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Letter No. 52

April 30, 1960 (48th day of the Omer Count), Vienna

To the friends, may they live forever

The festival of Shavuot—the time of the giving of our Torah—is approaching. It is known that Shavuot is regarded as Malchut in the worlds and the heart in man. It is as Baal HaSulam interpreted about Mekadesh Shevi’i (seventh sanctifier) that Shevi’i comes from the words Shebi-Hu (who is in me).

He means that the Creator is clothed in the heart, and the time when we can interpret that the Torah dresses in the soul. This is why it is called Shavuot and “the giving of the Torah,” meaning that at that time the Torah dresses in the hearts of each and every one from the whole of Israel. During the count from Passover to Shavuot it is the purification of the Kelim (vessels), which is purification in heart and mind. When the Kelim have been perfected, we are rewarded with the Torah.

Therefore, before Passover, the preparation of purifying the Kelim was with faith, called Mitzva (commandment/good deed). Through the exodus from Egypt they were rewarded with faith, as in “I am the Lord your God who took you out from the land of Egypt.” After Passover begins the work on purification as preparation for reception of the Torah. When the Torah dresses in the soul it is called “Shavuot, the time of the giving of our Torah.”

We need heaven’s mercy, to be given the strength to come out of Egypt and be awarded faith, since we go through many states before we are rewarded with faith. Sometimes, a person has no need for pure faith because he thinks that it is better to go by the usual ways, as it seems to him, since all the Hassidim and practical people do as they were taught, meaning the usual way. He wishes that in this way he will have the complete desire to keep Torah and Mitzvot (pl. of Mitzva), since he sees that in this, too, he is declining and sometimes has no time to think about it. That is, he engages in Torah and Mitzvot without any introspections, that in the Torah and Mitzvot he is doing, it is not worthwhile to introspect.

The calculations that a person does are in order to gain something. In that state he is in a state where it is preferable to reflect on his corporeal needs, since his vitality is specifically in corporeality.

However, we must remember the rule that Baal HaSulam said, that the punishments are mainly on the time when a person engages in Torah and Mitzvot. Concerning the time when he is in a state where his vitality is only corporeality, his sentence is as the sentence of a beast. Only when engaging in Torah and Mitzvot without being careful to keep it pure, this is called “idolatry.”

Therefore, when a person agrees to do something in Torah and Mitzvot, it is preferable to work for the Creator, since the work begins primarily in the mind, but with the heart it is a completely different work. At that time his work is regarded as exiting the beast and becoming a man, and it was said about it, “You are called ‘man,’” and then begins man’s work in the mind, when beginning to weigh on a scale which is more worthwhile, knowledge or faith. At that time he becomes angry that the Creator is not rewarding him with faith.

By that we can interpret the words of the Gemarah, “Rabbi Yehuda said, ‘Rabbi Shmuel said in the name of Rabbi Meir: ‘While I was learning with Rabbi Akiva, I would put the ink into the inkwell. When I came to Rabbi Ishmael, he said to me, ‘My son, be careful with your work, for your work is the work of heaven. If you omit one letter or add one letter, you are destroying the entire world.’ I said to him, ‘I have one thing, and it is called ink, which I put into the inkwell.’ He replied, ‘But do you put ink into the inkwell? The Torah said, ‘write, and erase,’ writing that can erase. What did he tell him and what did he reply to him? This is what he said to him: ‘Not only am I not mistaken to think I know about omitting or adding, I am not even afraid that a fly will come, land on the Dalet (Hebrew letter, ד), and turn it into a Reish (a similar looking letter, ר)’ (Iruvin 13a).’’”

We should interpret the scribe. When a person engages in the work of the Creator he is called a “scribe,” as in “Write them on the tablet of your heart.” Omitting or adding means that either he is lacking right or adding left, meaning two times “nest” (also 150 in Gematria), as our sages said, “We can purify the pest with 150 reasons (also flavors).” This is why there are two times: impure nest and pure nest. Also, ink is called “blackness,” since the labor is regarded as darkness.

We should understand that if Rabbi Ishmael told him, “Be careful with omitting and adding,” what is the reason that Rabbi Meir told him that he was putting ink into the inkwell?

We should interpret that when Rabbi Meir told him that he was a scribe, meaning engaging in the work with purity, he told him, “Be careful with omitting and adding,” meaning that he will not have too little faith and too much knowledge. To that he replied to him that he was putting the ink in the inkwell. That is, during the labor, called “blackness,” he throws his (hands) there, as in, impure nest and pure nest, so he always has room for faith because to him the nests are equal.

He asked, “But do you put ink into the inkwell?” Can you place a pure nest from a place of darkness? It should be writing that you can erase. That is, during the labor, which is the time of reception of faith, it is precisely when we can erase the writing. And yet, he did not erase, for in that state, when he determines and takes upon himself the faith, it is regarded as “completed writing,” which is a Kli fit for holding the light of the Creator.

The Gemarah asks about this: “What did he tell him and what did he reply to him?” (RASHI interprets that he warned him about omitting and adding, and replied to him that he has ink. RASHI interpreted that “ink” means writing that cannot be erased because its writing is visible).

The Gemarah answers that he replied to him that he was careful with omitting and adding, and also even that a fly might come and land on the tip of the Dalet and erase it, turning it into a Reish. A fly means a foreign thought that erases the Dalet and turns it into a Reish (see the beginning of “Introduction of the Book of Zohar,” item 200).

That is, at the time of Mitzva, when he should be careful with omitting or adding, meaning that he will not want faith to be less important than knowledge, which means that he lacks the importance of faith, and too much means that he gives excessive importance to knowledge.

During the writing of the ink of the Torah, it is considered that he is careful with the tip of the Dalet, which is “doing mercy.” If he has a fly, meaning an impure thought, then he does not want to do mercy, and then he is regarded as completely destitute. By that he always puts the ink, meaning that he is always careful to keep them equal, and then he is certain to be steadfast in his state, since when he sees that he is always at a crossroads, he is naturally under keeping, and by that achieves the full completeness.

May the Creator grant us with full completeness and with coming out to the light of Torah in purity.

Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag

Son of Baal HaSulam

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