Table of contents
Yehuda Leib Ha-Levi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)/Shamati
He Did Not Say Wicked or Righteous
1. There Is None Else Besides Him
2. Shechina [Divinity] in Exile
3. The Matter of Spiritual Attainment
4. What Is the Reason for the Heaviness One Feels when Annulling before the Creator in the Work?
5. Lishma Is an Awakening from Above, and Why Do We Need an Awakening from Below?
6. What Is Support in the Torah, in the Work?
7. What Is, “A Habit Becomes a Second Nature,” in the Work?
8. What Is the Difference between a Shade of Kedusha and a Shade of Sitra Achra?
9. What Are Three Things that Broaden One’s Mind in the Work?
10. What Is “Hurry, My Beloved,” in the Work?
11. Joy with Trembling
12. The Essence of Man’s Work
13. A Pomegranate
14. What Is the Exaltedness of the Creator?
15. What Is Other Gods in the Work?
16. What Is the Day of the Lord and the Night of the Lord, in the Work?
17. What Does It Mean that the Sitra Achra Is Called “Malchut without a Crown”?
18. My Soul Shall Weep in Secret – 1
19. What Is “The Creator Hates the Bodies,” in the Work?
20. Lishma [for Her sake]
21. When One Feels Oneself in a State of Ascent
22. Torah Lishma
23. You Who Love the Lord, Hate Evil
24. He Will Save Them from the Hand of the Wicked
25. Things that Come from the Heart
26. One’s Future Depends and Is Tied to Gratitude for the Past
27. What Is “The Lord Is High and the Low Will See”? - 1
28. I Shall Not Die but Live
29. When Thoughts Come to a Person
30. The Most Important Is to Want Only to Bestow
31. Anyone Who Pleases the Spirit of the People
32. A Lot Is an Awakening from Above
33. The Lots on Yom Kippur and with Haman
34. The Advantage of a Land
35. Concerning the Vitality of Kedusha
36. What Are the Three Bodies in Man?
37. An Article for Purim
38. The Fear of God Is His Treasure
39. And They Sewed Fig Leaves
40. What Is the Measure of Faith in the Rav?
41. What Is Greatness and Smallness in Faith?
42. What Is the Acronym Elul in the Work?
43. Concerning Truth and Faith
44. Mind and Heart
45. Two Discernments in the Torah and in the Work
46. The Domination of Israel over the Klipot
47. In the Place Where You Find His Greatness
48. The Primary Basis
49. The Most Important Are the Mind and the Heart
50. Two States
51. If You Encounter This Villain
52. A Transgression Does Not Extinguish a Mitzva
53. The Matter of Limitation
54. The Purpose of the Work – 1
55. Haman from the Torah, from Where?
56. Torah Is Called Indication
57. Will Bring Him Closer to His Will
58. Joy Is a “Reflection” of Good Deeds
59. Concerning the Rod and the Serpent
60. A Mitzva that Comes through Transgression
61. Round About Him It Storms Mightily
62. Descends and Incites, Ascends and Complains
63. I Was Borrowed on, and I Repay
64. From Lo Lishma, We Come to Lishma
65. Concerning the Revealed and the Concealed
66. Concerning the Giving of the Torah – 1
67. Depart from Evil
68. Man's Connection to the Sefirot
69. First Will Be the Correction of the World
70. With a Mighty Hand and with Fury Poured Out
71. My Soul Shall Weep in Secret – 2
72. Confidence Is the Clothing for the Light
73. After the Tzimtzum
74. World, Year, Soul
75. There Is a Discernment of the Next World, and There Is a Discernment of This World
76. On All Your Offerings You Shall Offer Salt
