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Baal HaSulam/Letters
Letter 1

Letter 1

May 2, 1922, Jerusalem

To my friend…

It is now noon and I have received his letter from the eighth of the first month, and your beggar’s complaints against me are an accepted prayer, as it is written in The Zohar.

I have already proven to you in my previous letter that while you reproach me for not writing, it is your own languor you should be reproaching. Note, that since the seventh of Shevat [Hebrew month around February] to the eighth of Nissan, meaning more than two months, you have not written me a word, while I wrote you four letters in that time: on the 22nd of Shevat, the 10th of Adar, the 1st of Nissan, and the 8th of Nissan.

And if this wisp still satiates the lion, it is as it is written, “for one higher than the high watches, and high ones are atop them.” As for the answer he firmly demands, I shall reply that everyone believes in private Providence, but do not adhere to it at all.

The reason is that an alien and foul thought … cannot be attributed to the Creator, who is the epitome of the “good who does good.” However, only to the true servants of the Creator does the knowledge of private Providence open, that He caused all the reasons that preceded it, both good and bad. Then they are adhered to private Providence, for all who are connected to the pure are pure.

Since the Guardian is united with His guarded, there is no apparent division between bad and good. They are all loved and are all clear, for they are all carriers of the vessels of the Creator, ready to glorify the revelation of His uniqueness. It is known by the senses, and to that extent, they have knowledge in the end that all the actions and the thoughts, both good and bad, are the carriers of the vessels of the Creator. He prepared them, from His mouth they emerged, and at the end of correction it will be known to all.

However, in between, it is a long and threatening exile. The main problem is that when one sees some wrongful action, he falls from his degree (and clings to the famous lie and forgets that he is like an ax in the hand of the cutter). Instead, one thinks of himself as the owner of this act and forgets the reason for all the consequences from whom everything comes, and that there is no other operator in the world but Him.

This is the lesson. Although he knew it at first, still, at the time of need, he will not control this awareness to attribute everything to the cause, which sentences to the side of merit. This is the whole reply to his letter.

I have already told you face to face a true allegory about these two concepts, where one teaches of the other. Yet, the force of concealment overpowers in between, as our sages said about those two jokers before the rabbi, who were amusing all those who were sad.

There is an allegory about a king who grew fond of his servant until he wanted to raise him above all the ministers, for he had recognized true and unwavering love in his heart.

However, it is not royal manners to raise a person to the highest level at once without an apparent reason. Rather, it is royal manners to reveal the reasons to all with profound wisdom.

What did he do? He appointed the servant a guard at the city gate, and told a minister who was a skilled joker to pretend to rebel against the kingship and wage war to conquer the house while the guards are unprepared.

The minister did as the king had commanded, and with great wisdom and craftiness pretended to fight against the king’s house. The servant risked his life and saved the king, fighting devotedly and bravely against the minister until his love for the king was evident to all.

Then the minister took off his clothes and there was great laughter (for he had fought so fiercely and bravely, and now he realized that there was only fiction here, and not reality). They laughed the most when the minister told of the depth of the imaginations of his cruelty and the fear he had envisioned, and every single item in this terrible war became a round of laughter and great joy.

Yet, in spite of everything, he is still a servant and is not scholarly, and how can he be raised above all the ministers and the king’s servants?

Then the king reflected and said to that minister that he must disguise himself as a robber and a murderer, and wage fierce war against him. The king knew that in the second war he would display wondrous wisdom and merit standing at the head of all the ministers.

Hence, he appointed the servant in charge of the kingdom’s treasury. The minister now dressed as a ruthless killer and came to loot the king’s treasures.

The poor appointee fought courageously and devotedly until the cup was full. Then the minister took off his clothes and there was great joy and laughter in the king’s palace, even more than before.

The details of the minister’s tricks aroused great laughter since now the minister had to be more clever than before because now it is evidently known that no one is cruel in the king’s domain, and all the cruel ones are but jokers. Therefore, the minister used great craftiness to acquire clothes of evil.

Yet, in the meantime, the servant inherited “wisdom” from after-knowledge, and “love” from foreknowledge, and then he is established for eternity.

In truth, all the wars in that exile are a wondrous sight, and everyone knows in their kind interior that it is all a kind of wit and joy that brings only good. Still, there is no tactic to ease the weight of the war and the threat on oneself.

I have elaborated on this to you face to face, and now you have knowledge of one end of this allegory, and with the Creator’s help you will also understand it on its other end.

But the thing you want to hear me speak about the most is one to which I cannot answer anything. I have also given you an allegory about this face to face, for “the kingdom of the earth is as the kingdom of the heaven,” and the true guidance is given to the ministers.

Yet, everything is done according to the King’s counsel and His signature. The King himself does no more than sign the plan that the ministers devised. If He finds a flaw in the plan, He does not correct it, but places another minister in his place, and the first resigns from office.

So is man: a small world behaving according to the letters imprinted in him, since kings rule the seventy nations in him. This is the meaning of what is written in the Sefer Yetzira [Book of Creation]: “He crowned a certain letter.”

Each letter is a minister for its time, making evaluations, and the King of the world signs them. When the letter errs in some plan, it immediately resigns from office and He crowns another letter in its place.

This is the meaning of “Each generation and its judges.” At the end of correction, that letter called Messiah will rule. It will complement and tie all the generations to a crown of glory in the hand of God.

