,
as we have said above.
Yet, when one sentences the entire world to a scale of merit, how does one know
that measure of grief and pains that all the people in the world suffer so as to
understand them? Also how are they turned to merits in the same manner we have
explained regarding one’s own sentencing?
To avoid having the scale of merit of the entire world wanting when one is
qualified to sentence them to a scale of merit, one has no other tactic but to
always pain himself with the troubles of the public just as with his own troubles.
Then the scale of demerit of the entire world will be ready within him like his
own scale of demerit. Thus, if one is granted sentencing himself to a scale of
merit he will be able to sentence the entire world to a scale of merit too and
attain the measure “complete righteous”.
126. Thus, if one does not pain himself with the public, then even when
he is granted repentance from fear, namely the attribute of intermediate, the
writing says about him: “And behold joy and gladness.” It means that one who has
acquired the blessing of “You shall see your world in your life” and sees the
entire reward for his Mitzva that is prepared for the next world is
certainly “filled with joy and gladness.”
One says to oneself: “slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking
wine--' Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die!” It means that one is
filled with great joy because of one’s guaranteed reward in the next world. That
is why he says so gladly “for tomorrow we shall die” and I will collect my life
in the next world from The Whole after I die.
Yet, it is written about that: “And the Lord of hosts revealed Himself in mine
ears: Surely this iniquity shall not be expiated by you till ye die.” This means
that the text rebukes him for the mistakes in his hand.
We learned that the sins of one who repents from fear become mere mistakes.
Hence, since he did not pain himself with the public and cannot attain repentance
from love, at which time the sins are turned to virtues, it is necessary that the
mistakes in his hand will never be repented in his life.
Thus, how can he rejoice in his life in the next world? That is why it is
written, “Surely this iniquity shall not be expiated by you till ye die,” meaning
the mistakes. “Until you die,” meaning before he dies. Thus, he is devoid of
127. It is also written that it is the “attribute of intermediate”,
meaning that this text speaks of a time when one has repented from fear onwards.
At that time one is considered “intermediate”.
Yet, what does it write about the “attribute of wicked”? In other words, what
shall become of the time when one was in concealment of the face, which was then
called “attribute of wicked”? Also, we learned that repentance from fear does not
correct one’s past before he has repented.
Hence, the text brings another verse: “Come ye, I will fetch wine, and we will
fill ourselves with strong drink; and to-morrow shall be as this day.” It means
that those days and years that one has been through since the time of concealment
of the face when he has not corrected them, called “attribute of wicked”, they do
not want him to die. It is so because they have no part after in the next world
the death, as they are the attribute of the wicked.
Therefore, at the time when the attribute of intermediate is glad and rejoicing
in a person “for tomorrow we shall die” and will attain the life of the next
world, at the same time the attribute of wicked in a person does not say so. It
rather says, “and tomorrow shall be as this day.” It means that it wants to live
and be happy in this world forever for it still has no part for the next world.
This is because one has not corrected it since it is only corrected by repentance
128. It is written, “The righteous perisheth,” meaning the attribute of
complete righteous that that person should merit is lost from him. “And no man
layeth it to heart, …the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.”
This means that because that intermediate did not pain himself with the public he
cannot attain repentance from love, inverting sins to virtues and evils to
wonderful pleasures. Instead, all the mistakes and the evil one had experienced
before he acquired repentance from fear still stand in the attribute of wicked
that feel evils from His providence. Because of these evils that they still feel
he cannot be awarded being a complete righteous.
The writing says: “and no man layeth it to heart.” It means that that person does
not notice “the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.” In other words,
because of the evils that one still feels from past times in His providence, “the
righteous perisheth,” meaning one lost the attribute of righteous, he will die
and pass away from the world as mere intermediate.
All that concerns he who does not pain himself with the public and is not awarded
seeing the consolation of the public for he cannot sentence them to a scale of
merit and see their consolation. Hence, he will never attain the attribute of
129. From the aforementioned we have come to know that there is no
woman-born who will not experience the three above attributes: attribute of
wicked; attribute of intermediate; attribute of righteous.
