My next commentary will be after section 112
110) Thus far, we examined only the two degrees of conditional love. Yet, we must still understand how one is awarded coming in the two manners 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 unworthy and half worthy. If he performs one Mitzvah, happy is he, for he has sentenced himself to a scale of merit. If he commits one sin, woe unto him for he has sentenced himself to a scale of sin.
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 Mitzvah, happy is he, for he has sentenced himself and the whole world to a scale of merit. If he commits one sin, woe unto him, for he has sentenced himself and the whole world to a scale of sin.’ 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 unworthy and half worthy. 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 unworthy and half worthy.” Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, adds that one should also regard the whole world as though they are half unworthy and half worthy. Yet, the essence is still absent, and why did he change his words if the meaning is the same?
112) This is even more difficult on the object itself, meaning for one to see oneself as though he is half unworthy. This is a wonder: if one knows one’s many iniquities, would he deceive oneself saying that he 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 sin. Thus, it is about the actual reality, not some false imagination by which a person should picture himself and the world.
It is important to understand what Rabbi Ashlag is asking. There is a mistaken teaching that people have come to utilize since they hear the above teaching. From this above teaching they extrapolate to a perception that a good deed is weighed against a sin. They think i have 500 Mitzvot (based on some heavenly scale that assigns a value to each good deed) and i have 499 Sins (based on the same heavenly scale), therefore i am a good person. This is totally false and we all need to realize this. The spiritual system counts the Mitzvot and relates them to a Sefirot. There are sins and they weaken or harm the Sefirot. And their do the Mitzvot and Sins meet. The damage a sin does must be corrected. The merit a Mitzvah creates will enhance the persons life as the Creator sees fit. They do not mix nor are they offsetting each other in any way.
113) And there is another bewilderment: can it be that there are not many people in each generation who perform one Mitzvah? So 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.
However, this does not concern a person who knows his sins are many, to teach him deception, that he is half this and half that, or to insinuate that he lacks only one Mitzva. This is not at all the way of the wise. Rather, this 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 already testifies that he will not turn back to folly.
To him, the writing shows the way and proves that he is not yet righteous, but in between – half unworthy and half worthy. This is so because one still lacks one of the 613 Mitzvot in the Torah, namely the Mitzvah 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 transgressing. This is considered fear of punishment, and is therefore called “repentance from fear.”
The previous comment applies to this section as well. Rabbi Ashlag is defining terms differently than people understand these terms in every day usage. The everyday usage comes from the misconception of how Heaven evaluates both Sins and Mitzvot.
114) We also learned above that this degree of repentance from fear still does not correct a person, but only from the time of repentance onwards. Yet, all the sorrow and the anguish one had suffered prior to being awarded the revelation of the face remain as they were, uncorrected. In addition, the transgressions one had made are not entirely corrected, but remain as mistakes.
Again people do not understand the words of the Sages until they relate to the Language of Branches.
115) This is why it is said that such a person, who is still short of one Mitzvah, will regard himself as half unworthy and half worthy. Meaning, one should imagine that the time when he was granted repentance was in the middle of his years. Thus, he is still half unworthy, in that half of his years that had passed before he has repented. In that time, one is certainly unworthy, since repentance from fear does not correct them.
It follows, also, that he is also half worthy, in the half of his years since he has been awarded repentance onwards. At that time, one is certainly worthy; for he is certain that he will not sin again. Thus, in the first half of his years he is unworthy, and in the second half of his years, he is worthy.
Why does the correction from fear not correct the earlier sins? Actually it does when we arrive at a higher level of consciousness Correction from Love. At this level of consciousness the person is coming from a frame of selfishness and thus still might back slide. Thus teh Creator set up the system this way.
116) He is told to think that if he performs one Mitzvah, that Mitzvah which he lacks from the number 613, he will be happy, for he has sentenced himself to a scale of merit. This is so because one who is granted the Mitzva of love by repentance from love, through it he is rewarded with turning his sins to merits.
Then, every sorrow and grief that he had ever suffered, prior to being awarded repentance, is turned into wondrous, endless pleasures for him. Moreover, he regrets not having suffered twice as much and more, as in the allegory about the landlord and the Jew who loved him.