77. One's Soul Shall Teach Him
78. The Torah, the Creator, and Israel Are One
79. Atzilut and BYA
80. Concerning Achor be Achor
81. Concerning Raising MAN
82. The Prayer that One Should Always Pray
83. Concerning the Right Vav and the Left Vav
84. What Is “He Drove the Man Out of the Garden of Eden so He Would Not Take from the Tree of Life”?
85. What Is the Fruit of a Citrus Tree, in the Work?
86. And They Built Arei Miskenot
87. Shabbat Shekalim
88. All the Work Is Only Where There Are Two Ways – 1
89. To Understand the Words of The Zohar
90. In The Zohar, Beresheet
91. Concerning the Replaceable
92. Explaining the Discernment of Luck
93. Concerning Fins and Scales
94. And You Shall Keep Your Souls
95. Concerning Removing the Foreskin
96. What Is Waste of Barn and Winery, in the Work?
97. Waste of Barn and Winery
98. Spirituality Is Called That Which Will Never Be Lost
99. He Did Not Say Wicked or Righteous
100. The Written Torah and the Oral Torah – 1
101. A Commentary on the Psalm, “For the Winner over Roses”
102. And You Shall Take You the Fruit of a Citrus Tree
103. Whose Heart Makes Him Willing
104. And the Saboteur Was Sitting
105. A Bastard Wise Disciple Precedes a Commoner High Priest
106. What the Twelve Challahs on Shabbat Imply
107. Concerning the Two Angels
108. If You Leave Me One Day, I Will Leave You Two
109. Two Kinds of Meat
110. A Field that the Lord Has Blessed
111. Breath, Sound, and Speech
112. The Three Angels
113. The Eighteen Prayer
114. Prayer
115. Still, Vegetative, Animate, and Speaking
116. He Who Said, “Mitzvot Do Not Require Intention”
117. You Labored and Did Not Find, Do Not Believe
118. To Understand the Matter of the Knees Which Have Bowed to Baal
119. That Disciple Who Learned in Secret
120. The Reason for Not Eating Nuts on Rosh Hashanah
121. She Is Like Merchant-Ships
122. Understanding What Is Written in Shulchan Aruch
123. His Divorce and His Hand Come as One
124. A Shabbat of Beresheet and of the Six Thousand Years
125. He Who Delights the Shabbat
126. A Sage Comes to Town
127. The Difference between Core, Self, and Added Abundance
128. Dew Drips from that Galgalta to Zeir Anpin
129. The Shechina in the Dust
130. Tiberias of Our Sages, Good Is Your Sight
131. Who Comes to Purify
132. In the Sweat of Your Face Shall You Eat Bread – 1
133. The Lights of Shabbat
134. Wine that Causes Drunkenness
135. Clean and Righteous Do Not Kill
136. The Difference between the First Letters and the Last Letters
137. Zelophehad Was Gathering Wood
138. Concerning Fear that Sometimes Comes Upon a Person
139. The Difference between the Six Workdays and Shabbat
140. How I Love Your Torah
141. The Holiday of Passover
142. The Essence of the War
143. Only Good to Israel
144. There Is a Certain People
145. What Is He Will Give Wisdom Specifically to the Wise
146. A Commentary on The Zohar
147. The Work of Reception and Bestowal
148. The Scrutiny of Bitter and Sweet, True and False
149. Why We Need to Extend Hochma
150. Sing unto the Lord, for He Has Done Pride
151. And Israel Saw the Egyptians
152. For Bribe Blinds the Eyes of the Wise
153. A Thought Is a Result of the Desire
154. There Cannot Be an Empty Space in the World
155. The Cleanness of the Body
156. Lest He Took from the Tree of Life
157. I Am Asleep but My Heart Is Awake
