Article No. 23, 1989
It is written in Shaar Hakavanot [Gate of Intentions], “This is the meaning of the Maror [bitter herb], which is ‘death,’ in Gematria. They are the judgments in her, in which the Klipot [shells/peels], which are called ‘death,’ grip, and to sweeten her by drawing of life. This is also why he must taste bitterness, and if he swallows it, he does not do his duty, since the grinding of the teeth sweetens through the thirty-two teeth.” We should understand what is the bitter herb, which is called “death,” in the work, and what it means that through the chewing of the teeth, which are thirty-two, the bitter becomes sweetened, and if he swallows it, he no longer tastes bitterness. How is all this clarified in the work?
To understand this, we first need to know why we need work in the first place. We see that even in corporeality a person does not achieve anything without effort. The answer to this is known, that since every branch wants to resemble its root, and since our root, which created us with the aim to do good to His creations, meaning to bestow, therefore, when the created being receives, it feels unpleasantness when receiving the abundance from another. This is why we were given work.
When a person receives reward for his work, there is no shame. We say that a person is not willing to eat the bread of shame because in return for the bread, he gives work. This seems like a tradeoff, where they swap with one another, where one gives work and the other gives bread, or money, and so forth.
In corporeality, among people, this is very clear. But between man and the Creator, how can we say that the person works in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds], and in return, He rewards him? After all, our sages said that we should work not in order to receive reward. Thus, what is the benefit from the work in Torah and Mitzvot? We can understand that in corporeality, we need to work because reward without work causes shame. Therefore, when he wants to receive reward, there is a correction on the reward that a person works for the reward so it will not be as bread of shame upon the reception of the reward.
For this reason, we understand that the work is a correction on the reward. But in working not in order to receive reward, why do we need the work? What purpose does the work serve if there is nothing to correct, since he is not receiving any reward, so why the work? Concerning the work, we should also understand that in corporeality, when a person needs to work, it is because the work that one does for another, the other needs that work. For example, a bakery owner needs employees, or he will not be able to produce the amount of bread he needs. This is not so with regard to the Creator. Is He deficient and needs the creatures to complement what He is lacking by their work for Him?
It follows that the question has two aspects: 1) We were given work in order to be able to receive reward in return for the work. By this, the shame will be corrected so it is not as though he eats the bread of shame. This cannot be said regarding the work of the Creator because we work not in order to receive reward. 2) This can be said between man and man because his friend needs his work. But between man and God, how can we say that the Creator needs man’s work?
The answer is that in truth, we should ask why our sages said that we should work not in order to receive reward, since the whole matter of the work was established so there would not be the bread of shame? Therefore, we see that in corporeality, too, between man and man, this rule of not eating the bread of shame applies, as well, because of the shame. Thus, why do we need to work without reward with respect to the Creator, if the work corrects the delight and pleasure so there will not be shame in it upon reception, for then it is no longer considered a gift or charity? Rather, now the delight and pleasure acquire a new name: “reward.” Accordingly, why do we need to work not in order to receive reward?
The answer to this is brought in The Study of the Ten Sefirot (Part 1, Histaklut Pnimit, Item 7), where he asks about what our sages said, that in order to correct the bread of shame there was a correction that He created this world. Here, there is a reality of work, “for they take their reward from the Whole One in return for their work, and by this they are saved from the blemish of shame.” He asks there about this: “But their answer is odd indeed. What is this like? It is like a person who says to his friend, ‘Work with me for just a minute, and in return, I will give you every pleasure and treasure in the world for the rest of your life.’ There is indeed no greater free gift than this, since the reward is utterly incomparable with the work, since the work is in this world, a transient, worthless world compared to the reward and the pleasure in the eternal world.” And there (in Item 20), he replies, “Since there is disparity of form between the Creator and the created beings, which causes the shame, through engagement in Torah and Mitzvot in order to bring contentment to his Maker, they invert the vessels of reception of the soul into vessels of bestowal. That is, for herself, she has no desire for the momentous abundance, but she receives the abundance in order to bestow contentment upon her Maker, who wants the souls to enjoy His abundance.”
