Il nome Tanya תניא proviene dell’aramaico e significa “ciò che fu insegnato”, questa parola è la prima presente nel testo mistico Ebraico Likkutei Amarim (ליקוטי אמרים “collezione di dichiarazioni”) scritto nel 1797 dal Rabbino Shneur Zalman di Liadi, fondatore del movimento Chabad.
Il Tanya tratta di spiritualità e di psicologia dal punto di vista della filosofia chassidica e della Kabbalah, ma a differenza di altri libri mistici della tradizione ebraica, questo testo non è una collezione di sermoni o storie ma un’esposizione sistematica del pensiero da credente dell’autore. I chassidim (dall’ebraico ḥăsīd, ovvero “pio”) sono coloro che seguono la filosofia chassidica e identificano la propria ideologia con quella del maestro (rabbì, rabbino) Yisrael ben Eliëzer (1698-1760), conosciuto come Ba’al Shèm Tov (letteralmente “possessore del buon nome”). L’essenza del chassidismo sta nella convinzione che DIO è presente in ogni manifestazione del creato, e che non tanto lo studio né la rinuncia ai beni della vita possono avvicinare al CREATORE, ma quanto le buone opere che si compiono con amore e pace di spirito.
Shneur Zalman di Liadi (in ebraico: שניאור זלמן זלמן מליאדי, 4 Settembre 4, 1745 – 15 dicembre 1812 O.S. / 18 Elul 5505 – 24 Tevet 5573), è stato un rabbino ortodosso e il fondatore dello Chabad, un ramo dell’ebraismo hasidico, allora di residenza a Liadi nell’Impero russo.
Zalman di Liady è anche conosciuto come “Shneur Zalman Baruchovitch”, essendo Baruchovitch il patronimico russo di suo padre Baruch, e da una varietà di altri titoli e acronimi tra cui “Baal HaTanya VeHaShulchan Aruch'”. (Autore di Tanya e Shulchan Aruch), “Alter Rebbe” (in yiddish per ‘Vecchio Rabbino’), “Admor HaZaken” (Heb. per ″Our Master, Our Teacher, and Our Old Rabbi″), “Rabbenu HaZaken” (in ebraico per ″Our Old Rabbi″), “Rabbenu HaGadol” (in ebraico per ″Our Great Rabbi″)”, “RaShaZ” (רש “ז per Rabbi Shneor Zalman), “GRaZ” (גר “ז per Ga’on Rabbi Zalman), e “HaRav” (Il Rabbino, per eccellenza).
SEFER LIKUTEI AMARIM
Intitolato Sefer Shel Benonim
Compilato da libri (sacri) e da saggi, santi eccelsi, le cui anime sono nell’Eden; basato sul versetto [Deut 30, 14] “Perché [quanto detto] sia estremamente vicino a te, nella tua bocca e nel tuo cuore, perché tu lo metta in pratica“; per spiegare chiaramente come è estremamente vicino, in modo esteso e in modo breve, con l’aiuto del Santo, possa Egli essere benedetto.
Dal famoso rabbino e chasidano, uomo di DIO, di fama santa, il nostro maestro Rabbino Meshulam Zusil di Anipoli:
Ho visto gli scritti di questo rabbino e gaon, uomo di DIO, santo e puro, specchio lucido; e così bene lo ha realizzato; DIO nella sua meravigliosa benevolenza ha messo nel suo cuore puro tutto questo per mostrare al popolo di DIO le Sue sante vie.
Era intenzione [dell’autore] di non pubblicare questi scritti a mezzo stampa, poiché non era sua abitudine. Tuttavia, poiché questi kuntresim si sono diffusi in mezzo a tutto Israele in numerose copie da parte di vari copisti e, a causa delle numerose trascrizioni, gli errori dei copisti si sono moltiplicati eccessivamente, è stato spinto a portare questi kuntresim alla stampa.
E DIO ha suscitato lo spirito dei [due] soci, l’eccezionale e illustre studioso R. Sholom Shachne, figlio di R. Noè, e l’eccezionale e illustre studioso R. Mordechai, figlio di R. Shmuel haLevi, per portare questi kuntresim alla tipografia di Slavita. Così ho parlato di questa buona azione, Più potere a tutti voi. Tuttavia, essi erano preoccupati per il numero crescente di tipografie che sono abituate a causare danni e rovina a quelle accreditate. Per questo motivo, abbiamo deciso di dare questa approvazione affinché nessuno osi alzare la mano per causare danni, il cielo non voglia, in qualsiasi modo, alle suddette tipografie, invadendo il loro diritto esclusivo. Si tratta di impedire a chiunque di ristampare questo libro all’insaputa delle suddette tipografie per un periodo di cinque anni interi a partire dalla data sotto riportata. Colui che darà ascolto a queste mie parole sarà benedetto con il bene. Queste sono le parole di chi lo chiede per la gloria della Torah, questo giorno, il terzo, doppiamente benedetto con “è buono”, della porzione settimanale della Tavo, nell’anno פדותינו (556). L’insignificante MESHULAM ZUSIL di Anipoli
dal famoso rabbino e chasidano, uomo di DIO, di fama santa, il nostro maestro Rabbino Yehuda Leib haCohen:
La saggezza dell’uomo illumina la faccia della terra – vedendo l’opera delle mani sante dell’autore, del rabbino e del gaon, l’uomo di DIO, santo e puro, pio e umile, i cui poteri nascosti erano stati rivelati molto tempo fa, quando egli dimorò nel consiglio dei saggi con il nostro signore, maestro e insegnante, il gaon del mondo, e attingeva l’acqua dal pozzo delle acque della vita. Ora, Israele si rallegrerà quando le sue parole sante saranno rivelate in quest’opera compilata che sta per andare in stampa, per insegnare al popolo di DIO alle vie della santità, come chiunque può vedere nell’interiorità delle parole [dell’autore].
Ciò che è di dominio comune non richiede alcuna prova. Solo a causa dell’apprensione di una cosa sbagliata, per evitare che una mancanza sia causata ai tipografi, vengo a conferire la sanzione e il divieto, che nessun uomo alzi la mano per ristampare quest’opera per un periodo di cinque anni a partire dalla data sottostante. Chiunque ascolterà queste mie parole sarà benedetto con il bene.
Queste sono le parole di chi parla per la gloria della Torah, questo terzo giorno della porzione settimanale Tavo, 556.
YEHUDA LEIB HACOHEN
dai rabbini (che essi vivano a lungo), i figli del gaon l’autore (di benedetta memoria, la cui anima è nell’Eden).
Mentre è stato da noi convenuto di dare l’autorizzazione e la prerogativa di portare alla stampa, per un ricordo ai figli d’Israele, le parole scritte di rettitudine e verità, le parole del DIO vivente, autore del nostro signore padre, insegnante e maestro, di benedetta memoria, registrate personalmente nella sua santa espressione, le cui parole sono tutte carboni ardenti per infiammare i cuori per avvicinarli al loro Padre in cielo; Si intitola Igeret hakodesh (“Lettera Santa”), essendo per lo più epistole inviate dalla sua santa eminenza, per insegnare al popolo di DIO la via per camminare e l’azione che deve compiere;
E nella misura in cui ha fatto riferimento, in molti luoghi, al Sefer Likutei Amarim, poiché le parole della Torah sono scarse in un luogo e vaste in un altro, tanto più che ha introdotto nuovo materiale nel Kuntres Acharon su alcuni capitoli che ha scritto quando ha composto il Sefer Likutei Amarim, discussioni profonde su passaggi nello Zohar, Etz Chayim e Peri Etz Chayim, che [questi passaggi] appaiono contraddittori l’uno dall’altro, ma egli, con la sua ispirata percezione, li ha riconciliati, ogni affermazione a suo modo, come ha scritto nel Likutei Amarim, abbiamo ritenuto opportuno e doveroso unirli al Sefer Likutei Amarim e Igeret hateshuvah della sua santa eminenza, nostro signore padre, insegnante e maestro, di benedetta memoria;
[Pertanto], veniamo a porre un grande recinto e l’ingiunzione rabbinica di נח “ש (scomunica) per la quale non c’è rimedio, che nessun uomo alzi la mano per ristamparli nella loro forma attuale, o in parte, un periodo di cinque anni dalla data sotto riportata.
Tuttavia, questo deve essere reso noto: per nostra sfortuna i manoscritti scritti dalla sua personale mano santa, che erano composti con grande puntigliosità, senza una lettera superflua o carente, si sono estinti; solo questo poco è rimasto dell’abbondanza, ed è stato accuratamente raccolto uno ad uno dalle copie diffuse tra i discepoli. Se quindi si dovesse scoprire un errore (chi può capire [e prevenire] gli errori?) l’errore evidente sarà identificato come errore dello scriba, ma il significato sarà chiaro.
Dichiarato da DOV BER, figlio del mio signore padre, insegnante e maestro, gaon e chasid, santo d’Israele, nostro maestro e insegnante SCHNEUR ZALMAN, di benedetta memoria, נבג “מ
Dichiarato anche da CHAYIM ABRAHAM, figlio del mio signore padre, insegnante e maestro, gaon e chasid il nostro insegnante e maestro SCHNEUR ZALMAN, sia benedetta la memoria del tzaddik, נבג “מ .
Dichiarato anche da MOSHE, il figlio del mio signore padre, insegnante e maestro, gaon e chasid, SCHNEUR ZALMAN, di benedetta memoria, נבג “מ.
Premessa del redattore
Epistola inviata alle Comunità dei nostri Fedeli. Che l’Onnipotente li custodisca.
A voi, o uomini, io vi chiamo. Ascoltatemi, voi che perseguite la giustizia, che cercate il SIGNORE; e possa DIO ascoltarvi, grandi e piccoli, tutti i fedeli della nostra terra e quelli che vi sono vicini. Possa ciascuno al suo posto raggiungere la pace e la vita eterna, nei secoli dei secoli. Amen. Che questa sia la Sua volontà.
Ecco, è noto come un detto corrente tra la gente – tutti i nostri fedeli – che ascoltare parole di consigli morali non è la stessa cosa che vederle e leggerle nei libri. Infatti il lettore legge secondo i suoi modi e la sua mente, e secondo la sua comprensione e percezione mentale in quel particolare momento. Quindi, se la sua intelligenza e la sua mente sono confuse e vagano nell’oscurità al servizio di DIO, trova difficoltà a vedere la luce benefica che si nasconde nei libri, anche se la luce è piacevole per gli occhi e porta una guarigione all’anima.
A parte questo, i libri sulla pietà che derivano dall’intelligenza umana, non hanno certamente lo stesso fascino per tutte le persone, perché non tutti gli intelletti e le menti sono uguali, e l’intelletto di un uomo non è influenzato ed esaltato da ciò che influenza [ed esalta] l’intelletto di un altro. Confronta con ciò che i nostri Rabbini, di benedetta memoria, hanno detto in riferimento alla benedizione del “Saggio nei Segreti” (חכם הרזים ) osservando 600.000 ebrei, poiché le loro menti sono dissimili l’una dall’altra, e così via. Come anche il rabbino Moses ben Nachman, di benedetta memoria, [spiega il motivo di questa benedizione] a Milkhamot, elaborando il commento del Sifre a proposito di Giosuè che viene descritto come “un uomo in cui c’è lo Spirito”, “che può incontrare lo spirito di tutti e di ciascuno”, e così via.
Ma anche i libri sulla pietà, la cui base è nelle vette della santità, il Midrashim dei nostri Saggi, di benedetta memoria, attraverso i quali lo spirito di DIO parla e la Sua parola è sulla loro lingua; e [sebbene] la Torah e il Santo, benedetto Egli sia, sono una cosa sola, e tutti i 600.000 uomini generici di Israele con le loro singole [anime] fino alla “scintilla” nei membri più inutili e meno stimabili del nostro popolo, i figli di Israele, sono così legati alla Torah, e la Torah li lega al Santo, che benedetto Egli sia, come è noto dal santo Zohar – questo [legame] riguarda [solo] in modo generale la comunità d’Israele nel suo insieme. Anche se la Torah è stata data per essere interpretata, in generale e in particolare fino al più piccolo dettaglio, per [applicarsi a] ogni singola anima di Israele, che è radicata in essa [in modo che questi libri appartengano ad ogni persona], tuttavia non tutti hanno il privilegio di riconoscere il proprio posto individuale nella Torah.
Anche nel caso delle leggi che regolano le cose proibite e permesse, che sono state rivelate a noi e ai nostri figli, troviamo e testimoniamo differenze di opinione tra Tana’im e Amora’im da un estremo all’altro. Eppure “queste e queste sono le parole del DIO vivente”. Il plurale è usato come riferimento alla fonte della vita per le anime di Israele, che sono generalmente divise in tre categorie – destra, sinistra e centro, vale a dire, gentilezza (chesed), potenza (gevurah), e così via, in modo che le anime, la cui radice ha origine nella categoria della gentilezza, sono ugualmente inclini alla gentilezza nella clemenza delle loro decisioni, e così via, come è noto. A maggior ragione, un minore e un maggiore, nel caso di quelle cose che sono nascoste [ma sono solo rivelate] al SIGNORE nostro DIO, essendo lo stupore e l’amore che sono nella mente e nel cuore di ognuno secondo la sua capacità, cioè secondo la stima del suo cuore, come spiegato nel santo Zohar nel versetto, “Suo marito è conosciuto alle porte [della città] (lei’arim), . . .”.
Parlo, però, di coloro che mi conoscono bene, di tutti e di ciascuno dei nostri fedeli che vivono nel nostro Paese e nelle terre adiacenti, con i quali sono state scambiate frequenti parole d’affetto, e che mi hanno rivelato tutti i segreti del loro cuore e della loro mente al servizio di DIO che dipende dal cuore. Possa la mia parola penetrare in loro e la mia lingua essere come la penna dello scriba in questi kuntresim che si intitolano Likutei Amarim (“Discorsi Selezionati”), che sono stati selezionati da libri e insegnanti, santi celesti, le cui anime sono nell’Eden, e che sono rinomati tra di noi.Gli argomenti di alcuni [di questi discorsi] sono accennati ai sapienti, nelle sacre epistole dei nostri maestri in Terra Santa, che si costruiscano e si stabiliscano rapidamente ai nostri giorni, Amen; alcuni di loro li ho sentiti dalla loro santa bocca quando erano qui con noi; e tutti rispondono a molte domande che tutti i nostri fedeli nel nostro Paese hanno costantemente posto, cercando consigli, ognuno secondo la sua posizione, in modo che di ricevere una guida morale al servizio di DIO, poiché il tempo non permette più di rispondere a tutti individualmente e in dettaglio sul suo particolare problema. Inoltre, la il dimenticare è una cosa comune.
Ho quindi registrato tutte le risposte a tutte le domande, da conservare come un segnavia e come promemoria visivo per ogni persona, in modo che non faccia più pressioni per essere ammesso ad una conferenza privata con me. Infatti in queste [risposte] egli troverà pace per la sua anima, e un vero consiglio su ogni questione che trova difficile al servizio di DIO. Il suo cuore sarà così saldamente assicurato nel SIGNORE che completa tutto per noi.
Quanto a colui la cui mente non riesce a comprendere il consiglio dato in questi kuntresim, lasciate che discuta il suo problema con i più importanti studiosi della sua città, che lo chiariranno per lui. E li supplico di non mettere la mano sulla bocca, di comportarsi con falsa mitezza e umiltà, proibite da DIO. Si sa quale amara punizione vi sia per coloro che trattengono il cibo [cioè la conoscenza], e la grandezza della ricompensa [nel caso opposto], dall’insegnamento rabbinico relativo al testo scritturale: “Il SIGNORE illumina gli occhi di entrambi”, perché DIO farà risplendere il Suo volto su di loro, con la luce del volto del Re [la Sorgente della] vita. Possa il Datore di vita per i viventi renderci degni di vivere per vedere i giorni in cui “non ci sarà più un uomo che istruisca l’altro … perché tutti Mi conosceranno, . …” “perché il mondo sarà pieno della conoscenza di DIO….”. Amen. Che questa sia la Sua volontà.
Poiché i suddetti kuntresim sono stati diffusi tra tutti i nostri fedeli, come già detto, per mezzo di numerose trascrizioni da parte di vari e vari scribi, la moltitudine di trascrizioni ha portato ad un numero estremamente elevato di errori di copisti. Pertanto lo spirito dei nobili, nominati in un’altra pagina, li ha generosamente spinti ad uno sforzo personale e finanziario per far pubblicare il suddetto kuntresim, liberarli dalla confusione e dagli errori, e controllarli accuratamente. Mi congratulo con loro per questo degno atto.
E siccome c’è un verso esplicito: “Maledetto sia colui che rimuove il confine [punto di riferimento] del suo prossimo” – e “maledetto” include sia la dannazione che lo shunning, che DIO proibisca – quindi, “come Giuda e le scritture in aggiunta”, vengo ad invocare un severo divieto per tutti gli editori di stampare il suddetto kuntresim, essi stessi o attraverso la loro agenzia senza l’autorità del suddetto nome, per un periodo di cinque anni dal giorno in cui questa stampa è completata. E andrà bene a coloro che si conformeranno, e saranno benedetti con il bene.
Queste sono le parole del redattore del suddetto Likutei Amarim.
È stato insegnato (Niddah, fine cap. 3): Gli viene amministrato un giuramento [prima della nascita, per avvertirlo]: “Sii giusto e non essere malvagio; e anche se il mondo intero ti dice che sei giusto, considera te stesso come se fossi malvagio”.
Questo richiede di essere compreso, perché contraddice il motto mishnaico (Avot, cap. 2): “E non essere malvagio nella tua stima”. Inoltre, se un uomo si considera malvagio sarà addolorato e depresso di cuore, e non potrà servire DIO con gioia e con cuore sereno; mentre se non è turbato da questa [autovalutazione], ciò può condurlo all’irriverenza, che DIO lo proibisca.
Tuttavia, la questione [sarà compresa dopo una discussione preliminare].
Troviamo nel Gemara cinque tipi [di uomo] differenti: un uomo giusto che prospera, un uomo giusto che soffre, un malvagio che prospera, un malvagio che soffre, e l’intermedio (Benoni). È lì spiegato che il “giusto che prospera” è il tzaddik perfetto; il “giusto che soffre” è il tzaddik imperfetto. In Raaya Mehemna (Parshat Mishpatim) si spiega che l'”uomo giusto che soffre” è colui la cui natura malvagia è sottomessa alla sua natura buona, e così via. Nel Gemara (fine cap. 9, Berachot) si afferma che i giusti sono motivati dalla loro buona natura,… e i malvagi dalla loro cattiva natura, mentre gli uomini intermedi sono motivati da entrambi, e così via. Rabbah dichiarò: “Io, per esempio, sono un Benoni”, gli disse Abbaye, “Maestro, tu non rendi possibile la vita a nessuno”, e altro.
Per capire chiaramente tutto ciò è necessaria una spiegazione, come anche per capire ciò che disse Giobbe [Bava Batra, cap. i]: “SIGNORE dell’universo, Tu hai creato uomini giusti e hai creato uomini malvagi,…” perché non è preordinato se un uomo sarà giusto o malvagio.
È anche necessario comprendere la natura essenziale del rango dell’Intermedio. Di certo questo non può significare colui le cui azioni sono per metà virtuose e per metà peccaminose, perché se così fosse, come potrebbe Rabbah sbagliare a classificarsi come Benoni? Perché si sa che non ha mai smesso di studiare [la Torah], tanto che l’Angelo della Morte non poteva sopraffarlo; come potrebbe, allora, sbagliare ad avere metà delle sue azioni peccaminose, può DIO proibirlo?
Inoltre, [a che punto una persona può essere considerata un Benoni se] quando un uomo commette peccati è considerato completamente malvagio (ma quando si pente in seguito è considerato completamente giusto)? Anche chi viola un divieto minore dei rabbini è chiamato malvagio, come si afferma in Yevamot, cap. 2, e in Niddah, cap. I. Inoltre, anche chi ha la possibilità di avvertire un altro contro il peccato e non lo fa, viene chiamato malvagio (cap. 6, Shevuot). Tanto più chi trascura qualsiasi legge positiva che sia in grado di compiere, ad esempio, chi è in grado di studiare la Legge e non lo fa, riguardo al quale i nostri Saggi hanno citato: “Perché ha disprezzato la parola del SIGNORE… [quell’anima] sarà completamente tagliata fuori…”, è quindi evidente che una tale persona è chiamata malvagia, più di chi viola una proibizione dei rabbini. Se è così, dobbiamo concludere che l’uomo intermedio (Benoni) non è colpevole nemmeno del peccato di aver trascurato di studiare la Legge. Quindi potrebbe essersi scambiato per un Benoni.
Nota: Per quanto riguarda ciò che è scritto nello Zohar III, p. 231: Colui che ha commesso pochi peccati è classificato come “uomo giusto che soffre”, questa è la domanda di Rav Hamnuna ad Elia. Ma secondo la risposta di Elia, ibid., la spiegazione di un “uomo giusto che soffre” è quella riportata in Ra’aya Mehemna su Parshat Mishpatim, che è riportata sopra. E la Legge ha settanta sfaccettature [modalità di interpretazione].
E per quanto riguarda il detto generale che colui le cui azioni e misfatti sono ugualmente bilanciati si chiama Benoni, mentre colui le cui virtù superano i suoi peccati si chiama Tzaddik, questo è solo l’uso figurativo del termine per quanto riguarda la ricompensa e la punizione, perché è giudicato secondo la maggioranza [dei suoi atti] ed è ritenuto “giusto” nel suo verdetto, poiché è assolto dalla legge. Ma per quanto riguarda la vera definizione e la qualità dei livelli e dei gradi distinti, “Giusti” e “Intermedi”, i nostri Saggi hanno osservato che i Giusti sono motivati [unicamente] dalla loro buona natura, come sta scritto: “E il mio cuore è un vuoto dentro di me”, cioè vuoto di natura malvagia, perché egli [Davide] lo aveva ucciso con il digiuno. Ma chi non ha raggiunto questo grado, anche se le sue virtù superano i suoi peccati, non si può assolutamente considerare asceso al rango dei Giusti (tzaddik). Per questo i nostri Saggi hanno dichiarato nel Midrash: “L’Onnipotente vide che i giusti erano pochi, così li piantò in ogni generazione,…”. Poiché, come è scritto, “Il tzaddik è il fondamento del mondo”.
La spiegazione [delle questioni sollevate sopra] si trova alla luce di ciò che il rabbino Chayim Vital ha scritto in Sha’ar ha-Kedushah (e in Etz Chayim, Portale 50, cap. 2) che in ogni ebreo, sia giusto che malvagio, ci sono due anime, come sta scritto: “Le neshamot (anime) che ho fatto”, [alludendo a] due anime. C’è un’anima che ha origine nella kelipah e nella sitra achra, e che è rivestita del sangue di un essere umano, dando vita al corpo, come sta scritto: “Poiché la vita della carne è nel sangue”. Da esso derivano tutte le caratteristiche malvagie derivanti dai quattro elementi malvagi che vi sono contenuti. Questi sono: la rabbia e l’orgoglio, che emanano dall’elemento del Fuoco, la cui natura è quella di elevarsi verso l’alto; l’appetito per i piaceri – dall’elemento dell’Acqua, perché l’acqua fa crescere ogni tipo di godimento; la frivolezza e la derisione, il vanto e i discorsi oziosi dall’elemento dell’Aria; e l’accidia e la malinconia – dall’elemento della Terra. Da quest’anima derivano anche le buone caratteristiche che si trovano nella natura innata di tutto Israele, come la misericordia e la benevolenza. Nel caso di Israele, infatti, quest’anima del kelipah deriva dal kelipat nogah, che contiene anche il bene, poiché ha origine nell’esoterico “Albero della conoscenza del bene e del male”. Le anime delle nazioni del mondo, invece, emanano dall’altro, immondo kelipot che non contiene alcun bene, come è scritto in Etz Chayim, Portale 49, cap. 3, che tutto ciò che di buono fanno le nazioni, è fatto per motivi egoistici. Così il Gemara commenta il versetto: “La benevolenza delle nazioni è peccato”, che tutta la carità e la benevolenza fatta dalle nazioni del mondo è solo per la loro stessa autoglorificazione, e così via.
La seconda anima di un ebreo è veramente una parte di DIO sopra, come sta scritto: “Ed Egli soffiò nelle sue narici un alito di vita”, e “Tu hai soffiato [l’anima] dentro di me”. E sta scritto nello Zohar: “Colui che esala, esala da dentro di sé”, cioè dalla sua interiorità e dal suo intimo, perché è qualcosa della sua vitalità interna e più intima che l’uomo emette attraverso l’espirazione con forza.
Così, allegoricamente parlando, le anime dei Giudei [credenti] sono sorte nel Pensiero [Divino], come è scritto: “Il mio primogenito è Israele” e “Voi siete figli del SIGNORE vostro DIO”. Vale a dire che, proprio come un bambino deriva dal cervello del padre, quindi – per usare un antropomorfismo – l’anima di ogni israelita deriva dal pensiero e dalla saggezza di DIO (che benedetto sia). Egli infatti è saggio – ma non attraverso una sapienza comprensibile – perché Egli e la sua sapienza sono un’unica cosa; e come dice Maimonide
Nota: E i Saggi della Cabala sono d’accordo con lui, come si legge nella Pardes del rabbino Moshe Cordovero. Anche secondo la Cabala dell'”Arte” (Rabbino Isaac Luria) questo si concretizza nel principio mistico dell'”Indumento della Luce” dell’En Sof, che Lui sia Beato, attraverso numerose contrazioni all’interno dei vascelli ChaBaD del [del mondo di] Atzilut (Emanazione), ma non più in alto di questo. Infatti, come si spiega in altri punti, l’En Sof, che Egli sia benedetto, è infinitamente esaltato al di sopra, ana trascende, l’essenza e il livello della ChaBaD, che in relazione a Lui sono considerati come un’azione materiale, come sta scritto: “Tu li hai fatti tutti con saggezza”.
che “Egli è la Conoscenza e il Conoscitore,… e questo non è in potere di alcun uomo di comprendere chiaramente,…” come è scritto, “Puoi tu, cercando trovare DIO? Ed è anche scritto: “Poiché i Miei pensieri non sono i tuoi pensieri… ,”
E anche se ci sono miriadi di diverse gradazioni di anime (neshamot), rango su rango, ad infinitum, come con la superiorità delle anime dei Patriarchi e di Mosè nostro Maestro rispetto alle anime delle nostre generazioni che vivono nel periodo precedente la venuta del Messia, che sono come le piante dei piedi stesse rispetto al cervello e alla testa, così in ogni generazione ci sono i capi degli ebrei, le cui anime sono nella categoria di “testa” e “cervello” rispetto a quelle delle masse e degli ignoranti. Allo stesso modo [ci sono distinzioni tra] nefashot e nefashot, perché ogni anima è composta da nefesh, ruach e neshamah. Tuttavia, la radice di ogni nefesh, ruach e neshamah, dal più alto di tutti i ranghi al più basso che si incarna nell’analfabeta e nel più inutile, deriva, per così dire, dalla Mente Suprema che è Chochmah Ilaah (Saggezza Suprema). [Il modo di questa discesa è] analogo a quello di un figlio che deriva dal cervello del padre, in quanto [anche] le unghie dei suoi piedi nascono dalla stessa goccia di seme, rimanendo nel grembo materno per nove mesi, discendendo di grado in grado, cambiando continuamente, finché anche le unghie si formano. Eppure [dopo tutto questo processo] è ancora legato e unito con una meravigliosa ed essenziale unità con la sua essenza e il suo essere originario, che era la goccia [così venuta] dal cervello del padre. E anche ora, nel figlio, le unghie ricevono il loro nutrimento e la loro vita dal cervello che è nella testa. Come sta scritto nella Gemara (Niddah, ibid.), “Dal bianco della goccia di sperma del padre si formano le vene, le ossa e le unghie”. (E in Etz Chayim, Shaar ha-Chashmal, si afferma anche, in relazione al principio esoterico degli indumenti di Adamo nel Giardino dell’Eden, che essi [gli indumenti] erano le “unghie ” [derivate] dalla facoltà cognitiva del cervello). Quindi, così era, è effettivamente vero che la radice di ogni nefesh, ruach e neshamah nella comunità di Israele in alto: in diminuzione di grado in grado, attraverso la discesa dei mondi di Atzilut (Emanazione), Beriah (Creazione), Yetzirah (Formazione) e Asiyah (Azione) dalla Sua beata Saggezza, come è scritto, “Tu li hai fatti tutti con saggezza”, nascono il nefesh, la ruach e la neshamah dell’ignorante e dell’indegno. Tuttavia essi rimangono legati e uniti con una meravigliosa ed essenziale unità con la loro essenza ed entità originaria; cioè l’estensione di Chochmah Ilaah (Sapienza Suprema), in quanto il nutrimento e la vita del nefesh, ruach e neshamah dell’ignorante sono tratti dal nefesh, ruach e neshamah dei santi e dei saggi, i capi di Israele nella loro generazione.
Questo spiega il commento dei nostri Saggi sul versetto: “E tenendovi stretti a Lui” [Deut 11, 22] – “Colui che si è stretto a uno studioso [della Torah] è considerato dalla Torah come se si fosse affezionato alla stessa Shechinah (la Presenza Divina)”. Infatti, attraverso l’attaccamento agli studiosi, il nefesh, il ruach e il neshamah dell’ignorante sono legati e uniti con la loro essenza originale e la loro radice nella Saggezza Suprema, essendo Lui e la Sua saggezza una cosa sola, e “Egli è la Conoscenza”. . . . (Quanto a coloro che peccano e si ribellano volontariamente contro i saggi, il nutrimento del loro nefesh, ruach e neshamah proviene da dietro, per così dire, il nefesh, la ruach e il neshamah degli studiosi).
Per quanto riguarda ciò che è scritto nello Zohar e nello Zohar Chadash che il fattore essenziale è quello di comportarsi in maniera santa durante l’unione sessuale, cosa che non è il caso dei figli dell’ignorante, e così via, è da intendersi nel senso che, poiché non c’è un nefesh, una ruach e un neshamah che non abbia un indumento del nefesh dell’essenza del padre e della madre, e tutti i comandamenti che adempie sono tutti influenzati da quell’indumento. … e anche la benevolenza che fluisce ad uno dal cielo è tutta data attraverso quella veste – quindi, attraverso l’autosanità, si farà scendere per la neshamah del proprio figlio una veste santa; e per quanto grande possa essere l’anima, essa ha ancora bisogno della santificazione del padre….. Ma per quanto riguarda l’anima stessa, a volte accade che l’anima di una persona infinitamente alta arrivi ad essere il figlio di un uomo disprezzato e umile….. Tutto questo è stato spiegato” dal rabbino Isaac Luria, di benedetta memoria, nel Likutei Torah, su Parshat Vayera, e a Ta’amei ha-Mitzvot su Parshat Bereshit.
Ora, ogni distinzione e grado delle tre nefesh, ruach e neshamah, è composta da dieci facoltà, corrispondenti alle dieci Sefirot (manifestazioni divine) soprannaturali, da cui sono discese, che sono suddivise in due, e precisamente le tre “madri” e i sette “multipli”, cioè: chochmah (saggezza) binah (comprensione) e da at (conoscenza); e i “sette giorni della Creazione:” chesed (gentilezza), gevurah (potere), tiferet (bellezza), e così via.
Allo stesso modo avviene con l’anima umana, che si divide in due sechel (intelletto) e middot (attributi emotivi). L’intelletto include chochmah, binah e da at (ChaBaD), mentre i middot sono l’amore per DIO, il terrore e la soggezione di Lui, la glorificazione, e così via. I ChaBaD [le facoltà intellettuali] sono chiamate “madri” e fonte del middot, perché i secondi sono “figli” dei primi.
La spiegazione di ciò è la seguente:
All’intelletto dell’anima razionale, che è la facoltà che concepisce qualunque cosa, viene dato l’appellativo di chochmah-כ “ח מ “ה- la “potenzialità” di “ciò che è”. Quando si porta questo potere dal potenziale al reale, cioè quando [una persona] si impegna con il suo intelletto per capire una cosa veramente e profondamente mentre si evolve dal concetto che ha concepito nel suo intelletto, questo si chiama binah. Questi [chochmah e binah] sono proprio il “padre” e la “madre” che fanno nascere l’amore di DIO, lo stupore e la paura di Lui.
Infatti, quando l’intelletto nell’anima razionale contempla e si immerge profondamente nella grandezza di Dio, come Egli riempie tutti i mondi e racchiude tutti i mondi, e alla presenza di Colui al quale tutto è considerato come nulla – nascerà e susciterà nella sua mente e nel suo pensiero l’emozione della soggezione per la Maestà Divina, di temere e di essere umile di fronte alla sua beata grandezza, che è senza fine e senza limiti, e di avere il terrore di Dio nel suo cuore. Poi il suo cuore risplenderà di un amore intenso, come di carboni ardenti, di passione, desiderio e ardore, e di un’anima ansiosa, verso la grandezza della beata En Sof. Questo costituisce una passione estrema per l’anima, di cui parla la Scrittura, come “La mia anima brama, sì, anche debolmente,…” e “La mia anima ha sete di Dio,…” e “La mia anima ha sete di Te…”. Questa sete deriva dall’elemento del Fuoco, che si trova nell’anima divina. Come affermano gli studenti di scienze naturali, e così è in Etz Chayim, l’elemento del Fuoco è nel cuore, mentre la fonte dell’acqua e dello stato liquido è nel cervello, che è spiegato in Etz Chayim, Portale 50, per riferirsi alla facoltà di chochmah, chiamata “L’acqua dell’anima Divina”. Il resto delle middot sono tutte derivazioni della paura e dell’amore e le loro conseguenze, come spiegato in altri contesti.
Da’at, la cui etimologia si trova nel verso: “E Adamo conobbe (yada) Eva”, implica l’attaccamento e l’unione. Cioè, si lega la sua mente con un legame molto saldo e forte alla grandezza del beato En sof, e vi fissa saldamente il suo pensiero, senza distogliere la sua mente [da Lui]. Infatti, anche uno che è saggio e comprende la grandezza del Beato En Sof, non produrrà nella sua anima, a meno che non leghi la sua conoscenza e fissi il suo pensiero con fermezza e perseveranza, il vero amore e la vera paura, ma solo vane illusioni. Perciò il da’at è la base del middot e la fonte della loro vitalità; contiene chesed e gevurah, cioè l’amore con i suoi derivati e la paura con i suoi derivati.
Inoltre, ogni anima divina (nefesh elokit) possiede tre vesti, ossia il pensiero, la parola e l’azione, [esprimendosi] nei 613 comandamenti della Torah. Infatti, quando una persona adempie attivamente tutti i precetti che richiedono un’azione fisica, e con la sua potenza di parola si occupa di esporre tutti i 613 comandamenti e la loro applicazione pratica, e con la sua potenza di pensiero comprende tutto ciò che gli è comprensibile nei Pardes della Torah, allora la totalità dei 613 “organi” della sua anima sono rivestiti dai 613 Comandamenti della Torah.
In particolare: le facoltà del ChaBaD nella sua anima sono rivestite dalla comprensione della Torah, che egli comprende in Pardes, nella misura della sua capacità mentale e della radice suprema della sua anima. E i middot, cioè la paura e l’amore, insieme alle loro derivazioni e ramificazioni, sono rivestiti nell’adempimento dei comandamenti nelle azioni e nelle parole, cioè nello studio della Torah, che è “l’equivalente di tutti i comandamenti”. L’amore, infatti, è la radice di tutti i 248 comandamenti positivi, che hanno tutti origine in essa e non hanno un vero fondamento senza di essa, in quanto chi li adempie in verità, ama veramente il nome di Dio e desidera legarsi veramente a Lui; non si può infatti legarsi veramente a Lui se non attraverso l’adempimento dei 248 comandamenti che sono i 248 “Organi del Re”, per così dire, come viene spiegato in altro contesto; mentre la paura è la radice dei 365 comandi proibitivi, il timore di ribellarsi contro il Supremo Re dei re, il Santo, che benedetto sia, o un timore ancora più profondo di questo – quando si prova vergogna alla presenza della grandezza Divina di ribellarsi contro la Sua gloria e di fare ciò che è malvagio ai Suoi occhi, cioè tutte le cose abominevoli odiate da Dio, che sono il kelipot e il sitra achra, che attingono il loro nutrimento dall’uomo sottostante e hanno in lui la loro presa attraverso i 365 comandi proibitivi [che egli infrange].