158. The Reason for Not Eating at Each Other's Home on Passover
159. And It Came to Pass in the Course of Those Many Days
160. The Reason for Concealing the Matzot
161. Concerning the Giving of the Torah – 2
162. Concerning the Hazak We Say After Completing the Series
163. What the Authors of The Zohar Said
164. There Is a Difference between Corporeality and Spirituality
165. An Explanation to Elisha's Request of Elijah
166. Two Discernments in Attainment
167. The Reason Why It Is Called Shabbat Teshuva
168. The Customs of Israel
169. Concerning a Complete Righteous
170. You Shall Not Have in Your Pocket a Big Stone
171. In The Zohar, Emor – 1
172. The Matter of Preventions and Delays
173. Why We Say LeChaim
174. Concealment
175. And If the Way Be Too Far for You
176. When Drinking Brandy after the Havdala
177. Atonements
178. Three Partners in Man
179. Three Lines
180. In The Zohar, Emor – 2
181. Honor
182. Moses and Solomon
183. The Discernment of Messiah
184. The Difference between Faith and Intellect
185. The Uneducated, the Fear of Shabbat Is on Him
186. Make Your Shabbat a Weekday, and Do Not Need People
187. Choosing Labor
188. All the Work Is Only Where There Are Two Ways – 2
189. The Action Affects the Thought
190. Every Act Leaves an Imprint
191. The Time of Descent
192. The Lots
193. One Wall Serves Both
194. The Complete Seven
195. Rewarded - I Will Hasten It
196. A Grip for the External Ones
197. Book, Author, Story
198. Freedom
199. To Every Man of Israel
200. The Hizdakchut of the Masach
201. Spirituality and Corporeality
202. In the Sweat of Your Face Shall You Eat Bread – 2
203. Man's Pride Shall Bring Him Low
204. The Purpose of the Work - 2
205. Wisdom Cries Out in the Streets
206. Faith and Pleasure
207. Receiving in order to Bestow
208. Labor
209. Three Conditions in Prayer
210. A Sightly Flaw in You
211. As Though Standing before a King
212. Embrace of the Right, Embrace of the Left
213. Acknowledging the Desire
214. Known in the Gates
215. Concerning Faith
216. Right and Left
217. If I Am Not for Me, Who Is for Me?
218. The Torah and the Creator Are One
219. Devotion
220. Suffering
221. Multiple Authorities
222. The Part Given to the Sitra Achra to Separate It from the Kedusha
223. Clothing, Sack, Lie, Almond
224. Yesod de Nukva and Yesod de Dechura
225. Raising Oneself
226. The Written Torah and the Oral Torah – 2
227. The Reward for a Mitzva–a Mitzva
228. Fish before Meat
229. Haman Pockets
230. The Lord Is High and the Low Will See - 2
231. The Purity of the Vessels of Reception
232. Completing the Labor
233. Pardon, Forgiveness, and Atonement
234. He Who Ceases Words of Torah and Engages in Conversation
235. Looking in the Book Again
236. My Adversaries Curse Me All the Day
237. For Man Shall Not See Me and Live
238. Happy Is the Man Who Does Not Forget You and the Son of Man Who Exerts in You
239. The Difference between Mochin of Shavuot and that of Shabbat at Minchah
240. Seek Your Seekers when They Seek Your Face
241. Call Upon Him When He Is Near
242. What Is the Matter of Delighting the Poor on a Good Day, in the Work?
243. Examining the Shade on the Night of Hosha’ana Rabbah
244. All the Worlds
245. Prior to the Creation of the Newborn
246. An Explanation about Luck
247. A Thought Is Regarded as Nourishment