Now we can understand what we asked, that we can understand that between man and man, the work that a person does for a reward is in order for him not to eat the bread of shame, as it is known that this causes shame, and through the work, the blemish of shame is corrected because he receives reward for the work. But with respect to the Creator, what is the correction of the work, if we must work not in order to receive reward?
Also, we said that we can understand that between man and man, a person needs his friend’s work, but as for the Creator, why does He need man’s work? Is He deficient and needs man’s work?
Indeed, between man and God, it cannot be said that the work corrects the reception of delight and pleasure so the flaw of shame will not be felt. This is so only between man and man, since the giver of the work pays him according to his work. It follows that work for a reward is a kind of tradeoff where they swap with one another, and there is no shame here anymore, since both receive—one receives work and the other receives reward. But with respect to the Creator, there is no equality that we can say that one receives work and the other receives reward.
This is so for two reasons: 1) It cannot be said that the Creator receives work from man, since the Creator is not deficient or needs man’s work. 2) As he says there in The Study of the Ten Sefirot, the reward that a worker of the Creator receives is not equal to the work, since the work, compared to the reward, is like a person working for his friend for one minute, and in return receives provision for the rest of his life, for the worker of the Creator works only in this world, and in return receives reward in eternity. But between man and man, this is not so.
Therefore, as it is written there, man’s work in Torah and Mitzvot is not for the purpose of tradeoff, as between man and man. Rather, the work is that through work in Torah and Mitzvot, a person will receive something new, a second nature. That is, instead of the nature of wanting to receive for himself with which he was born, by engaging in Torah and Mitzvot in order to bestow and not receive reward at all, he will receive reward in return for his work.
Yet, what is the reward he expects to receive for his work in Torah and Mitzvot? It is that the Creator will give him a second nature: vessels of bestowal. Until now he had vessels of the will to receive in order to receive. Now he will obtain new Kelim [vessels] called “vessels of bestowal.” Hence, during the work in Torah and Mitzvot, he should aim to engage in order to bestow. That is, all the time during the work, he must aim which reward he hopes that the Creator will give him in return for his work in Torah and Mitzvot.
There are two things in this intention that he aims in order to bestow: 1) to know which reward he hopes for, 2) to feel a good taste in the reward, meaning to enjoy this reward. That is, the measure of the reward depends on the yearning for it. In corporeality, there is a great reward and a small reward, which is measured by the importance of the matter, since normally, something that is rare, that not many people have and is difficult to obtain, is regarded as important in corporeality.
Likewise, everyone thinks that he can come to do everything for the sake of the Creator since it is only an intention, to aim during the work that he wants the work to be for the sake of the Creator. The person thinks that only actions are hard to do, but intentions are very easy, and depend only on his will, and if he wants to, then he can.
But those who begin to walk on this path, who want their actions to be for the sake of the Creator, the more those people increase their efforts in actions and intentions to bestow, the more they discover the truth that they are far from it. That is, there is a Segula [power/remedy/quality] in this work—the truth is revealed to him from above, that he has no connection to acts of bestowal. But before a person begins the work of bestowal, there is a correction that we cannot see the truth that a person is far from this path, as it is against nature.
Man is born to do everything for his own sake. In order not to feel shame, he must do everything for the sake of the Creator and annul his entire being. How can the body agree to this? As The Zohar says about the verse “Or make his sin known to him,” the Creator makes this known to him, meaning that from above, when they see that a person wants to correct the will to receive for himself, they alert him to the truth that he is far from it. Then he begins to see that not anyone can achieve this reward, and he begins to see the importance of the matter.
It follows that only then does he begin to see how this reward, called “vessels of bestowal,” is hard to merit, and only the Creator can give him these Kelim. As a result, his reward becomes important in his eyes since it is a precious thing that not just anyone can achieve.
Accordingly, we see the importance of this reward—to be rewarded with vessels of bestowal. It is impossible to understand the importance of the matter before one sees how difficult it is to obtain. When he obtains vessels of bestowal, he sees that he has been rewarded with a great reward, which is such a precious thing since he cannot obtain this great thing by himself, and only the Creator Himself can give him these Kelim as a gift.