This is called “sentencing to a scale of merit,” since all of one’s emotions, the mistakes and the sins, have been turned to merits. Thus, sentencing to a scale of merit means that the whole cup that was filled with sins has now been turned into a cup full of merits. In the words of the sages, this inversion is called “sentencing.”
The way to understand this transfer from sin to merit called sentencing has to do with the idea of the Cineplex movies. When one is presented an opportunity to make correction there is a potential revealment of light. Since this light is not revealed the next time that this happens there is a greater amount of light that can be revealed since it includes two opportunities to reveal the same light. This multiplies the light. That is why the Sages teach that the Baal Teshuvah is able to stand on a higher level than a Tzadik who never did that mistake.
117) It further warns us and says that as long as one is in between, and has not been granted the one Mitzvah 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 the One who knows all mysteries, that he will not turn back to folly, but he might still transgress.
Hence, one should think for oneself that if he commits one sin, woe unto him, for he has sentenced himself to a scale of sin. This is because then he will 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 the face. Thus, he will sentence himself to a scale of sin, for he will lose all the merits and the good, even from the latter half of his years. And as evidence, it brings the verse, “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, “half unworthy and half worthy.” This is so because there it speaks of the second and third discernments of love, while Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, speaks from the fourth discernment of love, the eternal love – the disclosure of face, as it truly is, Good and does good to the good and to the bad.
Do you realize how people confuse us by quoting Sages without understanding the Language of Branches.
119) We learned there that it is impossible to attain the fourth discernment, except when one is proficient and knows all the dealings of the loved one, and how he behaves with all the others, none missing. This is also why the great privilege, when one is awarded sentencing himself to a scale of merit, is still not enough for one to attain whole love, meaning the fourth discernment. This is so because now he does not attain His merit as being good who does good to the good and to the bad, but only His Providence over him.
Yet, he still does not know of His Providence in this 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 still not eternal. Hence, one must also sentence the entire world to a scale of merit, and only then does the eternal love appear to him.
120) This is what Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, says, “Since the world is judged by its majority and the individual is judged by its majority,” and since he relates to the whole world, he cannot say, as it is written, that he will regard them as half unworthy, half worthy. 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 whole 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.
Explanation: One might think that one does not become a complete righteous, except when he has no transgressions and has never sinned. But those who failed with sins and transgressions no longer merit becoming complete righteous.
For that reason, Rabbi Elazar, son or Rabbi Shimon, teaches us that this 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 medium, after he has repented from fear, he instantaneously attains the 613 Mitzvot and is called “medium,” meaning half his years he is unworthy, and in half his years he is worthy.
Afterwards, if one adds but a single Mitzva, the Mitzva of love, it is considered that he is mostly worthy and sentences everything to a scale of merit. Thus, the scale of sins becomes a scale of merits, too.
It turns out that even if one has a full scale of transgressions and sins, they all become merits. Then, one is as one who has never sinned, and is considered “complete righteous.”
This is the meaning of the saying 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 merits. Accordingly, even “complete wicked” are considered “complete righteous” after they are granted repentance from love.
Remember one does not receive repentance from love until they have received all of the other 612 Mitzvoth. So in effect they are completely righteous. HaShem would only give repentance from love when the person has completed all of the tasks necessary to bring him to the righteous side.
121) Therefore, he says that if an individual performs one Mitzvah, meaning after the repentance from fear, then one is short of only one Mitzvah, and “he is happy for he has sentenced himself and the whole world to a scale of merit.” Thus, not only is he rewarded, through his repentance from love, with sentencing himself to a scale of merit, as the verse says, but he is even awarded sentencing the whole world to a scale of merit.
This means that he is awarded rising in wonderful attainments in the Holy Torah, until he discovers how all the people in the world will finally be awarded repentance from love. Then, they, too, will discover and see all that wonderful Providence, as he has attained for himself. And they, too, will be all sentenced to a scale of merit. At that time, “sins will cease out of the earth and the wicked be no more.”
And even though the people in the world themselves have not yet been granted even repentance from fear, still, 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 instantly had it, 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 whole world precisely as though they have been granted and came to repentance from love. Each of them sentenced their sins 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 the Good who does good to the good and to the bad. And since he knows it, he has therefore been granted the fourth discernment of love, namely “eternal love.”