Ora questi tre “indumenti”, che derivano dalla Torah e dai suoi comandamenti, anche se sono chiamati “indumenti” del nefesh, ruach e neshamah, la loro qualità, tuttavia, è infinitamente più alta e maggiore di quella del nefesh, ruach e neshamah stessi, come spiegato nello Zohar, perché la Torah e il Santo, che benedetto sia, sono una cosa sola. Il significato di questo è che la Torah, che è la saggezza e la volontà del Santo, che è la saggezza e la volontà del Santo, che benedetto sia, e la Sua gloriosa Essenza sono una cosa sola, poiché Egli è sia il Conoscitore che il Sapiente, e così di seguito, come spiegato sopra nel nome di Maimonide. E sebbene il Santo, che benedetto sia, chiamato En Sof (“Infinito”), e “la sua grandezza non potrà mai essere compresa” e “nessun pensiero potrà mai catturarlo”, così come lo sono la sua volontà e la sua saggezza, così come sta scritto: “Non c’è ricerca della Sua comprensione” e “Puoi tu, cercando trovare Dio?” e ancora: “I miei pensieri, infatti, non sono i tuoi pensieri” – tuttavia, è a questo proposito che è stato detto: “Dove trovi la grandezza del Santo, che benedetto sia, lì trovi anche la sua umiltà”. Infatti il Santo, che benedetto sia, ha sintetizzato la Sua volontà e la Sua saggezza nei 613 comandamenti della Torah, e nelle loro Leggi, così come nella combinazione delle lettere della Torah, dei libri dei Profeti e degli Agiografi, e nella loro esposizione, che si trovano nell’Agadot e nel Midrashim dei nostri Rabbini di benedetta memoria. Tutto questo affinché ogni neshamah, o ruach e nefesh del corpo umano sia in grado di comprenderli attraverso la sua facoltà di intendere, e di compierli, nella misura in cui possono essere adempiuti, nelle opere, nei discorsi e nei pensieri, vestendosi così con tutte le sue dieci facoltà in queste tre vesti.
Perciò la Torah è stata paragonata all’acqua, perché come l’acqua scende da un livello più alto ad un livello più basso, così la Torah è scesa dal suo luogo glorioso, che è la Sua volontà e saggezza benedette; [poiché] la Torah e il Santo, che benedetto sia, sono una cosa sola e nessun pensiero può catturarlo. Di lì [la Torah] è scesa progressivamente attraverso tappe nascoste, tappa dopo tappa, con la discesa dei mondi, fino a rivestirsi di sostanze corporee e di cose di questo mondo, che comprendono quasi tutti i comandamenti della Torah, le loro Leggi, e nelle combinazioni di lettere materiali, scritte con l’inchiostro in un libro, cioè i 24 volumi della Torah, Profeti e Agiografi; tutto questo perché ogni pensiero possa catturarli, e anche le facoltà di parola e di azione, che sono ad un livello più basso del pensiero, possano catturarli ed esserne rivestiti.
Così, poiché la Torah e i suoi comandamenti “rivestono” tutte e dieci le facoltà dell’anima con tutti i suoi 613 organi dalla testa ai piedi, essa [l’anima] è tutta veramente legata nel fascio della vita con Dio, e la luce stessa di Dio la avvolge e la veste dalla testa ai piedi, come è scritto: ” Dio è la mia Roccia, mi rifugerò in Lui”, ed è anche scritto: “Con il favore (ratzone-volontà), lo circonderai come di uno scudo”, cioè con la Sua volontà benedetta e la Sua saggezza, che sono rivestite della Sua Torah e dei Suoi Comandamenti.
Così è stato detto: “Meglio un’ora di pentimento e di buone azioni in questo mondo che tutta la vita del mondo a venire”. Infatti, il mondo a venire è quello stato in cui si gode pienamente del piacere della Divina Presenza, che è il piacere della comprensione, eppure nessun essere creato – neanche celeste – può comprendere più di qualche riflesso della Luce Divina; ecco perché il riferimento è all'”Efficacia della Divina Presenza” ( Ziv ha-Shechinah). Ma per quanto riguarda l’essenza del Santo, che benedetto sia, nessun pensiero lo può comprendere, eccetto quando comprende e si veste della Torah e delle sue Mitzvot; solo allora si comprende veramente e ci si veste del Santo, che benedetto sia, in quanto la Torah e il Santo, che benedetto sia, sono una cosa sola. Infatti, anche se la Torah è stata rivestita di cose materiali inferiori, è a titolo puramente illustrativo, di come abbracciare il re. Non c’è differenza, per quanto riguarda il grado di vicinanza e di attaccamento al re, se mentre si abbraccia il re, quest’ultimo indossa una veste o più vesti, finché si trova in esse la reale persona. Allo stesso modo, quando il re, da parte sua, avvolge qualcuno con il suo braccio, anche se è vestito con le sue vesti; come è scritto, “E la sua mano destra mi avvolge”, che si riferisce alla Torah che è stata data dalla mano destra di Dio, che è la qualità del chesed e dell’acqua.
Let us explain further and fully elucidate the expression tefisa (apprehension) in the words of Elijah, “No thought can apprehend Thee.”
Now, when an intellect conceives and comprehends a concept with its intellectual faculties, this intellect grasps the concept and encompasses it. This concept is [in turn] grasped, enveloped and enclothed within that intellect which conceived and comprehended it.
The mind, for its part, is also clothed in the concept at the time it comprehends and grasps it with the intellect. For example, when a person understands and comprehends, fully and clearly, any halachah (law) in the Mishnah or Gemara, his intellect grasps and encompasses it and, at the same time, is clothed in it. Consequently, as the particular halachah is the wisdom and will of GOD, for it was His will that when, for example, Reuben pleads in one way and Simeon in another, the verdict as between them shall be thus and thus; and even should such a litigation never have occurred, nor would it ever present itself for judgment in connection with such disputes and claims, nevertheless, since it has been the will and wisdom of the Holy One, blessed be He, that in the event of a person pleading this way and the other [litigant] pleading that way, the verdict shall be such and such— now therefore, when a person knows and comprehends with his intellect such a verdict in accordance with the law as it is set out in the Mishnah, Gemara, or Posekim (Codes), he has thus comprehended, grasped and encompassed with his intellect the will and wisdom of the Holy One, blessed be He, Whom no thought can grasp, nor His will and wisdom, except when they are clothed in the laws that have been set out for us. [Simultaneously] the intellect is also clothed in them [the Divine will and wisdom].
This is a wonderful union, like which there is none other, and which has no parallel anywhere in the material world, whereby complete oneness and unity, from every side and angle, could be attained.
Hence the special superiority, infinitely great and wonderful, that is in the commandment of knowing the Torah and comprehending it, over all the commandments involving action, and even those relating to speech, and even the commandment to study the Torah, which is fulfilled through speech. For, through all the commandments involving speech or action, the Holy One, blessed be He, clothes the soul and envelops it from head to foot with the Divine light. However, with regard to knowledge of the Torah, apart from the fact that the intellect is clothed in Divine wisdom, this Divine wisdom is also contained in it, to the extent that his intellect comprehends, grasps and encompasses, as much as it is able so to do, of the knowledge of the Torah, every man according to his intellect, his knowledgeable capacity, and his comprehension in Pardes.
Since, in the case of knowledge of the Torah, the Torah is clothed in the soul and intellect of a person, and is absorbed in them, it is called “bread” and “food” of the soul. For just as physical bread nourishes the body as it is absorbed internally, in his very inner self, where it is transformed into blood and flesh of his flesh, whereby he lives and exists— so, too, it is with the knowledge of the Torah and its comprehension by the soul of the person who studies it well, with a concentration of his intellect, until the Torah is absorbed by his intellect and is united with it and they become one. This becomes nourishment for the soul, and its inner life from the Giver of life, the blessed En Sof, Who is clothed in His wisdom and in His Torah that are [absorbed] in it [the soul].
This is the meaning of the verse, “Yea, Thy Torah is within my inward parts.”
It is also stated in Etz Chayim, Portal 44, ch. 3, that the “garments” of the soul in the Gan Eden (Paradise) are the commandments while the Torah is the “food” for the souls which, during life on earth, had occupied themselves in the study of the Torah for its own sake. It is [similarly] written in the Zohar. As for the meaning of “For its own sake,” it is [study with the intent] to attach one’s soul to G‑d through the comprehension of the Torah, each one according to his intellect, as explained in Peri Etz Chayim.
(The “food” [of the soul] is in the nature of Inner Light; while the “garments” are in the nature of Encompassing Light. Therefore our Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said, “The study of the Torah equals all the commandments.” For the commandments are but “garments” whereas the Torah is both “food” as well as “garment” for the rational soul, in which a person is clothed during learning and concentration. All the more so when a person also articulates, by word of mouth; for the breath emitted in speaking [the words of the Torah] becomes something in the nature of an Encompassing Light, as is explained in Peri Etz Chayim.)
“The Almighty has created one thing opposite the other.”
Just as the divine soul consists of ten holy Sefirot and is clothed in three holy garments, so does the soul which is derived from the sitra achra of the kelipat nogah, which is clothed in man’s blood, consist of ten “crowns of impurity.” These are the seven evil middot which stem from the four evil elements mentioned above, and the intellect begetting them which is subdivided into three, viz., wisdom, understanding and knowledge, the source of the middot. For the middot are according to the quality of the intellect. Hence a child desires and loves petty things of inferior worth, for his intellect is too immature and deficient to appreciate things that are much more precious. Likewise is he provoked to anger and vexation over trivial things; so, too, with boasting and other middot.
Now these ten unclean categories, when a person meditates in them or speaks them, or acts by them, his thought — which is in his brain; and his speech—which is in his mouth; and the power of action— which is in his hands, together with his other limbs— all these are called the “impure garments” of these ten unclean categories wherein the latter are clothed at the time of the action, speech or thought. It is these that constitute all the deeds that are done under the sun, which are all “vanity and striving after the wind,” as interpreted in the Zohar, Beshallach, in the sense of a “ruination of the spirit….”
So, too, are all utterances and thoughts which are not directed towards GOD and His will and service. For this is the meaning of sitra achra— “the other side,” i.e. not the side of holiness. For the holy side is nothing but the indwelling and extension of the holiness of the Holy One, blessed be He, and He dwells only on such a thing that abnegates itself completely to Him, either actually, as in the case of the angels above, or potentially, as in the case of every Jew down below, having the capacity to abnegate himself completely to the Holy One, blessed be He, through martyrdom for the sanctification of GOD.
That is why our Sages have said that “Even when a single individual sits and engages in the Torah the Shechinah rests on him’ and “On each [gathering of] ten Jews the Shechinah rests” always.
However, that which does not surrender itself to G‑d, but is a separate thing by itself, does not receive its vitality from the holiness of the Holy One, blessed be He, that is, from the very inner essence and substance of the holiness itself, but from “behind its back,” as it were, descending degree by degree, through myriads of degrees with the lowering of the worlds, by way of cause and effect, and innumerable contractions, until the Light and Life is so diminished through repeated diminutions, that it can be compressed and incorporated, in a state of exile as it were, within that separated thing, giving it vitality and existence ex nihilo, so that it does not revert to nothingness and non-existence as it was before it was created.
Consequently, this world, with all its contents, is called the world of kelipot and sitra achra. Therefore all mundane affairs are severe and evil, and wicked men prevail, as explained in Etz Chayim, Portal 42, end of ch. 4.
Note: To be sure, there are contained in it [this world] the ten sefirot of the world] of Asiyah (Action) of the side of holiness, as is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 43, and within these ten sefirot of Asiyah are the ten sefirot of Yetzirah (Formation), and in them the ten sefirot of Beriah (Creation), and in them the ten sefirot of Atzilut (Emanation), in which abides the light of the blessed En Sof. Thus the light of the blessed En Sof pervades this lower world through being clothed in the ten sefirot of the Four Worlds, namely those of Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, as explained in Etz Chayim, Portal 47, ch. 2, and in Sefer ha-Gilgulim, ch. 20.
However, the kelipot are subdivided into two grades, one lower than the other. The lower grade consists of the three kelipot which are altogether unclean and evil, containing no good whatever. In the “chariot” of [the prophet] Ezekiel they are called “whirlwind,” “great cloud.” .. . From them flow and derive the souls of all the nations of the world, and the existence of their bodies, and also the souls of all living creatures that are unclean and unfit for consumption, and the existence of their bodies, as well as the existence and vitality of all forbidden food in the vegetable kingdom, such as orlah and “Mixed seeds in the vineyard,…” as explained in Etz Chayitn, Portal 49, ch. 6, as also the existence and vitality of all actions, utterances, and thoughts pertaining to the 365 prohibitions and their offshoots, as is explained ibid., at the end of ch. 5.
On the other hand, the vitalising animal soul in the Jew, that which is derived from the aspect of the kelipah, which is clothed in the human blood, as stated above, and the “souls” of the animals, beasts, birds and fishes that are clean and fit for [Jewish] consumption, as also the existence and vitality of the entire inanimate and entire vegetable world which are permissible for consumption, as well as the existence and Vitality of every act, utterance and thought in mundane matters that contain no forbidden aspect— being neither root nor branch of the 365 prohibitive precepts and their offshoots, either on the explicit authority of the Torah, or by Rabbinic enactment— yet are not performed for the sake of Heaven but only by the will, desire and lust of the body; and even where it is a need of the body, or its very preservation and life, but his intention is not for the sake of Heaven, that is, to serve GOD thereby — all these acts, utterances and thoughts are no better than the vitalising animal soul itself; and everything in this totality of things flows and is drawn from the second gradation [to be found] in the kelipot and sitra achra, namely, a fourth kelipah, called kelipat nogah. For in this world, called the “World of Asiyah (Action),” most, indeed almost all, of it [the kelipat nogah] is bad, and only a little good has been intermingled within it (from which come the good qualities contained in the animal soul of the Jew, as is explained above. )
This [kelipat nogah] is an intermediate category between the three completely unclean kelipot and the category and order of Holiness. Hence it is sometimes absorbed within the three unclean kelipot (as is explained in Etz Chayim, Portal 49, beginning of ch. 4, on the authority of the Zohar), and sometimes it is absorbed and elevated to the category and level of Holiness, as when the good that is intermingled in it is extracted from the bad, and prevails and ascends until it is absorbed in Holiness. Such is the case, for example, of he who eats fat beef and drinks spiced wine in order to broaden his mind for the service of GOD and His Torah; as Ravah said: “Wine and fragrance [make a man’s mind more receptive],” or in order to fulfil the command concerning enjoyment of the Sabbath and Festivals/In such a case the vitality of the meat and wine, originating in the kelipat nogah, is distilled and ascends to GOD like a burnt offering and sacrifice.
So, too, when a man utters a pleasantry in order to. sharpen his wit and rejoice his heart in GOD, in His Torah and service, which should be practised joyfully, as Ravah was wont to do with his pupils, prefacing his discourse with some witty remark, to enliven the students thereby.
On the other hand, he who belongs to those who gluttonously guzzle meat and quaff wine in order to satisfy their bodily appetites and animal nature, derived from the so-called element of water of the four evil elements contained therein, from which comes the vice of lust— in such case the energy of the meat and wine consumed by him is degraded and absorbed temporarily in the utter evil of the three unclean kelipot, and his body temporarily becomes a garment and vehicle for them, until the person repents and returns to the service of GOD and His Torah. For, inasmuch as the meat and wine were kosher, they have the power to revert and ascend with him when he returns to the service of GOD. This is implied in the terms “permissibility” and “permitted” (mutar), that is to say, that which is not tied and bound by the power of the “extraneous forces” preventing it from returning and ascending to GOD. Nevertheless, a trace [of the evil] remains in the body. Therefore the body must undergo the “Purgatory of the grave,” as will be explained later.
So, too, with regard to the vitality of the drops of semen emitted from the body with animal lust, by him who has not conducted himself in a saintly manner during intimacy with his wife in her state of purity.
Such is not the case, however, with forbidden foods and coition, which derive from the three kelipot that are entirely unclean. These are tied and bound by the Extraneous Forces for ever, and are not released until the day comes when death will be swallowed up for ever, as is written: “And I will cause the unclean spirit to pass from the land;” or until the sinner repents to such an extent that his premeditated sins become transmuted into veritable merits, which is achieved through “repentance out of love,” coming from the depths of the heart, with great love and fervour, and from a soul passionately desiring to cleave to the blessed GOD, and thirsting for GOD like a parched desert soil. For inasmuch as his soul had been in a barren wilderness, and in the shadow of death, which is the sitra achra, and infinitely removed from the light of the Divine Countenance, his soul now thirsts [for GOD] even more than the souls of the righteous, as our Sages say: “In the place where penitents stand, not even the perfectly righteous can stand.” It is concerning the repentance out of such great love that they have said: “The penitent’s premeditated sins become, in his case, like virtues,” since thereby he has attained to this great love.
However, repentance that does not come from such love, even though it be true repentance, and GOD will pardon him, nevertheless his sins are not transformed into merits, and they are not completely released from the kelipah, until the end of time, when death will be swallowed up forever.
Yet the vitality which is in the drops of semen that issue wastefully, even though it has been degraded and incorporated in the three unclean kelipot, nevertheless it can ascend from there by means of true repentance and intense kavanah during the recital of the Shema at bedtime, as is known from our master, Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, and is implied in the Talrriudic saying: “He who recites the Shema at bedtime is as if he held a double-edged sword,.. ,” wherewith to slay the bodies of the Extraneous Forces that have become garments for the vitality which is in the drops [of semen], so that this vitality may ascend, as is known to those who are familiar with the Esoteric Wisdom. Therefore the sin of wasteful emission of semen is not mentioned in the Torah among the list of forbidden coitions, although it is even more heinous than they; and mis sin is greater because of the enormity and abundance of the un-cleanness and of the kelipot which he begets and multiplies to an exceedingly great extent through wasteful emission of semen, even more than through forbidden coitions. Except that in the case of forbidden coitions he contributes strength and vitality to a most unclean kelipah, from which he is powerless to bring up the vitality by means of repentance,
Note: The reason being that this vitality has been absorbed by the “female” element of the kelipah, which receives and absorbs the vitality from the holiness. Not so with wasteful emission of semen, where there is obviously no female element of kelipah, and only its powers and forces provide the garments for the vitality of the [wasteful] semen, as is known to those familiar with the Esoteric Wisdom.
unless he repents with such great love, that his wilful wrongs are transformed into merits.
From the above, one may understand the comment of our Sages: “Which is ‘a fault that cannot be rectified?’— Having incestuous intercourse and giving birth to a bastard.” For in such a case, even though the sinner undertakes such great repentance, he cannot cause the [newly created] vitality to ascend to Holiness, since it has already descended into this world and has been clothed in a body of flesh and blood.
There is an additional aspect in the matter of forbidden foods. The reason they are called issur [“chained”] is that even in the case of one who has unwittingly eaten a forbidden food intending it to give him strength to serve GOD by the energy of it, and he has, moreover, actually carried out his intention, having both studied and prayed with the energy of that food, nevertheless the vitality contained therein does not ascend and become clothed in the words of the Torah or prayer, as is the case with permitted foods, by reason of its being held captive in the power of the sitra achra of the three unclean kelipot. This is so even when the prohibition is a Rabbinic enactment, for the words of the Scribes are even more stringent than the words of .the Torah, and so forth.
Therefore, also the evil impulse (yetzer hara) and the force that strains after forbidden things is a demon of non-Jewish demons, which is the evil impulse of the nations whose souls are derived from the three unclean kelipot. On the other hand, the evil impulse and the craving force after permissible things to satisfy an appetite is a demon of the Jewish demons, tor it can be reverted to holiness, as is explained above. Nevertheless, before it has reverted to holiness it is sitra achra and kelipah, and even afterwards a trace of it remains attached to the body, since from each item of food and drink are immediately formed blood and flesh of his flesh. That is why the body must undergo the “Purgatory of the grave,” in order to cleanse it and purify it of its uncleanness which it had received from the enjoyment of mundane things and pleasures, which are derived from the uncleanness of the kelipat nogah and of the Jewish demons; only one who had derived no enjoyment from this world all his life, as was the case with our Saintly Master [Rabbi Judah the Prince], is spared this.
As for innocent idle chatter, such as in the case of an ignoramus who cannot study, he must undergo a cleansing of his soul, to rid it of the uncleanness of this kelipah, through its being rolled in “The hollow of a sling,” as is stated in the Zohar, Parshat Beshallach, p. 59. But with regard to forbidden speech, such as scoffing and slander and the like, which stem from the three completely unclean kelipot, the hollow of a sling (alone) does not suffice to cleanse and remove the uncleanness of the soul, but it must descend into Gehinnom [Purgatory].
So, too, he who is able to engage in the Torah, but occupies himself instead with frivolous things, the hollow of a sling cannot itself effectively scour and cleanse his soul, but severe penalties are meted out for neglect of the Torah in particular, apart from the general retribution for the neglect of a positive commandment through indolence, namely, in the Purgatory of Snow, as is explained elsewhere. Likewise, he who occupies himself with the sciences of the nations of the world is included among those who waste their time in profane matters, insofar as the sin of neglecting the Torah is concerned, as is explained in the Laws Concerning Study of the Torah. Moreover, the uncleanness of the science of the nations is greater than that of profane speech, for the latter informs and defiles only the middot which emanate from the element of the holy ruach within his divine soul with the contamination of the kelipat nogah that is contained in profane speech which is derived from the element of the evil ruach of this kelipah in his animal soul, as mentioned above; yet he does not defile the [intellectual] faculties of ChaBaD in his soul, for they are but words of foolishness and ignorance, since even fools and ignoramuses can speak that way. Not so in the case of the nations’ science whereby he clothes and defiles the intellectual faculties of ChaBaD in his divine soul with the contamination of the kelipat nogah contained in those sciences, whither they have fallen through the “shattering of the vessels” out of the so-called “hinder part” of Chochmah of Kedushah, as is known to those familiar with the Esoteric Wisdom. Unless he employs [these sciences] as a useful instrument, viz., as a means of a more affluent livelihood to be able to serve GOD, or knows how to apply them in the service of GOD and His Torah. This is the reason why Maimonides and Nachmanides, of blessed memory, and their adherents, engaged in them.
The abode of the animal soul (nefesh habahamit) derived from the kelipat nogah in every Jew, is in the heart, in the left ventricle that is filled with blood. It is written, “For the blood is the nefesh” Hence all lusts and boasting and anger and similar passions are in the heart, and from the heart they spread throughout the whole body, rising also to the brain in the head, so as to think and meditate about them and become cunning in them, just as the blood has its source in the heart and .from the heart it circulates into every limb, rising also to the brain in the head.
But the abode of the divine soul is in the brains that are in the head, and from there it extends to all the limbs; and also in the heart, in the right ventricle wherein there is no blood, as is written, “The heart of the wise man is on his right.” It is [the source of] man’s fervent love towards GOD which, like flaming coals, flares up in the heart of discerning men who understand and reflect, with the [faculty of] knowledge of their brain, on matters that arouse this love; also [of] the gladness of the heart in the beauty of GOD and the majesty of His glory [which is aroused] when the eyes of the wise man, that are in his head, i.e. in the brain harbouring his wisdom and understanding, gaze at the glory of the King and beauty of His greatness that are unfathomable and without end or limit, as explained elsewhere; as also the other holy affections (middot) in the heart originate from ChaBaD [wisdom, understanding, knowledge] in the brains.
It is written, however, “One nation shall prevail over the other nation.” The body is called a “small city.” Just as two kings wage war over a town, which each wishes to capture and rule, that is to say, to dominate its inhabitants according to his will, so that they obey him in all that he decrees for them, so do the two souls— the Divine and the vitalising animal soul that comes from the kelipah— wage war against each other over the body and all its limbs. It is the desire and will of the Divine soul that she alone rule over the person and direct him, and that all his limbs should obey her and surrender themselves completely to her and become a vehicle for her, as well as a robe [instrument] for her ten faculties and three garments mentioned above, all of which should pervade the organs of the body, and the entire body should be permeated with them alone, to the exclusion of any alien influence, GOD forbid. That is to say, that the three brains that are in the head shall be permeated with ChaBaD of the Divine soul, namely, the wisdom of GOD and the understanding of Him, by pondering on His unfathomable and infinite greatness; and from them shall be born, through the daat (knowledge), awe in his mind and dread of GOD in his heart, as well as love of GOD that shall flare up like a glowing fire in his heart, like flaming coals, so that his soul shall yearn and long, with passion and desire, to cleave to the blessed En Sof, with his whole heart, soul and might, from the very depths of the right ventricle of the heart. The latter would be so thoroughly permeated with love to overflowing, as to inundate the left side as well, to the extent of subduing the sitra achra with its element of the “evil waters,” namely, the lust stemming from kelipat nogah, changing it and transforming it from seeking the pleasures of this world to the love of GOD. Thus it is written, “‘With all thine heart— with both your natures.” That is to say, that the person shall steadily rise to attain to the degree of “abundant love,” a supreme affection surpassing that of “ardent love” that is comparable to burning coals.
This is what is called in Scripture “love of delights,” which is the experience of delight in Godliness, of the nature of the world to come. This delight is in the brain of wisdom, in the intellectual pleasure of comprehending and knowing GOD, to the extent that one’s intellect and wisdom can grasp [Him]. This is the element of “water,” and “seed,” i.e., light that is sown in the holiness of the divine soul that converts to good the element of “water” in the animal soul, from which the lust for mundane pleasures had been previously derived.
Thus it is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 50, ch. 3, on the authority of the Zohar, that the evil is converted into, and becomes, completely good, like the good nature itself, through the shedding of the soiled garments, the pleasures of this world, in which it had been clothed.
So, too, shall the other middot in the heart, the offshoots of awe and love, be dedicated to GOD alone; and the faculty of speech that is in his mouth, and the thought that is in his mind, shall be entirely and solely the instruments of the “garments” of thought and speech of the divine soul alone, namely, meditation on GOD and His Torah, which shall be the theme of his speech throughout the day, his mouth ceaselessly studying [it]; and the faculty of action centered in his hands, as also in the rest of the 248 organs, shall function exclusively in the performance of the commandments, which is the third garment of the divine soul.
However, the desire of the animal soul which is derived from the kelipah is the very opposite— and it is for the good of man, that he may prevail over her and vanquish her, as in the parable of the harlot in the holy Zohar.
Behold, when a person fortifies his divine soul and wages war against his animal soul to such an extent that he expels and eradicates its evil from the left part— as is written, “And thou shalt root out the evil from within you”— yet the evil is not actually converted to goodness, he is called “Incompletely righteous,” or “A righteous man who suffers.” That is to say, there still lingers an him a fragment of wickedness in the left part, except that it is subjugated and nullified by the good, because of the former’s minuteness. Hence he imagines that he has driven it out and it has quite disappeared. In truth, however, had all the evil in him entirely departed and disappeared, it would have been converted into actual goodness.
The explanation of the matter is that “A completely righteous man,” in whom the evil has been converted to goodness, and who is consequently called “A righteous man who prospers,” has completely divested himself of the filthy garments of evil. That is to say, he utterly despises the pleasures of this world, finding no enjoyment in human pleasures of merely gratifying the physical appetites, instead of [seeking] the service of GOD, inasmuch as they are derived from and originate in the kelipah and sitra achra; for whatever is of the sitra achra is hated by the perfectly righteous man with an absolute hatred, by reason of his great love of GOD and of His Holiness with profuse affection and delight and superlative devotion, as is stated above. For they are antithetical one to the other. Thus it is written, “I hate them with absolute hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, [O GOD,] and know my heart… .” Hence, according to the abundance of the love toward GOD, so is the extent of the hatred towards the sitra achra, and the utter contempt of evil, for contempt is as much the opposite of real love as is hatred.
The “Incompletely righteous” is he who does not hate the sitra achra with an absolute hatred; therefore he does not also absolutely abhor evil. And as long as the hatred and scorn of evil are not absolute, there must remain some vestige of love and pleasure in it, and the fouled garments have not entirely and absolutely been shed; therefore the evil has not actually been converted to goodness, since it still has some hold in the filthy garments, except that it is nullified because of its minute quantity and is accounted as nothing. Therefore such a person is called a righteous man, in whom the evil is subjugated and surrendered to him. Accordingly, his love of GOD is also not perfect, with the result that he is called “incompletely righteous.”
Now, this grade is subdivided into myriads of degrees in respect of the quality of the minute evil remaining [in him] from any of the four evil elements, as well as in relation to its proportionate abnegation by reason of its minuteness, such as, by way of example, one in sixty, or in a thousand, or in ten thousand, and the like. Such are the gradations of the numerous righteous men who are to be found in every generation, as mentioned in the Gemara, viz., “Eighteen thousand righteous men stand before the Holy One, blessed be He.”
However, it is with regard to the superior quality of the “completely righteous,” that Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai said: “I have seen superior men (benei aliyah), and their numbers are few… .” The reason for their title of “superior men” is that they convert evil and make it ascend to holiness, as is written in the Zohar, in the Introduction, that when Rabbi Chiyya wished to ascend to the hechal (heavenly shrine) of Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai, he heard a voice come out and say, “Which of you, before coming here, has converted darkness into light and bitter taste into sweetness? [Otherwise] do not approach here,” and so forth.
A further explanation of the title “superior men” is that their service in the category of “do good,” in the fulfillment of the Torah and its commandments, is for the sake of the Above, the ultimate of the highest degrees, and not merely in order to attach themselves to GOD so as to quench the thirst of their [own] soul, which thirsts for G‑d, as is written, “Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,” as is explained elsewhere. Rather [is their service] as explained in Tikunei Zohar: “Who is kind?— He who conducts himself with benevolence towards his Creator— towards His nest, uniting the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Shechinah within those who dwell in the nethermost worlds.” As also explained in Raaya Mehemna on Parshat Tetze: “In the manner of a son who ingratiates himself with his father and mother, whom he loves more than his own body and soul… and is prepared to sacrifice his own life for them, to redeem them,. . .” and as is explained elsewhere.
(And both interpretations are complementary, for through acts of refinement of the good out of the nogah, one elevates the “feminine waters” causing “supernal unions” to bring down the “masculine waters” which are the flow of [Divine] kindness contained in each of the 248 positive precepts, all of which are in the nature of kindness and “masculine waters,” that is to say, the flow of holiness of His blessed Divinity from above downward, to be clothed in those who live in the lower worlds, as explained elsewhere.)
“One is the opposite of the other”— the “wicked man who prospers” is antithetical to the “righteous man who suffers.” That is to say, the goodness that is in his divine soul which is in his brain and in the right part of his heart, is subservient to, and nullified by, the evil of the kelipah that is in the left part. This type, too, is subdivided into myriads of degrees which differ in respect of the extent and manner of the nullification and subservience of the good to the bad, GOD forbid.
There is the person in whom the said subservience and nullification are in a very minor way, and even these are not permanent or recurring at frequent intervals; but on rare occasions the evil prevails over the good and conquers the “small city,” that is the body— yet not all of it, but only a part of it, subjecting it to its (evil’s) discipline, to become a vehicle and a garment wherein one of the soul’s three garments mentioned above is clothed, namely, either in deed alone, in the commission of minor transgressions and not major ones, GOD forbid; or in speech alone, in the utterance of something that borders on slander and scoffing and the like; or in thought alone, in contemplations of sin, which are more serious than actual sin, or even when he does not contemplate committing a sin but indulges in contemplation on the carnal union between male and female in general, whereby he is guilty of violating the admonition of the Torah, “Keep thee from every wicked thing,” meaning that “One must not harbour impure fancies by day,.. .” or, when it is a fitting time to study the Torah, but he turns his heart to vain things, as we have learned in the Mishnah in Avot, “He that wakes in the night [or that walks alone by the way], and turns his heart to vanity [is guilty against his own soul].” For, by reason of any one of all these things, and their like, he is called wicked at such time that the evil in his nefesh prevails over him, clothing itself in his body, inducing it to sin and defiling it.
Presently, however, the good that is in his divine soul asserts itself, and he is filled with remorse, and he seeks pardon and forgiveness of GOD. Indeed, GOD will forgive him if he has repented with the appropriate penitence according to the counsel of our Sages, of blessed memory, namely, the three-fold division of atonement which is expounded by Rabbi Ishmael, as is explained elsewhere.
There is also the person in whom the wickedness prevails more strongly, and all three garments of evil clothe themselves in him, causing him to commit more heinous and frequent sins. But intermittently he suffers remorse, and thoughts of repentance enter his mind, from the quality of good that is in his soul, that gathers strength now and then. However, he has not enough strength to vanquish the evil so as to rid himself entirely of his sins and be as one who confesses and abandons [his evil ways, once and for all].Concerning such a person, the Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said, “The wicked are full of remorse.” These represent the majority of the wicked, in whose soul still lingers some good.
But he who never feels contrition, and in whose mind no thoughts of repentance at all ever enter, is called the “wicked who suffers,” for the evil that is in his soul has alone remained in him, having so prevailed over the good that the latter has already departed from within him, standing aloof, so to speak, over him. Therefore the Sages have said, “Over every ten Jews hovers the Shechinah.”
The “intermediate man” (benoni) is he in whom evil never attains enough power to capture the “small city,” so as to clothe itself in the body and make it sin. That is to say, the three “garments” of the animal soul, namely, thought, speech and act, originating in the kelipah, do not prevail within him over the divine soul to the extent of clothing themselves in the body — in the brain, in the mouth and in the other 248 parts— thereby causing them to sin and defiling them, GOD forbid.
Only the three garments of the divine soul, they alone, are implemented in the body, being the thought, speech and act engaged in the 613 commandments of the Torah. He has never committed, nor ever will commit, any transgression; neither can the name “wicked” be applied to him even temporarily, or even for a moment, throughout his life.
However, the essence and being of the divine soul, which are its ten faculties, do not constantly hold undisputed sovereignty and sway over the “small city,” except at appropriate times, such as during the recital of the Shema or the Amidah, which is a time when the Supernal Intellect is in a sublime state; and likewise below, this is a propitious time for every man, when he binds his ChaBaD (intellectual faculties) to GOD, to meditate deeply on the greatness of the blessed En Sof, and to arouse the burning love in the right part of his heart, to cleave to Him by virtue of the fulfillment of the Torah and its commandments out of love. This is the essential aspect of the Shema, the recital of which is enjoined by the Torah, and of the blessings which precede and follow it, which are a Rab-bincal enactment, the latter being the preparation for the fulfillment of the recital of the Shema, as is explained elsewhere. At such time the evil that is in the left part is subjected to, and nullified in, the goodness that is diffused in the right part, from the wisdom, understanding and knowledge (ChaBaD) in the brain, which are bound to the greatness of the blessed En Sof .
However, after prayer, when the state of sublimity of the Intellect of the blessed En Sof departs, the evil in the left part reawakens, and he begins to feel a desire for the lusts of the world and its delights.
Yet, because the evil has not the sole authority and dominion over the “city,” it is unable to carry out this desire from the potential into the actual by clothing itself in the bodily limbs, in deed, speech, and persistent thought to the extent of concentrating his attention on the enjoyment of the mundane pleasures, as to how to satisfy the lust of his heart, because the brain rules over the heart (as explained in Raaya Mehemna, Parshat Pinchas) by virtue of its innately created nature. For this is how man is created from birth, that each person may, with the will-power in his brain, restrain himself and control the drive of lust that is in his heart, preventing his heart’s desires from expressing themselves in action, word or thought, and divert his attention altogether from the craving of his heart toward the completely opposite direction particularly in the direction of holiness.
Thus it is written: “Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly as light excelleth darkness.” This means that just as light has a superiority, power and dominion over darkness, so that a little physical light banishes a great deal of darkness, which is therewith inevitably superseded, as a matter of course and necessity, so is much foolishness of the kelipah and sitra achra (as, indeed, our Sages say, “A man does not sin unless a spirit of folly enters into him” ) inevitably driven away by the wisdom that is in the divine soul in the brain, whose desire is to rule alone in the “city” and to pervade the whole body, in the manner already mentioned, by means of her three garments, namely, thought, speech and act of the 613 commandments of the Torah, as explained earlier.
Nevertheless, such a person is not deemed a tzaddik at all, because the superiority which the light of the divine soul possesses over the darkness and foolishness of the kelipah, wherewith the latter is expelled forthwith, exists only in the aforementioned three garments, but does not extend to its very essence and being in relation to those of the kelipah. For in the “intermediate” man (benoni) the essence and being of the animal soul from the kelipah in the left part remains entirely undislodged after prayer. For then the burning love of GOD is not in a revealed state in his heart, in the right part, but is only inwardly paved with hidden love, that is the natural adoration in the divine soul, as will be explained later. Therefore it is possible for the folly of the wicked fool to rise openly in the left part of his heart, creating a lust for all material things of this world, whether permitted or, GOD forbid, prohibited, as if he had not prayed at all. Nevertheless, in regard to a forbidden matter, it does not occur to him to actually violate the prohibition, GOD forbid, and it remains in the realm of sinful thoughts, “Which are yet more heinous than sin itself,” and which can be forceful enough to rise to his mind, to distract him from the Torah and Divine service, as our Sages said, “There are three sins against which a man is daily not safeguarded: sinful thoughts, distraction in prayer,” and so forth.
However, the impression [of prayer] on the intellect and the hidden [i.e. innate] fear and love of GOD in the right part [of the heart], enable one to prevail and triumph over this evil of passionate craving, depriving it from gaining supremacy and dominion over the “city,” and from carrying out this desire from the potential into the actual by clothing itself in the bodily organs. Moreover, even in the mind alone, in so far as sinful thoughts are concerned, evil has no power to compel the mind’s volition to entertain willingly, GOD forbid, any wicked thought rising of its own accord from the heart to the brain, as discussed above. But no sooner does it reach there than he thrusts it out with both hands and averts his mind from it the instant he reminds himself that it is an evil thought, refusing to accept it willingly, even to let his thoughts play on it willingly; how much more so to entertain any idea of putting it into effect, GOD forbid, or even to put it into words. For he who wilfully indulges in such thoughts is deemed wicked at such time, whereas the “intermediate” person is never wicked for a single moment.