Thus, their saying that it is forbidden to work in order to receive reward is because if he wants reward for the work then he escapes from the real reward. By this we will understand why we need to work, since the Creator does not need our work, to help Him in any way. The answer is that this work is only for us. That is, through the work, we obtain the importance of the reward. And it is not merely importance, but through the work, we attain that the importance is because it is our entire life, for without Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, we are far from Him, and all the delight and pleasure that the Creator created in order to do good to His creations depends on having equivalence with the light.
As the ARI says, the reason for the breaking of the vessels was because the Kelim could not tolerate the light. Hence, the lights departed and the Kelim broke. This means that there is an inverse relation between the light, which is the giver, and the Kli [vessel], which is the receiver. In order to have equivalence, there was a correction that the receiver does not receive because of his own benefit, but because he wants to do the Creator’s will, who wants to do good to His creations, and only for this reason does he receive the delight. This is called “equivalence,” since now both are equal for they are both considered givers. That is, as the light gives by giving to the Kli, the Kli receives only because it wants to bestow upon the Giver.
Now we can understand what Baal HaSulam said about the words that Moses asked of the Creator (Exodus 33:18-21): “And he said, ‘Show me please Your glory.’ And the Lord said, ‘Here is a place with Me.’”
He said, “What is the meaning of ‘Here is a place with Me’?” He said, “Iti [with me] is an acronym [in Hebrew] for faith, prayer, and labor. That is, this is the place by which we can be rewarded with the glory of the Creator. We can interpret the glory of the Creator the way we pray (in the Eighteen Prayer of Rosh Hashanah) “Give glory to Your people,” which means that the glory of the Creator will be revealed within the people of Israel, so each and every one will feel the greatness of the Creator to an extent that people’s only worry will be to do something, to bring some contentment to the Creator, and nothing else will interest them.
Conversely, when it is the opposite, when the Shechina [Divinity] is in the dust, the greatness of the Creator is concealed and we neither see nor feel the importance of the Commander, who commanded us to observe Torah and Mitzvot, it is not because He needs our work. Rather, He wants to reward us. We were given Torah and Mitzvot because as our sages said, “The Creator wanted to cleanse Israel, hence, He gave them plentiful Torah and Mitzvot,” as it is written in the beginning of the essay, “Preface to the Wisdom of Kabbalah.” Therefore, to achieve the glory of the Creator, we can interpret that this is why he said, “Show me Your glory.” Although there are many interpretations to this, in the work, this is how we should interpret the verse—“Show me Your glory” means that the glory of the Creator will be revealed.
We should interpret that the order of “a place Iti [with Me]” is that one should take upon oneself faith, to believe that each and every one can be rewarded with the glory of the Creator. When he believes this, he must know why the glory of the Creator is not revealed even before he begins the work, and only the concealment is revealed. He must believe the words of our sages that this is a correction so that man will be able to acquire equivalence of form, regarded as “giving to the Creator and not for himself.”
For this reason, concerning the faith that one should take upon himself, he should also believe that it is impossible to be rewarded with the glory of the Creator, meaning that the hiding and concealment would be removed from him, if he has not been rewarded with “fear of heaven.” Fear means as it is written (“Introduction of The Book of Zohar”), “He cannot have faith before he has equivalence of form.” In order to have equivalence of form, he must try to have fear in everything he does, as it is written (there), “Fear means that he is afraid lest he will diminish in bringing contentment to his Maker.”
It follows that when one begins the work, he begins with faith, but the body resists this work, and then comes a state of labor, when he must overcome the body and seek all kinds of counsels, as our sages said, “In trickery shall you conduct war,” since the body does not want to relinquish self-benefit. To the extent that he exerts, to that extent he begins to feel that he is incapable of doing anything since in his view, he has done everything he could. After the labor, he comes to know that only the Creator can help, and it is out of his hands. Then comes the third state—a prayer—and then the prayer is from the bottom of the heart, since it is utterly clear to him that no one can help him but the Creator.
