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Letter 40

Letter No. 40

31st day of the Omer Count, May 6, 1958, Manchester

To the students, may they live,

I received a telegram from ... that we won. Let us hope that we will win the war on the inclination, too—that here, too, we will succeed and achieve the goal of bringing contentment to the Maker.

It is about time that we started moving forward toward our sacred goal like mighty strong men. It is known that the paved road that leads to the goal is love of friends, by which one shifts to love of the Creator. And in the matter of love, it is through “Buy yourself a friend.” In other words, through actions, one buys one’s friend’s heart. And even if he sees that his friend’s heart is like a stone, it is no excuse. If he feels that he is suitable for being his friend in the work, then he must buy him through deeds.

Each gift (and a gift is determined as such when he knows that his friend will enjoy it, whether in words, in thought, or in action. However, each gift must be out in the open, so that his friend will know about it, and with thoughts, one does not know that his friend was thinking of him. Hence, words are required, too, meaning he should tell him that he is thinking of him and cares about him. And that, too, should be about what his friend loves, meaning what his friend likes. One who doesn’t like sweets, but pickles, cannot treat his friend to pickles, but specifically to sweets, since this is what his friend likes. And from that, we should understand that something could be unimportant to one, but more important than anything to another.) that he gives to his friend is like a bullet that makes a hollow in the stone. And although the first bullet only scratches the stone, when the second bullet hits the same place, it already makes a notch, and the third one makes a hole.

And through the bullets that he shoots repeatedly, the hole becomes a hollow in his friend’s heart of stone, where all the presents gather. And each gift becomes a spark of love until all the sparks of love accumulate in the hollow of the stony heart and become a flame.

The difference between a spark and a flame is that where there is love, there is open disclosure, meaning a disclosure to all the peoples that the fire of love is burning in him. And the fire of love burns all the transgressions one meets along the way.

And should you ask, “What can one do if he feels that he has a heart of stone toward his friend?” Forgive me for writing, “Each and every one feels that he has a heart of stone,” I mean except for the friends who feel and know that they have no objection that their friend will love them and will give them presents (not necessarily in action, but at least in good words and special attention only to him). I am referring only to those who feel that they have very cold hearts in regard to loving their friends, or those who had a heart of flesh but the coldness from the friends affected them, as well, and their hearts have frozen still.

The advice is very simple: The nature of fire is that when rubbing stones against each other, a fire starts. This is a great rule, since “From Lo Lishma [not for Her name] one comes to Lishma [for Her name].” And this is so particularly when the act is Lishma, meaning imparting a gift to one’s friend, and the aim is Lo Lishma.

This is so because one gives a gift only to one that we know and recognize as someone we love. It follows that the aim of the gift is like gratitude for the love that his friend gives him. However, if one gives a gift to a stranger, meaning he doesn’t feel that his friend is close to his heart, then he has nothing to be grateful for. It follows that the aim is Lo Lishma, meaning ... the intention that should be.

Ostensibly, it could be said that this is called “charity,” since he pities his friend when he sees that there is no one who is speaking to him and greets him, and this is why he does that to him. Indeed, there is a prayer for it—that the Creator will help him by making him feel the love of his friend and make his friend close to his heart. Thus, through the deeds, he is rewarded with the aim, as well.

But while at the time of doing the giver of the gift intended that the gift to his friends would only be as charity (even if he is giving his time for his friend, since it is sometimes more important to a person than his money, as it is said, “One cares for his lack of money but not for his lack of time.” However, regarding time, each has his own value, since there are people who make one pound an hour, and there is more or less. And likewise with their spirituality—how much spirituality they make in an hour, etc.), then one is testifying about himself that he isn’t aiming for love of friends, meaning that through the action, the love between them will increase.

And only when both of them intend for a gift and not for charity, through the friction of the hearts, even of the strongest ones, each will bring out warmth from the walls of his heart, and the warmth will ignite the sparks of love until a clothing of love will form. Then, both of them will be covered under one blanket, meaning a single love will surround and envelop the two of them, as it is known that Dvekut [adhesion] unites two into one.

And when one begins to feel the love of his friend, joy and pleasure immediately begin to awaken in him, for the rule is that a novelty entertains. His friend’s love for him is a new thing for him because he always knew that he was the only one who cared for his own well being. But the minute he discovers that his friend cares for him, it evokes within him immeasurable joy, and he can no longer care for himself, since man can toil only where he feels pleasure. And since he is beginning to feel pleasure in caring for his friend, he naturally cannot think of himself.

We see that in nature, there is love until the yearning becomes unbearable. And if you wish to ask, “How can it be that through love, a person will develop a desire to revoke his own existence?” there is only one answer to that: “Love spoils the line,” meaning it is irrational, not in line with commonsense. This is called “spoiling the line.”

Only then, when there is such a love, each and every one walks in a world that is all good and feels that the Creator has blessed his share. Then the “blessed adheres to the Blessed” and he is rewarded with Dvekut with Him forever.

And through the love, one is willing to annul his entire reality. It is known that as a whole, man divides into two parts: reality and the existence of reality. Reality means that a person feels himself as a deficiency, a desire to receive pleasure. The existence of reality is the delight and pleasure that he receives, by which the body is nourished and can persist. Otherwise, he will have to destroy himself and become absent from the world. This is the meaning of, “Which God has created,” meaning the reality, “To do,” referring to the existence of reality.