So, too, in matters affecting a person’s relations with his neighbour, as soon as there rises from his heart to his mind some animosity or hatred, GOD forbid, or jealousy or anger, or a grudge and suchlike, he gives them no entrance into his mind and will. On the contrary, his mind exercises its authority and power over the spirit in his heart, to do the very opposite and to conduct himself towards his neighbour with the quality of kindness and a display of abundant love, to the extent of suffering from him to the extreme limits without becoming provoked into anger, GOD forbid, or to revenge in kind, GOD forbid; but rather to repay the offenders with favours, as taught in the Zohar, that one should learn from the example of Joseph towards his brothers.
Therewith will be understood the commentary of our Sages that “‘Intermediate’ people are judged by both [the good and evil natures], for it is written, ‘He stands at the right hand of the poor man, to save him from them that judge his soul.'” Note that they did not say “ruled” by both, GOD forbid, because where the evil nature gains any control and dominion over the “small city,” even though but temporarily, one is at such times deemed “wicked.”
The evil nature [in the benoni], however, is no more than, for example, a magistrate or judge who gives his opinion on a point of law, yet it is not necessarily a final decision to be implemented in deed, for there is another magistrate or judge who is contesting this opinion. It is, therefore, necessary to arbitrate between the two, and the final verdict rests with the arbitrator.
Similarly, the evil nature states its opinion in the left part of the heart, which thence ascends to the brain for contemplation. Immediately it is challenged by the second judge, the divine soul in the brain extending into the right part of the heart, the abode of the good nature. The final verdict comes from the arbitrator— the Holy One, blessed be He, who comes to the aid of the good nature, as our Sages said, “If the Almighty did not help him, he could not overcome his evil inclination.” The help comes by means of the glow radiated by the Divine light, which illuminates the divine soul that it may gain the upper hand and mastery over the folly of the fool and evil nature, in the manner of the excellence of light over darkness, as stated above.
Yet, inasmuch as the evil in the [heart’s] left part of the benoni is in its innate strength, craving after all the pleasures of this world, not having been nullified in its minuteness in relation to the good, nor having been relegated from its position to any degree— except in so far as it has no authority and power to diffuse itself throughout the limbs of the body, because the Holy One, blessed be He, “Stands at the right hand of the poor man,” helping him and irradiating his divine soul— such a person is likened to a “wicked man.” In the words of our Sages, “Even if the whole world tells you that you are righteous, in your own eyes regard yourself as if you were wicked”— not as actually wicked. But one should consider oneself to be an “intermediate” person and not accept the world’s opinion which would have him believe that the evil in him has been dissolved by the good, which is the category of a tzaddik. Rather should he consider himself in his own estimation as if the very essence of the evil is in its full strength and might, in the left part, as from birth, and that nothing of it has ceased or departed; on the contrary, with the passing of time it has gained strength, because the man has indulged it considerably, in eating and drinking and other mundane pursuits.
Even one whose whole aspiration is in GOD’s Torah, which he studies day and night for its own sake, this is still no proof whatever that the evil has been dislodged from its place, but it may still be that its essence and substance are in their full strength and might in its abode in the left part, except that its garments— the thought, speech and act of the animal soul— are not invested in the brain, mouth and hands and the other parts of the body, because GOD has given the mind supremacy and dominion over the heart. Therefore the divine soul in the intellect rules over the [entire] “small city,” i.e., all the parts of the body, making them a garment and vehicle for her three garments, wherein to be clothed, to wit, the thought, speech and act of the 613 commandments of the Torah.
However, in its essence and substance, the divine soul in the benoni has no preponderance over the animal soul, except at the time when his love for GOD manifests itself in his heart on propitious occasions, such as during prayer and the like. Even then it is limited to preponderance and dominion alone, as is written, “And one nation shall prevail over the other,” that is, when one rises the other falls, and vice versa. Thus, when the divine soul gains strength and ascendancy over the animal soul, in the source of gevurot which is binah, through pondering on the greatness of GOD, the blessed En Sof, thereby generating intense and flaming love of GOD in the right part of his heart— then the sitra achra in the left part is subdued. But it is not entirely abolished, in the case of the benoni; it is so only in a tzaddik, concerning whom it is said, “My heart is void within me.” The latter despises and hates evil with a consummate hatred and contempt, or without quite such complete hatred, as is explained above.
But in an “intermediate” person it is, by way of example, similar to a sleeping man, who can awaken from his sleep. So is the evil in the “intermediate” person dormant, as it were, in the left pan, during the recital of the Shema and the Prayer [Amidah], when his heart is aglow with the love of GOD, but later it can wake up again. For this reason Rabbah considered himself as though he were a benoni, though his mouth never ceased from study, and his desire was in GOD’s Torah, day and night, with the passionate craving and longing of a soul yearning for GOD with overwhelming love, such as experienced during the reciting of the Shema and Amidah. Hence he appeared in his own eyes like an “intermediate” who prays all day, as, indeed, our Sages have said, “Would that a man prayed the whole day long!”
Now, this quality of love of which we speak in the case of the “intermediate” people which is attained at the time of prayer by virtue of the preponderance of the divine soul, etc., is, in comparison with the degree attained by the tzaddikim who serve GOD in perfect truth, not called “true service” at all, since it passes and disappears after prayer, and it is written, “The lip of truth shall be established for ever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” Nevertheless, in relation to the rank of the “intermediate” people, it is regarded as a truly perfect service in terms of their [level of] truth, in each man relative to his standing in the ranks of the “intermediate.” For in their case, too, their love, during their prayers, may be termed “the lip of truth shall be established for ever,” since their divine soul has the power to reawaken this kind of love constantly, during its preponderance in time of prayer day after day, by means of an appropriate [mental] preparation, each soul according to its intrinsic quality and rank. For Truth is the attribute of Jacob, who is called the “Middle bolt which secures [everything] from end to end,” from the highest gradations and degrees to the end of all grades. And in each gradation and plane it fixes its bolt through the most central point, which is the point and quality of its attribute of Truth. The attribute of Truth is an unbounded inheritance which has no limit upwards to the highest degrees, while all lower gradations and degrees are as hothing compared with those that are superior to them. (As is known to those who are familiar with the Esoteric Discipline, that the quality which is, as it were, the “head” and “intellect” of lower grades, is inferior to the so-called “soles” and “feet” of the grades above them. Compare the statement of our Sages, “The feet of the chayyot measure up to all.”)
The rank of benoni is one that is attainable by every man, and each person should strive after it. Every person can at any time or hour be an “intermediate,” because the “intermediate” man does not revile evil— for that is a feeling entrusted to the heart, and not all times are alike. [His task is] only to “turn away from evil and do good,” in actual practice— in deed, speech or thought, wherein the choice, ability and freedom are given to every man that he may act, speak and think even what is contrary to the desire of his heart and diametrically opposed to it. Even when the heart craves and desires a material pleasure, whether permitted or, GOD forbid, prohibited, he can steel himself and divert his attention from it altogether, declaring to himself, “I will not be wicked even for a moment, because I will not be parted and separated, Heaven forefend! from the One GOD under any circumstances, being mindful of the admonition, ‘Your iniquities interpose between you and GOD.’ Nay, my real desire is to unite my nefesh, ruach and neshamah with Him, through investing them in His blessed three garments, namely, in action, speech and thought dedicated to GOD, His Torah and His commandments, by virtue of the love of GOD that is hidden in my heart, as in the heart of all Jews, who are called ‘lovers of Thy Name.’ Even the most unworthy among the worthless is capable of sacrificing himself for the sanctity of GOD; surely, I am not inferior to him. It is only that a spirit of folly has overcome him, and he imagines that committing a sin will not affect his Jewishness and his soul will not be severed thereby from the GOD of Israel, forgetting also about his love of GOD which is hidden in his heart. But as for me, I have no desire to be such a fool as he to deny the truth!”
It is different, however, with something that is entrusted to the heart, namely, that the evil should actually be despised in the heart and abhorred with absolute hatred, or even not quite so absolutely. This cannot be attained, truly and sincerely, except through great and intense love of GOD, the kind of ecstatic love and Divine bliss which is akin to the World to Come. Of this experience the Rabbis said, “Thy world wilt thou see in thy life,…” and not every man can attain this state, for this is in the nature of a gracious reward, as is written, “I will make your priestly office a rewarding service, .. .” as is explained elsewhere. Therefore did Job say, “Thou didst create tzaddikim… .” It is also found in Tikunei Zohar, that in the souls of [the people of] Israel there are many kinds of gradations and distinctions— pious men, strong men who gain mastery over their nature, scholars of the Torah, prophets,… tzaddikim, and so forth. Note there.
Now we can understand the redundancy of the oath, “Be righteous (tzaddik) and be not wicked,” which is unintelligible at first glance: Since he is warned, “Be righteous!” where is the need to put him on oath again that he shall not be wicked? The answer is, that inasmuch as not everyone is privileged to become a tzaddik, nor has a person the full advantage of choice in this matter to experience true delight in GOD and to actually and truly abhor evil; he is consequently adjured a second time: “Thou shalt,” at any rate, “not be wicked!” Here the right of choice and freedom is extended to every person, to check the drive of his heart’s desire and to conquer his nature, so that he shall not be wicked even for a moment throughout his life, whether in the realm of “turn away from evil” or in that of “do good,” there being no “good” other than Torah, that is the “Study of the Torah which balances them all.”
Nevertheless, a person must set aside specific periods in which to commune with his soul in order to cultivate the abhorrence of evil, as, for example, reminding himself of the admonition of our Sages that “Woman is a vessel full of filth,.. ,” and in like manner. So, too, all dainties and delicacies turn into a “vessel full of filth.” Likewise in regard to all pleasures of this world, the wise man foresees what becomes of them, for in the end they rot and become worms and dung. Conversely, [let him] delight and rejoice in GOD by reflection on the greatness of the blessed En Sof, to the best of his capacity. He may well realise that he cannot attain to this degree with a full measure of truth except in illusion; nevertheless he should do his part in an effort to uphold the oath administered to him, “Be righteous,” and GOD will do as He sees fit. Furthermore, habitude reigns supreme in any sphere and becomes second nature. Therefore if he accustoms himself to despise evil, it will to some extent become despicable in truth; similarly, when he accustoms himself to gladden his heart in GOD, through reflection on His greatness— for self-impulsion induces heavenly inspiration. With all that, perhaps a spirit from above will descend upon him, and he will merit something of the spirit (ruach) that is rooted in some tzaddik that will attach itself to him, so that he may serve G‑d with true joy, as is written, “Rejoice, O ye tzaddikim, in GOD.” Then will in truth be fulfilled in him the avowed oath: “Be righteous.”
With the above in mind, we may now understand the text, “Then shall ye again discern between the righteous man and the wicked man; between him that is serving GOD and him that serves Him not.”
The difference between “One who is serving GOD” and a righteous man (tzaddik) is, that “One who is serving (oved) GOD”— in the active present— is one who is engaged in “active service,” namely, the struggle against his evil nature in an effort to gain mastery over it and to banish it from the “small city,” that it should not vest itself in the organs of the body. Verily it entails much effort and toil to wage constant war with it. This is the benoni.
The tzaddik, however, is designated “Servant (eved) of GOD,” which is a title already earned, as the title “sage” or “king” is bestowed on one who has already become a sage or king. So is this person who has already effected and completely accomplished his task of waging war against the evil in him, with the result that he has expelled it and it has disappeared, and his heart has become “void within him.”
In the category of benoni there are also to be found two gradations, to wit, “One who is serving GOD” and “One who serves Him not.” Yet the latter is not wicked, for never in his life did he commit even a minor transgression and, moreover, he fulfilled all the commandments which were possible for him to fulfil, including the study of the Torah which balances everything else, his mouth never ceasing from study. The reason he is referred to as “one who serves Him not” is that he does not wage any battle against his [evil] disposition in order to vanquish it by means of the Divine light that irradiates the divine soul, whose abode is in the brain which predominates over the heart, as explained above; for his disposition does not confront him at all in an attempt to distract him from study and prayer, and he is consequently never obliged to wage war against it. Thus, for example, is the case of one who is by nature an assiduous student because he is organically so disposed, and is likewise free from conflict with regard to sexual desire by reason of his frigid nature, and similarly with the other mundane pleasures wherein he naturally lacks any feeling of enjoyment. Hence he does not need to concentrate so much on the greatness of GOD to consciously create a spirit of knowledge and fear of GOD in his mind, in order to guard himself against violation of the prohibitive commandments; or to arouse the love of GOD in his heart to induce his attachment to Him through the fulfillment of the [positive] commandments and the study of the Torah which balances everything else. For him suffices the hidden love that is in the heart of all Jews, who are called “The lovers of His name.” Therefore he is in no wise called “One who is serving,” inasmuch as this latent love is not of his making or accomplishment by any means, but it is our inheritance that has come down from the Patriarchs to the whole community of Israel, as will be discussed further.
So, too, is one who, although by nature not an assiduous student, has yet accustomed himself to study with great diligence, so that the habit has become second nature with him; for him, too, suffices the innate love, unless he wishes to study more than his wont.
This will explain the statement in the Gemara that “One who is serving GOD” refers to him who reviews his lesson 101 times, while “One who serves him not” refers to him who repeats his lesson no more than 100 times. This is because in those days it was customary to review each lesson one hundred times, as, indeed, illustrated in the Gemara, ibid., by the example taken from the market, where donkey-drivers used to hire themselves out at a rate of ten parasangs for a zuz, but for eleven parasangs charged two zuzim, because that exceeded their customary practice. For the same reason, the loist revision, which is beyond the normal practice to which the student had been accustomed since childhood, is considered equivalent to all the previous one hundred times put together, and even surpassing them in endurance and effort, hence entitling him to be called “One who is serving GOD.” For in order to change his habitual nature, he must arouse the love of GOD by means of meditation in his mind on the greatness of GOD, in order to gain mastery over the nature that is in the left part [of the heart] which is full of blood of the animal soul originating in the kelipah, whence comes his nature. This is a perfect service for a benoni. Or, he must awaken the hidden love in his heart to control, through it, the nature that is in the left part, for this, too, is called service— the waging of war against his nature and inclination, by means of exciting the love that is hidden in his heart. However, if he wages no war at all, the said love in itself can in no way be credited to his service.
This, then, is the important principle regarding the Divine Service for the benoni: The essential thing is to govern and rule the nature that is in the left ventricle [of the heart] by means of the Divine light that irradiates the divine soul in the mind. That is to say, to rule the heart by means of meditation in the mind on the greatness of the blessed En Sof, whereby his understanding will beget a spirit of knowledge and fear of the LORD in his mind, to make him turn away from the evil condemned by the Torah, or by the Rabbis, even from a minor Rabbinic prohibition, Heaven forbid; and [at the same time arousing] the love of GOD in his heart, in the right part, with a fervour and desire to cleave to Him through the fulfillment of the precepts of the Torah and of the Rabbis, and through the study of the Torah which is equivalent to them all.
Furthermore, one must know an additional important principle in the service of the “intermediates.” This is that even if the capacity of one’s intellect and the spirit of one’s understanding do not attain to the level of producing a revealed love of GOD in one’s heart, to make it glow like burning coals with a great desire and yearning and heartfelt passion to cleave unto Him, but the love is hidden in one’s brain and in the recesses of one’s heart,
Note: The reason for this is that the vitality of this person’s intellect and ncfesh, ruach and neshamah is derived from the so-called ibbur (“gestation”) and concealment within the [Supernal] understanding, and not from the quality of birth and revelation— as it is known to those familiar with the Esoteric Discipline.
that is to say, the heart comprehends, with the spirit of wisdom and understanding in the brain, the greatness of the blessed En Sof, in relation to Whom all else has absolutely no reality, for which reason it is due unto Him, blessed be He, that the soul of every living creature should yearn for Him, to cleave and be absorbed in His light; likewise is it fitting for the nefesh and ruach within him to languish for Him, with a fervent desire to emerge from their sheath, which is the body, in order to cleave to Him; except that they dwell perforce in the body and are bound up in it, like deserted wives; and no thought of theirs can grasp Him at all, except when it grasps, and is vested in, the Torah and its commandments, as in the example of embracing the king, mentioned above; therefore, it is proper for them to embrace Him with their whole heart, soul and might, which means the fulfillment of the 613 commandments in act, speech and thought, the last being the comprehension and knowledge of the Torah, as explained above.
Consequently, when [the benoni] ponders this subject in the recesses of his heart’s and mind’s understanding, with a unanimity of mouth and heart, in that he upholds by word of mouth that which has been resolved in the understanding of his heart and mind, namely to direct his desire towards the Divine Torah, meditating on it day and night in oral study, while his hands and other bodily organs carry out the commandments, in accordance with the resolution of his heart’s and mind’s understanding, then this understanding is clothed in the act, speech and thought of the Torah and its commandments, providing for them, as it were, intelligence, vitality and “wings” wherewith to soar on high. It is the same as if he practised them with real fear and love as revealed in his heart (with a desire, fervour and passion that are felt in the heart and soul thirsting for GOD, by reason of the glowing embers of love in his heart, as mentioned above), inasmuch as it is this understanding in his brain and heart’s recesses that is instrumental in leading him to engage in them, and had he not so delved in it, he would not have occupied himself with them at all, but with his physical needs alone. (And even if he is naturally disposed to be an assiduous student, nevertheless he would naturally love his body more.)
Our Sages, of blessed memory, hinted at this when they said, “The Holy One, blessed be He, unites a good thought to the deed.” One would have expected them to say, that the Torah regards the good thought as if it had been put into practice. The explanation, however, is that it is the revealed fear and love in the heart that are clothed in the act of the commandments, giving them vitality to soar on high, inasmuch as the heart is also corporeal, as the other parts of the body which are the instruments of the action, except that it is internal and their source of vitality; therefore it can clothe itself in their act, to be their “wings” wherewith to ascend. However, the above-mentioned fear and love that are in the intelligence of the brain and the recesses of the heart are of an infinitely higher order than that of “action” and they cannot clothe themselves in the performance of the commandments to become their intelligence and vitality, as it were, to uplift them to soar upwards, were it not for the fact that the Holy One, blessed be He, fuses and unites them together with the action; hence they are called “good thought,” for they are not actual awe and love in a revealed state in the heart, but only in the intelligence of the brain and in the recesses of the heart, as mentioned above.
Note: Thus it is also written in the Zohar and Etz Chayim, that תבונה (intelligence) contains the letters בן ובת (“son and daughter”), referring to awe and love; and sometimes it descends to become the intelligence in the feminine principle ze’er anpin, represented in the letters of the Torah and the commandments, as the initiated will understand.
But the Almighty produces this coalescence in order to elevate the performance of the commandments and study of the Torah— which are carried out under the influence of the said good thought— into the world of Beriah, the abode to which ascend the Torah and commandments that are performed through intelligent awe and love which are truly revealed in the heart. But even without this they still rise to the World of Yetzirah, by means of the natural fear and love which are latent in the heart of all Jews from birth, as will be later explained at length.
With the above in mind, one can understand the Scriptural text, “But the thing is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”
At first glance, the statement that “The thing is very nigh unto thee… in thy heart” seems to be contrary to our experience (yet the Torah is eternal ). For it is not a “very nigh thing” to change one’s heart from mundane desires to a sincere love of GOD. Indeed, it is stated in the Gemara, “Is fear [of Heaven] a small thing?” How much more so— love. Moreover, the Rabbis also said, that only tzaddikim have control over their hearts.
But the words “That thou mayest do it” refer to a love which merely leads to the performance of the commandments, this being the hidden desire of the heart (רעותא דלבה ), even if it does not glow openly like flaming coals. This thing is very near, and it is easy for any person who has brains in his head, for his brain is under his control, and he is able to concentrate it on anything he wishes. If, then, he will contemplate with it on the greatness of the blessed En Sof, he will inevitably generate in his mind, at least, the love of GOD to cleave unto Him through the performance of His commandments and Torah.
And this constitutes the whole [purpose of] man, for it is written, “This day to do them”— “this day” referring specifically to the world of [physical] action, while “tomorrow” [i.e., in afterlife] is the time of reward, as is explained elsewhere. The mind, in turn, by virtue of its inherent nature, is master over the left part of the heart, and over the mouth and all the limbs which are the instruments of action,
except in him who is completely wicked, as the Rabbis said, that the wicked are under the control of their heart, but their heart is in no wise controlled by them. This is a punishment for the enormity and potency of their sin. But the Torah does not speak of these “dead” who in their life are called “dead.” Indeed, it is impossible for the wicked to begin to serve GOD without their first repenting for their past— in order to shatter the kelipot, which form a sundering curtain and an iron partition that interpose between them and their Father in Heaven— by means of contriteness of heart and bitterness of soul over their sins, as is explained in the Zohar on the verse, “The sacrifices of GOD are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart… .” For through breaking one’s heart the spirit of uncleanliness of the sitra achra is broken (see ibid, on Parshat Pinchas, p. 240, and on Parshat Vayikra, p. 8 and p. 5, and the commentary of the “Ramaz” thereon).
This is the category of “lower repentance,” whereby the lower [letter] “Art/” is raised up from its fall into the forces of evil, which is the mystery of the Shechinah in exile, as our Rabbis, of blessed memory state, “When they [the Israelites] were exiled into Edom, the Shechinah went with them.” That is to say, when a person practises the acts of “Edom” he degrades and brings down thither the Divine spark which vitalises his nefesh, ruach and neshamah that are clothed within him in the animal soul of the kelipah, which is in the left part of his heart, which reigns over him as long as he remains wicked, dominating his “small city,” while the nefesh, ruach and neshamah are forced into exile under it. But when his heart breaks within him, and the spirit of uncleanliness and of the sitra achra is broken, and [the forces of evil are] dispersed, then [the Shechinah] rises from its fall and remains upright, as is explained elsewhere.
To explain more adequately and more precisely the word “very” in the verse, “But the thing is very nigh unto thee,. . .”
It should be recognised with certainty that even the person whose understanding in the knowledge of GOD is limited, and who has no heart to comprehend the greatness of the blessed En Sof, to produce therefrom awe and love [of GOD] even in his mind and understanding alone— however it is a “very nigh thing” for him to observe and practise all the commandments of the Torah and the “Study of the Torah which counter-balances them all,” in his very mouth and heart, from the depths of his heart, in true sincerity, with fear and love; namely, the hidden love in the heart of all Jews which is an inheritance to us from our Patriarchs.
However, we must, first of all, preface a clear and precise explanation of the origin and essence of this love, how it became our inheritance, and how awe is also incorporated in it.
The explanation is as follows: The Patriarchs verily constituted the “Chariot,” and therefore they merited [the blessing of] transmitting to their descendants, coming after them for ever, a nefesh, ruach and neshamah from the ten holy Sefirot of the four worlds of Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, to each according to his station and according to his works. Even the most worthless of worthless men and the sinners of Israel are thus endowed, at the time of marital union, with, at any rate, a Nefesh d’Nefesh of Malchut d’Asiyah (Royalty in world of Action), which is the lowest grade of holiness [in the world] ofAsiyah. Nevertheless, since the latter is of the ten holy Sefrot it is compounded of them all, including Chochmah d’Asiyah (Wisdom of the world of Action), wherein is clothed Chochmah d’ Malchut d’Atzilut (Wisdom of Royalty in the world of Emanation), incorporating Chochmah d’Atzilut (Wisdom of the world of Emanation) which is illuminated by the light of the blessed En Sof itself, as is written, “The LORD hath founded the earth in wisdom,” and “In wisdom hast Thou made them all.” Thus it comes to pass that the blessed En Sof is garbed, as it were, in the wisdom of the human soul, of whatever sort of a Jew he may be. [In turn,] the soul’s faculty of wisdom, together with the light of the blessed En Sof that is vested in it, spreads throughout the entire soul, animating it “from head to foot,” so to speak, as is written, “Wisdom giveth life to them that have it.” (At times sinners of Israel may even bring down very lofty souls which had been in the’depths of the kelipot, as is explained in the Sefer Ha-Gilgulim.)
Now, chochmah (wisdom) is the source of intelligence and comprehension, and it is above binah (understanding) which is intellectual understanding and comprehension, whereas chochmah is above them, and their source. Note the etymological composition of the word חכמה— כ”ח מ”ה (“the potentiality of what is”), that which is not yet comprehended and understood, or grasped intellectually; consequently there is vested in it the light of the En Sof, blessed be He, Who can in no way be comprehended by any thought. Hence all Jews, even the women and the illiterate, believe in GOD, since faith is beyond understanding and comprehension, for “The simple believeth every thing, but the prudent man understandeth. . . .” But with regard to the Holy One, blessed be He, Who is beyond intelligence and knowledge, and Who can in no wise be comprehended by any thought— all men are like fools in His blessed presence, as is written, “So brutish am I, and ignorant: I am as a beast before Thee; yet I am continually with Thee,.. ,” meaning that “Because I am brutish and as a beast, I am continually with Thee.” Therefore even the most worthless of worthless and the transgressors of the Israelites, in the majority of cases sacrifice their lives for the sanctity of GOD’s Name and suffer harsh torture rather than deny the one GOD, although they be boors and illiterate and ignorant of GOD’s greatness. [For] whatever little knowledge they do possess, they do not delve therein at all, [and so] they do not give up their lives by reason of any knowledge and contemplation of GOD. Rather [do they suffer martyrdom] without any knowledge and reflection, but as if it were absolutely impossible to renounce the one GOD; and without any reason or hesitation whatever. This is because the one GOD illuminates and animates the entire nefesh, through being clothed in its faculty of chochmah, which is beyond any graspable and understood knowledge or intelligence.
To elucidate still further, it is necessary to clarify the meaning of the verse, “The candle of GOD is the soul (neshamah) of man.” What it means is that the souls of Jews, who are called “man,” are, by way of illustration, like the flame of the candle, whose nature it is always to scintillate upwards, for the flame of the fire intrinsically seeks to be parted from the wick in order to unite with its source above, in the universal element of fire which is in the sublunar sphere, as is explained in Etz Chayim. And although it would thereby be extinguished and emit no light at all below, and even above, in its source, its light would be nullified, nevertheless this is what it seeks in accordance with its nature.
In like manner does the neshamah of man, including the quality of ruach and nefesh, naturally desire and yearn to separate itself and depart from the body in order to unite with its origin and source in GOD, the fountain-head of all life, blessed be He, though thereby it would become null and void, completely losing its entity therein, with nothing remaining of its former essence and being. Nevertheless, this is its will and desire by its nature.
“Nature” is an applied term for anything that is not in the realm of reason and comprehension. In our case, too, the inference is that this will and desire of the soul are not within the realm of reason, knowledge and intelligence that can be grasped and understood, but beyond graspable and comprehensible knowledge and intelligence; for this nature stems from the faculty of chochmah found in the soul, wherein abides the light of the blessed En Sof.
Now this is a general principle in the whole realm of holiness— it [holiness] is only that which is derived from chochmah called קודש העליון (“supreme holiness”), whose existence is nullified in the light of the blessed En Sof which is clothed in it, so that it is not a thing apart, as is explained above; therefore it is called koach mah [power of humility and abnegation]. This stands in direct contrast to the so-called kelipah and sitra achra, wherefrom are derived the souls of the gentiles who work for themselves alone, demanding, “Give, give!” and “Feed me!” in order to become independent beings and entities, as mentioned above, in direct contrast to the category of chochmah. Therefore they are called “dead,” for “wisdom (chochmah) gives life,” and it is also written, “They die, without wisdom.” So are the wicked and transgressors of Israel before they face the test to sanctify GOD’s Name. For the faculty of chochmah which is in the divine soul, with the spark of Godliness from the light of the blessed En Sof that is clothed in it, is, as it were, in exile in their body, within the animal soul coming from the kelipah, in the left part of the heart, which reigns and holds sway over their body; in accordance with the esoteric doctrine of the exile of the Shechinah, as mentioned earlier.
For this reason, this love of the divine soul, whose desire and wish is to unite with GOD, the blessed fountain-head of all life, is called “hidden love,” for it is hidden and veiled, in the case of the transgressors of Israel, in the sackcloth of the kelipah, whence there enters into them a spirit of folly to sin, as the Rabbis have said, “A person does not sin unless the spirit of folly has entered into him”
However, this exile of the faculty of chochmah refers only to that aspect of it which is diffused throughout the nefesh and animates it. Yet the root and core of this faculty of the divine soul remains in the brain and does not clothe itself in the sackcloth of the kelipah in the left part of the heart, in veritable exile, but it is, as it were, dormant in the case of the wicked, not exercising its influence in them so long as their knowledge and understanding are preoccupied with mundane pleasures. Nevertheless, when they are confronted with a test in a matter of faith, which transcends knowledge, touching the very soul and the faculty of chochmah within it, at such time it is aroused from its sleep and it exerts its influence by virtue of the Divine force that is clothed in it, as is written, “Then the LORD awaked as one out of sleep.” [On such occasion the sinner is inspired] to withstand the test of faith in GOD, without any reasoning, or knowledge, or intelligence that may be comprehended by him, and to prevail over the kelipah and temptations of this world, whether permitted or prohibited, to which he had been accustomed— even to despise them, and to choose GOD as his portion and lot, yielding to Him his soul [to suffer martyrdom] in order to sanctify His Name. For, even though the kelipot had prevailed over him all his life and he was impotent against them, as the Rabbis have said that “The wicked are under the control of their heart,” yet when he faces a test challenging his faith in the One GOD, [a faith] which has its roots in the uppermost heights of holiness, namely, the faculty of chochmah of the divine soul, in which is clothed the light of the blessed En Sof, then all the kelipot are made null and void, and they vanish, as though they had never been, in the presence of the LORD. So it is written, “All the nations are as nothing before Him,.. ,” and “For, lo, Thine enemies, O LORD, for lo, Thine enemies shall perish; and the workers of iniquity shall be scattered,” and, again, “As wax melteth before fire, so shall the wicked perish,” and “The hills melted like wax.”
The force of the Divine light of the blessed En So/that is clothed in the soul’s chochmah is great and powerful enough to banish and repel the sitra achra and the kelipot so that they could not even touch its garments, namely, the thought, speech and act of faith in the One GOD. In other words, [it enables one] to withstand a test of self-sacrifice, to the extent of even refusing to do some single act that is contrary to the faith in the One GOD, such as, for example, to bow to an idol, even without acknowledging it in his heart at all, or to utter any false notion, Heaven forbid, regarding the unity of GOD, be it merely by way of rendering lip-service only, while his heart remains perfect in the belief in GOD. This is called “Fear that is contained in love,” the natural love of the divine soul that is found in all Jews, the intrinsic desire and will of which is to be attached to its origin and source in the light of the blessed En Sof. For by virtue of this love and this desire, it instinctively recoils in fear and dread from touching even the fringe of the impurity of idolatry, Heaven forbid, which denies the faith in one GOD, even where such contact involves only its outer garments, namely, speech and act; without any faith whatever in the heart.
It is well known that the commandment and admonition concerning idolatry, which are contained, in the first two commandments of the Decalogue— “I am” and “Thou shalt not have any other gods,” comprise the entire Torah. For the commandment “I am” contains all the 248 positive precepts, whilst the commandment “Thou shalt not have” contains all the 365 prohibitions. That is why we heard only “I am” and “Thou shalt not have” directly from the Almighty, as our Sages say, “Because these two are the sum-total ot the whole Torah.”
In order to elucidate this matter clearly, we must first briefly refer to the subject and essence of the Unity of the Holy One, blessed be He, Who is called One and Unique, and “All believe that He is All Alone,” exactly as He was before the world was created, when there was naught beside Him, as is written, “Thou wast the same ere the world was created; Thou hast been the same since the world hath been created… .” This means: exactly the same without any change, as it is written, “For I, the LORD, have not changed,” inasmuch as this world and likewise all supernal worlds do not effect any change in His blessed Unity, by their having been created ex nihilo. For just as He was All Alone, Single and Unique, before they were created, so is He One and Alone, Single and Unique after they were created, since, beside Him, everything is as nothing,
verily as null and void. For the coming into being of all the upper and nether worlds out of non-being, and their life and existence sustaining them from reverting to non-existence and nought, as was before, is nothing else but the word of GOD and the breath of His blessed mouth that is clothed in them.
To illustrate from the soul of a human being:
When a man utters a word, this utterance in itself is as absolutely nothing even when compared only with his general “articulate soul,” which is the so-called middle “garment,” namely, its faculty of speech, which can produce speech without limit or end; all the more when it is compared with its so-called innermost “garment,” to wit, its faculty of thought, which is the source of speech and its life-force; not to mention when it is compared with the essence and entity of the soul, these being its ten attributes mentioned above, viz. chochmah, binah, da at (ChaBaD), and so on, from which are derived the “letters” of thought that are clothed in the speech when it is uttered. For thought can as much be defined in terms of “letters” as speech, except that in the former they are more spiritual and refined.
But the ten attributes— ChaBaD, and so forth— are the root and source of thought, and, prior to their being clothed in the garment of thought, still lack the element of “letters.” For example, when a man suddenly becomes conscious of a certain love or desire in his heart, before it has risen from the heart to the brain to think and meditate about it, it has not yet acquired the element of “letters”; it is only a simple desire and longing in the heart for the object of his affection. All the more so before he began to feel in his heart a craving and desire for that thing, and it is as yet confined within the realm of his wisdom, intellect and knowledge, that is, the thing is known to him to be desirable and gratifying, something good and pleasant to attain and to cling to, as, for instance, to learn some wisdom or to eat some delicious food. Only after the desire and craving have already found their way into the heart, through the stimulus of his wisdom, intellect and knowledge, and thence ascended once more back to the brain, to think and meditate on how to translate his craving from the potential into the practical, with a view to actually obtaining that food or acquiring that wisdom— it is here that the so-called “letters” are born in his mind, such “letters” corresponding to the language of each nation, employing them in speech and thought about all things in the world.
However, “The nature of the Divine order is not like that of a creature of flesh and blood.” When a man utters a word, the breath emitted in speaking is something that can be sensed and perceived as a thing apart, separated from its source, namely, the ten faculties of the soul itself. But with the Holy One, blessed be He, His speech is not, Heaven forfend, separated from His blessed Self, for there is nothing outside of Him, and there is no place devoid of Him. Therefore, His blessed speech is not like our speech, GOD forbid, (just as His thought is not like our thought, as is written, ‘For My thoughts are not like your thoughts,” and “So My ways are higher than your ways,…” ). His blessed speech is called “speech” only by way of an anthropomorphic illustration, in the sense that, as in the case of man below, whose speech reveals to his audience what was hidden and concealed in his thoughts, so, too, is it on high with the blessed En Sof, Whose emitted light and life-force— as it emerges from Him, from concealment into revelation, to create worlds and to sustain them— is called “speech.” These [emanations] are indeed, the ten flats by which the world was created; likewise also the remainder of the Torah, Prophets and Hagiographa, which the Prophets conceived in their prophetic vision.
Yet His so-called speech and thought are united with Him in absolute union as, for example, a person’s speech and thought whilst they are still in potentia in his wisdom and intellect, or in a desire and craving that are still in the heart prior to rising from the heart to the brain, where by cogitation they are formulated into the so-called “letters”; for at that time the “letters” of thought and speech which evolve from that longing or desire, were still in potentia in the heart, where they were absolutely fused with their root, namely, the wisdom and intellect in the brain, and the longing and desire in the heart.
Verily so, by way of example, are the “speech” and “thought” of the Holy One, blessed be He, absolutely united with His blessed essence and being, even after His blessed “speech” has already become materialised in the creation of the worlds, just as it was united with Him ere the worlds were created. There is thus no manner of change in His blessed Self, but only for the created beings which receive their life-force from His blessed “word”, as it were, in its revealed state at the creation of the worlds, in which it is clothed, giving them life through a process of gradual descent from cause to effect and a downward gradation, by means of numerous and various contractions, until the created beings can receive their life and existence from it, without losing their entity.
These “contractions” are all in the nature of “veiling of the Countenance,” to obscure and conceal the light and life-force that are derived from His blessed “word,” so that it shall not reveal itself in a greater radiance than the lower worlds are capable of receiving. Hence it seems to them as if the light and life-force of the word of the Omnipresent, blessed be He, which is clothed in them, were something apart from His blessed Self, and it only issues from Him, just as the speech of a human being [issues] from his soul. Yet, in regard to the Holy One, blessed be He, no concealment or delitescency hides or obscures anything from Him, to Whom darkness is like light, as is written, “Yea, the darkness obscureth not from Thee… .” For all the “contractions” and “garments” are not things distinct from Him, Heaven forfend, but “Like the snail, whose garment is part of his body,” and as is written, “The Lord, He is GOD,” as is explained elsewhere. Therefore, in His Presence all else is of no account whatever.
Yet, since “The Torah employs human language,” the “word” of GOD, blessed be He, is actually called “speech,” like the speech of a human being, for in truth it is so, by virtue of the descent and flow of the life-force to the lower planes, by means of many and powerful contractions of various kinds, in order that many diverse creatures be created from them.