Like the verse, so Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, warns that even after one has sentenced the whole world to a scale of merit, one should still not believe in himself until his dying day. Should he 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 speaks only from the second discernment and the third discernment of love; hence, it does not mention sentencing the whole world.
But Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, speaks from the fourth discernment of love, which cannot be depicted except by attainment of sentencing the entire world to a scale of merit. However, we must still understand how we attain this wonderful attainment of sentencing the whole world to a scale of merit.
What people are not thinking about when they read this section is that the world is every human being and the individual is not complete without every other human being.
122) We must understand what is written (Taanit 11a), “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 medium. But 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 comfort of the public.”
The Sages teach that judgment is less strict when it is a group than it is when it is an individual. When we remember this it helps to understand the above section.
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 medium from attribute of wicked? Furthermore, what is the precision that it makes regarding the attribute of medium and attribute of wicked? And why does it not say, “intermediate” and “wicked,” and why do I need the attributes?
Also, where does it imply that the writing speaks of an iniquity when 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?
There is so much in this section. The Righteous is judged on the sins of his generation since as a Righteous person he has accepted the obligation to help the wicked person change. The wicked person knows that he must change; the righteous person comes along and offers to help him change and the wicked person has free choice. then the righteous does not receive this harsh judgment. After all Moshe was healthy to the day he died as well as having a sharp mind. Yes he had upset and chaos from the choices the Nation made but he welcomed their free choice. When the Righteous does not include himself in the group then he finds himself in pain and suffering because he did not accept his obligation.
124) Yet, you should know that all these attributes, “medium,” “wicked,” and “righteous” are not in special people. Rather, all three are within every single person in the world. These three attributes are discernible in every person. During one’s period of concealment of the face, even before one attains repentance from fear, he is discerned as being in the attribute of wicked.
Afterwards, if one is granted repentance from fear, he is considered medium. Then, if one is granted repentance from love, too, in its fourth discernment, meaning eternal love, he is considered “complete righteous.” Hence, they did not say merely medium and righteous, but the attribute of medium and the attribute of wicked.
This is one of the most important sections in this introduction. Each person as part of their life process experiences wicked medium and righteous. Now go back to read the whole introduction or at least these section from approximately 90 to now with the perception that this is applying to the same person at different stages in his or her life.
125) We should also remember that it is impossible to attain the above fourth discernment 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. And 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 pains he had had during the concealment of the face.” This is why it is possible that they will all be turned into wondrous pleasures for him, as we have said above. But when he sentences the entire world to a scale of merit, how does he know the measure of grief and pain that all the people in the world suffer, so as to understand how are they are sentenced to a scale of merit in the same manner we explained regarding one’s own sentencing?
To avoid having the scale of merit of the entire world lacking, 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 he suffers with his own troubles. Then the scale of sin of the entire world will be ready within him, like his own scale of sin. Thus, if he 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 being “a 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 medium, the writing says about him: “And behold joy and gladness.” This means that one who has been granted the blessing, “You shall see your world in your life,” and sees the entire reward for his Mitzva, which is prepared for the next world, is certainly “filled with joy and gladness.” And he tells himself, “slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine – let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die!”
In other words, he is filled with great joy because of his guaranteed reward in the next world. This is why he says so gladly, “for tomorrow we shall die,” and I will collect my next world’s life 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? This 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 repentance.
127) It is also written that this is the “attribute of medium,” meaning that this text speaks of a time when one has repented from fear onwards. At that time, one is considered “medium.”
Yet, what does it write about the “attribute of wicked”? In other words, what shall become of the time when he was in concealment of the face, which was then called “attribute of wicked”? 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 tomorrow shall be as this day.” This means that those days and years that have passed since the time of concealment of the face, which he has not corrected, called “attribute of wicked,” they do not want him to die, since they have no part in the next world after the death, as they are the attribute of the wicked.
Therefore, at the time when the attribute of medium in him is glad and rejoicing, “for tomorrow we shall die,” and will be rewarded with the life of the next world, at the same time the attribute of wicked in him does not say so. It rather says, “and tomorrow shall be as this day,” meaning it wishes to live and be happy in this world forever, for it still has no part for the next world, since he has not corrected it, as it is only corrected by repentance from love.