99. He Did Not Say Wicked or Righteous

I heard on Iyar 21, Jerusalem

“Rabbi Hanina Bar Papa said, ‘That angel, appointed on conception, its name is Laila [night]. It takes a drop and places it before the Creator and says to Him: ‘Master of the world, this drop, what shall become of it, a hero or a weakling, a wise or a fool, a wealthy or an indigent?’ But he did not say ‘a wicked or a righteous’” (Nida 16b).

We should interpret according to the rule that a fool cannot be righteous, as our sages said, “One does not sin unless a spirit of folly has entered him.” It is even more so with one who is a fool his whole life. Hence, one who is born a fool has no choice since he has been sentenced to be a fool. Therefore, saying, “He did not say ‘a wicked or a righteous’” is so that he would have a choice. But what is the benefit if he did not say “a righteous or a fool”? After all, if he is sentenced to be a fool, it is the same as being sentenced to become a wicked!

We should also understand the words of our sages: “Rabbi Yochanan said, ‘The Creator saw that the righteous are few, He stood and planted them in each generation, as was said, ‘For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He has set the world upon them.’’” RASHI interprets “‘He has set the world upon them’—He dispersed them in all the generations to be an infrastructure and sustenance and foundation to sustain the world” (Yoma 38b).

“They are few” means that they are growing fewer. Hence, what did he do to multiply them? “He stood and planted them in each generation.” We should ask, “What is the benefit in planting them in each generation, by which they multiply?” We must understand the difference between all the righteous being in a single generation or being dispersed through all the generations, as RASHI interprets. Does being in many generations multiply the righteous?

To understand the above, we must expand and interpret our sages’ words, that the Creator sentences the drop to be a wise or a fool, meaning that one who is born weak, without the strength to overcome his inclination, and is born with a weak desire and without talents, since during the preparation, when beginning in the work of the Creator, he must be fit to receive the Torah and the wisdom, as it is written, “will give wisdom to the wise,” he asked, “If they are already smart, why do they still need wisdom? It should have been ‘will give wisdom to the fools.’”

He explains that “wise” means one who craves wisdom although he still has no wisdom. But because he has a desire, and a desire is called a Kli [vessel], it follows that one who has a desire and craving for wisdom is the Kli in which wisdom shines. It therefore follows that a fool means one without yearning for wisdom, whose yearning is only for his own needs. In terms of bestowal, a fool is completely incapable of achieving any bestowal whatsoever.

Therefore, one who is born with such qualities, how can he achieve the degree of a righteous? It follows that he does not have a choice. Therefore, what is the benefit from saying, “he did not say, ‘a righteous or a wicked’?” So he would have a choice. After all, since he was born unwise and weak, he is no longer capable of having a choice, since he is completely incapable of any overcoming and craving for His wisdom.

To understand this, that even a fool can have a choice, the Creator made a correction, which our sages call, “the Creator saw that the righteous were few; He stood and planted them in each generation.” We asked, “What is the benefit of this?”

Now we will understand this matter. It is known that as it is forbidden to bond with the wicked even when one does not do as they do, as it is written, “nor sat in the seat of the scornful.” This means that the sin is primarily because he sits among the scornful, even though he sits and learns Torah and keeps Mitzvot. Otherwise, the prohibition would be due to the cancellation of Torah and Mitzvot. But rather, the sitting itself is forbidden, since man takes the thoughts and desires of those he likes.

And vice versa: If one does not have any desire or craving for spirituality, if he is among people who have a desire and craving for spirituality, if he likes these people, he, too, will take their strength to prevail, and their desires and aspirations, although by his own quality, he does not have these desires and cravings and the power to overcome. But according to the grace and the importance he ascribes to these people, he will receive new powers.

Now we can understand the above words: “The Creator saw that the righteous were few,” meaning that not any person can become a righteous, for lack of qualities for it, as it was written, that he is born a fool or a weakling; he, too, has a choice and his own qualities are no excuse. This is because the Creator planted the righteous in every generation.

Hence, a person has the choice of going to a place where there are righteous. One can accept their authority, and then he will receive all the powers that he lacks by the nature of his own qualities. He will receive it from the righteous. This is the benefit in “planted them in each generation,” so that each generation would have someone to turn to, adhere to, and from whom to receive the strength required to rise to the degree of a righteous. Thus, they, too, subsequently become righteous.

It follows that “he did not say ‘a wicked or a righteous’” means that he does have a choice: He can go and adhere to the righteous for guidance, and through them receive strength, by which they, too, can later become righteous.

However, if all the righteous were in the same generation, the fools and the weak would have no hope of approaching the Creator. Thus, they would not have a choice. But by dispersing the righteous in each generation, each person has the power of choice to approach and draw near to the righteous that exist in every generation. Otherwise, one’s Torah must be a potion of death.

We can understand this from a corporeal example. When two people stand one opposite the other, the right hand of one is opposite the left hand of the other, and the left hand of one is opposite one’s friend’s right hand. There are two ways: the right—the way of the righteous, which is only to bestow, and the path of the left—who want only to receive for themselves, by which they are separated from the Creator, who is only to bestow. Thus, they are naturally separated from the Life of Lives.