Indeed, so great and powerful are the contractions and concealment of the Countenance, that even unclean things, kelipot and sitra achra, can come into being and be created, receiving their life and existence from the Divine word and the breath of His blessed mouth, in concealment of His Countenance and by virtue of the downward gradations.
Therefore are [the kelipot] called “other gods” (אלוהים אחרים ), for their nurture and life are not of the so-called “Countenance” but of the so-called “hinder part” (אחוריים ) of holiness; “hinder” exemplifying the act of a person giving something unwillingly to an enemy, when he throws it to him over his shoulder, as it were, having turned away his face from him since he hates him.
So, on high, the term “Countenance” exemplifies the inner quality of the Supernal Will and true desire, in which GOD delights to dispense life from the realm of holiness to everyone who is near to Him.
But the sitra achra, and unholiness, is “An abomination unto G‑d which He hates,” and He does not give it life from His inner will and true desire as if He delighted in it, Heaven forbid, but in the manner of one who reluctantly throws something over his shoulder to his enemy; [He does so] only to punish the wicked and to give a goodly reward to the righteous who subjugate the sitra achra. This is [why it is] called the “hinder-part” of the Supernal Will.
Now, the Supernal Will, of the quality of “Countenance,” is the source of life which animates all worlds. But since it is in no way bestowed on the sitra achra, and even the so-called “hinder-part” of the Supernal Will is not actually clothed in it, but merely hovers over it from above, therefore it is the abode of death and defilement— may G‑d preserve us! For the tiny amount of light and life that it derives and absorbs into itself from the so-called “hinder-part” of the supernal holiness is, as it were, in a state of actual exile in it, as an aspect of the esoteric doctrine of the exile of the Shechinah, referred to above.
Therefore, also, it is termed “other gods,” since it constitutes actual idolatry and denial of the unity of the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. For inasmuch as the light and life of holiness are, as it Were, in a state of exile, within it, it does not surrender itself in any degree to the holiness of the Holy One, blessed be He. On the contrary, it surges upward like an eagle, saying, “I am, and there is nothing beside me,’ or, as the utterance, “My river is mine own, and I have made myself.” That is why the Rabbis, of blessed memory, said that arrogance truly compares with idolatry, for the essence and root of idolatry is that it is regarded as a thing in itself, sundered from the Divine holiness; it does not imply an outright denial of G‑d, as is stated in the Gemara that they [the heathens] call Him “The GOD of gods,” thus only presuming themselves also to be entities and independent beings. But thereby they separate themselves from the blessed Divine holiness, since they do not surrender themselves to Him. For the supernal holiness rests only on what is surrendered to Him, as is explained above. Therefore they are called in the holy Zohar “Peaks of separation” But this constitutes a denial of His true unity, where everything is as nothing compared with Him and truly nullified before Him and before His will which animates them all and constantly gives them existence out of nothing.
In the light of all that has been said above, we can better understand and more fully and clearly elucidate the statement in the Zohar that “The Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are entirely one,” and the commentary in the Tikunim that “The 248 commandments are the 248 ‘organs’ of the King.”
The commandments constitute the innermost Supreme Will and His true desire which are clothed in all the upper and nether worlds, thereby giving them life, inasmuch as their very life and sustenance is dependent upon the performance of the commandments by the [creatures], in the lower world, as is known.
It follows that the performance of the commandments and their fulfillment is the innermost garment of the innermost Supreme Will, since it is due to this performance that the light and life of the Supreme Will issue forth to be clothed in the worlds.
Hence they are called “organs” of the King, as a figure of speech, for just as the organs of the human body are a garment for its soul and are completely and utterly surrendered to it, as evidenced from the fact that as soon as a person desires to stretch out his hand or foot, they obey his will immediately and forthwith, without any command or instruction to them and with no hesitation whatever, but in the very instant that he wills it; so, by way of example, is the life-force animating the performance of the commandments and their fulfillment completely surrendered to the Supreme Will which is clothed therein, becoming in relation to it like a body to a soul.
Likewise the external garment of the divine soul in the person fulfilling arid practising the commandment— this being its faculty of action— clothes itself in the vitality of the performance of the commandment, thus also becoming like a body in relation to the soul, the “soul” being the Supreme Will to which it is completely surrendered. In this way, the organs of the human body which perform the commandment— in which the divine soul’s faculty of action is clothed at the time of the act and fulfillment of the commandment— truly become a vehicle for the Supreme Will; as, for example, the hand which distributes charity to the poor or performs another commandment; or the feet which carry a person towards the performance of a commandment; similarly with the mouth and tongue engaged in uttering the words of the Torah, or the brain engaged in reflecting on the words of the Torah or on the fear of Heaven, or the greatness of GOD, blessed be He.
This is what the Sages meant when they said that “The Patriarchs are truly the chariot,” for all their organs were completely holy and detached from mundane matters, serving as a vehicle solely for the Supreme Will alone throughout their lives.
As for the thought and meditation— in the words of the Torah— that are in the brain, and the power of speech— engaged in the words of the Torah— that is in the mouth, these being the innermost garments of the divine soul, not to mention the divine soul itself which is clothed in them— all of them are completely merged in perfect unity with the Supreme Will, and are not merely a vehicle. For the Supreme Will is identical with the very subject of the halachah wherein one thinks and speaks, inasmuch as all the laws are particular streams flowing from the inner Supreme Will itself, since His blessed Will willed it that a particular act be permissible, or a food ritually fit for consumption, or this [person] inculpable and that entirely innocent, or the reverse. So also are the letter combinations of the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographa a promulgation of His will and wisdom which are united with the blessed En Sof in perfect unity, since He is the Knower and the Knowledge, and so forth. This, then, is the meaning of the above mentioned quotation that “The Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are altogether One,” and not merely “organs” of the King as are the commandments.
Now, since at such time as a person occupies himself with the words of the Torah, the Supreme Will, united as it is in perfect unity with the blessed En Sof, is completely manifest and in no way obscured in the divine soul and its innermost garments, i.e. its thought and speech — it follows that the soul and its garments are also at such time veritably united with the blessed En Sofia, perfect unity, like the union of the “speech” and “thought” of the Holy One, blessed be He, with His essence and being, as mentioned above. For there is no separate thing except through “concealment of the Countenance” as explained there. Moreover, their union is even of a higher and profounder order than the union of the blessed En Sof with the upper worlds, since the Supreme Will is actually manifest in the soul and its garments when they are engaged in the Torah, because it is identical with the Torah; while all the supernal worlds receive their vitality from the light and life that are derived from the Torah, which is His Will and Wisdom, as it is written, “In wisdom Thou hast made them all.” Thus, His Wisdom, i.e. the Torah, is above them all, and it is identical with His blessed Will which is described as “encompassing” all worlds, i.e. that aspect which cannot clothe itself within the worlds, but animates and illuminates in a transcending and encompassing manner. Yet, it [this very light] does clothe itself in the human soul and its garments in a truly manifest form, when the person occupies himself with the words of the Torah, even though he does not perceive it,.. . (— this is what enables him to endure it, because he does not perceive it; it is otherwise, however, in the case of the upper spheres).
With the above in mind, it becomes clear why the study of the Torah excels so much over all other commandments, including even prayer which is the unifying force of the upper spheres. (As for the ruling that one, whose study of the Torah is not his entire occupation, must interrupt his study for prayer, this is only because he pauses and interrupts his studies anyway ).
From this the intelligent man will be able to draw a sense of great awe as he occupies himself with the Torah, considering how his soul, and its “garments” in the brain and mouth, are truly merged in perfect unity with the Supreme Will and light of the blessed En Sof which are manifest in them, compared with which all the worlds, supernal and nether, are truly as nought and as a nonentity and nullity, so much so that the Divine light is not actually clothed in them, but merely surrounds all the worlds in a form of “encirclement,” as it were, in order to provide their essential source of life; only some glow which they can bear is clothed in them, in order that they should not revert to nought altogether.
This is the meaning of the verse, “And GOD commanded us [to do] all these statutes, in order to fear GOD… ,” [Regarding this “great fear” it was said, ‘Where there is no wisdom, there is no fear,” and in relation to it the Torah is called “A gateway to the dwelling,” as is explained elsewhere]. However, not every mind can sustain such fear; yet even he whose mind cannot bear such fear at all, whether in whole or in part, because of the inferiority of his soul’s level in its root and source in the lower gradations of the ten sefirot of the World of Asiyah, nevertheless the lack of such fear is no obstacle to performance, as will be explained later.”
Antithetically, the 365 prohibitive commandments of the Torah, as well as the Rabbinic injunctions, since they are contrary to His blessed Will and Wisdom and, indeed, the very opposite thereof, represent total and complete separation from His blessed Unity and Oneness, the same as the sitra achra and kelipah which are called avodah zarah (idolatry) and “other gods” because of the “Hiding of the Countenance” of the Supreme Will, as is explained above.
Likewise the three “garments” of the nefesh stemming from the kelipat nogah in Jews, namely, thought, speech and action, when clothed in the 365 prohibitive commands of the Torah, or in the Rabbinic injunctions, as also the essence of the nefesh itself which pervades these garments— all become actually united with the said sitra achra and kelipah, called avodah zarah. Furthermore, they become subordinate and secondary to it [the kelipah ], and considerably inferior and more debased than it. For the kelipah is not clothed in a corporeal body, and it knows its Master and is not rebellious against Him by any independent act of sending its evil messengers, GOD forbid, when not commissioned by the Omnipresent, blessed be He. Witness Balaam‘s statement, “I cannot go beyond the word of GOD… .” And even though it is called avodah zarah, He is, at least, acknowledged as “The GOD of Gods,” and the latter are utterly powerless to contravene His blessed Will, for they know and apprehend that He is their life and sustenance, since they derive their nurture from the so-called “hinder-most part” of the blessed Supreme Will which encompasses diem. It is only because their sustenance and inner life-source are, as it were, in “exile” within them that they presume to regard themselves as gods, which is a denial of His unity. Nevertheless they are not so completely heretical as to deny GOD and to assert that He does not exist; only they regard Him as the “GOD of Gods,” recognising that their life and existence are [ultimately] derived and bestowed upon them from His blessed Will. Therefore they are never rebellious against His blessed Will.
If this be so, then the person who opposes His blessed Will is exceedingly inferior to and more debased than the sitra achra and the kelipah, called avodah zarah and “strange gods,” and he is completely sundered from His Unity and Oneness, even more than they, as though denying His unity more radically than they, GOD forbid.
Compare what is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 42, end of ch. 4, that the evil which is in this material world is the dregs of the coarse kelipot, …; hence the ultimate in the purifying process, and so on. Therefore are all worldly things severe and evil, and the wicked prevail in it, and so forth.
This explains the commentary of our Sages, of blessed memory, on the verse, “If any man’s wife turn aside,” that “no person commits any transgression [unless a spirit of folly has entered into him].” For even an adulterous woman, with her frivolous nature, could have controlled her passionate drive, were it not for the spirit of folly in her which covers, obscures and conceals the hidden love of her divine soul yearning to cleave to her faith in GOD, in His Unity and Oneness, and not to be parted, GOD forbid, even at the cost of her life, from His Unity, by idolatrous worship, GOD forbid, be it only by an outward acknowledgment, without any belief at all in her heart. Surely she could subdue the temptation and lust of adultery, which is lighter suffering than death, may GOD protect us! But the distinction she makes between the interdict against adultery and that against bowing to an idol is also but a spirit of folly stemming from the kelipah which envelops the divine soul up to, but not including, its faculty of chochmah, because of the Divine light that is clothed in that faculty, as mentioned above.
The real truth, however, is that even in the case of a minor sin, the offender transgresses against the blessed Supreme Will and is completely sundered from His blessed Unity and Oneness even more than the sitra achra and the kelipah, called “strange gods” and “idolatry,’ and than all things that are derived therefrom in this world, to wit, the unclean cattle and beasts, and unclean birds, and the abominable insects and reptiles. To quote: “The gnat was [created] ahead of thee [man],” which means that even the gnat— which consumes but does not excrete, and is the lowest kelipah and the most distant from holiness, which bestows benevolence even at the greatest distance— precedes the sinful man in the descending gradation and flow of life from the blessed Supreme Will. All the more so the other unclean living creatures, and even the fierce beasts, all of which do not deflect from their purpose but obey His blessed command, even though they cannot perceive it… , To quote further, “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth,” eliciting the commentary of our Sages, of blessed memory, that “No evil beast defies a human being unless he appears to it like an animal.” While confronting the righteous, from whose face the Divine image never departs, the evil beasts are humbled before them, as is stated in the Zohar of Daniel in the lions’ den.
It is, therefore, clear that he who sins and transgresses against His blessed Will, even in a minor offence, is, at the time he commits it, more completely removed from the Supreme Holiness, namely His blessed Unity and Oneness, than all the unclean living creatures and abominable insects and reptiles which derive their sustenance from the sitra achra and the kelipah of “idolatry.”
As for the principle that saving a life overrides certain prohibitions, and the circumstances when the law calls for the commission of a transgression so as to escape death— this is in accordance with the explanation of our Sages, of blessed memory, that “The Torah declares, ‘violate one Sabbath for him, that he may observe many Sabbaths,'” and not because of the relative lenity or gravity of the sins. (This is supported by the fact that the violation of the Sabbath is extremely grave and comparable with idolatry in relation to the law of animal slaughtering by one who is a habitual transgressor of any particular Jewish precept, as codified in Yore Deah Sect. II, unlike the case of one whose particular wilful sin is that of incest. Nevertheless, when it is a question of saving a life, the prohibitions of the Sabbath are suspended, but never those of incest. Ergo, it is a decree of Holy Writ.)
After the sinful act, however, if it belongs to the category of sins the penalty for which is neither karet (spiritual extinction) nor death by Divine visitation, in which case the divine soul does not entirely perish and is not completely cut off from its root in the living G‑d, except that through this sin its attachment to, and connection with, its root has been weakened somewhat— in that case his vitalising
Note: According to the extent and specific nature of the blemish [thus caused] in the soul and in its roots in the upper spheres, are the various so-called purifying processes and retributions in Purgatory, or in this world— an appropriate retribution for each transgression and sin, in order to cleanse and remove the stain and blemish. Nor is the blemish always identical in the case of transgressions punishable by death or spiritual extinction (karet).
animal soul which is clothed in the body, and also his body, return and rise from the sitra achra and kelipah and draw closer to the holiness of the divine soul that pervades them, which believes in One GOD, and remains faithful to Him even at the time when the sin is committed, except that it is then in a state of veritable “exile,” as it were, within the animal soul of the sitra achra which has caused the body to sin and has dragged it down with itself into the depths of Sheol, far down beneath the defilement of the sitra achra and kelipah of “idolatry”— may GOD preserve us! What greater exile can there be than this, “A plunge from a high roof to a deep pit!”— as has been previously explained, that the root and source of all Jewish souls is in the Supreme Wisdom, and He and His Wisdom are one and the same, and so forth. It is comparable, by way of example, to one who seizes the king’s head, drags it down and dips his face in a privy full of filth, than which there is no greater outrage, even if he does it only for a moment. For the kelipot -and sitra achra are called “vomit and filth,” as is known.
This, then, is the meaning of the Scriptural text, “But the thing is very nigh unto thee… ,” For at any time and moment a person is capable and free to rid himself of the spirit of folly and forgetful-ness, and to recollect and awaken his love of the One GOD which is certainly latent in his heart, without any doubt. This is the meaning of the words “in thy heart.” Included therein is also fear, that is, the dread of separation in any wise from His blessed Unity and Oneness, even at the price of life itself and without reason and logic, but purely by virtue of one’s divine nature. All the more so where it involves merely the suppression of one’s appetites, which is easier than the pangs of death. This thing, i.e. repressing his evil inclination, is easier by far, both in the category of “turning away from evil” [and that of “doing good”], even when it concerns a minor prohibition laid down by the Scribes, so as not to transgress against His blessed Will, since at the time of its commission he is thereby sundered from His Unity and Oneness just as much as committing actual idolatry. As for repenting afterwards, he can do this regarding idolatry, too.
To be sure, “He who says, ‘I will sin and repent afterwards,’ is not given an opportunity to do so.” But this means that such a sinner is not granted the auspicious occasion to repent. If, however, he has seized the opportunity himself and has repented, “Nothing can stand in the way of repentance.”
Nonetheless every Jew is prepared and ready to suffer martyrdom for the sancti-flcation of GOD’s Name, and will not commit an idolatrous act even temporarily, with the intention of repenting afterwards. This is because of the divine light which is clothed in his soul, as explained above; which does not come within the realm of time at all, but transcends it, having rule and dominion over it, as is known.
Likewise in the category of “doing good,”— to bestir oneself like a lion with might and stout-heartedness against the [evil] nature which weighs down his body and casts sloth over him from the so-called element of “earth” in the animal soul, restraining him from zealously exerting his body with all kinds of effort and perseverance in the service of GOD entailing effort and toil, such as labouring in the Torah with deep concentration, as well as orally, so that his mouth shall not cease from study. To quote the Rabbis, of blessed memory, “One should always submit to the words of the Torah like tne ox to the yoke and the ass to the load.” So, too, in relation to devout prayer with the utmost intensity. Likewise with regard to serving GOD in money matters, such as the duty of charity,
and the like, duties which involve coming to grips with the evil nature seeking means of deception to dissuade the person from dissipating his money and physical health. It is very easy for a person to restrain and subjugate his nature when he considers deeply that to conquer his nature in all the above, and more, and even to do the very opposite, is by far less painful than the pangs of death— may GOD preserve us! Yet he would have accepted the pangs of death— preserve us GOD — lovingly and willingly, only not to be parted from His blessed Unity and Oneness even for a moment by an act of idolatry, GOD forbid.
All the more lovingly and willingly must he accept upon himself to cleave unto Him for ever. For by fulfilling His blessed Will by means of such service, there will be revealed in it the innermost Supreme Will of the aspect of the “Countenance” and great revelation, without obscurity whatever; and when there is no “hiding of the Countenance” of the Supreme Will, there is no separation whatever and nothing can have a separate and independent existence of its own. Thus his soul, both the divine and vivifying, together with their garments, will be united in a perfect unity with the Supreme Will and the blessed light of the En Sof, as has been explained above.
This union is eternal in the upper spheres, for He, blessed be He, and His Will are above time, and so is His revealed Will, manifest in His word which is the Torah, eternal, as is written, “But the word of GOD shall stand for ever,” and “His words are living and enduring,…” and “He will not alter or change His Law for ever….”
However, here below, [the union] is within the limits of time, persisting only during such time when one is occupied in the study of Torah,, or in the performance of a commandment. For afterwards, if he engages in anything else, he is here below separated from the Higher Unity. This is so when he occupies himself with altogether vain things which are utterly useless for the Divine Service. Nevertheless, should he later repent and return to the service of GOD, to Torah and prayer, and ask forgiveness of GOD for not having engaged in the Torah when he could have done so, GOD will pardon him. To quote the Rabbis: “If one has transgressed against a positive precept, but has repented, he is pardoned on the spot.” Therefore they instituted the blessing of “Forgive us” to be recited three times daily for the sin of neglecting the Torah, a sin which no one can escape each day. Similarly the daily burnt-offering used to bring atonement for neglect of the positive precepts.
This is not the same as saying, “I will sin and repent afterwards,” unless at the time he is committing the sin he relies on subsequent repentance and sins because of it, as explained elsewhere.
In the light of the above, it will be understood why our teacher Moses, peace be upon him, in Deuteronomy commanded the generation that was to enter the Land of Israel to recite the Shema twice daily, to acknowledge the Kingdom of Heaven with self-sacrifice, although he had promised them, “The Lord your GOD shall lay your dread and fear upon all the land.” The reason is that the fulfillment of the Torah and its commandments is dependent on being constantly aware of one’s readiness to surrender one’s life to GOD for His Unity’s sake, so that this awareness be permanently fixed in one’s heart and not depart from one’s memory night and day. For in this way is one able to face one’s evil nature and vanquish it always, at any time or moment, as has been explained.
Truly this should be made known as a cardinal principle, that as with a victory over a. physical obstacle, such as in the case of two individuals who are wrestling with each other, each striving to throw the other— if one is lazy and sluggish he will easily be defeated and thrown, even though he be stronger than the other, exactly so is it in the conquest of one’s evil nature; it is impossible to conquer it with laziness and heaviness, which originate in sadness and in a heart that is dulled like a stone, but rather with alacrity which derives from joy and from a heart that is free and cleansed from any trace of worry and sadness in the world.
As for what is written, “In all sadness there would be profit,” which means that some profit and advantage would be derived from it, the phrase, on the contrary, indicates that sadness in itself has no virtue, except that some profit is derived and experienced from it, namely, the true joy in the LORD GOD which follows from genuine anguish over one’s sins, at propitious moments with bitterness of soul and a broken heart. For thereby the spirit of impurity and of the sitra achra is broken, as also the iron wall that separates him from his Father in Heaven, as is commented in the Zohar on the verse, “A broken and a contrite heart, O GOD, Thou wilt not despise;” then will be fulfilled in him the preceding verses: “Make me hear joy and gladness… Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with Thy generous spirit.”
This is the simple reason why Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, instituted the recital of this Psalm after the Midnight Prayer, before commencing study, in order to study with the true joy in GOD which succeeds remorse. For such joy has an excellence similar to that of a light emerging from the very darkness, as is written in the Zohar on the verse, “Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly as light excelleth darkness.” Note there, and it will suffice for him who understands. Furthermore, Scripture states it explicitly: “Because thou didst not serve the Lord thy G‑d with joyfulness,…”— and everyone is familiar with the commentary of Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, on this verse.
The following is sound counsel as to how to cleanse one’s heart of all sadness and of every trace of worry about mundane matters, even about “Children, Health and Sustenance.” Everyone is familiar with the statement of the Rabbis that “Just as one must recite a blessing for the good, [one must also recite a blessing for misfortune].” In the Gemara it is explained that one should accept [misfortune] with joy, like the joy of a visible and obvious benefit, For “this is also for the good,” except that it is not apparent and visible to mortal eyes, because it stems from the “hidden world” which is higher than the “revealed world,” the latter emanating from the letters vav and hai of the Tetra-grammaton, whereas the “hidden world” represents the letters yod— hai. Hence the meaning of the verse, “Happy is the man whom Thou, O GOD, chasteneth.” Therefore, the Rabbis, of blessed memory, commented that it is to those who rejoice in their afflictions that the verse refers: “But they that love Him shall be as the sun going forth in its might.” For this is the joy of desiring the nearness of G‑d more than anything in the life of this world, as is written, “Because Thy loving-kindness is better than life,.. ,” and the nearness of GOD is infinitely stronger and more sublime in the “hidden world,” for “The concealment of His strength is there,” and “The Most High abides in secrecy.” Therefore, [the man who accepts affliction with joy], merits [to see] the “Sun going forth in its might”— in the world to come, i.e. the sun emerging from its sheath in which it is enclosed in this world. But in the world to come it will appear out of its covering, meaning that then the “hidden world” will be revealed and will shine and send forth light in a great and intense revelation to those who had taken refuge in Him in this world and had taken shelter under His “shadow”— the shadow of wisdom (chochmah), i.e. in the sense of “shade” as differing from light and revealed goodness. Suffice it for him who understands.
As for the sadness which is connected with heavenly matters, one must seek ways and means of freeing oneself from it, to say nothing of the time of Divine Service, when one must serve GOD with gladness and a joyful heart. But even if he is a man of commerce and worldly affairs, should there enter into him any melancholy or anxiety about heavenly matters during the time of his business affairs, it is clearly a machination of evil impulse in order to lure him afterwards into lusts, GOD forbid, as is known. For were it not so, whence would a genuine sadness, which is one that is derived from love or fear of GOD, come to him in the midst of his business affairs?
Thus, whether the melancholy encroaches on him during Divine Service, in study or prayer, or not during Divine Service, he should tell himself that now is not the time for genuine anxiety, not even for worry over serious transgressions, GOD forbid. For, for this, one needs appointed times and a propitious occasion, with calmness of mind to reflect on the greatness of GOD, against Whom one has sinned, so that thereby one’s heart may truly be rent with sincere contrition. It is explained elsewhere when this time should be, and it is there explained also that as soon as his heart has been broken during these specific occasions, he should forthwith completely remove the sorrow from his heart and believe with a perfect faith that GOD has removed his sin in His abundant forgiveness. This is the true joy in GOD which comes after the remorse, as mentioned above.
Should the sadness, however, not come from worry over sins, but from evil thoughts and desires that enter his mind— if they enter not during Divine Service but whilst he is occupied with his own affairs and with mundane matters and the like, he should, on the contrary, be happy in his portion in that, though they enter his mind, he averts his mind from them in order to fulfil the injunction, “That ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye go astray.” The verse does not speak of the righteous, to refer to them as “going astray,’ GOD forbid, but of “Intermediates” (benonim) like him, in whose mind do enter erotic thoughts whether of an innocent nature, and so on; when he averts his mind from them, he is fulfilling this injunction. Indeed, the Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said, “He who has passively abstained from committing a sin, receives a reward as though he had performed a precept.” Consequently, he should rejoice at his compliance with the injunction as when performing an actual positive precept.
On the contrary, such sadness is due to conceit in that he does not recognise his position. Hence he is sad at heart because he has not attained the rank of a tzaddik, inasmuch as the righteous are certainly not troubled by such foolish thoughts. For had he recognised his station, that he is very far from the rank of a tzaddik, and would that he be a benoni and not a wicked person even for a single moment throughout his life— then, surely, this is the quality of the “Intermediates” and their service: To subdue the evil impulse and thought rising from the heart to the brain, and completely to avert the mind therefrom, thrusting the temptation away with both hands, as has been explained earlier.
And with every thrust wherewith he expels it from his mind, the sitra achra down below is suppressed, and, since the “Stimulus from below causes a stimulus from above,” the sitra achra above which soars like an eagle, is also suppressed, in accordance with Scripture, “Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.” Thus the Zohar, Parshat Terumah (p. 128) extolls the great satisfaction before Him, blessed be He, when the sitra achra is subdued here below, for then the glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, rises above all, more than by any praise, and this ascent is greater than all else, and so forth.
Therefore, no person should feel depressed, nor should his heart become exceedingly troubled, even though he be engaged all his days in this conflict, for perhaps because of this was he created and this is his service— constantly to subjugate the sitra achra.
It is concerning this that Job said, “Thou hast created wicked men”— not that they shall actually be wicked, GOD forbid, but that they shall share the temptations of the wicked in their thoughts and meditations alone and that they shall eternally wage war to avert their minds from them in order to subdue the sitra achra; yet they would not be able to annihilate it completely, for that is accomplished by the tzaddikim.
For there are two kinds of gratification before Him, blessed be He: one, from the complete annihilation of the sitra achra and the conversion of bitter to sweet and of darkness to light, by the tzaddikim; the second, when the sitra achra is subdued whilst it is still at its strongest and most powerful and soars like an eagle, whence the Lord brings her down through the effort of the benonim below. This is indicated in the verse, “And make me delicacies such as I love.” The word mataamim (“delicacies”) is in the plural, to indicate two kinds of gratification, and the words are those of the Shechinah to her children, the community of Israel, as explained in the Tikunim. The analogy is to material food, where there are two kinds of relishes: one of sweet and luscious foods, and the other of tart or sour articles of food which have been well spiced and garnished so that they are made into delicacies to quicken the soul.
This is what is alluded to in the verse, “The LORD hath made everything for His sake; also the wicked unto the day of evil,” meaning that the wicked man shall repent of his evil and turn his evil into “day” and light above, when the sitra achra is subdued and the glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, is brought forth on high.
Moreover, even in the case of things that are fully permissible, the more of his impulse that a man sacrifices, even if only for a while, with the intention of subduing the sitra achra in the left part— as for example, when he wants to eat but postpones his meal for an hour or less, and during that time he occupies himself in the Torah, as is stated in the Gemara that the fourth hour is the time when all men eat, but the sixth hour is the time when scholars eat, because they used to starve themselves for two hours with this intention, although after the meal, also, they studied all day; so, too, if he restrains his mouth from uttering words that his heart longs to express concerning mundane matters; likewise with the thoughts of his mind, even in the least way, whereby the sitra achra is subdued below— the glory and holiness of the Holy One, blessed be He, goes forth above to a great extent,
and from this holiness issues a sublime holiness on man below, to assist him with a great and powerful aid in serving Him, Who is blessed.
This is also what the Rabbis meant, “If a man consecrates himself in a small measure down below, he is sanctified much more from above,” apart from his having fulfilled the positive commandment of the Torah, “Sanctify yourselves, and be ye holy” by dedicating himself [through abstemiousness] in permissible things. The meaning of “Sanctify yourselves” is “You shall make yourselves holy,” that is to say, although in truth one is not holy and separated from the sitra achra, for it is at its strength and might, as at its birth, in the left part, yet one subdues his evil impulse and sanctifies himself— then “Shall ye be holy,” that is to say, in the end one will be truly holy and separated from the sitra achra, by virtue of being sanctified in a great measure from above, and being helped to expel it from his heart little by little.
Even if there occur to him lustful imaginations or other extraneous thoughts during Divine Service, in Torah or in devout prayer, he must not let his heart dwell on them but must immediately avert his mind from them. Nor should he be foolish by attempting to sublimate the middot of the extraneous thought, as is known. For such things were meant only for tzaddikim, in whom extraneous thoughts do not occur of their own making, but those of others. But as for him whose extraneous thought is his own, from the aspect of evil that is in the left part of his heart, how can he raise it up when he himself is bound below?
Nevertheless he must not be downcast at heart and feel dejected and despicable during Divine Service, which should be with great joy. On the contrary, he should draw fresh strength and intensify [his] effort with all his power to concentrate on the prayer with increased joy and gladness, in the realisation that the foreign thought that had invaded his heart comes from the kelipah in the left part, which, in the case of the benoni, wages war with the divine soul within him. For it is known that the way of combatants, as of wrestlers, is that when one is gaining the upper hand the other likewise strives to prevail with all the resources of his strength. Therefore, when the divine soul exerts itself and summons its strength for prayer, the kelipah also gathers strength at such time to confuse her and topple her by means of a foreign thought of its own.
This refutes the error commonly held by people, who mistakenly deduce from the occurrence of the foreign thought that this proves their prayer to be worthless, for if one prayed as is fitting and proper no foreign thoughts would have occurred to him. What they say would be true if there were only one single soul, the same that prays as well as thinks and fancies the foreign thoughts.
The real truth, however, is that there are two souls, waging war one against the other in the person’s mind, each one wishing and desiring to rule over him and pervade his mind exclusively. Thus all thoughts of Torah and the fear of Heaven come from the divine soul, while all mundane matters come from the animal soul, except that the divine soul is clothed in it. This is like the example of a person praying with devotion, while facing him there stands a wicked heathen who chats and speaks to him in order to confuse him. Surely the thing to do in such a case would be not to answer him good or evil, but rather to pretend to be deaf without hearing, and to comply with the verse, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” Similarly, he must answer nothing, nor engage in any argument and counter-argument with the foreign thought, for he who wrestles with a filthy person is bound to become soiled himself. Rather should he adopt an attitude as if he neither knows nor hears the thoughts that have befallen him; he must remove them from his mind and strengthen still more the power of his concentration. However, if he finds it hard to dismiss them from his mind, because they distract his mind with great intensity, then he should humble his spirit before GOD and supplicate Him in his thought to have compassion upon him in His abundant mercies, as a father who takes pity on his children who stem from his brain; so may the LORD have pity on his soul which is derived from Him Who is blessed, and deliver it from the “turbulent waters;” for His sake He will do it, for verily “His people is a part of the LORD.”
There is yet an additional aspect that the benonim must contend with, namely, that occasionally and even frequently, they experience a dullness of the heart, which becomes like a stone, and the person is unable, try as he might, to open his heart to the “Service of the heart,” namely, prayer. Also, at times, he is unable to wage war against the evil impulse, so as to sanctify himself in the things that are permissible, because of the heaviness that is in his heart.
In this case, the advice given in the holy Zohar is, as the president of the Heavenly Academy said in the Gan Eden: “A wooden beam that will not catch fire should be splintered…; a body into which the light of the soul does not penetrate should be crushed….”
The reference to the “Light of the soul” is that the light of the soul and of the intellect does not illuminate to such an extent as to prevail over the coarseness of the body. For, although he understands and contemplates in his mind on the greatness of GOD, this is not apprehended and implanted in his mind to a degree that would enable him to prevail over the coarseness of the heart because of [the nature of] this coarseness and crassness,
the cause being the arrogance of the kelipah, which exalts itself above the light of the holiness of the divine soul, obscuring and darkening the light thereof. Therefore one must crush it and cast it down to the ground, that is to say, by setting aside appointed times for humbling oneself and considering oneself despicable and contemptible, as is written, “A broken heart, a broken spirit”— this is the sitra achra, which is the very man himself in “intermediate” people, in whose heart the vital soul which animates the body is in its native strength; hence it is the very man himself. Whereas with regard to the divine soul within him it is said, “The soul which Thou gavest within me is pure.” Note the words “Which Thou gavest within me,” implying that man himself is not [identified with] the pure soul— except in the case of tzaddikim, in whom the contrary is true, namely, that the “pure soul,” i.e., the divine soul, is the man, while their body is called “The flesh of man.”
Compare the statement of Hillel the Elder to his disciples, who, when going to eat, used to say that he was going to perform an act of kindness to the “Lowly and poor creature,” by which he meant his body, which he regarded as if it were foreign to him. Therefore he used the expression that he was “Performing an act of kindness” towards it in giving it food, because he himself was nothing else but the divine soul, since it alone animated his body and flesh, inasmuch as in the tzaddikim the evil that was in the vital soul pervading his blood and flesh, had been transformed into good and absorbed into the very holiness of the divine soul.
With an “intermediate,” however, since the substance and essence of the vitalising animal soul, which is derived from the sitra achra, and pervades his blood and flesh, has not been transformed into good, it surely constitutes the man himself.
If so, he is removed from GOD with utmost remoteness, for the lusting drive in his animal soul is capable of lusting also after forbidden things which are contrary to His blessed Will, even though he does not crave their actual fulfillment, GOD forbid; yet they are not truly scorned by him as by the tzaddikim, as explained above (ch. 12). In this he is inferior and more loathsome and abominable than unclean animals and insects and reptiles, as is mentioned above, and as is written, “But I am a worm, and not a man….”
(Even when his divine soul gathers strength within him to arouse his love of GOD during prayer, this is not altogether genuine, since it is transient and vanishes after prayer, as has been discussed earlier, end of ch. 13.)
Especially so, if he calls to mind the contamination of his soul with the sin of youth, and the blemish he has wrought in the supernal worlds— where everything is timeless, and it is as if he had caused his blemish and defilement this very day, GOD forbid. And although he had sincerely repented already, yet the essence of repentance is in the heart, and in the heart are found many distinctions and gradations, and everything is according to what kind of a man he is and according to the time and place, as is known to the knowing.
Consequently now, at this time, when he regards himself and sees that “The light of the soul does not penetrate into him,” it is evident that today his repentance has not been accepted, and his sins [still] separate him, or that it is desired to raise him to a more sublime level of repentance, coming more deeply from the heart. Therefore King David said, “And my sin is ever before me.”
And even he who is innocent of the grievous sins of youth should set his heart to fulfil the counsel of the holy Zohar to be of the “masters of accounts,” that is to say, he should keep a reckoning with his soul regarding all the thoughts, utterances and actions that have come and gone, since he came into being and until the present day, as to whether they all came from the direction of holiness, or from the direction of impurity— the Lord deliver us!— these being all the thoughts, utterances and actions that are not [dedicated] to GOD, and His will and service, for this is the meaning of sitra achra, as has been explained above (ch. 6). And it is known that every time a person thinks holy thoughts, he becomes at that time a “vehicle” for the hechalot (chambers) of holiness, whence these thoughts originate, and vice versa, becoming at that time an unclean “vehicle” for the hechalot of impurity, whence all impure thoughts originate. So, too, with speech and action.
In addition, he must earnestly remember that most of his dreams are vanity and affliction of the spirit, because his soul does not rise upward, as it is written, “Who shall ascend the mountain of the Lord? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart.” But “those originating from the evil side, come and attach themselves to him and report to him in his dreams of mundane affairs… and often mock him and show him false things and torment him in his dreams,” and so on, as stated in the Zohar on Vayikra [II], (p. 25a, b). See it there discussed at length.
The longer he will reflect on these matters in his thoughts, delving deeply also into books, in order to break down his heart within him and render himself shamed and despised in his own eyes, as is written in the Scriptures, so utterly despised that he despises his very life— the more he despises and degrades thereby the sitra achra, casting it down to the ground and humbling it from its haughtiness and pride and self-exaltation, wherewith it exalts itself over the light of the holiness of the divine soul, obscuring its effulgence. He must also thunder against it with a strong and raging voice in order to humble it, as the Rabbis state, “A person should always rouse the good impulse against the evil impulse, as it is written, ‘Rage, and sin not.'” That is to say, one must rage against the animal soul, which is his evil impulse, with stormy indignation in his mind, saying to it: “Thou art evil and wicked, abominable, loathsome and disgraceful, …” with all the epithets by which our Sages, of blessed memory, have rightly called it, “… How long wilt thou conceal from me the light of the blessed En Sof, which pervades all the worlds; which was, is, and will be the same, including also this place where I stand, just as the light of the blessed En Sof was alone before the world was created, without any change, as is written, ‘For I, the Lord, have not changed,’ for He transcends time, and so forth? But thou, who is repulsive …, dost deny the truth, which is plain to see, by physical sight, that everything in His presence is truly like nothing at all.”