They are called attributes since they extend from the measure of their
attainment of His providence. Our sages said that, “one is measured to the extent
that he measures” (Sutta 8). They who attain His providence in concealment of
the face are considered wicked. Incomplete wicked from the perspective of the
single concealment, or complete wicked, from the perspective of the double
Because they feel and think that the world behaves in bad guidance, it is as
though they condemn themselves since they receive torments and pains from His
providence and feel only bad all day long. They condemn the most in thinking
that all the people in the world are watched over like them, in bad guidance.
Hence, those who attain providence from the perspective of the concealment of the
face are called “evil”, since that name appears in them out of the depth of their
sensation. It depends on the understanding of the heart. The words or the thought
that justifies His providence do not matter at all when it opposes the sensation
of every organ and sense, which cannot force themselves to lie as it does.
Hence, they who are in this measure of attainment are considered to have
sentenced themselves and the entire world to a scale of demerit, as it is written
in the words of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon. This is because they imagine
that all the people in the world are watched over as they, in bad guidance, as
fits His Name “Good that doeth good to the good and to the bad”.
130. They that are granted the sensation of His providence in the form of
disclosure of the face in the first degree, called “repentance from fear”, are
considered intermediate. This is because their emotions are divided into two
parts, called “two cups of the scales”.
Now that they have acquired the disclosure of the face in the form of “You shall
see your world in your life,” at the very least they have attained His good
providence as fits His name, “Good”. For that reason they have a scale of merit.
Yet, all the sorrow and the bitter torment were thoroughly imprinted in their
feelings in all the past days and years that they received providence of
concealed face meaning before they were endowed the above repentance. They remain
standing and are called “a scale of demerit”.
They have these two scales that stand one opposite the other. The scale of
demerit is from the moment of their repentance and before, and the scale of merit
is from the moment of the repentance and afterward. Thus, their repentance stands
“between” the merit and the demerit. Hence they are called “intermediate”.
131. The ones who merit the disclosure of the face in the second degree,
“repentance from love”, when sins become as virtues for them, are considered to
have sentenced the scale of demerit to a scale of merit. It means that all the
sorrow and the affliction that were engraved in their bones while they stood
under the providence of concealment of the face have now been sentenced and
inverted to a “scale of merit”.
This is so because every sorrow and grief has now been turned into a wonderful,
endless pleasure. Now they are called “righteous” for they justify His providence.
132. We must know that the above attribute of intermediate applies even
when one is under providence of concealment of the face. By great exertion in
faith in reward and punishment a Light of great confidence in the Creator appears
to them. For a time, they are granted a degree of disclosure of the face in the
measure of the intermediate. The drawback is that they cannot remain in their
degrees permanently since standing permanently in a degree is possible only
through repentance from fear.
133. We should also keep in mind what we said that there is choice only
when there is concealment of the face. That does not mean that after one has
attained a providence of revealed face one has no further labour and exertion in
the practice of Torah and Mitzvot.
On the contrary, the proper work in Torah and Mitzvot begins primarily
after one has been blessed with repentance from love. Only then is it possible to
engage in Torah and Mitzvot with love and fear as we are commanded, and
“The world was not created but for the complete righteous” (Brachot, 61).
It is rather like a king who wished to select for himself the most loyal of his
subjects in the state and bring them in to work inside his palace. What did he
do? He issued an open proclamation in the state that anyone who wished it, young
or old, would come to his palace to engage in the works of his inner palace.
However, he appointed many of his servants to guard the palace gate and all the
roads that lead to it. He ordered them to cunningly mislead all those nearing his
palace and divert them from the way that leads to the palace.
