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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 of 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 that it is the conduct of the good to do good. Hence, when the Creator generously bestows upon His creations, it is considered that His face is revealed to His creations. This is because then everyone knows and senses 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 suffer affliction and torment in His world, it is considered the posterior of the Creator. This is because His face, meaning His complete attribute of goodness, is entirely concealed from them, since this is not a conduct that suits His name. It is like a person who sees his 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, when people suffer trouble and pains, it means that the Creator is hiding His face, which is His utter benevolence, and only His posterior is revealed. In that state, great strengthening in His faith is required, 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. This is the meaning of the verse, “And I will surely hide My face in that… they are turned unto other gods,” that is, they become heretic and turn to idol worshiping.
50) However, before that, when the writing speaks only from the perspective of one concealment, the text ends, “they will say in that day: Are not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?” This means that they still believe in Providence of reward and punishment, and 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.” This is considered that they still see the Creator, but only from behind. For that reason it is called “One Concealment,” only concealment of the face.
51) Now we have explained the two discernments of the perception of concealed Providence, which people sense: “one concealment” and “concealment within concealment.” One concealment relates only to the concealment of the face, while the posterior is revealed to them. This means that they believe that the Creator gave them the affliction as a punishment. And although it is hard for them to always know the Creator through His posterior side, which brings them to transgress, even then they are considered “incomplete wicked.” In other words, these transgressions are like mistakes, because they come to them as a result of the accumulation of the affliction, since, in general, they 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 discernments of concealed Providence. And Ben Ha Ha says about that time (Avot, Chapter 5): “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, from behind, as one who sees one’s friend from behind and might doubt and think he is another. In this manner, one is always left with the choice to either keep His will or break it. This is because troubles and the pains he suffers make him doubt the reality of His Guidance over His creations, whether in the first manner, which is the mistakes, or in the second manner, which are the sins.
In any case, one is still in great pain and labor. The writing says about this time: “Whatsoever thy hand attaineth to do by thy strength, that do” (Ecclesiastes 9). This is so because he will not be granted the revelation of the face, the complete measure of His goodness, before he exerts and does whatever is in his power to do, and 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, the Creator helps him. Then, one attains open Providence, meaning the revelation of the face. Then, he is rewarded with complete repentance, meaning he cleaves to the Creator once more with his heart, soul, and might, as though naturally drawn by 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 with the attainment of the wondrous pleasure in immediate observation 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 still being 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 own flesh and cause himself terrible suffering. In addition, one is certain that he will not neglect a Mitzva without performing 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 the words of our sages, “What is repentance like? 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: In truth, one is not absolutely certain that he will not sin again before he is rewarded with the above attainment of reward and punishment, meaning the revelation of the face. And this revelation of the face, from the perspective of the Creator’s salvation, is called “testimony,” since His salvation in itself, to this attainment of reward and punishment, is what guarantees that he will not sin again.
It is therefore considered that the Creator testifies for him. It is written, “What is repentance like?” In other words, when will one be certain that he has been granted complete repentance? For this, one is given a clear sign: “when He who knows all mysteries testifies that he will not turn back to folly.” This means that he will attain the revelation of the face, at which time one’s own salvation will testify that he will not turn back to folly.
57) This above-mentioned repentance is called “repentance from fear.” This is because although 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, that certainty that he will not sin again is due to one’s attainment and sensation of the terrible punishment and wicked torment extending from the transgressions. Because of that, one is certain that he will not sin, just as he is sure that he will not afflict himself with horrible suffering.
However, at last, these repentances and certainty are only because of the fear of punishment that extends from the transgressions. 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 from fear is rewarded with his sins becoming 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. This means that one does not believe in Providence of reward and punishment.
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. This is because even though he believes that the suffering came to him as a punishment, he is still like one who sees his friend from behind, and might doubt and mistake him for another. And 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 felt was a punishment from His Providence for the sins he had committed. In retrospect, he made a grave mistake; hence, he uproots these sins.