In this way he will help his divine soul to enlighten her eyes with the truth of the unity of the light of the En Sof, with a perceptive vision and not merely by cognition alone, as it were, as is explained elsewhere that this is the core of the whole [Divine] Service.
And the explanation is that in truth there is no substance whatever in the sitra achra, wherefore it is compared to darkness which has no substance whatever and, consequently is banished in the presence of light. Similarly the sitra achra which, although it possesses abundant vitality wherewith to animate all impure animals and the souls of the nations of the world; and also the animal soul of the Jew, as has been explained, nevertheless has no vitality of its own, G‑d forbid, but [derives it] from the realm of holiness, as has been explained above. Therefore it is completely nullified in the presence of holiness, as darkness is nullified before physical light, except that in regard to the holiness of the divine soul in man, the Holy One, blessed be He, has given [the animal soul] permission and ability to raise itself against [the divine soul] in order that man should be challenged to overcome it and to humble it by means of the humility and submission of his spirit and his abhorring in himself that which is despicable. And “Through the impulse from below comes an impulse from Above,” to fulfil what is written, “Thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord,” namely, depriving it of its dominion and power and withdrawing from it the strength and authority which had been given it to rise up against the light of the holiness of the divine soul; whereupon it inevitably becomes nullified and is banished, just as darkness is nullified before physical light.
Indeed, we find this explicitly stated in the Torah in connection with the Spies who, at the outset declared, “For he is stronger than we”— “Read not ‘than we,’ but ‘than He,’ “etc., for they had no faith in GOD’s ability. But afterwards they reversed themselves and announced, “Lo, we will readily go up… ,” Whence did their faith in GOD’s ability return to them? Our teacher Moses, peace unto him, had not meanwhile shown them any sign or wonder concerning this. He had only told them that the LORD was angry with them and had sworn not to allow them to enter the Land. Why should this have influenced them, and of what avail was this to them, if they did not believe, Heaven forfend, in the Lord’s ability to subdue the thirty-one kings, for which reason they had no desire whatever to enter the Land?
But undoubtedly, since the Israelites themselves are “Believers, the descendants of believers,” except that the sitra achra— which is clothed in their bodies— had risen against the light of the holiness of their divine soul, in her impudent haughtiness and arrogance, without sense or reason— now, therefore, as soon as the Lord had become angered against them and thundered angrily, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation. . . . Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness…. I the Lord have spoken, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation,” their heart was humbled and broken within them when they heard these stern words, as is written, “And the people mourned greatly.” Consequently, the sitra achra toppled from its dominion, from its haughtiness and arrogance, leaving the Israelites to their inborn faith.
From the above, every person in whose mind enter doubts as to [his] faith, can deduce that they are nothing more than empty words of the sitra achra, which raises itself against his soul. But the Israelites themselves are faithful… , Furthermore, the sitra achra itself entertains no doubts about faith, except that she has been given permission to confuse man with words of falsehood and deceit, in order that he may acquire greater rewards, as the harlot seeks to seduce the king’s son with falsehood and deceit, with the king’s approval, as [in the parable] mentioned in the holy Zohar.
This also a person must resolve in his heart, to fulfil the instruction of our Rabbis, of blessed memory: “And be humble of spirit before all men.” This you must be in true sincerity, in the presence of any individual, even in the presence of the most worthless of worthless men. This accords with the instruction of our Sages: “Judge not thy fellow until thou art come to his place.” For it is his “place” that causes him to sin, because his livelihood requires him to go to the market for the whole day and to be one of those who “Sit at the [street] corners,” where his eyes behold all the temptations; the eye sees and the heart desires, and his evil nature is kindled like a baker’s red-hot oven, as is written in Hosea: “It burneth as a flaming fire… .”
It is different, however, with him who goes but little to the market place, and who remains in his house for the greater part of the day; or even if he spends the whole day in the market but is possibly not so passionate by nature— for the evil inclination of all people is not the same: there is one whose nature,. . . as is explained elsewhere.
In truth, however, even he whose nature is extremely passionate and whose livelihood obliges him to sit all day at the [street] corners, has no excuse whatever for his sins, and he is termed an utter evildoer (rasha gamur) because there is no dread of GOD before his eyes. For he should have controlled himself and restrained the impulse of his desire in his heart because of the fear of GOD Who sees all actions, as has been explained above, for the mind has supremacy over the heart by nature.
It is indeed a great and fierce struggle to break one’s passion, which burns like a fiery flame, through fear of GOD; it is like an actual test. Therefore, each person according to his place and rank in the service of GOD must weigh and examine his position as to whether he is serving GOD in a manner commensurate with the dimensions of such a fierce battle and test— in the realm of “do good,” as, for example, in the service of prayer with kavanah (devotion), pouring out his soul before GOD with his entire strength, to the point of exhaustion of the soul, while waging war against his body and animal soul within it which impede his devotion, a strenuous war to beat and grind them like dust, each day before the morning and evening prayers. Also during prayer he needs to exert himself, with the exertion of the spirit and of the flesh, as will be explained later at length.
Any one who has not reached this standard of waging such strenuous war against his body, has not yet measured up to the quality and dimension of the war waged by one’s evil nature which burns like a fiery flame, that it be humbled and broken by dread of GOD.
So, too, in the matter of grace after meals, and all benedictions, whether those connected with the partaking of food or with the performance of precepts, [to be recited] with kavanah, to say nothing of the kavanah of precepts “For their own sake.” So, too, in the matter of one’s occupation in the study of the Torah, to learn much more than his innate or accustomed desire, and inclination, by virtue of a strenuous struggle with his body. For to study a fraction more than is one’s wont is but a small tussle which neither parallels nor bears comparison with the war of one’s evil impulse burning like fire; he is called utterly wicked (rasha gamur) if he does not conquer his impulse so that it be subdued and crushed before GOD.
For, what difference is there between the category of “Turn away from evil” and that of “Do good”? Both are the command of the Holy King, the One and Only, blessed be He.
So, too, with the other commandments, especially in matters involving money, as the service of charity (tzedakah) and the like.
Even in the category of “Turn away from evil” every intelligent person can discover within himself that he does not turn aside from evil completely and in every respect where a hard battle at a level such as described above is called for, or even on a lesser level than the aforementioned : for example, to stop in the middle of a pleasant gossip, or in the middle of a tale discrediting his fellow, even though it be a very small slur, and even though it be true, and even when the purpose is to exonerate oneself— as is known from what Rabbi Simeon said to his father, our saintly teacher: “I did not write it, but Judah the tailor wrote it,” when his father replied, “Keep away from slander.” (Note there, in the Gemara, beginning of ch. 10 of Bava Batra.)
The same applies to very many similar things which occur frequently, especially with regard to sanctifying oneself in permissible things, an enactment based on the Biblical text, “Ye shall be holy,…” and “Sanctify yourselves, therefore….” Moreover, “Rabbinic enactments are even stricter than Biblical enactments,” and so forth. But all these and similar ones are of the sins which a person tramples under-foot and has come to regard as permissible in consequence of repeated transgression, and so on.
In truth however, if he is a scholar and upholds the Law of GOD and wishes to be close to GOD, his sin is very great and his guilt is increased manifold in that he does not wage war and does not overcome his impulse in a manner commensurate with the quality and nature of the intense battle mentioned above, than the guilt of the most worthless of worthless men of the corner-squatters who are removed from GOD and His Torah, whose guilt is not as heinous— in not restraining their impulse which burns like a fiery flame by means of the dread of GOD, Who knows and sees all their deeds— as the guilt of the person who is ever so close to GOD, His Torah and His service. As the Rabbis, of blessed memory, said about “Acher”: “For he knew My glory… .” Therefore the Rabbis declared in regard to the illiterate that “Deliberate infringements [of the Law] are regarded, in their case, as inadvertent acts.”
Even if by prolonging the deep concentration on the aforementioned matters for an hour or two, in order to acquire a humble spirit and a contrite heart, the individual will lapse into a ‘profound dejection, he should not worry. For although sadness stems from the realm of kelipat nogah and not from that of holiness, since in regard to holiness it is written, “Strength and gladness are in His place,” and “The Divine Presence (Shechinah) abides only in joy … as is the case also in the study of the law,” and so on, except that if the sadness comes from reflections about celestial [i.e. spiritual] things, it is derived from the realm of goodness that is in nogah (hence Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, wrote that even worry about sins is only fitting during confession but not during prayer and Torah study, which should be conducted with joy derived from the side of holiness, exclusively)—
Nevertheless, the method of subduing the sitra achra is on the latter’s own ground, as the Rabbis of blessed memory have said, “From the forest itself is taken the axe wherewith to fell it,” and “He met his equal.” With regard to this it is written, “In all sadness there is profit,” the profit being the joy that follows the sadness, as will be explained later.
In truth, however, a contrite heart and the bitterness of the soul because of its remoteness from the light of the Divine countenance and its being clothed in the sitra achra— are not called atzvut (dejection) in the sacred tongue, for atzvut implies that the heart is dull like a stone and is devoid of vitality. But in the case of merirut (bitterness) and a broken heart, the contrary is surely true— there is vitality in the heart fermenting agitation and bitterness, except that this vitality stems from the attribute of the holy gevurot (severity), whereas joy comes from the attribute of chasadim (kindness), for the heart is comprised of them both.
Thus it is sometimes necessary to awaken the attribute of the holy gevurot in order to ameliorate the stern judgments, arising from the animal soul and evil nature, when triumphing, Heaven forfend, over man. For the stern judgments can be sweetened only at their source. Therefore the Rabbis, of blessed memory, said that “A person should always excite the good nature,” that is, whenever he perceives in his soul that he is in need of it. But the propitious time, which is the time specifically fitting for the majority of people, is when one is in any case troubled by mundane worries, or, simply, without apparent cause. Then is the appropriate time to transform the sadness by becoming one of those “Masters of account” mentioned earlier and to act on the counsel of the Rabbis “Constantly to excite,” and so on, as has been mentioned above. Thereby will he rid himself of the dejection occasioned by mundane affairs.
Following this he will attain true joy when he will reflect in his heart and gain a double measure of comfort, in view of what has been said above in truth, saying to himself: “Truly and without doubt I am far removed from G‑d, and I am abominable and loathsome…. Yet all this is myself alone, that is to say, the body with its vivifying soul. Yet, there is within me a veritable part of G‑d, which is found even in the most worthless of the worthless, namely, the divine soul with a spark of veritable G‑dliness which is clothed in it and animates it, except that it is, as it were, in [a state of] exile. Therefore, on the contrary, the further I am separated from G‑d, and the more contemptible and loathsome, the deeper in exile is my divine soul, and the more greatly is she to be pitied; therefore I shall make it my whole aim and desire to extricate her and liberate her from this exile, in order to restore her ‘To her Father’s house as in her youth,’ before she was clothed in my body, when she was absorbed in His blessed light and completely united with Him. Now she will again be thus absorbed and united with Him, may He be blessed, if I will bend my whole aim toward the Torah and the commandments, to clothe therein all her ten faculties, as mentioned above, especially in the precept of prayer, to cry unto the Lord in her distress of exile in my despicable body, to liberate her from her prison, that she may attach herself to Him, blessed be He.”
This is the essence of “Repentance and good deeds,” the latter being the good deeds which one performs in order to restore the portion of the Lord to the Source and Root of all the worlds.
And this shall be his service all his life in great joy, the joy of the soul in her release from the despised body and “Returning to her Father’s house as in her youth,” when engaged in Torah and prayer. Indeed, the Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said, that one should be in a state of repentance throughout one’s life. For there is no greater joy than the escape from exile and imprisonment, as in the example of the king’s son who was kept in captivity, grinding [corn], in prison and becoming covered with filth; then he is liberated and he returns to his father’s royal house.
And although the body is still in its contemptible and abominable state— it is referred to in the Zohar as “The skin of the serpent”— inasmuch as the essence and substance of the animal soul have not converted to good, so as to merge into holiness, nevertheless his soul will become more precious in his eyes than the despised body, and he will rejoice in her joy, and not confound and confuse the joy of the soul with the misery of the body.
This [release of the soul from her exile in the body] is in the nature of the “Exodus from Egypt,” in connection with which it is written, “The people had fled.” At first sight it is strange that it should have happened in this way. For had Pharaoh been requested to liberate them for ever, would he not have been compelled to let them go? But because the evil in the souls of the Israelites was still in its strength in the left part— for not until the Giving of the Law did their impurity cease— yet their aim and desire was to free their divine souls from the exile of the sitra achra, which is the “Defilement of Egypt,” and cleave to Him, blessed be He, as is written, “The LORD is my strength and my fortress and my refuge in the day of affliction,…” “my high tower and my refuge, . . .” “and He is my escape,…” [so, too, was the physical exodus from Egypt in a manner of escape]. Hence in the rime to come, when the Lord will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth, it is written of it, “[ye shall not go out in haste], nor go by flight, for the LORD will go before you….”
The quality of this repentance will be stronger and more intense, from the depth of the heart, and likewise the joy of the soul will be with an added measure of light and joy, when he will reflect in his heart with knowledge and understanding, to console himself from his distress and sorrow, saying, as above: “Truly and without a doubt,…” “but it was not I who created myself. Why, then, has GOD done such a thing, to cause a portion of His blessed light, which fills and encompasses all worlds, and before Whom everything is of no account, to descend and to be clothed in a ‘serpent’s skin’ and in a fetid drop? It cannot be otherwise than that this descent is for the purpose of an ascent— to raise up to GOD the whole vital animal soul, which is of the kelipat nogah, and all her ‘garments,’ namely her faculties of thought, speech and action, through their being enclothed in the act, speech and thought of the Torah.” (As for the meaning of this ascent— how this is the ultimate purpose of the creation of the world— it will be later explained at length.) “If this is so, there is one thing for me to do, and this will be my sole aim all the days of my earthly life, to fully occupy therein the life of my spirit and soul, as is written, ‘Unto Thee, O LORD, I lift up my soul,’ that is to say, to bind my thought and speech with His blessed thought and speech, which are the very laws which have been set before us, and likewise my action— in the performance of the commandments.”
For this reason the Torah is described as “Restoring the soul,” i.e. [restoring it] to its source and root. Concerning this it is written, “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.”
Acting on the suggestion mentioned above— to view one’s body with scorn and contempt, and finding joy only in the joy of the soul alone— is a direct and easy way to attain the fulfillment of the commandment “Thou shalt love thy fellow as thyself” toward every soul of Israel, both great and small.
For, whereas one despises and loathes one’s body, while as for the soul and spirit, who can know their greatness and excellence in their root and source in the living GOD? Being, moreover, all of a kind and all having one Father— therefore, all Israelites are called real brothers by virtue of the source of their souls in the One GOD; only the bodies are separated. Hence in the case of those who give major consideration to their bodies while regarding their souls as of secondary importance, there can be no true love and brotherhood among them, but only [a love] which is dependent on a [transitory] thing.
This is what Hillel the Elder meant when he said in regard to the fulfillment of this commandment, “This is the whole Torah, whilst the rest is but commentary,” and so on. For the basis and root of the entire Torah are to raise and exalt the soul high above the body, reaching unto the Source and Root of all the worlds, and also to bring down the blessed light of the En Sof upon the community of Israel, as will be explained later, i.e. into the fountain-head of the souls of all Israel, to become “One into One.” This is impossible if there is, GOD forbid, disunity among the souls, for the Holy One, blessed be He, does not dwell in an imperfect place, as we pray: “Bless us, O our Father, all of us together, with the light of Thy countenance,” as has been explained at great length elsewhere.
As for the Talmudic statement to the eflfect that one who sees his friend sinning should hate him and should tell his teacher to hate him also, this applies to a companion in Torah and precepts, having already applied to him the injunction, “Thou shalt repeatedly rebuke thy friend (amitecha)” meaning “Him who is with thee in Torah and precepts,” and who, nevertheless, has not repented of his sin, as stated in Sefer Charedim.
But as for the person who is not one’s colleague and is not on intimate terms with him, Hillel the Elder said, “Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving the creatures and drawing them near to the Torah.” This means that even in the case of those who are removed from GOD’s Torah and His service, and are therefore classified simply as “creatures,” one must attract them with strong cords of love, perchance one might succeed in drawing them near to the Torah and Divine service. Even if one fails, one has not forfeited the merit of the precept of neighbourly love.
Even with regard to those who are close to him, and whom he has rebuked, yet they had not repented of their sins, when he is enjoined to hate them, there still remains the duty to love them also, and both are right: hatred, because of the wickedness in them; and love on account of the aspect of the hidden good in them, which is the Divine spark in them, which animates their divine soul. He should also awaken pity in his heart for [the divine soul], for she is held captive, as it were, in the evil of the sitra achra that triumphs over her in wicked people. Compassion destroys hatred and awakens love, as is known from the [interpretation of the] text, “To [the house of] Jacob who redeemed Abraham.”
(As for King David, peace unto him, who said, “I hate them with a consummate hatred,” he was referring to [Jewish] heretics and atheists who have no portion in the GOD of Israel, as stated in the Talmud, Tractate Shabbat, beginning of ch. 16).
This, also, will be the true joy of the soul, especially when one recognises, at appropriate times, that one needs to purify and illuminate one’s soul with gladness of the heart. Let him then concentrate his mind and envisage in his intelligence and understanding the subject of His blessed true Unity: how He permeates all worlds, both upper and lower, and even the fullness of this earth is His blessed glory; and how everything is of no reality whatever in His presence; and He is One Alone in the upper and lower realms, as He was One Alone before the six days of Creation; and also in the space wherein this world was created, the heavens and earth, and all their host— He alone filled this space; and now also this is so, being One Alone without any change whatever. For all things created are nullified beside Him in their very existence, as are nullified the letters of speech and thought within their source and root, namely, the essence and substance of the soul, which are its ten faculties, chochmah, binah, da’at, … wherein the element of letters is not yet found prior to their embodiment in the garment of thought (as has been explained at length in chs. 20 and 21, note there), and as is explained elsewhere by means of an illustration from nature, namely, the nullification of the sun’s radiation and light at their source, the orb of the sun in the sky. For surely its radiance and light glow and spread forth there, too, and even more strongly than in the space of the universe; but there [in the sun] the light is nullified within its source, as though it were non-extant at all.
Exactly so, figuratively speaking, is the world and all that fills it dissolved out of existence in relation to its source, which is the light of the blessed En Sof, as is there explained at length.
When one will deeply contemplate this, his heart will be gladdened and his soul will rejoice even with joy and singing, with all heart and soul and might, in [the intensity of] this faith which is tremendous, since this is the [experience of the] very proximity of GOD, and it is the whole [purpose] of man and the goal of his creation, as well as of the creation of all the worlds, both upper and lower, that He may have an abode here below, as will later be explained at length.
Behold, how great is the joy of a common and lowly man when he is brought near to a king of flesh and blood, who accepts his hospitality and lodges under his roof! How infinitely more so is the [joy in the] abiding nearness of the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. And so it is written, “For who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto Me? saith the LORD.”
For this reason it was instituted to offer praise and thanks to His blessed Name each morning, and to say: “Happy are we! How goodly is our portion, and how pleasant is our lot, and how beautiful our heritage!” In other words, just as a person rejoices and is happy when an inheritance of an immense fortune, for which he had not toiled, falls to him, how infinitely more should we rejoice over our heritage that our fathers have bequeathed to us, namely, the true Unity of GOD: that even down here on earth there is naught else beside Him alone, and this is His abode in the lower worlds.
This is what our Rabbis, of blessed memory said, “Six hundred and thirteen commandments were given to Israel…. Came Habakkuk and based them [all] on a single one, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by his faith'” that is to say, as if there had been no more than one commandment, namely, faith alone. For by faith alone will he come to fulfil all the 613 commandments. In other words, when his heart will exult and rejoice in his faith in GOD’s Unity, in perfect joy, as though he had but this one commandment, and it alone were the ultimate purpose of his creation and that of all the worlds— then with the force and vitality of his soul which are generated by this great joy, his soul will ascend ever higher above all internal and external obstacles which hinder his fulfillment of all the 613 commandments.
This is the meaning of the words “Shall live by his faith,” with the emphasis on shall live, as at the Resurrection of the Dead, by way of example; so will his soul revive with this great joy. This is a doubled and re-doubled joy, for apart from the joy of the soul apprehending the nearness of GOD and His dwelling with him,
he will doubly rejoice with the joy of the Lord and the tremendous gratification rendered to Him by virtue of his faith, whereby the sitra achra is verily subdued and darkness is changed into light, i.e. the darkness of the kelipot of this corporeal world, which obscure and conceal His blessed light until the End, as is written, “He setteth an end to darkness” (which refers to the end of days, when the spirit of impurity will be banished from the earth, and the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see together; as will be explained later ). Particularly in the diaspora, where the atmosphere is unclean and filled with kelipot and sitra achra. For there is no joy before Him, blessed be He, like the light and joy of the particular excellence of light that comes out of darkness. This is the meaning of the verse, “Let Israel rejoice in his Maker,” that is to say, that everyone who is of the seed of Israel should rejoice and be happy in the joy of the Lord Who is pleased and glad to dwell in the lower spheres, which are of the order of physical Asiyah. That is why the Psalmist uses the plural osav [“Them that made him”], referring to the corporeal world which is full of kelipot and the sitra achra, and is called “public domain” and “mountains of separation.” And these are transmuted to light, and become a “private domain” for His blessed Unity, by means of this faith.
It is well known that the Patriarchs themselves constitute the “Chariot.” For throughout their lives they never for a moment ceased from binding their mind and soul to the Lord of the universe, with the aforementioned absolute surrender to His blessed Unity. Likewise were all the Prophets after them, each according to the station of his soul and the degree of his apprehension, The rank of our teacher Moses, peace to him, surpassed them all, for concerning him it was said, “The Shechinah speaks out of Moses’ throat.” Something of this [union] the Israelites experienced at Mount Sinai, but they could not endure it, as the Rabbis say, “At each [Divine] utterance their souls took flight,…” which is an indication of the extinction of their existence, of which we spoke above. Therefore G‑d at once commanded that a Sanctuary be made for Him, with the Holy of Holies for the presence of His Shechinah, which is the revelation of His blessed Unity, as will be explained later.
But since the Temple was destroyed, the Holy One, blessed be He, has no other sanctuary or established place for His habitation, that is, for His blessed Unity, than the “Four cubits of halachah,” which is His blessed will and wisdom as embodied in the laws which have been set out for us. Therefore, after contemplating deeply on the subject of this self-nullification, discussed above, according to his capacity, let the person reflect in his heart as follows: “Inasmuch as my intelligence and the root of my soul are of too limited a capacity to constitute a ‘chariot’ and abode for His blessed Unity in perfect truth, since my mind cannot at all conceive and apprehend Him with any manner or degree of apprehension in the world, nor even an iota of the apprehension of the Patriarchs and Prophets— if this be so, I shall make for Him a tabernacle and habitation by engaging in the study of the Torah, as my time permits, at appointed times by day and by night, in accordance with the law which was given to each individual in the ‘Laws Concerning the Study of the Torah,’ and as the Rabbis stated, ‘Even one chapter in the morning….’ ”
In this way his heart will be gladdened and he will rejoice and offer praise and thanks for his portion, with a joyous and happy heart, that he has merited to act as host to the Almighty twice daily, to the limit of his available time, and according to the capacity which has been generously bestowed upon him by G‑d.
And if G‑d will lavish on him in yet a fuller measure, then “He who has clean hands will increase his effort” and “a good intention….” And even the remainder of the day, when he is engaged in commerce, he will provide a dwelling for Him through the giving of charity out of the proceeds of his labour, which is one of the Divine qualities, “As He is compassionate,…” and as written in the Tikunim that “Kindness is the right hand.” And even though he distributes no more than a fifth part, this fifth carries the other four parts with it up to G‑d, to provide a dwelling for Him, blessed be He, as is known from the Rabbinic statement, that the commandment of charity is balanced against all the sacrifices. And through the sacrifices all living creatures were elevated unto G‑d through the offering of one beast, all plants through that of one tenth of a measure of fine meal mingled with oil, and so on. Apart from this, at the time of study and prayer, there ascends unto G‑d everything one has eaten and drunk and enjoyed of the other four parts for the health of the body, as will be explained later.
All the above mentioned particulars regarding the diverse joys of the soul do not preclude the person from considering himself shameful and loathsome, or from having a contrite heart and humble spirit, at the very time of the joy. For the sense of shame,… is occasioned by the aspect of the body and animal soul, whilst his joy comes from the aspect of the divine soul and the spark of G‑dliness that is clothed therein and animates it, as has been discussed above (ch. 31). After this manner it is stated in the Zohar, “Weeping is lodged in one side of my heart, ‘and joy is lodged in the other.”
Let us elucidate further the term “to do it.” Let us also understand, in a very small measure, the purpose of the creation of “Intermediates” and the descent of their souls into this world, to be clothed within he animal soul which is derived from the kelipah and sitra achra. Since they will not be able to banish her [the animal soul] throughout their lives, nor to dislodge her from her place in the left part of the heart, so that none of her impure fancies should rise to the brain, inasmuch as the very essence of the animal soul derived from the kelipah remains [in the Intermediates] in her full strength and might as at birth, except that her “garments” do not invest their bodies, as discussed above— if so, why have their souls descended into this world to labour in vain, G‑d forbid, to wage war throughout their lives against the [evil] nature which they cannot vanquish?
But let this be their solace, to comfort them doubly and helpfully, and to gladden their heart in G‑d, Who dwells with them in their Torah and [Divine] Service:
To quote, by way of preface, the comment of the Yenuka (Zohar, Parshat Balak) on the verse: “The wise man’s eyes are in his head”: “Where else are a man’s eyes? … But the interpretation of the verse certainly is as follows: We have learned that a man must not walk four cubits bareheaded. The reason is that the Shechinah rests on his head; and a wise man’s eyes and everything he possesses are ‘in his head,’ i.e. in Him Who rests and abides above his head; and if his eyes are there, he must know that the Light which shines above his head needs oil; for the body of a man is a wick, and the Light is kindled above it. And King Solomon cried, saying, ‘Let there be no lack of oil above thy head.’ For the Light on a man’s head must have oil, meaning good deeds, and this is the meaning of the phrase, ‘The wise man’s eyes are in his head.'” The quotation ends here.
The explanation of this figure, whereby the Light of the Shechinah is compared to the flame of a lamp which produces no light nor clings to the wick without oil, and likewise the Shechinah does not rest on a man’s body, which is likened to a wick, except through good deeds alone, and it is not sufficient that his soul (neshamah), which is a part of G‑dliness from above, should act for him as oil to the wick—is clear and understandable to every intelligent person.
It is, that the neshamah of a person—even if he be a perfect tzaddik serving G‑d with fear and love of delights—does not, nevertheless, completely dissolve itself out of existence, so as to be truly nullified and absorbed into the light of G‑d to the extent of becoming one and the same absolutely, but the person remains an entity apart, one who fears G‑d and loves Him. It is different, however, with the commandments and good deeds, which are His blessed will. His blessed will is the source of life for all the worlds and creatures, flowing down to them through the many contractions (tzimtzumim) and the concealment of the countenance of the Supreme Will (Ratzon Elyon), blessed be He, and the recession of the levels, until it was made possible for creatures to come into being ex nihilo, separate beings that should not lose their identity, as discussed above. The commandments, however, are different in that they are the inwardness of His blessed will, without any concealment of the countenance whatever; the vitality that is in them [therefore] is in no way a separate being, but is united and absorbed in His blessed will, and they become truly one with a perfect union.
Now, the meaning of the “indwelling” of the Shechinah is the revelation of His blessed Divinity and of the light of the blessed En Sof in anything. That is to say, that such thing merges into the light of G‑d, and its reality is completely dissolved in Him; only then does the One G‑d abide and manifest Himself in it. But any thing whose reality is not completely nullified in Him, the light of G‑d does not abide nor manifest itself therein, even if one be a perfect tzaddik who cleaves to Him with abundant love, since no thought can truly apprehend Him at all. For the truth of “The Lord is the true G‑d” is His Unity and Oneness— that He is One Alone and there is no reality whatsoever apart from Him. Hence the person who loves [G‑d] and [ipso facto] exists [apart] and is not null and void— cannot by his thought apprehend Him at all; and the light of G‑d cannot abide and reveal itself in him, except through the fulfillment of the commandments which constitute in reality His blessed will and wisdom without any concealment of Countenance.
Note: This accords with the comment and explanation which I heard from my teacher, peace to him, on a passage in Etz Chayim stating that the light of the blessed En Sof does not become unified even in the world of Atzilut, unless it clothes itself first in the sefirah of Wisdom— the reason being that the Messed En Sof is the true One Who is One Alone and apart from Whom there is nothing, and this is the level of Wisdom, and so on.
Therefore, when a person occupies himself in the Torah, his neshamah, which is his divine soul, with her two innermost garments only, namely the power of speech and thought, are absorbed in the Divine light of the blessed En Sof, and are united with it in a perfect union. This constitutes the resting of the Shechinah on his divine soul, as the Rabbis stated, “Even if one person sedulously occupies himself with the Torah, the Shechinah is with him.”
However, in order to draw the light and effulgence of the Shechinah also over his body and animal soul, i.e. on the vital spirit clothed in the physical body, he needs to fulfil the practical commandments which are performed by the body itself. For then the very energy of the body itself which is engaged in this action is absorbed in the Divine light and in His will, and is united with Him in a perfect union. This is the third garment of the divine soul. Thereby also the energy of the vital spirit in the physical body, originating in the kelipat nogah, is transformed from evil to good, and is actually absorbed into holiness like the divine soul itself, since it is this [animal soul] that carries out and performs the act of the commandment, because without it the divine soul could not have been acting through the body at all, for it is spiritual whilst the body is material and coarse. The intermediary linking them is the vital animal soul, which is clothed in the human blood, in the heart and in all the body.
And although the essence and substance of the animal soul in his heart, namely its evil dispositions, have not yet been absorbed into holiness, nevertheless since they have submitted to holiness and, albeit unwillingly, respond “Amen” and agree and are reconciled to perform the commandment, under the preponderance of the divine soul in his brain which rules the heart, and, in the meantime, these [evil dispositions] are in a state of exile or slumber, as it were, as discussed above— therefore, this is no obstacle to the suffusion of the Shechinah over the human body at such time. Thus the energy of the vital soul that is embodied in the performance of the commandment is actually absorbed into the Divine light and is united with it in a perfect union, thereby illuminating the totality of the vital soul throughout the body, and also the physical body itself in a manner of “Encompassing from above,” from head to foot. This is what is meant by the phrase, “The Shechinah rests on his head; the word “on” indicates this. Similarly, “On every [assembly of] ten the Shechinah rests.”
Clearly, any such diffusion of the light of the Shechinah, that is the revelation of the light of the blessed En Sof, cannot be termed mutability in Him, G‑d forbid, nor multiplicity. Witness the passage in Stair hedrin, where a heretic said to Rabban Gamliel: “You say that on every assembly often men the Shechinah rests. How many Divine Presences have you, then?” And he replied to him with an example of the light of the sun which enters through many windows…. The intelligent man will understand.
It is a well-known Rabbinic statement that the purpose of the creation of this world is that the Holy One, blessed be He, desired to have an abode in the lower worlds. But surely with Him the distinction of “upper” and “lower” has no validity, for He pervades all worlds equally.
The explanation of the matter, however, is as follows:
Before the world was created, He was One Alone, One and Unique, filling all space in which He created the universe. It is still the same now insofar as He is concerned. For the change relates only to those who receive His blessed life-force and light, which they receive through many “garments” which conceal and obscure His blessed light, as is written, “For no man shall see Me and live,” and, as our Rabbis, of blessed memory, have explained it, that even angels, who are called chayyot, cannot see Him….
This is the concept of the Hishtalshelut (downward gradation) of the worlds and their descent, degree by degree, through a multitude of “garments” which screen the light and life that emanate from Him, until there was created this material and gross world, the lowest in degree, than which there is none lower in the aspect of concealment of His blessed light; [a world of] doubled and redoubled darkness, so much so that it is full of kelipot and the sitra achra which oppose the very G‑dhead, saying: “I am, and there is nothing else besides me.”
Clearly, the purpose of the Hishtalshelut of the worlds and their descent, degree by degree, is not for the sake of the higher worlds, because for them this is a descent from the light of His blessed Countenance. But the ultimate purpose [of creation] is this lowest world, for such was His blessed will that He shall have satisfaction when the sitra achra is subdued and the darkness is turned to light, so that the Divine light of the blessed En Sof shall shine forth in the place of the darkness and sitra achra throughout this world, all the more strongly and intensely, with the excellence of light emerging from darkness, than its effulgence in the higher worlds, where it shines through “garments” and in concealment of the Countenance, which screen and conceal the light of the blessed En Sof, in order that they should not dissolve out of existence.
For this purpose, the Holy One, blessed be He, gave to Israel the Torah which is called “might” and “strength,” as the Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said, that the Almighty puts strength into the righteous in order that they may receive their reward in the hereafter, without being nullified in their very existence, in the Divine light that will be revealed to them in the hereafter without any cloak, as is written, “No longer shall thy Teacher hide Himself (literally: He will not conceal Himself from thee with robe and garment) … but thine eyes shall see thy Teacher.” It is also written, “For they shall see eye to eye,.. .” and, “The sun shall be no more thy light by day …, but the Lord shall be thine everlasting light….”
It is well known that the Messianic Era, and especially the time of the Resurrection of the Dead, is the fulfillment and culmination of the creation of the world, for which purpose it was originally created.
Note: The receiving of the reward is essentially in the seventh millennium, as is stated in Likutei Torah of Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory.
Something of this revelation has already been experienced on earth, at the time of the Giving of the Torah, as is written, “Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the Lord He is G‑d; there is naught else beside Him”— “It was showed “ verily with physical vision, as is written, “And all the people saw the thunderings”— “They saw what is [normally] heard.” And the Rabbis, of blessed memory, explained, “They looked eastwards and heard the speech issuing forth: ‘I am,’ etc., and so [turning] towards the four points of the compass, and upwards and downwards,” as is also explained in the Tikunim that “There was no place from which He did not speak unto them….” This was so because of the revelation of His blessed will in the Decalogue constituting the epitome of the whole Torah, which is the inwardness of His blessed will and wisdom, wherein there is no concealment of the Countenance at all, as is written, “For in the light of Thy Countenance hast Thou given us the Law of life.” Therefore they [the Israelites at Sinai] repeatedly expired out of existence, as the Rabbis have taught that “At each [Divine] utterance their soul took flight,… but the Holy One, blessed be He, restored it to them with the dew with which He will revive the dead.” This is the dew of the Torah which is called “might,” as the Rabbis have said, “Everyone who occupies himself with the Torah is revived by the dew of the Torah….”
Later, however, the sin [of the Golden Calf] caused both them and the world to become gross again— until “The end of days,” when the dross of the body and of the world will be purified, and they will be able to apprehend the revealed Divine light which will shine forth to Israel by means of the Torah, called “might.” And, as a result of the overflow of the illumination on Israel, the darkness of the gentiles will also be lit up, as is written, “And the nations shall walk by thy light,…” and, “O, house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord” ; again, “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see together,…”; and, “To go into the holes of the rocks, and into the clefts of the boulders, for fear of the Lord and for the glory of His majesty.” And as we pray, “Shine forth in the splendour and excellence of Thy might upon all the inhabitants of the world….”
This culminating fulfillment of the Messianic Era and of the Resurrection of the Dead, which is the revelation of the light of the blessed En Sof in this material world, depends on our actions and service throughout the duration of the galut. For what causes the reward of a commandment is the commandment itself, because by virtue of performing it the person suffuses a flood of light of the blessed En Sof from above downwards, to be clothed in the corporeality of the world, in something that was previously under the dominion of the kelipat nogah, from which it had received its vitality. These are all those things that are [ritually] clean and permissible, wherewith the precept of action is performed, viz., parchment used in the phylacteries and Mezuzah and the scroll of the Torah, as taught by the Rabbis that nothing is fitting for a sacred purpose which is not clean and permissible for consumption; similarly an etrog which is not orlah ;
Note: For orlah is one of the three completely impure kelipot that can never ascend [into holiness] as explained in Etz Chayim. Similarly the performance of any precept involving a transgression, G‑d forbid.
so, too, money given to charity which had not been dishonestly acquired; and similarly with other things. Thus, when a person performs the Divine commandment and will, by means of these [“clean” things], the. vitality that is in them ascends and is dissolved and absorbed into the light of the blessed En Sof which is His blessed will that is clothed in them, since therein there is no concealment of Countenance whatever, to obscure His blessed light.