Naturally, all the people in the state began to run to the king’s palace. Yet,
the diligent guards cunningly rejected them. Many of them overpowered them and
came near the palace gate, but the guards at the gate were most diligent. Even
when someone approached the gate, they diverted him and turned him away with
great craftiness, until one despaired and retuned as he had come.
So they came and went, and regained strength and came again and so on and so
forth for several days and years, until they grew weary of trying any further.
Yet, only the heroes amongst them whose patience endured and they defeated the
guards and opened the gate, were instantly awarded seeing the King’s countenance,
and He put each person in his right position.
Of course, from that moment on, they had no further dealings with those guards
who diverted and mislead them and made their life bitter for several days and
years, running back and forth around the gate. This is because they have been
blessed with working and serving before the glory of the king’s face in inside
So it is with the work of the complete righteous. The providence applied during
the concealment of the face certainly does not apply when they have opened the
door to attain open providence.
Indeed, they begin the actual work in disclosed face, at which time they commence
the journey on the many rungs in the ladder set up on the earth, and the top of
it reaches to heaven, as it is written, “The righteous shall go from strength to
Our sages say, “Each and every righteous is covered by the cover of his friend.”
These works qualify them for the will of God, to realize in them His thought in
the purpose of creation, which is to “delight His creatures” according to His
good and generous hand.
134. It is desirable to know this law since there is no disclosure except in
a place where there was concealment, as in matters of this world where the absence
precedes the existence. The growth of wheat appears only in the place it was sown
It is the same with higher matters where the concealment and the disclosure
relate to each other as the wick to the light that holds to it. Any other
concealment that comes for correction causes the disclosure of the light ascribed
to that kind of concealment. The light that appears, clings to it like light to a
wick, and remember this in all your ways.
135. Now you can see what our sages wrote, that the whole Torah is the
names of the Creator. It seems puzzling as we find many indecencies such as
names of wicked, Pharaoh, Balaam etc. prohibition and impurity, ruthless curses
in the admonitions and so on. How can we perceive all those as names of the
136. In order to understand that, we must know that our ways are not His
ways. Our way is to reach from the imperfect to perfection. In His way, all the
revelations come to us from perfection to the imperfect.
First, complete perfection emanates and comes out of Him. This perfection comes
down from His face and hangs down, restriction after restriction, through several
degrees. Finally it comes to the last, most restricted phase, suitable to our
material world and then the matter appears to us here in this world.
137. From the aforementioned, you will learn that the Holy Torah, whose
height is endless, did not emanate and come out from before Him as it is here
before us in our world right away. Rather, it is known that “The Torah and the
Creator are one,” and this is not at all apparent in our world. Moreover, one who
engages in it in Lo Lishma, his Torah becomes a potion of death for him.
Rather, when it was emanated from before Him, it emanated and came out in utter
perfection, meaning in the actual form of “The Torah and the Creator are one.”
This is the meaning of “Torah de Atzilut” in the Introduction to the
Corrections of the Zohar (p. 3), “He, His Light and His deeds are one.”
Afterwards it came down from His face and was gradually restricted through many
restrictions until it was given at Sinai when it was written as it is before us
here in this world, clothed in the crude dresses of the material world.
138. You should know that the distance between the dresses of the Torah in
this world and the dresses of the Torah in the world of Atzilut is more
than can be evaluated. Yet, the Torah itself, meaning the Light within the
dresses is unchanged at all between the Torah of Atzilut and the Torah
of this world, as it is written, “I the Lord change not” (Malachi 3; 6).
Moreover, these crude dresses in our Torah of Assiya are not at all of
inferior value with regard to the Light that is clothed in it. Rather, their
importance is much greater from the perspective of the end of their correction
than all its pure dresses in the Upper Worlds.
It is so because the concealment is the reason for the disclosure. After its
correction during the disclosure, the concealment becomes to the disclosure, as a
wick for the light that clings to it. The greater the concealment, the greater
Light will cling to it when it is corrected. Thus, all these crude dresses that
the Torah is clothed in, in this world, their value is not at all inferior to the
Light that clothes it, quite the contrary.