However, even when he comes to know that the Creator can help him, and he understands that the real advice is only prayer, the body comes and makes him see that “You see how many prayers you have already prayed but you received no answer from above. Therefore, why bother praying that the Creator will help you? You see that you are not getting any help from above.” At that time, he cannot pray. Then we need to overcome once more through faith, and believe that the Creator does hear the prayer of every mouth, and it does not matter if the person is adept and has good qualities, or to the contrary. Rather, he must overcome and believe above reason, although his reason dictates that since he has prayed many times but still received no answer from above, how can he come and pray once more? This, too, requires overcoming, meaning to exert above reason and pray that the Creator will help him overcome his view and pray.
It follows that although faith, prayer, and labor are three successive things, in truth, they are indeed three things, yet these three things are intermingled. That is, in every state, he works with all three together. In other words, although we begin with faith, all other discernments are included in faith, since when he begins to overcome, he must believe in the sages, who said, “Man must say, ‘If I am not for me, who is for me?’” In other words, a person must toil and achieve the goal by himself. When he sees that he cannot overcome and exert, he must believe that a prayer helps, as it is written, “For You hear the prayer of every mouth,” although he sees no change when he prays for the Creator to help him. Thus, here, too, there is the matter of above reason. However, the general order is to begin with faith, then labor, and then prayer.
It follows that the most important is faith, since with it we must work in everything we do. That is, the basis of all the Kelim with which one works is faith. This is why the light that is revealed is called “light of faith,” after the Kli. This Kli is built on the basis of faith in the sages and faith in the Creator, as it is written, “And they believed in the Lord and in His servant, Moses.”
Now we can understand what our sages said, “If he swallows the bitter herb, he will not come out.” The ARI said that Maror [bitter herb] is death in Gematria. We should understand what this implies to us that Maror is death in Gematria, that it is the judgments in her, to which the Klipot grip. We should interpret that it is as we say (in the Passover Haggadah [story]), “This Maror that we eat, what for? For the hard work with which the Egyptians made their lives bitter.”
The hard work was that the people of Israel wanted to emerge from the control of the Egyptians, called “self-love,” that when they overcame to do something in order to bestow, thoughts of the Egyptians immediately came to them, asking the wicked man’s question: “What is this work for you?” To work for the sake of the Creator. Every time they prevailed, the questions of the Egyptians immediately came. This is called “hard labor,” that it was difficult for them to emerge from their control because the Egyptians made their lives bitter.
The ARI says about this, that Maror in Gematria is death, meaning that the Egyptians did not want to let them out of their control, but to remain as they wanted, as the wicked man’s question. This is the meaning of staying in the form of “The wicked in their lives are called ‘dead.’” It follows that this is not just bitter, but it is actual death. Thus, “made their lives bitter” means that they wanted the people of Israel to remain dead.
It therefore follows that hard labor, when they tasted bitterness, means that they tasted the taste of death by working for their own sake. This is the meaning of what he says, that Maror is regarded as death, and judgments to which the Klipot grip, where judgment means that they were under judgment, meaning forbidden to use the vessels of reception, and all the nursing of the Klipot comes from the vessels of reception, which want to receive in order to receive. Then, when a person is in a state of reception, the person is in a state of concealment and hiding from spirituality.
Its correction is as it is written, “This is the reason why he should taste bitterness, and if he swallows it, he does not do his duty, since the grinding of the teeth sweetens through the thirty-two teeth.” We should interpret that it is known that the thirty-two teeth imply the thirty-two paths of wisdom, meaning that specifically by a person achieving a state of ascent, regarded as being in a state of life and wisdom, then he should chew the bitter herb, so as to taste bitterness, for only during an ascent can we feel what is Maror, meaning what descent tastes like, as in, “the advantage of the light from within the darkness.”
That is, it is impossible to taste a real taste in life and light unless he has the taste of darkness and death. Thus, the Maror is sweetened through the ascent, for only through the darkness, which is a descent, does he feel a taste in the light. It follows that the darkness has now been corrected. This is the meaning of the words, “And to sweeten her by extending life.”