In like manner, the energy of the vital animal soul which is in the organs of the body of the person performing the commandment, is also clothed in this performance, and it rises from the kelipah and is absorbed into the holiness of the precept, which is His blessed will, and is dissolved into the light of the blessed En Sof.
Likewise in regard to the commandment of Torah study and the recital of Shema and Prayer, and similar precepts, although they do not involve physical action in the strict sense, such as would be dominated by the kelipat nogah. Nevertheless it has been established that meditation cannot take the place of speech, and that a person does not fulfil the commandment until he has uttered [the words] with his lips. And it has been established that the articulation by the lips is deemed as “action.” For the divine soul cannot express itself through the lips and mouth and tongue and teeth, which are all corporeal, except through the agency of the vital animal soul, which is clothed in the organs of the physical body. Hence the more strength one puts into his speech, the more of the vital soul’s energy does he introduce and invest into those words. This is the meaning of the verse, “All my bones shall declare… .” This also is what the Rabbis meant when they said, “If the Torah reposes in all the 248 organs, it will be preserved; but if not, it will not be preserved.” For forgetfulness comes from the kelipah of the body and vital animal soul, which are of the kelipat nogah that is sometimes absorbed into holiness, which is accomplished when one weakens their power and transfers all their strength into the holiness of the Torah or Prayer.
Furthermore, the vital soul’s energy which is clothed in the letters of speech in Torah study or Prayer, or the like, or in the precepts of performance, derives its entire growth and vitality from the blood, which is of the kelipat nogah itself, namely, all the foods and drinks which the person has eaten and drunk and which have become blood, having been under its dominion and having drawn their nurtures from it [the kelipat nogah]. But now it is converted from evil to good and is absorbed into holiness, by virtue of the energy of the vital soul that has grown from it, which has now clothed itself in these letters or in this action which constitute the very inwardness of His blessed will, without any concealment of Countenance. And their vitality is also absorbed into the light of the blessed En Sof, which is His blessed will. And with their vitality, the energy of the vital soul is absorbed and elevated. Thereby will ascend also the totality of the kelipat nogah, constituting the general vitality of this material and gross world,
when the whole neshamah and divine soul of all Israel, which is divided into 600,000 particular offshoots, and each particular soul will fulfil all the 613 commandments of the Torah:—
The 365 prohibitions, to restrain the 365 blood vessels of the vital soul in the body, so as not to receive nurture or vitality through that sin from one of the three completely unclean kelipot, from which are derived the 365 prohibitions in the Torah together with their offshoots as laid down by the Rabbis; for the vital soul would no longer be able to ascend to G‑d if it had been defiled with the impurity of the three unclean kelipot, which can never be elevated but must be completely nullified and annihilated, as is written, “And I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land”; and
The 248 positive precepts, in order to draw the light of the blessed En Sof earthwards, so as to raise up to Him and bind and unite with Him, the totality of the vital soul which is in the 248 organs of the body, with a perfect union, to become truly one, as it was His blessed will that He should have an abode amongst the lowest creatures, and they become a “vehicle” (merkavah) for Him, as were the Patriarchs.
Thus, when the totality of the vital soul of the community of Israel will be a holy merkavah for G‑d, then shall the general vitality of this world, now constituting the kelipat nogah, emerge from its impurity and filth and ascend unto holiness to become a merkavah for G‑d, through the revelation of His glory, “And all flesh shall see together,” and He will shine forth on them with the splendour of His majestic greatness, and the whole world will be filled with the glory of the Lord, and Israel shall behold [it] eye to eye, as at the Giving of the Law, as is written, “Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know, that the Lord, He is G‑d; there is nothing else beside Him/’ In this way, all three unclean kelipot will be completely destroyed and annihilated, for their present nurture and vitality from holiness comes to them through the medium of the kelipat nogah, which is the intermediary between them.
It follows, therefore, that the whole fulfillment of the Messianic Era and of the Resurrection of the Dead— which is the revelation of His blessed glory and Divinity, and the banishment of the spirit of impurity from the world— is dependent on the suffusion of His Divinity and of the light of the blessed En Sof over the vital soul of the community of Israel in all its 248 organs, through its fulfillment of all the 248 positive precepts; and on the banishment of the spirit of impurity from it through its observance of all the 365 prohibitions, so that its 365 veins do not derive nurture from it.
For the community of Israel, comprising 600,000 particular souls, is the [source of] life for the world as a whole, which was created for their sake. And each one of them contains and is related to the vitality of one part in 600,000 of the totality of the world, which [part] depends on his vital soul for its elevation to G‑d through its own [the soul’s] elevation, by virtue of the individual’s partaking of this world for the needs of his body and vital soul in the service of G‑d, viz., eating, drinking, and the like, [his] dwelling and all his utensils.
Yet these 600,000 particular souls are roots, and each root subdivides into 600,000 sparks, each spark being one neshamah; and so with the nefesh and ruach in each of the four worlds— Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah, Asiyah.
And each spark descended into this world— although it is indeed a profound descent and a state of true exile, for even if one be a perfectly righteous person, serving G‑d with fear and a great love of delights, he cannot attain to the degree of attachment to G‑d, in fear and love, as before it came down to this gross world, not a fraction of it, and there is no comparison or similarity between them at all, as is clear to every intelligent person, for the body cannot endure,… nevertheless [each spark] descended into this world, to be clothed in a body and vital soul, for the sole purpose of mending them and separating them from the evil of the three impure kelipot, through the observance of the 365 prohibitions and their offshoots, and in order to elevate his vital soul together with its portion that belongs to it of the totality of the world, so as to join and unite them with the light of the blessed En Sof, which the person draws into them through fulfilling all the 248 positive precepts through the agency of the vital soul, the very one that fulfils all the active commandments, as has been explained above. It has also been stated in (Etz Chayim, Portal 26) that the soul itself [neshamah] needs no tikun (mending) at all … and there is no necessity for it to be embodied in this world … except in order to bring down the light to mend them … and this is exactly similar to the esoteric exile of the Shechinah for the purpose of elevating the sparks….
In the light of the above, one can understand why our Rabbis, of blessed memory, so strongly emphasized the virtue of charity, declaring that “It balances all the other commandments,” and throughout the Yerushalmi Talmud it is called simply “The Commandment,” for such was the usage of the language to call charity simply “The Commandment,” because it is the core of the precepts of action and surpasses them all. For all [precepts] are only intended to elevate the vital soul unto G‑d, since it is she [the soul] that performs them and clothes itself in them, thereby being absorbed into the light of the blessed En Sof which is vested in them. Hence you can find no commandment in which the vital soul is clothed to the same extent as in the commandment of charity: for in all [the other] commandments only one faculty of the vital soul is embodied, and then only at the time of the performance of the precept, whilst in the case of charity, which a man gives out of the toil of his hands, surely all the strength of his vital soul is embodied in the execution of his work or occupation by which he earned the money; when he gives it for charity, his whole vital soul ascends to G‑d. Even where one does not depend on his toil for a livelihood, nevertheless since with this [charity] money he could have purchased necessities of life, for his vivifying soul, hence he is giving his soul’s life to G‑d.
Therefore our Rabbis, of blessed memory, said that it [charity] brings the Redemption nearer. For with one act of charity a person elevates a great part of the vivifying soul, of whose powers and faculties he cannot elevate in the same measure by performing several other active precepts.
As for the statement of our Rabbis that “The study of the Torah equals all other commandments combined,” this is because Torah study is effected through the faculties of speech and thought, which are the innermost garments of the vivifying soul; also the essence and substance of the faculties of ChaBaD (chochmah, binah, da’at) of the kelipat nogah in the vivifying soul are integrated into holiness itself when one occupies oneself in Torah with concentration and intelligence.
And although the essence and substance of the emotion attributes (middot)— chesed, gevurah, tiferet, and so on— cannot be mastered by Intermediates so as to be converted to holiness, this is because the evil is stronger in the emotion attributes than in the intelligences, by reason of its greater nurture from the holiness of the middot, as is known to those familiar with the Esoteric Discipline.
Furthermore, and this is the most important aspect of all in the preeminence of Torah study over all other commandments, based on the above-mentioned quotation from the Tikunim, that “The 248 commandments are the 248 ‘organs’ of the King”: Just as in the case of a human being, by way of example, there is no comparison or similitude between the vitality that is in his 248 organs and the vitality that is in the brain, i.e., the intellect which is subdivided into the three faculties of ChaBaD, exactly analogous, by way of example, yet removed by myriads of distinctions ad infinitum, is the illumination of the light of the blessed En Sof that is clothed in the active precepts, compared with the illumination of the light of the blessed En Sof in the ChaBaD aspects of the wisdom of the Torah, in each man according to his intelligence and mental grasp. And although his apprehension is only in its material aspects, yet the Torah is likened to water, which descends from a high level,… as has been explained above.
Nevertheless, the Rabbis declared, “Not learning, but doing is the essential thing.” It is also written, “This day to do them.” And [it has been ruled that] one should interrupt the study of the Torah in order to fulfil an active precept that cannot be performed by others. For, “This is the whole man,” and the purpose of his creation and his descent to this world, in order that He have an abode here below especially, to turn darkness into light, so that the glory of the Lord shall fill all of this material world, with the emphasis on material, and “All flesh shall see it together,” as has been discussed above.
On the other hand, when the precept is one that can be performed by others, one does not interrupt the study of the Torah, though the whole Torah is, after all, only an explanation of the active ordinances. The reason is that [the Torah] is, as it were, the ChaBaD of the blessed En Sof, and when a person is engaged in it he draws over himself the light of the blessed En Sof, of an infinitely higher order and splendour than the illumination and influence obtained through the commandments, which are “The organs of the King.” This is what Rav Sheshet [meant when he] said, “Rejoice, O my soul! For thee did I learn Scripture; for thee did I learn Mishnah,” as is explained elsewhere at length.
This influence and illumination which man, by means of his occupation with the Torah, draws from the reflected light of the blessed En Sof and causes to shine on his soul and on the souls of all Israel, which is the Shechinah, Keneset Israel, the fount of all the souls of Israel, as will be explained later— is termed “keriah” (“calling”); hence kore baTorah [“Calling by means of the Torah”]. This means that through one’s occupation with the Torah one calls to the Holy One, blessed be He, to come to him, to use an anthropomorphism, like a person calling to his companion to come to him, or like a child calling his father to come and join him, so that he should not be separated from him and remain alone, G‑d forbid. This is the meaning of the text, “The Lord is nigh to all that call unto Him; to all that call unto Him in truth,” and ” ‘Truth’ applies only to the Torah.” The meaning is thus rendered in the sense of calling to the Holy One, blessed be He, specifically through the Torah. It is different, however, when one does not call Him through occupation in the Torah, but merely cries: “Father! Father!” as the prophet laments over him: “And none calls by Thy name,…” as is explained elsewhere. The intelligent person should ponder on this in order to inculcate into himself a great reverence at the time of his occupation with the Torah, as has been previously explained (ch. 23).
In the light of all that has been said above, one will clearly understand the decision of the Halachah, that has been laid down in the Talmud and Codes that meditation is not valid in lieu of verbal articulation, so that if one has recited the Shema only in his mind and heart, even with the full force of his concentration (kavanah), he has not fulfilled his obligation, and he is required to recite it again [orally]. Similarly with grace after meals, which is ordained by the Torah, and with other benedictions ordained by the Rabbis, and with prayer. On the other hand, if he has uttered them with his lips but did not intend with his heart, he has fulfilled his obligation ex post facto, and he is not required to repeat them, except for the first verse of the Shema and the first benediction of the Amidah* Thus it is stated (at the beginning of ch. II of Berachot) : “Up to here the commandment of intention (kavanah) applies; from here, on comes, the commandment of recitation,” and so on.
The reason is that the neshamah needs no tikun (mending) for herself by means of the commandments, but has only to draw forth light to perfect the vivifying soul and body by means of the letters of speech which the nefesh pronounces with the aid of the five organs of verbal articulation. Similarly with the active commandments which the nefesh performs with the [aid of the] other bodily organs.
Nevertheless, it has been said that “Prayer or other benediction [recited] without kavanah is like a body without a neshamah” This means that, just as in all creatures in this world, possessing a body and a soul, namely the nefesh of all living, and the ruach of all human flesh, and the neshamah of all that has the spirit of life in its nostrils among all living creatures, all of which G‑d animates and brings into existence ex nihilo, constantly, by the light and vitality which He imbues into them, for also the material body, and even the very inanimate stones and earth, have within them light and vitality from His blessed Self, so that they do not revert to naught and nothingness as they were before— there is, nevertheless, no comparison or similarity whatever between the quality of the light and vitality that illumine the body, and the quality of the light and vitality that illumine the neshamah, which is the soul of all living.
To be sure, in both there is an identical light, in terms of concealment of the Countenance, and [in terms of] the identical garments wherein the light hides, conceals, and clothes itself, for both [body and soul] are of this world wherein the light and vitality [issuing] from the breath of His blessed mouth is equally concealed in a general way, by virtue of the concealment of the Countenance and graded descent, in the progressive lowering of the worlds, by means of numerous and profound tzimtzumim (contractions) until [the light] has clothed itself in the kelipat nogah, in order to animate the totality of this material world, that is, all things which are permissible and clean in this world; and from it and through it, all things that are impure receive their sustenance, for it is the mediating agent, as it were, as has been explained above.
Nevertheless, the illumination, i.e., the flow of vitality wherewith G‑d illumines and animates by way of this garment, is not the same for all of them in the manner of contraction and expansion.
For in the corporeal body and in the actually inanimate object, like stones and earth, the illumination is one of greatest contraction which has no parallel,, where the vitality is so minute as not to have even the power of vegetation. In plants the illumination is not so greatly contracted. In general, all things are subdivided into four grades— mineral, vegetable, animal and man (“speaker”)— corresponding with the four letters of the blessed Name [Tetragrammaton], from which they receive their influence.
And just as the illumination and flow of vitality in the inanimate and vegetable bear no comparison or parallel with the illumination and flow of vitality which is clothed in animals and man, although in all there is one equal light in the category of concealed Countenance, which is clothed in the same garment in all of them, namely, the garment of nogah,— so, too, there is no comparison or parallel between the illumination and flow of the light of the blessed En Sof— the inwardness of His blessed will, without concealment of the Countenance and without any garment whatever— which irradiates and pervades the active precepts; likewise in the case of precepts that depend on verbal articulation and utterance of the lips without kavanah, which [articulation] is regarded as real action, as mentioned above, by comparison with the illumination and flow of the light of the blessed En Sof which irradiates and pervades the kavanah of the active precepts that a person intends, whilst engaged in performing them, to cleave to Him, blessed be He, through fulfilling His will, inasmuch as He and His will are one and the same. Similarly in the case of kavanah in prayer, the recital of Shema with its benedictions, and all other benedictions, wherein through his intention (kavanah) he attaches his thought and intellect to Him, may He be blessed.
Not that an attachment (devekut) of the human thought and intellect to Him, blessed be He, is intrinsically superior to the attachment through the performance of the active precepts in actual practice, as will be explained further on. Rather it is also His blessed will that one should cleave to Him with one’s intelligence, thought and intention in the active commandments, and with intention during the recital of Shema, prayer and other benedictions. And the illumination of this Supreme Will (Ratzon Elyon) which irradiates and pervades this kavanah is infinitely greater and more sublime than the illumination of the Supreme Will which irradiates and pervades the performance of the commandments themselves in action and speech but without kavanah. It is comparable to the superiority of the light of the soul over the body, which is a vessel and garb for the soul, as the body of the commandment itself is a vessel and garb for its kavanah.
And although in both of them, in the commandment and in its kavanah, there is the same Will which is perfectly simple, without any change or multiplicity, G‑d forbid, which is united with His blessed Essence and Being in perfect unity, nevertheless the illumination is not the same in respect of contraction and extension, and
Note: It is also so explained in Etz Chayim, that the kavanah of the commandments and of Torah study is in the category of “light” while the commandments themselves are grades and categories of “vessels” that constitute tzimtzum of the light, for through the contraction of the light the vessels came into being, as is known to those who are familiar with the Esoteric Discipline.
it, too, is differentiated into four grades. For the “body” of the commandments themselves constitute two grades, namely, the commandments involving real action and those which are performed verbally and mentally, such as the study of the Torah, reciting the Shema, praying, saying Grace after meals, and other benedictions. The kavanah of the commandments [i.e. the intention] to cleave to His blessed Self, being like the soul to the body [of the commandments], is likewise subdivided into two grades, corresponding to the two categories of soul which are present in corporeal bodies, namely in animals and in man [respectively].
In the case of a person who is intelligent enough to know G‑d and to reflect on His blessed greatness, and to beget out of his understanding a lofty fear in his brain and a love of G‑d in the right part of his heart, so that his soul will thirst for G‑d, [seeking] to cleave unto Him through the fulfillment of the Torah and commandments, which are an extension and reflection of the light of the blessed En Sof onto his soul thereby to cleave to Him; and with this intention he studies [the Torah] and performs the commandments, and likewise with this intention he prays and recites the blessings— then this kavanah is, by way of simile, like the soul of a human being, who possesses intelligence and freedom of choice and speaks from knowledge.
But he whose intelligence is too limited to know and reflect on the greatness of the blessed En Sof so as to beget out of this understanding a conscious love in his heart, and also awe in his mind, and dread of G‑d in his heart, yet he recalls and awakens the natural love that is hidden in his heart, bringing it out of the hidden recesses of the heart into the conscious mind, at least, so that his will which is in his mind and which is latent also in his heart should approve, and favour, with complete ‘willingness and truthful sincerity, that he suffer martyrdom in actual fact for the Unity of G‑d, in order to attach to Him his divine soul and her garments and unite them with His Unity and Oneness, namely, the Supernal Will that is clothed in Torah study and in the performance of the commandments, as explained above; and in this [natural love] is contained also fear [wherewith] to accept His reign and not rebel against Him, G‑d forbid— and with this kavanah he turns away from evil and does good, and studies and prays and recites benedictions, following only the plain meaning of the words without conscious fear and love in his heart and mind— this kavanah is, by way of the simile, like the soul of a living creature that has no intelligence and freedom of will, whose middot, namely its fear of harmful things and its love of pleasing things, are only natural to it, and do not originate in its understanding and knowledge. So, by way of example, are the natural love and fear which are latent in the heart of every Jew, since they are our heritage from our Patriarchs and like a natural instinct in our souls, as has been mentioned above.
It is also for this reason that the angels are called chayyot (beasts) and behemot (cattle), as is written, “And the face of a lion on the right side … and the face of an ox on the left side,…” for they have no freedom of choice, and their fear and love are their natural instincts, as stated in Raaya Mehemna on Parshat Pinchas. Therefore the quality of tzaddikim is superior to theirs, for the abode of the souls of the righteous is in the world of Beriah, whereas the abode of the angels is in the world of Yetzirah.
Note: This refers to ordinary angels, but there are higher angels in the world of Beriah, whose service is with intelligent fear and love, as is explained in Ra’aya Mehemna, ibid., that there are two kinds of holy chayyot, instinctive and intelligent, as also explained in Etz Chayim.
The difference between them is that in the world of Yetzirah only the middot of the blessed En Sof shine forth, namely the love of Him, and the dread and fear of Him,… as is stated (in the Tikunim and in Etz Chayim) that the six Sefirot .nest in [the world of] Yetzirah. Therefore it is the constant service of the angels, resting neither by day nor by night, to stand in fear and dread,… these being the whole camp of Gabriel on the left; while the service of the camp of Michael is with love. … But in the world of Beriah shine forth the chochmah, binah and da’at of the blessed En Sof which are the source of the Middot and their “mother” and root, as stated in the Tikunim that ima ilaa (“Supernal Mother”) nests in the three Sefirot, in the “[Divine] Throne” which is the world of Beriah. Therefore this is the abode of the souls of the righteous who serve G‑d with fear and love, which are derived from the understanding and knowledge of the greatness of the blessed En Sof. For this love is called re’uta delibba (“heart’s desire”), as has already been mentioned. And from this “heart’s desire” is produced a garment for the soul in the world of Beriah which constitutes the Higher Garden of Eden, as will be explained later, and as is written in the Zohar on [Parshat] Vayakhel.
But this applies specifically to neshamot , which [possess] a greatcognition, as it were, of the blessed En Sof. As for the category of ruach of the righteous, as also all other souls of Israelites who have served G‑d with the fear and love that are latent in the heart of all Jews, these do not ascend thither, except on the Sabbath and the New Moon by means of the pillar that rises from the Lower to the Higher Garden of Eden, i.e. the world of Beriah which is called the Higher Garden of Eden, wherein to take pleasure in G‑d and derive enjoyment from the splendour of the Shechinah. For the intellect of a created being can have no enjoyment or pleasure except in what it conceives, understands, knows and apprehends, with its intellect and apprehension, what is possible for it to understand and grasp of the light of the blessed En Sof, by virtue of His blessed wisdom and understanding which shine forth in the world of Beriah.
As for the reason that these souls merit to ascend higher than the angels, even though their service has been with no more than natural fear and love, it is that through their fear and love the sitra achra which was clothed in their body was subdued, both in the realm of “depart from evil”— by subjugating and breaking the passions, and in the realm of “do good,” as discussed earlier. For they had the freedom to choose evil, G‑d forbid, yet they chose the good in order to subdue the sitra achra, thereby elevating the glory of the Holy One, blessed be He,… as the excellence of light, … discussed above.
However, all this is concerned with the abode of the souls and their station, but their Torah and service are actually absorbed into the Ten Sefirot which are a category of G‑dliness and with which the light of the blessed En Sof unites itself in perfect unison; that is to say, in the Ten Sefirot of Beriah— through intelligent fear and love, and in the Ten Sefirot of Yetzirah— through natural fear and love. In them are clothed the Ten Sefirot of Atzilut (Emanation) and are completely united with them, while the Ten Sefirot of Atzilut are absolutely united with their Emanator, the blessed En Sof. The souls, on the other hand, are not absorbed into the G‑dliness of the Ten Sefirot, but are stationed in the hechalot (palaces) and abodes of Beriah or Yetzirah, enjoying the effulgence of the Shechinah, the light of the blessed En Sof, which is united with the Ten Sefirot of Beriah or Yetzirah, it being the glow of their very Torah and service (see Zohar, Vayakhel, p. 210), for “the reward of a commandment is the commandment itself.”
The world of Atzilut, however, is beyond the intelligence, comprehension and understanding of a created intellect, because the chochmah, binah and da’at of the blessed En Sof are united with it therein in perfect unity, a profound and wonderful unity which infinitely excels, in degree and form, that which is found in the world of Beriah; for in the latter they descended to give light by means of tzimtzum, so that created intellects should be able to receive from them ChaBaD (chochmah, binah, da’at), to know G‑d and to understand and apprehend something of the light of the blessed En Sof, to the extent possible for created intellects which are limited and finite, without their being dissolved in their existence and ceasing completely to exist as created beings, only to revert to their source and root, namely, G‑dliness itself.
It is this tzimtzum that is the cause of the glow of ChaBaD of the blessed En Sof illuminating the souls in the world of Beriah. It is different in [the world of] Atzilut, where they [ChaBaD] are not subject to the same extent of tzimtzum; consequently it is impossible for created intellects to apprehend them. That is why no thought of the [created intellects] can apprehend anything there. Hence it is the abode of the great tzaddikim, whose service supremely transcends even the quality of fear and love which are derived from the understanding and knowledge of His blessed greatness, just as the world of Atzilut is far beyond the understanding and knowledge of a created intellect. Indeed, their service has been truly in the nature of a “vehicle” to the blessed En Sof, being nullified to Him in existence and absorbed in His blessed light, they and everything they possessed, through the fulfillment of the Torah and commandments, in the way which has been said of the Patriarchs that they personally constituted the Chariot, because throughout their lives this was their service.
But as for him whose soul’s root is too small to contain such perfect service, so as to be nullified and absorbed in His blessed light by constant service, but only at such intervals and times which are propitious on high, viz. during the prayer of the Amidah which is in Atzilut, especially when making the genuflexions, for genuflexion characterises Atzilut (as explained in Peri Etz Chayim on the prayer of the Inauguration of the Sabbath), since it symbolises self-nullification in His blessed light to be accounted as nothing at all before Him— in such a case, therefore, the principal abode of his soul is in the world of Beriah (and only occasionally, at propitious times, does his soul ascend to Atzilut, by virtue of the “feminine waters,” as is known to those familiar with the Esoteric Discipline).
“The reward of a commandment is the commandment itself” means that from the reward we know its essence and rank. But we do not concern ourselves with esoteric matters, which are [related to] the great tzaddikim who are in the category of a “vehicle.” Our concern is with matters that are “revealed to us,” to which every man should aspire: To know with certainty the essence and quality of Divine Service, with a conscious fear and love in one’s heart, stemming from understanding and knowledge of the greatness of the blessed En Sof, which has its place in the Ten Sefirot of Beriah; and of service with the natural fear and love in the mind, [which is] in the Ten Sefirot of Yetzirah. But a service without the inspiration of fear and love even in the mind, in a conscious state, that is to say, without arousing the natural love which is hidden in the heart and bringing it out of the concealment and recesses of the heart into the consciousness of the mind and the latency of the heart at any rate, but it remains hidden in the heart as at birth, as it was prior to the service— such a service remains below, in the world of “separateness,” called the externality of the worlds, having no power to rise and be absorbed in His blessed Unity, in the Ten Holy Sefirot, as is written in the Tikunim that “Without fear and love it cannot soar upwards nor can it ascend and stand before G‑d.”
This is so even if the service is not strictly “Not for its own sake,” that is, for some ulterior motive, Heaven forfend. It also applies to the service which is described as “Their fear toward Me has become [like] a trained human precept,” that is to say, it is a matter of habit to which the person has become accustomed since infancy, having been habituated and trained by his. father and teacher to fear G‑d and to serve Him, but he does not really do it for its own sake. For [performance] truly for its own sake cannot be without arousing at least the innate fear and love and bringing them out from the concealment of the heart into the consciousness of the mind and the latency of the heart, at any rate. For just as a person does nothing for his companion in carrying out the latter’s will, unless he loves him or fears him, so one cannot truly act for His blessed Name, just to carry out His will, without recalling and arousing any love or fear for Him in his mind and thought and the latency of his heart, at least.
Nor is love alone called “service” without at least the lower fear (yirah tattaah), which is latent in every Jewish heart, as will be later amplified.
However, when a person is engaged [in service] truly not for its own sake, but for some personal motive, with a view to his own glorification, as, for example, in order to become a scholar, and the like, then that motive, which originates in the kelipat nogah, clothes itself in his Torah, and the Torah is temporarily in a state of exile in the kelipah, until he repents, since “[Repentance] brings healing to the world.” For with his return to G‑d, his Torah also returns with him. Therefore the Rabbis of blessed memory declared, “A man should always occupy himself [with Torah and precepts, even if not for its own sake], for from motives of self-interest he will come [to study and observe] for its own sake”— [this they state] with certainty, for ultimately he is bound to do repentance, whether in this incarnation or in another, “Because none is rejected by Him.”
On the other hand, if a person acts without any particular motivation, neither “For its own sake” nor for selfish reasons, then it is not contingent upon repentance, but as soon as he, once again, learns this subject “For its own sake,’ then even that which he had learned without any particular intent, conjoins and attaches itself with this study and ascends on high, since it had not yet been invested with any kelipot nogah. Therefore “A man should always occupy himself….”
The same is true of prayer without kavanah, as is discussed in tne Zohar.
However, as long as he has not re-studied that subject “For its own sake,” his study does not ascend even into the Ten Sefirot which shine in the worlds of Yetzirah and Asiyah. For the Sefirot are a category of G‑dliness, and in them is clothed and united the light of the blessed En Sof itself, and “Without fear and love it cannot rise and stand before G‑d,” as is written in the Tikunim. But his study ascends into the hechalot and abodes which are the externalities of the worlds, wherein the angels stand. Thus Rabbi Chayim Vital, of blessed memory, writes in “The Gate of Prophecy,” ch. 2, that from Torah studied without kavanah angels are created in the world of Yetzirah, whilst from commandments performed without kavanah, angels are created in the world of Asiyah— and all angels are possessed of matter and form.
However, Torah which is studied “Not for its own sake” indeed, as, for example, for the purpose of becoming a scholar, and the like, it does not at all ascend on high even to the hechalot and abodes of the angels of Holiness, but it remains below in this material world which is the dwelling-place of the kelipot—
Note: As explained in the Zohar, Part III, pp. 31b and 121b, where note: “That word ascends and breaks through the heavens… and evokes what it evokes— if good— good,. ..” note there. Also page 105a: “From a word of the Torah is formed a sound which ascends,…” Also page 168b: “The voices of Torah and Prayer rend the heavens . . .”
as commented in the Zohar on the verse: “What profit hath a man of all his toil which he labours under the sun?” : “Even with the toil of Torah, if he does it for his own glory. . . .” This is also the meaning of the statement: “Happy is he who conies here with his learning in his hand,” which.means that it was not left behind in this world below.
[The reason Torah requires kavanah to ascend on high] albeit the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are altogether One, for He and His will are One [is as follows.] Although the Holy One, blessed be He, fills all worlds alike, nevertheless the worlds are not all of equal rank. The difference is due to the recipients in two respects: Firstly, in that the higher worlds receive a radiance infinitely greater than the lower; and, secondly, in that they receive it without as many “garments” and “screens” as the lower. And this world is the lowest world in both aspects, for the radiance that is in it is greatly contracted unto the utmost limit; hence it is corporeal and material. And even this [contracted radiance] comes in many “garments” and “screens” until it is clothed in the kelipat nogah, to animate all clean things in this world, including the vivifying, articulate soul in man. [Consider,] therefore, [this animal soul] as it utters words of Torah and prayer without kavanah. These are holy letters, of course, and the kelipat nogah in the vivifying soul constitutes no separating curtain in any degree concealing and covering His blessed Holiness clothed in them, as it conceals and covers His blessed Holiness in the vivifying soul when it speaks idle words, or as in the vivifying soul of any of the other living creatures that are clean. And though there is no place that is void of Him, yet He is the “Most hidden One of all the hidden,” and is called the “Hidden G‑d.” So too, the radiance and extension of vitality from Him, may He be blessed, is hidden in the many dense “garments” and “screens” until it is clothed and concealed in the garment of nogah. This is not, however, the case with the holy letters in the words of Torah and Prayer, wherein, oh the contrary, the kelipat nogah is converted to good and is absorbed into this Holiness, as is discussed above. Nevertheless the glow of His blessed Holiness that is in them is in a state of tzimtzum to the utmost limit, since the voice and speech are material.
But in the case of prayer with kavanah and Torah with kavanah “For its own sake,” the kavanah is clothed in the letters of the speech because it is their source and root, since by reason and cause of it he speaks these letters. Therefore it elevates them to its level in the Ten Sefirot of Yetzirah or Beriah, according to whether the kavanah is inspired by intelligent or natural fear and love,… as has been discussed above. There the light of the blessed En Sof, namely, the blessed Higher Will which is clothed in the letters of the Torah which he studies and in their kavanah, or in the prayer and its kavanah, or in the commandment and its kavanah, shines forth and is revealed with a great and infinite brightness that cannot shine forth and be revealed at all in any manner or form as long as the letters and the commandment are still in this material world, until the era of the end of days, when the world will be uplifted from its materiality, “And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,…” as has been previously discussed at length.
Note: And there [in the Ten Sefirot] shines forth and is revealed also the Supernal Union (Yichud Elyon) that is produced by each commandment and by Torah study, this being the union of His blessed attributes which coalesce into one another, Gevurot (the “stem” attributes) are sweetened by Chasadim (benevolent attributes) through the Supernal Propitious Time of the blessed En Sof which shines forth and reveals itself in a manner of a great and intense manifestation by reason of the “impulse” from below, namely, the performance of the commandment, or the occupation in Torah, wherein the Higher Will of the blessed En Sof is clothed.
But the essential Union takes place far higher, in the world of Atzilut, where the core and essence of His blessed attributes arc united with their Emanator, the blessed En Sof, and there is the core and essence of the Supreme Will of the blessed En Sof, while only a glow from them shines in Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, in each of these worlds according to its rank. And although the soul of the person who occupies himself in the Torah and in the commandment does not derive from Atzilut, nevertheless the Higher Will that is clothed in this commandment and which is identical with the very halachah or word of the Torah in which he is occupied, is G‑dliness and light of the blessed En Sof, the Emanator, for He and His will are One, and by His blessed will He has caused His attributes to emanate from Him yet they are united with Him, may He be blessed. By the revelation of His will, which becomes manifest through this occupation with the Torah and the particular commandment they [the attributes] coalesce into one another and the Gevurot are sweetened by Chasidim at this propitious moment.
In the light of the above it will be clearly understood why fear and love are figuratively called “wings,” as is written: “And with twain did he fly,” (and as Rabbi Chayim Vital, of blessed memory, explained in Shaar ha-Yichudim, ch. n), that the wings are to a bird what arms are to a man…. And in Tikunim it is explained that they who occupy themselves with Torah and commandments in fear and love are called “children”; otherwise they are called “fledglings” that cannot fly.
Note: In Tikun 45 it is written that the [figure of a] bird represents Metatron. His head is the letter yod, and the body is the letter vav and the two wings are the two [letters] hai, and so forth. This refers to the world of Yetzirah which is identified with Metatron, wherein are the “bodies” of the halachot of the Mishnah; his head symbolises the intellectual aspects, the chochmah, binah, da’at (ChaBaD), that is the inwardness of the halachot, their esoteric meaning and their reasons; whilst the two wings— fear and love— refer to the higher hai, which is love, and the lower hai, ivhich is the lower fear fyirah tattaahj, namely, the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven and the dread of G‑d, like the awe one feels in the presence of a king,.for example; for this is an external and exposed fear, unlike the higher fear (yirah ilaah), which is a feeling of shame, which is of “The hidden things belonging to the Lord our G‑d” and it is found in the Higher Wisdom (chochmah ilaah), symbolising the letter yod of the blessed Name [Tetragrammaton], as is explained in Ra’aya Mehemna.
For just as the wings of a bird are not the essential parts of it, and its vitality does not depend on them at all— as we have learned, that “If its wings have been removed, it is kasher“ (ritually clean), the essential parts being its head and entire body, while the wings merely serve the head and body, enabling it to fly with their aid— so, by way of example, are the Torah and commandments the essential aspect of the Higher Union through the manifestation of the Higher Will that is revealed through them, while the fear and love raise them to that place where the Will, the light of the blessed En Sof, and the union (Yichud), are revealed, namely, the worlds of Yetzirah and Beriah.
Note: Or even in [the world of] Asiyah, in the ten Sefirot of holiness, the abode of the active commandments and also of [the study of] Holy Writ. But in the case of the Mishnah, the Yichud and light of the blessed En Sof are revealed in [the world of] Yetzirah; and, in the case of Talmud, in [the world of] Beriah. This means that when one studies Holy Writ, the Yichud and light of the blessed En Sof are diffused from Atzilut to Asiyah; and in [the study of] Mishnah [they reach] to Yetzirah only; and in [the case of] Talmud— to Beriah only. For they are all in Atzilut. As for Kabbalah, it is not diffused at all from Atzilut to Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, as is explained in Peri Etz Chayim.
And although fear and love also form part of the 613 commandments, nevertheless they are called “wings,” for the consummation of love is the service out of love, and love without service is a “love of delights” delighting in G‑d, which is of the nature of the world to come and the receiving of reward, as it is written, “This day— to do them,” “and tomorrow” [in the world to come] — to receive one’s reward. But he who has not attained this dimension of savouring the nature of the world to come, but whose soul still yearns and thirsts for G‑d and goes out to Him all day, yet he does not quench his thirst with the water of the Torah that is in front of him— such a man is like one who stands in a river and cries: “Water! Water to drink!” Thus the prophet laments over such a man: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, go ye to the waters.” For in its simple meaning the verse makes no sense: Surely, he who is thirsty and longs to learn will study of his own accord; why, then, does the prophet need to rebuke him “Ho?” This is explained at length elsewhere.
One must, however, constantly bear in mind the beginning of the service and its core and root. By this is meant that, although fear is the root of “Depart from evil” and love— of “Do good,” nevertheless it is not sufficient to awaken the love alone to do good, but one must at least first arouse the innate fear which lies hidden in the heart of every Jew not to rebel against the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, as has been stated above, so that this [fear] shall manifest itself in his heart or, at least, his mind. This means that he should at least contemplate in his thought on the greatness of the blessed En Sof, and on His Kingship, which extends to all worlds, both higher and lower, and that “He fills all worlds and encompasses all worlds,” as is written: “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” Yet He leaves both the higher and lower [worlds] and uniquely bestows His Kingdom upon His people Israel, in general, and upon him in particular, as, indeed, a man is obliged to say: “For my sake was the world created.” And on his part, he accepts His Kingdom upon himself, that He be King over him, to serve Him and do His will in all kinds of servile work.
“And, behold, G‑d stands over him,” and “The whole world is full of His glory,” and He looks upon him and “Searches his reins and heart” [to see] if he is serving Him as is fitting. Therefore he must serve in His presence with awe and fear like one standing before the king.