139. This is Moses’ triumph over the angels with his argument, “Is there
envy among you? Is the evil inclination among you?” (Shabbat 89). It means that
the greater concealment discloses a greater Light. He showed them that in the
pure clothes that the torah clothes in, in the world of the angels, the greater
Lights cannot appear through them as they can in dresses of this world.
140. We thus learn that there is no change whatsoever from the Torah
de Atzilut, where “The Torah and the Creator are one” through the Torah
in this world. The only difference is in the clothing, as the dresses of this
world conceal the Creator and hide Him.
Know, that because of His clothing in the Torah, it is called “Teaching”. It
tells you that even during the concealment of the face and even during the double
concealment, the Creator is instilled and clothed in the Torah. He is the
“Teacher” and it is the Torah, but the crude clothes of the Torah before our eyes
are as wings that cover and hide the Teacher who is clothed and hides in them.
However, when one is granted the revelation of the face in repentance from love
in its fourth manner, it is said about him, “yet shall not thy Teacher hide
Himself any more, but thine eyes shall see thy Teacher.” From then on the clothes
of the Torah no longer hide and conceal the “Teacher”, and one discovers for all
time that “The Torah and the Creator are one.”
141. Now you can understand the meaning of the words, “Forsake Me and
keep My law.” It means, “I wish that they had left Me and kept My Torah; the
Light in it reforms” (Yerushalmi, Hagiga, 81).
This is perplexing. They mean that they fasted and tormented to find the
revelation of His face as it is written, “they delight to draw near unto God”
(Isaiah 58; 2). Yet, the text tells them in the name of the Creator, “I wish
that you would leave Me, for all your labour is in vain and fruitless. I am
found nowhere but in the Torah.” Therefore, keep the Torah and look for Me there,
and the Light in it will reform you and you will find Me,” as it is written,
“those that seek Me shall find Me.”
142. Now we can somewhat clarify the essence of the wisdom of Kabbalah,
enough for a reliable perception in the quality of that wisdom. Thus, one will
not deceive oneself with false imageries as the masses envisage.
You should know that the Holy Torah is divided into four elements that encompass
the entire reality. Three elements are discerned in the general reality of this
world. They are called “World”, “Year”, “Soul”. The fourth element is the conduct
of existence of the above three parts of reality, meaning their nourishment and
all their incidents.
143. The outer part of reality, like the sky and the firmaments, the earth
and the seas etc. that are written in the Torah, all these are called “World”.
The interior part of reality, man and beast, animals and various birds etc.
brought in the Torah, which are the above places called “outer part", are called
The evolution of reality throughout the generations is called cause and
consequence. For example, in the evolution of the heads of the generations from
Adam ha Rishon to Joshua and Caleb, brought in the Torah, the father is
considered the “cause” of the son, who is “caused” by him. This evolution of the
details of reality by way of the above cause and consequence, is called “Year”.
Similarly, all the conducts of the existence of reality, both external and
internal, in their every incident and conduct that is brought in the Torah, are
called “the existence of reality”.
144. Know, that the four worlds are named in the wisdom of Kabbalah,
Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya. When they came out and
evolved, they stemmed from one another like a seal and imprint, as anything that
is written in the seal necessarily appears in what is imprinted from it, no more
and no less. So it was in the evolution of the worlds as well.
Thus, all four elements, WYS (World, Year, Soul), with all their modes of
sustenance that were in the world of Atzilut, came out, became imprinted
and manifested in their image in the world of Beria as well. It is also
the same from the world of Beria to the world of Yetzira and
through the world of Assiya.
Thus, all three discernments in the reality before us, called WYS, with all their
modes of sustenance that are set before our eyes here in this world, extended and
appeared here from the world of Yetzira, and in Yetzira from
In this manner, the source of all the multitude of details before our eyes is in
the world of Atzilut. Moreover, even the innovations that appear in this
world today, each novelty must first appear above in the world of
Atzilut, and from there hang down and appear in our world.