The existence of reality divides into three parts:

1) Necessity, without which reality will be cancelled. In other words, he must eat at least a piece of dry bread and a cup of water a day, and sleep for a few hours on a bench, with his clothes on, and not even at home, but outside, on the street or in a field. During the rains, to avoid getting wet and cold, he should go inside some cave to sleep. His clothes, too, can be rags, and this is enough for him because he wants only the existence of reality and nothing more.

2) Being ordinary, important bourgeois—having a home and furniture, household appliances, respectable clothes, etc.

3) Having a desire to be like the well-to-do who have many houses and servants, fine-looking furniture, and fine-looking paraphernalia. And although he cannot obtain what he wants, his eyes and heart aspire to it and his only hope is to lead a life of luxury, and he toils and labors only to achieve the level of the well-to-do.

And there is a fourth discernment within all those three above-mentioned discernments: If he has already made enough for the day, then he no longer cares about tomorrow. Rather, he regards each day as all the years of his life, like seventy years. And as man’s nature is to care for his necessities for all his seventy years, but not for the time past his demise, each day is regarded by him as his whole life and he thinks that he will not live longer than that.

And if he is revived the next day, it is as if he has been reincarnated and must mend what he corrupted in the first incarnation. That is, if he borrowed money from someone, he has become indebted. So tomorrow—in the next life—he pays him, and it is considered a merit. In the next life, he primarily mends all the debts that he caused others or that others have caused him. And the day after tomorrow is considered a third incarnation, and so on.

And now we will explain the above-mentioned matter, that through love, man is willing to make concessions. Sometimes, when a person has love for the Creator, he is willing to relinquish the third discernment, meaning the life of luxuries, since he wants to dedicate time and energy to give some gifts to the Creator by which to buy the love of the Creator (as mentioned above regarding love of friends). In other words, although he still doesn’t have love for the Creator, it shines for him as surrounding light that it is worthwhile to acquire the love of the Creator.

Sometimes a person feels that to buy the love of the Creator, he is willing, if necessary, to concede the second discernment, too, meaning the life of important bourgeois, and to live on necessity alone.

Sometimes one feels the greatness of the love of the Creator to an extent that if need be, he would agree to relinquish even the first part—the basic needs of life—even though by that, his own existence would be cancelled if he did not give the body the nourishment it needs.

And sometimes a person is willing to give up his very existence; he wants to give his body so that through it, the name of the Creator will be sanctified in the masses, if he had a chance to carry it out. It is as Baal HaSulam said, “One should follow the quality of Rabbi Akiva who said, ‘My whole life, I regretted this verse, ‘With all your soul.’ When would I come to keep it?’”

Now we can understand the words of our sages, “‘And you shall love ... with all your heart,’ with both your inclinations. And, ‘With all your soul’ means ‘even if He takes your soul.’ ‘And with all your might’ means ‘with all your possessions.’” As we said above, the first degree of love is the existence of reality, meaning the nourishment of the body by property and possessions, means relinquishing the three above-mentioned discernments in the existence of reality. The second degree is, “With all your soul,” meaning conceding one’s very existence.

And we can keep that through the good inclination, meaning by coercion, when one lets the body understand that there is more delight and pleasure in delighting and giving to the Creator than in delighting and giving to oneself. However, without delight and pleasure, one cannot do anything. When one afflicts himself, we must say that in return he receives some kind of pleasure, or that he feels or hopes to feel the pleasure during the act, since suffering cleanses, so afterwards he will be rewarded with a wonderful pleasure in return for the suffering. In other words, either he will obtain pleasure in this world or he will take pleasure in believing that he will receive pleasure in the next world. Put differently, either he has pleasure in the form of inner light or in the form of surrounding light—from the future.

However, one should not think that one can do anything without pleasure. In fact, (one should know that) there are many discernments in Lishma, meaning in bestowal: “bestowing in order to bestow” means receiving pleasure from giving to the Creator. “Bestowing in order to receive” means that he gives to the Creator and by that will receive something else, whatever it may be—this world, the next world, attainments or high degrees.

However, one should be bestowing in order to bestow, meaning derive wondrous pleasure from giving to the Creator, as it truly is for those who are rewarded with it. One should plead to the Creator from the bottom of his heart to give him this feeling of loving the Creator because of His greatness.

And if he is still not rewarded, he should believe and compel his body that this is a wonderful pleasure and of great importance, and to love the Creator because of His greatness and sublimity. But one should know one thing: without pleasure, one cannot do anything to the fullest.

Let us return to the above-mentioned, “‘With all your heart,’ with both your inclinations,” meaning that one should be complete in the love for the Creator; that is, that the evil inclination, too, will agree to bestow upon Him.

I will be brief due to the approaching Shabbat. I think that ... will be able to get answers to two letters that I received from him, and which I truly enjoyed. I am surprised that ... who was used to writing me letters, it’s been a while since I received a letter from him. Please let me know if he is well and healthy. Also, many thanks to ... for his letters, which I receive from time to time from him, and to ... for the telegram. I suppose ... doesn’t have my address.

Your friend,

Baruch Shalom, son of Baal HaSulam, the Rav Ashlag