This is why the wicked in their lives are called “dead.” It therefore follows that as long as one has not been awarded Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, they are two. Then, when one learns Torah, which is called right, but is to the left of the Creator, meaning he is learning Torah to receive for himself, it separates him from Him, and his Torah becomes a potion of death to him since he remains separated, as he wants his Torah to clothe his body. This means that he wants the Torah to increase his body, and by this his Torah becomes a potion of death to him.

However, when a person becomes adhered to Him, a single authority is made, and that person unites in His uniqueness. Then, the right side of the person is the right side of the Creator, and then the body becomes a clothing for one’s soul.

The way to know if one is marching on the path of truth is that when one engages in bodily needs, one should see that he does not engage in them more than is necessary for the needs of his soul. When one thinks that one has more than he needs to clothe the needs of one’s soul, it is like a clothing that a person puts over his body. At that time, he is meticulous about keeping the garment not too long or too wide, but clothing his body accurately. Similarly, when engaging in one’s bodily needs, he should be meticulous not to have more than he needs for his soul, meaning to clothe his soul.

To come to Dvekut with the Creator, not all who wish to take the Lord may come and take, since it is against man’s nature, who was created with a will to receive, which is self-love. This is why we need the righteous of the generation.

When a person adheres to a real rav, whose only wish is to do good deeds, but one feels that he cannot do good deeds, that the aim will be to bestow contentment upon the Creator, by adhering to a real rav and wanting the rav’s fondness, he does things that his rav likes, and hates the things his rav hates. Then he can have Dvekut with his rav and receive his rav’s powers, even that which he does not have from birth. This is the meaning of planting the righteous in each generation.

However, according to this, it is hard to see why plant the righteous in each generation. We said that it was for the fools and the weak. But he could have solved it otherwise: not to create fools! Who made him say that this drop will be a weakling or a fool? He could have created everyone wise.

The answer is that the fools are also needed since they are the carriers of the will to receive. They see that they have no counsel of their own by which to draw near to the Creator, so they are as those about whom it is written, “And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men… for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” They have become ashes under the feet of the righteous, by which the righteous can acknowledge the good that the Creator did for them by creating them wise and strong, by which He has brought them closer to Him.

Hence, now they can give thanks and praise the Creator since they see the lowly state they are in. This is called “ashes under the feet of the righteous,” meaning that the righteous walk by it and thus thank the Creator.

But we must know that the lower degrees are also needed. The Katnut [smallness/infancy] of a degree is not considered superfluous, saying that it would be better if the degrees of Katnut were born immediately with the Gadlut [greatness/adulthood].

It is like a physical body. There are certainly important organs, such as the brain and the eyes and so forth, and there are organs that are not as important, such as the stomach, intestines, fingers, and toes. But we cannot say that an organ that performs a not-so-important task is redundant. Rather, everything is important. It is the same in spirituality: We also need the fools and the weak.

Now we can understand what is written, that the Creator said, “Return unto Me, and I will return unto you.” It means that the Creator says, “Return,” and Israel say the opposite: “Bring us back, Lord, and then we shall return.”

The meaning is that during the decline from the work, the Creator says “Return” first. This brings a person an ascent in the work of the Creator, and one begins to cry, “Bring us back.” But during the decline, one does not cry, “Bring us back.” On the contrary, he escapes the work.

Hence, one should know that when he cries, “Bring us back,” it stems from an awakening from above, since the Creator previously said “Return,” by which one has an ascent and he can say “Bring us back.”

This is the meaning of “And it came to pass when the ark journeyed, that Moses said: ‘Rise up, O Lord, and let Your enemies be scattered.’” “Journeying” means when advancing in servitude of the Creator, which is an ascent. Then Moses said “Rise.” And when they rested, he said “Return, Lord.” And during the rest from the work of the Creator, we need the Creator to say, “Return,” meaning “Return unto Me,” meaning that the Creator gives the awakening. Hence, one should know when to say “Rise” or “Return.”

This is the meaning of what is written in Parashat Akev, “And you shall remember all the way… to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments, or not.” “Would keep His commandments” is discerned as “Return.” “Or not” is discerned as “rise,” and we need both. And the rav knows when to “rise” and when to “return,” since the forty-two journeys are ascents and descents that unfold in the work of the Creator.