This is the meaning of the words of our sages: “There is not a blade of grass
below that does not have a fortune and a guard watching over it from above that
strike it and say to it: ‘Grow!’” (Bereshit Rabba). This is the meaning of the
text, “One does not move one’s finger before one is declared from above”
(Hulin p. 7).
145. Know, that because of the clothing of the Torah in the three elements
of reality, “World”, “Year”, “Soul”, and their existence in this material world,
produce the prohibitions, impurities and interdictions found in the revealed
Torah. It has been explained above that the Creator is clothed in it in the form
of “The Torah and the Creator are one,” but in great concealment. This is because
these material dresses are the wings that cover and hide Him.
However, the clothing of the Torah in the form of the pure WYS and their
existence in the three Upper Worlds, called Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, are
generally named “The Wisdom of Kabbalah”.
146. It turns out that the wisdom of Kabbalah and the revealed Torah are
one and the same. Yet, while one receives from a providence of concealed face and
the Creator hides in the Torah, he is considered to be studying the revealed
Torah. In other words, he is incapable of receiving any luminescence from the
Torah of Yetzira, not to mention higher than Yetzira.
When one is granted the revelation of the face he begins to engage in the wisdom
of Kabbalah. This is because the dresses of the revealed Torah themselves were
purified for him and his Torah became the torah of Yetzira, called “The
Wisdom of Kabbalah”.
Even for one who is granted the Torah of Atzilut it does not mean that
the letters of the Torah changed for him. Rather, the very same dresses of the
revealed Torah have purified for him and became very pure dresses. They have
become like the verse, “yet shall not thy Teacher hide Himself any more, but
thine eyes shall see thy Teacher.” At that time they become as, “He, His Light
and His deeds, are one.”
147. Let me give you an example in order to bring the matter a little
closer to our mind. For instance: While one was in concealment of the face, it
was necessary that the letters and the dresses of the Torah hide the Creator. For
that reason he failed by the sins and the mistakes he had made and for that
reason he was laid under the punishing rod, the crude dresses in the Torah, which
are impurity, prohibition and interdictions etc.
However, when one is awarded open providence and repentance from love his sins
become as virtues. Then all the sins and the mistakes that he had ever failed in
since he was under the concealment of the face now strip off their crude and very
bitter clothes. They clothe in clothes of Light, Mitzva and merits.
This is so because the same crude clothes have turned to virtues themselves. Now
they are as clothes that extend from the world of Atzilut or
Beria and do not cover and hide The Teacher. On the contrary, “thine
eyes shall see thy Teacher.”
It follows, that there isn’t any sort of replacement of anything between the
Torah of Atzilut and the Torah in this world, meaning between the
wisdom of Kabbalah and the revealed Torah. Instead, the only difference is in the
person who engages in the Torah. Two may study the Torah in one manner and one
tongue, but only one will have that Torah be as the wisdom of Kabbalah and the
Torah of Atzilut, while for the other it will be the Torah of
148. Now you will understand the truth in the words of the Vilna
Gaon in the prayer book in the blessing for the Torah. He wrote that the
Torah begins with the Sod (secret), meaning the revealed Torah of Assyia.
It is considered hidden because the Creator is completely hidden there.
Then he moves on to the Remez (implied), meaning that He is revealed
further in the Torah of Yetzira. Finally, one attains the Pshat
(disclosed), which is the Torah of Atzilut. It is called Pshat
for it is stripped off all the clothes that conceal the Creator.
149. Once we have reached thus far we can provide some idea and
discernment in the four worlds known in the wisdom of Kabbalah by the names
Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, Assiya of Kedusha (holiness), and the
four worlds ABYA of the Klipot (shells). They are set one
opposite the other, opposite the ABYA of Kedusha.