One must meditate profoundly and at length on this thought according to the capacity of apprehension of his brain and thought and according to the time available to him, before he occupies himself with Torah or a commandment, such as prior to putting on his Tallit or phylacteries.
He should also reflect how the light of the blessed En Sof, which encompasses all worlds and pervades all worlds, which is identical with the Higher Will, is clothed in the letters and wisdom of the Torah and in the tzitzit (Fringes) and the phylacteries, and through his study or donning these latter he draws over himself His blessed light, that is, over “The portion of G‑dliness from above” which is within his body, that it may be absorbed and nullified in His blessed light. Specifically, in the case of the phylacteries, [he should intend] that the attributes of wisdom and understanding which are in his divine soul may be nullified and absorbed into the attributes of wisdom and understanding of the blessed En Sof, which are clothed, in particular, in the chapters of קדש and והיה כי יביאך . That is to say, that he should use his wisdom and understanding that are in his soul, only for G‑d alone. Similarly that the attribute of da’at that is in his soul, which includes both chesed (kindness) and gevurah (sternness), i.e., fear and love, in his heart, be nullified and absorbed into the attribute of the Higher Knowledge, which contains chesed and gevurah which is clothed in the chapters of שׁמע and והיה אם שׁמוע . This is what is written in the Shulchan Aruch: “That he make his heart and brain subservient to Him….”
And whilst putting on the tzitzit he should bear in mind, what is written in the Zohar, namely, to draw over himself His blessed Kingdom, which is the Kingdom over all worlds,… to bestow it particularly upon us through this commandment. And this corresponds to the subject of: “Thou shalt surely set a king over thee.”
In such a case, even though after all this [contemplation] no fear or dread descends upon him in a manifest manner in his heart, nevertheless since he accepts upon himself the Kingdom of Heaven and draws fear of Him, blessed be He, over himself in his conscious thought and rational volition, and this submission is beyond doubt a sincere one— for it is the nature of all Jewish souls not to rebel against the blessed Holy King— then the Torah he studies or the commandment he performs because of this submission and because of this inspired fear in his mind, are termed “perfect service,” like all service [performed] by a slave to his master or to his king.
On the other hand, if one studies and performs the commandment with love alone, in order to cleave to Him through His Torah or commandments, it is not termed “Service of a servant,” which is what the Torah demands, vizi, “And ye shall serve the Lord your G‑d,…” and “Him shall ye serve,…” as explained in the Zohar (Parshat Behar): “Just like the ox on which one first places a yoke in order to make it useful to the world … so too must a human being first of all submit to the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven … and if this submission is not found in him, holiness cannot rest on him….” (See also Ra’aya Mehemna, ibid., 111b) that every man must be of two categories and levels, namely, the category of a servant and that of a son. And although there is a son who is also a servant, it is not possible to attain to this degree without the prerequisite of yirah ilaah, as is known to the initiated.
Furthermore, even in the case of him who in his mind and thought feels no fear or shame on account of the poor capacity of his soul, originating in the lower degrees of the Ten Sefirot of Asiyah, nevertheless since he is intent in his service to serve the King, it is a complete service, for fear and service are accounted as two commandments of the total of 613, and they do not deter each other. But as a matter of fact, he also fulfils the commandment of fear in that he introduces the fear into his thought, for at this hour and moment, at any rate, there rests on him the fear of Heaven, at least like the fear in the presence of an ordinary mortal, even not a king, who is watching him, when he would restrain himself from doing anything unbecoming in the other’s eyes. This is termed fear, as Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai said to his disciples: “May it be G‑d’s will that the fear of Heaven be upon you like the fear of a human being … for you know that when a person commits a sin, he says [to himself], ‘May no-one see me.’…” However, such fear is termed yirah tattaah (“lower fear”) and yirat tattaah (“fear of sin”) which precedes wisdom, while the higher fear is the fear of shame…. For there are two kinds of fear….
Without any fear at all, however, it does not soar on high through love alone, just as a bird cannot fly with one wing, for fear and love are the two wings (as has been explained in the Tikunim). Similarly, fear alone is but one wing, and one’s service cannot ascend on high with it, although it is termed the “Service of a servant,” for there must also be the filial quality, in order to awaken, at least, the natural love that is hidden in his heart, to become conscious of it in his mind at any rate, to be aware of his love of the One G‑d in his thought and desire to cleave to Him, may He be blessed. This should be his kavanah when occupying himself with the Torah or the particular commandment, that his divine soul as well as his vivifying soul, together with their “garments,” shall cleave to Him, as has been explained above.
Yet in fact the Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said that a man should never separate himself from the community. Therefore he should intend to unite and attach to Him, blessed be He, the fount of his divine soul and the fount of the souls of all Israel, being the spirit of His blessed mouth, called by the name Shechinah, because it dwells and clothes itself in all worlds, animating them and giving them existence, and is that which imbues him with the power of speech to utter the words of Torah, or with the power of action to perform the particular commandment.
This union is attained through the drawing forth of the light of the blessed En Sof here below by means of occupation in the Torah and the commandments wherein [the light of the En Sof] is clothed. And he should be intent on drawing His blessed light over the fount of his soul and of the souls of all Israel to unite them. The meaning of this union will be discussed at length later on, note there. This is the meaning of “For the sake of the Union of the Holy One, blessed be He, with His Shechinah, in the name of all Israel.”
Note: Thereby the Gevurot will, of themselves, also be sweetened by the Chasadim through the coalescence of the Middot and their union by means of the revelation of the blessed Higher Will which is revealed on high through the impulsion from below, namely, its revelation here below in the occupation in the Torah and commandment which are His blessed will. Thus it is written in Idra Rabba and in Mishnat Chassidim, tractate Arich Anpin, ch. 4, that the 613 commandments of the Torah are derived from the “whiteness” of Arich Anpin, which is the Higher Will, the source of the Chasadim.*
And although in order that this kavanah should be sincere in his heart, so that his heart should truly desire this Yichud Elyon (Higher Union), there needs to be in his heart the “great love” (אהבה רבה ) for G‑d alone, to do what is gratifying only to Him and not [even] for the purpose of satiating his own soul which thirsts for. G‑d, but he must be “Like a son who strives for the sake of his father and mother, whom he loves more than his own body and soul,…” (as explained above in the name of Ra’aya Mehemna), nevertheless every man should habituate himself to this kavanah. For though it may not be in his heart in perfect and complete truth, so that he should long for it with all his heart, nevertheless his heart does genuinely desire it to some small extent, because of the natural love in every Jewish heart to do whatever is the blessed Higher Will. And this union is his true desire, namely the Higher Union in Atzilut, which is produced by the impulsion from below, through the union of the divine soul and its absorption into the light of G‑d which is clothed in the Torah and commandments in which it occupies itself so that they become One in reality, as has been explained above. For by reason of this, are also united the source of Torah and commandments, i.e., the Holy One, blessed be He, with the source of his divine soul which is called Shechinah. These are the two categories of “filling all worlds” and of “encompassing all worlds,” as is explained elsewhere at length.
But the union of the soul with, and its absorption into, the light of G‑d, making them one, this is what every member of Israel desires in very truth, utterly, with all his heart and all his soul, because of the natural love that is hidden in every Jewish heart to cleave to G‑d and not, under any circumstances, to be parted or sundered or separated, G‑d forbid, from His blessed Unity and Oneness, even at the cost of his very life. And occupation in the Torah and commandments and prayer is also a matter of actual surrender of the soul, as when it leaves the body at the end of seventy years, for it no longer thinks of bodily needs, but its thought is united with, and clothed in, the letters of the Torah and prayer, which are the word and thought of the blessed G‑d, and they truly become one. This is [also] the whole occupation of the souls in the Garden of Eden, as is stated in the Gemara and in the Zohar, except that there they find delight in their apprehension of, and absorption into, the light of G‑d.
This is why it was ordained to recite at the beginning of the morning blessings before the prayer: “O my G‑d, the soul which Thou gavest me is pure … Thou didst breathe it into me … and Thou wilt take it from me….” Meaning: Inasmuch as Thou didst breathe it into me and Thou wilt take it from me, I therefore as of now hand it over and return it to Thee to unite it with Thy Oneness, as is written: “Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul,” that is, through the binding of my thought with Thy thought, and of my speech with Thy speech, by means of the letters of the Torah and of prayer; and, especially, when one speaks to G‑d in the second person, as “Blessed art Thou,” and the like.
With this preparedness to surrender his soul to G‑d, he should begin [to recite] the morning benedictions: “Blessed art Thou….” Similarly, with this preparedness he should also begin to learn a regular course of study immediately after prayer. So, also in the course of the day, such preparation is necessary at least before he begins to study, as is known that the essential preparation [of intent] “for its own sake,” where it is sine qua non, is before the beginning of study in the case of Intermediates. This is the same as in the case of [writing] a bill of divorce or a scroll of the Torah, requiring sine qua non “for their own sake,” and it is sufficient if at the commencement of writing he says: “I am now about to write for the sacred purpose of the scroll of the Law,” or [in the case of a bill of divorce] “For him and for her… ,” However, when he studies for a number of consecutive hours he should reflect on the preparedness referred to above, at least at hourly intervals. For in each hour there is a different flow from the higher worlds to animate those who dwell here below, while the flow of vitality of the previous hour returns to its source (in accordance with the esoteric principle of the “Advance and Retreat” in Sefer Yetzirah) together with all the Torah and good deeds of those who dwell here below [performed within that hour]. For in each hour of the twelve hours of the day, there rules one of the twelve combinations of the blessed Tetragrammaton, whilst the combinations of the name A-D-N-Y rule at night, as is known.
Now, all his intent in the surrender of his soul to G‑d through Torah and prayer, to elevate the spark of G‑dliness therein back to its source, should be solely for the purpose of bringing gratification before Him, may He be blessed, as, for example, the joy of a king when his only son returns to him, being released from captivity or imprisonment, as has been mentioned above.
This kavanah is genuinely and truly sincere in every Jewish soul at every season and every hour, by virtue of the natural love which is a heritage bequeathed to us from our ancestors. Nevertheless one needs to establish set periods for reflecting on the greatness of G‑d in order to attain intelligent fear and love, and with all that, perhaps one may succeed, as has been stated previously.
In the light of what has already been said on the subject of the lower kind of fear, one will clearly understand the Talmudic comment on the verse: “And now, O Israel, what doth the Lord thy G‑d require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy G‑d.” [The Gemara asks:] “Is fear, then, such a small thing?” [And the Gemara replies:] “Yes, in the case of Moses it was a small thing,” and so forth.
At first glance the answer is incomprehensible, for it is written: “What doth the Lord require of thee?” [not of Moses], The explanation, however, is as follows: Each and every soul of the house of Israel contains within it something of the quality of our teacher Moses, peace unto him, for he is one of the “seven shepherds” who cause vitality and G‑dliness to flow to the community of Jewish souls, for which reason they are called “shepherds.” Our teacher, Moses, peace unto him, is the sum of them all, and he is called “the faithful shepherd.” This means that he brings down the quality of da’at (knowledge) to the community of Israel that they may know the Lord, each according to the capacity of his soul and its root above, and its nurture from the root of the soul of our teacher Moses, peace unto him, which is rooted in the Da’at Elyon (Higher Knowledge) of the Ten Sefirot of Atzilut, which are united with their blessed Emanator, for He and His Knowledge are One, and He is the Knowledge….
In addition and beyond this [general influence to the community as a whole] there descend, in every generation, sparks from the soul of our teacher Moses, peace unto him, and they clothe themselves in the body and soul of the sages of that generation, the “eyes” of the congregation, to impart knowledge to the people that they may know the greatness of G‑d and serve Him with heart and soul. For the service of the heart is according to the dart (knowledge) as is written: “Know thou the G‑d of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind.” Bat regarding the future [Messianic Era] it is written: “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me….”
However, the essence of knowledge is not the knowing alone, that people should know the greatness of G‑d from authors and books; but the essential thing is to immerse one’s mind deeply into the the greatness of G‑d and fix one’s thought on G‑d with all the strength and vigour of the heart and mind, until his thought shall be bound to G‑d with a strong and mighty bond, as it is bound to a material thing that he sees with his physical eyes and concentrates his thought on it. For it is known that da’at connotes union, as in the phrase “And Adam yada (knew) Eve….”
This capacity and this quality of attaching one’s “knowledge” to G‑d is present in every soul of the House of Israel by virtue of its nurture from the soul of our teacher Moses, peace unto him. Only, since the soul has clothed itself in the body, it needs a great and mighty exertion, doubled and redoubled:— First is the wearying of the flesh, the crushing of the body and its submission, so that it shall not obscure the light of the soul, as has been mentioned above in the name of the Zohar, that “A body into which the light of the soul does not penetrate should be crushed,” which is accomplished by means of penitential reflections from the depths of the heart, as is explained there.
Next is the exertion of the soul, that the service shall not be burdensome to it, to exert its thought to delve into and reflect upon the greatness of G‑d for a long and uninterrupted period, the measure of which is not the same for every soul. There is the naturally refined soul which, immediately it considers the greatness of G‑d, attains a fear and dread of G‑d. As is written in the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. I, that “When a man reflects that the great King, the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, with Whose glory the whole world is full, stands over him and sees his actions, he will immediately be overcome with fear….” There is a soul that is of lowly nature and origin, coming from the lower gradations of the Ten Sefirot of Asiyah, which cannot discover G‑dliness by contemplation except with difficulty and forcefulness, especially if it had been contaminated by the sin of youth, for the sins interpose,… (as is explained in Sefer Chasidim, ch. 35). Nevertheless, by dint of forceful effort, when his thought greatly exerts itself with much vigour and toil and intense concentration, immersing in [contemplation of] the greatness of G‑d for a considerable time, there will certainly come to him, at any rate, the lower fear referred to above, and as the Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said: [“If a man says] ‘I have laboured and I have found’— believe him.” It is also written: “If thou seekest her as silver and searchest for her as for hidden treasures: Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord.” This means, in the manner of .a’man seeking a hidden treasure or the wealth buried in the depths of the earth, for which he digs with tireless toil, so must one delve with unflagging energy in order to bring to light the treasure of the fear of Heaven, which lies buried and concealed in the understanding of the heart of every Jewish individual, this being of a quality and level transcending the limitations of time, and this is the natural, hidden fear referred to above. However, in order that it should be translated into action, in the sense of “fear of sin,” namely, to turn away from evil in deed, word and thought, one needs to bring it to light from the hidden depths of the understanding of the heart where it transcends rime, and to place it within the realm of the actual thought that is in the brain. [This means] immersing his thought in it for a lengthy period of time until its activity shall emerge from the potential into the actual, namely, turning away from evil and doing good in thought, speech and act because of G‑d, Who looks and sees, hears arid listens and perceives all his deeds and searches his reins and heart. As the Rabbis, of blessed memory, said: “Reflect upon three things, and thou wilt not come within the power of sin: The Eye sees, and the Ear hears….”
And although He has no bodily likeness, yet, on the contrary, everything is revealed and known to Him infinitely more than, for example, through the medium of physical sight or hearing. It is, by way of illustration, like a man who knows and feels within himself all that is happening to and being experienced by each and all of his 248 organs, such as cold and heat, feeling the heat even in his toe-nails, for example, as when he is scorched by fire; so also their essence and substance and all that is done to them, he knows and senses in his brain.
Corresponding to this knowledge, by way of example, the Holy One, blessed be He, knows all that befalls all created beings, both higher and lower, because they all receive their flow of life from Him, may He be blessed, as is written: “For all things come of Thee.” And this is the meaning of what we say: “Verily also nothing that is formed is withheld from Thee.” And as Maimonides has said (and this has been accepted by the scholars of the Kabbalah, as Rabbi Moses Cordovero writes in Pardess), that “Knowing Himself, as it were, He knows all created things that exist by virtue of His true existence….”
Nevertheless this parallel is only an appeal to the ear. In truth, however, the analogy bears no similarity whatever to the object of the comparison. For the human soul, even the rational and the divine, is affected by the accidents of the body and its pain, by reason of its being actually clothed within the vivifying soul which is clothed in the body itself.
The Holy One, blessed be He, however, is not, Heaven forbid, affected by the accidents of the world and its changes, nor by the world itself, for they do not affect any change in Him, G‑d forbid. In order to help us perceive this well with our intelligence, the Scholars of Truth have already treated of it at length in their books. But all Jews are “Believers descended from believers,” without human intellectual speculation whatever, and they declare: “Thou wast the same ere the world was created,” and so forth, as has been explained above in ch. 20.
Now, therefore, each individual Jew, whoever he may be, when he ponders upon this for some considerable time each day— how the Holy One, blessed be He, is truly omnipresent in the higher and lower [worlds], and in reality fills the heavens and the earth, and that the whole world is truly full of His glory, and that He looks and regards and searches his reins and his heart and all his actions and words, and counts his every step— then fear will be implanted in his heart throughout the day; and when he again meditates on this, even with a superficial reflection, at any time or moment, he will turn away from evil and do good, in thought, speech and deed, so as not to rebel, G‑d forbid, in the sight of His glory whereof the whole world is full. This is in accord with the instruction of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai to his disciples, quoted above.
This, then, is what the verse means: “But to fear the Lord thy G‑d, to walk in all His ways.” For this is the fear that leads to the fulfillment of His blessed commandments through turning away from evil and doing good. This is the “lower fear” which has been discussed earlier. As it applies to “Moses,” that is to say, in relation to the quality of da’at that is in each divine Jewish soul, this is a minor thing, as has been stated above. (For da’at is [the faculty] which binds the hidden understanding of the heart with that which is actually revealed in thought, as is known to those who are familiar with the Esoteric Discipline).
In addition to this, one should remember that, as in the case of a mortal king, the essence of fear [of him] relates to his inner nature and vitality and not to his body— for when he is asleep, there is no fear of him— and, surely, his inner character and vitality are not perceived by physical eyes but only by the vision of the mind, through the physical eyes beholding his stature and robes, and making the beholder aware of the vitality that is clothed in them. If this be so, he must likewise truly fear G‑d when gazing with his physical eyes at the heavens and earth and ail their host wherein is clothed the light of the blessed En Sof that animates them.
Note: And it is also seen with the glance of the eye that they are nullified to His blessed light by the fact that they “prostrate” themselves every day towards the west at the time of their setting. As the Rabbis, of blessed memory, commented on the verse: “And the host of heaven worship Thee” that the Shechinah abides in the west, so that their daily orbit westwards is a kind of prostration and self-nullification. Even he who has never seen the king and does not recognise him at all, nevertheless when he enters the royal court and sees many honourable princes prostrating themselves before one man. there falls on him a fear and awe.
And although many garments are involved in this investment, there is no difference or distinction at all in the fear of a mortal king, whether he be naked or robed in one or in many garments.
The essential thing, however, is the [mental] training to habituate one’s mind and thought continuously, that it ever remain fixed in his heart and mind, that everything one sees with one’s eyes— the heavens and earth and all that is therein— constitutes the outer garments of the King, the Holy One, blessed be He. In this way he will constantly be aware of their inwardness and vitality. This is also implicit in the word emunah (“faith”), which is a term indicating “training,” to which a man habituates himself, like a craftsman who trains his hands, and so forth.
There should also be a constant remembrance of the dictum of the Rabbis, of blessed memory, “Acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven,” which parallels the injunction “Thou shalt surely set a king over thee,” as has been explained elsewhere, and so on. For the Holy One, blessed be He, forgoes the higher and lower worlds and uniquely bestows His Kingdom upon us,… and we accept it…. And this is the significance of the obeisances in the prayer of the Eighteen Benedictions, following the verbal acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven in the recital of the Shema, whereby one accepts it once again in actual deed, with a [positive] act, and so forth, as is explained elsewhere.
Concerning this yirah tattaah (“lower fear”), which is directed toward the fulfillment of His commandments, in both areas of “Depart from evil and do good,” it was said, “Where there is no fear [of G‑d], there is no wisdom.” It comprises a quality of “smallness” and a quality of “greatness.” The latter being the quality of fear that has its origin in contemplation on the greatness of G‑d— that He fills all worlds, and from the earth to the heavens is a distance of 500 years,… and the distance from one heaven to the next,… the feet of the “Chayyot” measure up to them all,… and similarly on the evolvement of all the worlds, one above the other to the topmost heights— nevertheless this fear is called an “external” and “inferior” fear, because it is derived from the worlds which are “garments” of the King, the Holy One, blessed be He, Who conceals and hides and clothes Himself in them, to animate them and give them existence, that they may exist ex nihilo,.. . yet [this fear] is the gate and entrance to the fulfillment of the Torah and commandments.
As for the yirah ilaah (“higher fear”), however, a fear stemming from a sense of shame, an inner fear that derives from the inward aspects of G‑dliness within the worlds, it was said concerning it that “Where there is no wisdom, there is no fear,” for חכמה is [made up of the letters] כ”ח מ”ה , and “Chochmah comes from ayin” (Nothing), and “Who is wise? He who sees that which is born.” That is to say, he sees how everything originates and comes into being ex nihilo by means of the word of G‑d and the breath of His blessed mouth. As is written: “And all their host by the breath of His mouth.” Therefore, the heavens and the earth and all their host are truly nullified in reality, within the word of G‑d and the breath of His mouth, and are accounted as nothing at all, as nought and nothingness indeed, just as the light and brightness of the sun are nullified within the body of the sun itself. And let not man regard himself as an exception to this principle, for also his body and nefesh and ruach and neshamah are nullified in reality in the word of G‑d, Whose blessed word is united with His thought,… as has been explained above at length (chs. 20 and 21), taking as an example the human soul, one utterance of whose speech and thought are veritably as nothing…. This is what is meant by the verse: ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.”
However, one cannot attain to this fear and wisdom except in the fulfillment of the Torah and commandments through the lower, external fear. And this is what is meant by the statement: “Where there is no fear, there is no wisdom.”
Now, in love, too, there are two grades — ahavah rabbah (“great love”) and ahavat olam (“eternal love”). “Great love” is an ecstatic love, and it is “A fiery flame that rises of itself.” It comes from above in a manner of a “gift” to him who is perfect in fear, as is known from the saying of the Rabbis, of blessed memory: “The way of a man is to search for a woman.” For love is called “man” or “male,” as is written: “He hath remembered His loving kindness”; whilst a woman [symbolises] “fear of G‑d,” as is known. Without the prerequisite of fear, it is impossible to attain to this “great love,” for this love originates from the realm of Atzilut, wherein are ho sundering or separateness, G‑d forbid.
Ahavat olam, however, is that which comes from the understanding and knowledge of the greatness of G‑d, the blessed En Sof, Who fills all worlds and encompasses all worlds and before Whom everything is accounted as nothing at all, like the nullity of one utterance within the intelligent soul while it still remains in its thought or in the desire of the heart, as has been explained earlier. For as a result of such contemplation, the attribute of love that is in the soul will be divested of its garments, i.e., it will not clothe itself in anything of pleasure or enjoyment, whether physical or spiritual, to love it, and will not desire anything whatever in the world other than G‑d alone, the Source of the vitality of all enjoyments, for they are all nullified in reality and are accounted as nothing at all, compared with Him, there being no manner of comparison or similitude between them, G‑d forbid, just as there is no comparison between that which is absolutely nought and nothing— and everlasting life. As is written: “Whom have I in heaven [but Thee]? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire with Thee. My flesh and my heart yearn, O Rock of my heart… ,” And as will be explained later.
Also he, whose soul’s quality of love is not clothed at all in any physical or spiritual enjoyment, is able to kindle his soul as with burning coals and an intense fire and a flame that strives heavenwards through the contemplation referred to above, as will be enlarged upon later.
This quality of love sometimes precedes fear, according to the quality of the da’at which fathers it, as is known. (For da’at incorporates both chasadim and gevurot, which are love and fear; and sometimes the chasadim descend and manifest themselves first.) Therefore it is possible for a wicked and a sinful person to repent by virtue of the love that is born in his heart at the time he remembers the Lord his G‑d. At any rate, fear, too, is included therein [in the love], as a matter of course, except that it is in a stage of “minuteness” and “concealment,” namely, the fear of sin, of rebelling against Him, G‑d forbid, while the love is in a revealed state in his heart and mind. However, such a case is but an accidental and spontaneous occurrence, or an “emergency prescription” through G‑d’s particular providence as the occasion requires, as happened with Rabbi Eliezer ben Durdaya.
However, the order of service, which is determined by and depends on man’s choice, is to begin with the fulfillment of the Torah and commandments through the “lower” fear in its state of “minuteness” at least, to depart from evil and do good, so as to illuminate his divine soul with the light of the Torah and its commandments, whereupon the light of love will also shine forth upon it (for the word ואהבת— “And thou shalt love”— has a numerical value twice that of אור— “light”— as is known to those who are familiar with the Esoteric Discipline).
Each of the said two grades of love— the “great love” and the “eternal love”— is subdivided into many shades and gradations without limit, in each individual according to his capacity. As is written in the holy Zohar on the verse: “Her husband is known in the gates,” that “This refers to the Holy One, blessed be He, Who makes Himself known and attaches Himself to every one according to the extent which one measures in one’s heart….” Therefore fear and love are called “The secret things known to the Lord our G‑d,” while the Torah and commandments are those things which are “Revealed to us and to our children to do….” For we have all one Torah and one law, in so far as the fulfillment of all the Torah and commandments in actual performance is concerned. It is otherwise with fear and love, which vary according to the knowledge of G‑d in the mind and heart, as has been mentioned above.
Yet there is one love which incorporates something of all the distinctions and gradations of both “great love” and “eternal love,” and equally belongs in every Jewish soul, as our inheritance from our Patriarchs. And that is what the Zohar says on the verse: “[Thou art] my soul; I desire Thee in the night,.. .” that “One should love the Holy One, blessed be He, with a love of the soul and the spirit, as these are attached to the body, and the body loves them,” and so forth. This is the interpretation of the verse: “My soul, I desire Thee,” which means “Since Thou, O Lord, art my true soul and life, therefore do I desire Thee,” That is to say, “I long and yearn for Thee like a man who craves the life of his soul, and when he is weak and exhausted he longs and yearns for his soul to revive in him; and also when he goes to sleep he longs and yearns for his soul to be restored to him when he awakens from his sleep. So do I long and yearn to draw the light of the blessed En Sof, the Life of true life, within me through occupation in the Torah when I awaken during the night from my sleep;” for the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one and the same. So the Zohar says, ibid., “Out of love for the Holy One, blessed be He, a man should rise each night and exert himself in His service until the morning….”
A great and more intense love than that — one which is likewise concealed in every soul of Israel as an inheritance from our ancestors— is that which is defined in Ra’aya Mehemna: “Like a son who strives for the sake of his father and mother, whom he loves even more than his own body, soul and spirit,…” for “have we not all one Father?”
And although [one may ask], who is the man and where is he, who dares presume in his heart to approach and attain even a thousandth part of the degree of love of “The Faithful Shepherd” [Moses]? Nevertheless a minute portion and particle of his great goodness and light illumines the community of Israel in each generation, as is stated in the Tikunim that “An emanation from him is present in every generation”, “To illumine them,” and so forth. Only, this glow is in a manner of great occultation and concealment in the souls of ail Israel. But to bring forth this hidden love from its delitescence and concealment to [a state of] revelation, to be manifest in his heart and mind, this is “Not beyond reach nor is it afar off, but the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart.” That is to say, it should be habitual on his tongue and voice to arouse the intention of his heart and mind, so as to immerse his thought in the Life of life, the blessed En Sof, for He is literally our true Father and the Source of our life, and to awaken our love for Him like the love of a son for his father. And when he accustoms himself to this continually, habit will become nature.
Even if it appears to him at first sight that this is an illusion, he need not be concerned, because it is intrinsically the absolute truth by virtue of the “hidden love.” But the purpose of its emergence into the open is in order to translate it into action, namely, the occupation in the Torah and commandments which he studies and performs as a result of it, with the intention to bring gratification before Him, may He be blessed, like a son serving his father.
Concerning this it was said that “A good thought is united by the Holy One, blessed be He, to a deed,” providing the “wings” to soar upwards, as explained earlier. As for the “gratification,” it is akin, by way of the illustration used earlier, to the joy of a king whose son returns to him after liberation from captivity; or from the fact that it has been made possible for Him to have a habitation down here, as already mentioned.
But even in regard to the above-mentioned [love, in the] category of “My soul, I desire Thee,” the thing is very nigh to be brought out of [its] concealment into the open through constant practice, with mouth and heart in full accord.
However, even if he cannot bring it into a revealed state in his heart, nevertheless he can occupy himself in the Torah and commandments “for their own sake” through portraying the idea of this love in the contemplation of his mind, and “A good thought is united by the Holy One, blessed be He….”
The said two distinctions of love— though they are an inheritance unto us from our Patriarchs, and like a natural instinct in our souls, and so, too, is the fear that is contained in them, which is the fear of being sundered, G‑d forbid, from the Source of our life and our true Father, blessed be He— are, nevertheless, not termed “natural” fear and love unless they be in the mind and thought alone and in the latency of the heart. Then their station is in the Ten Sefaot of Yetzirah whither they bring up with them the Torah and commandments of which they have been the inspiration and cause.
But when they are in a manifest state in the heart, they are called in the Zohar re’uta d’libba (“heart’s desire”) and they are stationed in the Ten Sefirot of Beriah, whither they bring up with them the Torah and commandments which have been induced by them. For their emergence from the latency and concealment of the heart into a state of “revelation” comes through the faculty of da at, i.e. through a powerful fixation of the mind and an intense concentration— touching the depth of the heart preeminently and continuously— on the blessed En Sof, as to how He is our very life and our blessed true Father. And it is well known, what is written in the Tikunim, that “There in the world of Beriah nests the ‘Supernal Mother,'” which is the contemplation of the light of the blessed En Sof the Giver of life, which is in accordance with the teaching of Elijah: “Binah is the heart, and with it does the heart understand.”
Furthermore, these two distinctions of love, that have been referred to above, contain a quality of love which is greater and more sublime than the intelligent fear and love, the love termed above as Ahavat Olam (“eternal love”).
Nonetheless a person must strain his intellect to apprehend and attain also the distinction of “eternal love” referred to above, which stems from understanding and knowledge of the greatness of G‑d, in order thereby to fan the blaze of the fiery love, with glowing coals and an intense fire and a name that rises heavenwards, so that “not even many waters can extinguish it…, nor rivers quench it….” For there is a superiority and excellence in the quality of love burning like fiery coals and an intense flame,… which comes from the understanding and knowledge of the greatness of the blessed En Sof over the two distinctions of love referred to above, when they are not like fiery coals and a blaze,… similar to the superiority and excellence of gold over silver, and so forth, as will be explained later.
Besides, this is the whole man and his raison d’etre, that one may know the glory of the Lord and the majestic splendour of His greatness, each according to the limit of his capacity, as is written in Ra’aya Mehemna, Parshat Bo: “In order that they may know Him,” and so forth, and as is known.
There is yet another direct road open to man, namely, to occupy himself with the Torah and commandments for their own sake through the attribute of our Patriarch Jacob, peace unto him, this being the attribute of mercy. It is first to arouse in his mind great compassion before G‑d for the Divine spark which animates his soul that has descended from its Source, the Life of life, the blessed En Sof, Who pervades all worlds and transcends all worlds and in comparison with Whom everything is accounted as nothing. Yet it [this spark] has been clothed in a “serpent’s skin” which is far removed from the light of the King’s countenance, at the greatest possible distance, since this world is the nadir of the coarse kelipot….
And especially when he will recall all his actions and utterances and thoughts since the day he came into being, unworthy as they were, causing the King to be “Fettered by the tresses”— “By the impetuous thoughts of the brain,” for “Jacob is the cord of his inheritance,” as in the illustration of one pulling a rope, and so forth. This is the esoteric doctrine of the “Exile of the Shechinah” Concerning this it is written: “And let him return unto the Lord, and have mercy upon Him,” arousing great compassion towards G‑d Who dwells among us, as is written: “Who dwelleth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.”
This is the meaning of the verse: “And Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted up his voice and wept.” For “Rachel” represents Knesset Israel? the community of Israel, the fount of all souls; and “Jacob”— with his supernal attribute, the attribute of Mercy in Atzilut— is the one who arouses great compassion for her. “And he lifted up his voice”— upwards to the fount of the Higher Mercies, called the “Father of Mercies,” and their source; “and he wept” — to awaken and draw from there abundant compassion upon all the souls and upon the fount of the community of Israel, to raise them from their exile and to unite them in the Yichud Elyon (Higher Unity) of the light of the blessed En Sof, on the level of “kisses,” which is “The attachment of spirit with spirit,” as is written: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,” which means the union of the word of man with the word of G‑d, namely, the halachah. So, too, are coupled thought with thought, act with act, the latter referring to the active observance of commandments and, in particular, the act of charity and loving-kindness. For “ chesed (kindness) is the [Divine] right arm,” and this is, as it were, an actual “embrace,” as it is written: “And his right arm doth embrace me,” while the occupation in the Torah by word of mouth and concentrated thought constitute, as it were, actual “kisses.”
In this way, a person is able to attain the distinction of Ahavah Rabbah (“great love”) in the consciousness of his heart, as is written: “Of Jacob, who redeemed Abraham,” as has been explained elsewhere.
There is yet another good way for a man, which is suitable for all and “very nigh” indeed, to arouse and kindle the light of the love that is implanted and concealed in his heart, that it may shine forth with its intense light, like a burning fire, in the consciousness of the heart and mind, to surrender his soul to G‑d, together with his body and [material] possessions, with all his heart, and all his soul and all his might, from the depth of the heart, in absolute truth, especially at the time of the recital of the Shema and its blessings, as will be explained.
This [way] is: to take to heart the meaning of the verse: “As in water, face answereth to face, so does the heart of man to man.” This means that as [in the case of] the likeness and features of the face which a man presents to the water, the same identical nice is reflected back to him from the water, so indeed is also the heart of a man who is loyal in his affection for another person, for this love awakens a loving response for him in the heart of his friend also, cementing their mutual love and loyalty for each other, especially as each sees his friend’s love for him.
Such is the common nature in the character of every man even when they are equal in status. How much more so when a great and mighty king shows his great and intense love for a commoner who is despised and lowly among men, a disgraceful creature cast on the dunghill, yet he [the king] comes down to him from the place of his glory, together with all his retinue, and raises him and exalts him from his dunghill and brings him into his palace, the royal palace, in the innermost chamber, a place such as no servant nor lord ever enters, and there shares with him the closest companionship with embraces and kisses and spiritual attachment with all heart and soul— how much more will, of itself, be aroused a doubled and redoubled love in the heart of this most common and humble individual for the person of the king, with a true attachment of spirit, heart and soul, and with infinite heartfelt sincerity. Even if his heart be like a heart of stone, it will surely melt and become water, and his soul will pour itself out like water, with soulful longing for the love of the king.
In a manner corresponding in every detail to the said figure and image but to an infinitely greater degree, has the Lord our G‑d dealt with us. For His greatness is beyond comprehension, and He pervades all worlds and transcends all worlds; and from the holy Zohar, as also from our Master Rabbi Isaac Luria of blessed memory, it is known of the infinite multitude of hechalot and worlds, and of the countless myriads of angels in each world and hechal. So does the Gemara note, “It is written: ‘Is there any numbering of His hosts?’ Yet, it is also written: ‘A thousand thousands minister unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stand before Him.’…” The discrepancy is explained by the answer, “A thousand thousands,… is the quota of one ‘troop’ but His troops are innumerable.” Yet, before Him, all of them are accounted as nothing at all and are nullified in their very existence, just as one word is truly nullified in relation to the essence and being of the articulate soul whilst the utterance was still held in its [faculty of] thought, or in the will and desire of the heart, as has been explained above at length.
All these [angels] ask: “Where is the place of His glory?” And they answer: “The whole earth is full of His glory,” that is, His people, Israel. For the Holy One, blessed be He, forsakes the higher and lower creatures choosing none of them but Israel His people, whom He brought out of Egypt— “The obscenity of the earth,” the place of filth and impurity— “Not through the agency of an angel, nor of a saraf, … but the Holy One, blessed be He, Himself in His glory” descended thither, as is written: “And I am come down to deliver them,…” in order to bring them near to Him in true closeness and unity, with a truly soulful attachment on the level of “kisses” of mouth to mouth, by means of uttering the word of G‑d, namely, the halachah, and the fusion of spirit to spirit, namely, the comprehension of the Torah and the knowledge of His will and wisdom, all of which is truly one [with G‑d]; also with a form of “embrace,” namely, the fulfillment of the positive precepts with the 248 organs, for the 248 ordinances are the 248 “organs” of the King, as has been explained. These, in a general way, are divided into three categories— right, left, and centre— namely, chesed (kindness), din (stern justice) and rachamim (mercy)— the two arms and the body, and so forth.
This is the meaning of [the text of the benedictions] “Who hath sanctified us by His commandments”: like one who betrothes a wife that she may be united with him with a perfect bond, as is written: “And he shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” Exactly so, and even infinitely surpassing, is the union of the divine soul that is occupied in Torah and commandments, and of the vivifying soul, and their garments referred to above, with the light of the blessed En Sof.
