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Yehuda Leib Ha-Levi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)/Letters
Letter 8
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Letter 8

April 3, 1922, Jerusalem

To my honorable friend...

I must comment on your slacking in your work of writing, to approach me every once in a while with information of your points. It would have added a few benches at the seminary, and I have already proven to you in my previous letter from the first of Nissan [March 30].

See in Midrash Rabbah, Yitro [Jethro]: “Rabbi Yirmiah [Jeremiah] said, ‘What if when He gives life to the world, the earth will quake? When He comes to avenge the wicked, who breached the words of Torah, it will be even more so, as it is said, ‘Who can face His wrath, and who can calculate the day of His arrival?’ When He desires, no being can face His might. When He rises in His anger, who will stand before Him? Whoa, who will not fear You, King of the nations?’” Although the words of Rabbi Yirmiah make inherent sense, concerning the Torah, as long as you engage in it, you find flavor [reason] in it.

Let me illuminate them for you.

You find in the poem, “You are more terrible than all terrors, prouder than all who are proud; You surround everything and fill everything.” Interpretation: We see dreadful terrors and pains that are worse than death. Who is the one doing all that? ... This is His name, “You are more terrible than all terrors,” who is removed from them!

Also, we see how many people—since the beginning of time until today—have tormented themselves with afflictions and self-torment, all in order to find some rhyme or reason in the work of God, or to know who is the owner of the capital.

Yet, they have all wasted their lives away and left the world as they came, without finding any relief. Why did the Creator not answer all their prayers? Why was He so haughty over them, so unforgiving? And what is His name? “Prouder than all who are proud,” this is His name (see my poem, attached to this mail, which asks for whom the field was sown, for I have the right answer). But they who suffer the terrors and perceive that removed pride know for certain that the Creator is removed from them, although they do not know why He is removed.

What do poets say about this? They say that there is a sublime purpose for all that happens in this world, and it is called “the drop of unification.” When those dwellers of clay houses go through all those terrors, through all that totality, in His pride, which is removed from them, a door opens in the walls of their hearts, which are tightly sealed by the nature of creation itself, and by this they become fit for instilling that drop of unification in their hearts. Then they are inverted like an imprinted substance, and they will evidently see that it is to the contrary—that it was precisely in those dreadful terrors that they perceive the totality, which is removed by foreign pride. There, and only there, is the Creator Himself adhered, and there He can instill them with the drop of unification.

He turned everything around for them in such a way that one who has unification knows that he has found ransom and an open door for instilling Him.

This is what is written in the poem, “You surround everything and fill everything.” During the attainment, abundance is felt. It appears and sits precisely on all those contradictions. This is the meaning of “more terrible than all terrors, prouder than all who are proud,” and naturally, “He fills everything.” The poet knew that He fills them abundantly, and none else perceived the pleasantness of unification with Him until it seemed to him, at the time of his wholeness, that the afflictions they had suffered had some merit, to value the savor and pleasantness of the abundance of unification with Him. His every organ and tendon will say and testify that each and every person in the world would chop off his hands and legs seven times a day for a single moment in their entire life, of tasting such a savor.

This is the law of the leprous on the day of his purification;

He was brought unto the priest for all his fault.

It is a judgment for every good deed;

Thus you will meet its operator in a land of duty.

Every passerby shall have it;

It is known how ... [unclear in Hebrew] and He will dwell.

What is His conversing at that time

While strolling among great beasts?

There, an ear is lent to very pleasant words;

Rivers of persimmon are extended, dents over dents.

They see what is heard—that it is only their fault that it is pleasant.

Their stench goes as far from them as the east is far from the west.

He laughs at them because He has known their souls forever.

The ransom will not be limited at all in their eyes,

When He gives Himself to them for ransom,

And every stranger will be ears for fine words.

It is a hand for every vessel of purification.

He will grip it to disclose the light,

To create, and to sustain the light on it,

In the sentence of redemption and in the sentence of transformation.

And although all these do not elude you, I wish to fill with them the words of Rabbi Yirmiah. This is his sublime meaning with his allegorical words, “What, etc., ... When He desires, no being can face His might. When He rises in His anger, who will stand before Him? Whoa, who will not fear You, Oh King of the nations?” That is, “more terrible than all terrors, prouder than all who are proud,” and all in order to sound “the words of the living God.”

In other words, the sublime terrors were established only to see the voices, which the eye cannot see nor the heart think or contemplate. Until He came to that quality, the Creator was operating without any grievance for the operation, as it is sensed that the operation still did not exist. For this reason, throughout this terrible and long process, He desired and consented to His operation, to disclose it for the destined time.

This is what Rabbi Yirmiah said, “When He desires, etc.,” meaning that His intention is only to admonish to worshippers of the Creator that that sublime side will always be before them once the act has been sufficiently revealed.

Therefore, who is to be held accountable that His honor will not be desecrated, for what fool would say that the Creator is lenient? He brings the verse, “Who can stand in the day of His wrath, and who can calculate the day of His arrival,” from the long and sublime past? The day of His wrath is the one that calculates the day of His arrival; they are weighed together as though on scales.