You will discern that in the four discernments of the attainment of His
providence and the four degrees of love. We shall begin with explaining the four
worlds ABYA of Kedusha, and we shall start from below, from the
world of Assiya.
150. We have explained the first two forms of providence of concealment of
the face above. Know, that they are both considered the world of Assiya.
That is why it is written in the book “Tree of Life” that the world of
Assiya is mostly evil. Even the little bit of good contained in it is
also completely mixed with evil and is unrecognizable.
From the perspective of the first concealment it follows that it is mostly bad,
meaning the torments and the pains that those who receive this providence feel.
From the perspective of the double concealment, the good is also mixed with the
bad and the good is completely indiscernible.
The first discernment of revelation of the face is considered “the world of
Yetzira”. Hence it is written in the book “Tree of Life” (Gate 48; p. 3)
that the world of Yetzira is half good and half bad.
This means that he who attains the first discernment of the revelation of the
face, which is the first form of conditional love, called merely “repentance from
fear”, is called “Intermediate”. He is half guilty half pure.
The second form of love is also conditional, but there is no trace of any harm
and detriment between them. Also, the third form of love is the first form of
unconditional love. Both are regarded as the world of Beria.
Hence it is written in the book “Tree of Life” that the world of Beria is
mostly good and only its minority is bad, and that minor bad is indiscernible. It
means that since the intermediate is awarded one Mitzva, he sentences
himself to a scale of merit. Because of that he is considered “mostly good”,
meaning the second form of love.
The minute, indiscernible evil that exits in Beria extends from the
third form of love, the unconditional. Also, one has also sentenced himself to a
scale of merit, but he has not yet sentenced the entire world, hence, a minority
in it is bad since this love is not yet considered eternal. However, this
minority is indiscernible since one has not felt any harm and detriment even
The fourth form of love, the unconditional love, which is also eternal, is
regarded as the world of Atzilut. That is the meaning of the text in the
book, “Tree of Life”, that in the world of Atzilut there is no evil
whatsoever, and there “evil shall not sojourn with Thee.”
This is because after one has sentenced the entire world to a scale of merit too,
love is eternal, complete, and no concealment and cover will ever be conceived.
This is so because there is the place of the absolute revelation of the face, as
it is written, “yet shall not thy Teacher hide Himself any more, but thine eyes
shall see thy Teacher.” This is because now one knows all the engagements of the
Creator with all the people as true providence that appears from His name “Good
that doeth good to the good and to the evil”.
151. Now you can also understand the discernment of the four worlds of
ABYA of Klipa (shell), set vis-à-vis the ABYA of
Kedusha as in the verse, “God hath made even the one as well as the
other.” This is because the chariot of the Klipot of Assiya
comes from the discernment of the concealed face in both its degrees. That
chariot dominates in order to make one sentence everything to a scale of
The world of Yetzira of Klipa catches in its hand the scale of
demerit, which is not corrected in the world of Yetzira of
Kedusha. Thus the intermediate that receive from the world of
Yetzira control, as it is written, “God hath made even the one as well
as the other.”
The world of Beria of Klipa has the same power to cancel the
conditional love, meaning cancel only the thing that love depends on. This refers
to the incompleteness in the love of the second form.
The world of Atzilut of Klipa is what captures in its hand
that minority of evil whose existence is not apparent in Beria because
of the third form of love. This is a true love because He is Good that doeth good
to the good and to the bad, which is considered Atzilut of
Kedusha. Yet, because one has not been awarded sentencing the entire
world to a scale of merit, there is power in the hands of the Klipa to
fail the love with regard to providence over others.
152. This is the meaning of what is written in the “Tree of Life” that the
world of Atzilut of the Klipot stands opposite the world of
Beria, not opposite the world of Atzilut. It is so because only
the fourth discernment of love extends from the world of Atzilut of
Hence, there is no dominion to the Klipot there whatsoever since one
already knows that he has sentenced the entire world to a scale of merit. One
also knows all the conducts of the Creator in His providence on people, from the
providence of His name, “Good that doeth good to the good and to the evil.”