Now you can understand how I can interfere with your business of state, that have already …kings and judges, and each must uncover what he has been assigned to uncover. The ferry of unification … he does not want to correct them; I will correct them nonetheless. And yet, all will become clear through incarnations.

Because of it, I yearn to hear all your decisions in their every detail, since there is profound wisdom in every detail, and if I heard some fixed orders from you, I would be able to fill them and delight your heart.

Know that it is very difficult for me to hear your language, for you have no permanence in the names and their meaning. Hence, I will open for you a door in the meaning of the appellations, and you will measure for me the sentence of your wisdom. In this way, I will be able to follow your intention through.

Therefore, I will set the appellations as I have seen from all your letters, to establish between us permanently, to know all that you will write without any scrutiny, like signs on wine-jars.

We shall begin from the root of all roots, and reach the very end. Five degrees are marked in general: Yechida, Haya, Neshama, Ruach, Nefesh. All these are grouped together in the correcting body. Yechida, Haya, and Neshama are above time, and though they are found in a creature’s heart, they are regarded as surrounding from afar. They do not come in a body during its correction, for a root, Rosh, Toch, Sof [respectively: head, interior, end], is discerned in the hidden source, too.

The Rosh is the root for the Yechida; it is Ein Sof [Infinity]. There, even in its place, its light is undisclosed and everything is nullified as a candle before a torch.

Afterward, the root of the Toch, and it is the root for Haya. This is the meaning of the light of Ein Sof, meaning the appearance of His complete light. While in time, this light is attained only as its sustenance, and this is why it is called the “root for Haya.

Subsequently, the root for the Sof, and it is the root for the souls. It is just as in the beginning, Ein Sof. Here, an upper veil spreads, and the time begins in the form of “six thousand years the world exists, and one is ruined.” This is called Ruach, Nefesh, and their root is adhered to the Neshama.

However, they also expand below as Torah, which is a spirit of life, and Mitzva [commandment], which is the Nefesh. This Nefesh is the permanence, stillness, the embracing force that strengthens the body in a permanent state by the force of females imprinted in this Nefesh.

This Ruach blows the spirit of life and the light of Torah in the image of the female. Its root explains the meaning of “and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” This pertains to the spirit that rises to the soul and receives from it life in the light of the King’s face, bringing this life to the soul, which at that time is called a “living soul.”

This is also the order in all the Zivugim [couplings] of the seven females of the Rosh, and the two below in the Nefesh. This is the meaning of “God places the lone ones in the house,” meaning when the force of the females appears, by “All the glory of the king’s daughter is inside.”

The primary corrections and the work are to reveal the forces of the soul, which The Zohar calls “the upper world.” This, too, belongs to the hidden source, as the root of the end, and every Zivug [coupling] is the manifestation of one light in the reality of the upper world. This is the meaning of “We whose sons are as plants grown up in their youth,” meaning the Ibur [impregnation] in the upper world. By the Zivug … to the lower ones … so it came upon His thought, and the end of the Rosh, the hidden source, will complement all the lights … a continuation from the book, Treasure of Knowledge.

The mind itself is man's soul and the whole of man, for in this he is defined entirely. What emerges from it is its clothes and those who serve it. Some are its branches, and some are considered alien to it.

This force, though it is in his soul, he will still not see it; it is concealed from any living thing. Do not wonder about this, for the eye controls and is the most important among all senses. Yet, one never sees oneself, but only feels one’s existence in a way that sight would not add to them any knowledge. Hence, nothing was created in vain, for they are sensations to them and there is no need to add to the sensation.

There is also the mental power, which is the man’s self. It is not given in any discernment in the senses, for the sensation of one’s existence is quite sufficient, and no person will not suffice for one’s own existence and demand testimony to his senses (and the reason that there is no feeling without movement, meaning that sometimes the sensation stops and there is no movement in his self, so it is more like absolute awareness). It is a grave mistake to resemble the form of the essence of the mind to a form of concept gripped in diminution by the mind’s eye. This is utter falsehood, for this concept is like a light that emerges and operates. Its light is felt as long as it is active until it ends its activity and its light vanishes.

From this you learn that the concept sensed while active is but a small and feeble branch of it (the essential sensation is considered knowledge, for the power to sense is also a sense, a consequence, and does not need the essential feeling).

It is not at all like the essence, neither in quantity nor in quality, like the beaten stone that displays sparks of light that are renewed by the general embracing force in the stone, although in the form of the embracing force in it there is no light at all. Also, the core of the mind is the comprehensive force in man, and various branches stem from it, as in heroism and power, heat and light, according to the laws of the operated action.

Although we refer to it as the “mind’s soul,” or the “core of the mind,” it is because the mind is also a branch of it, the most important in the world since “One is praised according to his mind.”

Since one does not give that which he does not have, we thus define it as “mind,” meaning at least no less than the sensed mind, as it is a branch and a part of it. It reigns over all her branches and swallows them like a candle before a torch. The mind does not connect in any action, but the various actions connect and become fixed in the mind.

One discerns that all of reality is but its servants, both in discipline, and in order to improve it, for they are all lost, while the mind in general develops. Hence, all our engagements are only in the ways of the mind and its ambitions, and more than that is not necessary.

Yehuda Leib