The last three sections 126 to 128 are teaching us about the reincarnation issues. What happens when you are in the middle and need to return? When one looks at the world in general, there are countries where the life is difficult and the even the "rick" have a more difficult life. Does this mean that the people of America in our generation represent people who are in this middle level?
128) It is written, “The righteous perisheth,” meaning the attribute of complete righteous, which 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 medium 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, who sense harm from His Providence. And because of these harms that they still feel, they cannot be awarded being complete righteous.
The writing says, “and no man layeth it to heart,” meaning that that person does not take it to heart “from the evil to come.” In other words, because of the harm that one still feels in His Providence from the past, “the righteous perisheth,” meaning he lost the attribute of righteous. And he will die and pass away from the world as mere medium.
All that concerns he who does not pain himself with the public, and is not awarded seeing the comfort of the public, for he will not be able to sentence them to a scale of merit and see their consolation. Hence, he will never attain the attribute of righteous.
If a person does not feel the pain of others one can never become a Tzadik? This is due to the idea of "the mutual guarantee" which is one translation of the Hebrew word Achdut. Under the obligation and Mitzvah of Achdut, each person takes care of every other person while someone is taking care of that person's needs. It is clear if one does not take upon him or her self this obligation they can not become a complete Tzadik.
129) From all the aforementioned, we have come to know that there is no woman-born person who will not experience the three above attributes: attribute of wicked; attribute of medium; attribute of righteous.
They are called Midot (attributes) since they extend from the Midah (measure) of their attainment of His Providence. Our sages said, “one is measured to the extent that he measures” (Sutah 8). And they who attain His Providence in concealment of the face are considered wicked: either incomplete wicked from the perspective of the single concealment, or complete wicked from the perspective of the double concealment.
And because they feel and think that the world is conducted 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. And they condemn the most by 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 concealment of the face are called “wicked,” since that name appears in them out of the depth of their sensation. It depends on the understanding of the heart, and 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 of Providence are considered to have sentenced themselves and the entire world to a scale of sin, 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 in bad guidance, as would befit His Name, “The Good that does good to the good and to the bad.”
130) They that are granted the sensation of His Providence in the form of the first degree of disclosure of the face, called “repentance from fear,” are considered medium. 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, by way of “You shall see your world in your life,” at the very least they have attained His Good Providence as befits His Name, “Good.” Hence, they have a scale of merit.
Yet, all the sorrow and the bitter torments that were thoroughly imprinted in their feelings from all the days and years they received Providence of concealed face, from the time before they were awarded the above repentance, all remain standing and are called “a scale of sin.”
And since they have these two scales standing one opposite the other, in a way that the scale of sin is set from the moment of their repentance and before, and the scale of merit is set and guaranteed to them from the moment of repentance onwards, the time of repentance stands “between” the merit and the sin, and hence they are called “medium.”
131) And the ones who merit the disclosure of the face in the second degree, called “repentance from love,” when sins become as merits to them, are considered to have sentenced the above scale of sin to a scale of merit. This means that all the sorrow and affliction engraved in their bones while being under the Providence of concealment of the face have now been inverted and sentenced to a “scale of merit.”
This is 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 medium 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 His face in the measure of the medium. But the drawback is that they cannot permanently remain in their degrees, since standing permanently in a degree is possible only through repentance from fear.
133) We should also know that what we said, that there is choice only when there is concealment of the face, does not mean that after one has attained Providence of revealed face, one has no further labor or exertion in the practice of Torah and Mitzvot. On the contrary, the proper work in Torah and Mitzvot begins primarily after one has been awarded 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 created only for the complete righteous” (Berachot 61).
It is rather like a king who wished to select for himself the most loyal of his subjects in the country and bring them in to work inside his palace. What did he do? He issued a decree that anyone who wished, young or old, would come to his palace to engage in the works inside his palace.
However, he appointed many of his servants to guard the palace gate and on all the roads leading to it, and ordered them to cunningly deflect all those nearing his palace and divert them from the way that leads to the palace.
Naturally, all the people in the country began to run to the king’s palace. But the diligent guards cunningly rejected them. Many of them overpowered them and came near the palace gate, but the guards at the gate were the most diligent, and if someone approached the gate, they diverted him and turned him away with great craftiness, until one despaired and retuned as he had come.