However, in the world of Beria, from which extends the third
discernment, there is still no sentencing of the entire world. Therefore there
is still a hold for the Klipot. Nevertheless, these Klipot are
considered the Atzilut of the Klipot since they are opposite
the third discernment, which is the unconditional love, and this love is
153. Now we have thoroughly explained the four worlds ABYA of
Kedusha and the Klipot vis-à-vis each and every world. They
come from the discernment of the shortcoming that exists in their corresponding
world in Kedusha and they are the ones named “four worlds ABYA
154. These words are sufficient for any student to feel the essence of the
wisdom of Kabbalah to some degree. You should know that most of the authors of
Kabbalah books did not direct their words, but only to such readers that have
already attained a disclosure of the Face and all the sublime attainments.
We should not ask: If they have already been granted attainment, then they know
everything through their own attainment. Why then would they still need to delve
in the books of Kabbalah of other authors?
Indeed, it is not wise to ask that. It is like one who engages in the literal
Torah, who has no knowledge of the conducts of this world, the World, Year, Soul
of this world, who does not know people’s behavior and their comportment with
themselves and with others. Also, he does not know the beasts and the birds in
Would you even consider that such a person would be able to understand even a
single issue in the Torah correctly? He would overturn the issues of the Torah
from good to bad and from bad to good, and would not find his legs and hands in
So is the matter before us: Even if one has been awarded attainment, and even at
the level of the Torah of Atzilut he will still not perceive more than
relates to his own soul. Yet, one must know all three attributes, World, Year,
Soul, in their every incident and conduct in full consciousness so as to be able
to understand the matters of the Torah that relate to that world.
These issues are explained in the book of Zohar and the genuine Kabbalah books
with all their details and specifications. Thus, every sage and one that has
acquired one’s own attainment must meditate therein day and night.
155. Therefore we must ask: why then, did the Kabbalists obligate each
person to study the wisdom of Kabbalah? Indeed there is a great thing in it,
worthy of being publicized: There is a wonderful, invaluable remedy to those who
engage in the wisdom of Kabbalah. Although they do not understand what they are
learning, through the yearning and the great desire to understand what they are
learning, they awaken upon themselves the Lights that surround their souls.
This means that every person from Israel is guaranteed to finally attain all the
wonderful attainments that the Creator has calculated in the Thought of Creation
to delight every creature. One who has not been awarded in this life will be
granted in the next life etc. Finally, one will be awarded completing the thought
that He preliminary planned for him.
While one has not attained perfection, these Lights that are destined to reach
him are considered Surrounding Lights. That means that they stand ready, and wait
for one to purify one’s vessels of reception. At that time these Lights will cloth
the able vessels.
Hence, even when one does not have the vessels, when one engages in this wisdom,
mentioning the names of the Lights and the vessels related to one’s soul, they
immediately shine upon us to a certain measure. However, they shine for him
without clothing the interior of his soul for lack of the able vessels to receive
them. Despite that, the illumination one receives time after time during the
engagement draws upon one grace from above, imparting one with abundance of
sanctity and purity, which bring one much closer to reaching perfection.
156. Yet, there is a strict condition during the engagement in this
wisdom, to not materialize the matters with imaginary and corporeal issues. That
is because by that they breach, “Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image,
nor any manner of likeness.”
In that event, one is rather harmed instead of benefited. Therefore, our sages
cautioned to study this wisdom only after forty years or from a Rav, and other
such cautions. All of that is for the above reason.
Therefore, in order to rescue the readers from any materialization, I compose the
book Talmud Eser Sefirot (The Study of the Ten Sefirot) by the Ari. There I
collect all the principal essays concerning the explanation of the ten Sefirot in
as simple and easy language as I could. I have also arranged the table of
questions and table of answers for every word and issue. “…and that the will of
God will succeed in His hand.”