By this you will understand the words of Rabbi Tarfon, who maintains that they say, “Enough.” He proves from the verse, “And her father indeed spat [Hebrew: spat, spat] in her face, she will be disgraced for seven days,” much less for the Shechina [Divinity] to have at least two weeks. And still he concludes, “She shall be closed up seven days,” meaning just as before the action and the Shechina were exposed, and there was only “Her father indeed spat in her face,” meaning exposing her face.

It is considered two spits—one is considered the heart, and one is considered the mind, as in “more terrible than all terrors, prouder than all who are proud.” Saying “enough” before the Shechina to begin with, if you are pure-hearted you will understand through your heart the meaning of the words that after being closed up for seven days they went on their way in the campaigns of the Torah, unlike prior to the completion of the quarantine.

Even if my mouth was filled with singing like a sea, my lips with florid praise as its numerous waves, it would not be enough to detail the righteousness of the Creator, who has done, is doing, and will do before His creations, which He has created, is creating, and will create. I have thoroughly learned that great masses were, and are, yelling in the world at the top of their lungs but remain unanswered. They come alone and they leave alone. As they begin, so they end, myriad subtract, but do not add, and woe to that shame, woe to that disgrace.

It is a precise rule that sanctity increases and does not decrease, but the uniqueness of the Creator—who takes pride over the bodies, which are devoid of any desirables—does not wane at all. Rather, He even prides over “the elect men of the assembly, men of renown,” and they, too, unless they carefully watch over themselves not to waste their time, He will be able to rid them of their world like the first, since the Glory of the World is strong and does not change for fear of His creations, of course.

Many great people have erred about it because they said that they were certain their hearts were awake. And the writing says, “And Er [Hebrew: awake], the firstborn of Judah, was bad in the eyes of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death.” The sages say, “Even one who is slacking in his work is brother to one who destroys,” for the most important is to pay attention and be mindful, and “Whatever you find that your hand can do by your strength, do,” to extol and to sanctify His great and blessed name.

And precisely in a mindful manner, not as the cry of the fools, who know how to utter words without a wise heart. The wise one, his eyes are in his head, and he knows no bodily forces. He is not Er or Onan, but rather, “The words of sages are heard with contentment, with fervent scrutiny for the Creator alone.

It is written in The Zohar, “Everything is clarified in the thought.” There are no outcries here, no self-tormenting or any illness or mishap whatsoever. Rather, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace,” “All who are gluttonous are angry,” and “Anyone who is angry, it is as though he is idol-worshipping,” and his soul departs from him.

But we should do much scrutiny and think with all our aim and strength, and “All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who mention the Lord, take no rest for yourselves, and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes (the fearing and the whole) Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”

Let me tell you the truth: When I see the most vain ones wasting their lives away, it does not pain me whatsoever because in the end, no spiritual misfortune happens to them, only a body of flesh and bones that is tortured, and for which it was made, as has been elaborated above. The fate of every beast is the slaughter, and being mindless, they are all as beasts.

All of nature’s orders do not sadden the pure-hearted. On the contrary, they rejoice the hearts of the understanding. But when I see the fallen ones, the men of renown, it is as though a blazing, fiery sword pierces my heart, for they torture the Shechina with the follies that they lie and fabricate.

Woe unto this beauty that withers in this dust, the holy, faithful drop. All the prolonged guidance is turning so as to reveal the face of the truth, and upon its revealing, it returns and throws pure, faithful water on every corner of the guidance and reality. Then, all who are empty fill up, and all the afflicted are bestowed upon, and there is neither an iron-web nor a cobweb here. Rather, there is great glory here and faithful love returning and coming back from the Creator to His creatures, and every place where He lays his eyes heals.

Happy is the ear that has never heard slander, and happy is the eye that has never seen a false thing. All that He curses is utterly cursed, and all that He blesses is utterly blessed. Everything that comes out of His mouth has neither doubt nor surplus. Rather, this is the thing which the Creator commanded, “Adhere to Him.”

Dust, dust, how obstinate you are. All that is beautiful to the eye withers in you; how insolent you are. That eye that blesses wherever you turn, how has it become strangeness, and every place He looks burns and becomes consumed? How will those most desperate people be comforted “with a comfort of vanity and joy of the flesh”? What shall they answer in the day of calling? It evokes contempt and wrath.

Therefore, I have spoken at length against those people with whom you are face to face, and of the words they fabricate, such as the expansion of corporeality. As they are, so are their works, “All who trust them,” and “Cursed is the man who trusts man and makes flesh his arm,” and “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.” “Happy is the man who did not follow the counsel of the wicked, ... but delights in the law of the Lord, and on His law does he reflect day and night,” as our sages said, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created for it the Torah as a spice,” and “If you encounter that villain, draw him to the seminary.” How man does not fear or feel that his master is assisting him.