And so they came and went, and regained strength, and came and went again, and so on and so forth for several days and years, until they grew weary of trying. And only the heroes among them, whose patience endured, defeated the guards and opened the gate. And they were instantly awarded seeing the King’s face, who appointed each of them in his right place.
Of course, from that moment on, they had no further dealings with those guards, who diverted and mislead them and made their lives bitter for several days and years, running back and forth around the gate. This is because they have been rewarded with working and serving before the glory of the king’s face inside His palace.
So it is with the work of the complete righteous. The choice applied during the concealment of the face certainly does not apply when they have opened the door to attain open Providence. However, they begin their work primarily from the revealing of the face. At that time, they begin to march up the many rungs in the ladder set up on the earth, whose top reaches the heaven, as it is written, “The righteous shall go from strength to strength.”
It is as 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 His Thought of Creation in them, which is to “delight His creatures” according to His good and generous hand.
134) You should know this law, that there is disclosure only in a place where there was concealment. This is similar to matters of this world where the absence precedes the existence, since the growth of wheat appears only where it was sown and rotted.
It is the same with higher matters, where concealment and disclosure relate to each other as the wick to the light that catches it. This is because any concealment, once it is corrected, is a reason for disclosure of the Light related to that kind of concealment, and the Light that appears clings to it like light to a wick. Remember this on all your ways.
From here we are changing direction in this Introduction by bringing focus to the Names rather than people's actions.
135) Now you can understand what our sages wrote, that the whole Torah is the names of the Creator. This seems puzzling, as there are many indecencies, such as names of wicked – Pharaoh, Balaam, etc., prohibition, impurity, ruthless curses in the two admonitions and so on. Thus, how can we understand that all these are names of the Creator?
136) To understand that, we must know that our ways are not His ways. Our way is to come from the imperfect to perfection. In His way, all the revelations come to us from perfection to the imperfect.
First, complete perfection emanates and emerges from Him. This perfection descends from His face and hangs down restriction by restriction, through several degrees, until it comes to the last, most restricted phase, suitable for our material world. And then the matter appears to us here in this world.
The word restriction is referring to limitation associated with the physical world.
137) From the aforementioned, you will learn that the Holy Torah, whose Height is endless, did not emanate or emerge from before Him as it appears to us here in this world, since it is known that “The Torah and the Creator are one,” and this is not at all apparent in the Torah of our world. Moreover, one who engages in it Lo Lishma, his Torah becomes a potion of death for him.
Rather, when it was first emanated from Him, it was emanated and emerged in utter perfection, meaning in the actual form of “The Torah and the Creator are one.” This is called, “The Torah of Atzilut,” in the Introduction to the Corrections of The Zohar (p 3), that “He, His Life, and His Self are one.” Afterwards, it descended 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) Yet, 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 immeasurable. Yet, the Torah itself, meaning the Light within the dresses, is unchanged at all between the Torah ofAtzilut 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, with respect to the end of their correction, than all its pure dresses in the Upper Worlds.
This is so because the concealment is the reason for the disclosure. After its correction, during the disclosure, the concealment is to the disclosure as a wick is to the light that grips 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, but 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 of Atzilut, where “The Torah and the Creator are one” through the Torah in this world. The only difference is in the dresses, since 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 discernment, it is said about him, “yet shall not thy Teacher hide Himself any more, but thine eyes shall see thy Teacher” (Isaiah, 30:20). 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.” They interpreted, “I wish that they had left Me and kept My Torah – the Light in it reforms them” (Yerushalmi, Hagiga, p 6b).
This is perplexing. They mean that they were fasting and tormenting 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 you would leave Me, for all your labor 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 imaginations, as the masses envisage.
You should know that the Holy Torah divides into four discernments, which encompass the whole of reality. Three discernments are discerned in the general reality of this world. They are called “World,” “Year,” “Soul.” The fourth discernment is the conduct of existence of the above three parts of reality, their nourishment, their conducts, 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 inner part of reality – man and beast, animals and various birds, etc. – brought in the Torah, which exists in the above places, called “outer part,” are called “Soul.”