However, this is not entirely so. They become sins. In other words, it is like the transgressions he made in one concealment, when he failed because of the confusion that came to him due to 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, which he had had before, but only from now on after he has attained the revelation of the face. In the past, however, before he had attained repentance, the concealment of the face and all the mistakes remained as they were, without any change or correction whatsoever. This is so because then, too, he believed that the troubles and the suffering came to him as punishment, as it is written, “they will say in that day: Are not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?”
61) Therefore, he is still considered incomplete righteous because one who is awarded the revelation of the face, namely the complete measure of His goodness, as befits His Name, is called “righteous” (Item 55). This is so because he justifies His Providence as it truly is, that He is utterly good and utterly perfect with His creations, that He is good to the good and to the bad.
Hence, since he has been awarded the revelation of the face, from here on he merits the name “righteous.” However, since he has not completed the correction, but only the concealment within concealment, and has not corrected the first concealment, but only from here on, that time, before he was awarded repentance, still does not merit the name “righteous.” This is because then he is left with the concealment of the face, as before. For this reason, he is called “incomplete righteous,” meaning one who still needs to correct his past.
62) He is also called “medium,” since after he attains repentance from fear he becomes qualified, through his completion in Torah and good deeds, to attain repentance from love, as well. Then one attains being a “complete righteous.” Hence, now one is the medium between fear and love, and is therefore named “medium.” However, prior to that, he was not completely qualified to even prepare himself for repentance from love.
63) This thoroughly explains the first degree of attainment of the revelation of the face, 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. This is also called “incomplete righteous” and “medium.”
64) Now we shall explain the second degree of the attainment of the revelation of the face, which is the attainment of the complete, true, and eternal Providence. It means that the Creator watches over His creations in the form of “Good that does good to the good and to the bad.” Now one is considered “complete righteous” and “repentance from love,” when one is granted turning his sins to virtues.
This explains all four discernments of perception of Providence that apply in the creations. The first three discernments, double concealment, single concealment, and attainment of Providence of reward and punishment are but preparations by which one attains the fourth discernment, which is the attainment of the true, eternal Providence.
65) But we have yet to understand why the third discernment is not enough for a person, namely attainment of 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 “medium” 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 Torah and work?
66) First, let us scrutinize what the interpreters asked about the Mitzva of loving the Creator. How did the Holy Torah oblige us to a Mitzva that we cannot keep at all? One can coerce and enslave oneself to anything, but no coercion or enslavement in the world will help with love.
They explained that when by keeping all 612 Mitzvot appropriately, 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 appropriately, and then he will also attain the love of God.
67) Indeed, their words require elaborate explanation. In the end, the love of God should not come to us as a Mitzva, since there is no act or 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 was the Mitzva of love written?
68) 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, tendencies, and properties instilled in a person, with which to serve one’s friends, all these tendencies and natural properties are required for the work of God.
To begin with, they were created and imprinted in man only because of their final role, 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 reception of abundance, and to complement the will of God.
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 qualities, 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,’” because all the people in the world are required for a person, as 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 given through these qualities, since they were only imprinted in humans for His name to begin with. And when we observe the attributes of love between man and man, we find four measures of love, one atop the other, meaning two that are four.
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 met and began to love one another, they did 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 good and helped one another and there is no trace of harm or 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 measure is before one knows every conduct and deed of one’s friend with others. At that time, this love is considered “less than absolute love.”
This is because one’s friend has dealings with others, and on the surface he seems to be harming others out of negligence. In this manner, if the lover saw them, the merit of his friend would be entirely blemished and the love between them would be corrupted. Yet, since he has not seen these dealings, his love is still whole, great, and truly wonderful.
73) The second attribute of unconditional love is the fourth attribute of love in general, which also comes from knowing the merit of his friend. Yet, in addition, now he knows all his dealings and conducts with every person, none missing. He 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 apply between man and God, as well. Moreover, here, in the love of God, they become degrees, by way of cause and consequence.
It is impossible to acquire any of them before one acquires the first attribute of conditional love. And after it is completely acquired, that first attribute causes one to acquire the second attribute. And 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.
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