This is what I told you face to face at a time of joy, that the primary sin of the generation of knowledge [generation of the desert] was according to the verse, “Our fathers in Egypt did not perceive Your wonders ... and were rebellious at sea, in the Red Sea.” I interpreted that the value of a gift is as the value of the giver. They were the first to blemish it when they “did not perceive Your wonders,” but merely “wonders.” Thus, the gist is missing from the book, which caused them to turn back at the time of the reception of the Torah, saying, “You speak with us and we will hear.” Although the Torah does not attribute them sin in the matter, for it is said, “I wish this heart of theirs was to fear Me all the days,” it is because the sin preceded the giving of the Torah and was not written in the Torah, and it is known that the Torah engages in the path of correction and not in the path of sins.

You asked me, “What should I do with it?” I replied that you should exert and give many thanks for the benefit, for it is natural that when the giver sees that the receiver is not grateful, his future giving wanes.

You replied to me that the thanks for His blessings does not appear in the words of a corporeal mouth, but through exertion and broadening the heart in the benefit of the merit of unification, by which the enemies are stopped on the right and on the left, that this is called “gratitude for His blessings,” and not the words of a corporeal mouth.

But come and see how lovely is faithful water from the never-ending fountain, of which it was said, “Let them be satisfied and delighted by Your goodness.” The satiation does not cancel the pleasure because he has perceived “Your wonders,” and not wonders and tokens, as to whom will he answer? Even he himself does not need it, and he never said to them or to the like of them, “Give Me, offer a bribe for Me from your strength.” Their father has come to loathe going with his flock’s dog for inferior guarding, “and if the helper stumbles, he that is helped shall fall,” and “The Almighty, whom we cannot find, is excellent in power.”

It all came upon him since the time he forgot the quality of “sublime and exalted, very, very high,” and began to engage by measuring of flesh and blood, and from there to measuring the trees, and also wishing to build himself on calculations. He was calculating calculations of others, but it is already written, “And you have found.”

Ravnai said, “Until it comes into his hand. This means that he does not purchase just by seeing; this is the simpleton’s phrasing: ‘He does not buy until he holds it in his hand.’” Therefore, the Tanna teaches of two gates, one in finding, and one in negotiating, to understand and to instruct until he actually holds it in his hand.

It seems that at the end of days he will discover ... our sages: “When he sees from whom he took the coins?” They explain that he took from two people (which implies another thing that will be revealed at the end of days), from one—voluntarily—and from another—involuntarily, and we did not know with whom it was voluntary, and with whom, involuntary. This is the meaning of the verse, “What shall we do to our sister on the day when she is spoken for?” She will appear and be seen at the end of days, for we will wait for the days of the Messiah.

Let us return to our topic, which is primarily to learn more about the Giver of the gift, His greatness, His value, and then he will be rewarded with true Dvekut [adhesion] and will obtain the flavors of Torah, for there is no other remedy in our world but that.

I shall recite a fine and pleasant poem about it, which brings joy to a true heart, and which is tried and tested in ten trials.

My drop, my drop, you are so fine, all the expanses of my life,

All my mornings, all my evenings.

The face of the curtain, you raise the cover, in the expanses of my futures,

All my mourning, all my comfort.

The wasteland, the multitudes shall carry you with branches that I added,

All my ruin, all my filling.

You pierce my heart, and your full reward is in my hand, from all the banners of my love, all my gold, all my merchandise.

A good guest, what does he say? “All the troubles that the landlord has troubled himself, he has troubled himself only for me,” according to the verse, “One must say, ‘The world was created for me.’” So it is, that as the world was created for him, all the elements in his reality were also created for him.

One element—because of the unification—the general and the particular are equal to it, and everything that all the people in the world will attain at the end of correction, complete individuals attain in every generation. This is why each one finds the elements of his organs in the Torah, for because it is generally set up for the whole collective, it is also generally set up for an individual. Moreover, in the collective, there is not more than there is in an individual, and this is a true and complete measure in great scrutiny.

This is why it is written, “With her love you will ravish always,” and “You shall contemplate it day and night,” and “The Torah, the Creator, and Israel are one.” It is a measure completely adapted, for everything is one, and the spiritual cannot be divided into parts. One must sanctify and purify himself in mind and heart, and when you bless with the blessings of the Torah as before, you will attain the distinguished verse, “See now that I am I, and there is no other God with Me.”

I ask that for your benefit and delight, do send me frequent information of your situation in the Torah, for it will save much time. Know that prolonging the time of correction diminishes the value of the correction, and anything spiritual improves and ascends when it takes less time. If you knew, as I know, that prolonging the stay on the paths of light is harmful, you would certainly be quicker in your work.

Although I neither wish nor am permitted to study for you, it is permitted and a great Mitzva [commandment] to delight and perfume those loved ones that you find in the field that the Lord has blessed. Our whole engagement in life is only to raise the Shechina from the dust, to delight her, sing before her with all our might, always praise the Creator with your mouth with what is permitted, and especially where we know that you will certainly succeed. For this reason, I urgently need information from you, and we shall be satiated with love together, to uproot the thorns, and we shall see the high rose soon in our days, Amen, may it be so.