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 through Joshua and Caleb, who came to the land, which are 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, 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 emerged from one another like a seal and imprint. This means that anything that is written in the seal necessarily appears in what is imprinted from it, no more and no less, and so it was in the evolution of the worlds, as well.
Thus, all four discernments, WYS (World, Year, Soul), with all their modes of sustenance, which were in the world of Atzilut, came out, were imprinted, and manifested in their image in the world of Beria, as well. It is the same from the world of Beria to the world ofYetzira, down to the world of Assiya.
Thus, all three discernments in the reality before us, called WYS, with all their modes of sustenance, which are set before our eyes here in this world, extended and appeared here from the world of Yetzira, and in Yetzira from its superior.
In this manner, the source of the numerous details before our eyes is in the world of Atzilut. Moreover, even with 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 to us in this 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 above, which strike it and tell it: ‘Grow!’” (Beresheet Rabba, Chapter Ten). This is the meaning of the text, “One does not move one’s finger below, before one is declared Above” (Hulin p 7).
145) Know that because of the clothing of the Torah in the three discernments 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 by way 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) Thus, the wisdom of Kabbalah and the revealed Torah are one and the same. Yet, while a person receives from a Providence of concealed face, and the Creator hides in the Torah, it is considered that he is practicing the revealed Torah. In other words, he is incapable of receiving any illumination from the Torah of Yetzira, not to mention from Above Yetzira.
And 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 have changed for him. Rather, the very same dresses of the revealed Torah have purified for him and became very pure clothes. 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 Life, and His Self are one.”
147) Let me give you an example, so as to bring the matter a little closer to your mind. For instance: While one was in concealment of the face, the letters and the dresses of the Torah necessarily hid the Creator. Hence, he failed, due to the sins and the mistakes he had committed. At that time, he was placed under the punishment of the crude dresses in the Torah, which are impurity, prohibition, and interdiction.
However, when one is awarded open Providence and repentance from love, when his sins become as virtues, all the sins and the mistakes he had failed in while being under the concealment of the face have now shed their crude and very bitter clothes, and wore the clothes of Light, Mitzva, and merits.
This is so because the same crude clothes have turned to virtues. Now they are as clothes that extend from the world of Atzilut or Beria, and they do not cover or hide The Teacher. On the contrary, “thine eyes shall see thy Teacher.”
Thus, there is no difference whatsoever between the Torah of Atzilut and the Torah in this world, between the wisdom of Kabbalah and the revealed Torah. Rather, the only difference is in the person who engages in the Torah. Two may study the Torah in the same portion and the same words, but to one, this Torah will be as the wisdom of Kabbalah and the Torah of Atzilut, while to the other, it will be the Torah of Assiya, the revealed.
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 Sod (secret), meaning the revealed Torah of Assyia, which is considered hidden, since the Creator is completely hidden there.
Then he moves on to the Remez (intimation), meaning that He is more revealed in the Torah of Yetzira. Finally, one attains thePeshat (literal), which is the Torah of Atzilut. It is called Peshat, for it is Mufshat (stripped) of 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 in the four worlds ABYA of the Klipot, arranged one opposite the other, opposite the ABYA of Kedusha.
You will understand that in the four discernments of attainment of His Providence, and in the four degrees of love. First, we shall explain the four worlds ABYA of Kedusha, and we shall start from below, from the world of Assiya.
150) We have already explained the first two discernments of Providence of concealment of the face. You should know that both are considered the world of Assiya. This is why it is written in the book, The Tree of Life, that the world of Assiya is mostly evil, and even the little good contained in it is 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. And from the perspective of the double concealment, the good is mixed with the bad, as well, 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, The Tree of Life (Gate 48, Chapter Three), that the world of Yetzira is half good and half bad. This means that he who attains the first discernment of revelation of the face, which is the first form of conditional love, considered a mere “repentance from fear,” is called “medium,” and he is half unworthy, half worthy.
The second discernment of love is also conditional, but there is no trace of any harm or detriment between them. Also, the third discernment of love is the first discernment of unconditional love. Both are regarded as the world of Beria.
Hence it is written in the book, The Tree of Life, that the world of Beria is mostly good and only its minority is bad, and that minority of bad is indiscernible. This means that since the medium is awarded one Mitzva, he sentences himself to a scale of merit. And for this reason, he is considered “mostly good,” meaning the discernment form of love.