Therefore did Solomon, peace unto him, in the Song of Songs compare this union with the union of bridegroom and bride in attachment, desire, and pleasure, embrace and kissing. This is also the meaning of “Who hath sanctified us by His commandments,” by means of which He has raised us to the heights of the blessed Supreme Holiness, which is the holiness of the Holy One, blessed be He, Himself. Kedushah (“holiness”) is a term indicating aloofness, in that the Holy One, blessed be He, is apart from the worlds, namely, His quality of “encompassing all worlds,” which cannot be clothed within them.
For through the union of the soul with, and its absorption into, the light of the blessed En Sof, it attains the quality and degree of the holiness of the blessed En Sof Himself, since it unites itself with, and is integrated into, Him, may He be blessed, and they become One in reality. This is the meaning of the verse: “And ye shall be holy unto Me, for I the Lord am holy, and I have separated you from other peoples that ye should be Mine;” and, “Ye shall do all My commandments and be holy unto your G‑d; I am the Lord your G‑d… ” The meaning is that through fulfillment of the commandments I become your G‑d, [in the same sense] as “The G‑d of Abraham,” “The G‑d of Isaac,” and so on, called thus because the Patriarchs were, as it were, a “vehicle” unto Him, may He be blessed, and they were nullified and absorbed into His light.
So it is with the soul of every Israelite at the time he occupies himself with Torah and commandments. Therefore the Rabbis, of blessed memory, made it obligatory for us to rise and remain standing in the presence of every one who is engaged in a commandment, even if the latter is uncultured and illiterate. This is because the Lord dwells and clothes Himself in this man’s soul at such time, though his soul is unconscious of it because of the barrier of the bodily grossness which has not been purified and which dims the eyes of the soul [preventing it] from seeing Divine visions, as experienced by the Patriarchs and others of their stature, who “Saw their world during their lifetime.”
This is also the meaning of what Asaf said, under Divine inspiration, on behalf of the whole community of Israel in exile: “So foolish was I and ignorant, I was as a beast before Thee. Yet am I continually with Thee.” This means that even though I am as a “beast” when I am with Thee, being unaware of, and insensitive to, this union in my soul, which should bring down on it fear and awe first, followed by a great love of delights, or a burning [love] like fiery coals, similar to the quality of the tzaddikim, whose corporeality has been purified; for, as is known, da’at connotes a sensitivity of the soul, comprising chesed (kindness) and gevurah (sternness)— Yet “I am continually with Thee,” for the corporeality of the body does not prevent the union of the soul with the light of the blessed En Sof, Who fills all worlds, and as is written: “Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee.”
Thereby will be understood the severity of the punishment for transgressing the prohibition of work on the Sabbath or that of unleavened bread on Passover, which [prohibition] equally applies to all. For even in the soul of an uncultured and completely illiterate person shines the light of the sanctity of Sabbath or Festival; hence he faces capital punishment by karet or stoning, for the profanation of this sanctity.
Similarly, [transgression involving] the slightest amount of leaven, or the handling of muktzeh tarnishes the sanctity which rests on his soul, just as it would the sanctity of the soul of a tzaddik, for we have all one Torah.
(And as for the use of the plural form “behemot” this is an intimation that before Him, may He be blessed, even the so-called Da’at Elyon [“Supernal Knowledge”]— which comprises chesed and gevurah— is like “beasts” i.e. a physical creation, when compared with the light of the En Sof, as is written: “In wisdom hast Thou made them all,” and this is called Behemah rabbah [“a great beast”], as is explained elsewhere. And this is the Name of ב”ן , with the numerical of בהמה [beast], preceding Atzilut.)
“In every generation and every day a person is obliged to regard himself as if he had that day come out of Egypt.” This refers to the release of the divine soul from the confinement of the body, the “serpent’s skin,” in order to be absorbed into the Unity of the light of the blessed En Sof, through occupation in the Torah and commandments in general, and in particular through accepting the Kingdom of Heaven during the recital of the Shema, wherein the person explicitly accepts and draws over himself His blessed Unity, when he says: “The Lord is our G‑d, the Lord is One.”
It has previously been explained that “our G‑d” is understood in the same way as “The G‑d of Abraham,” and so forth, because he became nullified and absorbed into the Unity of the light of the blessed En Sof, except that Abraham merited this by reason of his works and his advancing in holiness from degree to degree, as is written: “And Abram journeyed, going on and on….” In our case, however, it is a heritage and a gift, in that He has given us His Torah and has clothed in it His blessed will and wisdom, which are united with His blessed Essence and Being in perfect unity; and surely this is as if He gave us His very self, as it were. In this sense the Zohar commented on the verse: “That they bring Me an offering.” (For the expression לי [“to Me”] has the same meaning as אותי [“Me”]; and hence the text should have read “Me and an offering,” except that both are one and the same. Study it well there.)
This is the interpretation of “And Thou hast given to us, O Lord, our G‑d, in love,…” [and] “For by the light of Thy countenance hast Thou given us, O Lord our G‑d….” Therefore the only thing that precludes us from the attachment of the soul to His blessed Unity and light is the will, that is, if the human being does not will it at all, G‑d forbid, to cleave to Him…. But immediately he does so desire, and he accepts and draws upon himself His blessed G‑dliness and declares: “The Lord is our G‑d, the Lord is One.” then surely is his soul spontaneously absorbed into His blessed Unity, for “Spirit evokes spirit, and draws forth spirit.” This is a form of “Exodus from Egypt.” Therefore it was ordained that the paragraph concerning the Exodus from Egypt be read specifically during the recital of the Shema, although it is a commandment by itself, and not appertaining to the commandment of the recital of the Shema, as is stated in the Talmud and Codes; for they are actually the same thing. Likewise, at the end of the paragraph referring to the Exodus from Egypt, it is concluded also, “I am the Lord your G‑d.” This also accords with what has been explained earlier.
Contemplating on the greatness of the blessed En Sof, the intelligent person [will realise] that as His name indicates, so is He— there is no end or limit or finitude at all to the light and vitality that diffuse from Him, may He be blessed, by His simple will, and which is united with His blessed essence and being in perfect unity. Had the worlds descended from the light of the blessed En Sof without “contractions,” but according to a gradual descent, from grade to grade by means of cause and effect— this world would not, in such case, have ever been created in its present form, in a finite and limited order, [viz.] “From the earth to heaven there being a journey of five hundred years,” and similarly between heaven and heaven, and so also the diameter of each heaven. Even the World to Come and the Supreme Garden of Eden— the habitation of the souls of the great tzaddikim— and the souls themselves and, needless to add, the angels— are all in the realm of bounds and limitation, for there is a limit to their apprehension of the light of the blessed En Sof, which shines on them through being clothed in ChaBaD, etc., hence, there is also a boundary to their enjoyment derived from the splendour of the Shechinah, and to their pleasure in the light of G‑d; for they cannot absorb enjoyment and delight of an infinite order, without being nullified out of their existence and returned to their source.
Now, as for the intricate details of the “contractions”— this is not the place for their explanation. But in general they are something in the nature of “occulation and concealment” of the flow of the light and vitality, so that only an extremely minute portion of light and vitality should illuminate and reach the lower creatures in a revealed manner, as it were, pervading them and acting in them and animating them so that they might receive existence ex nihilo, and be in a state of fmitude and limitation. This constitutes an exceedingly contracted illumination, and it is considered as virtually nothing at all compared with the quality of the limitless and infinite illumination, and there is no reference or relationship between them, as the term “reference” is understood in values, where the figure 1 has a relevancy with the number 1,000,000, for it is one millionth part of it; but as regards a thing which is in the realm of infinity, there is no number that can be considered relative to it, for a billion or trillion do not attain the relevancy of the figure I in comparison with a billion or trillion, but is veritably accounted as nothing.
So, indeed, is the quality of the contracted illumination which informs the higher and lower worlds, acting in them and animating them— compared with the quality of the hidden and concealed light that is of an infinite order and does not clothe itself or exercise its influence in the worlds, to animate them in a revealed manner, but it “encompasses” them from above and is called sovev kol almin (the “Encompasser of all Worlds”). The meaning of this is not that it encircles and encompasses from above spatially, G‑d forbid, for in spiritual matters the category of space is in no way applicable. But the meaning is that it “Encircles and encompasses from above” insofar as the so-called “revealed” influence is concerned, for influence which is in the category of “revelation” in the worlds, is referred to as “investiture”, being “clothed” within the worlds, for the influence that they receive is clothed and comprehended by them; whereas the influence which does not come within the category of “revelation,” but remains in occultation and concealment and is not apprehended by the worlds, is not described as being “invested” but as “encircling and encompassing.” Therefore, since the worlds belong in the order of the finite and limited, it follows that only an extremely minute and contracted reflection of the flow of the light of the blessed En Sof clothes and reveals itself in them in a revealed form, and this, only to animate them in a finite and limited state. But the principal light without contraction to such an extent, is called makif (“encircler”) and sovev (“encompasser”), since its influence is not revealed within them, inasmuch as they belong in the order of the finite and the limited.
To illustrate this point, consider this material world. Even though “The whole world is full of His glory,” namely, the light of the blessed En Sof, as is written: “Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord,” nevertheless only a very small vitality, of the category of inanimate and vegetable worlds, is clothed therein in the form of “revealed” influence, while all the light of the blessed En Sof is termed as “encompassing” it, even though it actually pervades it, since its influence is no more revealed in it, but is active in it in a hidden and concealed manner; and any influence of a concealed nature is referred to as “Encircling from above,” for the “hidden world” is on a higher plane than the “revealed world.”
Let us make it more intelligible by means of an example. When a man forms an image in his mind of something that he has seen or sees— although the entire body and essence of that thing, both its exterior and interior and its very core, are completely mirrored in his mind and thought, for he has seen it or is seeing it in its entirety— this is expressed by saying that his mind encompasses that object completely, and that thing is enveloped by his mind and thought. But it is not encompassed in actual fact, only in the imagination of the man’s thought and mind.
The Holy One, blessed be He, however, of Whom it is written: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,…” surely His Thought and Mind knowing all created things, encompass each and every created being from its beginning to its end and its inside and very core, all in actual reality.
For example, in the case of the orb of this earth, His blessed knowledge encompasses the entire, diameter of the globe of the earth, together with all that is in it and its deepest interior to its lowest depths, all in actual reality. For this knowledge constitutes the vitality of the whole spherical thickness of the Earth and its creation ex nihilo. However, it would not have come into being as it now is, as a finite and limited thing, with an exceedingly minute vitality sufficient for the categories of inorganic matter and vegetation, were it not for the many powerful contractions which have condensed the light and vitality that is clothed in the orb of the earth, so as to animate it and sustain it in its finite and limited status and in the categories of inorganic and vegetable matter alone.
But His blessed knowledge which is united with His essence and being— for “He is the Knowledge, the Knower, and the Known, and knowing Himself, as it were, He knows all created things, but not with a knowledge that is external to Himself, like the knowledge of a human being, for all of them [the created things] are derived from His blessed Reality, and this thing is not within the power of human beings to comprehend clearly,” and so forth—
Note: As Maimonides, of blessed memory, has written— and the scholars of Kabbalah subscribed to his views— as is stated in Pardess of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, of blessed memory. This also accords with the Kabbalah of our Master Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, in the mystery of tzimtzum and the clothing of the lights in vessels, as has been mentioned previously in ch. 2.
— this knowledge, since it is of an infinite order, is not described as clothing itself in the orb of the earth, which is finite and limited, but as encircling and encompassing it, although this knowledge embraces its entire thickness and interior in actual reality, thus giving it existence ex nihilo, as is explained elsewhere.
Even though the particular aspects of the nature of the occultation and concealment of the light of the blessed En Sof in the descent of the worlds— until this material world was created— are too numerous to and are of many diverse kinds, as is known to those who have tasted of the Tree of Life, yet in general there are three levels of powerful and comprehensive “contractions,” giving rise to three comprehensive worlds, each category consisting of myriads upon myriads of particulars. These are the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, for the world of Atzilut is G‑dliness itself.
In order to create the world of Beriah, which consists of the higher souls and angels, whose service to G‑d is in the sphere of ChaBaD [the intellectual faculties] which are clothed in them and are apprehended by them and from which they receive influence, there preceded a powerful “contraction,” as mentioned above.
So, too, from Beriah to Yetzirah. For the minute portion of light which clothes itself in the world of Beriah is still in a category of infinity in relation to the world of Yetzirah, and is unable to clothe itself in the latter except through a contraction and occulation. So, too, from Yetzirah to Asiyah .
(An elaborate explanation of these three “contractions,” in order to make them more accessible to our poor intellect is given elsewhere. )
The purpose of all the “contractions” is the creation of the material human body and the subjugation of the sitra achra, to bring about the preeminence of light supplanting darkness— when a person elevates his divine soul and his vivifying soul together with their garments and all the powers of the body, to G‑d alone, as has been discussed earlier at length, for this is the purpose of the descent of the worlds.
To quote [again] “As water mirrors the reflection of a face”: As the Holy One, blessed be He, has, as it were, laid down and set aside, figuratively speaking, His great infinite light, and has stored it away and concealed it by means of three different kinds of “contractions”— and all this because of His love for lowly man, in order to raise him up to G‑d, for “Love impels the flesh,” how much more, and an infinite number of times more, is it fitting that a man also should relinquish and set aside all he possesses, both spiritually and physically, and renounce everything in order to cleave to Him, may He be blessed, with attachment, desire and longing, without any hindrance, within or without, neither of body nor soul, nor money, nor wife and children.
Thereby will be understood the true reason and meaning of the Rabbinical enactment, ordaining the recitations of the blessings of the Shema: two preceding it…. For it would appear, at first glance, that they have no connection whatever with the recital of the Shema, as “Rashba” and other codifiers have stated. Why, then, were they termed “Blessings of the Shema?” And why were they ordained to to be recited specifically before it?
But the reason is that the essence of the recital of the Shema is to fulfil the injunction “With all thine heart,…” to wit, “With both thy natures,…” that is to say, to overcome anything that deters from the love of G‑d. For “thine heart” alludes to the wife and children, to whom a man’s heart is, by his very nature, bound. So have the Rabbis, of blessed memory, commented on the verses: “For He spake, and it came to pass,” that this refers to the wife; “He commanded, and it stood fast,” that this refers to the children; and by “Thy soul and thy might” is understood, literally, your life and sustenance— renouncing everything for the love of G‑d.
But how can physical man attain to this level? It is, therefore, to this end that the blessing of yotzer or was introduced first, for [in this blessing] there is said and repeated at length the account and order of the angels “standing at the world’s summit” in order to proclaim the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He— how all of them are nullified in His blessed light and “Pronounce in fear,…” “and sanctify, . . .” and “Declare in fear, ‘Holy,’…” meaning that He is apart from them, and He does not clothe Himself in diem in a “revealed” state, but “The whole earth is full of His glory,” namely, the community of Israel above and Israel below, as has been explained earlier.
So, too, “The Ofanim and holy Chayyot with great thunder … [declare] ‘Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place,’ ” for they neither know, nor do they apprehend His place, as we say, “For He alone is exalted and holy.”
Then follows the second blessing, “With an everlasting love hast Thou loved us, O Lord, our G‑d.” That is to say, that He set aside all the supernal, holy hosts and caused His Shechinah to dwell upon us, so that He be called “Our G‑d,” in the same sense that He is called “The G‑d of Abraham,” as explained earlier. This is because “love impels the flesh.” Therefore it is called ahavat olam (“worldly love”), for this is the so-called “contraction” of His great and infinite light, taking on the garb of finitude, which is called olam (“world”), for the sake of the love of His people Israel, in order to bring them near to Him, that they might be absorbed into His blessed Unity and Oneness.
This is also the meaning of “With great and exceeding pity [hast Thou pitied us],” namely, exceeding the nearness of G‑d towards all the hosts above; “… and us hast Thou chosen from every people and tongue,” which refers to the material body which, in its corporeal aspects, is similar to the bodies of the gentiles of the world; “And Thou hast brought us near… to give thanks,…”— the interpretation of “thanks” will be given elsewhere;”… and proclaim Thy Unity,.. .”— to be absorbed into His blessed Unity, as has been explained above.
When the intelligent person will reflect on these matters in the depths of his heart and brain, then— as [surely as] water mirrors the image of a face— his soul will spontaneously be kindled and it will clothe itself in a spirit of benevolence, willingly to lay down and resolutely to abandon all he possesses, in order only to cleave unto Him, may He be blessed, and to be absorbed into His light with an attachment and longing, and so forth, in a manner of “osculation” (נשיקין ) and the attachment of spirit to spirit, as has been explained earlier.
But how does the attachment of spirit to spirit take place? To this end it is stated [further on]: “And these words shall be … upon thine heart. And thou shalt speak of them….” As is explained in Etz Chayim that the union of “osculation” is essentially the union of ChaBaD with ChaBaD, that is, concentration in the Torah; while the mouth, as the outlet of the breath and its emergence into a revealed state, represents the category of speech engaged in words of the Torah,
for “By the word that proceedeth out of the mouth of G‑d doth man live.” However, one does not fulfil one’s duty by meditation and deliberation alone, until one expresses the words with his lips, in order to draw the light of the blessed En Sof downwards [even] unto the vivifying soul which dwells in the blood of man— which is produced by [the intake of food from] the mineral, vegetable and animal [worlds]— thus to raise them all to G‑d, together with the entire Universe and to cause them to be absorbed in His blessed Unity and Light, which will illumine the world and its inhabitants in a revealed manner— “And the glory of G‑d shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together….” For this is the purpose of the descent of all the worlds, that the glory of the Lord may pervade this world especially, in a revealed manner, to “change darkness to light and bitterness to sweetness,” as has been explained above at length. And this is the essence of man’s kavanah in his service: to draw the light of the blessed En Sof down below. However, the initiative must come through the elevation of the מ”ן to surrender to Him his soul and possessions, as has been explained above.
All the distinctions and gradations of love, that have been mentioned above, derive from the “right side,” from the distinction of “Priest, man of grace” and are called kesef ha-kodoshim (“longing for holy things”) etymologically as in “Thou sore longedst after thy father’s house.”
There is, however, yet another distinction of love which excels them all, as gold is superior to silver, and this is a love like fiery coals from the distinction of the “Supernal Gevurot” from Binah ilaah (“Supernal Understanding”). This is when, through contemplation on the greatness of the blessed En Sof, before Whom everything is truly accounted as nought, the soul is kindled and flares up towards the glory of the splendour of His greatness, in order to gaze on the glory of the King, like glowing coals of a mighty flame which surges upwards, striving to be parted from the wick and the wood on which it has taken hold. This is brought on by the preponderance of the element of Divine fire that is in the divine soul. In consequence of this it develops a thirst, as is written: “My soul thirsteth for Thee”; next it attains the distinction of “love-sickness”; and then it reaches a state of very rapture of the soul (כלות הנפש ) as is written: “Yea, my soul is enraptured.”
From here [supernal Gevurot] issues forth the root of the Levites [on earth] below (and in the World to Come, when the world will be exalted, they will become the priests, as our Master Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, commented on the verse, “But the priests, the Levites,” that the Levites of today will become the priests of the future). The service of the Levites was to raise the voice of melody and thanksgiving, with song and music, with tunefulness and harmony, in a manner of “advance and retreat” which is the distinction of the intense love resembling the flame that flashes out of the lightning, as is mentioned in the Gemara (Chagigah, ch. II).
It is impossible to elucidate this matter clearly in writing. Yet every warmhearted and intelligent person gifted with understanding, who deeply binds his mind and contemplation to G‑d, will discover the goodness and light which are treasured up in his intelligent soul, each according to his capacity— (“There is one who is affected [in one way] …, and there is one who is affected [in another],”)— prefacing it with the fear of sin, in order to be completely parted from evil, that the iniquities may not interpose,…, G‑d forbid.
The order of the service in occupying oneself with the Torah and commandments, a service derived from the category of the said intense love, is in the manner of “retreat” alone, as is written in Sefer Yetzirah: “And if thy heart hastens, return to the One.” The interpretation of [the phrase] “If thy heart hastens” is the craving of the soul that is in the right side of the heart — when it gains sway and bursts into flame and grows so exceedingly enraptured that the very soul is consumed with a desire to pour itself out into the embrace of its Father, the blessed Life of life, and to leave its confinement in the corporeal, physical body, in order to attach itself to Him, may He be blessed— then one must take to heart the teaching of the Rabbis, of blessed memory: “Despite thyself thou livest” in this body, animating it for the purpose of drawing downwards the higher life from the blessed Life of life, through the life-giving Torah, that there may be a dwelling in the lower world for His blessed Oneness in a revealed state. As has been explained above, and as is explained in the holy Zohar, “That there be ‘One in One,’ the meaning of which is that the yichud hane’elam (hidden Unity) shall become a category of the ‘revealed world.'”
And this is the interpretation of the text: “Come, my beloved,” and so on. From this will be understood the adage of the Rabbis: “Despite thyself thou livest, and despite thyself….” As for what shall one’s will be indeed? The answer will be found elsewhere in the lengthy explanation of this Mishnah: “Despite thyself thou livest”— with the aid of the blessed Life of life.
To return to, and further to elucidate, the expression of the Yenuka, mentioned earlier, it is necessary first to explain— so that one may understand a little— the subject of the indwelling of the Shechinah, which rested in the Holy of Holies and likewise, all other places where the Shechinah rested.— What is the meaning of this? Is not the whole world full of His glory? And surely there is no place void of Him.
The [clue to the] understanding cf this is to be found in the text: “From my flesh I see G‑d.” The analogy is from the soul of a human being which pervades all the 248 organs of the body, fiom head to foot, yet its principal habitation and abode is in his brain, whence it is diffused throughout all the organs, each of which receives from it vitality and power appropriate to it, according to its composition and character: the eye for seeing, the ear for hearing, the mouth for speaking, and the feet for walking— as we clearly sense that in the brain one is conscious of everything that is affected in the 248 organs and everything that is experienced by them.
Now, the variation in the acquisition of powers and vitality by the orgaris of the body from the soul, is not due to the [soul’s] essence and being, for this would make its core and essence divisible into 248 diverse parts, vested in 248 loci according to the various forms and locations of the organs of the body. If this were so, it would follow that its essence and core are fashioned in a material design, in a likeness and form resembling the shape of the body, Heaven forfend! Rather, it is entirely a single and simple spiritual entity, which, by its intrinsic essence, is divested of any corporeal shape and of any category and dimension of space, size, or physical limitation. It is, therefore, impertinent to say, in relation to its core and essence, that it is located in the brain of the head more than it is in the feet, since its core and essence are not subject to the dimensions and categories of physical limitation. But there are contained in it, in its intrinsic essence, 613 kinds of powers and vitalities to be actualised and to emerge from concealment in order to animate the 248 organs and 365 veins of the body, through their embodiment in the vivifying soul, which also possesses the corresponding 248 and 365 powers and vitalities.
It is with reference to the flow of all the 613 kinds of powers and vitalities from the concealment of the soul into the body in the process of animating it, that it has been said that the principal dwelling place and abode of this flow of life and of this manifestation is situated entirely in the brains of the head. Therefore they first receive the power and vitality appropriate to them acccording to their disposition and character, namely, ChaBaD (chochmah, binah, da’at) and the faculty of thought, and all that pertains to the brains; and not only this, but also the sum-total of all the streams of vitality flowing to the other organs is also contained and is clothed in the brain that is in the head. It is there that the core and root of the said manifest flow of the light and vitality of the whole soul are to be found. From there a radiation is diffused to all the other organs, each of which receives the power and vitality appropriate to it in accordance with its disposition and character: the faculty of sight reveals itself in the eye, and the faculty of hearing manifests itself in the ear, and so forth. But all the powers flow from the brain, as is known, for therein is located the principal dwelling-place of the whole soul, in its manifest aspect, since the sum-total of the vitality that is diffused from it is revealed there. Only, the [individual] powers of the said general vitality shine forth and are radiated from there into all the organs of the body, much in the same manner as light radiates from the sun and penetrates rooms within rooms. (Even the heart receives vitality from the brain; hence the brain has an intrinsic supremacy over it, as has been explained above. )
In a truly like manner, figuratively speaking, does the blessed En Sof fill all worlds and animate them. And in each world there are creatures without limit or end, myriads upon myriads of various grades of angels and souls,… and so, too, is the abundance of the worlds without end or limit, one higher than the other….
Now, the core and essence of the blessed En Sof is the same in the higher and lower worlds, as in the example with the soul given above, and as is written in the Tikunim that “He is the Hidden One of all the hidden.” This is to be understood that even in the higher, hidden worlds He is hidden and concealed within them, just as He is hidden and concealed in the lower, for no thought can apprehend Him at all even in the higher worlds. Thus as He is to be found there, so is He found in the very lowest.
The difference between the higher and lower worlds is with regard to the stream of vitality which the blessed En Sof causes to flow and illumine in a category of “revelation out of concealment” (which is one of the reasons why the influence and stream of this vitality is figuratively called “light”), thereby animating the worlds and the creatures therein. For the higher worlds receive, in a somewhat more “revealed” form, than do the lower; and all creatures therein receive each according to its capacity and nature, which is the nature and the form of the particular flow with which the blessed En Sof imbues and illumines it.
But the lower [worlds], even the spiritual ones, do not receive [the light] in quite such a “revealed” form, but only by means of many “garments,” wherein the blessed En Sof invests the vitality and light which He causes to flow and shine on them in order to animate them.
These garments, wherein the blessed En Sof invests and conceals the light and vitality, are so numerous and powerful that thereby He created this very corporeal and physical world. He gives it existence and animates it by the vitality and light which He causes to flow and shine forth unto it— a light that is clothed, hidden and concealed within the numerous and powerful garments, which hide and screen the light and vitality, so that no light or vitality whatever is visibly revealed, but only corporeal and physical things that appear lifeless. Yet they contain light and vitality which constantly give them existence ex nihilo, that they shall not revert and become nothing and nought as they had been. This light comes from the blessed En Sof, except that it is clothed in many garments, as is written in Etz Chayim, that the light and vitality of the physical orb of Earth, which is seen by mortal eyes, is derived from Malchut d’Malchut d’Asiyah and in it is contained Malchut d’Yetzirah, and so on, so that in all of them are contained the Ten Sefirot of Atzilut which are united with their Emanator, the blessed En Sof.
Now, just as in the human soul the principal manifestation of the general vitality is in the brain, while all the organs receive merely a light and potency which shines to them from the source of the manifestation of the said vitality in the brain, so indeed, figuratively speaking, is the essential manifestation of the general stream of vitality, animating the worlds and the creatures therein, clothed and contained in His blessed will, wisdom, understanding and knowledge, which are called the “intelligence,” and these are those which are clothed in the Torah and its commandments.
The manifestation of this general flow of life is the source of the vitality which the worlds receive, each one in particular. Only a glow is diffused and shines forth from this source in a similar manner as the light radiates from the sun, by way of example, or as the powers of the organs of the body derive from the brain, as discussed above.
It is this source which is called the “world of manifestation” or “matron,” or “nether matriarch,” or “Shechinah,” from the scriptural phrase: “That I may dwell among them.” For this source is the beginning of the revelation of the light of En Sof, which extends to and illumines the worlds in a “revealed” manner. From this source there extends to each individual thing the particular light and vitality suitable for it, and it [the light] dwells and is clothed in them, thereby animating them. Therefore it is figuratively called “mother of the children,” and “community of Israel,” for from this source have emanated the souls of Atzilut and have been created the souls of Beriah, and so forth, all of them being derived only from the extension of the vitality and light from this source which is called “Shechinah” resembling the radiation of light from the sun.
But as for the Shechinah itself, namely, the origin and core of the manifestation whereby the blessed En Sof illumines the worlds in a “revealed” form and which is the source of all streams of vitality in all the worlds (their entire vitality being no more than the light which is diffused from it like the light radiated from the sun), the worlds cannot endure or receive the light of this Shechinah, that it might actually dwell and clothe itself in them— without a “garment” to screen and conceal its light from them, so that they may not become entirely nullified and lose their identity within their source, like the nullification of the light of the sun in its source, namely, in the sun itself, where this light cannot be seen, but only the integral mass of the sun itself.
But what is this “garment” which is able to conceal and clothe [the Shechinah] yet will not [itself] be completely nullified within its light? This is His blessed will and wisdom, and so forth, which are clothed in the Torah and its commandments that are revealed to us and to our children, for “The Torah issues from wisdom,” which is chochmah ilaah (“Supernal Wisdom”) that is immeasurably higher than the world of manifestation, for “He is wise, but not with a knowable wisdom,” and so forth. And as has previously been explained, the light of the blessed En Sof is clothed in and united with the Supernal Wisdom, and He, may He be blessed, and His wisdom are One, only that it has descended by means of obscuring gradations, from grade to grade, with the descent of the worlds, until it has clothed itself in material things, namely, the 613 commandments of the Torah.
As [this Wisdom] came down by descents from world to world, the Shechinah, too, came down and clothed itself in it in each world. This is the shrine of the “Holy of Holies,” which is contained in each world. So also has it been stated in the Zohar and Etz Chayim, that the Shechinah — which is Malchut d’Atzilut (being the manifestation of the light and vitality of the blessed En Sof, which illumines the worlds, wherefore it is called the “word of G‑d” and the “breath of His mouth,” as it were, as in the case of human beings, by way of example, speech reveals to the hearers the speakers secret and hidden thought)— clothes itself in the shrine of the Holy of Holies of Beriah, namely, the ChaBaD (Chochmah, Binah, Da’at) of Beriah. Through the latters’ clothing themselves in the Malchut d’Beriah, there have been created the souls and the angels which exist in the world of Beriah.
From there also descends the [wisdom of the] Talmud that we possess. It has already been previously explained in the name of Tikunim, that in the world of Beriah there shine and flow forth the Chochmah, Dinah and Da at (ChaBaD) of the blessed En Sof, in a powerfully contracted manner, in order that the souls and the angels, which are limited and finite beings, shall be able to receive the influence from these categories of ChaBaD. Therefore thence also originates the Talmud, which is also a category of ChaBaD, for the Talmud consists of the reasons and interpretations of the halachot in clearly defined terms. These reasons and interpretations are a category of ChaBaD, while the halachot themselves derive from the middot of the blessed En Sof, namely, kindness, justice, mercy,… from which originate permission and prohibition, license and restriction, liability and blamelessness, as is explained in the Tikunitri.
By virtue of the clothing of Malchut d’Atzilut in Malchut d’Beriah it clothes itself in the shrine of the Holy of Holies of Yetzirah, this being the ChaBaD of Yetzirah. When the latter are clothed in the Malchut d’Yetzirah, there are formed the Ruchot and the angels which belong in [the world of] Yetzirah. Thence, too, comes the Mishnah that we possess, which comprises the legal decisions that are likewise derived from ChaBaD of the blessed En Sof. Only that the categories of ChaBaD, that is, the reasons and interpretations of the halachot, are clothed and hidden within the laws themselves and are not in a revealed form, while the elements of the halachot [themselves], which are in a revealed form, are the very reflection of the attributes of the blessed En Sof in their revealed form. Thus, it has been explained above in the name of the Tikunim, namely, that six Sefirot nest in Yetzirah. They comprise, in general, two extensions— right and left— acting either with forbearance from the aspect of kindness, that is to say, to permit a thing to ascend to G‑d, or acting forbiddingly. … And all this is according to the Chochmah Ilaah d’Atzilut (“Higher Wisdom of Emanation”); in which Binah and Da’at are contained, and they are united with the blessed En Sof, for in all of them are clothed ChaBaD of Atzilut with which the light of the blessed En Sof is united in a perfect union.
In a like manner the Shechinah descended and clothed itself in the shrine of the Holy of Holies of Asiyah.
Each of those three worlds is subdivided into myriads of gradations, which are also called particular worlds, and Malchut d’Atzilut which is clothed in the Malchut
Note: Thereby will be understood the text of the verse: “Thy kingdom (Malchutecha) is the kingdom of all worlds.”
of each particular world— descends and clothes itself in the shrine of the Holy of Holies, namely, the ChaBaD, which is in the world below it in rank.
It is from the Shechinah which is clothed in the shrine of the Holy of Holies of each and every general or particular world that light and vitality are extended and diffused to the whole world and the creatures contained therein, the souls, angels, and so forth, for all of them were created by the ten fiats in the act pf Creation, these being the “word” of G‑d which is termed “Shechinah.”
At the time the First Temple stood, in which the Ark and Tables [of the Decalogue] were housed in the Holy of Holies, the Shechinah, i.e. Malchut d’Atzilut, that is, the aspect of the “revealed” light of the blessed En Sof, dwelled there and was clothed in the Ten Commandments, far higher and stronger, and with a greater and mightier revelation, than its revelation in the shrines of the Holy of Holies above in the upper worlds. For the Ten Commandments are the “All-embracing principles of the whole Torah,” which comes from the Higher Wisdom, that is far higher than the world of manifestation. In order to engrave them on material tablets of stone it (the Shechinah) did not descend degree by degree, parallel to the order of descent of the worlds down to this material world. For this material world functions through the garment of material nature, while the Tables [of the Decalogue] are “The work of G‑d, and the writing is the writing of G‑d,” beyond the nature of this material world which is derived from the effulgence of the Shechinah in the shrine of the Holy of Holies of Asiyah (“Action”), whence issues light and vitality to the world of Asiyah, in which this our world also is contained.
But the category of the Higher Wisdom of Atzilut, consisting of the totality of the Torah as it is epitomized in the Decalogue, has clothed itself in Malchut of Atzilut and of Beriah alone, and they alone, united as they are with the light of the blessed En Sof that is within them, are referred to as the “Shechinah” which rested in the Holy of Holies of the First Temple, through its clothing itself in the Ten Commandments, which were engraved in the Tables [reposing] in the Ark, by miraculous means and by the work of the Living G‑d (this being the “hidden” world which nests in the world of Beriah as is known to those familiar with the Esoteric Discipline).
As for the Second Temple, in which did not repose the Ark and Tables [of the Decalogue], our Rabbis, of blessed memory, said that the Shechinah did not abide there. This refers to the category of the Shechinah which used to abide in the First Temple— which was not of the ordinary descent of the worlds. But in the Second Temple it abided according to the order of gradual descent, of Malchut d’Atzilut vested in Malchut d’Beriah and the latter in Malchut d’Yetzirah, and the latter in the shrine of the Holy of Holies of Asiyah which in turn was clothed in the Holy of Holies of the Temple here below. In it rested the Shechinah, i.e. Malchut d’Yetzirah which was clothed in the Holy of Holies of Asiyah.
Therefore no man was permitted to enter there, except the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. However, since the Temple was destroyed, there remains to the blessed Holy One but “The four cubits of Halachah alone.” Hence each individual who sits by himself and occupies himself in the Torah, the Shechinah is with him, as is stated in the first chapter of Berachot. The phrase “The Shechinah is with him” means in the order of the gradual descent and investment of Malchut d’Atzilut in Malchut d’Beriah, and Yetzirah and Asiyah. For the 613 commandments of the Torah are by and large active precepts, as are also those which are fulfilled by word and thought, such as Torah study and Grace after meals and the recital of the Shema and Prayer, for it has been ruled that contemplation has not the validity of speech, and one has not fulfilled one’s obligation by contemplation and kavanah alone, until he gives utterance with his lips; and it has been ruled that the motion of the lips is considered an “action.”
The 613 commandments of the Torah, together with the seven commandments of our Rabbis, combine to total the numerical equivalent of כתר (“crown”) which is the blessed Ratzon Elyon (the “Supernal Will”), which is clothed in His blessed Wisdom, and they are united with the light of the blessed En Sof in a perfect union. “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth,” which refers to the Oral Law that is derived from the Higher Wisdom, as is written in the Zohar, “The Father [chochmah] begat the daughter [i.e. Malchut, the Oral Law].”
And this is what the Yenuka meant when he said that “The Supernal light that is kindled on one’s head, namely, the Shechinah, requires oil,” that is, to be clothed in wisdom, which is called “oil from the holy anointing,” as is explained in the Zohar, that “these are the good deeds,” namely, the 613 commandments, which derive from His blessed wisdom. Thereby the light of the Shechinah can cling to the wick, i.e. the vivifying soul in the body, which is metaphorically called a “wick.” For just as in the case of a material candle, the light shines by virtue of the annihilation and burning of the wick turning to fire, so does the light of the Shechinah rest on the divine soul as a result of the annihilation of the animal soul and its transformation “From darkness to light and from bitterness to sweetness” in the case of the righteous, or at least through the destruction of its garments, which are thought, speech and action, and their transformation from the darkness of the kelipot to the Divine light of the blessed En Sof, which is clothed and united in the thought, speech and action of the 613 commandments of the Torah, in the case of benonim. For as a result of the transformation of the animal soul, originating from the kelipat nogah, [a transformation] from darkness to light, and so forth, there is brought about toe so-called “ascent of the feminine waters” to draw the light of the Shechinah, i.e. the category of the “revealed” light of the blessed En Sof— over one’s divine soul [principally dwelling] in the brain of the head. Thereby will also be clearly understood the text “For the Lord Thy G‑d is a consuming fire” as is explained elsewhere.
CONCLUSION OF THE FIRST PART WITH THE HELP OF G-D, MAY HE BE BLESSED AND EXALTED.