The minute, indiscernible evil that exits in Beria extends from the third discernment of love, which is unconditional. Also, he has already sentenced himself to a scale of merit, but he has not yet sentenced the whole world; hence, a minority in him is bad, since this love is not yet considered eternal. However, this minority is indiscernible because he still did not feel any harm or detriment, even toward others.
The fourth discernment of love, the unconditional love, which is also eternal, is considered the world of Atzilut. This is the meaning of what is written in the book, The 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 he knows all of the Creator’s dealings with all the people, as true Providence that appears from His name, “The Good who does good to the good and to the bad.”
151) Now you can also understand the discernment of the four worlds ABYA of Klipa, set opposite the ABYA of Kedusha, as in, “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 to make man sentence everything to a scale of sin.
And the world of Yetzira of Klipa catches the scale of sin – which is not corrected in the world of Yetzira of Kedusha – in its hands. Thus, they dominate the medium, which receive from the world of Yetzira, by way of, “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, to cancel only the thing that love hangs on, that is, the imperfection in the love of the second discernment.
And the world of Atzilut of Klipa is what captures in its hand that minority of evil whose existence in Beria is not apparent, due to the third discernment of love. And even though it is true love, by the force of the Good who does good to the good and to the bad, which is considered Atzilut of Kedusha, still, because he has not been awarded sentencing the whole world to a scale of merit, theKlipa has the strength 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. This is so because only the fourth discernment of love extends from the world of Atzilut ofKedusha. Hence, there is no dominion to the Klipot there at all, since he has already sentenced the whole world to a scale of merit, and knows all the conducts of the Creator in His Providence on people, too, from the Providence of His name, “The Good who does good to the good and to the bad.”
However, in the world of Beria, from which extends the third discernment, there is still no sentencing of the whole world. Therefore, there is still a hold for the Klipot. Yet, these Klipot are considered the Atzilut of the Klipa, since they are opposite the third discernment, the unconditional love, and this love is considered Atzilut.
153) Now we have thoroughly explained the four worlds ABYA of Kedusha and the Klipot, which are the “vis-à-vis” of each and every world. They are considered the deficiency that exists in their corresponding world, in Kedusha, and they are the ones named “the four worlds ABYA of Klipot.”
154) These words suffice for any observer 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 books, 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 awarded attainments, then they know everything through their own attainment. Why then would they still need to delve in books of Kabbalah by other authors?”
However, it is not wise to ask that question. It is like one who engages in the literal Torah who has no knowledge of the conducts of this world with respect to the World, Year, Soul of this world, and who does not know people’s behavior and their conducts with themselves and with others. And also, he does not know the beasts and the birds in this world.
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 in the Torah from good to bad and from bad to good, and he would not find his hands or legs in anything.
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 discernments, World, Year, Soul, in their every incident and conduct in full consciousness, to be able to understand the issues in 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 intricacies. Thus, every sage and one who understands with his own mind must contemplate them 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 had contemplated in the Thought of Creation to delight every creature. And one who has not been awarded in this life will be granted in the next life, etc., until one is awarded completing His Thought, which He had planned for him.
And while one has not attained perfection, the Lights that are destined to reach him are considered Surrounding Lights. That means that they stand ready for him, but are waiting for him to purify his vessels of reception, at which time these Lights will clothe the able vessels.
Hence, even when he does not have the vessels, when he engages in this wisdom, mentioning the names of the Lights and the vessels related to his soul, they immediately shine upon him to a certain extent. However, they shine for him without clothing the interior of his soul, for lack of able vessels to receive them. Yet, the illumination one receives time after time during the engagement draws upon him grace from Above, imparting him with abundance of sanctity and purity, which bring him much closer to achieving perfection.
156) Yet, there is a strict condition during the engagement in this wisdom – to not materialize the matters with imaginary and corporeal issues. This is because thus 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 receiving benefit. Therefore, our sages cautioned to study the wisdom only after forty years, or from a Rav, and other such cautions. All of that is for the above reason.
To rescue the readers from any materialization, I composed the book Talmud Eser Sefirot (The Study of the Ten Sefirot) by the Ari. There I collect from the books of the Ari 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.”
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